- (Public Value) UCANR: Building climate-resilient communities and ecosystems
- Author: Anne Schellman
Currently, we are installing demonstration gardens to be used as outdoor classrooms that the public can visit anytime, and we need your help!
Our Pollinator Garden is in the installation stage, and we could not be more thrilled. Currently, the irrigation and native plants are going in. Our Master Gardener volunteers were hard at work leveling, raking, and planting just this week.
Your Funds Help Make this Garden Happen
Help make this demonstration garden come to life! Funds will be used to purchase additional plants, tools, and educational signage. Our big funding goal is a decomposed granite walkway. This is a pricey item, which can cost several thousand dollars. The benefits are a pathway accessible to everyone that avoids runoff and allows good drainage.
How to Give
If you prefer to donate by check, please make it out to: UC Regents and send to:
UCC Stanislaus County Master Gardener Program
3800 Cornucopia Way, Ste A
Modesto, CA 95358
We look forward to meeting you in the near future in our “outdoor classroom” aka Pollinator Garden for classes on pollinators, California native plants, and how you can support them in your backyard garden, patio, apartment, or classroom.
* Our gardens are located at the Ag Center complex on the corner of Crows Landing and Service Roads in Modesto at 3800 Cornucopia Way, 95358. The Pollinator Garden is on the east side of the Stanislaus building, while the Sensory Garden is on the west side./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs usually have an easier time getting through the winter if they are in good shape. However, if a freeze is forecasted, one of the most important things to do is to ensure they have been watered 2-3 days prior, especially if autumn has been dry. As with perennials, mulching with fallen leaves or other mulch will help protect the roots, but do not have mulch up against the tree trunk or plant stem, which could cause rot to occur.
Wrapping trunks of young trees with blankets, towels or piping insulation will provide added protection.
Wait until after the first frost, then gently dig up the bulbs or tubers. Cut away any leaves and brush off as much soil as possible. Let them dry out in a cool spot for about a week. Label them so you'll remember what they are! Pack them in a breathable box, such as a cardboard box, storing the bulbs so they don't touch each other, and cover them in sawdust or shredded newspapers. Keep them in a cool, dark location that is below 45°F, but doesn't freeze.
Citrus plants can be protected by frost cloths which allow some light and air to penetrate and can stay on plants for a few days at a time. They can also lay directly on plant foliage. If you use other type of cloth such as burlap or cotton sheets, use stakes to hold the cloth away from the plant greenery. Remove it during daytime when temperatures are above freezing and sunny, and replace it each night prior to sunset. Whatever cloth you use, make sure the cloth goes all the way to the ground to capture radiant heat from the ground. If there is mulch around the plant, rake away during the day, if above freezing and sunny, to allow the soil to warm up.
Some roses are more sensitive to cold than others. As a group, hybrid tea roses are the most vulnerable. Make sure they are watered prior to predicted freezing temperatures, protect the root zone with mulch on the soil mound. You may also wish to cover your sensitive roses with frost cloths.
What do do if frost damages your plants? Wait!
Frost damage occurs when the water inside the cells of a plant freeze, causing damage to the cellular walls, which harms the overall health of the plant. Frost damaged vegetation will wilt, turning brown or black, as if they have been scorched. The bark may crack, or split. In severe or prolonged periods of frost the plant can die.
If you see what appears to be frost damage, wait until late spring until all chance of frost has passed. Plants are resilient and can often recover on its own, producing new growth. Pruning what seems to be damaged branches too soon can cause significantly more trauma, even death, to a vulnerable plant that might otherwise have recovered in the spring.
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in Stanislaus County since 2020.
The dairy and nut industries are dominant contributors to Tulare County's agricultural economy, with milk consistently ranking as the highest valued ag product, followed close behind by pistachio and almond in the top 10. The dairy industry provides economic value to a biproduct of the almond industry-- almond hulls. Almond hulls are incorporated in the herd diet, thus reducing the quantity of forage required for feed in a region sustaining a multi-year drought. This practice increases the water use efficiency of both the dairy and orchard systems.
