Themis Michailides, plant pathologist and lecturer in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, and Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, recently visited Australia, primarily to visit pistachio and almond orchards and discuss disease control and food safety strategies for these crops.
In 2011, Australia had excessive rains at harvest time, which resulted in pistachio crop losses of 40 to 50 percent due to anthracnose fungi. The lost crop was worth about $15 million. To help prevent the problem in the future, the growers went to California to get input on current disease management strategies. Themis Michailides’ research and extension program was very helpful. As a result, the pistachio and almond crop growers of Australia created protocols to prevent and control the disease. The Australian Pistachio Industry invited Dr. Michailides to tour the Riverland and Sunraysia regions this year to inspect orchards that were previously affected by the anthracnose as well as meet with Australian researchers.
Dr. Michailides was surprised to find lower limb dieback in Australia. This is a problem that his program studied in California for many years with funds from the Californian Almond Board.
The trip was mutually beneficial. The Australian industry and researchers received expert advice and Dr. Michailides learned about practices in Australia that can benefit his research and extension program in California.
Highlights of the trip are summarized below.
- Brisbane: met with Australian plant pathologists from the local area and discussed many plant diseases of interest to the local region.
- Adelaide: stayed and enjoyed visiting with his UC Davis classmate Prue McMichael’s family; visited local laboratories and research organizations to discuss pistachio, pomegranate and almond disease control and food safety strategies.
- Mallee and Riverland regions: met with growers and researchers to discuss disease control and food safety strategies for pistachios and almonds. Displayed samples of Anthracnose and Botryosphaeria infected nuts and leaves that were collected during Dr. Michailides’ Australian orchard visits.
- Mildura: met with the Australian Pistachio Research and Development Committee and discussed some of the pistachio disease control efficacy research being done in Australia. Recommended that the committee access “Fungicides, Bactericides, and Biologicals for deciduous Tree Fruit, Nut, Strawberry, and Vine Corps 2012” to review current pest management strategies for tree fruit, tree nut, strawberry and vine crops. Shared how to closely inspect trees, bark, wood, leaves and nuts to identify and diagnose symptoms of various diseases, as well as predict disease risks based on inoculum levels and weather conditions.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
This imperative was among the thoughts shared at a town hall meeting April 22 at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center convened by CDFA secretary Karen Ross and farmer John Harris. Ross and Harris, members of the recruitment advisory committee, are traveling the state to collect diverse input on the challenges and opportunities the next dean will face, as well as the characteristics most important for the University to consider in recruiting and screening candidates.
Ross noted that the candidate must have appropriate academic credentials, including a doctorate degree and at least five years academic experience, plus at least five years of administrative experience. And, she continued, "for me, personally, an understanding of the land grant mission is a must."
The audience of prominent San Joaquin Valley farmers, commodity leaders and academic administrators offered their suggestions for important candidate characteristics, including:
- Farmer friendly
- Able to convene groups traditionally at odds with one another
- Collaborative. "We need someone who values other partners," said Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State.
- An advocate for agriculture. "UC Davis carries tremendous weight in Washington D.C., and at the state level," said a participant.
- In tune with younger Californians. "Students going to college today are different; they're seeking education that is non traditional, less formal," said Cameron Boswell, J.G. Boswell Co.
The group also suggested how the new dean can lead CAES to best address the needs of the California agricultural community, such as:
- Maintain a strong extension program. "Information should go to make California agriculture competitive first," said Barry Bedwell, President of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
- Recruit more students to agricultural careers. "Extension needs to be the main motivator," said farmer Carol Chandler.
- Conduct applied science.
- Search for high technology solutions. "All the easy problems have been solved," said a participant.
Ending the meeting on a high note, Ross asked participants to share the top one or two current opportunities they see for agriculture in California:
- Innovative new food products
- National security
- New technology
- Innovations to transcend the world marketplace
- Food security in light of climate change
March 20, 2013, Ag Day: The California Advantage was held on the west lawn of the State Capitol, and gave UC Agriculture and Natural Resources the opportunity to share how we make a positive difference to healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities and healthy Californians through our teaching, research, extension, youth development, and nutrition programs.
Capitol Ag Day celebrates California’s bounty and dozens of booths allow attendees to learn about many of the 400 commodities grown and raised in the state. Ag Leaders get a chance to talk about the $40 billion that agriculture brings to California’s economy every year, as well as some of the factors that enable California to produce nearly half of the US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables.
UC exhibitors included Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, the Research and Extension Center System, and UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
Elected officials, staff and their families toured the booths from 10:30 am to 11:30 am, and the general public attended from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Stage presentations started at noon, and included California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, Karen Ross, Senator Cathleen Galgiani, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Senator Anthony Cannella, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Assembly member Frank Bigelow, author of HR 12 honoring the 100th anniversary of 4-H, Kenny Watkins, First Vice President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Karri Hammerstrom, President of California Women for Agriculture, Judy Culbertson, Executive Director of California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom, Emcee Laura McIntosh, Host of PBS’ “Bringing it Home”, and other groups. The highlight of the lunchtime presentations was the world’s largest school lunch tray, which fed about 700 elementary students.
