UC ANR NEWS
An airborne fungus from Europe, ganoderma adspersum, has been killing almond trees in the San Jaoquin Valley since it was discovered in the area five years ago, reported John Cox in the Bakersfield Californian.
The fungus rots wood from the inside out, usually weakening the trunk a ground level.
Three kinds of ganoderma fungus infections were identified recently in California almond orchards; University of California researchers say 94 percent of the cases were of the adspersum variety.
"We are seeing those trees collapsing at 11, 12, 15 years old,” said UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor Mohammad Yaghmour. The infections have results in the removal of orchards at less than half their typical 20- to 25-year life span.
Spraying for the fungal disease is ineffective. Yaghmour believes that in time researchers will identify a root stock that is resistant to the fungus.
The National Park Service has contracted with Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue to humanely remove 2,500 to 4,000 burros in Death Valley National Park, a particularly challenging effort because the Bureau of Land Management, which manages adjoining land, does not consider the non-native equines a problem, reported Miranda Willson in the Las Vegas Sun.
The rescue organization rounds up the burros and puts them up for adoption.
Experts say the burros damage vegetation near the park's desert springs, which support rare and endemic fish, plants, invertebrates and insects. They also compete with native grass-eating mammals — like endangered desert bighorn sheep — for food and access to increasingly rare watering holes, according to Laura Snell, livestock and natural resources adviser at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
“We've seen quite a bit of competition at watering holes throughout Nevada and northeast California,” Snell said. “All of those animals need water, and there's maybe only one watering hole available year-round.”
Executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue Mark Meyers said wild burros are a part of American history that people can experience and preserve by adopting them.
“We used them for the Spanish Trail, we used them for Catholic mission systems, we used them for the railroad, we used them for mining. We used them for all these capacities, and then we said, ‘We don't need them anymore,' ” Meyers says. “These animals built our country, yet they're the ones that aren't supposed to be here.”
UC Master Gardeners in Stanislaus County presented an all-natural, sustainable solution to disposing garden and food waste during a session for the community on worm composting, reported John Holland in the Modesto Bee.
All it takes is an 18-inch deep bin, equipped for drainage, and a supply of red worms. Provide the worms a substrate that contains a mix of high carbon materials - like shredded paper, dry leaves or sawdust - and kitchen scraps - such as fruit and vegetable cores and peels, leftover grains and coffee grounds. A few months later, the worms will have transformed the contents into a rich organic fertilizer ready to be applied to garden plants.
"It's a great fertilizer," said UC Master Gardener Dennis Lee. "It's very inexpensive for you to produce. You can do it indoors. There's very little odor - actually, no odor.
Carolynn Culver, a research scientist at UC Santa Barbara and an California Sea Grant extension specialist, is researching whether native sunfish can be used in place of toxic chemicals to reduce invasive mussel larvae and other pests in Southern California lakes and reservoirs, reported Sonia Fernandez in the USCB online magazine Futurity.
Quagga and zebra mussels are two of the most devastating aquatic pests in the United States. The small freshwater mussels grow on hard surfaces such as water pipes, and can cause major problems for water infrastructure. First appearing in North America in the 1980s, and in California in 2007, mussel management with chemicals has been shown to impact water quality.
“Commonly used mussel control methods are problematic for San Diego reservoirs since they are primary water supply reservoirs,” said study coauthor Dan Daft, a City of San Diego water production superintendent and biologist.
In another study aimed at protecting water from toxic chemicals, Culver worked with UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus Leigh Johnson to study hull cleaning practices that can be alternatives for using copper-based paints, which leach copper into water.
The team showed that frequent, minimally abrasive, in-water hull cleaning was effective and did not cause an increase in fouling as reported for other hull cleaning practices. Results from the study, along with other research findings, informed the development of an integrated pest management framework that boaters can adapt to different regions and specific needs.
“It's not a one-size-fits-all approach — it's adaptive,” Culver said. “Boaters can tailor it to local environments, regulations and boating patterns, and it can be applied in areas where toxic paints have been restricted, as well as where they continue to be used. It can help to keep boat hulls clean, while reducing impacts on water quality and transport of invasive species — three issues that often are not considered together.”
