- Author: Ben Faber
Avocado Trunk Cankers
This has been a low rainfall year, and often with the low rainfall, cankers will seem to suddenly appear on the woody parts of the tree. There are a number of causes for the white exudate from cankers on the trunk and limbs of avocado. Any wound will cause the tree sap to run and crystalize on the surface. It is a seven carbon sugar of mannoheptulose, or its alcohol form perseitol. It's sweet. So any wound that might be caused by woodpeckers or little kids climbing the trees will damage the bark, and where the damage has occurred, the sugar will form. There are also diseases that can cause a wound that will exude the sugar. Three of these are due to water stress of some form that allows infection to occur. One of these is a bacterial – Bacterial Canker. Another is caused by a fungus which in the past was called Dothiorella Canker. We now know it as a different name and UCR plant pathologist has actually identified seven different species of fungus that invade the wood and can eventually weaken the tree so limbs can break and the tree becomes unthrifty. In the case of very young trees, they can be killed by the fungus. A third cause of sugary cankers is Black Streak, the cause of which was unclear until recently when Eskalen has possibly identified it coming from a similar set of fungi that cause Dothiorella Canker. It makes sense, because in all three of these cases, they most appear after a low rainfall year, where irrigation pressures are insufficient, where emitters have clogged and where general water or salinity stress have occurred. The bacteria and fungi that cause these cankers are everywhere in most orchards and are just waiting for the stressed tree to appear. The grower just needs to identify where this stress is occurring, correct the problem (clogging, low pressure, poor irrigation design, infrequent scheduling, inadequate leaching, etc.) and if the damage is not too extensive, often these symptoms will disappear with time.
The fourth cause of canker is caused by Phytophthora citricola, a relative of avocado root rot. This is caused by a moist trunk, either from irrigation water hitting the trunk, or on the north side of the tree that doesn't dry out from morning dew. This is a much slower acting disease than root rot, although it can rapidly kill young trees. The cankers occur at about 18 inches from the ground and gradually girdle the tree. The first thing to do before ever seeing this disease is to make sure irrigation water isn't hitting the trunks. If you do have cankers appear, though, it responds to the same materials used for root rot, but should actually be sprayed right on the canker.
Oh, and there's a 5th cause you occasionally see. woodpeckers having their way with the tree. The holes and dripping sugar are always in a nice line around the trunk.
- Author: Elizabeth Fichtner and Rachel Elkins
Lime-induced Iron Chlorosis: a nutritional challenge in the culture of several subtropical perennial crops in California
Elizabeth Fichtner, UCCE Tulare County and Rachel Elkins, UCCE Lake and Mendocino Counties
Spring, and new leaves are coming out, but this could, but yellow could be a sign of iron chlorosis, as well.
Although iron (Fe) is the 4th most abundant element in the lithosphere, Fe deficiency is among the most common plant micronutrient deficiencies. Fe deficiency in plants is common in calcareous soils, waterlogged soils, sandy soils low in total Fe, and in peat and muck soils where organic matter chelates Fe, rendering the element unavailable for plant uptake. In California, lime-induced Fe deficiency is often observed in soils and irrigation water containing free lime, and is exacerbated by conditions that impede soil drainage (ie. compaction, high clay content), resulting in reductive conditions. Given that over 30% of the world's soils are calcareous, lime-induced Fe deficiency is a challenge in numerous perennial cropping systems including: grapes, pears, apple, citrus, avocado, pecans, and stone fruit (prune, almond, apricot, peach, nectarine, cherry).
In most soils, Fe oxides are the common source of Fe for plant nutrition. Solubility of Fe oxides is pH dependant; as pH increases, the free ionic forms of the micronutrient are changed to the hydroxy ions, and finally to the insoluble hydroxides or oxides. In calcareous soils, the bicarbonate ion inhibits mobilization of accumulated Fe from roots to foliage and directly affects availability of Fe in soil by buffering soil pH. When irrigation water is also high in bicarbonate, probability of Fe deficiency is enhanced because bicarbonate is continuously supplied to the soil, and more importantly, the roots may become crusted with lime as water evaporates, thus inhibiting root growth and function. Inside the plant, bicarbonate inhibits nutrient translocation from roots to aboveground plant parts. The adverse effects of high bicarbonate levels are exacerbated in very saturated, very dry, or compact soils, where bicarbonate levels increase concurrent with diminished root growth and nutrient uptake.
Symptoms of Fe deficiency in plants
Fe is immobile in plants; therefore, symptoms appear in young leaves. Interveinal chlorosis (Figure 1) is the main symptom associated with Fe deficiency, followed by reduced shoot and root growth, complete foliar chlorosis, defoliation, shoot dieback, and under severe conditions may result in tree mortality. Overall productivity (yield) is reduced, mainly from a reduced number of fruiting points.
Plant species and cultivars vary in their sensitivity to Fe deficiency, and are categorized as either "Fe-efficient" or "Fe-inefficient". Fe-efficient plants have Fe uptake systems that are switched on under conditions of Fe deficiency. Fe-inefficient plants are unable to respond to Fe deficient conditions. All Fe-efficient plants, except grasses, utilize a Fe-uptake mechanism known as Strategy 1. Strategy 1 plants decrease rhizosphere pH by release of protons, thus increasing Fe solubility. Some plants may excrete organic compounds in the rhizosphere that reduce ferric iron (Fe3+) to the more soluble ferrous (Fe2+) forms or form soluble complexes that maintain Fe in solution. Additionally, roots of Strategy 1 plants have specialized mechanisms for reduction, uptake, and transfer of Fe within the plant. Strategy 2 plants (grasses) produce low molecular weight compounds called phytosiderophores which chelate Fe and take up the chelated Fe with a specific transport system.
Amelioration of Fe chlorosis
Planting sites in calcareous soils should be well drained to provide optimal conditions for root growth and nutrient uptake. Waterlogged and compact soils contain
more carbon dioxide, which reacts with lime to form even more bicarbonate. These conditions, as well as very dry soils, also inhibit microbial activity which aids in
solubilization and chelation of Fe. Prior to planting, soils and water should be tested to determine the pH, lime equivalent, and bicarbonate concentration. Bicarbonate concentrations greater than 3 meq/L in irrigation water increase the hazard of lime accumulation on and around roots. If high bicarbonate water must be used, the pH must be adjusted to 6.0-6.5 to dissolve the bicarbonate and prevent it from negating the effects of soil-based treatments. In microsprinker and drip systems, acidification of irrigation water will also reduce the risk of emitter clogging, a common problem at bicarbonate levels over 2 meq/L. The cost of reducing the pH of irrigation water will more than compensate for the savings incurred from avoiding wasted investment in failed soil- and plant-based remedies. Systems can be set up to continuously and safely inject water with acids such as sulfuric, urea-sulfuric, or phosphoric during irrigations. Specific choice and rate will depend on crop, soil type, other nutrient needs, availability, and cost. Downstream pH meters are available to continuously adjust rate of acid use. Acetic and citric acid can be utilized by organic growers.
Soil based pre-plant treatments to reduce pH include elemental sulfur (S) and acids as mentioned above. It is only necessary to treat a limited area near the root zone to ameliorate symptoms because the tree only needs to take up a small amount of Fe. Material can be shanked in or banded and incorporated in the prospective tree row. One ton of elemental sulfur per treated acre is needed to mitigate three tons of lime, and may need to be re-applied every 3 to 5 years after planting. The addition of organic matter such as well-composted manures will benefit poorly drained or compact soils by increasing aeration for better root growth, fostering chelation of nutrient cations, and reducing pH (depending on source material).
If possible, choose a Fe efficient species or cultivar. In perennial systems, lime-tolerant rootstocks may be the first line of defense in combating Fe deficiency. Some rootstocksmentioned are peach-almond and Krymsk-86 for stone fruit, Gisela 5 for cherry, and Pyrus communis for pear. Ongoing research studies in Europe focus on screening rootstocks of grape and olive for lime tolerance.
Once soil and water quality improvements are made, post-plant management strategies may also be implemented to ameliorate lime-induced Fe chlorosis in the short term. Soil can be acidified as described above. Individual trees can be treated by digging four to six 12-24 inch
holes around the drip line and burying a mixture of sulfur and Fe fertilizer. Historically, two principal methods have been utilized: 1) foliar application of inorganic Fe salts (ie. ferrous sulfate), and 2) soil or foliar application of synthetic chelates. Application of Fe salts to foliage may have mixed results due to limited penetration of Fe into leaves and inadequate mobilization within the plant. Use of Fe chelates may be of benefit; however, they are expensive and pose an environmental concern due to their mobility within the soil profile. Because soil lime interferes with Fe mobility with the plant, repeat application of inorganic Fe salts or Fe chelates may be necessary throughout the growing season.
Choice of nitrogen (N) fertilizer may also influence solubility of rhizosphere Fe. When N is applied in the ammonium form (NH4+), the root releases a proton (H+) to maintain a charge balance, thus reducing rhizosphere pH. Alternately, fertilization with nitrate (NO3-) results in root release of hydroxyl ions (OH-), resulting in an increase in rhizosphere pH. Solubility of Fe3+ increases 1000 fold with each one unit decrease in pH; therefore, fertility-induced rhizosphere pH changes may significantly influence Fe availability.
New methods for amelioration of Fe chlorosis are under investigation. For example, container studies have demonstrated that inter-planting sheep's fescue, a Strategy 2 plant, with a Fe-inefficient grape rootstock may ameliorate Fe chlorosis in grape. In this system, the grass produces a phytosiderophore that enhances Fe availability to the grape. Additionally, soil amendment with Fe3(PO4)2• 8H2O), a synthetic iron(II)-phosphate analogous to the mineral vivianite, has been effective at preventing Fe chlorosis in lemon, pear, olive, kiwi, and peach. Vivianite has a high Fe content (~30%) and serves as a slow release source of Fe in calcareous soils.
