Curing HLB Infected Citrus May Soon Be Here

BioFlora Gets Stunning Results in Field Trials of HLB Infected Trees

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Asian Citrus Psyllid vectors huanglongbing or HLB. The psyllid feeds on the leaves of the citrus tree, and the HLB bacteria is inoculated into the tree’s phloem. As the bacteria multiples, it clogs the phloem, and the tree slowly dies.

BioFlora, a company based in Goodyear, Ariz., has developed a unique citrus program that is getting stunning results from field trials conducted on HLB infected trees. In collaboration with the University of Arizona Medical Center and Texas A&M Agrilife, conducted a three-year study on grapefruit trees, the most susceptible citrus species. Initial greenhouse trials were conducted at the USDA-ARS in Fort Pierce, Florida, and field trials were performed at Texas A&M Agrilife in Weslaco, Texas.

“Over a three-year study on HLB, we were amazed at the results from the programs that we initiated. These programs appeared to have a multirole synergistic effect against HLB. Diversity was the hallmark of our programs.” said Srinivas Makam, Ph.D., Molecular and Microbiologist for BioFlora’s Integrated Life Science Research Center.

“We established four different BioFlora programs used in the study. Each program consisted of isolates of beneficial bacteria, biostimulants, and nutrition (including macro and micro-elements). All four programs showed beneficial yield and fruit quality, but one program (program #2) had the most dramatic effect against HLB,” said Makam.

“Studying HLB at the genetic level provided us with a tremendous amount of information on how HLB functions inside the phloem of the plant. The overall results gave us a greater understanding of plant defense mechanisms. Those plant defense mechanisms helped the tree recover from the HLB infection,” Makam explained.

Leaf samples were scanned at the molecular level using electron microscopy technology. Researchers detected no Liberibacter in program #2. “The plant’s defense mechanisms were activated to fight the HLB infection,” he said.

“We outsmarted the Liberibacter in enabling systemic resistance, induced or acquired, by flushing the Liberibacter from the phloem. There were overlapping pathways on how this flushing occurred. We don’t know if it was systemic acquired resistance (SAR) or induced systemic resistance (ISR). Additional research is required,” Makam explained. “Our programs enhance the plant’s physiological processes to offset losses against yield and quality.”

“We enhanced the plant’s immune system significantly through timely fertilizer programs that stimulate the plant’s defense mechanisms,” said Makam.

“It is important for the grower to follow the citrus program monthly,” said Makam.

“Currently, BioFlora has a lemon orchard trial in Lake County, Florida, about to be pushed out due to HLB. Within five or six months, HLB infected trees wholly recovered,” noted Makam.

The Lake County lemon grower, whose grove experienced the turnaround, noted that he could see trees with much more significant growth after just five months. “Leaf drop stopped immediately after the program was initiated, and the trees had good color and are growing vigorously. I can see an improvement from month to month,” the grower said.

BioFlora believes in the partnership between plants and soils, transforming plant health with cutting-edge bio-stimulants that fight diseases, nutrient deficiencies, and unproductive soils.

Citrus tree health and nutrition has been the focus of the HLB trial. BioFlora programs bring organic and sustainable solutions that growers can implement immediately in the fight against HLB infections.




Tuff Times in California–But It Stands Strong

Through Wildfires and Pandemic, California Agriculture Persists

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Mother nature has not been kind to California this year. And nobody is more acutely aware of this fact than farmers. Here are a few ways in which agriculture is coping under these challenging conditions courtesy of the California Farm Bureau.

As winegrape harvest accelerates around California, farmers navigate forces that include high temperatures, wildfire smoke and the marketing impacts of the pandemic–on top of large supplies that left some grapes unharvested a year ago. Analysts expect this year’s harvest to be about the same size as last year’s. Marketers say the pandemic has shifted wine demand to retail outlets, with less being sold at restaurants or tasting rooms.

