redcThe hills have been dry for a long time, and the long dry fall is bringing animals into the avocado groves that normally stay out in the hills. They want the green cambium of trees and the moisture it provides. And especially rodents will have a field day in the well-maintained orchards.
Gophers are not usually a problem in mature avocados. They will often chew the bark below ground. Ground squirrels when they get hungry can go after just about any part of the tree, trunk branches and fruit. Voles or meadow mice will go after bark about 2 inches above ground. Rabbits can take out bark up to a foot above ground. This bark damage often leads to the yellowing of the canopy and if damage is extensive enough, wilting of the canopy. Growers don't normally see the damage until they see the wilted tree and start looking for the problem. If healing along the margins of the damage is occurring, it means it was damage that was done previously. If margins are still ragged, it means the beasts are still enjoying the tree. Trapping, poisons and a busy Jack Russell terrier are all effective, especially if used together. Voles especially like mulch around the base of the tree, and should be pulled away a foot to 18 inches. They make tunnels thought the mulch which then becomes a diagnostic for identifying the cause.
It's not just avocados that are ravaged by these animals. Citrus is like candy to them and then there's all those acres and acres of almonds that have been planted.
Avocado canopy collapse. Why? Check the tree out. See the red squirrel feeding stations in the background?
Damage that is healing over.
- Author: Christina Herrick
This article is from Florida Grower News. Thanks for Jim Lloyd-butler for pointing it out.
A sister species of the Varroa destructor mite is developing the ability to parasitize European honeybees, threatening pollinators already hard pressed by pesticides, nutritional deficiencies, and disease, a Purdue University study says.
Researchers found that some populations of Varroa jacobsoni mites are shifting from feeding and reproducing on Asian honeybees, their preferred host, to European honeybees, the primary species used for crop pollination and honey production worldwide. To bee researchers, it's a grimly familiar story: V. destructor made the same host leap at least 60 years ago, spreading rapidly to become the most important global health threat to European honeybees.
While host-switching V. jacobsoni mites have not been found outside of Papua New Guinea, Purdue researchers Gladys Andino and Greg Hunt say vigilance is needed to protect European honeybees worldwide from further risk.
“This could represent a real threat,” said Andino, a bioinformatics specialist with Information Technology at Purdue. “If this mite gets out of control and spreads, we might have another situation like V. destructor.”
Varroa mites are obligate parasites, meaning their lifecycle is inextricably entwined with that of their bee hosts. The mites can do serious damage to their hosts' health due to their relatively large size – “think of a tick as big as your fist,” Hunt said. Mites latch on to bees and feed on their hemolymph, insects' rough equivalent to blood, leaving behind open wounds that are susceptible to infection. They can also transmit diseases such as deformed wing virus and have been linked to colony collapse disorder.
To gain insight into the biology behind V. jacobsoni‘s host switch, Andino and Hunt, professor of behavioral genetics and honeybee specialist, studied the differences in gene expression between V. jacobsoni mites that fed and reproduced on Asian honeybees and those that parasitized European honeybees. Knowing which host cues mites respond to and the genes involved could lead to potential control strategies, the researchers said.
“If we can understand the mechanism, we might be able to disrupt, block, or manipulate that,” Andino said. “But first we have to understand what is happening and which genes are involved in allowing the mites to shift to a new host.”
Andino and Hunt said the mites' leap to European honeybees likely occurred within the last decade. Previously, V. jacobsoni mites were occasionally found on European honeybees but seemed unable to produce healthy offspring, limiting their destructive capacity.
Catching the host transition in its early stages will allow researchers to continue to investigate the complex genetic details behind the shift and monitor infected European honeybees, Hunt said.
“This happened once with one species of mite, and it looks like it's happening again. Maybe if we catch this as it's beginning, we'll be able to figure out why it's happening or, down the road, stop it.”
The paper was recently published in BMC Genomics.
Funding for the study and an ongoing genome-sequencing project was provided USDA's-Agricultural Research Service and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
This article is from Florida Grower News
The latest National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) results are out for the citrus crop. These are results that are collected by the USDA to gauge production in the different growing areas of the country. From this most recent data, it is clear that citrus production is diminishing with time, most likely the effect of Huanglongbing. This is about a 60% decline from 2015.
The impact of this reduced production has reached out to not just growers, but also the juice industry they support, or are supported by. There's been a decline in the number of juice plants since 2014 which are reliant on volume to stay in business. If plants close, growers have fewer options for their juice citrus. http://www.theledger.com/news/20140705/at-least-one-juice-processor-expected-to-close
Most commercial crop production figures are collected by state and summarized on a state basis with the Agricultural Census every 10 years - https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/. The last was done in 2012.
