Posts Tagged: Louise Ferguson
“Given California's drought and the need to use all available water supplies, even those of marginal quality, there will be great interest in Ken Schmidt's and UC Cooperative Extension advisor Blake Sanden's talks about Valley water supplies and quality,” said Louise Ferguson, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and organizer of the event.
Sanden, who is based in Kern County, will give a presentation on his research on the effects of using saline water for pistachio irrigation on crop yield and soil quality.
“In 2014, there were problems of fruit set and pollination,” Ferguson said. She expects there will be strong interest in the talk about the effects of climate and other factors on pollination requirements and fruit set by Gurreet Brar, UCCE advisor in Fresno County.
An emerging problem that growers have been seeing in California and Arizona in the past three years is what scientists are calling Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome in clonal UCB1 rootstocks. Affected trees are short and stunted, have closely spaced internodes, exhibit bushy growth and twisted roots. The cause is unknown, but scientists have found it to be associated with the bacterium Rhodococcus.
Jennifer Randall, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science at New Mexico State University, will deliver the first public presentation of research results on the "bushy top" syndrome.
A full day of research presentations are scheduled.
Themis Michailides, a researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, will give an update on pistachio diseases.
David Haviland, UCCE advisor in Kern County, Kris Tollerup, UC IPM advisor, and Bob Beede, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension advisor will discuss management of navel orangeworm, Phytocoris, leaf-footed bug and stink bugs.
Brad Higbee, director of entomology research for Paramount Farming Company, will discuss how winter sanitation of orchards can decrease pest pressure and, in turn, reduce the need for pesticides.
Joel Siegel, USDA-ARS research entomologist, will explain how to how to anticipate pest pressure based on past infestation levels.
Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, will discuss nutrient management in pistachios.
The 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the
Visalia Convention Center. For more information, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/pistachioday.
For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California's systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.
"Whether it's good or bad, in California we've become accustomed to a steady water supply though our catchments, dams and aqueducts that deliver water to the (Central) Valley," Ferguson said. "In the past 3 or 4 years of drought, we've become more dependent on wells, what you're always dependent upon here in Australia."
She predicted that, in the next three to five years, California will see a significant decrease in tree crops as a result.
"In California, up till now, we did not have groundwater use regulations," she said. "The increase in wells very shortly will lead to regulations, both quantity and quality. Meaning how much you can draw out and how much nitrogen you can use in your fertilization program."
Jasper also interviewed Almond Board of California president and chief executive officer Richard Waycott.
"As an industry we've been doing deficit irrigation research, and applying water efficiency research across our industry for many years," Waycott said. "The drought is caused by Mother Nature. All agriculture needs water, and our growers are responsible with the water they use."
“This course sets the standard for UC pomology extension courses with a wide array of farm advisor, specialist, and faculty instructors representing decades of experience in California pistachio production,” said Louise Ferguson, UCCE specialist with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “Topics span the full range of pistachio production including tree biology, orchard establishment, pruning, irrigation, nutrition, pest management, harvest and postharvest.”
In addition to the essentials of California pistachio production, the course will feature new lectures on hot topics, including:
- You know that feeling of walking into an orchard and realizing something is wrong? Farm advisors will help growers figure out what's wrong and how to fix it, outlining the diagnostic process they use to determine the cause of poor production or tree health.
- Although pistachio is more tolerant of salinity than most tree crops, excess salinity does affect pistachio tree biology and production. Combing pistachio biology with data from ongoing research projects, experts will provide the latest production recommendations for irrigation under saline conditions.
- The success of a pistachio orchard in California is ultimately determined by international markets and exports, even if all other aspects of production are optimal. Course participants will receive a current analysis of international markets and look into the future for pistachio production.
- Grade sheets are an important tool to measure yield and understand potential problems in an orchard. Experts will detail the components of grade sheets to connect this important postharvest tool to future orchard management decisions.
Participants will receive a bound copy of all lecture slides, the recently published Nutrient Deficiency in Pistachio booklet, and exclusive electronic resources.
Registration is available at the following link:
Or, visit the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center website, fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu, for more information.
- Diane Nelson, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 530-752-1969, email@example.com
- Louise Ferguson, UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, 530-752-0507, firstname.lastname@example.org
“That’s a ridiculous equation,” says Dennis Burreson of Orland, grower and chairman of the research committee of the California Olive Committee. “We can’t survive if we’re spending more than half our gross returns on labor.”But here’s the heartening news: With the help of UC Cooperative Extension specialist Louise Ferguson (right) and a large group of collaborators, the industry is doing something about it. They are developing the means to mechanize the devilishly difficult task of picking table olives.
“I think mechanical harvesting will soon revolutionize the table olive industry,” said Ferguson, pomologist with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and director of the UC Davis Fruit & Nut Research and Information Center.
Mechanical harvesters are commonplace for countless commodities, including olive oil olives. What is it about table olives that make them so hard to mechanically pick?
They bruise easily, for one thing, and bruised olives don’t cure well. Plus, table olives are harvested while still immature – unlike the more mature olive oil olives – so it takes more force to knock them off the tree. And then there is the tree canopy: Table olives trees tend to be wispy, less accommodating to mechanical harvesting than the high-density hedgerows you see in olive oil orchards.
Visit a typical table olive orchard and you will see the problem. It’s hard for a mechanical shaker to clean fruit off a tree that just sways, especially when that fruit is hard to dislodge in the first place. Plus, olive tree trunks get knobby with age (like the rest of us). If a machine rubs the bark off those knobs, it opens the tree to disease.
Scientists and engineers have been trying for decades to come up with a viable mechanical harvester. As with earlier attempts, a few versions designed and tested in the mid-90s didn’t pan out because they didn’t remove and capture enough high-quality fruit. But more recent efforts are showing great promise.
The two leading picking technologies are “canopy contact harvesting heads” (it resembles a huge hair brush) and trunk shakers. The canopy contact harvester can be used in existing orchards when they are pruned into a hedgerow and can also be used in the new high-density orchard Ferguson and her team designed, modeled after olive oil orchards. The trunk-shaking technology can be used in new high-density orchards but not in conventional orchards.
And here is the good news on fruit quality, the piece of the puzzle that now makes mechanical harvesting so promising: Even trained testers couldn’t tell the difference between manually and mechanically harvested table olives.
“That’s huge because fruit quality had always been a sticking point,” Ferguson says. “Jean-Xavier Guinard (sensory scientist with the UC Davis Food Science and Technology) worked with an expert panel trained to detect even the slightest defect in texture, taste, aroma – the works. They detected virtually no different between olives that were manually and mechanically harvested.”
More taste tests with both expert and consumer panels are in the works. In the meantime, several growers have decided to take the plunge. Burreson, for example, has planted 120 acres of table olives in the high-density hedgerows Ferguson helped design. In about five years, his olives will be ready for harvest.
So keep your fingers crossed as you enjoy your table olives, figuratively if not literally. It’s hard to keep your fingers crossed if eat them the old-school way, one at a time off each finger and thumb.