Agricultural and forestry research and teaching projects have suffered damage from California wildfires. A representative for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo says it could take months for a full assessment of damage to its Swanton Pacific Ranch in Santa Cruz County, where structures including classrooms burned. Fires also hit six reserves managed by the University of California, with researchers still working to determine the impact on their projects.

Impacts of the pandemic continue to reverberate through the meat business. An American Farm Bureau Federation analysis shows the gap between the retail price and farm price of beef is the largest in 50 years of recordkeeping. A similar gap exists in pork prices. While pandemic-related demand boosted retail prices, slowdowns at meat processing plants led to a backup of animals in the marketing chain that drove farmers’ prices down.

Hotels Expanded for COVID Positive Farm Workers

More Hotels in More Counties Are Available for Any Farm and Food Processing Employees Not Able to Isolate At Home Due to COVID-19


The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has announced that the counties of Kings, Riverside and Tulare will participate in Housing for the Harvest, a program announced by Governor Gavin Newsom in July to provide temporary hotel housing options for farm and food processing employees to self-isolate if they are COVID-19 positive and do not require hospitalization, or have been exposed and cannot properly self-isolate at home. Six counties are now participating in Housing for the Harvest: Kings, Riverside, Tulare, Santa Barbara, Fresno and San Joaquin.

The state is securing hotel rooms in participating counties, with local governments identifying administrators to manage the program and local community organizations to provide additional services, like meals, wellness checks and in-language assistance. Local administrators will serve as a point of contact for eligible workers. “Counties across the state are stepping up to provide a safe, temporary housing solution to protect agricultural workers who need to isolate,” said CDFA secretary Karen Ross. “These hardworking men and women are on the front lines of the pandemic and it is critical that we protect them, their families, and local communities.”

Housing for the Harvest will ultimately be made available statewide and provide opt-in housing support for any counties or regions that are interested. California has received FEMA approval for this program during the COVID-19 pandemic and will seek federal reimbursement for 75 percent of hotel costs.

Kings County
Kings County has partnered with Kings Community Action Organization (KCAO) to administer Housing for the Harvest as part of Kings Cares. In addition to hotel quarantine support such as transportation, meals, wellness checks and laundry service, Kings County has allocated resources for financial assistance and additional support for family at home.  Farmworkers and food processing workers in Kings County who are in need of these services are urged to visit or or call 559-710-2000. Please note that personal information gathered through this process will be kept confidential. For agricultural business on-site testing scheduling, please visit
Riverside County

Riverside County’s Department of Housing, Homelessness Prevention and Workforce Solutions has partnered with the local TODEC Legal Center to manage Housing for the Harvest in the county. The Riverside program will include meals, food, transportation and direct financial assistance of $2,000 for each family participating in the program.  Farmworkers or food processing workers in Riverside County who are in need of these services are urged to contact the TODEC Legal Center at (888) 863-3291 or via email at Please note that personal information gathered through this process will be kept confidential.
Tulare County

Tulare County’s program will be administered by Proteus, Inc. in coordination with the county’s Community Care Coalition. Through additional efforts of coalition partners, supplemental services are being offered to support families at home. The Central Valley Community Foundation has formed a regional Healthy Harvest program and will provide additional funding for support services and outreach. These partnerships are crucial to ensure needed outreach and investment in local communities.

Farmworkers and food processing workers in Tulare County who are in need of these services are urged to visit or or call 559-710-2000. Please note that personal information gathered through this process will be kept confidential. For agricultural business on-site testing scheduling, please visit We will continue to update you as more counties come on line.

AgStart Provides Space for Innovation

AgStart Announces New Innovation Lab

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

AgStart, the Woodland-based, food and ag incubator program, announced a public-private collaboration to fund a new, shared-use innovation lab. When complete, the $1.3 million ‘Lab@AgStart’ will feature a fully-equipped shared-lab and kitchen space as well as a co-working office space

John Selep is President of the Agtech Alliance, which is the non-profit parent organization for the AgStart Program.

