Sonoma County Bounty - Farm Business Incubator
University of California
Sonoma County Bounty - Farm Business Incubator


New reference booklet available for pesticide applicators: Understanding Pesticide Labels for Making Proper Applications

The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) put together a 26-page card set in English and Spanish on understanding pesticide labels.  Intended for pesticide handlers, applicators, safety trainers, and pest control advisers (PCAs), the cards explain when to read the label, describe what kind of information can be found in each section of a pesticide label, and point out specific instruction areas so that applicators can apply pesticides safely and avoid illegal pesticide residues. 

Traces of pesticide residue are normal and even expected after pesticides are applied to food crops, but by the time produce is ready to be sold, purchased, and consumed, residues are usually far below the legal limit. 

In its latest report from 2013, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) reported that there was little or no detectable pesticide residue in 97.8% of all California-grown produce.  This demonstrates a strong pesticide regulation program and pesticide applicators that apply pesticides safely and legally.  However, there have been instances in California where a pesticide not registered for a specific crop has been used unintentionally, resulting in illegal residues and eventually crop loss and destruction.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets tolerances for the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can legally be allowed to remain on or in food. 

DPR regularly monitors domestic and imported produce for pesticide residues and is considered the most extensive state residue-monitoring program in the nation.

The primary way pesticide applicators can assure that they make proper applications and avoid illegal pesticide residues is to follow the pesticide label.  UC IPM's new card set was developed from information in the upcoming third edition of The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides as well as Lisa Blecker, UC IPM's Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator.  Bound with a spiral coil, this eye-catching instructional card set was designed for both English-speakers and when flipped over, for Spanish-speaking audiences as well.  UC IPM also plans to release a new online course on preventing illegal pesticide residues sometime late fall.

To download copies of the card set in English or in Spanish, see the UC IPM web site.

Posted on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 5:02 PM

Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit —A New, Water Efficient Crop for Southern California Farmers

Declining profits from most agricultural crops grown combined with increasing restrictions on water use have forced many Southern California farmers to look for more water efficient and profitable crop alternatives to diversify their farming operations. Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus spp.) meets these requirements and has emerged as a viable crop alternative with great profit potential for small-scale agricultural producers in the region.

Pitahaya is a vining cactus that adapts very well to arid southern California micro-climates and can survive with minimal amounts of water. Its fruit is highly prized by Southeast Asian consumers not only as a fresh fruit but also for its cultural importance. However, market trends and increasing demand for new, exotic and more nutritious fruits have increased the appeal of this fruit among mainstream American consumers and the demand currently exceeds the domestic supply.

Most pitahaya consumed in the US has been traditionally imported from Southeast Asia with limited domestic production from Florida and California. However, most of this fruit has been from white-fleshed cultivars of Asian origin, which rarely met consumers' flavor expectations based on the fruit's exotic appearance.

Recognizing that more research-based information and tastier, more colorful varieties were needed to increase consumer demand and to help growers capitalize on this opportunity, UCCE Small Farm Advisor Ramiro Lobo initiated a pitahaya research and extension program with seed money from the former UC Small Farm Program. Subsequent grants from UC-ANR and from the UC Hansen Trust have allowed Farm Advisor Lobo to expand the geographic scope of this program into Riverside and Ventura Counties in collaboration with Jose Fernandez de Soto, Jose Aguiar, other Advisors and Specialists from UC Davis and UC Riverside and private growers and suppliers.

Research efforts to date have focused on the evaluation of pitahaya cultivars for adaptation to local micro-climates, the genetic characterization of a pitahaya germplasm collection, pest and disease management, irrigation and fertility management and post harvest management information. This research has demonstrated that pitahaya or dragon fruit adapts very well to field grown conditions in Southern California and that this drought-tolerant plant can be a profitable crop alternative for small-scale producers in Southern Coastal California.

Pitahaya production seminar and research field days are scheduled for Ventura County on September 29, 2015 and Riverside County on September 30th

If you are interested in learning more about pitahaya, you may want to attend one of these upcoming events. The Field Day in Ventura County will begin with a tour of field research trials at MVP Farms in Fillmore, followed by

presentations, lunch and pitahaya fruit and ice cream tasting at the UC Hansen Agricultural Center in Santa Paula. Field discussion and presentations will focus on varieties, irrigation system design and requirements, fertility management, trellising systems, pest and disease prevention and management, insect pest management, nematode management and pitahaya establishment coast and marketing considerations. You may register online or download the agenda and more details for the upcoming field day in Santa Paula at:

