It’s that time of year again when cotton growers are required to comply with the Cotton Plowdown Regulations. The regulations were established in 1967 to combat the threat of spreading populations of Pink Bollworm, a worldwide pest of cotton. With grower support, the California Department of Food and Agriculture established regulations that required anyone planting cotton in the San Joaquin Valley to shred and uproot cotton stalks, and then mix the debris with the soil. Doing this was shown to kill overwintering Pink Bollworm larvae.
Growers were also prohibited from planting cotton prior to March 10th in an effort to provide a host-free period for any moths that might survive the winter and want a place to lay eggs in the spring. To date, the program has been very successful in managing Pink Bollworm in the Valley, and is the longest running area-wide integrated pest control program in the world.
The date for compliance with the Cotton Plowdown Regulations is rapidly approaching. All cotton stalks must be shredded, uprooted, and plowed by December 20, 2013. Starting on the 20th, the staff of the County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer’s Office will be citing fields that are not in compliance with the regulations. Fines for non-compliance are set at $500 plus $5.00 per acre.
With the dry weather this fall and lack of fog, growers should have plenty of time to comply.
Growers in Tulare County with questions regarding the Cotton Plowdown Regulations and their enforcement are told to contact the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer office. Please direct questions to Dennis Haines, Staff Biologist (559) 684-3350.