“A lot of these companies, a lot of the technology-based innovations they have require some development and refinement, testing, et cetera,” Selep said. “And one of the things that a lot of startup companies have been sharing with us is they really are struggling to find space.”

“If they’re a postdoc or graduate student coming out of UC Davis, anything they do on UC Davis campus is owned by the university. Any intellectual property they come up with, any refinements to inventions or developments they do on the UC Davis property are owned by the university. And so it’s imperative for them to find an off-campus facility where they can conduct their research and innovation, and particularly the commercialization and refinement, so that they own those developments themselves,” he said.

Selep said the facility will be open to all qualifying entrepreneurs, not just people from the university. It is designed to accommodate development and commercialization of technologies that relate to agriculture, food, and health.

A broad coalition of public and private funding sources have been assembled to finance this project. Learn more at

The Dairy Download Podcast

IDFA and Blimling Announce “The Dairy Download,” a Podcast With Sharp Market and Policy Insights

Subscribe to The Dairy Download on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Pandora

The International Dairy Foods Association and Blimling and Associates are partnering to produce “The Dairy Download,” a new podcast for anyone who follows the twists and turns of the U.S. dairy industry. Witty, fast-moving and stacked with dynamic guests, the podcast offers sharp insights in a neat package under 25 minutes. Blimling’s Phil Plourd and Kathleen Wolfley host each episode, leading listeners through a rundown of action in the CME markets and things to watch, while going in depth with guests on consumer, market and policy trends shaping dairy.

Wonks, nerds, data hounds and tech evangelists are welcome. Listeners will get the perspectives of various industry experts who can unpack challenging issues in fun and interesting ways.

In the premiere episode, available now, Plourd and Wolfley focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has helped stir up unprecedented volatility, while exposing the government’s invisible hand (or perhaps just its thumb, resting on the scales of the market) during this unprecedented crisis. Joe Glauber, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and former chief economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, breaks down the federal government’s intervention in food and commodities, and explores the pros and cons of direct payments and purchase programs over more traditional safety nets. Marin Bozic, an assistant professor in Dairy Foods Marketing Economics at the University of Minnesota, discusses dairy market volatility, and offers insight into possible solutions with price reporting and risk management.

True to form in its first episode, “The Dairy Download” doesn’t look past tough issues, it doesn’t get caught in the weeds and it strives to entertain as much as inform.

“Our only rule for ‘The Dairy Download’,” says Plourd. “Never be boring.”

Subscribe for free on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pandora or in your favorite podcast app to automatically receive each new episode, which will publish every other week on Thursday morning. Find “The Dairy Download” by visiting

Episodes 1-4 of “The Dairy Download” are sponsored by Stanpac, which has been manufacturing milk and ice cream packaging for companies located throughout North America for more than 70 years.

Phil Plourd is president of Blimling and Associates, Inc., a research and consulting firm focused on dairy markets. Phil has been involved in dairy market analysis, research, forecasting and risk management activities for 20 years. He is based in Madison, Wisc.

Kathleen Noble Wolfley is senior economist and research specialist for Blimling and Associates. Previously, she worked as a dairy economist for Leprino Foods, the world’s largest mozzarella cheese maker. She grew up on a dairy farm and today is based outside of Buffalo, NY.

UC Riverside Awarded Big Grant

The University of California, Riverside recently won a $10 million grant to develop artificial intelligence to improve environmental and economic stability throughout the western U.S.

UC Riverside Wins Grant to Bring Artificial Intelligence to the Colorado River Basin

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

The University of California, Riverside recently won a $10 million grant to develop artificial intelligence to improve environmental and economic stability throughout the western U.S.

Elia Scudiero is a Research Agronomist at the UC Riverside

“So this will bring together university personnel and ag-tech companies that will provide training that will serve the farming communities in California, Arizona, Colorado, and the native American communities in the Colorado River Basin,” said Scudiero. “So we really hope that this is well -received by the growers and it can be useful to improve their current practices so that we can then continue this program beyond the duration of the project.”

Partnering with UC Riverside on this are Colorado State, Duke, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. Included in the program is an undergraduate Digital Agricultural Fellowship.

“So we are going to pair these undergraduate students with a faculty advisor for over a year, creating a very tight relationship there,” said Scudiero. “And these students will carry out independent research in the university lab. But at the same time, we will complement this type of experience for the students by sending them to have industry internships at our partners in the ag-tech industry.”

Stay tuned for more information on this exciting project to bring more artificial intelligence to agriculture. The researchers plan to release a website in the coming year.

California Fairs May Get Help Due to COVID Losses

Harder’s Bill to Support State and County Fairs Gains Momentum

Senator Doug Jones Introduces Senate Companion

Today, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the Senate companion to Representative Josh Harder’s (CA-10) Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act. The bill would establish a $5 billion federal grant program to offset fair revenue losses during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“I want to thank Senator Jones for joining me in the fight to protect our county and state fairs,” said Rep. Harder. “Working together, we will continue pushing to get our fairs the relief they need to weather this storm – we don’t want to lose a single acre of fairgrounds or see any fairs close permanently because of the pandemic.”

“State and county fairs are not just an important part of our social fabric, they’re also a key part of the agriculture business. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of these fairs to be cancelled, leaving farmers without an important market and the fairs at risk of permanent closure,” said Senator Jones. “That’s why I’m introducing the Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act in the U.S. Senate to support fairs with emergency funding that will allow them to continue to serve our communities for years to come. I am proud to partner with Congressman Harder on this important legislation and appreciate his leadership in this space.”

The Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act’s grant program would be available for both 2020 as well as 2021. States could apply for aid from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and then distribute the funds to fairs in their state. Rep. Harder originally introduced the bill in July.

Recycling an Almond Orchard

Care Needs to be Taken on Chip Size When Recycling an Almond Orchard

By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network

When a grower wants to replace his orchard with new more productive trees they may opt for recycling the older trees in their orchards—meaning the old trees are chipped up and applied back to the soil

Mae Culumber is a UCANR Nut Crops Farm Advisor in Fresno County. She noted some concerns that growers have with wood decay pathogen impacting the new trees.

“Growers have a lot of concerns especially if they had problems with fungi and a lot of wood decay,” Culumber said. “I’ll sometimes get calls from growers questioning whether or not to do recycling stating that they had some wood decay fungi that killed some some of their mature trees in their last orchard.”

And of course, that is the big grower worry.

“The current research suggests is that if it’s chipped to a small enough size, it’s not going to have a long lifespan, as a soil-borne pathogen in the soil. So eventually that will break down and it shouldn’t be a problem for the next orchard,” explained Culumber.

“So we recommend that people use as small as a four-inch screen to run the chips through. The practice now is that the trees are excavated, then run through a chipper and the chips are screened out when they are distributed with a modified manure spreader,” she said.

Those chips are incorporated in the ground and then the all the normal preparation that occurs with a pre-plant orchard, can take place after that.

Cattleman U: Virtual Education for Cattle Producers

New Platform Brings Education and Community to Young Producers

What started as a desire for more community with peers in the agriculture industry as a young rancher, quickly grew into a passion to take action for Karoline Rose, owner of KRose Company. Amidst conference and training cancellations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the KRose team began plans for a new way to connect with other professionals in agriculture, access educational content, and compare notes on ranch and farm topics.

“Cattleman U is an educational platform and community for the next generation of producers or people who want to raise livestock or crops in the near future. So many of this generation are working their operation full time and aren’t able to get away for conferences. There is a need for education that is easily accessible on an as-you-get-to-it basis,” says Rose.

Cattleman U became the newest online platform designed specifically for the next generation in agriculture. The online membership allows members to access expert advice and pre-recorded trainings presented by well-known speakers from respected organizations. It also has a free classifieds page where members can post items for sale or advertise their business. Members receive access to industry discounts for bulls, semen, ear tags, vaccines, and more. One of the biggest advantages Cattleman U offers is a community where members can network and access resources. 

