“Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project
The Northern California fires of October 2017 created poor air quality and distributed toxic air contaminants over the region. Following the fires and the incredible response from local farmers, UCCE Sonoma County embarked on a “Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project to help answer community concerns about whether the safety of local produce might have been impacted by contaminants carried in the smoke and ash from the fire.
With the support of UCCE Sonoma, community members concerned about the impact of toxic smoke on local produce and UCCE Master Gardeners took over 200 samples of leafy greens from 25 gardens and farms across Sonoma County in the immediate aftermath of the fires; in the summer of 2018 the team took soil samples from five of the original sites sampled. Using funding from University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources Division and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, we had produce and soil samples from five sites most likely to have received deposits of toxic air contaminants from the urban wildfire tested for heavy metals, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Based on preliminary findings, we hypothesize that produce safety was not significantly affected by the fires and may be mitigated by washing produce. Preliminary analysis was inconclusive but did not indicate a high degree of contamination. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were inconclusive due to high method reporting limits from our laboratories. Heavy metals were of low concern, with no detection of lead, arsenic, or mercury. Nickel was found in 2 of 8 samples at levels exceeding Proposition 65's No Significant Risk Level but which may be mitigated by washing produce. Dioxins were of some concern with concentrations found above background levels from FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program, but below NSRL.
- It is important to note that over long periods of time, exposure to these chemical groups at very low levels can still contribute to health impacts, including at levels below what our tests are able to detect.
- Numerous health benefits including cancer risk reduction have been attributed to green leafy vegetables. These benefits may outweigh the additional risk from trace contaminants detected in some produce in this study. Quantitative comparisons will be provided in our final report.
- Some individuals have higher risks and may want to be in communication with their healthcare provider to better understand if they should take extra precautions. Individuals at higher risk may also benefit greatly from the high nutrition in green leafy vegetables and fresh produce.
- Best practices for reducing risk include: wearing a respirator mask during poor air quality; washing produce thoroughly in running water; peeling root vegetables, testing soil regularly; containing and amending contaminated soil through sheet mulching, raised beds, and compost.
- Best practices that enhance protective factors and should also be pursued, such as increasing produce consumption to promote healthy nutrition, improve immunity, and support resilience to chemical exposures.
Over the next few months, we will be completing our final report and creating additional tools for communicating these results to concerned community members. In the Spring of 2019, we will be conducting community workshops. Reports, handouts, workshop materials, and the protocols from the study will be made publicly available for use by communities experiencing wildfire in the future./h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Lucia G. Varela
Want to know what bug is making holes in the leaves of you shrub or eating your fruit? Or what is the pesky weed you cannot get rid off? The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources publications have four sets of Pest Identification cards for you. These pocket-size, sturdy, laminated cards can be easily carried with you as a quick reference wherever you need them. The sets are also available as electronic publications formatted for iOS and Kindle compatible devices.
Vineyard Pest Identification and Monitoring
These cards are also available as a separate card set, publication #3538, in Spanish. You can purchase each card set alone or in bundles for a price break. The bundles are perfect for vineyard managers and their crews.
Tree Fruit Pest Identification
The Tree Fruit Pest Identification Card Set is available only as an electronic publication. The set covers major insect and mite pests and several important diseases in California deciduous tree fruits and nuts. Each pest is identified by a description and close-up photographs of important life stages to help you know how and when to look for these pests -- in both growing and dormant seasons. The cards also include descriptions of natural enemies.
Landscape Pest Identification
The Landscape Pest Identification Card Set will help landscape maintenance professionals and home gardeners identify and manage most major common pest problems in the landscape. The 43 cards cover 80 common insect pests and mites and 40 diseases of flowers, shrubs and trees.
Weed Identification and Monitoring
The Weed Identification and Monitoring Card Set is based on the bestselling Weeds of California and Other Western States; this is the perfect pocket-sized companion for anyone working in the field.
