UC ANR NEWS
Nine local nonprofits selected for training program
(Imperial Valley Press) Sept. 12
The Imperial County Local Health Authority Commission Wednesday identified nine local nonprofit organizations that have been selected to participate in capacity building training over the next several months.
…Organizations chosen for the training were Children's Foundation of the Imperial Valley, Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center, Spread the Love Charity, University of California Desert Research and Extension Center, Imperial Valley Food Bank, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Imperial County, Calexico Wellness Center, Imperial Valley Cancer Support Center and Sure Helpline Center.
Dogs find signs of HLB bacteria in citrus groves
(Ag Alert) Kevin Hecteman, Sept. 11
…HLB is spread by an insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, and was first detected in the state in August 2008.
"Ventura's had pretty hefty levels of psyllids for at least, I would say, five years and no known disease," said Beth Grafton-Cardwell of the University of California Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter.
Psyllid and HLB infestations usually start in urban areas and spread from there, she added.
The dog tests were carried out along the edges of groves because, before tarping regulations took hold, the psyllids might have hitched rides on citrus shipments from infested areas, Grafton-Cardwell said.
"They did see a fair number of alerts along those traffic corridors," she noted. "That tells us that if the dogs are right, the bacteria have been there. Now, whether it's causing infection in the trees or not, no way of knowing for several years."
…Ben Faber, a subtropical horticulture farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Ventura County, noted the distinction between the two—a tolerant variety can put up with the disease and produce a crop, whereas the resistant variety won't get sick in the first place.
California Cotton Fields: Nathanael Siemens on a 10 Acre Model Toward Regeneration
(Fibershed) Esha Chhabra, Sept. 11
So far, the model is moving ahead thanks to this mix of integrating methods, technologies, and partners: Siemens is part of a collaborative effort to evaluate the economic and ecologic impact of regenerative practices in cotton systems, which includes the Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems at Chico State, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County, and Fibershed.
Ag Report: Prescribed burns, detector dogs and HLB prevention
(23ABC Bakersfield) Sept. 11
…And to prevent the citrus disease HLB from spreading the University of California specialists recommend Southern California Homeowners remove citrus trees within two miles of known HLB infections. UC created a web app so residents can enter an address and see how close they are to confirmed HLB outbreaks. At the same time, UC master gardeners recommend alternative fruit trees to replace citrus trees in the affected areas. You can check the map on UC's agriculture and natural resource website .
Research takes aim at grape powdery mildew
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, Sept 11
…University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) wants to be part of the battle to combat the scourge and toward that end is seeking grape growers statewide to be a part of studying the powdery mildew population in order to better understand how and where resistance is developing — and ultimately to establish an annual rotation plan to help mitigate that development.
… “We have major classes of fungicides used on powdery mildew and several of those modes of action have shown chemical resistance,” says Viticulture Farm Advisor Gabriel Torres, who represents Kings and Tulare counties, taking swab samples for analysis. “We'd like growers to help us sample, so we can map out where resistance is developing.”
Use of prescribed burns gains momentum
(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, Sept 11
…The practice of deliberately setting fire to the land as a management tool has deep roots in the state's history, with native tribes using controlled fires to manipulate the landscape and encourage growth of desirable plants, but prescribed burning is "far enough in the past where it's almost folklore," according to Jeff Stackhouse, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties. He said acreage of prescribed burns on private land has dwindled from a peak of more than 200,000 acres a year in the 1950s to less than 10,000 acres annually in the last 15 years.
…CalFire, which established its VMP in the 1980s, does most of the burning for private landowners—and because CalFire has been doing the burning, people now "lack the skill and comfort" to do their own, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UCCE fire advisor and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.
With more landowners asking about prescribed fire in recent years, she said "we knew we needed to figure out a different way to help those people and to get those projects going."
How strawberry farmers got themselves (and the ozone layer) out of a jam
(Grist) Nathanael Johnson, Sept. 10
…What do the growers use instead of methyl bromide?
They use a lot of chloropicrin [which doesn't destroy the ozone, and not quite as dangerous for farm workers as methyl bromide] some say it's effective, and some say it's not. They use anaerobic soil disinfestation, which was developed [by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Joji Muramoto & Carol Shennan] at the University of California at Santa Cruz and entails injecting a carbon source — like molasses or rice bran — into the soil and flooding it with water, creating a lack of oxygen [this doesn't release ozone-depleting chemicals and may end up being a good solution if farmers can consistently get it to work].
Rice breeding, research aimed at boosting yields
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept 10
…Scientists at the Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, Calif., last year released foundation seed for a new variety – called M-210 – with a gene that promotes resistance to rice blast disease.
The gene was developed with marker-assisted selection provided by the DNA lab at the industry-funded station, which works with researchers from the USDA and University of California Cooperative Extension.
…This year, NASS estimated that 485,000 overall acres would be planted in the state, but that was before late spring rains delayed or prevented planting in many areas. At the research station, some test plots weren't planted until June 15, said Bruce Lindquist, a plant sciences specialist from UC-Davis.
