UC ANR NEWS
Major fires are sometimes caused by utilities, but there are many other potential causes, including lightning, arson and sparks from dragging chains. All of these factors, are compounded by "lack of fuel management, poor land-use planning, and homes that aren't ready for fire and aren't resilient to fire," Quinn-Davidson said.
Power outages can complicate response and evacuation efforts should a fire break out, Quinn-Davidson said. Phone lines have been jammed during this week's outages and people have had trouble communicating with loved ones.
“If a fire starts because of other causes — which could easily happen under severe conditions — now we have no way to communicate,” she told the TIME reporter. “Seriously, like, if this power outage happened when the Carr Fire (sparked by a vehicle) happened — how would you evacuate people? That's completely possible. You could have a power outage and have a fire start from a roadside cigarette. Or arson. Or anything. And then what?”
The TIME article also quoted Jeffrey Stackhouse, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, about the sweeping power outages.
“People are freaking out around here,” he said.
Nevertheless, Stackhouse and Quinn-Davidson agree that scheduled power outages shouldn't be eliminated as a tool for preventing fires. They believe outages should be used sparingly, and in conjunction with preventative measures, such as fire-proofing homes and managing land.
“The disruption is pretty huge for something we're not sure is going to prevent a major wildfire. The actual likelihood of that event was not equal to the impact that this is having,” Quinn-Davidson said.
Read about Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse's efforts to improve fire resilience in Humboldt County by establishing a prescribed burn association.
Zheng Wang, vegetable crops advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County, visited an ag class at Stanislaus State to discuss a state-of-the-art vegetable production practice that involves grafting, reported Alivah Stoeckl in Stan State News.
Grafting plants onto specially bred rootstocks is a practice that is common in tree crops. Grafting confers resistance to soil-borne diseases and pests, requiring less inputs and leading to sustainable crop productivity. It is now being used in some vegetable and fruit crops, such as tomatoes, eggplant, watermelon, cucumbers and cantaloupe.
“Grafting conveys a lot of merits in terms of disease resistance and yield maintenance. It enriches the production practices by introducing more variety. And by making impossible things become possible,” Wang said.
Vegetable grafting has been used since early 2000s, but to many agriculture students the idea was new, reported Stoeckl.
“We're moving forward and advancing with our food which I think is interesting because we used to be all natural and simple but now it's all scientific,” said senior agriculture major Madeline Morataya.
The Camp Fire started on federal land. This rule would make PG&E clean up its power lines
(Sac Bee) Emily Cadei, Sept. 30
…“In California, it is fairly clear that PG&E did not keep an up-to-date inventory and accomplishment schedule on vegetation clearance on all of their power lines,” William Stewart, director of the Berkeley Forests program at UC Berkeley, said in an email. “ I think the Forest Service wants to make sure that they are sending the same signals to their staff and partners that judges are now sending to PG&E — do proper power line clearance or some entity (or entities) is going to be on the hook for billions of dollars of damages.”
UC ANR Takes In-Depth Look at the Cannabis Industry
(AgNet West) Brian German, Sept. 27
Following the passage of Proposition 64 which legalized recreational cannabis, there was significant excitement surrounding the potential for a legal and regulated cannabis industry in California. However, the development of the guidelines for cannabis cultivation has undergone significant delays as the state works to build infrastructure for a commodity which is still federally prohibited. The July-December 2019 issue of the research publication from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, California Agriculture, highlights multiple components for the development of legal cannabis in California. The special issue details the history of cannabis in the state, as well as some of the research being conducted on various aspects of cannabis.
Industry advocates weigh in on California's proposed rodenticide ban
(Pest Management Professional) Diane Sofranec, Heather Gooch and Marty Whitford, Sept. 26
…Dr. Niamh Quinn, Human-Wildlife Interactions Advisor University of California Cooperative Extension, Irvine, Calif.
There have been several iterations of bills in California over the past four years. Most of them are targeting anticoagulant rodenticides, although they morphed along the way; they started with all of the rodenticides, and now they're particularly focused on SGARs. As it was written, AB 1788 proposed serious restrictions on the use of SGARs, with some fairly limited applications throughout the state. In essence, it would have been an almost total ban of SGARs for structural pest control.
California farm region faces furry new threat: swamp rodents
(AP) Samantha Maldonaldo and Terry Chea, Sept. 26
…Damage to the region's soil or water infrastructure would be devastating to the economy and diet.
“It would mean no more sushi because the alternative would be to buy rice from Japan or Korea, where the price is five times higher,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at the University of California-Davis. “Kiss off carrots, or live without table grapes in the summertime.”
New California lab seeks cure to deadly citrus disease
(Washington Post) Amy Taxin, Sept. 26
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — In a lab southeast of Los Angeles, researchers are opening a new front in the yearslong battle against a tiny pest that has wreaked havoc on citrus groves around the world.
California citrus growers and packers and the University of California, Riverside on Thursday marked the opening of an $8 million lab dedicated to finding a solution to the tree-killing disease known as Huanglongbing that has ravaged groves in Florida, Brazil and China.
…Georgios Vidalakis, director of the Citrus Clonal Protection Program at University of California, Riverside, said citrus boomed in California in the late 1800s. In the decades that followed, researchers in Riverside started a citrus breeding program, which helped develop new varieties, and a citrus collection, which now has more than 1,000 kinds of trees, he said.
Vidalakis, a plant pathologist, oversees a program aimed at ensuring trees don't introduce diseases into the region. But without the ability to study the illness, research was hampered, he said, until experts and growers joined together to build the lab.
“This disease is like nothing we have ever faced as plant pathologists,” he said. “We need all hands on deck.”
These Big Plans to Protect California Homes From Wildfire Fell Short in the Legislature
(KQED) Lauren Sommer, Sept. 26
…While Cal Fire has a goal of inspecting 33 percent of structures in its jurisdiction each year, a KQED investigation found the agency only did half that in 2018. In some parts of the state, only 6 percent of homes in risky areas were inspected.
“It's becomes really clear that our defensible space has been insufficient to protect homes from embers,” said Yana Valachovic, a fire expert with UC Cooperative Extension. “What's immediately adjacent to a structure affects the probability of a structure's survival.”
…“The science has been clear for quite a while, but it's been slow to incorporate into codes, standards and practices,” said Valachovic.
… “There's no single solution that's going to solve the fire problem,” said Valachovic. “It takes an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Lindcove dedicates conference center to Exeter man
(Sun Gazette) Sept. 25
A late Exeter man who donated most of his fortune to local agriculture and educational institutions, will soon have his name affixed to University of California research facility.
The Lindcove Research and Extension Center, part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources system, will rename its conference center after the late Ray Copeland. The Ray Copeland Citrus Center will be dedicated during the Lindcove Citrus Gala on Oct. 4.
Participating in Agricultural Meetings Creates Long-Term Benefits
(AgNet West) Brian German, Sept. 24
…“It's an all-encompassing benefit for everyone,” said Brooke Latack, Cooperative Extension Livestock Advisor serving Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. “Not just the farmers, but the people putting the workshops on also benefit a great deal from it.”
A Healthy Agriculture Approach
(CSU Stanislaus Signal) Aliyah Stoeckl, Sept. 23
UCCE Vegetable and Irrigation Advisor Dr. Zheng Wang held an insightful lecture at Stan State among students and faculty discussing the values of vegetable grafting.
… “Grafting conveys a lot of merits in terms of disease resistance and yield maintenance, it enriches the production practices by introducing more variety. And by making impossible things become possible,” said Wang.
UC Cooperative Extension Survey Results on Cannabis Cultivation
(Sierra Sun Times) Jeannette Warnert (news release) Sept. 23
A UC Cooperative Extension survey of California registered and unregistered marijuana growers will help researchers, policy makers and the public better understand growing practices since cannabis sales, possession and cultivation first became legal for recreational use.
“This survey is a starting point from which UC scientists could build research and extension programs, if possible in the future,” said lead author Houston Wilson, UC Cooperative Extension specialist with UC Riverside. A report on the survey results was published in the July-December 2019 issue of California Agriculture journal, the research publication of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In a Race Against the Sun, Growers Try to Outsmart Climate Change
(New York Times) Marla Cone, Sept. 21
…“We can't continue to do the exact same thing we are doing now,” said Katherine Jarvis-Shean, a University of California researcher who advises orchardists on how to cope with climate change. “There are a lot of solutions to the anticipated problems. We just have to get on top of them, testing them and making them available to growers.”
…“For the most part, the world gets fed by row crops,” said Pat J. Brown, an associate professor at the University of California-Davis, referring to wheat, corn and other staples. “But a lot of the stuff that makes life really worth living comes from trees. Think of the world without chocolate or wine or coffee.”
…The Agriculture Department has repositories that store genetic material from every type of tree on earth. Dan Parfitt, a now-retired University of California-Davis plant geneticist, started breeding pistachios using tissue from those repositories more than 30 years ago in an effort to help growers economize their harvest.
As the climate changed, Dr. Parfitt got the idea to plant a few hundred of the trees in the California desert. “The Coachella Valley is the closest to the warmer winters and drier conditions that we will see in the San Joaquin Valley in 20 to 30 years,” he said.
Cannabis findings presented in Mendocino County by Berkeley's Cannabis Research Center
(Ukiah Daily Journal) Carole Brodsky, Sept. 21
One knows times have changed when California Agriculture, the official magazine for the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources Division features High Times-worthy photos of cannabis flowers on the front cover. In fact, cannabis is the sole focus of the quarterly, peer-reviewed publication.
Since 2017, the University of California's Cannabis Research Center (CRC) has been hard at work. A 12-person research team, supported by 50 undergraduates, has been conducting groundbreaking research, some of which was presented to the public on Sept. 15 at the Hopland Research and Extension Center.
Team members presented their findings, including the results of a cannabis production survey, which was taken by 350 California cannabis farmers largely located in the Emerald Triangle region. Dr. Van Butsic, assistant cooperative extension specialist and co-director of the Cannabis Research Center, acted as presenter for the event.
Butte County suffers two more human cases of West Nile
(Chico Enterprise Record) Brody Fernandez, Sept. 20
…Maurice Pitesky, is a researcher medical professional for the Veterinary Medicine Extension at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Pitesky specializes in poultry health and food safety epidemiology — the study of diseases and large populations.
“The reason chickens are ‘sentinels', are because they don't really get sick,” Pitesky said. “Chickens are the canaries in the coal mine for the West Nile virus. We use them to determine if certain areas contain infected mosquitoes and if they've contracted the virus themselves. It's also a good way to put chickens in strategic places and check to see if they are producing the appropriate antibodies to the virus. From a preventative health perspective, they do serve a beneficial service.”
Chickens can not transmit the virus, they are only carriers, Pitesky said.
A tiny beetle has decimated hundreds of SoCal trees. Now experts are worried about Sacramento
(Sac Bee) Michael Finch II, Sept. 19
…The shot hole borer is not a strong flier so it's unlikely to move far on its own. It can, however, move faster when hiding in firewood and other green waste or landscaping equipment, said Akif Eskalen, a plant pathologist and professor at UC Davis.
Eskalen is one of many investigators looking for ways to naturally eradicate the beetle. Eskalen's work focuses on using native plants, but there is an ongoing trial with pesticides and another using natural predators. The studies, he said, “may take several years to complete.”
… Once inside a tree, the female produces offspring that mate with each other when they grow up and the death-dealing cycle repeats. This sequence happens as many as four times a year, or more if the weather is hotter, said Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann, a researcher studying the insect for the UC Cooperative Extension in Irvine.
They're believed to have arrived in wood packing materials made with infested wood from Taiwan and Vietnam, she said. Climate change could make it worse since the beetle thrives in warm weather. Its reproductive cycle accelerates as the temperature rises.
“Knowing that they can travel in wood or in green waste or in equipment that makes it a little bit more dangerous,” Nobua-Behrmann said. “It could easily make it to the northern counties with people moving firewood because they find it for cheap or for free.”