Each weed is identified by a description and excellent close-up color photographs of various growth stages with 187 photos in all. On the reverse of each card is a description of growth stages, habitat, distribution and management tips. It also includes handy inch and metric measurement scales. A sturdy rivet keeps the set together so individual cards don't go astray.
Pests of the Garden and Small Farm
A new set Pests of the Garden and Small Farm Card Set is coming out soon. Stay tuned for its release. Currently, there is a beautiful book, publication 3332.
To purchase the card sets or electronic versions, visit the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources publication catalog. Refer to the table below for the publication and click on the version you want:
- Card set - a deck of cards on a spindle
- E-pub - electronic version for iOS
- Kindle - electronic version for Kindle
Landscape Pest ID Cards
Vineyard Pest ID and Monitoring Cards
Tarjetas de identification de plagas de la vid (Spanish)
Weed Pest ID and Monitoring Cards
Tree Fruit ID Cards
Backyard gardeners, if you still cannot identify that weed, bug or problem with your plant, you can always bring a sample to our Master Gardeners desk. There is a drop box available to leave samples after hours./table>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Editor: J. M.
- Author: Mike Jones
I joined UCCE on October 1, 2018 as the Forestry Advisor for Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. I specialize in forest entomology with a focus on forest health and integrated pest management of invasive and endemic forest pests.
I completed a Ph.D. in Entomology from State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a B.S. in Environmental Biology and Management from UC Davis.
Prior to joining UCCE, I was a Research Project Assistant (graduate student) at State University of New York. I developed and maintained research projects on delimitation, management, and biological control of the invasive forest pest emerald ash borer in New York. From 2010 to 2013, I was a research associate in the Department of Entomology, UC Davis in collaboration with the US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection in southern California. I participated in a variety of forest pest research projects involving the detection, evaluation, and management of native and invasive forest pests, including goldspotted oak borer. I have been active in leading training activities for land managers and owners in the field identification and management of forest pests, and training and supervising field crews in the collection of forestry data. My journey in forest health started as an undergraduate at UC Davis, where I worked on sudden oak death in the department of Plant Pathology.
I moved to the town of Sonoma in high school and have been fascinated by the area ever since. My family goes back eight generations in California, and I feel very fortunate to be able to move back to the area (Healdsburg) to start my career. I look forward to working with Sonoma County, and helping land owners and managers deal with forestry challenges faced by the county, particularly after the fires of 2017, but also looking into the future.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I look forward to working with and meeting members of the Sonoma County community.
Michael I. Jones, PhD| Forest Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension - Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma
890 North Bush Street | Ukiah, CA 95482
(707) 463-6344 office | (707) 338-7457 cell | email@example.com
Local food producers: The recent wildfires are creating dangerous air pollution in our region. The biggest threat to your health is from inhaling the smoke. Protect your lungs by staying indoors whenever possible, and wearing a respirator mask when outdoors. An N95 respiratory is the minimum protection recommended, while a P100 will provide additional protection from petroleum-based chemicals and smaller particles. Employers of outdoor workers should consider adequate protection for their workers, such as limiting the time that employees work outside and providing adequate respiratory protective equipment (see California Code of Regulations Title 8 section 3203, Injury and Illness Prevention Program, and section 5141, Control of Harmful Exposure to Employees).
During the fires in Sonoma County last fall 2017, many local food growers expressed concern about the impact of the wildfire smoke on the food safety of our local produce. Since then, a group of researchers and concerned community members have been investigating this question. The Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire project will be releasing a final report in early 2019. However, due to this current air pollution emergency, we would like to share that the lab results from our
plant samples DO NOT show extensive contamination of produce exposed to wildfire smoke, and our findings suggest a low health risk from ingesting produce exposed to wildfire smoke.
Fresh produce, especially green leafy vegetables, are critical for nutrition and promoting the body's resilience to the health impacts of smoke. To further reduce risk of contamination, wash produce with running water and remove outer leaves or peels and wash hands after harvesting produce or coming in contact with soil and ash.
