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Citrus trees sprayed for Asian citrus psyllid in Highland

Beth Grafton-Cardwell.
Backyard citrus trees in Highland, Calif., were sprayed with a pesticide to kill Asian citrus psyllids, reported Jim Steinberg in the San Bernardino Sun. The invasive pests pose a threat because they can carry huanglongbing disease, which is incurable. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is treating trees that have ACP to keep the pest number in California low.

“What they are really doing is buying time until disease resistant trees become available, or there is some treatment for the (huanglongbing) disease,” said Matt Daugherty, a UC Cooperative Extension entomology specialist based at UC Riverside.

The reporter also spoke to Beth Grafton-Cardwell, who is a UCCE entomology specialist at UC Riverside and director of the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Tulare County. She said that it is unlikely huanglongbing was completely wiped out in the Southern California areas where infected trees have been found, even though CDFA destroyed the infected trees.

A tree can be infected for a year before it shows symptoms, she said. 

Grafton-Cardwell asks homeowners to monitor backyard trees for signs of Asian citrus psyllid and report any finds to CDFA or their county agricultural commissioner's office. For more information, see the video below.

Posted on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 1:29 PM

Mendocino County no longer to contract with USDA Wildlife Services

Mendocino County supervisors decided to sever ties with the USDA's division of Wildlife Services, reported Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle. The decision was made after environmental groups said the agency was indiscriminately killing predators, such as mountain lions and coyotes, because they are a threat to livestock.

The article featured a gallery of 10 artful photos taken at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center, which maintains a research sheep flock of 500 breeding ewes. Record-keeping of sheep losses to predators began at Hopland in 1973. Coyotes are the most serious predator problem.

Hopland staff use a variety of non-lethal and preventative methods to protect sheep from predators, such as fencing, mob grazing and frequent pasture rotation and guard dogs, according to Kim Rodrigues, the director of the research and extension facility. Currently there are five guard dogs at the center. The guard dogs bond with sheep and protect them primarily by barking and other aggressive behaviors when strangers or predators are near the sheep flock.

A guard dog protects sheep at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. (Photo: Robert J. Keiffer)
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 9:46 AM

UC president Janet Napolitano and UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston tour Humboldt

Janet Napolitano, who is on a two-day tour in Humboldt County, is the first UC president to visit the Northern California locale, reported Marc Vartabedian in the Eureka Times-Standard. Napolitano is joined by Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Napolitano and Humiston are visiting an Indian health services facility, a seafood company, a forest and a high school. UC has had a long presence in Humboldt County. Humboldt was the site of the first UC Cooperative Extension office in California, established in 1913.

“UC has had 100 years of research presence in the Arcata forest and many of their campuses are world leaders in ecological research,” said Yana Valachovic, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County. “We think of ourselves as the eleventh campus.”

Janet Napolitano (left) and Glenda Humiston (with white sleeves) meet the staff at United Indian Health Services at Potawot Health Village. The facility serves 15,000 people in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 9:21 AM

Avoiding the water quality problems suffered in Flint

Senior policy adviser with UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute, Christina Hecht, says federal law requires schools to provide potable drinking water. But the question remains, but how do they confirm water safety? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The shameful state of tap water in Flint, Mich., has raised concerns about the quality of water being piped into schools across America, reported Helena Bottemiller Evich in Politico Pro. Politico also ran a summary in its Morning Agriculture Briefing.

Congress and health groups are looking at a provision of a 2010 child nutrition law to get schools to test their water, and considering how to help schools pay for it.

The Politico reporter spoke to Christina Hecht, a senior policy adviser at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. The institute is the hub for the National Drinking Water Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals across the country working to ensure that American children can drink safe water in the places where they live, learn and play.

Hecht pointed out that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools to provide potable water during meal times. The act also says that child care facilities that participate in federal meals programs must give kids access to drinkable water throughout the day.

Because of this wording in the law, USDA could issue a guidance requiring schools to test their water to be sure it is potable.

"The beauty of this approach is that the language is there ... the means for oversight is there," Hecht said. "When you look at Flint, where does the buck stop? When you look at schools and child care, we've identified where the buck stops."

The cost to test water at schools nationwide is estimated to be about $7.6 million. For adult and child-care sites it would be about $14 million. In all, the expenditure works out to about 40 cents per child. 

"We at the Nutrition Policy Institute encourage Congress to appropriate funds for tap water testing in American schools, and remediation where necessary," Hecht said.

Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 10:03 AM

Imperial County approves funding for new 4-H Club in Calexico

Calexico, Calif., is just north of the border with Mexico.
A new community 4-H Club will be launched in Calexico this summer with support from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, reported the Imperial Valley Press. Calexico is a low-income community. In order to establish a new 4-H Club for 5- to 19-year-old youth, the board has allocated $10,000 to cover start-up costs.

According to the article, written by UC Cooperative Extension 4-H program representative Shanna Abatti, 20 years have passed since a 4-H Club was chartered in Calexico, the second-largest city in Imperial County. 

One of the biggest challenges in starting a new club is identifying volunteer leaders. Clubs usually have 1 or 2 organizational leaders who help the youth elect officers, structure club meetings and attend 4-H council board meetings. Volunteer project leaders provide learning activities in project areas of their choice, such as photography, hiking, folklorico, arts and crafts, animals or any other field. 

The funding from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors will allow the 4-H office to hold an interest meeting in Calexico, train project leaders, purchase kits needed to implement projects, cover enrollment fees for participants and purchase hats and t-shirts for the youth.

Click this link to read the full story.
Click this link to read the full story.

Posted on Monday, April 18, 2016 at 11:39 AM

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