A shorter program in Indio, Riverside County will be presented on Wednesday, September 30 beginning at 10:30AM. To register for this event, contact Wendy Smith at 760 342 6437 or

white pitahaya
white pitahaya

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 4:47 PM
  • Author: Shermain Hardesty
Tags: pitahaya (1), Ramiro Lobo (2)

OMRI certification of the organic biopesticide Mycotrol-O

Mycotrol-O is a biopesticide with the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana as the active ingredient.  Beauveria bassiana is pathogenic to a wide range of arthropod pests and I have used both Mycotrol-O and the conventional formulations BotaniGard 22WP and BotaniGard ES in several studies against multiple pests over years.  It showed good potential against thrips in lettuce, aphids in broccoli, lygus bug and spider mites on strawberries.  The combination of Mycotrol-O and azadirachtin emerged as a good tool for managing root aphids in organic celery and Mycotrol-O consistently performed better than other options against Bagrada bugs in my laboratory assays.

On 24 August, a grower who has been using Mycotrol-O for controlling Bagrada bug on multiple crops sent me an email he received from the distributor that the OMRI certification of Mycotrol-O will expire as of 28 August, 2015.  When I contacted Bioworks, Inc. that markets Mycotrol-O, they confirmed that one of the ingredients of the carrier was challenged by OMRI for organic production and their new formulation, Mycotrol ESO is waiting for registration.  LAM International Corp, the manufacturer of Mycotrol-O, notified on 31 August that OMRI accepted their appeal to review the status of the product.  This means, Mycotrol-O will remain in OMRI approved status until further notification.

Metarhizium brunneum (=M. anisopliae) and Isaria fumosorosea (=Paecilomyces fumosoroseus) are the other two entomopathogenic fungi that are commercially available, but only the latter is registered for organic use.  Beauveria bassiana is an effective pathogen and several growers are using against multiple pests.

Growers and PCAs can continue to use Mycotrol-O based on the current information.


Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:09 PM

Reporting the occurrence of rice root aphid and honeysuckle aphid and their management in organic celery

A few species of aphids infest celery in California.  According to the UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines, the black bean aphid (Aphis fabae), the foxglove aphid (Aulacorthum solani), the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), the hawthorn or parsley aphid (Dysaphis apiifolia), and the cotton or melon aphid (Aphis gossypii) attack celery and cause varying levels of damage.  These aphids feed on the aboveground plant parts – leaflets and petioles – and some of them are vectors of virus diseases such as western celery mosaic, celery calico, cucumber mosaic, celery yellow spot and others.

Organic celery field in Santa Maria.  Aphid damage to the roots stunted the plant growth and reduced the plant stand.  Photo by Surendra Dara

Normal plant (above) and severely stunted plant (below) from aphid damage to the root system.  Photo by Surendra Dara

Aphids feeding on celery roots.  Photo by Surendra Dara

In late 2014, an organic celery field in Santa Maria was severely infested with aphids feeding on the root system.  Damage stunted plant growth and resulted in up to 80% of yield loss.   Gillian Watson at CDFA identified the aphid specimens as the rice root aphid, Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominale (Sasaki) and the honeysuckle aphid, Hyadaphis foeniculi (Passerini).  While there was only one earlier record of the honeysuckle aphid infestation on celery, according to the CDFA records, the rice root aphid has never been reported on celery.  This is the first record of the rice root aphid on celery.  Multiple species of the genus Hyadaphis are referred to as honeysuckle aphid, coriander aphid, and others in the literature, but the one identified on celery was H. foeniculi.

Adult rice root aphid. Photo by Brian Cabrera, Entomologist, Santa Barbara Ag Commissioner's Office

The rice root aphid is known to infest graminaceous (barley, rice, and wheat), rosaceous (apricot and plum), and solanaceous (potato and tomato) crops and is known to vector the barley yellow dwarf virus of grasses and small grains.  The honeysuckle aphid is known to be an important pest of apiaceous (fennel), caprofoliaceaeous (honeysuckles), and lamiaceous (mints) plants and involved in the transmission of 13 viruses.  

Depending on the host plant they are feeding on, the wingless form of the rice root aphid can be olive to dark green or brownish with yellowish tints or reddish or greenish-brown along with bluish-white wax on the body.  The wingless form of the honeysuckle aphid is greyish green or light green with dark appendages.