…M-206 is an early-maturing medium grain released for seed production in 2003, explains the California Rice Commission. It has been broadly adapted to California's rice-growing regions, but newer varieties could provide growers with as much as 20 percent more yield, said Luis Espino, a UCCE rice systems advisor based in Oroville.
Who is Tops in the Field of Entomology?
(Growing Produce) Sept. 9
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) recently announced the winners of its 2019 awards. The annual program recognizes scientists, educators, and students who have distinguished themselves through contributions to entomology and crop protection solutions.
Some of the top professional award winners for 2019 include:
Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension: Dr. Surendra Dara
Dara is an Entomology and Biologicals Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. Dara's research and Extension program creates innovative solutions for sustainable crop production and protection, and he reaches out to the agricultural community locally, regionally, and internationally. He has nearly 25 years of experience in IPM and microbial control, working on 17 species of invasive pests and diseases and several endemic species throughout his career.
Farm hosts research tour for congressman
(Morning Ag Clips) Sept. 9
It was a beautiful September morning when Congressman Jimmy Panetta visited the UCSC Farm to hear from leading researchers in the field of organic agriculture.
Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) got updates from faculty member Carol Shennan, a professor of environmental studies, and UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Joji Muramoto, who have led the campus's pioneering work on organic strawberry production. He also learned about “no-till” farming, a strategy designed to increase carbon sequestered in the soil, from Farm Manager Darryl Wong, who is also a graduate student in environmental studies.
Climate change is coming for your wine. What the world's wineries are doing to save grapes
(USA Today) Maro della Cava, Sept. 8
S. Kaan Kurtural is a viticulture expert at the University of California, Davis, a well-known center for wine science. He says the way the climate has affected this industry over the past few years alone has “shocked me, it's not going to be business as usual.”
He's conducting an experiment with Napa's Beckstoffer Vineyards that involves planting 3,600 Cabernet plants that are made up of 100 different rootstock and clone combinations. The idea is for Kultural to spend the next eight years making wine from this plot to see if some of the experimental crop proves more heat or drought resistant.
“Anyone who farms anything has known that the climate has been shifting for a while, but now there's an economic necessity to take action,” says Kurtural. “We're looking to the future, because by 2050 we'll have even hotter temperatures and more greenhouse gases.”
Urban pest jumps to Californian almond orchards
(Agribusiness Intelligence) Jose Gutierrez, Sept. 6
The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has detected an attack of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive pest from Asia, in an almond plantation located in Turlock, California.
Organic avocado production is on the increase
(ag Alert) Kevin Hecteman, Sept. 4
Thrips are among the top pest concerns in the grove, said Sonia Rios, a subtropical horticulture advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension in Riverside County.
"What they do is that they jump on the young fruit while it's still growing, and while they eat, it can scar the fruit," Rios said. The avocados will appear to have scabs, she added, "and no one's going to want to buy that."
While conventional growers are usually on top of their spray programs to keep thrips in check, Rios said, their organic counterparts have more limited options.
"Usually, how those organic pesticides work is that they actually have to come in contact with the insect itself to actually kill it, to knock down the populations," Rios said.
Ag Report: USDA visits Grimmway Farms, fewer walnuts, increasing avocado demand
(23ABC News) Sept. 4
…Demand has risen steadily for livestock to provide grazing services to attack weeds as a wildfire prevention measure. The California Wool Growers Association says it has more requests from private landowners and public agencies than its members can fulfill. University of California Cooperative Extension says it plans to create a statewide database to match landowners with ranchers whose sheep, goats or cattle could provide grazing services.
Scientists wage war on armyworm in rice
(Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice (news release), Sept. 4
…In 2015, a severe outbreak of armyworms caught rice growers by surprise, resulting in yield losses. In a 2018 survey conducted by UC Cooperative Extension, rice growers reported average yield losses in 2015 ranging from 4% to 12%. Since UCCE began a monitoring program in 2016, rice losses to armyworms have been rare, according to Luis Espino, UC Cooperative Extension rice farming systems advisor in Butte and Glenn counties.
Database goal is to bring grazers, landowners together
(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, Sept. 4
With growing concerns about wildfires and interest in ways to prevent them, the University of California Cooperative Extension is developing a statewide database that would help connect livestock owners who could provide grazing services with landowners who need vegetation management.
"We laugh about it being more like a dating service where everyone has their own profile," said Stephanie Larson, the UCCE livestock range management advisor in Sonoma and Marin counties who is a lead on the project.
The impetus for the database system, she said, grew out of increased demand in her region for grazing services, adding that her office alone has received at least 25% more calls in recent months from people looking for grazers who can perform weed-abatement services.
Could teff, an ancient African grain, find a foothold in a warming California?
(LA Times) Justice Baidoo, Sept. 3
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources in Davis is conducting a test of teff's yield, which should be ready in a month. Oli Bachie, the lead researcher, is upbeat.
“What we are looking at is how the seeds will develop under the harsh conditions of California's desert. If it does withstand, then it's going to be productive,” he says.