Daily market prices for these different commodities can be seen on a wholesale basis by city, at USDA's Market News Service - https://www.marketnews.usda.gov/mnp/fv-home . This gives current prices and archived prices for products sold in different markets. It gives a general idea of what the grower will be paid for a given crop.
All of these sources are helpful for deciding where crop prices and markets are going. If you have time check them out.
On a recent trip to Florida we saw a dog in action locating avocado trees that had been attacked by the Redbay ambrosia beetle which carries the fungus Raffalea lauricola which is a similar pest/disease complex that is found in California with the Polyphagous/Kuroshio Shot Hole Borer and Fusarium Euwallacea that leads to Fusasrium Wilt in avocado. The fungus gives off a certain odor that the dog is trained to smell and along with the human trainer goes around the orchard to identify infected trees. The trees can then be removed so that they don't act as a reservoir of infection that can be spread to other trees by the beetle. The dog seemed to work pretty fast. Depending on the acreage covered, the handler says they charge $150 per acre to find diseased trees. This can happen before more advanced symptoms show up that humans can see. This technology could be used in identifying other tree diseases, such as Huanglongbing, citrus canker and Phytophthora, along with others.
Dog has found a laurel wilt infected tree that will soon be removed. (Tim Spann).
- Author: Alireza Pourreza
Kearney Research and Extension Center, University of California Cooperative Extension
California is the major producer of fresh market citrus in the U.S., a $2 billion industry that is threatened by a devastating disease called citrus Huanglongbing (HLB). Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease and if a tree gets infected, it will die in a few years. In Florida, HLB was first seen in 2005, but after a few years the entire state of Florida got infected. Today, about 60% of Florida citrus has gone, mostly because there was no efficient HLB monitoring practice. HLB diagnosis using laboratory-based methods required manual sampling and they were time and effort consuming. An efficient HLB management requires high spatial and temporal resolution monitoring and eradication of infected trees. Therefore, a diagnosis sensor is needed for detecting HLB infected canopies before the development of symptoms. For high resolution monitoring, the sensor should also be able to conduct rapid and inexpensive inspection with high accuracy.
Starch accumulation in HLB infected leaves is an early indication of the disease. Starch has an optical characteristic of rotating the polarization plane of light. We employed this characteristic of starch to develop an early detection methodology in which the sensing system was very sensitive to the rotation in polarization plane of light. The sensor has a customized illumination system including 10 high-power and narrow band LEDs at 591 nm and a polarizing film. The sensor also has a monochrome camera equipped with a linear polarizing filter that is set in a perpendicular direction to the polarizing film of the illumination system.
Starch accumulation in an HLB infected leaf generates blotchy mottle in an asymmetrical yellowing pattern. Deficiency of certain nutrients such as Mg and Zn causes symptoms similar to HLB.
The sensor was mounted on a gator vehicle and was tested in a citrus grove in Florida. The polarized images acquired from healthy, HLB, and Zn deficient canopies were further analyzed for diagnosis purpose.
HLB samples were accurately identified from healthy and Zn deficient samples. Also, the sensor was able to detect HLB within Zn deficient samples.
The polarized imaging methodology was adopted in two separate studies at the University of Florida to investigate the earliest time HLB can be diagnosed by polarized imaging technique after infection. In one study, two-year old Valencia orange plants were inoculated using disk-graft method.
Time-lapse polarized images of leaves from inoculated citrus plants were acquired on a weekly basis. HLB symptoms (as starch accumulation) started to become visible in the polarized images five weeks after inoculation, while the plants were still in asymptomatic stage.
In another study, the polarized imaging methodology was employed to detect HLB in insect inoculated citrus seedlings while in asymptomatic stage. Citrus seedlings were exposed to intensive HLB-positive Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) feeding. Polarized images were acquired two times; once after one month after inoculation and again two months after inoculation. As well as HLB detection, the level of infection was obtained for different leaf samples. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were conducted to validate the HLB status and the level of infection in each leaf sample.
Currently, we focus on improving the accuracy and early detection performance of the polarized imaging sensor and developing a commercialized product for practical in-field diagnosis. This affordable tool can help the California citrus growers to protect their groves from HLB.
Photos, from top to bottom:
Leaf Symptoms of HLB and Zn Deficiency
Time Lapse Images of HLB Infected Leaves Over Time