While I do enjoy the company of my family and others here at home during the shelter in place order, nevertheless sitting around on my can all day just writing, reading and talking on the phone isn't exactly what I signed up for folks.
Still, it's a time to be productive, and I've had some calls with resulting quotes in articles in the press.
The first from Laura Poppin in the Scientific American concerns what berry producers are doing to adapt to the restrictions of social distancing and virus transmission mitigation. As expected, growers have adapted their operations:
The other is a lengthy article by ag writer Tim Hearden from the Western Farm Press about the what the way forward for the California strawberry industry might look like, and quotes extensively from my review of the book "Wilted" by Dr. Julie Guthman:
Nice to see interviews here with local grower Peter Navarro and fellow scientist Steve Fennimore.
As with my other colleagues from the UCCE, I am working from home to comply with the state order to shelter in place.
Doesn't mean I have to not enjoy the time here in the house, for example take a look at the tasty fruity chocolate strawberry snack my wife and I shared yesterday.
So you all know, I am commited to being ONE HUNDRED PERCENT AVAILABLE by email and phone, and in the field for certain permitted circumstances and tasks. If I haven't got back to you recently, it's because I was involved in a deluge of calls and communications last week with the County and UC organizing our effort to work remotely.
Now we are all settled in, the winds have begun to fill our sails and we are once again underway.
You all know the image of US Marines planting the US flag in the rocky soil of Iwo Jima in World War II. Cartoonist Mike Luckovich has turned this iconic image into one depicting those who are on the front lines today of the battle against coronavirus - a first responder, a nurse, a doctor and yes a scientist.
Thanks to some sharp eyed grower colleagues - and well equipped with some impressive hand lens and field microscopes I might add - I got my hands on some good Lewis mites and was able get some pictures. Truly, these do look different than twospotted spider mite. Checked out with UCCE colleague Surendra Dara for confirmation and yes, we have our Lewis mite.
See photo below.
Introduction: Grafting is increasingly common in vegetable crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelons as this technique has continued the possibility of production of these commodities in disease infested soils which can no longer be fumigated or chemically treated. Similarly, as California berry agriculture faces the post methyl bromide cultural milieu, it was thought that a similar strategy of grafting soil pathogen resistant (or at least tolerant) rootstock to a horticulturally desirable, yet disease susceptible scion, be tested in strawberry.
Materials and Methods:
Trial was run twice in 2015 together with Plant Sciences, Inc. in Watsonville. Initially, rootstocks were of three varieties here designated as A, B and C, and were self-grafted to scion of the same variety to eliminate the possibility of intervarietal rejection. Rootstock types were three, those being runners growing in soil, a runner aerially hanging on a stolon and a bare root transplant.
Since successful grafting in vegetables is done by carefully matching the diameter of the rootstock to the scion (this can be obtained for pretty close matches by cutting at angles to enlarge the “footprint” of the scion or rootstock). As shown in the photo below, conditions were maintained as clean as possible so as to minimize the possibility of contamination.
Grafts were of several different configurations, one a flat cut straight across the rootstock and scion, the other at an angle of both to maximize fit and surface area, the third being a wedge (shown below). Once the graft was made, the scion and rootstock were fitted together, and held in place with Parafilm to support and protect the graft as it formed callus tissue. After grafting, the plants were placed were placed in loose vermiculite and held for several days in a “healing chamber” which was a darkened chamber held at 25oC at 100 % relative humidity with no free moisture. This was followed by a period of adjustment inside of a screenhouse for approximately 3 weeks after which Parafilm was removed and state of the graft evaluated. Graft union was ABOVE the surface of the vermiculite at all times, to prevent the formation of adventitious roots by the susceptible scion.
Results and Discussion: None of the grafts tested in this trial were successful. No callus tissue formed, with the scion dying or rotting in several cases and many times the plant growing out from the rootstock only.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Plant Sciences, Inc. who donated a significant time and effort of a really skilled team of people to make this work happen. Additionally, real gratitude is owed to Dr. Carol Miles from WSU Horticulture without whom we would not have had the guidance essential to taking on this effort.