The Citrus Research Board is celebrating 50 years of careful scientific study to improve the sustainability of the California citrus industry, worth more than $7 billion per year. They have no closer partner than University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, reported Tim Hearden in Western Farm Press.
A laboratory, screen houses and a research-sized citrus grader have been built at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center, largely made possible with the industry-funded Citrus Research Board. Since the 1990s, the board have given more than $2.3 million to Lindcove for facilities and has funded much of the center's research.
“It's fabulous,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension citrus entomologist and director of Lindcove. “There are committees from the CRB that interact with our researchers to maximize and orient the research toward the industry's needs.”
The industry is now facing the serious threat of huanglongbing (HLB) disease of citrus. The disease, which is spread by Asian citrus psyllid, has devastated the citrus industry in Florida. It has been detected in a handfull of backyard trees in Southern California, but so far has not made its way into commercial orchards.
New research programs at Lindcove include developing citrus varieties with tolerance to HLB, and perhaps a project to grow citrus under a screen in what is known as a Citrus Under Protective Structure, or CUPS. If built, the CUPS facility will be housed on a 10-acre section of the Lindcove center.
“We're making slow, steady progress” against HLB, Grafton-Cardwell said. “We don't see a silver bullet. However, that's where the bulk of the CRB budget is going now.”
California is a place forged by fire, and its fierce fire-fighting policies are creating fuel-filled landscapes that will burn hotter and faster than ever, reported Lisa M. Krieger in the San Jose Mercury News.
"Unless we change course, we'll never work our way out of this dilemma," said UC fire scientist Scott Stephens. "Unless we can get ahead of it, it'll never get better."
Strategies to live with fire were modeled at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center when the Mendocino Complex Fire spread on its rolling oak woodland and chaparral landscape in late July. About 3,000 of the center's 5,300 acres burned.
In pastures where sheep had grazed, the oaks still have green leaves. In other areas not grazed since the 1950s, undergrowth provided a ladder for flames to reach oak canopies.
In areas were vegetation was reduced by grazing, "the fire was less intense. It skipped around more. It wasn't as complete a burn," said Hopland director John Bailey. "Having animals on the land reduced the hazard."
(Read more about the fire at Hopland in a blog post by community educator Hannah Bird.)
Prescribed burning is another strategy to maintain a forest that is resilient to fire.
“Prescribed burns are a really powerful and underused tool,” said UC Davis ecologist Malcolm North. When a wildfire hits pre-burned areas, “it just putzes along.”
The Citrus Research Board is arranging to bring specially trained dogs to the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center to test their ability to sniff out the devastating citrus disease huanglongbing, reported Bob Rodriguez in the Fresno Bee.
CRB president Gary Schulz is working with the USDA, which is training dogs in Florida to identify trees with huanglongbing soon after the trees are infected. HLB has ravaged Florida's citrus industry. In California, the disease has been found about 800 Southern California backyard trees, but officials have so far managed to keep it out of the state's commercial orchards.
"The USDA has invested million of dollars in detector dogs and they have proven to be a credible diagnostic tool for early detection and screening trees," Schulz said.
HLB is spread by Asian citrus psyllids. Psyllids can pick up the the disease from infected trees and spread it to other trees as they feed. Symptoms may not show up in the tree until a year or two after it is infected. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is the only way to positively identify huanglongbing infection in citrus. The process requires testing of many leaves or branches from the tree and may return a false negative if the samples selected for testing aren't infected, but other parts of the tree are.
Schulz said the HLB-detection dogs will start their California work in the southern part of the state before traveling north.
UC Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County is launching its first UC Master Gardener program to extend research-based gardening assistance and information to county residents, reported John Holland in the Modesto Bee.
“Our goal is to encourage healthy environments (and improve the appearance of our community) with sustainable landscaping and gardening, green waste reduction and water conservation,” said Roger Duncan, UCCE county director.
Gardening enthusiasts may apply for the first round of training until Sept. 28. Weekly training sessions will be from Jan. 30 to June 5, 2019. Tuition is $180. After certification, Master Gardeners volunteer 50 hours of service in the first 12 months, then 25 hours per year after that.
The training will be held in Stockton this year, along with UC Cooperative Extension in San Joaquin County.
"They are joining our regular training to help get their program up and running," said Marcy Sousa, the UC Master Gardener program coordinator in San Joaquin County.
The volunteers do not need to start out with detailed knowledge of gardening, said Kari Arnold, the UCCE farm advisor overseeing the program. That will come from experts tapping into university research on the various topics.
For more information and to apply, visit the Stanislaus County Master Gardeners website.
UC Master Gardener program, launched in California in 1981, now serves more than 50 California counties with 6,116 actives volunteers.
The transition of fall is upon us and gardeners are busy tending to late summer harvests, pruning back perennials, prepping for slower plant growth and more. But fall doesn't have to be all about wrapping up the growing season. In fact, life is sprouting and new garden plants are growing with the promise of fall, winter and early spring harvests.
Are you looking to join the cool-season gardening craze? The UC Master Gardener Program has engaging workshops to inform and inspire this fall. Bay Area residents can check out Growing Garlic and Onions in San Jose or Top 10 Vegetables for your Winter Garden in Campbell, both hosted by the UC Master Gardener Program of Santa Clara County. Another great resource is Saving the Harvest, a gardening and preserving guide and 2019 calendar created by the UC Master Gardener and UC Master Food Preserver Programs in Sacramento County. Check out the local offerings in your area at UC Master Gardener Program events.
Wherever you are in your gardening journey, here is a checklist of September activities for your garden:
- Maintain your warm-season garden with regular checks and harvesting. Prune new growth, flowers and any small or very immature fruits from tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. This practice encourages the plants to put energy into ripening fruit that has already set.
- Harvest and store seeds for next year's warm-season garden. To save and use seeds in the future, make sure you have a dry, cool location for seed storage. Don't forget to label and organize seeds to make preparation and planting easier in the spring.
- Remove and compost plants that have reached the natural end of lives or fruitfulness.
- Enjoy regular harvest of late-season-bearing cane berries like raspberries and blackberries. Check vines regularly for ripe fruit and pick before the birds steal away the fruit.
- Check and harvest edible landscape plants as well. Pineapple guava, Acca sellowiana, is a fantastic landscape shrub that has the added bonus of producing a tropical fruit. When pineapple guava fruit fall to the ground they are ripe, collect the fruits and wash, slice and eat the white fruit on the inside (like you would eat a kiwi).
By the end of the month it's time to start planting a cool-season garden. Try radishes and lettuces for harvest in late fall. They mature quickly and pair beautifully with roasted vegetables, cheese and nuts for a harvest-themed dinner salad. Broccoli and cauliflower are a great addition to your garden for winter harvest. Try roasting or making a creamy soup for a warm dinner on a cold night. Finally, onions and shallots are a must for your cool-season garden. They are slower to mature and will be ready for harvest in early spring to brighten your dishes and usher in a change in the seasons.
- Plant radishes, turnips, beets, onions and kale from seed.
- Pick up vegetable starts for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and lettuces at your local garden center.
- Keep soil moist while young plants send roots out into your garden bed.
- Provide shade to cool-season vegetables if needed to protect them from hot afternoon sun.
Connect with us
The UC Master Gardener volunteers are eager to help with all of your gardening needs. The UC Master Gardener Program can work with teachers and community volunteers to provide gardening information and consultation in the support of school gardens. With local programs based in more than 50 counties across California, there is sure to be a workshop or class near you. Visit our website to find your local UC Master Gardener Program, mg.ucanr.edu.