- Author: Richard Smith
- Research Assistant: Aaron Heinrich
Nitrate leaching from vegetable production along the Central Coast is under greater scrutiny and is the subject of proposed regulations by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). The regulations as written have stipulated that leachate from agricultural lands should not exceed the public health limits for nitrate in drinking water of 10 ppm nitrate-nitrogen.
To date there has been little information developed on the quantities of nitrate contained in leachate from lettuce production. In 2009 we conducted a nitrogen fertilizer trial in which we applied 10, 75, 150, 225 and 300 lbs of N/A and water was applied at 116% of evapotranspiration. In order to measure leachate from the plots, suction lysimeters were installed to a depth of 2 feet deep in the soil (photo 1). During each irrigation, suction in the lysimeters was maintained at 20-25 centibars which was assumed to be the leachable fraction of soil water. After each irrigation, leachate was collected and analyzed for nitrate concentration.
The 10 lbs N/A was a low N treatment (and yielded substantially lower than other treatments), but even in this treatment had leachate nitrate-N concentrations substantially greater than the 10 ppm nitrate-N drinking water standard (see graph below) for the majority of the early season. The concentration of nitrate-N in this treatment declined to below the drinking water standard for the final third of the growing season. These data give us a glimpse into nitrate levels of leachate from vegetable production fields. Even treatments with little applied N can have substantial quantities of nitrate in the leachate. This indicates that monitoring of the concentration of nitrate in the leachate may not be a consistently useful tool for understanding the quantity of N leached.
Figure 1: Nitrate-N concentrations in leachate over the growing season of romaine lettuce (for simplicity, we pooled the leachate nitrate levels of the highest three nitrogen fertilizer treatments 150, 225 and 300 lbs N/A, as they were not significantly different from each other)
- Author: Steven T. Koike
- Author: Jian Long Bi
The spring growing conditions have been responsible for several problems that affected head lettuce in coastal California. Rain and cold temperatures have allowed significant development of bacterial leaf spot (Xanthomonas campestris pv. vitians) and a physiological disorder possibly related to tipburn. In addition, recent samples, received by UC Cooperative Extension, have been infested by an insect. Field personnel and pest control advisors have also been detecting this problem.
Underneath the wrapper leaves, inner layers are being fed upon by the larval stage (maggot) of a fly insect. Damage consists of holes and breaks in the leaves where the maggot has been feeding (photos 1, 2, 3).
Edges of the damaged areas turn tan to brown. Such feeding damage can occur anywhere along the leaf and midrib tissue. Careful examination of the inner leaves will likely reveal the presence of the maggot (photo 4) and/or the pupa (photo 5). Maggots are small (approximately 7 mm (1/10th inch) long) and pale in color.
The insect damage, which consists of actual holes in the tissue, is distinct from the physiological problem that typically does not result in breaks in the leaf and which is usually restricted to the leaf margins. The bacterial leaf spot disease affects mostly outer leaves and results in characteristically black lesions.
Identification of the fly is pending and Entomology Farm Advisor Jianlong Bi will be investigating this further.
- Author: Larry J Bettiga
European grapevine moth (EGVM), Lobesia botrana, was detected in several Napa County vineyards in the fall of 2009. Native to Mediterranean Europe this invasive insect’s preferred host is grape. Although it is related to other tortricid moths found in vineyards (orange tortrix and omnivorous leafroller) it does not tie leaves together or feed on leaf tissue. EGVM larvae feed on grape flower parts and berries. Late season feeding on berries results in increased incidence of bunch rots.
The adult moth is approximately ¼ inch long with the first pair of wings having a mosaic-pattern (fig.1). Eggs are laid singly which is different than the overlapping egg masses of other vineyard tortricid moths. There are five larval instars. The fully-grown fifth instar is approximately ½ inch (fig. 2). Mature larvae spin a cocoon in which they pupate.
In response to the Napa County finds a statewide trapping program was started in March 2010 to determine if EGVM exists in other grape growing areas of California. The program is a coordinated effort between the county agricultural commissioners, CDFA and USDA. Specific pheromone lures in red “Delta” sticky traps are being used. Early results from the 2010 trapping program has expanded the quarantine area in Napa County and moths have been caught in traps in Sonoma, Solano, Mendocino and Fresno Counties.
Growers wanting to conduct their own trapping programs can purchase the traps and the EGVM specific pheromone lure from commercial vendors.
Figure 1. Adult female EGVM
|Figure 2. Earlier stages of EGVM larvae are tan to yellow-brown, while latter stages become dark colored.|
- Author: Steven T. Koike
Downy mildew of lettuce, caused by Bremia lactucae, is the very common foliar disease that results in the familiar yellow to brown leaf lesions and accompanying white sporulation on the lesions. However, the systemic phase of lettuce downy mildew may be less familiar to growers and pest control advisors. In the spring of 2009, systemic downy mildew was very common in coastal California. Currently in 2010, systemic downy mildew is not as serious but is still being observed in some coastal plantings.
Symptoms of systemic downy mildew may be seen on both lettuce leaves and the central, internal core of the lettuce plant. For leaf symptoms, examine the plant for large, elongated regions of the leaf that are discolored and turning dark green to brown. Such regions often develop along the midrib of the leaf and extend into the flat, outer leaf panels (photos 1, 2). White sporulation is often not present on these infected areas until late in disease development. Note that for many systemically infected lettuce plants, these leaf symptoms are absent and the only evident symptoms are in the internal core.
To check for systemic infections in the plant core, cut open and examine the central part of the plant; these tissues will show a dark brown to black streaking and discoloration (photos 3, 4). In some cases, systemically infected plants may be slightly stunted or late in maturing. Exercise caution, however, before concluding that internal core discoloration is due only to systemic downy mildew. Other important lettuce problems (Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt, ammonium toxicity) can cause similar internal discolorations.
Confirmation of systemic downy mildew requires laboratory testing. Affected tissues can treated with biological stains and then examined using a microscope. Such procedures can show the presence of the characteristically thick mycelium that lacks cell cross walls (photo 5). In addition, incubating pieces of affected lettuce tissue can result in sporulation of the pathogen (photo 6, showing systemic downy mildew of cauliflower), again enabling confirmation of systemic downy mildew.
Systemic downy mildew of lettuce has not been studied extensively, so researchers do not know exactly what triggers this less common phase of the disease. Some suggest that early infection of young plants may allow the pathogen to infect the inner foliage of lettuce, resulting in pathogen access to the plant growing point. Field personnel also report that some lettuce cultivars are more severely affected than others.
|Photo 1: Brown discoloration due to systemic downy mildew infection in a lettuce leaf|
|Photo 2: Brown discoloration due to systemic downy mildew infection in a lettuce leaf.|
|Photo 3: Internal discoloration of lettuce core due to systemic downy mildew infection|
|Photo 4: Internal discoloration of lettuce core due to systemic downy mildew infection.|
|Photo 5: Blue-stained mycelium of downy mildew that has systemically infected lettuce tissues.|
|Photo 6: Sporulating downy mildew from a systemically infected piece of cauliflower stem.|
- Author: Michael D Cahn
Access to weather data from the California Irrigation Management and Information System (CIMIS) has become easier than ever due to improvements in the website (www.cimis.water.ca.gov). CIMIS is managed by the CA Department of Water Resources.
CIMIS is a network of more than 120 weather stations that operate through out the agricultural regions of California. Currently, 13 stations are located on the central coast (Figure 1). All stations record relative humidity, air temperature, wind speed and direction, and solar radiation, and are located above a standard crop of grass or alfalfa, which are referred to as reference crops. Using these weather data and a mathematical model (Penman-Monteith) , potential crop water use, also called evapotranspiration (ETo), of the reference crop can be estimated. A crop coefficient is used to adjust the reference evapotranspiration data to evapotranspiration estimates for other crops, such lettuce, strawberry, or celery. CIMIS weather stations also monitor precipitation and soil temperature, and the stations calculate dew point, net radiation, and vapor pressure from the collected data.
The CIMIS staff has made many improvements in managing the weather data over the years. They use computer algorithms to check for outlying values which are flagged in reports. They have incorporated google maps to help you locate CIMIS stations near your fields (Figure 1), and they have incorporated Satellite weather data to help improve the spatial resolution of CIMIS evapotranspiration estimates.
Perhaps most importantly, the CIMIS staff has simplified getting access to the data. You can have the data emailed to you at a specified interval and also you can specify the format of the data (excel, web report, etc):
- Go to the CIMIS website and sign up for a user ID and password on the My CIMIS tab. (There is no cost for signing up and CIMIS does not send you annoying email solicitations).
- After logging on at the My CIMIS tab, select the station(s) from which you would like to receive weather data. Add the stations to a list.
- Under My Custom Report select “customize” to create a report. Choose the file format, station list, weather parameters, and time period (1 week, 2 week etc) that the report should cover (Figure 2). You can check the box to schedule the report to be automatically emailed to you (Figure 3). Note that the CSV format can be imported into Excel. The web report can be viewed directly from your web browser.
Figure 1. Location of currently operating CIMIS weather stations on the central coast as viewed from station location map under the Spatial CIMIS tab. Station numbers are displayed in the white rectangles.
Figure 2. User can select weather data and file format on the Custom report screen of My CIMIS tab.
Figure 3. User can select to have report emailed on the Custom report screen of My CIMIS tab.