The roof rat (Rattus rattus), sometimes called the black rat, is a common vertebrate pest in citrus, avocado and other yummy tree orchards. It builds leaf and twig nests in fruit trees or nearby trees, or it can nest in debris piles or thick mulch on the ground. This agile, sleek rat has a pointed muzzle, and a tail that is longer than the body and head combined.
Be sure to identify the species of rat present to avoid killing nontarget or protected species. Be aware that endangered native kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.) and the riparian woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes riparia) resemble pest rats, but are protected by law. Unlike the hairless, scale-covered tail of roof rats, the tails of kangaroo rats and the riparian woodrat are covered with fur. The riparian woodrat is active mostly during the day, and its tail is somewhat shorter than the combined length of its body and head. A kangaroo rat's tail is noticeably longer than its body and head combined. Kangaroo rats are nocturnal, but unlike Norway rats and roof rats, which move on all four legs, kangaroo rats hold their front legs off the ground and travel by hopping on their hind legs.
Rats gnaw on electrical wires, wooden structures, and fruit on trees. After harvest, they damage fruit in bins, chewing on the bins and leaving excrement. Rats are active throughout the year, and mostly at night.
To help manage rats, reduce shelter and nesting sites of rats. Eliminate debris and wood piles. Store materials neatly and off the ground. Thin and separate non-crop vegetation around orchards where feasible. Exclude rats from nearby structures by properly sealing entry ways.
Baits and rat-sized snap traps placed in trees are the most effective control measures. Rats are wary, tending to avoid baits and traps for at least a few days after their initial placement. Fasten traps to limbs and bait them with sweet fruit or nut meats, but do not set the traps until after bait is readily eaten. Secure anticoagulant wax blocks in a bait station before placing in trees on limbs 6 feet or more above the ground. Placing the wax blocks in a bait station will prevent chunks of the anticoagulant wax from dropping to the ground and creating a hazard.
Be aware that certain types of single-dose rat baits for use inside buildings are not labeled for use outdoors in orchards; these are hazardous to wildlife and should not be used.
For more on the subject see:
and another blog:
- Author: Oleg Daugovish
Using organic herbicides in production fields and non-crop areas.
The forecasts call for rainy winter and that means a lot of weeds. During dry times perennial weeds tend to grow better than annual weeds, since perennial structures such as underground rhizomes or tubers can support them and give competitive advantage. Seed of annual weeds in dry soil may have been losing viability, senescing or eaten during this time, but many have remained dormant and look forward to the wet winter us much as the rest of us.
Controlling weeds ‘organically' is always an extra challenge whether you are in a certified field or in an area where synthetic herbicides are not desired. Hand-weeding, already expensive, is even a greater burden with limited labor availability, and frankly not much fun either. Of course sanitation and prevention, mechanical and cultural management are essential in organic systems. That requires time and commitment and can quickly become your not-so-favorite pastime.
Organic herbicides have traditionally been contact materials with no systemic activity. This means that they only affect tissue that they contact and do not translocate through the plant like most synthetic herbicides. Thus, good coverage is critical for these contact materials. Many years ago the first herbicides were sulfuric acid and diesel fuel, current organic materials are often acids or oils too, although a lot more benign.
Recent trials by the University of California weed scientists showed that several organic herbicides provided decent control of easy to control pigweed and nightshade when they were small. When weeds were 12 days old, a mixture of 45% clove and 45% cinnamon oil, 20%-acetic acid and d-limonene gave 61-89% control; however only d-limonene controlled 19-day old weeds and none was effective on one-month old ones. As weeds get bigger they also develop a protective cuticle that minimizes efficacy of these herbicides.
This year we conducted trials with a recently OMRI approved herbicide for row crops, trees and vines that is a mix of caprylic and capric acids. It disrupts cell membranes of plans and causes the contents to leak and plants to desiccate. It worked well at 6 to 9% by volume mixture with water and gave 90% control of little mallow and >95% of annual sowthistle compared to untreated checks. We have also tested it in organic strawberry furrows before planting the crop to prevent potential injury from drift. Furrow cultivation does not get close to the plastic mulch that covers the beds to prevent tears, so the weeds in that zone are good target for the herbicide. This fatty acid herbicide provided excellent control of common lambsquarter, reduced the growth of common purslane but didn't do much for yellow nutsedge - one of our notoriously difficult to control perennial weeds (Figure). The bigger weeds need higher rates (9% is the maximum labeled rate) and better coverage. When you have multiple layers of weed leaf canopy and diverse architecture some plants or their parts may be protected by others that intercept the deposition of the herbicide. When on target, this contact material acts fast – you can see results within 2-3 days, however, it does nothing to weed propagules in soil and has no residual activity against wind-dispersed weed seed that fly in after application. This means the control does not last and you will need additional applications or other control measures. Repeated application is not a problem in a non-crop area and is a great way to deplete your weed seedbank, but crop protection from drift, such as shielded sprayers, is necessary to avoid off target plant injury.
Figure. Weed control in strawberry furrows prior to planting with 9% by volume of fatty acid herbicide (top) and weeds in untreated check (bottom)
Hot off the presses
Meet the Buyer: An L.A. Produce Market Tour for Los Angeles Growers and Food Advocates
Do you want to find new channels for selling your produce and make connections with produce buyers? Join us on a one day tour of produce distributors in the L.A. area where you will meet with senior buyers and leaders at these distribution companies committed to building their local base of suppliers:
Santa Monica Farmers' Market - our early start will allow for a special behind-the-scenes market tour to learn about the vibrant business-to-business transactions occuring there every week.
Space Exploration Technologies - meet the culinary team feeding the folks at the frontier of space exploration seasonally-inspired menus, much of it sourced from farms nearby.
Whole Food Distribution Center - talk with buyers committed to small, local and organic producers at the new state-of-the-art distribution facility and enjoy a yummy lunch.
Heath & Lejeune - learn the art of distributing orgranic produce from a seasoned buyer / seller.
These high-level buyers are positioned to appreciate your farm and products—whether organic, local, family-owned, sustainably grown, or high quality specialty crops. You'll gain an understanding of what it takes to work with them, have a chance to network with other farmers, and learn tips on how to tell a compelling story about your farm and its products that will expand your sales opportunities. This tour will be valuable for ANY farmer who wants to learn more about different distribution channels for their products, as well as for healthy food advocates and policy makers who want to have a better understanding of what small farms need to do in order to connect with willing buyers.
Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please reserve your space by December 4th, 2015. Lunch and snacks will be provided. There is no charge for this tour thanks to our generous sponsors.
Sign up at:
The latest cost of production study done on oranges came out recently.
It applies to the San Joaquin parts of the Valley for sure, but many of the assumptions are true for evergreen tree crops in general. The cost of weed control, or fertilizing are not going to be different. Pest and disease control are going to be very different if you are a navel orange grower in Bakersfield or a cherimoya grower in Santa Barbara. The key to these studies are the different issues/categories a grower should be addressing and the studies provide a framework for that study. Also it gives general costs for different inputs, such as urea and glyphosate to make a comparison to what you might be paying