UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
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UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

Why Dead Bees Can Sting

A California scrub jay nails a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Can dead bees sting? Yes, they can. Here's the scenario: Our pollinator garden is buzzing with the sights and sounds of...

Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 4:39 PM

UC researchers look to expand California avocado production

California avocados are the best in the world. So says downtown restaurant manager Daniel Avalos in a Valley Public Radio story by reporter Ezra David Romero.

The fact that they currently thrive only on a small swath of coastal Southern California is being challenged by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Mary Lu Arpaia. She is on a mission to find avocado varieties that withstand the hot summers and cold winters of the San Joaquin Valley, where irrigation water and crop land are more abundant and cheaper. 

She hopes to find avocado varieties that ripen at various times of year, and varieties that might be an alternative crop for citrus growers should huanglongbing, a disease that has devastated the Florida citrus crop, take hold in Central California.

"There's a void of California fruit on the market in the months of November, December and actually early January," Arpaia said. "So if we can find different selections that maybe are unique that fit into that window, then we help the entire California avocado industry."

An as-yet unnamed avocado variety.

Romero visited the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center to see the trees in Arpaia's study. Currently, the vast majority of California avocados are the Hass variety. The goal is to breed varieties with similar eating quality that grow to a moderate height and have high yield. One potential that is already being produced by nurseries is called "gem."

"This is gem," said Eric Focht, a staff research associate in Arpaia's lab. "You can see it's a little more oval or egg shaped than Hass. It has the speckling on the skin. Now as this ripens, it will turn dark and a lot of times the speckled lenticels with get a yellow kind of golden color it it."

Another promising variety is called "lunchbox" because of its small size. According to Focht, it "just falls out of the skin." Arpaia said, "It makes wonderful guacamole and I found, with a non-replicated test in my refrigerator, the fruit doesn't brown."

Arpaia's favorite guacamole recipe is featured at the end of the story on the KVPR website.

Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 1:33 PM

Show Me the Honey--And They Did!

Graduate student Jackson Audley of the Steve Seybold lab hands a honey-coated toothpick to a participant. At far left is graduate student Wei Lin of the Brian Johnson lab. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Show me the honey! That was a popular refrain at the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day, held Saturday, April 22. The UC...

Posted on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 7:19 PM

Who or What Is Eating My Vegetable Seedlings?

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

  Help!!! I'm a relatively new vegetable gardener. I just planted my summer vegetable garden seedlings this week. Within the week I'm finding severely damaged zucchini seedlings with holes in the leaves and for some of them the entire seedling is gone. What is doing this? And what can I do to prevent such damage?

Brown Garden Snail
Brown Garden Snail
MGCC Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting the Master Gardener Program's Help Desk with your problem. There are several possibilities for the damage you see, most likely either snails, slugs, earwigs or birds. Soil and plant moisture levels from all the rain we've had right now favor the likelihood of snail, slug or earwig. These pests are night feeders. The best way to see if these are the culprits ravaging your garden is to go out with a flashlight just after dark and see if you can catch them feeding.

Control of these pests in the garden is usually a combination of methods. Hand picking at night with a flash light can be a quick and easy way to control the population. As you pick them off your plants or off the ground you can drop them into a container of mild soapy water. I personally like to wear garden gloves for this task. The water can be drained off in an out of the way spot in your yard and the snails and slugs disposed of in your trash bin.

Gray Garden Slug
Gray Garden Slug
These pests can also be controlled with a snail and slug bait. Some of these baits control earwigs as well. If you utilize bait, read and apply the instructions carefully as some baits can be quite harmful to domestic dogs and cats. In addition, all three can be trapped, the methods for this is explained in the links provided below. UC has some videos on YouTube on this technique (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEOBOuE9EnE)

The fourth possibility is birds. Pesky birds can do a lot of damage to your tender young plants. However, they are also your "friend" for all the garden pests they feed on as well as being protected by law. If birds are the "problem", to control the birds you will need to get some "bird netting" over your plants. Half-inch diameter PVC pipe works well for making an arch or tent over your plants. The method would be to drive 24" pieces of ¼ inch re-bar into the ground about 2 to 3 feet apart along BOTH sides of your plants (and opposite one another) far enough apart so that the PVC can be readily bent into an arch and slide over both of the opposite re-bars,. Stretch your bird netting over the arches and secure it in place with clips, string or twist-ties. You can also find some other methods of making these arches on YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEn-XQ5nA4k

Free UC Guidance on Snail & slug Management in the garden
(includes videos on identification of pest, applying bait, etc.):

Free UC Guidance on Earwig Management in the garden:

I would do the nighttime check for snails and slugs first and try some of the trapping methods before I went to the trouble and expense of putting up bird netting. With a little effort I believe you can get the problem under control. However, the sad news is it looks to me like the zucchini plant will need to be pulled out and replanted as there does not seem to be enough leaf material left to sustain the plant. There is some good news here though, it's early in the growing season and the new zucchini will catch up in no time. 

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of ContraCostaCountyf (BHD)

Note:  The  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 646-6586, email: ccmg@ucanr.edu, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog  (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/). 


Posted on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:13 AM

Seeing Spots at the Bohart

The Bohart team includes (front, from left) graduate students Charlotte Herbert and Jessica Gillung and undergraduate student Wade Spencer. In back (from left) are UC Davis biology student Emma Cluff; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology; and Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

If you walk into the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, you'll see spots. No, don't...

Posted on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 4:43 PM

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