- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
- Author: Jim Downing
2016 is the final year for the soil fumigant to be used in California crop fields.
For many years, California growers relied on methyl bromide to kill a wide range of soil-borne pests, from fungi to insects to weeds, before planting crops. 2016 marks the last year in which the highly effective soil fumigant will be available.
The University of California's peer-reviewed journal California Agriculture examines the impact of the methyl bromide phaseout on strawberries, California's third most valuable crop, behind only almonds and grapes, with annual farmgate sales of $2.5 billion.
First identified as an ozone-depleting compound in 1991, methyl bromide was scheduled for phaseout in the United States by 2005 under the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.
While methyl bromide was used for many crops, California strawberry growers found it irreplaceable, which helped the industry win exemptions that have allowed a significant, though declining, quantity of the chemical to be used through 2016. Despite years of research into alternatives, no equally effective replacement has emerged.
Berry industry grows dramatically
In the first research article, UC Cooperative Extension advisors Laura Tourte and Mark Bolda and Karen Klonsky, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension economics specialist, review economic data on the berry sector — blackberries and raspberries as well as strawberries — in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. They look ahead to factors, including water, consumer demands, labor, invasive pests, and the full phaseout of methyl bromide, that are likely to shape future growth.
Methyl iodide controversy
In a paper chronicling events leading up to the 2012 withdrawal of methyl iodide, once promoted as a viable methyl bromide substitute, Julie Guthman, UC Santa Cruz professor in the Department of Social Sciences, reports survey findings that point to a variety of reasons why strawberry growers did not move quickly to adopt the chemical after it was approved by state regulators. Concerns about public opposition topped the list, followed by a variety of other factors, including concern about methyl iodide's toxicity, and a lack of strong incentive to switch to the new chemical because of the availability of other fumigants, including methyl bromide.
Managing soilborne pests
Three articles look at new approaches to managing soilborne pests without methyl bromide.
“It now seems likely that no single measure will suffice to meet the challenge of soilborne pathogens,” write Margaret Lloyd, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, and Tom Gordon, UC Davis professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, in this issue's Outlook. “Rather, a multi-faceted approach will be required, one that integrates advances in disease resistance through breeding with closer attention to the factors that influence the survival, activity and spread of pathogen populations in soil.” They make the case for using a suite of strategies to manage soilborne pathogens — including collective action among growers to help limit the spread of pathogens between fields.
A news item on research at the UC ANR Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center covers ongoing research on anaerobic soil disinfestation, a chemical-free technique that is being used in a growing number of commercial fields. Project scientist Amanda Hodson and UC Davis professor Edwin Lewis, both in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, review a variety of approaches to managing for soil health — in strawberries and other crops — as a pest suppression strategy.
Other soil fumigants
Fumigants other than methyl bromide, such as chloropicrin, remain widely used in California strawberry production. Rachael Goodhue, UC Davis professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, examines how increasingly stringent buffer zone requirements for chloropicrin application have an uneven impact on growers, depending on their proximity to developed land. In another article, a group of UC Cooperative Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists report on the effectiveness of several fumigants at dosages lower than the maximum label rate.
Food safety and nutrient management on the farm
The issue also includes two research papers focused on general production practices for crops. One report discusses on-farm food safety practices based on a survey of produce growers. The researchers found that practices such as exclusion fencing and vegetation clearing, which may negatively impact wildlife, remain widespread despite a lack of clear evidence that they enhance food safety. Finally, Daniel Geisseler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, and Gene Miyao, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, review the use of soil testing to guide the management of soil phosphorus and potassium in California cropping systems.
To read California Agriculture, a peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources published by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, visit http://calag.ucanr.edu. For a free subscription, sign up on the website or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
View this story in Spanish:
¿Qué hará la industria de la fresa sin el bromuro de metilo? http://ucanr.edu/sites/Spanish/noticias/?uid=6887&ds=199. Video on UCANR Spanish YouTube: California Agriculture: el bromuro de metilo en cultivos de fresa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D4FwLqjaLk.
