The Citrus Research Board and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources have established a $1 million endowment to fund the Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center. The endowed researcher will provide a UC Cooperative Extension scientist a dedicated source of funds to support scholarly activities focused on the long-term sustainability of the citrus industry.
“I wish to thank the Citrus Research Board for establishing the Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection at LREC endowment,” said UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston. “This gift, coupled with the $500,000 match from the UC Office of the President, will help to ensure the long-term success of exemplary research focused on the California citrus industry.”
UC President Janet Napolitano provided half the funds for the endowed researcher; the CRB donated the other half.
“We are gratified that President Napolitano has selected the CRB for this prestigious match program,” said CRB Chairman Dan Dreyer. “It will be invaluable in helping us to pursue critical research that will yield beneficial findings to support the sustainability of the California citrus industry.”
The new endowment supports the UC Citrus Clonal Protection Program, which distributes pathogen-tested, true-to-type citrus budwood to nurseries, farmers and the public to propagate citrus trees for commercial and personal use. The CCPP maintains blocks of trees that serve as the primary source of budwood for all important fruit and rootstock varieties for California's citrus industry and researchers.
The CCPP is a cooperative program between UC ANR, CRB, the California Citrus Nursery Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. CCPP director Georgios Vidalakis, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in plant pathology at UC Riverside, shared his appreciation for the efforts that led to the creation of the new endowed researcher position.
“My thanks to the citrus growers for their decades-long support, especially the members of the CCPP committee of the CRB for their vision, and UC's Greg Gibbs for coordinating all of the efforts,” he said. Vidalakis also praised Lindcove director Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell “for making the case to our growers about the importance of this endowment and for making plans to house the UC ANR endowment at the LREC.”
A selection committee will award the endowment to a distinguished UC ANR academic. An annual payout will be used to provide salary, graduate student and/or program support. The researcher will be named for a five-year term. At the end of that period, the appointment will be reviewed and either renewed or taken back to a selection committee to choose another UC ANR academic.
“I would like to thank the CRB for this generous gift and their continued support of our research for CCPP at the LREC,” said UC ANR Director of Major Gifts Greg Gibbs.
The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act as the mechanism enabling the state's citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. More information about the Citrus Research Board may be found at www.citrusresearch.org.
The Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection is the fifth $1 million UC ANR endowment to support California agriculture. The other endowments are:
- UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Genetics, formed with the California Pistachio Research Board in October 2015
- UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Soil Science and Plant Water Relations, formed with the California Pistachio Research Board in October 2015
- UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for California Grown Rice, formed with the California Rice Research Board in September 2016
- UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Agricultural Education in Orange County, formed with the Orange County Farm Bureau in October 2017
Continuing education credits required by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation will now be available from UC Cooperative Extension by participating in live webinars.
“Everybody is busy,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UCCE citrus entomology specialist. “It's hard for people to get to meetings. Now, they can get some of the hours they need for updating their professional licenses from home or work, or even on their smartphones.”
Live webinars allow experts to talk about timely issues, such as new pest outbreaks, and give participants the option to ask questions via chat and get immediate answers from presenters.
The first webinar is from 3 to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 and will focus on citrus thrips, a perennial pest in citrus production that can vary greatly from year to year. Grafton-Cardwell will discuss biology, biological control, temperature effects, damage, monitoring, chemical control and resistance.
Participants must register in advance on the UC Ag Experts Talk website and connect to the webinar from beginning to end in order to receive continuing education credit. The course will be held on Zoom, communications software that enables video conferencing. Attendees will link into the meeting with audio and video online via computer or smartphone. Details for connecting will be emailed following online registration.
The continuing education sessions will be offered each month by various UC Cooperative Extension experts. On Nov. 14, Ben Faber, UCCE advisor in Ventura County, will discuss avocado diseases. Future class dates and topics will be posted on the UC Ag Experts Talk website.
Professional pest control advisers must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years; qualified applicator certification and qualified applicators license renewal requires 20 hours every two years, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
All the webinars will be recorded and the sessions posted on the web, however, watching the recording will be for informational purposes only and not eligible for continuing education credit.