Grazing for Fire Fuels Management
(Santa Barbara Independent) Matthew Shapero, Sept. 2
Catastrophic wildfires are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more destructive in California. They are burning in a variety of vegetation types — from high-elevation northern-Californian coniferous forests to southern-Californian chaparral ecosystems — and some (e.g. the Thomas  and Tubbs, Sonoma County ) have been fanned by unusually strong wind events. Despite these differences, however, there is broad consensus that a major part of the uptick in catastrophic fires is the state's failure to adequately manage fuel loading in range- and forested lands.
Sorghum is not only a potential drought-tolerant crop for the San Joaquin Valley, it also presents the opportunity for scientists to understand the mechanism behind drought tolerance at the genetic level, said UCCE sorghum specialist Jeff Dahlberg in a segment on ABC 30 Action News.
Reporter Cristina Davies spent an hour and a half at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier during the sorghum harvest to learn about the potential of sorghum research.
"If we can elucidate the genetics behind (drought tolerance), what we believe is we can use those genetics to see if the genetics are available in corn, or in rice, or in wheat," Dahlberg said. "I think the genes may be there. We just don't have the tools yet to search for the genes in those crops."
Conducting drought-tolerance research in California is ideal because the summer is typically devoid of rain. Researchers can control exactly how much water is applied to each sorghum plot. The research has revealed more than 100 genetic markers that may confer drought tolerance.
"We've been really thrilled with the data that's been coming out of this. Like most research, we are learning so many things we don't understand," Dahlberg said.
The research is being conducted in collaboration with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service research center, which is across the street from Kearney. USDA research scientist Devin Coleman-Derr was present for the sorghum harvest.
"Like humans take probiotics, there may be a use for microbes in sort of promoting better and better yields in the field," Coleman-Derr said.
The 330-acre UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center is the University of California's largest off-campus agricultural research facility.
UCCE specialist Jeff Dahlberg studies sorghum at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
The USDA has announced it will allow the release of a weevil (Ceratapion basicorne) in the United States to help control yellow starthistle, an invasive weed found in 40 of the lower 48 states, reported Capital Public Radio. The weevils will initially be released in California.
Ceratapion basicorne is native to Eurasia, the same area where yellow starthistle originated. Yellow starthistle is thought to have been introduced into California from Chile during the Gold Rush. The weed readily took hold in California valleys and foothills, thriving in areas where the soil has been disturbed by animals grazing, road construction and wildland firebreaks. Today, yellow starthistle is a very common sight in vacant lots and fields, along roadsides and trails, in pastures and ranch lands, and in parks, open-space preserves and natural areas.
Capable of growing six feet tall and bearing flowers surrounded by inch-long spines, yellow starthistle reduces land value, prevents access to recreational areas, consumes groundwater and poisons horses.
Brad Hanson, UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist at UC Davis, says yellow starthistle thrives in part because of its prickly spines.
"It's not very palatable to any livestock, especially once it's started to flower . . . . Often times, the other grasses and more palatable plants are grazed and the starthistle persists and is sort of the only thing left,” he said.
Hanson says yellow starthistle can be managed on a small scale with chemicals, but that method just doesn't work with the scale of infestation in the state.
“It's difficult to control economically on the millions and millions of acres of rangelands or non agricultural lands that are sort of minimally managed,” he said.
The USDA's environmental assessment of the weevil found no significant impact of its release, besides helping to control yellow starthistle infestations.
The hard work put in every summer by leafcutter bees was spotlighted by KQED Science, which took a Deep Look at an introduced pollinator that makes bountiful alfalfa seed production possible in California.
For facts behind the 'gee whiz' video, KQED turned to Shannon Mueller, UC Cooperative Extension alfalfa advisor emeritus, who helped introduce leafcutter bees in the early 1990s.
What makes leafcutter bees special? It's their innate ability to 'trip' alfalfa flowers, which is beautifully explained and shown - in slow motion - in the Deep Look video.
Cutters were “game changers” in the alfalfa seed business because they're much better at pollinating alfalfa than honeybees, Mueller said. Cutters trip 80 percent of flowers they visit, compared to honeybees, which only trip about 10 percent.
Leafcutting bees pollinate alfalfa, allowing the plants to form seeds. The seeds will be grown to make nutritious hay for dairy cows, giving credit to leafcutter bees' for their labor on the first step to making ice cream.
The invasive beetle, goldspotted oak borer (GSOB), has been found in the mountain community of Sugarloaf near Big Bear in San Bernardino County, reported the Chino Champion. The detection causes concern for other nearby communities where oak trees are prized.
"It realistically should be treated like a quarantine situation," said Doug Yanega of the UC Riverside Department of Entomology. "All it takes is a few people who don't know any better or think the rules don't apply to them to infest new areas."
The Chino Hills area has nearly 4,000 oak trees in parks, landscaping and parkways, not including trees on private property and city open space.
"The goldspotted oak borer posts an unprecedented threat to native oaks in Southern California," said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Mark Hoddle, director of the the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside. "Hiking trails and campsites have been closed because of the risk of branches dropping from dead trees."
For more information about GSOB, see the UC Cooperative Extension GSOB website.