Figures below: 1) Shoot dieback in citrus, 2) Interveinal chlorosis in citrus and 3) Various stages of iron chlorosis in avocado.
- Author: Cris L. Johnson
Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing
Trying to stay abreast of the insect and disease it carries to citrus?
The Ventura County Farm Bureau and Ventura County ACP-HLB Taks Force have put together links and a Facebook page that have all the latest breaking news concerning this threat to California's citrus industry and to the iconic backyard tree.
This is one of the best ways to find out more about this pest/disease complex and how this threat is being addressed.
- Author: Ben Faber
About the Year-Round IPM Programs
A year-round IPM program is an annual plan of action you can use to implement integrated pest management and evaluate its success.
For each season or crop growth stage, these programs highlight the most important pests—insects, mites, weeds, diseases, nematodes, animals—and actions you can take to manage them.
Year-round IPM programs are based on the UC Pest Management Guidelines, the University of California's best information for managing agricultural pests.
A year-round IPM program will help you:
- Eliminate pesticide treatments you don't need
- Minimize risks to water and air
- Protect beneficials and pollinators
A year-round IPM program includes:
- Management activities for key pests at each stage of crop development
- Pointers to key environmental concerns
- Examples of monitoring forms to print and use
- Printable color photo guides to pests and beneficials
- Ways to minimize harm from pesticides
Each year-round IPM program provides links to:
- Pest monitoring instructions and decision thresholds
- Nonchemical and pesticide alternatives for each pest
- Information on pesticide mode of action and impact on beneficials
- A comparison of chemical options and their risks
Natural Resources Conservation Service plans
A year-round IPM program can be the foundation for integrated pest management plans, such as those supported by USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs. For more information, contact your local NRCS office.
Figure below. Avocado black streak is a disease that can be managed with irrigation, as described in the Year Round IPM Program for avocado.
- Author: David Haviland
For the last few years citrus growers in the San Joaquin Valley have been nervously watching the establishment of Asian citrus psyllid in southern California and bracing themselves for the day of northward movement. That day arrived in November 2012 when two psyllids (Strathmore 16 Nov. and Terra Bella 21 Nov.) were caught on yellow sticky card traps, in addition to a third capture back in January 2012. These captures have now resulted in restrictions on the movement of citrus in the heart of California's principal citrus production region.
Asian citrus psyllid is a small insect the size of an aphid that feeds on citrus leaves and stems. It is the vector of a deadly bacterial disease of citrus called huanglongbing, often referred to as HLB or citrus greening. This pest and disease combo has resulted in devastating losses to the citrus industry in Florida, and has the potential to have a similar affect in California.
Prior to November 2012 Asian citrus psyllid had been reported in eight California Counties, mostly in the southern part of the state, with a combined total of approximately 26,000 square miles under quarantine. However, the two finds in Tulare County mark the first time the psyllid has been found in the heart of California's principal citrus production region of the lower San Joaquin Valley: Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties produce over 200,000 acres of citrus at an annual value of approximately $1.7 billion.
The capture of individual psyllids on sticky traps in Strathmore and Terra Bella gives CDFA the authority to establish a quarantine of citrus within a 20-mile radius of the find in Strathmore. Prior to doing this, however, CDFA has opted as an interim step to only regulate citrus in a 5-mile radius around each find until further trapping and delineation can determine if psyllids are truly established in the region, or if the psyllids caught were just non-breeding hitchhikers brought to the corridor along State Highway 65 from infested counties in Southern California. If further delineation detects an established population it is anticipated that quarantines would be established. If established, a quarantine for Asian citrus psyllid would last a period of 2 years since the most recent capture. If additional psyllids were captured during the two-year quarantine the clock would reset itself for another two years.
Due to the fact that the psyllid only feeds on leaves and stems (and not fruit), citrus growers within quarantine zones in California have several options for harvesting and shipping fruit. Fruit harvested within quarantine zones can be picked, transported and packed within the quarantine zone without restrictions. Once clean fruit is packed (no leaves or stems) it can be shipped to locations outside of the quarantine.
Packing fruit from within the quarantine at packing houses outside of the quarantine is also possible under a CDFA compliance agreement that can be accessed through the County Agricultural Commissioner. These agreements state that the grower is willing to comply with CDFA and USDA regulations regarding the movement of bulk citrus, the most important of which is that bulk citrus must be processed through trash-removal equipment (to remove all leaves and stems) before it is shipped in bulk to a packer outside of the quarantine.
The Asian citrus psyllid quarantine also affects retail nursery stock. Currently there are compliance agreements and protocols available that allow retail nursery stock to be moved within the quarantine zone. However, no provisions are currently available to move nursery stock from the quarantine zone to regions outside of the quarantine zone unless the plants were budded and produced within a federally-approved screenhouse facility.
Regulations regarding Asian citrus psyllid can change quickly. For that reason citrus growers are encouraged to maintain good contact with their local Agricultural Commissioner. Additional information on the status of quarantines and other restrictions can be found online at
Photo below. Asian Citrus Psyllid nymphs with waxy exudates from feeding.