Field study methodology:

Natural enemies such as coccinellids, syrphid fly larvae, and lacewings play an important role in biological control of aphids infesting aboveground parts of the plant and root aphid management is a challenge especially in organic cropping systems.  To address the issue, a field study was conducted using the following treatments: i) untreated control, ii) Ecotec (rosemary oil 10% and peppermint oil 2%) 19.2 fl oz along with 12 fl oz of Kinetic (silicone and non-ionic surfactants), iii) AzaGuard (azadirachtin) 6.3 fl oz along with 20 fl oz of OroBoost (alcohol ethoxylate), iv) Mycotrol-O (Beauveria bassiana) 1.5 qrt, v) Mycotrol-O 1.5 qrt along with AzaGuard 6.3 fl oz, vi) Venerate (Burkholderia spp.) 2 gal, and vii) Grandevo (Chromobacterium subtsugae) 2 lb per acre.  Each treatment was about 0.3 acres of single plot and pesticides were administered through the drip system at 250 gpa rate for 40-45 min on December 9 and 23, 2014.  Aphid infestations were evaluated on December 6 (pre-treatment), December 22 (13 days after the first treatment), and January 2, 2015 (10 days after the second treatment).  On each sampling date, 10 plants were pulled out from random locations within each treatment, roots were washed in mild soap water, and aphids floating on the surface were filtered and counted.  Data were subjected to analysis of variance and significant means were separated using Tukey's HSD test.


There was a significant difference in aphid numbers among different treatments before and after each application (P < 0.002) and when the average for both applications (P < 0.0001) was considered.  When the overall change in aphid populations after both applications compared to the pre-treatment numbers was considered, there was a 3% reduction in untreated control, 24, 18, and 129% increase in Ecotec, AzaGuard, and Mycotrol-O treatments, respectively.  However, Mycotrol-O along with AzaGuard provided a 62% reduction in aphid populations followed by a 29% reduction by Grandevo and 24% by Venerate.  This study demonstrates the potential of non-chemical options in managing aphid populations in organic celery.  Microbial pesticides especially in combination with botanical pesticides can play a significant role in pest management.  Understanding the modes of actions of different options and using the right combinations is critical in pest management decisions.

Number of aphids (both species included) per plant before and after each pesticide application (above) and before and after both applications (below)

 Change in aphid populations before and after treatments.


Thanks to the technical assistance of Cintia Perez and Emmy Williams and industry collaborators for donating the products.


AphID. 2014.  Hyadaphis foeniculi. (

AphID. 2014. Rhopalosiphum rifiabdominale. (

Blackman, R. L. and V. F. Eastop.  2006.  Aphids on world's plants ( and

Halbert, S. E. 2003.  Coriander aphid, Hyadaphis coriandri(Das) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Aphididae).  University of Florida IFAS Extension publication EENY-296. (

Jedlinski, H. 1981.  Rice root aphid, Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominalis, a vector of barley yellow dwarf virus in Illinois, and the disease complex.  Plant Disease 65: 975-978. (

The Morton Arboretum.  2013. Honeysuckle aphid. (

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Ken Tate is 2015 recipient of James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award

The following appear in CA&ES Currents Newsletter, August 13, 2015. Congratulations Ken!!!

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Kenneth Tate is the 2015 recipient of the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. The award recognizes a distinguished career of achievement by an Academic Federation member. A secondary but important consideration is voluntary service to the campus, UC community, or state, regional, or national bodies.

Tate has compiled an impressive record of collaborative and solution-oriented research addressing agricultural and environmental issues across California's 57 million acres of rangeland. He provides science and education leadership to California's diverse rangeland stakeholders and the campus community and has been repeatedly recognized for his work on surface water quality on rangelands. He has given more than 400 extension presentations, published more than 100 journal articles, served as principal investigator on 37 research and extension grants ($6.3 million), and as co-principal investigator on another 43 research and extension grants ($5.7 million).

Tate works with private landowners, agency land managers, and regulatory agency staff to understand the fate and transport of surface water pollutants. Early in his career he helped identify management practices to reduce drinking water contamination risks by livestock-borne Cryptosporidium parvum and other pathogens, which enabled ranching families to continue sustainable grazing practices on watersheds east of San Francisco. He has also worked with these groups to identify and implement realistic management practices to reduce pollutants. Tate is known for his ability to build consensus among diverse audiences on controversial topics related to range livestock production. In 2011, he developed the biennial UC Rustici Rangeland Science Symposium that features scientists, policymakers, and ranchers working on key rangeland issues.

“Dr. Tate has advanced a remarkable and productive research and extension career in range management and environmental stewardship,” said Department of Plant Sciences chair Chris van Kessel in nominating Tate for the award. “His program has been exemplary in bringing together diverse research and management collaborations to evaluate scientific information relevant to targeted issues, contribute new scientific knowledge, and extend tools and knowledge to serve the needs of society."

Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 3:22 PM

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