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Sudden oak death bioblitz to help stem the spread of disease

UC Cooperative Extension is hosting a sudden oak death bioblitz April 25-28 in Northern California, in which a corps of volunteers will fan out across the wildland areas to track the progression of the devastating disease, reported Derek Moore in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Sudden oak death is caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, which was inadvertently introduced to California forests on nursery stock in the 1990s. The disease has killed up to 50 million trees (primarily tanoak, coast live oak, California black oak, Shreve's oak and canyon live oak) from Big Sur to southwest Oregon.

Kerry Winiger, the UCCE sudden oak death outreach coordinator, is organizing this weekend's bioblitz in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. 

Wininger said one of the highlights of this year's surveys is the unveiling of a new test for the European strain of Phytophthora ramorum in time to possibly thwart its spread. The new strain has been detected in Oregon.

“We want to nip it in the bud, if it's here,” Wininger said.

Sonoma County is still reeling from deadly wildfires, making the spread of SOD infection seem to some like a lower priority.

But Winiger said that oaks, as a keystone species, are crucial to the overall health of an ecosystem.

“It's like an arch,” she said. “If you lose a stone in the arch, everything else in the ecosystem is affected.”

Dead tanoak trees within a Humboldt County forest. (Photo: Suddenoakdeath.org)
Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 1:07 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Riverside Washington Navel gets additional protection

The city of Riverside is taking steps to protect a 143-year-old Washington Navel orange tree - the tree that parented most navel oranges alive today, reported the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

According to legend, the seedless and sweet Washington navel was an accidental mutant that appeared on the grounds of a Brazil monastery in the early 1800s. Tree clones were sent to USDA in Washington, D.C., and from there acquired by Eliza Tibbets, who tended the trees at her home in Riverside.

This month, city workers removed two trees that were planted near the iconic navel orange - a Marsh Grapefruit and another navel, which was planted in the 1940s and doesn't have the historical value. They have built a steel structure over the Washington Navel to support a transparent screen that will keep out Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that spreads the devastating huanglongbing virus in citrus.

The measures to protect the tree were planned by a team that includes scientists from UC Riverside, the Citrus Research Board and the USDA, the article said.

The Riverside Washington Navel tree surrounded by open fencing in this 1932 picture. View the Riverside Press-Enterprise to see a photo of the large steel structure that now looms over the tree. (Photo: Department of Interior)

 For more information on the photo above, see visit this UCLA Library page.

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 11:42 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Whiteflies are swarming like snow flurries at the Central Coast

A common springtime nuisance, whitefly populations have escalated this year in California Central Coast areas, reported Megan Healy on KSBY Channel 6 in San Luis Obispo.

People are mistaking them for clouds of pollen or ash; some leaves look like they're coated with a thin layer of new-fallen snow.

The reporter spoke to Cathryn Howarth, a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in San Luis Obispo County. She said the office has received dozens of calls from residents wondering why the whiteflies are so abundant this year.

"It's probably a reflection of the increasing temperatures coming on top of all that nice water we have had, so we have had a flush of vegetation and the flies that came from eggs originally have just all hopped out," Howarth said.

A dense population of winged adult whiteflies and nymphal stages cover foliage, producing large amounts of honeydew (the clear droplet). (Photo: California Agriculture journal)

The story referenced the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Integrated Pest Management Program, which has produced a Pest Note on whiteflies that says signs of an infestation include:

  • Tiny nymphs on the underside of leaves
  • Sticky honeydew on leaves or a covering of black sooty mold
  • Yellowing, silvering or drying of leaves that have whitefly nymphs on them

Howarth said home gardeners can spray the whiteflies with a stream of water from a hose or spray them with insecticidal soap to reduce the population. The pest has abundant natural enemies in the yard, including ladybugs, spiders, lacewings and hummingbirds. However, whitefly outbreaks can occur when the natural biological control is disrupted.

For more information on whitefly management, read the UC IPM Pest Note on whiteflies.

Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 1:43 PM
Tags: Master Gardener (9), whitefly (1)
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Agriculture will have to adapt to the changing climate

In the California agriculture industry, the climate change discussion is less about whether disruption is coming than it is about how farmers will adapt, reported John Cox in the Bakersfield Californian.

Cox spoke to a Delano farmer who doesn't like debating climate change, but he has thought a lot about how to deal with it.

"As a grower, you just take it as it comes," he said.

A honeybee approaches peach blossoms. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Farmers may not agree with new regulations intended to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions seen as accelerating climate change, but they share an interest in preparing for the changes ahead, the article said.

