ANR in the news September 1-15

Sep 30, 2019

Nine local nonprofits selected for training program

(Imperial Valley Press) Sept. 12

The Imperial County Local Health Authority Commission Wednesday identified nine local nonprofit organizations that have been selected to participate in capacity building training over the next several months.

…Organizations chosen for the training were Children's Foundation of the Imperial Valley, Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center, Spread the Love Charity, University of California Desert Research and Extension Center, Imperial Valley Food Bank, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Imperial County, Calexico Wellness Center, Imperial Valley Cancer Support Center and Sure Helpline Center.


Dogs find signs of HLB bacteria in citrus groves

(Ag Alert) Kevin Hecteman, Sept. 11

…HLB is spread by an insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, and was first detected in the state in August 2008.

"Ventura's had pretty hefty levels of psyllids for at least, I would say, five years and no known disease," said Beth Grafton-Cardwell of the University of California Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter.

Psyllid and HLB infestations usually start in urban areas and spread from there, she added.

The dog tests were carried out along the edges of groves because, before tarping regulations took hold, the psyllids might have hitched rides on citrus shipments from infested areas, Grafton-Cardwell said.

"They did see a fair number of alerts along those traffic corridors," she noted. "That tells us that if the dogs are right, the bacteria have been there. Now, whether it's causing infection in the trees or not, no way of knowing for several years."

…Ben Faber, a subtropical horticulture farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Ventura County, noted the distinction between the two—a tolerant variety can put up with the disease and produce a crop, whereas the resistant variety won't get sick in the first place.


California Cotton Fields: Nathanael Siemens on a 10 Acre Model Toward Regeneration

(Fibershed) Esha Chhabra, Sept. 11

So far, the model is moving ahead thanks to this mix of integrating methods, technologies, and partners: Siemens is part of a collaborative effort to evaluate the economic and ecologic impact of regenerative practices in cotton systems, which includes the Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems at Chico State, the National Center for Appropriate TechnologyUC Cooperative Extension in Kern County, and Fibershed.


Ag Report: Prescribed burns, detector dogs and HLB prevention

(23ABC Bakersfield) Sept. 11

…And to prevent the citrus disease HLB from spreading the University of California specialists recommend Southern California Homeowners remove citrus trees within two miles of known HLB infections. UC created a web app so residents can enter an address and see how close they are to confirmed HLB outbreaks. At the same time, UC master gardeners recommend alternative fruit trees to replace citrus trees in the affected areas. You can check the map on UC's agriculture and natural resource website .


Research takes aim at grape powdery mildew

(Farm Press) Lee Allen, Sept 11

…University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) wants to be part of the battle to combat the scourge and toward that end is seeking grape growers statewide to be a part of studying the powdery mildew population in order to better understand how and where resistance is developing — and ultimately to establish an annual rotation plan to help mitigate that development.

… “We have major classes of fungicides used on powdery mildew and several of those modes of action have shown chemical resistance,” says Viticulture Farm Advisor Gabriel Torres, who represents Kings and Tulare counties, taking swab samples for analysis.  “We'd like growers to help us sample, so we can map out where resistance is developing.”


Use of prescribed burns gains momentum

(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, Sept 11

…The practice of deliberately setting fire to the land as a management tool has deep roots in the state's history, with native tribes using controlled fires to manipulate the landscape and encourage growth of desirable plants, but prescribed burning is "far enough in the past where it's almost folklore," according to Jeff Stackhouse, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties. He said acreage of prescribed burns on private land has dwindled from a peak of more than 200,000 acres a year in the 1950s to less than 10,000 acres annually in the last 15 years.

…CalFire, which established its VMP in the 1980s, does most of the burning for private landowners—and because CalFire has been doing the burning, people now "lack the skill and comfort" to do their own, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UCCE fire advisor and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.

With more landowners asking about prescribed fire in recent years, she said "we knew we needed to figure out a different way to help those people and to get those projects going."


How strawberry farmers got themselves (and the ozone layer) out of a jam

(Grist) Nathanael Johnson, Sept. 10

…What do the growers use instead of methyl bromide?

They use a lot of chloropicrin [which doesn't destroy the ozone, and not quite as dangerous for farm workers as methyl bromide] some say it's effective, and some say it's not. They use anaerobic soil disinfestation, which was developed [by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Joji Muramoto & Carol Shennan] at the University of California at Santa Cruz and entails injecting a carbon source — like molasses or rice bran — into the soil and flooding it with water, creating a lack of oxygen [this doesn't release ozone-depleting chemicals and may end up being a good solution if farmers can consistently get it to work].


Rice breeding, research aimed at boosting yields

 (Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept 10

…Scientists at the Rice Experiment Station in Biggs, Calif., last year released foundation seed for a new variety – called M-210 – with a gene that promotes resistance to rice blast disease.

The gene was developed with marker-assisted selection provided by the DNA lab at the industry-funded station, which works with researchers from the USDA and University of California Cooperative Extension.

…This year, NASS estimated that 485,000 overall acres would be planted in the state, but that was before late spring rains delayed or prevented planting in many areas. At the research station, some test plots weren't planted until June 15, said Bruce Lindquist, a plant sciences specialist from UC-Davis.

…M-206 is an early-maturing medium grain released for seed production in 2003, explains the California Rice Commission. It has been broadly adapted to California's rice-growing regions, but newer varieties could provide growers with as much as 20 percent more yield, said Luis Espino, a UCCE rice systems advisor based in Oroville.


Who is Tops in the Field of Entomology?

(Growing Produce) Sept. 9

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) recently announced the winners of its 2019 awards. The annual program recognizes scientists, educators, and students who have distinguished themselves through contributions to entomology and crop protection solutions.

Some of the top professional award winners for 2019 include:

Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension: Dr. Surendra Dara
Dara is an Entomology and Biologicals Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. Dara's research and Extension program creates innovative solutions for sustainable crop production and protection, and he reaches out to the agricultural community locally, regionally, and internationally. He has nearly 25 years of experience in IPM and microbial control, working on 17 species of invasive pests and diseases and several endemic species throughout his career.


Farm hosts research tour for congressman

(Morning Ag Clips) Sept. 9

It was a beautiful September morning when Congressman Jimmy Panetta visited the UCSC Farm to hear from leading researchers in the field of organic agriculture.

Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) got updates from faculty member Carol Shennan, a professor of environmental studies, and UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Joji Muramoto, who have led the campus's pioneering work on organic strawberry production. He also learned about “no-till” farming, a strategy designed to increase carbon sequestered in the soil, from Farm Manager Darryl Wong, who is also a graduate student in environmental studies.


Climate change is coming for your wine. What the world's wineries are doing to save grapes

(USA Today) Maro della Cava, Sept. 8

S. Kaan Kurtural is a viticulture expert at the University of California, Davis, a well-known center for wine science. He says the way the climate has affected this industry over the past few years alone has “shocked me, it's not going to be business as usual.”

He's conducting an experiment with Napa's Beckstoffer Vineyards that involves planting 3,600 Cabernet plants that are made up of 100 different rootstock and clone combinations. The idea is for Kultural to spend the next eight years making wine from this plot to see if some of the experimental crop proves more heat or drought resistant.

“Anyone who farms anything has known that the climate has been shifting for a while, but now there's an economic necessity to take action,” says Kurtural. “We're looking to the future, because by 2050 we'll have even hotter temperatures and more greenhouse gases.”


Urban pest jumps to Californian almond orchards

(Agribusiness Intelligence) Jose Gutierrez, Sept. 6

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has detected an attack of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive pest from Asia, in an almond plantation located in Turlock, California.


Organic avocado production is on the increase

(ag Alert) Kevin Hecteman, Sept. 4

Thrips are among the top pest concerns in the grove, said Sonia Rios, a subtropical horticulture advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension in Riverside County.

"What they do is that they jump on the young fruit while it's still growing, and while they eat, it can scar the fruit," Rios said. The avocados will appear to have scabs, she added, "and no one's going to want to buy that."

While conventional growers are usually on top of their spray programs to keep thrips in check, Rios said, their organic counterparts have more limited options.

"Usually, how those organic pesticides work is that they actually have to come in contact with the insect itself to actually kill it, to knock down the populations," Rios said.


Ag Report: USDA visits Grimmway Farms, fewer walnuts, increasing avocado demand

(23ABC News) Sept. 4

…Demand has risen steadily for livestock to provide grazing services to attack weeds as a wildfire prevention measure. The California Wool Growers Association says it has more requests from private landowners and public agencies than its members can fulfill. University of California Cooperative Extension says it plans to create a statewide database to match landowners with ranchers whose sheep, goats or cattle could provide grazing services.


Scientists wage war on armyworm in rice

(Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice (news release), Sept. 4

…In 2015, a severe outbreak of armyworms caught rice growers by surprise, resulting in yield losses. In a 2018 survey conducted by UC Cooperative Extension, rice growers reported average yield losses in 2015 ranging from 4% to 12%. Since UCCE began a monitoring program in 2016, rice losses to armyworms have been rare, according to Luis Espino, UC Cooperative Extension rice farming systems advisor in Butte and Glenn counties.


Database goal is to bring grazers, landowners together

(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, Sept. 4

With growing concerns about wildfires and interest in ways to prevent them, the University of California Cooperative Extension is developing a statewide database that would help connect livestock owners who could provide grazing services with landowners who need vegetation management.

"We laugh about it being more like a dating service where everyone has their own profile," said Stephanie Larson, the UCCE livestock range management advisor in Sonoma and Marin counties who is a lead on the project.

The impetus for the database system, she said, grew out of increased demand in her region for grazing services, adding that her office alone has received at least 25% more calls in recent months from people looking for grazers who can perform weed-abatement services.


Could teff, an ancient African grain, find a foothold in a warming California?

(LA Times) Justice Baidoo, Sept. 3

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources in Davis is conducting a test of teff's yield, which should be ready in a month. Oli Bachie, the lead researcher, is upbeat.

“What we are looking at is how the seeds will develop under the harsh conditions of California's desert. If it does withstand, then it's going to be productive,” he says.


Grazing for Fire Fuels Management

(Santa Barbara Independent) Matthew Shapero, Sept. 2

Catastrophic wildfires are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more destructive in California. They are burning in a variety of vegetation types — from high-elevation northern-Californian coniferous forests to southern-Californian chaparral ecosystems — and some (e.g. the Thomas [2017] and Tubbs, Sonoma County [2017]) have been fanned by unusually strong wind events. Despite these differences, however, there is broad consensus that a major part of the uptick in catastrophic fires is the state's failure to adequately manage fuel loading in range- and forested lands.


By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach