For the past 18 months, a team led by University of California research entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell has been conducting an Asian citrus psyllid monitoring project to determine the efficacy of Ventura County's area-wide ACP suppression strategy. Based on her analysis of the survey data, Dr. Grafton-Cardwell has recommended changes in the area-wide management (AWM) protocol to provide better control of the invasive pest. The Ventura County ACP-HLB Task Force has endorsed her recommendations and incorporated them into the AWM schedule for 2018-2019.
The primary change will be the addition of a second fall treatment, which may be a perimeter spray, for lemons and mandarins. Fall is when ACP populations reach their highest level, and the research data indicate a single pesticide application is inadequate. The research data also show that ACP is most abundant on grove perimeters, and only expands into the center rows when the population is large. In recognition of this, the new Task Force protocol allows one of the two fall applications to be applied to only the grove perimeter, as long as the grower, grove manager or PCA/PCO has scouted the orchard and determined that center rows are free of ACP nymphs on flush. The other fall application, however, must cover the entire grove.
As in previous cycles, the treatment window for each psyllid management area (PMA) will last three weeks, but it now will overlap with the next window by two weeks instead of one. This will compress each treatment cycle from four months in length to two and a half months, heightening the area-wide effect. (See below for the schedule.)
The annual AWM program for lemons and mandarins will now consist of four applications: a coordinated AWM whole-orchard treatment in winter, individual applications of an ACP-effective material (either alone or piggybacked on a spray for another pest) in late spring-early summer, and two coordinated AWM treatments in late summer and fall (one of which may be a perimeter spray).
The annual cycle for oranges, which do not flush year-round, remains two coordinated applications, one during the first fall window and one in the winter. For organic growers, each "treatment" must consist of two applications of Entrust and oil or Pyganic and oil, or other approved alternative material, to compensate for their limited residual activity. The list of approved materials for both conventional and organic operations is at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r107304411.html.
Members of the Ventura County citrus community are invited to a workshop to learn more about these changes, and the research data upon which they are based. The workshop will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 26, at the Agriculture Museum, 929 Railroad Ave., Santa Paula. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. Please register online at: https://vctaskforce-workshop.eventbrite.com.
During the workshop, Dr. Grafton-Cardwell will present findings from her continuing survey of ACP populations across the county, including data on the effects of AWM pesticide treatments on ACP abundance. Other speakers will present updates on the statewide Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program, the status of Huanglongbing disease in California, and grower participation in the local ACP suppression effort.
The Task Force is also planning outdoor workshops to help grove owners, managers or farm employees develop an effective ACP scouting strategy. Topics will include how to scout for ACP, and how to identify symptoms of HLB. More information will be distributed in coming weeks.
The following is the new schedule for Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 treatments, organized by groups of PMAs. Overview maps of Ventura County's PMA boundaries are available at http://www.farmbureauvc.com/issues/pest-issues/asian-citrus-psyllid#task-force.
Individual maps of Ventura County's PMA boundaries, along with many other documents pertaining to the Ventura County AWM program, can be viewed or downloaded at
As was the case with the previous AWM treatment cycles, growers will be notified about the date of their treatment window either by their packinghouse field reps, their PCAs or by the Ventura County grower liaisons: Sandra Zwaal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Cressida Silvers (email@example.com). It will be up to growers to work with their PCAs and applicators to schedule those treatments.
Two questions and comments came up last week about the use of mulch in orchards. The first is that mulch is two edged. It serves to combat erosion and root rot, but it can also burn. Mulch and wood piled up against tree trunks and near trunks can cause damage to those trunks. A Fillmore grower actually goes through the orchard with a blower to move mulch away from trunks when alerted to fire. On the other hand, irrigated orchards have been shown to be effective at suppressing fire encroaching on homes.
So where to read more about fire? About mulch? Check out some of the blogs from the past.
Mulch and green waste applied to avocado orchards and More
Even though it's been a mild winter; other than fire, rain and some cool nights, we did have a few days of hot weather, which is just what sets off citrus dry root rot. It pops up after the first hot weather of the spring, and there it was driving down the road. There's nothing that can be done with this tree. Tree removal and replacement is the answer. Prevention is the solution. We know that Fusarium fungus is usually associated with the collapse, but wounding is the key. Mechanical injury from weed whips, discs, gophers, voles, rabbits. Wounding from salt damage might do it too.