"Everybody I know in agriculture says, 'Yes, the climate's changing and adaptation to that climate change is crucial.' So that's not controversial," said Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources statewide program. "At the same time, that doesn't mean they buy into every public policy proposal for mitigating the climate change."

Climate change is likely to prompt farmers to grow different varieties or different crops.

But even as California agriculture may struggle to adjust to climate change, so will its competitors overseas, Sumner said. The real question is whether the state's farming climate will remain superior in relation to that of other countries producing the same crops, he said.

In the Washington Post, Adrian Higgins reported on the impact of climate change to agriculture across the nation. From Appalachia to North Carolina to California, milder winters are inducing earlier flowering of temperate tree fruits, exposing the blooms to increasingly erratic frost, hail and other adverse weather.

Breeders are working to develop new varieties, said Katherine Jarvis-Shean, a UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor in Yolo County. But new trees typically take two decades of methodical breeding to create, exposing existing varieties to the vagaries of shifting winters and springs.

“The consumer will begin to know it's happening in the coming 10 to 20 years,” Jarvis-Shean said. 

 
Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 10:35 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

ANR in the news March 13-28

New Series of Nitrogen Management Advice Available

(Cal Ag Today) March 28

California growers can download a new series of publications summarizing efficient nitrogen management practices from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The publications are designed to assist growers in complying with state regulations for tracking and reporting nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops, in an effort to prevent nitrogen from leaching into groundwater.

https://californiaagtoday.com/new-series-of-nitrogen-management-advice-available

 

UC helps growers comply with new regulations

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, March 27

A few months ago, while I was working with Todd Fitchette on a special package we were doing (or, he was doing and I was pitching in on) that focused on the 50th anniversary of the Citrus Research Board, I wrote a column about the benefits of land-grant universities such as the University of California (UC).

It's not an overstatement, I wrote, that the vast network of UC Cooperative Extension offices and research facilities has enabled agriculture in the Golden State to survive amid daunting challenges.

https://www.farmprogress.com/commentary/uc-helps-growers-comply-new-regulations

 

Communities come together to reforest Middletown Trailside Park

(Record Bee) Lucy Llewellyn Byard, March 27 

Outdoorsman Greg Gusti, a University of California cooperative extension director emeritus who specializes in forests and wild lands ecology, addressed the crowd and gave them instructions on how to plant the trees 20 feet apart; showed them what 20 feet looked like on a tape measure, told them to plant the green side up and to keep the roots straight.

… Students dug in groups, sharing shovels and gloves. Sofie Hall and Elissa Holyoke worked with Michael Jones, a UC Cooperative Extension Forestry Advisor to plant their saplings.

https://www.record-bee.com/2019/03/27/communities-come-together-to-reforest-middletown-trailside-park

 

The science and politics of genetically engineered salmon: 5 questions answered

(The Conversation) Alison Van Eenennaam, March 27

A Massachusetts-based company earlier this month cleared the last regulatory hurdle from the Food and Drug Administration to sell genetically engineered salmon in the U.S. Animal genomics expert Alison Van Eenennaam, who served on an advisory committee to the FDA to evaluate the AquAdvantage salmon, explains the significance of the FDA's move and why some have criticized its decision.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/The-science-and-politics-of-genetically-13719679.php

 

Students learn about insects at Farm Day in the City

(ABC 23) Amanda Mason, March 26

David Haviland, UCCE advisor in Kern County, taught students about good bugs and bad bugs at Farm Day in the City.

"Every single insect plays a role, even if it's only purpose is to get eaten by something. Everything is important," said Haviland.

David Haviland an entomologist at the University of California's Extension who studies insects and helps farmers manage agricultural pests, spent Tuesday at the Kern County Fairgrounds teaching students about good bugs and bad bugs at Farm Day in the City.

https://www.turnto23.com/homepage-showcase/students-learn-about-insects-at-farm-day-in-the-city

 

Expert: Speak up now about agriculture's carbon footprint

(Leader Telegram) Brooke Bechen, March 25

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor and air quality extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California-Davis, isn't afraid to speak up, particularly on Twitter where he writes under the handle @GHGGuru. He sees 2.5 million people visiting his Twitter account each month, which provides accurate information on air emissions and busts myths distributed by those looking to attack animal agriculture.

“Being in California is like being at Ground Zero,” he said. “There are urban centers of people who think they're food experts, but most of these people have never set foot on a farm and don't know anything about agriculture.

https://www.leadertelegram.com/country-today/farm/expert-speak-up-now-about-agriculture-s-carbon-footprint/article_888717c3-9cae-58c1-b004-e245cc7e2dc4.html

 

Wildfire Speaker Series Tonight: Fire Resistant Homes & Defensible Space

(YubaNet) March 25

…Dr. Kate Wilkin is the new Forest and Fire Adviser with UC Cooperative Extension in Butte, Nevada, Sutter, and Yuba Counties. She recently moved here from Berkeley, CA where she was postdoctoral researcher focused on wildfire emissions and fire-forest-water relations. Her PhD, also at UC Berkeley, focused on the efficacy of fuel treatments in Northern California shrublands to reduce fire hazards and on mixed conifer forest-fire-water and fire-biodiversity relations. Before moving to California, Kate grew up in rural Appalachia and then explored other fire-prone regions of the US as a natural resource manager and prescribed fire burner on public and nonprofit lands. Based on these experiences and more, she knows that we need to use solutions responsibly, both old and new, to solve our forest health crisis. Kate will be focusing on incorporating fire safe concepts into residential landscaping.

https://yubanet.com/regional/wildfire-speaker-series-tonight-fire-resistant-homes-defensible-space

 

UC Cooperative offers water-measurement class

(David Enterprise) March 25

California water rights holders are required by state law to measure and report the water they divert from surface streams. For people who wish to take the water measurements themselves, the University of California Cooperative Extension is offering training to receive certification April 4 in Redding and Woodland.

 https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/press-release/uc-cooperative-offers-water-measurement-class

Costa Mesa designates April as Coyote Awareness Month and approves further informational efforts to manage them

(Los Angeles Times) Luke Money, March 20

…In the past 30 days, about 20 coyote sightings or encounters in Costa Mesa were logged with Coyote Cacher, an online reporting system [created by Niamh Quinn, UCCE advisor, and IGIS].
https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-cm-coyote-plan-20190320-story.html

 

UCCE Biologicals Conference Introduces New Crop Protection Tools for Growers

(Vegetables West) Matthew Malcolm, March 19, 2019

Biocontrol agents, beneficial microbes, entomopathogenic fungi and bacteria that can enhance crop production — these were all topics of discussion at the recent UC Cooperative Extension Ag Innovations Conference in Santa Maria, led by UCCE Entomology & Biologicals Advisor Surendra Dara.  Watch this brief interview with Surendra as he shares more about what was discussed.

https://vegetableswest.com/2019/03/19/ucce-biologicals-conference-introduces-new-crop-protection-tools-for-growers

 

Landowners aim to fight fire with fire

(Benito Link) Blaire Strohn, March 19, 2019

The 2018 wildfire season in California was devastating, which left local landowners to consider how future blazes can be prevented. Their solution: more fire.

On March 14, The San Benito Working Landscapes Group and the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) hosted a meeting to discuss prescribed burning on San Benito County rangelands.

…UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor Devii Rao said the meeting also looked at Cal Fire funding and prescribed burn associations. She mentioned that last year former Gov. Jerry Brown signed two pieces of legislation related to prescribed burning:

Senate Bill 901 provides Cal Fire $1 billion for forest health, fuel load, and prescribed burns over five years, including $35 million a year for prescribed fire and other reduction projects.

Senate Bill 1260 requires Cal Fire to collaborate with public and private landowners on prescribed burns. They must also create a program for pre-certification for a “burn boss,” a private contractor that has experience in prescribed burning.

…In June, Rao will co-host a meeting with Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeff Stackhouse from UCCE Humboldt County. The meeting is expected to focus on how to develop a prescribed burn association, in addition to a small burn demonstration on a local private ranch.

https://benitolink.com/news/landowners-aim-fight-fire-fire

 

A More Humane Livestock Industry, Brought to You By Crispr

(Wired) Gregory Barber, March 19

Hopes were running high for cow 401, and cow 401 serenely bore the weight of expectations. She entered the cattle chute obligingly, and as the vet searched her uterus, making full use of the plastic glove that covered his arm up to his shoulder, she uttered nary a moo. A week ago, Cow 401 and four other members of her experimental herd at UC Davis were in the early stages of pregnancy. But now, following a string of disappointing checkups, it was all down to her. Alison Van Eenennaam, the animal geneticist in charge of the proceedings, kept watch from off to one side, galoshes firmly planted in the damp manure, eyes fixed on a portable ultrasound monitor. After a few moments, the vet delivered his fifth and final diagnosis. “She's not pregnant,” he said. Van Eenennaam looked up. “Ah, shit,” she muttered.

https://www.wired.com/story/crispr-gene-editing-humane-livestock

 

Climate change is hurting migrating waterbirds across the West. It could get worse

(Sacramento Bee) Andrew Sheeler, March 18

…Some birds, like the black-necked stilt and the sandhill crane, which breed early in the season, have thrived in the warming climate, said Mohammad Safeeq, a hydrologist with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and an adjunct professor at UC Merced.