Mobile Friendly Version of Avocado Pest Guidelines Available
(AgNet West) Brian German, Dec. 31
An updated tool from the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) should made pest management a bit more user-friendly. UC ANR has recently launched a new mobile-friendly version of the Pest Management Guidelines for Avocados.
Holiday Recycling Information
(My Motherlode) Becky Miller-Cripps, Dec. 29
University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners support foothill-friendly, “smart” gardening. Two of our principles are: Feed the Soil and Recycle. How can you follow those principles in disposing of your cut, green Christmas tree? Real Christmas trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. You may wish to chip your Christmas tree and use it at home as mulch or compost. Or, you may want to help reduce the waste stream by recycling your Christmas trees.
Hmong-Language Pesticide Safety Videos Available from DPR
(AgNEt West) Brian German, Dec. 24
A series of education videos have been made available to help engage Hmong farmers about the issue of safety. The nine-part video series in Hmong describes California pesticide rules and safety and is now available to view for free online. The videos were made possible with funding from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and were produced by Fresno State and UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County.
UC works to fill gaps in its corps of farm advisors
(Woodland Daily Democrat/AgAlert) Kevin Hecteman, Dec. 24
...California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said farm advisors represent "a vital link" from UC research sites to California fields and pastures.
"Filling these positions will help address a statewide shortage of advisors," Johansson said. "Knowledge shared by farm advisors through the decades has helped California reach and retain its position as the nation's top producer of high-quality food and agricultural products, and we need to keep that resource alive."
CFBF Administrator Jim Houston described the recruiting as "a good start" but added a decades-long backup needs to be addressed.
UCCE had 202 specialists and 326 advisors on the payroll in 1990, according to UCANR figures; by 2018, those numbers had declined to 109 and 170, respectively.
"It's our members who struggle when a farm advisor isn't available," Houston said. "It's their communities that don't have as much productive capacity. It's their operations that are not going to be as efficient as they would otherwise be."
Your Christmas tree is lit, but how hard does it hit the environment?
(Popular Science) Erin Blakemore, Dec. 23
…Like any commodity, Christmas trees rack up an environmental toll—and not just because we use gas-guzzling helicopters and trucks to give them a lift. Fertilizer and pesticide use are the main culprits. “There is pesticide use across the board,” says Lynn Wunderlich, a farm advisor from the University of California Cooperative Extension in California's central Sierras.
…Wunderlich says that since Roundup is applied in such small quantities—and not to the trees themselves—consumers don't have to worry about pesticide residue at the time of harvesting; furthermore, consumers who cut down their own trees or buy from farmers who use no pesticides sometimes complain about “honeydew,” a sticky liquid secreted by aphids in infected trees. Bottom line, says Wunderlich: “Christmas trees have pest problems.”
California grape growers deal with mealybugs without chlorpyrifos
(Fruit Grower News) Stephen Kloosterman, Dec. 23
So scratch chlorpyrifos, but California winegrape growers have more tools left in the war chest for dealing with vine mealybugs.
Native grape mealybugs are usually kept in place by natural controls and parasitoids, said George Zhuang, a Fresno County viticulture farm advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension – an exception is when Argentine ants have protected them. Vine mealybugs, however, are an invasive species and much more disruptive.
“Vine mealybug feeds on all parts of grapevine and produces so much honeydew that it makes the grapevine wet, dark and shining,” Zhuang said. “The most damage from vine mealybug is the infestation on clusters, although the spreading of leafroll virus can be also devastating through vine mealybug.”
UC ANR Says it is Improving California Life with Science-based Solutions
(Sierra Sun Times) Jeannette Warnert, Dec. 23
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources reflected on some of its most compelling achievements in a report that provides an overview of the sweeping impacts its scientists and educators made in 2018.
UC ANR's impacts are felt across the state – in places where water is scarce, climate is changing farming practices, children need a little extra support to get to college, and families can use guidance to stretch their food budgets. UC ANR steps in with programs and services.
Of the hundreds of ways UC ANR impacts California lives and livelihoods, 40 are highlighted in the new publication, Working for the Benefit of All Californians: 2018 UC ANR Annual Report.
Where there's fire, is there smoke flavor in winegrapes?