In October 2022, the UCCE Tulare County Orchard Systems Program, led by Dr. Elizabeth Fichtner, provided an opportunity for cross-disciplinary dialogue between the animal science and plant science communities. Dairy researchers from across the United States visited Tulare County as part of a USDA-funded research team focusing on the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy enterprises. The team was hosted by Dr. Noelia Silva del Rio, UC ANR Dairy Herd Health Specialist, at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Research and Extension Center in Tulare, CA. The group had the opportunity to visit a commercial walnut orchard during harvest operations, using the field site as a platform for discussion of cross-disciplinary topics including nutrient management, food safety, composting protocols, and water use efficiency. Additionally, dairy researchers observed the extensive damage on walnut trees caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens, an organism familiar to all scientists for its role in revolutionizing molecular biology, but infamous to walnut growers and plant pathologists as a bacterial plant pathogen causing crown gall.
- Author: Dan Macon
I suppose my obsession with the weather apps on my smartphone started during the 2013-2014 drought. I've always been a weather geek, but during that dry spell, I found myself constantly checking multiple apps to see if one held more hope for moisture than another. That fall, I was lambing out a large commercial flock of sheep in the California Delta. Later that winter, I went to work as the beef herdsman at UC's Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center (SFREC). Grass - and the moisture to grow it - was never far from front of mind. And as a dry, cold December stretched into an even drier January, we reduced our sheep numbers (both on the outfit I was working for, and in our own flock). As the weather stayed dry that spring, we hunted every blade of grass we could find at SFREC. And looking at the plethora of weather apps that are still on my phone today, I find myself getting nervous about this fall and winter... again!
Based on that 2013-2014 experience, I've become much more focused on my grazing planning. For me, this involves multiple timeframes - I'm thinking about where our sheep will be able to graze over the next 3-4 weeks, as well as what our forage resources might look like into late January and February (during late gestation for our ewes). Beyond lambing, I start thinking about how much irrigated pasture we'll have available to us next summer. Based on this planning, I can adjust when and where we move the sheep in the short term. In the long term, I can adjust our flock size to make sure our forage demand balances with our forage supply.
Setting our stocking rate, then, becomes a critical part of our drought strategy. Do we stock for an "average" year (whatever that is)? Do we stock for a good year with the understanding that we'll need to sell animals if our grass doesn't come on? Or do we stock conservatively - for the worst years - and adjust by bringing in more animals if we're pleasantly surprised by rainfall and grass? My friend and colleague Josh Davy, who runs cows in the Sacramento Valley, says, "My starting point is to set my stocking rate so that I can survive December and January - those are the toughest months, feed-wise."
We can also affect our stocking rate simply through our management calendar. We try to matching our lambing period (which is also our period of highest forage demand) with the onset of rapid grass growth (usually in late February or early March). Most years, this works out - although the incredibly dry period we had in the first quarter of 2022 tested my resolve. This also allows us to reduce our stocking rate as the forage dries out in late spring and summer - by simply selling our lambs.
All of this brings me back to THIS fall and getting nervous. We had a germinating rain in mid September - and we've had no precipitation since here in Auburn. The grass that germinated after that first rain has stopped growing (and in some cases, died). Our irrigation water shut off on October 15, which means our irrigated pasture won't grow much more forage unless we get some rain. Last night, I mapped out our grazing for the next month - I think we'll have enough grass to stay on our irrigated pasture until the first weekend of December.
After that, we'll see where we are - if we get rain in the next 7-10 days (and there appears to be some in our forecast - depending on the app I'm looking at!), we'll have some green forage on our lower elevation annual rangelands by the time we move the sheep. If we don't get any rain, we'll need to provide supplemental protein to allow the ewes to digest the dry forage we saved as a buffer. At this point, I'm reluctant to sell any bred ewes - we've already invested in next year's lamb crop.
During last year's dry spell, Siskiyou County Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor, Grace Woodmansee and I developed a drought decision support tool to help ranchers think about their short- and long-term drought strategies. The core of this tool is a 12-month forage calendar - a tool to help you think about potential gaps in your forage supply through the course of the year. This year, I've found it helpful to revisit my forage projections on a regular basis - grass that seemed plentiful after last December suddenly looked short in mid-March. Similarly, what looked to be a dismal grass year in March turned around with April's storms. The process of planning - of looking ahead at our grass - helped make my decision-making process more rational. Had April remained dry, I would have sold sheep; since it turned wet, I was able to maintain my numbers. My forage calendar, in other words, allowed me to establish some realistic key dates for decision-making.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check a few more weather apps - one of them is bound to have an optimistic forecast for next week!