But others suffer. That includes the killdeer, the Wilson's snipe, the black tern, and the western and Clark's grebe.

“We have looked at 14 species and among eight open-water and shoreline foraging species that have undergone significant population declines, five were negatively associated with temperature increases,” Safeeq said in an email interview.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article227983859.html

 

Group seeks healthy, resilient forests and communities

(Plumas News) March 18

…A public workshop was held at the Quincy Library on Jan. 15th. Presenter Jeff Stackhouse, the Livestock and Natural Resources advisor for the U.C. Cooperative Extension in Humboldt, presents case studies from the prescribed burn association.

http://www.plumasnews.com/group-seeks-healthy-resilient-forests-and-communities

 

US researchers moving abroad to avoid FDA's CRISPR-edited animal regulations

(Genetic Literacy Project) Cameron English, Alison Van Eenennaam, March 14

One day soon, farmers may be able to raise food animals immune to deadly diseases and spare them painful but necessary procedures like horn removal. These innovations, made possible by CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques, could cut the cost of food production, reduce antibiotic use in agriculture and dramatically improve animal welfare. But federal regulation may very well stifle these developments in the US.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a plan to regulate gene-edited animals as veterinary drugs under the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, because their DNA is “intentionally altered.” The proposal has drawn harsh criticism from animal scientists, some of whom are packing up their labs and leaving the US to avoid the FDA's rules. Food animals, these experts say, should be regulated based on the risk they pose to human health, not the breeding method that produced them.

https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/03/14/us-researchers-moving-abroad-to-avoid-fdas-crispr-edited-animal-regulations

 

Corky Anderson's energy, innovation helped save California's pistachio industry

(Bakersfield Californian) Steven E. Mayer, March 13

"Corky was an important player in the early pistachio industry," said  a Kern County farm adviser with the UC Cooperative Extension who specializes in citrus and pistachios.

"And he was a great cooperator," Kallsen said. "He allowed lots of test trials on his properties."

… In 1980, Anderson and Puryear's first patented rootstock changed the industry, said Kevin Blackwell, general manager of Pioneer Nursery, the wholesale business founded by the two entrepreneurs.

 "In our heyday, we were selling a million trees a year," said Blackwell, who said he has known Anderson for 47 years.

No one does it alone, Kallsen noted. Anderson built and refined his patented rootstock based on earlier research by the University of California. 

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/corky-anderson-s-energy-innovation-helped-save-california-s-pistachio/article_51dff8d4-46a7-11e9-b960-b3bf5d47742f.html

 

Farmers protect crops in rain's aftermath

(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, March 13

Franz Niederholzer, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties, said though cold weather does reduce the risk of most fungal diseases, other problems such as bacterial blast and jacket rot—also a fungal disease—are more prevalent during cool weather.

Cooler weather, however, does help to extend the bloom, he said. That allows farmers more time to apply fungicide, which is recommended at the beginning of bloom and again at full bloom, he said.

Brent Holtz, UCCE farm advisor in San Joaquin County, said he hasn't seen too many problems with fungal diseases at this point, because of how cool it's been, but there have been more incidents of bacterial blast, which can infect trees under stress. In orchards with high nematode populations, the bacteria can enter wounds on the surface of the plants created by frost, he noted.

"It blights the blossoms, and if the blossom is dead, they don't produce fruit," Holtz said.

 http://agalert.com/story/?id=12801

 

Michael learns about 4-H in Fresno County

(KMPH) Stephen Hawkins, March 13, 2019

The 4-H Youth Development Program is preparing for events all over the Central Valley and you are invited.

Michael Ikahihifo spent the morning at Dry Creek Park in Clovis to see what the local 4-H has planned.

https://kmph.com/great-day/michael-in-the-mix/michael-learns-about-4-h-in-fresno-county

 

The City of Cypress calls for its residents to be “Coyote Aware”

(OC Breeze) March 13

The Cypress City Council recently adopted a coyote management plan to address community concerns about the presence of coyotes in Cypress. While coyotes are generally reclusive animals who avoid human contact, it is important to be aware of their presence and take appropriate action to ensure the safety of your property and pets.

…Residents are encouraged to reportcoyote activity on Coyote Cacher:

ucanr.edu/sites/CoyoteCacher/

Coyote Cacher allows the City to monitor all reported encounters.
Residents can also use Coyote Cacher to view a map of reported
encounters and sign up to receive email alerts.

http://www.oc-breeze.com/2019/03/13/136176_the-city-of-cypress-calls-for-its-residents-to-be-coyote-aware

 

California's super bloom attracts swarms of migrating butterflies

(CNN) David Williams, March 13

"I saw more butterflies in the last 10 minutes than I've seen my entire life," Jason Suppes of UC South Coast REC wrote on Twitter.

