Posts Tagged: pumpkins
Field trips are out, but the learning continues at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Students who are involved with UC Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development program will compete virtually in a unique pumpkin-growing contest centered at the 330-acre research station in Parlier.
The program replaces traditional in-person educational events offered to schools, which were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, teams will be organized and assigned to small plots of pumpkins. The remote teams will act as farm managers and use an imaginary budget to decide on the use of micronutrients, fertilizers, pollinators, pest control, fungicides and irrigation practices. All the farming will be conducted by Kearney staff and progress shared frequently via the pumpkin project's Instagram account, @UCCE_KARE_pumpkins.
As part of the project,
- Prizes will be offered for the teams with the highest yield and quality of pumpkins.
- Students interested in engineering will compete with homemade catapults in a “pumpkin chunkin'” contest
- 4-H members who love cooking and baking may enter items in a cooking and baking with pumpkin contest.
- Artistic participants can submit entries for pumpkin carving and decorating contests.
- Animal enthusiasts will feed pumpkins to elephants at the Chaffee Zoo.
“They will be doing all things pumpkin,” said Ryan Puckett, Kearney outreach coordinator, who is working closely with outreach mentor, Julie Pedraza, a staff research associate at the center.
The Kearney event will give the 4-H members activities in a time when 4-H program opportunities have diminished due to various restrictions and closures.
“COVID hit really hard,” said Predaza, who has served as a judge and consultant for traditional 4-H competitions in sewing, baking, community service and public speaking. “The Fresno Fair might be cancelled. Projects are on hold. 4-H members are waiting to see if they will be able to do regular competitions. We decided to launch our first virtual program.”
The first Zoom contestant meeting will be the first week of August.
Commercial pumpkin production poses many of the same challenges as growing other gourds and squash plants, like cucumbers, luffas, zucchini and watermelons, wrote Reid Fujii in the Stockton Record.
Growers must watch out for overwatering, plant diseases, and pests like squash bugs and cucumber beetles, said Brenna Aegerter, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Joaquin County.
"Like one of the growers here told me, it's a beauty pageant," Aegerter said. "It's all about how they look; it's not how they taste."
While other states produce more pumpkins than California, particularly those grown for canning and pumpkin pies, the Golden State harvests the largest volume for the retail, fresh market, Aegerter said.
San Joaquin County leads the state in pumpkin production.
"Pumpkins are really different," said Tom Turini, a farm advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Fresno. "We're not trying to feed the world pumpkins. It's more about tradition, family. It's farmers just having a little fun."
Fungal Killer of Cypresses Originated in California
John Upton, New York Times
Last month, scientists from UC Berkeley and the National Research Council in Italy reported that they traced Seiridium, the fungus that causes cypress canker disease, back to Monterey cypresses in California. The fungus has caused a deadly epidemic in the world’s forests.
According to the article, Matteo Garbelotto, a forest pathologist at Berkeley and a member of the team of scientists, said that the problem began roughly a century ago when landowners started planting Monterey cypress trees in the California Central Valley and in Europe. Outside of their natural environment, they became weakened and more susceptible to infection. As the trees’ immune systems grew weaker, the fungus grew stronger, until it prevailed.