Each analysis is based upon a hypothetical farm operation using practices common to the region. Input and reviews were provided by growers, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and other agricultural associates. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for individual crops, material inputs and cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.
The studies for establishing orchards to produce lemons and oranges estimate costs for growing in Kern and Tulare counties. Revenue for the citrus is based on estimated sales to the fresh packaging market.
The study for organic strawberries takes into consideration growing conditions on the Central Coast of California and complying with the National Organic Program. In particular, it focuses on growing organic strawberries in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties for the fresh packaging market.
The study for producing paddy rice in the Sacramento Valley focuses on the costs of growing medium-grain rice, under a rice-only rotation in Butte, Colusa, Glenn and Yolo counties.
The field corn study focuses on the production costs of a full-season corn crop in the Sacramento Valley and the northern San Joaquin Valley. This region would include Colusa, Glenn, Sacramento, Sutter and Yolo counties. The study based costs on a farm using furrow irrigation and Roundup Ready-GMO seed.
The study on silage corn, double cropped under conservation tillage methods, focuses on production costs of corn silage using minimum tillage operations in the northern San Joaquin Valley. The corn is planted in the spring after a winter forage crop is harvested. The study is based its costs on a farm using border/flood irrigation and Roundup Ready-GMO seed.
- “Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Lemons in the San Joaquin Valley-South-2015”
- “Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Oranges in the San Joaquin Valley-South-2015”
- “Sample Costs to Produce Organic Strawberries in the Central Coast Region-2014”
- “Sample Costs to Produce Rice in the Sacramento Valley-2015”
- “Sample Costs to Produce Field Corn in the Sacramento Valley and Northern San Joaquin Valley-2015”
- “Sample Costs to Produce Silage Corn-Conservation Tillage Practices in the Northern San Joaquin Valley-2015”
These cost-of-production studies can be downloaded for free from the UC Davis Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics website http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample costs are also available for many other commodities. Many earlier production cost studies for agricultural commodities are also available at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/archived.php.
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Don Stewart, staff research associate in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis at (530) 752-4651, email@example.com.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Steve Koike, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, studies vegetable, fruit and ornamental crop diseases, particularly strawberry diseases. Koike earned his M.S. in plant protection and pest management from UC Davis in 1980. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding research conducted by a UC Cooperative Extension academic. Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey and San Benito counties for strawberries and caneberries. Bolda received his M.S. in plant protection and pest management from UC Davis in 1996, after serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Paraguay as an agricultural extensionist.
This informal lunch-time session allows home gardeners, commercial growers and others an opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from two of the most knowledgeable strawberry professionals in California. All individuals are invited to participate in this informative online brown-bag session.
Find us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ucanr. More information about this session and instructions on how to participate can be found at www.ucanr.edu/facebookchat. More information about the Organic Strawberry Production Manual can be found at www.ucanr.edu/strawberry.
- Contact: Pam Kan-Rice, (530) 754-3912, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact: Richard De Moura, (530) 752-3589, email@example.com
Each analysis is based upon hypothetical farm operations using practices common in the region. Input and reviews were provided by UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors, UC researchers, growers, farm accountants, pest control advisers, consultants and other agricultural associates.
The studies describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for the individual crops, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment, and business overhead costs.
The new studies are as follows:
Sample Costs to Produce Strawberries, 2011, South Coast Region (Santa Maria Valley) by Surendra Dara, Karen M. Klonsky and Richard L. De Moura.
Sample Costs to Produce Strawberries, 2011, South Coast Region (Oxnard Plain) by Oleg Daugovish, Karen M. Klonsky and Richard L. De Moura.
Sample Costs to Produce Second Year Strawberries, 2011, Central Coast Region (Santa Cruz & Monterey Counties) by Mark P. Bolda, Laura Tourte, Karen M. Klonsky and Richard L. De Moura.
All cost of production studies are available for free download at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu, at UC Cooperative Extension offices or by calling (530) 752-3589. For more information about the studies, contact Richard De Moura at firstname.lastname@example.org in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.