Some groups are more vulnerable to health impacts from the smoke and should take extra precaution during this time, including children, elders, and people with respiratory and heart conditions. If you are a garden educator working with kids, please consider activities that can be done inside until air quality improves.
We encourage our community to continue supporting our local food system and sharing our online resources with all those concerned, including our publication:
See our Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire for more resources and information.
Sign-up for our google group of community members discussing these issues and sharing strategies./span>
- Author: Rhonda Smith
- Editor: J. M.
Planting a vineyard with vines that are not infected with common grapevine viruses is essential to the bottom line. It can be challenging enough to keep over 1000 vines per acre relatively free from the normal canopy and trunk diseases such as grapevine powdery mildew and Eutypa dieback. Those diseases are caused by infections that occur naturally after vines are planted and can be controlled with proper farming practices.
Grapevine leafroll virus is an example of a common virus that can be avoided – at least initially – by planting certified vines. It is one of the viruses that cause the leaves of red-berried varieties to turn red in the fall. (The red “fall color” seen in photos of grapevines is not a good sign.) In white-berried varieties visual symptoms are more difficult to identify because the leaves do not turn red. Leafroll disease is widespread throughout the world and prevents the normal ripening process from occurring.
Unknowingly planting vines infected with leafroll virus is possible and very damaging because the virus is spread by mealybugs and scale insects. Starting with infected vines makes a bad situation worse because the incidence of diseased vines in a block quickly increases. Growers invest significant resources to control the insect vectors of leafroll, remove diseased vines and replant with clean stock.
UC Davis Foundation Plant Services
Starting out with “clean” vines is critical. And clean in this context means not infected with grapevine viruses that are known to reduce grape yield or quality. So it is important to plant a vineyard with vines that are far less likely to be infected on the day they are planted. In reality virus-free cannot be guaranteed.
To obtain the cleanest plants possible using normal nursery production practices, most growers purchase certified vines from grapevine nurseries and the source of those vines can be traced back to Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at UC Davis.
Vines are planted into Foundation Blocks at FPS only after undergoing a battery of virus tests – some of which can take two or more years - as prescribed by the CDFA regulations as well as pass other evaluations. The FPS lab continually tests for viruses in the Foundation Blocks; each vine is tested every three years. For nematode transmitted viruses, each Foundation vine is tested every two years.
Nearly 10 years ago, FPS began to develop a new Foundation Block that met newly established national standards for grapevine foundation plants in the US. The Russell Ranch Vineyard (RRV) at UC Davis contains Foundation vines which have all been propagated using a technique called microshoot tip culture – in which a 0.19 inch (0.5 mm) or smaller slice of the growing tip of a shoot is used as the starting material for a grapevine. These vines start out in small boxes on growth media. After a vine has grown large enough for tissue to be collected and tested for viruses, it must test negative for over 30 grapevine viruses.
Why so many? Because other countries have grapevine viruses that we don't have in the US, thus creating a testing protocol that includes those viruses helps to insure they are not in US Foundation Blocks. The testing protocol used to establish the RRV is known as “Protocol 2010” and it was made possible by funding in the 2008 Farm Bill that established the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN).
National Clean Plant Network
The purpose of the NCPN is to protect plants of economic value by diagnosing for plant pathogens, curing those plants, and to protect starter plants and make them available to industry. The goal of the NCPN is to sustain national funding for clean planting stock programs of key horticultural crops. There are five Grape Clean Plant Centers and they are located at UC Davis, Florida A&M University, Missouri State University, Cornell University and Washington State University. Clean Plant Centers also exist throughout the US for fruit trees, berries, citrus, hops, sweetpotatoes and roses. UC Davis FPS is also a Clean Plant Center for fruit trees, sweetpotatoes and roses.
“The National Clean Plant Network is an association of clean plant centers, scientists, educators, state and federal regulators, large and small nurseries and growers of specialty crops that work together to ensure that plant propagation material is clean and available.”
For more information on the National Clean Plant Network, visit nationalcleanplantnetwork.org
To learn more about Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, visit fps.ucdavis.edu