A tell-tale sign of spring in California is a flush of new leaf growth on citrus trees. Because the feathery light green leaves are particularly attractive to Asian citrus psyllids (ACP), the leaves' emergence marks a critical time to determine whether the pest has infested trees.
“We encourage home citrus growers and farmers to go out with a magnifying glass or hand lens and look closely at the new growth,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) citrus entomologist. “Look for the various stages of the psyllid – small yellow eggs, sesame-seed sized yellow ACP young with curly white tubules, or aphid-like adults that perch with their hind quarters angled up.”
Pictures of the Asian citrus psyllids and its life stages are on the UC ANR website at http://ucanr.edu/acp. If you find signs of the insect, call the California Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Exotic Pest Hotline at (800) 491-1899.
Asian citrus psyllids are feared because they can spread huanglongbing (HLB) disease, an incurable condition that first causes yellow mottling on the leaves and later sour, misshapen fruit before killing the tree. ACP, native of Pakistan, Afghanistan and other tropical and subtropics regions of Asian, was first detected in California in 2008. Everywhere Asian citrus psyllids have appeared – including Florida and Texas – the pests have found and spread the disease. A few HLB-infected trees have been located in urban Los Angeles County. They were quickly removed by CDFA officials.
“In California, we are working hard to keep the population of ACP as low as possible until researchers can find a cure for the disease,” Grafton-Cardwell said. “We need the help of citrus farmers and home gardeners.”
Grafton-Cardwell has spearheaded the development of the UC ANR ACP website for citrus growers and citrus homeowners that provides help in finding the pest and what to do next. The site has an interactive map tool to locate residences and farms that are in areas where the psyllid has already become established, and areas where they are posing a risk to the citrus industry and must be aggressively treated by county officials.
The website outlines biological control efforts that are underway, and directions for insecticidal control, if it is needed. An online calculator on the website allows farmers and homeowners to determine their potential costs for using insecticides.
There are additional measures that can be taken to support the fight against ACP and HLB in California.
- When planting new citrus trees, only purchase the trees from reputable nurseries. Do not accept tree cuttings or budwood from friends or relatives.
- After pruning or cutting down a citrus tree, dry out the green waste or double bag it to make sure that live psyllids won't ride into another region on the foliage.
- Control ants in and near citrus trees with bait stations. Scientists have released natural enemies of ACP in Southern California to help keep the pest in check. However, ants will protect ACP from the natural enemies. Ants favor the presence of ACP because the psyllid produces honeydew, a food source for ants.
- Learn more about the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease by reading the detailed pest note on UC ANR's Statewide Integrated Pest Management website.
- Assist in the control of ACP by supporting CDFA insecticide treatments of your citrus or treating the citrus yourself when psyllids are present.
- Support the removal of HLB-infected trees.
Center director Jeff Dahlberg, who will be 108 years old in 2065, predicted in his letter that today's modern technology – smart phones and computers – will be ditched by then in favor of holographic demonstrations about new plants and agronomic practices.
“You'll be able to see, in 3-D, how plant systems function, how genes work, and what happens when you turn a gene off or on and the cascading effects of those actions,” Dahlberg predicted.
A time capsule containing the letters will be buried on May 26, exactly 50 years after the May 26, 1965, dedication of the sprawling research station near Parlier in the Central San Joaquin Valley. It will also contain a 20-foot-long banner with a timeline showing significant research accomplishments at Kearney. The banner will have signatures and messages from all the attendees at the 50th anniversary celebration on May 26, 2015.
Kearney is one of nine agricultural research and extension facilities UC Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains in California. The northernmost is on the Oregon border near Tulelake; the southernmost is in Holtville, a short drive from the border with Mexico. Centers are found in the Sierra foothills, in the North Coast and in suburban Southern California. Each center represents local conditions and focuses on crops and activities important in the area.
At the 330-acre UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, scientists conduct research on a diversity of Central San Joaquin Valley crops, including grapes, stone fruit, almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, blueberries, alfalfa and more recently sorghum. Twenty Ph.D.-level scientists are based at the center, where they conduct research in pest control, new crop varieties, plant disease control and irrigation strategies.
A scientist who joined the staff in 2013, Kris Tollerup, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM), will be looking for some answers from his successors.