- Author: Emily C. Dooley, UC Davis
Investigadores de la Universidad de California en Davis han encontrado una forma de reducir la cantidad de fertilizantes de nitrógeno que se requiere en la producción de los cultivos de cereal. Es un descubrimiento que puede ahorrar a los granjeros de los Estados Unidos miles de millones de dólares, a la vez que tendría un gran beneficio para el medioambiente.
La investigación se realizó en el laboratorio de Eduardo Blumwald, un distinguido profesor de botánica de UC Davis, afiliado a la División de Agricultura y Recursos Naturales de UC ANR a través de la Estación de Experimentos Agrícolas de UC Davis, quien ha encontrado una nueva vía para que los cereales capturen el nitrógeno que necesitan para crecer.
“Los fertilizantes de nitrógeno son muy costosos”, indicó Blumwald “Cualquier cosa que se pueda hacer para eliminar ese costo es importante en cierta forma, pero el problema no es solo el dinero, también están los efectos dañinos del nitrógeno al medioambiente”.
El nitrógeno es clave para el crecimiento de las plantas y las operaciones agrícolas dependen de los fertilizantes químicos para mejorar la productividad. Pero mucho del nitrógeno que se usa en los cultivos se pierde al filtrarse al suelo y al agua subterránea.
Así, el descubrimiento podría ayudar al medioambiente, al reducir la contaminación que el nitrógeno puede ocasionar en los recursos hídricos, el aumento de las emisiones de gas de invernadero y los problemas de salud humana. El estudio fue publicado en el diario Plant Biotechnology.
Una nueva vía para fertilizante natural
La investigación de Blumwald se enfoca en el aumento de la conversión del gas de nitrógeno atmosférico en amonio por medio de una bacteria del suelo, un proceso conocido como fijación del nitrógeno.
Las leguminosas, como los cacahuates y la soya tienen nódulos en la raíz los cuales pueden utilizar la bacteria para fijar el nitrógeno para proporcionar amonio a las plantas. Las plantas de cereal como el arroz y trigo no cuentan con esa capacidad y deben depender del consumo de nitrógeno inorgánico, como el amoníaco y el nitrato de los fertilizantes del suelo.
“Si una planta puede producir sustancias químicas que hagan que las bacterias del suelo fijen el gas de nitrógeno atmosférico, nosotros podríamos modificar las plantas para producir más de esas sustancias químicas”, manifestó Blumwald. “Estos productos químicos inducen a la fijación del nitrógeno bacteriano de la tierra y las plantas usarán el amonio que se forma, reduciendo la cantidad de fertilizante utilizado”.
El equipo de Blumwald utilizó pruebas químicas y genómicas para identificar los compuestos en las plantas de arroz, que mejoran la fijación de nitrógeno de las bacterias.
Luego, identificaron las vías para generar los productos químicos y usaron tecnología de edición de genes para incrementar la producción de compuestos que estimulan la formación de biopelículas. Esas biopelículas contienen bacterías que mejoraron la conversión del nitrógeno. El resultado fue que se aumentó la fijación de nitrógeno de las bacterias, al igual que la cantidad de amonio en el suelo para las plantas.
“Las plantas son unas fábricas increíbles de químicos”, dijo el experto. “Lo que esto puede aportar es una alternativa sustentable para las prácticas agrícolas, reduciendo el uso excesivo de fertilizantes de nitrógeno”.
Este proceso también puede usarse para otras plantas. La Universidad de California ha presentado una solicitud para el registro de patente sobre esta técnica y está en proceso.
Dawei Yan, Hiromi Tajima, Howard-Yana Shapiro, Reedmond Fong y Javier Ottaviani de la Universidad de Davis contribuyeron a esta investigación, al igual que Lauren Cline de Bayer Crop Science. Ottaviani también es un asociado de investigación en Mars Edge.
La investigación fue financiada por el Fondo Will W. Lester. Bayer Crop Science está apoyando más investigación sobre el tema.
Editado para su publicación por Norma De la Vega