Dry root rot, a disease caused by the soil fungus Fusarium solani, has a long history of hindering production of citrus in California. Fusarium solani is a weak pathogen that infects only when there is some kind of stress in citrus tree. However, presence in almost all citrus orchards everywhere in the world including California, enhance its quick exploitation of such stresses. Some of the factors that are possible stress include invasion by other pathogens, such as Phytophthora and Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV). Other stresses are wounding by gophers/rodents or insects, girdling, asphyxiation especially drowning the tree with too much water, soil nutrient content and fertilization, irrigation, and other cultural practices in the orchard. The pathogen is an opportunist on citrus. With the stress, Fusarium solani begins infection by colonizing the cortical tissue of feeder roots, advances into the lower tap root and/or scaffold root, and move up through the bud union into the center of the trunk. Studies over the years have shown that many rootstocks are susceptible and old trees as well as young twigs are not spared of the disease.
Photo: collapsed tree near and older one on the right, but also near a younger one that probably was a replacement for one that had collapsed several years prior
For centuries, the prevailing science has indicated that all of the nitrogen on Earth available to plants comes from the atmosphere. But a study from the University of California, Davis, indicates that more than a quarter comes from Earth's bedrock.
The study, to be published April 6 in the journal Science, found that up to 26 percent of the nitrogen in natural ecosystems is sourced from rocks, with the remaining fraction from the atmosphere.
Before this study, the input of this nitrogen to the global land system was unknown. The discovery could greatly improve climate change projections, which rely on understanding the carbon cycle. This newly identified source of nitrogen could also feed the carbon cycle on land, allowing ecosystems to pull more emissions out of the atmosphere, the authors said.
"Our study shows that nitrogen weathering is a globally significant source of nutrition to soils and ecosystems worldwide," said co-lead author Ben Houlton, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and director of the UC Davis Muir Institute. "This runs counter the centuries-long paradigm that has laid the foundation for the environmental sciences. We think that this nitrogen may allow forests and grasslands to sequester more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than previously thought."
WEATHERING IS KEY
Ecosystems need nitrogen and other nutrients to absorb carbon dioxide pollution, and there is a limited amount of it available from plants and soils. If a large amount of nitrogen comes from rocks, it helps explain how natural ecosystems like boreal forests are capable of taking up high levels of carbon dioxide.
But not just any rock can leach nitrogen. Rock nitrogen availability is determined by weathering, which can be physical, such as through tectonic movement, or chemical, such as when minerals react with rainwater.
That's primarily why rock nitrogen weathering varies across regions and landscapes. The study said that large areas of Africa are devoid of nitrogen-rich bedrock while northern latitudes have some of the highest levels of rock nitrogen weathering. Mountainous regions like the Himalayas and Andes are estimated to be significant sources of rock nitrogen weathering, similar to those regions' importance to global weathering rates and climate. Grasslands, tundra, deserts and woodlands also experience sizable rates of rock nitrogen weathering.
GEOLOGY AND CARBON SEQUESTRATION
Mapping nutrient profiles in rocks to their potential for carbon uptake could help drive conservation considerations. Areas with higher levels of rock nitrogen weathering may be able to sequester more carbon.
"Geology might have a huge control over which systems can take up carbon dioxide and which ones don't," Houlton said. "When thinking about carbon sequestration, the geology of the planet can help guide our decisions about what we're conserving."
The work also elucidates the "case of the missing nitrogen." For decades, scientists have recognized that more nitrogen accumulates in soils and plants than can be explained by the atmosphere alone, but they could not pinpoint what was missing.
"We show that the paradox of nitrogen is written in stone," said co-leading author Scott Morford, a UC Davis graduate student at the time of the study. "There's enough nitrogen in the rocks, and it breaks down fast enough to explain the cases where there has been this mysterious gap."
In previous work, the research team analyzed samples of ancient rock collected from the Klamath Mountains of Northern California to find that the rocks and surrounding trees there held large amounts of nitrogen. With the current study, the authors built on that work, analyzing the planet's nitrogen balance, geochemical proxies and building a spatial nitrogen weathering model to assess rock nitrogen availability on a global scale.
The researchers say the work does not hold immediate implications for farmers and gardeners, who greatly rely on nitrogen in natural and synthetic forms to grow food. Past work has indicated that some background nitrate in groundwater can be traced back to rock sources, but further research is needed to better understand how much.
"These results are going to require rewriting the textbooks," said Kendra McLauchlan, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research. "While there were hints that plants could use rock-derived nitrogen, this discovery shatters the paradigm that the ultimate source of available nitrogen is the atmosphere. Nitrogen is both the most important limiting nutrient on Earth and a dangerous pollutant, so it is important to understand the natural controls on its supply and demand. Humanity currently depends on atmospheric nitrogen to produce enough fertilizer to maintain world food supply. A discovery of this magnitude will open up a new era of research on this essential nutrient."
UC Davis Professor Randy Dahlgren in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources co-authored the study.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Sciences and its Division of Environmental Biology, as well as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Photo: The stuff that makes leaves green
- Author: Roger Baldwin, Ryan Meinerz, Gary Witmer and Scott Werner
Baldwin and Meinerz are UC Davis and Witmer and Werner are USDA/APHIA/Wildlife Services-National Wildlife Research Center
Voles are short, stocky rodents that often cause extensive girdling damage to a variety of tree and vine crops throughout California. Vole management is often quite challenging given how numerous they can be in a given area. In more recent years, effective management has often relied on some combination of vegetation removal, exclusion using trunk protectors, and rodenticide application. Vegetation removal is a great tool for reducing numbers in a field, but doesn't always eliminate all problems in an area. Plus, vole population size tends to ebb and flow from low to high densities; when densities are high, vegetation removal is often insufficient to reduce girdling damage.
Exclusion through the use of trunk protectors can be a good way to reduce girdling damage as well. However, trunk protectors should be buried at least 6 inches below ground to keep voles from tunneling underneath the protectors. This substantially increases the amount of labor required to protect trees and vines. Ultimately, this approach is only cost effective if high levels of damage are anticipated.
Rodenticide applications are also frequently used to knock down vole populations. However, rodenticide applications are generally not allowable within an orchard or vineyard during the growing season, thereby eliminating the use of one of the most effective vole management tools when it is most needed. Clearly there is room for a new tool to be added to the proverbial IPM toolbox when it comes to managing voles in orchard and vine crops.
Chemical repellents are one such tool that could be considered. Historically, repellents have not proven overly effective for field application against voles. However, recent laboratory testing of anthraquinone indicated that even low concentrations of this chemical were effective at reducing grain consumption by voles. Furthermore, anthraquinone has proven effective as a bird repellent. Anthraquinone is a post-ingestive product that causes animals that consume the product to become ill, thereby making it less likely that the animal will consume the product again during a subsequent feeding event. This kind of repellent is ideally suited for trunk application given that the repellent can easily be applied to the portion likely to be consumed by the vole. If effective, minimal girdling damage should be observed. A repellent application also has the added advantage in that it can easily be paired with vegetation management to hopefully further reduce girdling damage when compared to using either one of these approaches alone. Therefore, we set up a study to test the potential impact that a combination of vegetation management and anthraquinone applications would have on girdling damage by voles to young citrus trees. We also tested the longevity of anthraquinone to determine if long-term repellency following field application was likely. We tested this impact during both spring (characterized by a cool-wet weather pattern) and summer (characterized by a hot-dry weather pattern) seasons to determine if weather impacted potential girdling damage.
We found that anthraquinone was in fact highly repellent following trunk application, with a >90% reduction in girdling damage observed following application regardless of the season when it was applied. Anthraquinone exhibited substantial longevity, with no increase in girdling damage observed for the entire summer (5 weeks) and spring (6 weeks) sampling periods. This clearly indicates substantial repellency for anthraquinone applications, with repellency to last for at least two months, and likely for much longer given that we observed no upward trend at all in girdling damage at the end of our study period.
When combined with anthraquinone treatments, the removal of vegetation completely eliminated all girdling damage during summer. However, we did not observe this same collective impact during spring. That said, the inclusion of vegetation management with anthraquinone applications is likely warranted given our understanding of the need for multiple management strategies to maintain the long-term effectiveness of rodent management programs.
These results clearly indicate effective repellency of voles following anthraquinone applications, but at this time, anthraquinone is not registered for use against any mammalian species. We are hoping to gauge the interest of growers for the registration of this repellent against voles in orchard and vine crops. This is where we need your help. We have developed a very short survey (will take less than 3 minutes to complete) to gauge this interest. Please take this very quick survey to assist in this effort: