Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

News Stories


January 9, 2001
 
CONTACT: Jeannette Warnert, (559) 646-6074, jewarnert@ucdavis.edu
 

Agricultural news tips from UC Ag and Natural Resources


 
Farm advisor Bill Weir with cotton grown
Farm advisor Bill Weir with cotton grown

Folk remedies thought to cure ant infestations proven wrong

The idea that mint oil repels the annoying black ants that invade homes and gardens was so pervasive, even the University of California mentioned it in an Integrated Pest Management publication on pest control.  However, San Joaquin County UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Gary Hickman discovered recently that commercial products containing 8% and 4% mint oil were not effective ant repellents.  To test the products, Hickman put pieces of hotdog in cups treated with the mint oil products and left them near ant colonies.  Four hours after treatment, the ant infestation on the treated and untreated cups was statistically the same.  Hickman also studied vinegar and lemon juice, other household foodstuffs commonly thought to repel ants.  The results showed that those folk remedies are equally ineffective.  The UC publication has now been edited to reflect the results of Hickman's research.  For more information contact Gary Hickman at (209) 468-2085, gwhickman@ucdavis.edu

Foliar clay particle sprays can foil insects, prevent sunburn

In an agricultural environment with options for pest control rapidly diminishing, a new product that coats trees with a fine clay film is worth further investigation, according to Kathy Kelley Anderson, pomology farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County.  "After working with this product for two years in walnuts, I'm convinced that we've had good effects with the product on insects and sunburn," Anderson said.  The spray-on film costs about the same as a conventional pesticide program, but Anderson said that some conventional pesticides could be pulled off the market.  For example, Anderson and her colleagues conducted a study to determine the costs associated with producing apples, but by the time it was completed, a third of the materials included in the report were no longer available to growers.  "Something's got to be done," Anderson said.  "Clay particle film has potential.  We should continue researching its use in walnuts and other crops."  Anderson is looking for Stanislaus County walnut growers to cooperate on the project in the 2001 growing season.  For more information contact Kathy Kelley Anderson at (209) 525-6800, kmkelley@ucdavis.edu.

Cotton California Style

Growing cotton in high-density plantings has been attempted in different parts of the country over the past one hundred years.  But now, UC scientists are so pleased with results of new research on ultra-narrow-row cotton they've coined a new term for it: "California Style."   UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Bill Weir of Merced County, Bruce Roberts of Kings County and UC Extension cotton specialist Bob Hutmacher of the UC Shafter Research and Extension Center have been working with innovative growers trying higher density plantings ranging from flat-planted 10- to 15-inch row spacing to two rows 7 inches apart on 30-inch beds.  Narrow-row studies are also being conducted at UC's Shafter and West Side Research and Extension Centers. The new plantings compare favorably with the conventional practice of growing cotton in 30-, 38- or 40-inch beds. "Preliminary evaluations in test plots indicate that plants growing in these alternative row spacing, high-density fields need far fewer bolls per plant to achieve as high or higher yields than conventional cotton," Hutmacher said.  The cotton may also be ready for harvest earlier. "Specific crop and pest management practices -- such as choice of variety and control of early fruit losses -- can be used to concentrate the boll production period into a shorter time, resulting in good potential for the crop to be harvested earlier. This could provide additional cost savings," he said.  Further field tests of high-density cotton plants will be conducted to determine if yield increases and/or reduced costs of cultural operations can routinely be achieved to offset other costs, such as more seed.  With cotton prices down and input prices rising, farmers are looking at all options that could increase profit.  Cotton California Style is one promising possibility.  For more information contact Bob Hutmacher at (661) 746-8020, rbhutmacher@ucdavis.edu.


 

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