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


University of California Cooperative Extension Wild Pig Survey

In managed rangelands and agricultural areas, feral or wild pigs are a significant pest species. However, estimates of total damaged area occurring on these lands are ill-defined and subject to a high degree of variability. Wild pigs can be important vectors of disease, can cause forage and crop loss and set up sites for erosion effecting water quality and allow

Wild pigs at HREC
invasive plant species to establish. They can also prey on livestock. The geographical extent of wild pig damage in California is currently unknown making it difficult to mitigate and manage losses, and estimate the economic impact on private landowners and public lands.

UCCE Livestock and Range Advisors and Wildlife Specialists need your help by filling out a short statewide survey on wild pig damage found at: It should only take about 15 minutes to complete. Individual identities and survey responses will be kept confidential. Participation in the survey is entirely voluntary.

In conjunction with the survey we have developed a smart phone or tablet app that will help landowners and managers identify and record feral pig damage so that we can estimate the land area and economic impacts of feral pig damage over a longer time period. If you are interested in participating in data collection using our mobile application, please fill out the survey and indicate your interest at the end.

If you have questions about the survey or would like a paper copy, please contact either UCCE Livestock & Natural Resources Advisor, John Harper, at 707-463-4495 or or UCCE Wildlife Specialist, Roger Baldwin, at (530) 752-4551 or

Posted on Friday, August 12, 2016 at 3:18 PM
Tags: feral hogs (1), feral pigs (1), orchards (1), rangeland (4), vineyards (1), Wild pigs (1)

Driscoll’s, Plantel Nurseries, and Solex collaboration leads to the first mechanical strawberry transplanter

Mechanical strawberry transplanter, the first of its kind in California, developed from collaboration among Driscoll's, Plantel, and Solex.  (Photo by Surendra Dara)

Strawberry is one of those crops with high input costs and labor is one of the major expenses in strawberry production.  Both nursery and fruit production operations require a high volume of manual labor for planting, tending to the plants, processing of transplants or harvesting fruits.  Shortage of skilled farmworkers is a major challenge that strawberry industry is currently facing and it is even a bigger problem for summer planting when help is also needed for fruit harvesting from previous year's fall plantings.  Driscoll's, known as the largest berry producer in the world, developed a strawberry transplanter, which is a significant advancement in mechanization of transplanting, one of the two major manual operations in the strawberry production.

               Driscoll's team demonstrated their 3-bed transplanter to some growers on June 20, 2016 in an organic strawberry field in the Santa Maria area.  Chris Jenkins, Product Specialist at Driscoll's conceived the idea and worked with Chris Waldron at Plantel Nurseries and Matt Phillips at Solex in developing the first mechanical strawberry transplanter.  Tim McDonald at Guadalupe Hardware also helped in this development.  They experimented first with their 1-bed transplanter in Februrary, 2016 using celery transplants, which were grown to represent the strawberry transplants that would be available in June.  In the meantime, they developed a 3-bed transplanter in the next few months.  On June 10, Driscoll's planted 10 acres of strawberries using their new 3-bed transplanter.  The bulk of the misted tips are being propagated locally in standard nursery greenhouses in Nipomo.

              The Italian manufacture, Checchi e Magli built the original transplanter that is modified by Driscoll's, Plantel Nurseries, and Sodex for strawberries. “We took the Italian machine used for transplanting peppers and other crops in mulch and modified it for strawberries,” said Chris Waldron.  “It costs about $46,000 for the transplanter units that cover three beds.  With the tractor, racks, seating, and other equipment, the total cost could be about $120,000 for the entire unit.”

Misted tip strawberry transplants locally grown in greenhouses in Nipomo.  (Photo by Surendra Dara)

Crew loading the transplant trays. (Photo by Surendra Dara)

It is estimated that when planting a traditional bare root transplant, 10 farmworkers (including a plant distributor, a forklift driver, and a crew boss) are required to work an eight hour day to transplant one acre of acre of strawberry, which typically has 28,000 plants for a 4-row/bed configuration.  The mechanical transplanter can plant 10 acres in a day with the help of a 19-member crew, which includes the tractor driver, a plant handler/loader, 12 planters (one per each plant line loading the transplants into the planting slots), and five people checking the transplanted plants on the bed.  What used to take 100 people to manually transplant 10 acres can now be done with just 19 people.  “Harvesting crew members get about $30/hour and putting them on a transplanting job with about $10/hour is not ideal,” said Chris Jenkins.  “With the help of this machine, we can now engage the farmworkers in a high paying job.  It is socially, economically, and ergonomically a big improvement and helps our field crew tremendously.  As the transplanter does most of the work, it will allow the available labor to focus on harvesting fresh market strawberries that fetch a higher price than processing strawberries.  But one point I would like to highlight is that we are not displacing jobs with the machine.  Generally, no one wants to do the transplanting job when harvesting is obviously the preferred job.”

A 12-member team feeds the transplants (above) while two members check on the beds and ensure that all plants are in a good condition.  (Photos by Surendra Dara)

Chris Waldron (Plantel Nurseries) instructing a crew member who is verifying the plants. (Photo by Surendra Dara)

Happy and proud Chris Jenkins (Driscoll's) standing in a newly transplanted field (above) and Chris Waldron (Plantel Nurseries) in front of the mechanical strawberry transplanter (below) (Photos by Surendra Dara)

Some of the advantages of the mechanical transplanter include:

  • Efficient and uniform transplanting that requires less time and manpower.
  • Avoidance of human errors in planting depth, j-roots, and other such issues in manual planting of bare root transplants.
  • Misted tip transplants actively growing and are not dormant like bare root transplants.  They are also in an advanced growth stage compared to bare root transplants and will likely start fruit production 2-3 weeks earlier than the latter.
  • Once separated from the mother plants, it takes about 6 weeks for the misted tip transplants, while several months of field production and refrigeration are required for bare root transplants.
  • Local production of misted tip transplants is more likely to adjust to grower needs and probably has a better control over producing uniform and good quality transplants that can be easily supplied without long distance transportation.
  • It is less likely to have soilborne diseases from misted tip transplants compared to the bare root transplants from a traditional infield nursery.

About 7 weeks after transplanting, strawberry plants look healthy and already started producing fruit (Photo by Chris Jenkins, Driscoll's)

According to Chris Jenkins, fruit yields from misted tip transplants were nearly twice as much as the yields from bare root plants in their 2015 study.  Uniform planting, better plant health, and early fruit production could have contributed to higher yields from the misted tip plants.

Development of the strawberry transplanter is a major improvement to the strawberry production technology with a significant contribution to the labor shortage issue. 

Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Endophytic Beauveria bassiana negatively impacts green peach aphids on strawberries

A variety of arthropod pests attack strawberries in California and farmers primarily use chemical pesticides for pest management (CDPR, 2014 and Zalom et al. 2014).  Recent field studies demonstrated the potential of entomopathogenic fungi, Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium brunneum in managing important pests such as western tarnished bug, Lygus hesperus in strawberries (Dara 2013a;2014;2015).  Entomopathogenic fungi are commonly used as biopesticides where fungal spores cause infections when they come in contact with the target pests.  However, these fungi are also reported to endophytically colonize plants (Dara et al., 2013; Behie et al., 2015).  Endophytic colonization of B. bassiana in various host plants and the impact on herbivore populations was previously described in some studies (Akello, 2008, Bing and Lewis, 1991, Posada et al., 2007, Tefera and Vidal, 2009, Wagner and Lewis, 2000).   An earlier study showed that B. bassiana endophytically colonized strawberry roots, petioles, leaf lamina, pedicels, sepals, and calyxes and persisted up to 9 weeks through soil inoculation (Dara et al., 2013), but its impact on herbivore infestations, especially those with piercing and sucking mouthparts is unknown.  A greenhouse study was conducted using green peach aphid, Myzus persicae Sulzer, a minor pest of strawberries, as a model insect to evaluate the impact of endophytic B. bassiana.

Materials and Methods

The study was conducted in a greenhouse using the following treatments: i) untreated control, ii) six weekly soil applications of B. bassiana starting from one week after planting, iii) four weekly foliar applications of B. bassiana starting two weeks after planting, and iv) both soil and foliar applications at respective intervals used with individual applications.  Each treatment had four strawberry transplants, obtained from a commercial source and planted in 1 gallon pots (18 cm diameter and 18 cm height) with potting medium composed of a mixture of steam sterilized field soil and perlite.  Five grams of Osmocote(R) Slow Release Fertilizer 14-14-14 (Carolina Biological Supply Company, Burlington, NC) was added to each pot followed by watering to the point of saturation.  One week after planting, each strawberry plant was infested with 10 pre-adult M. persicae obtained from a greenhouse colony. 