This year's wildflower super bloom is not only filling California deserts with eye-popping displays of color -- it's also providing a feast for swarms of painted lady butterflies making their way north from Mexico.

"This is the biggest outbreak since 2005," said Art Shapiro, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who's been studying the migration of butterflies in the state since 1972.

…"I saw more butterflies in the last 10 minutes than I've seen my entire life," Jason Suppes wrote Tuesday on Twitter. Suppes is an education specialist at an agricultural research facility in Irvine.

http://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/california-butterflies-trnd/index.html

 

Grape growers continue push to mechanize

(Western Farm Press) Lee Allen, March 13

…In Fresno, growers affiliated with the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association met to discuss the latest UC research on incidents of disease and machine injury to trunks and rootstock.

… “Growers are having a hard time finding workers to maintain their vineyards and increasing labor costs are challenging grape-farming's economic sustainability,” says UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor George Zhuang.  “We're studying the use of machines to reduce the number of people needed to perform tasks like pruning.

“Because canopy architecture and yield characteristics involving mechanically-pruned vines are much different from those that are hand-pruned, water and fertilizer requirements for the mechanically pruned vines can be quite different. Performance of different rootstocks in mechanical pruning systems is critical for both yield and fruit quality of grape production in the San Joaquin Valley.”

…Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist in the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department, whose research involves improving vineyard production efficiency through canopy and crop load management via mechanization, says the case for switching out hand labor with machines gets stronger with growers using such mechanization for pruning, suckering, and removing shoots and leaves.

“Mechanical pruning can produce more stable year-to-year fruit yields of better quality than traditional and more costly hand pruning spurs or canes.” His comments were based on a Kern County two-year research trial looking for ways for growers to reduce both cost and water use.

https://www.farmprogress.com/grapes/grape-growers-continue-push-mechanize

 

As Wildfires Devour Communities, Toxic Threats Emerge

(Reuters) Sharon Bernstein, March 13

At U.C. Davis, where researchers are studying eggs from backyard chickens that may have breathed smoke and pecked at ash in areas affected by wildfires, the work is complicated.

"In an urban fire you're dealing with contaminants that don't go away – arsenic, heavy metals, copper, lead, transformer fluid, brake fluid, fire retardant," said veterinarian Maurice Pitesky, who is leading the study.
https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2019-03-13/as-wildfires-devour-communities-toxic-threats-emerge

 

DR. GLENDA HUMISTON: Managing our Lands to Manage our Water

Maven's Notebook, March 13, 2019

Dr. Glenda Humiston is Vice President of Agriculture & Natural Resources for the University of California. At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Humiston was the opening keynote speaker, and in her speech, she talked about work being done to address drought vulnerability, the importance of managing watersheds, the goals of the California Economic Summit, and the promising future of biomass.

She began by saying that we have known for a long time that water insecurity is a huge issue, and not just due to climate change or droughts; it's also policy, regulations, allocations and technology – there are a lot of issues and managing the effects of it are very challenging.

 https://mavensnotebook.com/2019/03/13/dr-glenda-humiston-managing-our-lands-to-manage-our-water/

 

Hearing planned to examine the future of development in California's most fire prone regions

(Lake County News) March 13

…The hearing, led by Senators Henry Stern and Mike McGuire, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, respectively, titled “Living Resiliently in the New Abnormal: The Future of Development in California's Most Fire Prone Regions” will be held Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol in Room 4203. 

…Testifying at the hearing are:
· Mark Ghilarducci, director, California Office of Emergency Services;
· Bob Fenton, regional administrator, FEMA Region 9;
· Dr. Max Moritz, statewide wildfire specialist, University of California Cooperative Extension;
· Jeff Lambert, director of planning, city of Oxnard, past president, American Planning Association, California Chapter;
· Chief Kate Dargan, California State Fire Marshal (retired), Cal Fire;
· Chief Ken Pimlott, director (retired), Cal Fire;
· Scott Lotter, former mayor, city of Paradise;
· Tim Snellings, planning director, Butte County;
· Chief Michael McLaughlin, Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department;
· Ty Bailey, California Professional Firefighters, president, Sacramento Area Firefighters, Local 522, fire captain, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/17849-hearing-held-today-wednesday-will-examine-the-future-of-development-in-california-s-most-fire-prone-regions

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