Andreas Westphal helped provide back to back meetings that concentrated on sharing research, discoveries, and disease problems, as well as developing and new pest management technologies for soilborne diseases. These diseases include fungus, nematode, bacteria, and virus populations found in the soil. Attendees included personnel from universities, state agencies, and multiple components of the Ag industry. Information was shared in meeting rooms and field sites. Soilborne pests of food crops, ornamental plants and native plants were discussed. The basic agenda is available online.
UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center provided a lettuce planting workshop for about 3500 third grade students from 36 schools and 16 districts at the 11th annual Fresno Farm and Nutrition Day. Students learned what it takes to be a healthy plant and a healthy person, they then planted 2 leaf lettuce plants to take home and enjoy. An ABC 30 news video shows some of the lettuce planting, which was made possible with the help of many volunteers. Greenheart Farms and The Food Plant People provided donations for the workshop. The lettuce planting was featured in videos and on the front page of the March 19, 2016 edition of The Fresno Bee. UC ANR was also represented by a Cal Fresh workshop and 4-H youth who brought farm animals. For more photos, please go to the UCANR facebook page.
The Kings County Farm Day was held at the Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford on March 1, 2016. This collaborative effort of the Kings County Farm Bureau, the Kings County Office of Education, and the Kings Fair provides a venue to increase the awareness of third grade students about how our lives depend upon Agriculture. Students were exposed to Agricultural equipment, animals, and practices. Presentations and workshops were provided by older students in 4-H and FFA along with many other volunteers. Everyone helped make the event that served 2335 third graders and 105 teachers from 35 schools a great success.
Kearney helped by providing a lettuce planting workshop. Kennedy Baker, a Kings county 4-H All Star, who is a junior at Lemoore High School, joined over twenty other volunteers to help students learn what it takes to be a healthy plant and a healthy person, as well as plant 2 leaf lettuce seedlings to take home, grow, and enjoy eating.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
A team of researchers has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find new ways to combat Johnsongrass, one of the most widespread and troublesome agricultural weeds in the world.
"Johnsongrass is a huge problem," said Jeff Dahlberg, UC Cooperative Extension sorghum specialist and director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, Calif. "It impacts many different crops and is very hard to control."
Dahlberg is part of the team that includes scientists from Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia. Andrew Paterson, director of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory at the University of Georgia, Athens, is the lead investigator.
Native to the Mediterranean region, Johnsongrass has spread across every continent except Antarctica. It was introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s as a forage crop, but it quickly spread into surrounding farmland and natural environments, where it continues to cause millions of dollars in lost agricultural revenue each year, according to the USDA.
The naturalization of Johnsongrass across much of the U.S. has also allowed the plant to develop attributes — such as cold and drought tolerance, resistance to pathogens and the ability to flourish in low-fertility soils — that make it particularly difficult to control. Adding to the challenge is the adoption of herbicide-resistant crops around the world.
"Herbicide-resistant crops have been associated with a dramatic increase in herbicide-resistant weeds," Patterson said. "With 21 genetically similar but different types of Johnsongrass known to be resistant to herbicides, it will only become more problematic in the future."
Over the course of their five-year project, the researchers will work to better understand the weed's capabilities and the genes that make Johnsongrass so resilient. Johnsongrass [Sorghum halepense] is closely related to sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], a healthy gluten-free grain, animal feed and biofuel crop. Lessons learned from the Johnsongrass research may lead to strategies to improve sorghum.
For his part, Dahlberg plans to use the global information system (GIS) to map the locations of Johnsongrass in California to better record its distribution in the state and to help understand how it spread into California by relating it to other populations of johnsongrass in the U.S.
"Ideally, we will use an app to map, identify, manage, and catalog populations that have developed different traits – such as susceptibility to plant disease, ability to host a particular insect, or resistance to herbicides," he said.
This information may lead to new management strategies that curb its growth, providing farmers with more options to combat the invasive plant. The researchers also hope that learning more about the fundamental structures that give Johnsongrass its unusual resilience will pave the way for new genetic tools to improve useful plants, such as sorghum.
Other researchers working on this project are Jacob Barney, Virginia Tech; C. Michael Smith, Kansas State University; Wesley Everman, North Carolina State University; Marnie Rout, University of Texas, Temple; and Clint Magill and Gary Odvody, Texas A&M University.
An initiative to manage endemic and invasive pests and diseases is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.
- Author: Tunyalee A. Martin
Wildlife and people have been in the news lately. Perhaps you've heard of coyotes wandering in your neighborhood. You might have also read about how you shouldn't feed wildlife. Did you know they are connected? It's a problem when people feed coyotes either intentionally or unintentionally through uncovered garbage and outdoor pet food. Available food may encourage coyotes to associate closely with humans and to lose their natural fear of us. These interactions will be discussed during a special symposium on urban coyotes at the 27th Vertebrate Pest Conference.
The Vertebrate Pest Conference is held every two years, mostly in California. This year, the meeting will be Monday through Thursday, March 7to 10 in Newport Beach. Meetings are held in cooperation with the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA). The leading authorities with vertebrate management expertise from around the world congregate to present the latest research and extension information. Are you an animal control official, wildlife manager, agricultural producer, pest control adviser, consultant, educator, researcher, or natural resource manager? Then this meeting is for you. California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Department of Public Health continuing education units are available for participants.
Special symposia include bird management, wild pig management, and urban coyotes. In Cooperative Extension Advisor Niamh Quinn's backyard of extremely urban Southern California, these coyote-human conflicts occur. With over 3 million people in Orange County, 8 state parks and beaches, countless city parks and 19 county parks and wilderness areas, conflicts with urban coyotes are bound to happen. Managing coyotes includes managing people's behavior too.
Quinn says, “We can't manage what we can't measure. This conference provides a unique opportunity to discuss ongoing conflicts, especially those related to urban coyote management. Research is needed to understand urban coyote behavior and if these behaviors are changing as a result of the way we are currently living. Outreach is needed to instruct urbanites on appropriate behavior where coyote conflicts are occurring, and managing coyotes is everyone's concern. We need better and improved strategies for measuring and managing these conflicts.” At the Vertebrate Pest Conference, hear from the experts on the latest information about coyote attacks on humans, coyote conflicts, and several talks on coyote management, including hazing.
Vertebrates are also problematic in commercial agriculture. A 2011 survey of wildlife damage by Cooperative Extension Specialist Roger Baldwin, stated agricultural losses from wildlife damage in California is likely in excess of $1billion annually. Based on the survey results, economic losses were greatest for voles and pocket gophers in alfalfa; and wild pigs, birds, and ground squirrels in nut crops. One talk at the Vertebrate Pest Conference will be a North American overview of bird damage in fruit crops. Other talks cover field rodent repellents, food safety, and trapping.