I've had this forwarded to me a bunch of times over the past few days, and finally did have a chance to read the whole thing. Although I trend more towards the meat and potatoes fare of the Wall Street Journal, it's always a pleasure to read the beautiful mastery of English on tap at the New Yorker magazine.
I wouldn't say the title is quite congruent with the content, since the UC program plays a huge role in the story as well.
Final comment without getting into too much detail, is that while the author did a really good job of writing, some of the opinions shared with her (yes, opinions) don't agree with what I believe.
I've been getting some calls as of late concerning the correct soil moisture for growers to have prior to fumigation with chloropicrin, now that fumigation with methyl bromide is no longer an option. Anyway, I checked with a colleague at Trical, who stated that the moisture requirement has definitely not changed, methyl bromide or chloropicrin, and a requirement of 50% or greater available water content in the soil has been in place for a long time.
One of the labels for chloropicrin attached below with specific instructions on soil moisture, see pages 11 & 12.
Soil moisture prep for fumigation is the same as it always was, end of story.
Also found a pretty nifty pictorial guide put out by the NRCS on estimating soil moisture, including the critical 50% or greater available water content, for different soil types.
One of the odd things about this production year is the lack of Macrophomina showing up in strawberry in comparison to the amount of Fusarium. While I've been called out on a good number of fields that ultimately turned out to be Fusarium (thank you Steven Koike and your diagnostic lab staff!), I haven't been called out to a single one that's been found to be Macrophomina.
Recall that both of the diseases caused by these two pathogens look very similar in the field - plant collapse associated with a discolored crown.
Now for some of the work that Steve has been doing for his DNA testing for plant pathogens, he's been eager to get his hands on Macrophomina material. I've submitted a sample from a field off of Old Stage which had it last year and so the assumption is that it does this year too, and indeed plants are starting to go down.
I dutifully submitted a sample to Steve, and told him that if it wasn't Macrophomina I'd eat my hat. It just has to be Macrophomina, but then again with the current spate of all Fusarium calls, who knows?
Is it or isn't it?
7/22/2017 update. Steven Koike just emailed me, and it is indeed Macrophomina. Guess that means I can take my hat off of the dinner table and put it back on my head where it belongs. Thanks Steve!
Introduction: With the discontinuation of methyl bromide as a possibility for pre-plant soil fumigation, we at UCCE have been very active in looking for viable alternatives. One alternative, identified by the test name TRX58, having a fairly high vapor pressure and already having certain uses in agriculture, was a good one to try.
Materials and Methods: Work was done in a field known to experience pressure from the plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. fragariae . Application of the test material TRX58 (550 lb per acre) and the grower check of Triform 80 (34 gal per acre) was done on October 5, 2015, shanked in followed by tarping with totally impermeable film (TIF). So as to obtain adequate fumigation and coverage, both the materials were applied in blocks 22 feet wide and 200 feet long with each block replicated twice. Two strips of 11 feet wide were placed between the fumigated plots, designated as untreated checks and not treated.
Planting of the strawberry varieties Cabrillo, Albion, Sweet Ann, San Andreas and Monterey was done on Nov 17. Plots were maintained as any other on the farm with adequate fertility and irrigation. Pick stations of 20 plants per variety x 4 replicates and commencing in April fruit harvest in all plots was done once a week and fruit weighed.
Statistical analysis is as below, and broken up into two halves (April + May) and then also given as a total.
Discussion: Triform 80 is indisputably the better treatment, but it is also indisputable that TRX58 is better than doing nothing, which as one can see from the photos is not wise in this sort of situation. It is also notable that variety such as San Andreas which is known to be "resistant" (actually tolerant is the better word) to Fusarium still loses a little bit more than half of its yield in unfumigated soil. There is a strong case being made here for treatment of soil to maintain good strawberry yields.
A deep bow of gratitude to Miguel Ramos for letting me do this work in his field, to Mark Curtice from Lassen Canyon Nurseries who gave us the plants, and then to Trical who did the fumigation.
People should realize that without the efforts of all these people working together, we would be doing very little novel fumigation research right now.
Announcing a collaborative Sustainable Berry Workshop this coming August 9. This event is hosted by local business Farm Fuel Inc. and sponsored by UCCE and the Shennan Lab at UCSC. This event, the only meeting being run out of this office this summer, will give people the opportunity to get a first rate perspective on what is new in soil pathology research, as well as how to obtain funding as a grower for implementing sustainable practices.
Catered breakfast provided, translation available as well. See you there!
Please register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org