(Farm Press) Pam Kan-Rice, Dec. 20
“It can be difficult to determine if fruit has been compromised in quality when exposed to wildfire smoke, and whether or not smoke flavors will result in wine when fermented,” said Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Mendocino County.
A new UC Cooperative Extension study shows wind direction and speed, temperature and a vineyard's proximity to an active fire are factors that can help growers and winemakers predict smoke damage to fruit.
What's in a name? When it comes to fruit, economic and genetic forces have a major say
(LA Times) David Karp, Dec. 19
…Meanwhile, the state cooperative extension programs that have historically provided essential horticultural advice to farmers have slowly atrophied as a result of public disinvestment.
One important measure, USDA grants for agricultural extension programs, declined 38% in constant dollars, from $263 million in 1993 to $163 million in 2014, said Rick Klemme of the Assn. of Public and Land-grant Universities. Increasingly, farmers who can afford it hire private agricultural consultants, he told me.
The defunding of cooperative extension in California has been especially severe.
“The whole system is broken,” said Ben Faber, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. “When I was hired in 1990, UCCE had nearly 500 advisors; now we're down to under 200.”
What's with those little seedless holiday tangerines? (AUDIO)
(Marketplace) Mitchell Hartman, Dec. 19
…“There's the genus Citrus, subfamily Aurantioideae, in the plant family called Rutaceae,” said UC-Riverside botanist Tracy Kahn. She directs the university's world-renowned Citrus Variety Collection with more than 1,000 living specimens.
“Citrus originated in Southeast Asia — the Yunnan province of China is thought to be the seat of domestication,” she said. That was sometime in the Paleolithic era. Sometime in the mid-1800s, a small seeded orange variety grown in Morocco was imported into the U.S., Kahn said. “'Tangerine' is a term that was coined from brightly-colored sweet mandarins that shipped from the Port of Tangiers to Florida,” she explained.
…Southern California has a similar Mediterranean climate, and it's where most U.S. eating-oranges are grown. But according to UC-Davis agricultural economist Dan Sumner, the big citrus-farmers' coop, Sunkist, favored navel oranges, which have a long growing and selling season.
“For many years they resisted the move towards the seedless easy-peel tangerines,” Sumner said. “Turns out, they were wrong.”
UC Davis releases five new wine grape varieties, decades in the works
(Sacramento Business Journal) Emily Hamann, Dec. 19
Wine grapes could start being planted in places it was impossible to grow them before, thanks to research from the University of California Davis.
Researchers released five new varieties of wine grapes that are resistant to a disease that has plagued grape growers in parts of the country.
This is the first time UC Davis has released new wine grape varieties since the 1980s.
The grapes are highly resistant to Pierce's disease, a vine-killing malady prevalent in warmer areas like Southern California, which costs grape growers in the state more than $100 million a year.
Take a class on making citrus meals
(Gold Country Media) Dec. 19
UC Master Food Preservers will teach a class on the step-by-step process of canning, dehydrating and freezing as methods of preserving citrus to use throughout the year. Learn how to make citrus-based marmalade and jelly, and how to can citrus sections. See how to use almost all parts of citrus by making candied citrus peel, preserved peels, citrus salt, powdered citrus peel and edible potpourri. Get tips and tricks to maintain top quality of frozen citrus in the freezer.
India's retaliatory tariffs may not hurt U.S. nut growers
(Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Dec. 18
…Janine Hasey, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Sutter/Yuba/Colusa Counties; Bruce Lampinen, Extension Specialist, UC, Davis; and Katherine Pope, UCCE Orchard Advisor Sacramento/ Solano/ Yolo Counties are reporting the training of young walnut trees occurs in the first 1 to 6 years in the life of an orchard. Traditionally it has been done using a modified central leader with a minimum pruning style; the basics behind this pruning style are similar for standard spaced or hedgerow orchards.
New cost studies released for mechanical winegrape production
(Farm Press) Pam Kan-Rice, Dec. 18
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center has released four new studies detailing the costs and returns of wine grape production in the southern San Joaquin Valley. All four cost studies illustrate the cost and benefit of nearly full mechanization on wine grape production.
UC to hire six new extension advisors
(Farm Press) Pam Kan-Rice, Dec. 17
Six University of California Cooperative Extension advisor positions have been released for recruitment by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.