CBD oil price likely factor in $100 million payoff predicted for Ventura County hemp crop
Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star, Sept. 18
…More than 25,000 products can be made from industrial hemp, said Oli Bachie, a UC Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Imperial County who is studying hemp production. The plant can be used for fiber, feed, textiles and oils, but most if not all of the strains of hemp being planted in the county are for CBD, apparently because of the large profits that are expected.
Bachie would not be surprised to see that happen around the state.
"There is a huge interest in this because people want to grab the first economic benefit out of it," Bachie said.
Federal Government Approves Release Of Non-Native Weevil In California To Combat Invasive Thistle
(CapRadio) Drew Sandsor, Sept 18
…The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it will permit use of the weevil native to Europe and western Asia to control yellow starthistle, which is from the same areas.
Brad Hanson, UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist at UC Davis, says yellow starthistle thrives in part because of its prickly spines.
"So it's not very palatable to any livestock, especially once it's started to flower, and it's toxic to horses. So 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.
California farms, ranches strive to adapt as climate warms - it's a matter of survival
(San Francisco Chronicle) Peter Fimrite, Sept 18
…Josué Medellín-Azuara, the associate director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Merced, said the biggest issue will be irrigation. Decreases in the Sierra snowpack mean less melting in the summer, so more rainwater will need to be stored in the winter. Hotter temperatures would also mean crops and orchards will retain less moisture.
“Plants may actually lose water more quickly because of the heat, so they may actually need more water than they need now to survive,” Medellín-Azuara said. This at a time when California is expected to experience more droughts.
…Frank Mitloehner, a professor in the UC Davis animal science department, said that is why sensors are being installed to monitor water use, and more ranchers are adopting regenerative farming and grazing techniques that ensure the land sequesters more carbon than it emits.
Drought tolerant crop being studied in the Valley
(ABC 30) Cristina Davies, Sept. 17
Big research is happening at the Kearney Agriculture and Extension Center in Fresno County.
Sorghum, a crop that looks similar to corn, is under a microscope.
Jeff Dahlberg, director of the center, said that sorghum is very drought tolerant.
"What we are looking for is the mechanism behind the drought tolerance in sorghum and if we can elucidate the genetics behind that, what we believe is we can use those genetics to see if the genetics in corn, or in rice, or in wheat," he said.
UC Pot Researchers Working with 'Gray Literature'
(East Bay Express) Dan Mitchell, Sept. 17
… The problem was brought into sharp relief last week when the Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley made its first formal presentation of the work that it's been doing. The center began operating at the beginning of the year to "promote interdisciplinary scholarship on the social and environmental dimensions of cannabis production." Every one of the five researchers who spoke during the presentation addressed the often-ridiculous restrictions under which they still operate. As Chronic Town reported recently, researchers in public universities all over the state aren't even allowed to be around pot plants, thanks to the federal ban — a mighty hurdle for people studying health effects, cultivation methods, pest-management techniques, and the like.
"It's a tricky problem," observed center Co-Director Van Butsic, an adjunct professor who specializes in land use. "We don't want our researchers to stay in the academy."
Here's a talk about creating sustainable landscapes in Redlands, sponsored by Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society
(Redlands Daily Facts) Sept. 17
Janet Hartin, an area environmental horticulture adviser for San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, will present a program on “Beautiful Sustainable Landscapes for Redlands” when the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Redlands Church of the Nazarene, 1307 E. Citrus Ave.
Sept. 18 meeting to explore prescribed burning
(Taft Midway Driller) Sept. 17
The SRWC's meeting will begin with an introduction from Etna Fire Chief Alan Kramer, after which Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse, advisors with UC Cooperative Extension and co-founders of the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association, will share the story of how their PBA got started two years ago. They'll talk about their PBA's work – more than a thousand acres of prescribed fire through 18 different projects – and they'll talk more generally about options for prescribed fire on private lands, permitting and regulations, project costs, and the benefits of prescribed fire on rangelands, forests, and woodlands.
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.