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is participating in eight booths at the 2013 World Ag Expo, which will run from Feb. 12-14 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare. Pavilion A will house a cluster of University of California booths: UC Cooperative Extension Tulare County (UCCE) at booth 1411 will be next to Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) at booth 1412, and Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) will be across the walkway at booth 1513.
Lindcove Research and Extension Center and UC Riverside Department of Entomology will be helping the Citrus Research Board at booth L36. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center will be at booth 6014. Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Center will be sharing booth M54 with Wilcox Agri-products. The UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Science will be at booth 8013.
The goal of all of the booths is increasing our visibility as well as increasing the public’s awareness of how UC ANR programs help ensure healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities and healthy Californians by providing leadership and innovation through research, education and service.
- UCCE Tulare County will have publications on display; different advisors will be available at different times to answer questions. Tuesday will feature UCCE advisors Kevin Day, deciduous tree fruit, Neil O-Connell, citrus and avocado, and Julie Finzel, livestock and natural resources. Wednesday will feature UCCE advisors Elizabeth Fichtner, nuts, olives and dried plums, Carol Frate, alfalfa, dry Beans, corn and oil crops, and Michelle Le Strange, vegetables, weed control, turf and landscape. Thursday will feature UCCE advisors Manuel Jimenez, vegetables and integrated pest management, Cathi Lamp, nutrition, family and consumer sciences, and Steve Wright, cotton, winter cereals, and weed control.
- KARE will have a TV monitor with slides of KARE’s research and extension programs; an interactive GIS computer program; and interactive displays of pests and beneficial organisms. Kearney director Jeffery Dahlberg and KARE research staff will be available all week to answer questions about research and extension programs at KARE. Other KARE specialists, advisors and staff will be available for shorter periods. An ‘Ag Warrior’ intern plans to staff the booth as well. The World Ag Expo’s Ag Warriors program prepares returning veterans for careers in the agriculture industry.
- ANR will be displaying and selling ANR publications and have an interactive integrated pest management touch-screen kiosk for home and pest control.
- Citrus entomology, affiliated with Lindcove and UC Riverside Entomology, will have an interactive display of citrus pests, disease, varieties, and integrated pest management technologies in conjunction with the Citrus Research Board.
- CASI will have a display of conservation agriculture systems, practices and impact.
- UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center will provide brochures on the fourth-year veterinarian student clinical rotations and research programs; videos of veterinarian students on the farm; informational handouts on the SMV’s Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine programs; careers in veterinary medicine; and VMTRC’s dairy production medicine program.
- The UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences will have several interactive media displays. IPads will showcase the college’s information, including majors, internship opportunities, facilities, and ways to get involved on campus. Videos that showcase the university and the students will be on iPads and an overhead TV monitor. Current students (Aggie Ambassadors) will be in attendance and available to answer questions about student life, programs they are involved in, and their majors.
We will probably have something that interests you, so please come and join us!
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Anaheim boasted a thriving wine industry in the late 1800s, before an unnamed affliction killed 40,000 acres of the grapevines and put 50 wineries out of business. The problem was later found to have been Pierce’s disease of grapevines. Would Anaheim be wine country today if it weren’t for Pierce’s disease? Probably not, but the sad fate of this Southern California wine industry underscores the importance of controlling the disease and the insects that spread it in California’s thriving grape growing regions.
GWSS has turned out to be a very efficient vector of Xyella fastidiosa, the bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease in grapes. When GWSS made their way to places where scientists believed the bacterium didn’t exist, such as Kern County, grapevines began to express symptoms of the disease. The county agricultural commissioners in the San Joaquin Valley have been working tirelessly over the last 10 years to keep glassy-winged sharpshooters out of grape growing regions to protect a very valuable economic driver. In Fresno County alone, where grapes are the No. 1 agricultural commodity, the crop was worth $961 million in 2011.
Despite the efforts to contain GWSS in Fresno County, the pest is spreading very gradually south and east of the Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area into commercial vineyards and orchards.
“Cooperation by urban residents where we find GWSS has been great,” said Fred Rinder of the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s office. Nevertheless, in 2012, GWSS was found spreading out in Kerman, Parlier, Sanger and Kingsburg.
Stephen Vasquez, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Fresno County, fears local grape farmers have become complacent about glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce’s disease, even though all grapes are susceptible. The best way to control its spread, he said, is to monitor and manage sharpshooter vectors and remove and replace vines that have tested positive for Xylella fastidiosa.
“Be vigilant. Learn the symptoms and train crews and workers,” Vasquez said. “Pierce’s disease has been around for a long time and GWSS has been here more than a decade, but we still haven’t had that marriage of the two. That is potentially devastating.”