“Growers and pest control advisors are reluctant to adopt new IPM practices until they are well proven,” Tollerup wrote. “I am curious, do you face the same challenge?”
Since Tollerup will be 105 when the time capsule is opened, his young children, who will be 54 and 58 in 2065, may have to collect the responses for him.
UC IPM advisor Pete Goodell, who with 34 years of service to UC ANR is approaching retirement, had sage advice for successors that might continue to be bombarded with modern conveniences.
“My advice,” Goodell wrote. “Get out of the office and get to the farm . . . Create and nourish human networks as well as virtual ones.”
Goodell tells his successors that, no matter the technological advances that are sure to come, knowledge transfer will always be based on personal contact and trust.
“Humans, even in your time, are high touch species who thrive on social interaction,” he said.
The other three letters going in the time capsule include these quotes:
“I assume that (nematodes) still will be around when you read this letter. At least this is something that I tell my students: ‘nematode problems will outlive us.'” – Andreas Westphal, UC ANR Cooperative Extension nematology specialist.
“Release of genetically modified mosquitoes carrying sex lethal genes has been approved on a relatively small scale in a few countries. I wonder if this method of control will be better perceived in the future and become the norm?” – Anthony Cornel, entomologist and director of the Mosquito Lab at Kearney.
“It will be interesting to see how the citrus industry adapts to the (Asian citrus psyllid/huanglongbing) situation. Growers are very creative people and I believe they will find a way.” – Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC ANR Cooperative Extension entomology specialist.
Author: Jeannette Warnert
The site’s launch coincides with the announcement last month by the California Department of Food and Agriculture that six more psyllids were found in three Tulare County yellow sticky traps. In 2012, three psyllids were found on two traps and an eradication program ensued.
The new website was developed by Beth Grafton-Cardwell and Matt Daugherty, UCCE specialists in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, Karen Jetter, economist with the UC Agricultural Issues Center, and Robert Johnson programmer with the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Informatics and GIS Statewide Program program. Funding for the site was provided by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The website includes information on the psyllid's distribution in California, monitoring methods and treatment options. For example, the website suggests citrus farmers and homeowners not rely on yellow stick card traps to monitor for the pest.
“At certain times of the year, the yellow sticky cards are totally unattractive to Asian citrus psyllid,” Grafton-Cardwell said. “The cards are just color, but citrus flush is an attractive color and also emits irresistible volatiles or smells.”
The website advises farmers to regularly conduct systematic visual surveys along the margins of their orchards looking carefully at new green shoots and conducting tap sampling. To tap sample, spray a plastic surface with soapy water, position the plastic sheet underneath a branch and tap the branch above to dislodge adult ACP. The insects will stick to the filmy plastic where they can be studied with a magnifying hand lens to determine if they are psyllids.
If psyllids are found, the UC website outlines the immediate action that is required.
Adult psyllids should be placed in a container with 90 percent alcohol and reported to the county agricultural commissioner’s office so the insects can be tested for huanglongbing disease. Immature stages of the pest should be left on the tree so the ag commissioner’s office can make an official regulatory collection.
“Florida and Texas don’t have exactly the same insecticides that are available in California and the environmental conditions are different,” Grafton-Cardwell said. “Over time we will compare different treatments and determine how long they will protect the trees. Any new developments will be posted to the website.”
Because the goal in the San Joaquin Valley is eradication, Grafton-Cardwell recommends aggressive action against a psyllid infestation.
“The best approach is using two broad-spectrum insecticides within a short period of time,” she said. “No one insecticide will kill all the stages of the pest."
Another key to successful eradication is area-wide treatment coordination. Grafton-Cardwell suggests farmers work closely with their treatment liaisons and treat their orchards in a coordinated manner.
“The bigger the area being sprayed at the same time, the better,” Grafton Cardwell said. “If we get a blanket effect over the whole area, that’s been shown in Florida and Texas to have the greatest impact on the psyllid populations.”
The aggressive psyllid treatment aims to buy time for researchers to find long-term strategies for maintaining the California citrus industry in the presence of ACP and, especially, with the incurable and fatal citrus disease they spread, huanglongbing.