California is suffering historic drought conditions. The information on this webpage offers farmers and ranchers links to valuable resources, carried out by researchers and specialists, on a vast array of issues they are facing during this extremely dry and difficult year. For general drought information please click on the links below.
For drought issues with a particular crop, please see the left navigation buttons where you will find resources for your specific agricultural needs.
UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources Drought Information
UC Davis Rangeland Watershed Laboratory Managing Drought http://rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu/main/drought.html#RancherPerspectives
Coping with Declining Groundwater Levels
CIMIS Drought Tips
View film excerpts from University of California Researchers and Academics on a large variety of expert water and drought topics
Insights: Water and Drought Online Seminar Series
Irrigation Scheduling Tools
UC Drought Management-Evapotranspiration Scheduling
Soil Moisture Monitoring
UC Drought Management-Soil Moisture Monitoring
Irrigation Scheduling during a Drought
Scientists at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have developed a “SmartTrap” using 3D printing technology to more efficiently catch and study the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector of citrus greening.
A five-year, $200,000 National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant awarded to Florida will allow the traps to be deployed and tested in California and Texas to prevent a similar crisis.
“This 3D printing innovation gives our scientists the best chance to find a game-changing breakthrough in the fight against citrus greening,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
The current trapping method is a yellow sticky tape that passively accumulates all sorts of insects including dirt, making them difficult to read. The new trap specifically traps psyllids. At the moment there will be limited distribution of the traps for testing purposes, so the sticky tape will still be the main method of monitoring psyllids.
Some call it tip burn which is often what you see on an avocado as it goes into flowering. The areas where avocado are grown typically have a lot of salts in the water, but also specific salts like sodium and chloride. Over the irrigation season (which is all year long there is little or no rain), the salts in the water/soil are taken up by the tree. In adequate rainfall years, there is enough water to leach those accumulated salts from the root system. When we go for several years with low rainfall and we keep irrigating with the poor quality irrigation water, the trees develop die back at the tips and is conditions worsen more and more of the leaf is called. This can get to the point where you can not call it die back any longer. It's called leaf drop. I've recently seen a number of orchards that are completely defoliated. No leaves. We have had a number of homeowner calls asking what the problem is and what they can do about it. The damage is done and those leaves are not coming back. It's possible to reduce the damage if one acts early on by applying more water than is usually applied to aid the leaching process, but if it is poor quality water, there will still be damage, but possibly not defoliation. With high priced water or where water is being rationed, many growers and homeowners do not have themake the option of putting on the excess water. There is no chemical or equipment that is going to make the situation better. When you trees defoliating, you want to cut out those that are diseased or you know have been poor producers and put what water you have on the remaining trees in better condition.
This advice is good for other evergreen tree crops like citrus, although they are not as sensitive as avocado. Avocado is an indication of how bad it really is.
How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
I have had a number of requests to identify fruit spotting on lemons. It turns out to be Septoria fungus which can show up on leaves, stems and fruit. The key to this is to make sure there is a fungicide on the tree in the fall before the wet weather kicks in
Pathogen: Septoria citri
(Reviewed 9/08, updated 9/08)
In this Guideline:
Early symptoms of Septoria spot appear as small, light tan to reddish brown pits on fruit, 0.04 to 0.08 inch (1 to 2 mm) in diameter, which usually do not extend beyond the oil-bearing tissue. Advanced lesions are blackish, sunken, extend into the albedo (white spongy inner part of rind), and are up to 0.8 to 1.2 inch (20 to 30 mm) in diameter. Dark brown to black fruiting bodies often develop in these lesions, which usually do not extend beyond the oil-bearing tissue. The spots are much more conspicuous after the fruit has changed from green to yellow or orange. Small spots may develop into large, brown blotches during storage or long-distance transportation. Septoria citri may also cause similar spotting on leaves or twigs that are weakened by frost or pests.
Comments on the Disease
The Septoria fungus causes spotting of Valencia oranges, late-season navel oranges, and occasionally of lemons and grapefruit. It occurs in the San Joaquin Valley and interior districts of southern California during cool, moist weather.
Infections begin when Septoria conidia are transported throughout the tree by rainfall. The spores germinate with additional moisture from rain or dews and commonly infect cold-injured fruit tissue and mechanical injuries. The damage to the rind lowers the grade of the fruit and results in culling.
Septoria spot may be confused with copper injury and other abiotic and biotic agents.
Apply a preventive copper spray in late fall or early winter, just before or after the first rain. In years with heavy rainfall, additional applications may be necessary.
For California oranges (Navels and Valencias) shipped to Korea:
- Author: Dave Beamer
A local Santa Barbara backyard grower has been experimenting with many different apple varieties and has found some unusual success at growing a wide variety of them that according to their published chilling hours requirements should not do well in Southern California.
Apple varieties grown in Santa Barbara by Dave Beamer as of Nov. 2014
Varieties that have grown good fruit so far (asterisks mark my personal favorites)
*Arkansas Black (3 crops) hard, juicy, aromatic; skin is very dark when ripe in Oct. – Nov. (AK, ~1840)
*Ashmead's Kernel (3 crops) wonderful mostly tart flavor, pleasing texture, russeted (England, ~1700)
Aunt Rachel (2 crops, 2 apples) good texture, juicy, mildly tart; big apples ripen in July (good in Riverside, CA)
Benoni (one apple) the first apple was small, juicy, tart and ripened in August (MA, 1832)
Bramley's Seedling (8 apples) large fruit, very tart cooking apples in England, milder here (England, 1813)
Burgundy (one apple) deep red apple, very juicy, great texture, mostly tart, aromatic (early August)
Canada Red (two apples) red-striped apple, juicy, good texture, not much flavor in the first crop
Dixie Red Delight (3 crops) hard, juicy, mildly sweet apples with tough skins (ripen in late Oct. – Nov.)
Dorsett Golden (5 crops) self-fertile, commonly grown here and in the tropics (ripen in June – July)
Fuji (25+ crops in the back yard) self-fertile, sweeten if left on the tree (best in Nov. – Jan.)
*Golden Noble (3 crops) good texture, sweet and juicy in October, apples grow very large if thinned
Hauer Pippin (2 crops) good texture, juicy, thick skin, tart in October, sweeten Nov. – Dec.
Hawaii (one apple) good texture, flavor is a mix of sweet and tart, good in Riverside (CA, 1945)
Honey Sweet (two apples) described as “very sweet”, first small crop was mildly sweet (Virginia)
*Hudson's Golden Gem (3 crops) russeted sweet apples that can taste like pear juice (good in Riverside)
Kandil Sinap (2 crops) long narrow apples, good texture and juice but very mild flavor (from Turkey)
*Laxton's Fortune (4 crops) sweet, hard, crunchy, juicy, red apples; ripen late Aug. – early Sept. (1931)
Maigold (two apples) flavor is a mix of sweet and tart, from Switzerland
Red Boskoop (one apple) quite tart, one large apple with good texture (sterile pollen)
Red October (2 crops) hard, crunchy, juicy; a mix of sweet and tart flavors (but only one was red…)
Reverend Morgan (two apples) very good texture, mix of sweet and tart in late August (Houston, TX 1965)
Sierra Beauty (2 small crops) self-fertile, a mix of sweet and tart flavors, ripen late Sept. to Oct. (~ 1890)
Snow Apple (5 crops) mostly smaller apples, aromatic, tender flesh, tart and juicy (1739)
*Spitzenburg (4 crops) very good texture, juicy, wonderful tart-sweet flavor (NY, late 1700s)
Summer Rambo (one apple) precocious, mildly tart, the first apple was good (“Rambour Franc” ~1500)
*Wealthy (five apples) self-fertile, precocious; tart to tart-sweet, grown in tropics (Minnesota, 1868)
William's Pride (4 crops) very precocious; tart, juicy red apples ripen June – Aug depending on weather
Wyken Pippin (2 small crops) medium-sized apples, mildly sweet, good texture
I assume that three or more years of good fruit means a variety is reliable in coastal Santa Barbara County.
I have tasted locally grown Standard Delicious apples (the original “Delicious” variety, also called Old-Fashioned Delicious or Hawkeye). These apples are green with red stripes and are larger, juicier and have better flavor and texture than today's Red Delicious. Their flavor is sub-acid (very mildly tart).
I have been told that in this area Golden Delicious goes from unripe and sour to mushy – without ever passing through ripe. I have not tried growing it.
Varieties that grew bad fruit in my yard (I have removed these):
Cox's Orange Pippin (3 crops) tart, some were good for two small crops; in 3rd crop all apples split and rotted
Early Joe (two apples) soft, borderline mushy, and dry (reported bad in Riverside also)
Reinette du Canada bland flavor, apples fell off in August instead of October or later
Ribston Pippin ripened too early, poor taste and texture
Saint Cecilia all apples cracked and rotted in the first crop
Suntan (3 crops) sterile pollen, very tart; in 2013 all apples split and rotted
Victoria Limbertwig (2 crops) apples cracked and fell off in June-July (should ripen in fall)
Zabergau Reinette ripened too early, poor taste and texture
Not sure yet:
Bevan's Favorite (one apple) aromatic, not much flavor, poor texture in early July; I will try it again
Husk Sweet (3 apples) described as having “honeyed sweetness”; the first crop had no flavor at all
Roxbury Russet (six apples) 3 cracked, 3 good; tart, oldest American apple still being grown (MA ~1635)
Very young varieties that have not yet fruited:
Akero from Sweden (no description of the fruit was given)
Anna from Israel, partially self-fertile, sweet, grown in Santa Barbara and tropics
Arkansas Sweet described as crisp, crunchy and sweet (Arkansas, 1905)
Bentley's Sweet described as “intensely sweet” (Virginia, early 1800s?)
Black Oxford deep purple skin when ripe; eating, cooking and cider apples (Maine, ~1860)
Black Twig used for eating and juice; tart due to tannic acid (Tennessee, ~1830)
Blue Pearmain dark red apples, very juicy, subacid flavor, some russeting (early 1800s)
Erwin Baur from Germany [Duchess of Oldenburg x (Cox's Orange Pippin?)]
Golden Nugget small sweet apples, from Nova Scotia (Golden Russet x Cox's Orange Pippin)
Golden Sweet described as having “honeyed sweetness” (no balancing acidity)
Grimes Golden a parent of Golden Delicious, but described as having more complex flavor
Holstein sterile pollen, a seedling of Cox's Orange Pippin (Germany, 1918)
Hubbartson's Nonesuch precocious and heavy-bearing, sweet, ripen in summer (MA, 1830)
Jefferis sweet, juicy, pear-flavored small summer apples; heavy-bearing (PA, 1830)
King David an offspring of Arkansas Black, grows good fruit in Riverside (Arkansas, 1893)
Liberty self-fertile, disease resistant, flavor is a mix of sweet and tart (NY, 1962)
Late Strawberry described in North Carolina as “one of the best dessert apples available”
“Longview” a sweet seedling apple from Longview, WA (grafted with owner's permission)
Margil from England, considered one of the best-flavored sweet apples (small crops)
McIntosh precocious, tart, juicy, with aromatic white flesh (Ontario, Canada 1798)
Ozark Gold described as having “honeyed sweetness” (no balancing acidity)
Pettingill self-fertile, tart/sweet flavor, a seedling from Long Beach, CA (1949)
Ramsdell Sweet a very sweet, juicy apple
Red Astrachan self-fertile, tart, early flowering and ripening, from Russia
Redgold described as having “honeyed sweetness” (no balancing acidity)
Strawberry Pippin red skin, white flesh, sweet or sweet-tart flavor
Smokehouse precocious tree, very juicy apples (Pennsylvania, 1837)
Summer Queen ripens in August (New Jersey, 1800s)
Terry Winter sweet/tart, heavy-bearing, good in Riverside (Georgia, before 1860)
Winesap crisp, juicy flesh with sweet-tart flavor (New Jersey ~1800)
Winter Sweet crisp, juicy, very sweet flesh, origin unknown
Rootstocks used: M111: probably the best here, M7: good, but grows many suckers, G30: on one tree from NY.
Contact me if you want free summer or winter scion wood from my trees. (Please note: some of my trees are still too small to donate wood.)
Sources of my trees and apple information:
Trees of Antiquity (California)
Kuffel Creek (California)
Bay Laurel Nursery (retailing trees from Dave Wilson Nursery, California)
Big Horse Creek Farm (North Carolina) (also sells scion wood now)
Cummins Nursery (New York)
Scion wood for grafting: Maple Valley Orchards (Minnesota)
For an especially useful website go to www.kuffelcreek.com and click on “Apples”. Kevin Hauser tries to keep 100 apple varieties growing in his yard in very hot Riverside, California. He removes trees that grow bad fruit and replaces them with other varieties that are new to him. He has also experimented with different rootstocks. His website has a link to his blog, where he posts information on growing apples in the tropics as well as in Riverside.
The weakness in his information is his optimism. He may declare that a variety is good in Southern California if only the last apples of a variety to ripen are good and all the earlier apples were bad. Next year you may read that every apple ripened too early and he's getting rid of that tree. That's why I bought Ribston Pippin and Zabergau Reinette from him, one year before he declared both of them bad for Southern California (they were bad here also). But he has done a huge amount of pioneering work for warm-winter areas and the tropics.
So far I have found two apple varieties that grow good fruit in Santa Barbara but not in Riverside (Ashmead's Kernel and Snow Apple). I assume these trees can't tolerate Riverside's very hot summers, so they may not grow good fruit in the hotter inland areas of Santa Barbara County either.
The website for Trees of Antiquity (www.treesofantiquity.com) has good information about planting fruit trees and summer pruning for size control.
Dave Wilson Nursery (www.davewilson.com) has a lot of information for home fruit growers on its website, although they only sell wholesale. Bay Laurel Nursery retails some of their apple trees but only on M7 rootstock, which grows lots of suckers.
Apple information—flavor, ripening time and quality of fruit—usually comes from other parts of the world and may not apply here. Be a pioneer: grow a variety that's new in Southern California and share what you learn.
Feel free to share this information with others. (Spread the wealth!)