About 20 carrot industry stakeholders attended a carrot field day on October 7, 2015. The field day showcased the current status of a 20-year program to incorporate root-knot nematode resistance into commercial quality carrots. Philip A Roberts, Chair, nematologist, and professor in the Department of Nematology at UC Riverside, Philipp Simon, Carrot and Garlic Geneticist at USDA-ARS and the Department of Horticulture at University of Wisconsin, Madison lead the project. The research and breeding effort is funded by grants from the California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board and USDA-NIFA.
Numerous carrot advanced breeding lines show good resistance to root-knot infection and will be important in nematode management strategies when resistant varieties are released for growers. The project sites are infested with Meloidogyne javanica and M. incognita, the two common root-knot species in the warm interior valleys of California. To ensure uniform and heavily infested research sites, a 4-year rotation for experimentation (control and advanced selections and crosses of carrots) and uniform cropping (susceptible sorghum, lima beans, and tomatoes) is used.
Kearney is one of several sites used in field screening wild germplasm, new and advanced breeding lines, and finished varieties of carrots. The plots are coded for the source of resistance, and a highly susceptible carrot cultivar planted in every fifth plot is used to indicate the infestation levels. The primary goal is to select for resistance as well as market quality. The crossing of resistant and susceptible carrot lines is followed by agronomic and resistance selection to provide high quality resistant carrot breeding stocks to the seed industry. The seed companies then inter-breed the resistance with their own breeding lines to develop commercial varieties with resistance. The resistance should be highly beneficial for nematode management. Field site data is used with greenhouse data at UC Riverside. The project has also facilitated carrot genome mapping.
If you are interested in getting information regarding research on the use of sorghum as a multi-purpose low-input crop for California, please go to this link. Under the research link, there are some videos showing the harvest of experimental plots as well as the use of a drone to perform rapid, robotic phenotyping of sorghum for character traits such as plant height, leaf area, and biomass area--data points used to help search for genes that control mechanisms involved in both drought tolerance and salinity tolerance in sorghum. Research is currently being performed at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Desert Research and Extension Center, and West Side Research and Extension Center.
- Author: Jeffery A. Dahlberg
The U.S. Grains Council sponsored a team of managers from leading dairies in China to visit local dairy operations in California, discuss feed and nutrition issues, and to attend the World Dairy Expo in Chicago. The team, made up of nutritionists, farm managers, and general managers met with Jeff Dahlberg, Director of the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and sorghum expert to discuss the potential use of sorghum forages and grain for dairy feed. Dahlberg spent several hours providing the delegation with a field tour and lecture on “what is sorghum” and its potential use as a low input, low water source for nutritious dairy feed. Dahlberg is investigating the potential of sorghum for dairies in California and information about its potential and evaluation of potential commercial sorghum forage hybrids can be found at sorghum.ucanr.edu.
Kearney is participating in a $12.3M study of crop drought tolerance funded by the US Department of Energy. The five-year project is called Epigenetic Control of Drought Response in Sorghum, or EPICON. Peggy Lemaux, cooperative extension specialist at UC Berkeley's Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, is heading the entire project. Co-investigators are Devin Coleman-Derr, Elizabeth Purdom and John Taylor from UC Berkeley; Jeffrey Dahlberg and Robert Hutmacher from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources; Chia-Lin Wei from the DOE Joint Genome Institute; and Christer Jansson from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Sorghum will be studied to explore the epigenetic mechanisms that allow a crop to survive drought conditions. Epigenetic modifications turn genes on or off without modifying the DNA sequence.
“Historically, the genetic manipulation of crops, which has been critical to increasing agricultural productivity, has concentrated on altering the plant's genetic sequence, encoded in its DNA,” said Lemaux. “However, recent studies have shown that environmental stresses – in our case drought – can lead to epigenetic changes in a plant's genetic information. Because epigenetic changes occur without altering the underlying DNA sequence, they allow plants to respond to a changing environment more quickly.”
For The Daily Californian article, please click here.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, six UC scientists have written letters to their successors at Kearney to be read when the center celebrates its centennial in 2065.
Center director Jeff Dahlberg, who will be 108 years old in 2065, predicted in his letter that today's modern technology – smart phones and computers – will be ditched by then in favor of holographic demonstrations about new plants and agronomic practices.
“You'll be able to see, in 3-D, how plant systems function, how genes work, and what happens when you turn a gene off or on and the cascading effects of those actions,” Dahlberg predicted.
A time capsule containing the letters will be buried on May 26, exactly 50 years after the May 26, 1965, dedication of the sprawling research station near Parlier in the Central San Joaquin Valley. It will also contain a 20-foot-long banner with a timeline showing significant research accomplishments at Kearney. The banner will have signatures and messages from all the invited attendees at the 50th anniversary celebration on May 26, 2015.
Kearney is one of nine agricultural research and extension facilities UC Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains in California. The northernmost is on the Oregon border near Tulelake; the southernmost is in Holtville, a short drive from the border with Mexico. Centers are found in the Sierra foothills, in the North Coast and in suburban Southern California. Each center represents local conditions and focuses on crops and activities important in the area.
At the 330-acre UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, scientists conduct research on a diversity of Central San Joaquin Valley crops, including grapes, stone fruit, almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, blueberries, alfalfa and more recently sorghum. Twenty Ph.D.-level scientists are based at the center, where they conduct research in pest control, new crop varieties, plant disease control and irrigation strategies.
A scientist who joined the staff in 2013, Kris Tollerup, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM), will be looking for some answers from his successors.
“Growers and pest control advisors are reluctant to adopt new IPM practices until they are well proven,” Tollerup wrote. “I am curious, do you face the same challenge?”
Since Tollerup will be 105 when the time capsule is opened, his young children, who will be 54 and 58 in 2065, may have to collect the responses for him.
UC IPM advisor Pete Goodell, who with 34 years of service to UC ANR is approaching retirement, had sage advice for successors that might continue to be bombarded with modern conveniences.
“My advice,” Goodell wrote. “Get out of the office and get to the farm . . . Create and nourish human networks as well as virtual ones.”
Goodell tells his successors that, no matter the technological advances that are sure to come, knowledge transfer will always be based on personal contact and trust.
“Humans, even in your time, are high touch species who thrive on social interaction,” he said.
The other three letters going in the time capsule include these quotes:
“I assume that (nematodes) still will be around when you read this letter. At least this is something that I tell my students: ‘nematode problems will outlive us.'” – Andreas Westphal, UC ANR Cooperative Extension nematology specialist.
“Release of genetically modified mosquitoes carrying sex lethal genes has been approved on a relatively small scale in a few countries. I wonder if this method of control will be better perceived in the future and become the norm?” – Anthony Cornel, entomologist and director of the Mosquito Lab at Kearney.
“It will be interesting to see how the citrus industry adapts to the (Asian citrus psyllid/huanglongbing) situation. Growers are very creative people and I believe they will find a way.” – Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC ANR Cooperative Extension entomology specialist.