Green peach aphids on a potted strawberry plant

For soil treatment of B. bassiana, 1 ml of Mycotrol-O in 100 ml of water was placed around the base of the plant a week after planting and one week prior to aphid infestation.  For foliar treatment, 0.25 ml of Mycotrol-O in 100 ml water was sprayed, starting one week after aphid infestation, using a plastic spray bottle until the foliage was thoroughly covered.  A polystyrene plate with a hole in the center and a slit across the radius was placed around the base of each plant before administering treatments to avoid cross contamination of soil and foliar treatments.  The hole around the plant base was plugged with a ball of cotton.

The number of live and dead aphids, fully expanded leaves, and flower shoots were monitored weekly for a total of seven weeks after artificial infestation and the means for the observation period were calculated.  Data were analyzed using ANOVA and significant means were separated using Fisher's Least Significant Difference test.  Proportion of live and dead aphids was analyzed after arcsine transformation.  Since endophytic colonization of strawberry by B. bassiana was previously reported (Dara et al, 2014), plant tissue was not tested again for the presence of fungus.  During the experimental period, average minimum and maximum temperatures were 15.6 and 26.7oC and relative humidity values were 51 and 93%, respectively. 


Results indicated that B. bassiana contributed to the mortality of M. persicae through both endophytic and pathogenic modes of action.  A significantly higher number of dead aphids was seen on treated plants compared to untreated plants (P = 0.0002).  The combination of soil and foliar applications had an additive effect with significantly higher number of dead aphids than soil or foliar applications alone. There was no significant difference in the number (P = 0.0078) or proportion (P = 0.0001) of live aphids or the number of adult aphids (P = 0.0089) between untreated plants and those treated with soil application of B. bassiana.  However, there were significantly fewer live aphids where B. bassiana was applied as a foliar spray and a combination of soil application and foliar spray.  The impact of treatments on live nymphs was more pronounced with a wider range of significant differences than on live adults.  The number of fully expanded leaves and flowering shoots was similar among the treatments (P > 0.05) during the observation period. 

* Means followed by the same or no letter within each column are not significantly different at the respective P value in the bottom 
Impact of soil and foliar applications of B. bassiana on green peach aphid numbers and strawberry plant

Impact of soil and foliar applications of B. bassiana on green peach aphids on strawberry plants


Although entomopathogenic fungi are known to have endophytic interactions with various plant species, how this interaction influences herbivore populations is not fully understood.  Several studies shed some light on this new area of research, but they primarily include insects with chewing mouthparts such as the banana weevil, Cosmopolites sorditus on banana (Akello et al., 2008), the corn ear worm, Helicoverpa zea on tomato (Powell et al., 2009), and the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis on corn (Bing and Lewis, 1991, Lewis et al., 1996) except for a recent report of endophytic B. bassiana and Purpureocilium licacinum impacting the survival and reproduction of cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover on cotton (Castillo Lopez et al., 2014).  Antibiosis is thought to be one of the mechanisms for the endophytic entomopathogens to affect herbivores (Castillo Lopez et al., 204, Vega et al., 2008).

The current study clearly indicated that B. bassiana affected the mortality of M. persicae as an endophyte and an entomopathogen.  Having an additive effect through endophytic interaction as well as infection is useful for increasing pest control efficacy in practical agriculture.  Entomopathogenic fungi and other microbial control agents are generally perceived to be less effective than chemical pesticides and improved efficacy through multiple modes of action adds value to microbial control.  In an earlier study, greenhouse strawberry plants that received soil application of M. brunneum withstood infestations of twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch, better than untreated plants (Dara and Dara 2015). Endophytic colonization of the fungus could not be determined by surface sterilizing and plating the plant tissue on selective medium, but treated plants performed better than control plants under mite pressure indicating a positive impact of M. brunneum on strawberry plants.

In the current study, while the mortality of aphids was higher with the combined treatment of soil and foliar applications, surviving aphids did not follow the same trend showing slightly higher numbers wherever soil applications were made.  In general, plants that received soil application of B. bassiana appeared to be healthier than untreated or foliar treatment alone and although not significantly different, plants that received the soil treatment had a slightly higher number of leaves during the observation period possibly contributing to higher surviving aphids.  Other studies conducted in California also support this idea that entomopathogenic fungi, including B. bassiana, promote plant growth (Dara, 2013b, Dara et al. 2014). 

This is the first report of the impact of endophytic B. bassiana on the mortality of M. persicae on strawberry laying foundation for additional studies with major pests such as L. hesperus.  Entomopathogenic fungi can play a significant role in integrated pest management and studies that elucidate their interaction with plants and pests will help promote their use in sustainable agriculture. 


Thanks to Jaclyn Wiley and Melody Carter for their technical assistance and David Headrick, Cal Poly for providing aphids and the greenhouse space for the study. 



Akello, J., Dubois, T., Coyne, D., Kyamanywa, S.  2008.  Endophytic Beauveria bassiana in banan (Musa spp.) reduces banana weevil (Cosmopolites sordidus) fitness and damage.  Crop Protection 27: 1437-1441.

Behie, S. W., Jones, S. J., Bidochka, M. J. 2015.  Plant tissue localization of the endophytic insect pathogenic fungi Metarhizium and Beauveria.  Fungal Ecology 13: 112-114.

Bing, L. A., Lewis, L. C. 1991.  Suppression of Ostrinia nubilalis (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Pyraliade) by entomopathogenic Beauveria bassiana(Balsamo) Vuillemin.  Environ. Entomol. 20, 1207-1211.

California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).  2014.  Summary of pesticide use report data 2012: Indexed by commodity.

Dara, S. K. 2013a. Strawberry IPM study 2013: managing insect pests with chemical, botanical, and microbial pesticides.

Dara, S. K. 2013b.  Entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana promotes strawberry plant growth and health.

Dara, S. K. 2014. Strawberry IPM study 2014: managing insect pests with chemical, botanical, microbial, and other pesticides.

Dara, S. K. 2015. Strawberry IPM study 2015: managing insect pests with chemical, botanical, microbial, and mechanical control options.

Dara, S. K., Dara, S. R, Dara, S. S. 2013.  Endophytic colonization and pest management potential of Beauveria bassiana in strawberries.  J. Berry Res. 3: 203-211.

Dara, S. K., Dara, S. S., Dara, S. S. 2014.  Entomopathogenic fungi as plant growth enhancers.  47th Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology and International Congress on Invertebrate Pathology and Microbial Control, August 3-7, Mainz, Germany pp. 103-104.

Lewis, L. C., Berry, E. C., Obrycki, J. J., Bing, L. A. 1996.  Aptness of insecticides (Bacillus thuringiensis and carbofuran) with endophytic Beauveria bassiana, in suppressing larval populations of the European corn borer.  Agri. Eco. Environ. 57, 27-34.

Posada, F., Aime, M. C., Peterson, S. W., Aehner, S. A., Vega, F. E. 2007.  Inoculation of coffee plants with the fungal entomopathogen Beauveria bassiana(Ascomycota: Hypocreales).  Mycol. Res. 111: 748-757.

Tefera, T., Vidal, S. 2009.  Effect of inoculation method and plant growth medium on endophytic colonization of sorghum by the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana.  BioCon. 54: 663-669.

Vega, F. E., Posada, F., Aime, M. C., Pava-Ripoll, M., Infante, F., Rehner, S. A. 2008.  Entomopathogenic fungal endophytes.  Biol. Con. 46: 72-82.

Wagner, B. L., Lewis, L. C. 2000.  Colonization of corn, Zea mays, by the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 2000: 3468-3473.

Zalom, F. G., Bolda, M. P., Dara, S. K., Joseph, S. 2014. UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Strawberry.  University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. Oakland: UC ANR Publication 3468.  June, 2014.

Posted on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 7:56 AM

Economic Impact of Local Food Marketing in the Sacramento Region

Consumers often say that they buy locally produced foods because they want to support their local economy. Our newly released report confirms that buying locally produced foods does support the local economy.

Our University of California Cooperative Extension team measured the economic impact of local food marketing in the Sacramento Region (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties). Our key finding was that, for every dollar of sales, Sacramento Region producers engaged in direct marketing (direct marketers) are generating twice as much economic activity within the region as producers who are not involved in direct marketing (non-direct marketers). This strong economic development impact is due primarily to the fact that direct marketers source a much larger percentage of their inputs within the region (89 percent) than do non-direct marketers (45 percent).

We used an input-output modeling program, IMPLAN, to measure the direct marketers' economic impacts. Our project team interviewed over 100 direct marketers in the Sacramento Region to develop a customized IMPLAN database. We asked producers what, where, and how much they spent for inputs in various categories, as well as what, where and how much product they sold. The direct marketers were much more labor intensive; hired labor comprised 45 percent of their total expenses, compared to 25 percent of total expenses for the non-direct marketers. Additionally, most direct marketers also sold through other channels; on average, 44 percent of their revenues were generated through direct marketing, 55 percent through wholesale channels, and one percent in commodity markets.

Three levels of economic impact related to local food marketing can be measured: direct, indirect and induced. Imagine a customer goes to a farmers market in the Sacramento region and buys $10 of vegetables from Farmer Brown. There is a direct effect of 1, which generates $10 in revenue for Farmer Brown. There are also ripple effects

created by Farmer Brown's production of $10 of vegetables. Indirect effects occur when Farmer Brown purchases inputs from other industries within the region to produce $10 of vegetables. For example, from the expense data we collected, we know that, a farmer (such as Farmer Brown) spent an average of $0.42 on irrigation materials and utilities within the Sacramento Region to produce $10 of vegetables. These purchases at her local hardware store requires that the store purchase more irrigation materials from its supplier. This additional demand is called the indirect effect. Only the hardware store's purchases of irrigation products within the Sacramento Region are counted when measuring the indirect effect. The direct marketers' indirect effect is .41, compared to .09 for the indirect marketers. Therefore, we know that while producing the $10 of vegetables, the indirect effect from Farmer Brown's production of vegetables generated $4.10 of economic activity in the Sacramento Region by purchasing various inputs and services within the region.

The second ripple effect is called the induced effect. In this example, Farmer Brown spent money to hire labor and purchase inputs. Her spending generates income for her farm, her employees, her suppliers, and the employees of her suppliers—including the sales person at the hardware store. The induced effect occurs when these households spend some of their income on products and services within the region, such as food, clothing, health care, eating out, and recreational activities. The induced effect was .45 for the direct marketers and .33 for the indirect marketers. The induced effect from Farmer Brown's production of $10 of vegetables generated $4.50 of household spending in the Sacramento Region. The direct, indirect and induced effects are added together to calculate the total output multiplier—measuring the total economic impact of one dollar of output. The total output multiplier is 1.86 for the direct marketers, and 1.42 for the non-direct marketers.

There are also large differences in the job effect of the two producer groups. The direct marketers generate 31.8 jobs in the Sacramento Region for every $1 million of output they produce. These jobs include on-farm labor, as well as jobs related to the farms' indirect effects, which involve the farms' suppliers, and jobs created by the direct marketers' induced effects involving household spending. In comparison, the Sacramento Region non-direct marketers generate 10.5 jobs for every $1 million of output. The difference is attributable mainly to two factors: (1) the direct marketers' high rate of local input sourcing; and (2) the direct marketers' labor intensiveness--hired labor expenses comprised 45 percent of their operating expenses, compared to only 25 percent for the other producers.

These relatively large effects of direct marketing need to be considered within a broader context. Direct market producers in the Sacramento Region account for only 19 percent of the region's farms and four percent of its total agricultural production (based on data from the USDA's 2012 Census of Agriculture and this study). Therefore, direct marketers' overall impact on the region's economy is relatively small. However, since they generate double the impact on the Sacramento Region's economy for each dollar of production compared to the non-direct marketers, direct marketers warrant support from the region's policy makers and government programs.

Readers need to be aware that these results apply only to the Sacramento Region. Gathering the data to develop a custom IMPLAN database for direct marketers is very time-consuming.

Report authors are the following current (and former) UC Cooperative Extension academics and staff: Shermain Hardesty, Libby O. Christensen, Erin McGuire, Gail Feenstra, Chuck Ingels, Jim Muck, Julia Boorinakis-Harper, Cindy Fake and Scott Oneto. The full regional report, as well as similar reports for El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties, may be downloaded at: Inquiries may be sent to the project leader, Shermain Hardesty,

Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 3:51 PM
  • Author: Shermain Hardesty

USDA to Include Animal Welfare in Organic Labeling

This is a re-post of a Meeting Place article. Important for those of you looking at organic meat production.

"USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on Thursday proposed amending organic livestock and poultry production requirements to include specific guidance on animal welfare.

The changes, based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, aim to ensure consistency in animal handling and maintain consumer confidence in organically labeled products, AMS said.

Provisions of the proposed rule include:

  • Clarifying how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and wellbeing throughout life, including transport and slaughter.
  • Specifying which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.
  • Establishing minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.

“This proposal sets clear standards for organic animals, providing clarity to organic operations and certifying agents, and establishing a level playing field for all producers,” AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer said in a statement.  

The proposed rule will be published soon in the Federal Register and is available to view here."

Posted on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 1:06 PM

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