- Author: Therese Kapaun
Annual testing of more than 11,000 citrus trees for citrus tristeza virus (CTV) was completed last week at Lindcove REC. This year we found eleven trees infected with the virus, thus the average infection rate was one per thousand trees. This phloem-limited virus is vectored by several species of aphid. Infected trees are removed from the research plots to help protect the research from the disease. Funding for testing the trees is provided by the California Citrus Nursery Board.
Over the course of four weeks, six temporary field staff sampled four young leaf stalks from each tree under the direction of Therese Kapaun, Staff Research Associate at Lindcove REC. Stalk ends were cut and pressed directly onto a nitrocellulose membrane, then later processed in-house at the Plant Pathology Lab using a serological DAS-ELISA bioassay. Blots that were visually positive with this technique were then processed by Therese at a molecular level with RT-PCR, which also allows for virus strain identification. All infected trees were found to be infected with a common asymptomatic T30 strain, and fortunately were not infected with strains that cause severe symptoms such as stem pitting.
Therese was invited to teach the DAS-ELISA technique for CTV at CSU Bakersfield on April 20th. Plant pathology students brought freshly picked citrus stems from the outdoor courtyard trees, and applied their blots on a shared membrane. While incubation were in progress, Therese described the disease history of CTV in California, and discussed quarantine regulations and mandatory testing of citrus propagation material, as well as the ongoing work of the Central California Tristeza Eradication Agency and other industry efforts involved in the detection of severe strains of CTV.
A big shout out to Tom Delfino, Director of the California Citrus Nursery Society, and his wife Cynthia for their generous donation of their vehicle to the Lindcove Research and Extension Center. Donations like these are very special when they come from our citrus industry friends and they are a great support for our research and extension activities!
- Author: Sarah Risorto
- Contributor: Lisa Blecker
We are in the midst of a new and changing era of Worker Protection Standards (WPS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently published the revised WPS, which is meant to increase protections for agricultural fieldworkers and pesticide handlers from pesticide exposure when they're working in farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses. The changes are already affecting California agriculture!
What major regulatory changes have already gone into effect?
Several changes are required to have been in place as of January 2, 2017. These include:
- All 417,000 fieldworkers in California must attend annual pesticide safety training.
- Records of all fieldworker pesticide safety trainings must be kept on file for 2 years.
- Fields must be posted when the restricted entry interval (REI) exceeds 48 hours.
- “Application-exclusion zones” must be implemented to prevent the entry of anyone into areas up to 100 feet from pesticide application equipment.
- Instructors previously qualified via a DPR-approved Instructor Training programs (Train the Trainer) are qualified to train through 2017. If you wish to be qualified to train fieldworkers and handlers after December 31, 2017 using this qualification, you must complete an updated, DPR-approved Train the Trainer workshop.
Now is the time to make sure these changes are put in place!
What major regulatory changes are still in store for us? When will they happen?
The regulatory changes that must be in place by January 2, 2018 include:
- Additional training topics for fieldworkers and handlers have to be added to the curriculum.
- Handlers have to suspend an application if anyone enters the application exclusion zone.
Who do these changes affect?
Many people who work in the California agricultural community will be impacted by the WPS revisions. These include fieldworkers, pesticide handlers, farm labor contractors, private and in-house safety trainers, growers, farm managers, licensed pesticide applicators (private and commercial), pest control advisors (PCAs), and crop consultants, to name a few.
How do I know if I am qualified to train?
If you attended one of the DPR-approved Train-the-Trainer programs you are qualified through 2017. However, if you wish to continue training after the end of the year, you must complete a DPR-approved Instructor Training Program, which includes the 2018 training topic requirements.
If you maintain certain licenses/government designations, including PAC, QAC, QAL, PCA, and certain County Biologist licenses you are qualified to train. UCCE Advisors are also qualified to train.
How can I get qualified as a trainer?
To become a trainer, take an Instructor Training program that is approved by DPR for 2018 topics. The University of California Pesticide Safety Education Program (part of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, UC IPM), in partnership with AgSafe, will offer multiple workshops this spring that cover the new federal requirements for fieldworker and handler training. You can reserve your spot now. At the end of the training you will be a certified pesticide safety instructor.
If I am currently qualified, how can I make sure I stay up to date on all the new requirements?
If you are currently qualified as a trainer because you maintain a California PAC, QAC, or QAL, or if you are a PCA, you can attend an Instructor Training Program this spring to learn about the new WPS requirements and additional training topics. While a certification may qualify you, an Instructor Training Program will prepare you to train! Register today!
Staff Research Associate Sara Scott from the Entomology group at Lindcove Research and Extension Center taught 8th grade math lab students in Woodlake this week about citrus pests, citrus varieties and how to design their own research trial. They calculated total acreage, total trees, trees per acre and how much of an acre is 8 trees. They then calculated the amount of chemicals needed to treat 5 acres of citrus. The kids were engaged in the discussion and snacked on Cara Caras and blood oranges from Lindcove while they worked. This was a great example of linking learning with agricultural activities.
We were very excited this year to provide 100+ varieties of citrus for the general public to taste on Dec 10 in Lindcove REC's annual event. As a special bonus this year, we also prepared an exhibit of fruit and potted plants with various pest, disease, and genetic disorders for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) high school students to study. These students will compete in citrus judging contests and the fruit that we provided helped them to prepare for this event. Students and their coaches from Golden West, Mt Whitney, Woodlake, Orosi, and Central Valley Christian high schools participated in the training.