“There are a lot of questions that go unasked because a next-generation producer might be embarrassed to ask or not know who to turn to for an honest and straightforward answer. We need to be in community with other producers and growers to build a network while we learn and discuss alternative solutions and ways of doing things that might not be just like grandpa did them,” says Rose.

Cattleman U consists of 6-week sessions on topics such as agriculture marketing strategies, adding value to your calves, certified branded beef programs, and the futures market. Each session is packed with information, real-life examples, and expert advice from cattlemen who have been there before, and tried many different techniques. The first six-week session will focus on marketing cattle.

There are plenty of flexible options for everyone wanting to sign up for Cattleman U, with monthly, yearly, and 6-week only membership options. The waitlist for the second segment, Futures and Hedging Basics, is now open. On October 5th, the second segment will start. Learn more at

For more information:

Markie Hageman


Additional assets such as audio clips, graphics and images to support this release may be downloaded here

KRose Company strives to be the best agriculture marketer in the United States, whether that be by helping ranchers increase their bull sale average with digital marketing, or by providing services such as design, social media marketing, and advertising to agriculture businesses. KRose Company also works to market the highest quality of calves and offer a country contract for classifieds. Learn more at

Amy Hustead is First Master Beekeeper

California Master Beekeeper Program Announces First Master Beekeeper.



Despite COVID-19 pandemic precautions and constraints, the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), headquartered at the University of California, Davis, has certified its first-ever Master Beekeeper:  Amy Hustead of Grass Valley, a veteran beekeeper who also happens to be the first and only beekeeper in her family.

Hustead, president of the Nevada County Beekeepers Association and a veterinary technician, recently passed the Master-level beekeeper certification process.

CAMBP, founded and co-directed by Extension apiculturist  Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. It offers three levels of certification (Apprentice, Journey and Master). Niño launched the first Apprentice class in 2016.

Hustead’s passion is education and outreach, said Niño and CAMBP manager Wendy Mather.

Hustead’s Master Capstone project involved teaching two, three-hour online CAMBP classes (“Planning Ahead for Your First Hives,” and “Working Your Colonies.”)  She designed, developed and successfully delivered “Intermediate Backyard Beekeeping,” an in-depth, online, four-hour course on science-based beekeeping for the hobbyist and sideliner.  Topics included winter and spring preparation, swarm prevention, active swarming, splits and nucs (nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small colonies created from larger colonies), diseases, nutrition, maximizing honey production, and harvesting honey, wax, propolis and pollen.

Amy Hustead, a wife,  mother of 9-year-old twin boys, and a seven-year beekeeper, said she really enjoys CAMBP. “It has allowed me to meet some really excellent beekeepers. I plan to continue to teach classes and help educate people on the biology of bees.”

Highly praised for her work, she has drawn such comments as “the class exceeded my expectations”; her “lecture style is professional, yet warm, which is needed in the context of Zoom classes”; and she “keeps an open mind about other beekeepers’ goals.” Wrote another: “Amy is very informed and easy to follow, and shares her information with the right amount of applicable detail for the intermediate.”

What fascinates Hustead about bees? “When I was in college I studied sociobiology, which is a field of biology that explains social behavior in terms of evolution,” she said. “I have always been fascinated by the cross section of evolution and behavior. Bees are the epitome of social insects. Everything they do is for the good of the whole.”

“I dabbled in homesteading when I first moved to the foothills, and like a lot of people, started out keeping chickens. I think I wanted to get goats but my husband was not on board, so I decided to get bees instead.”

As a veterinary technician, she works in low-cost spay and neuter programs. “I also volunteer with an organization that provides veterinary care to pets of homeless and low-income people in the Sacramento area.”

Bees keep her occupied at several locations. “I have between 15-20 personal colonies at three different locations,” Hustead related. ”I also manage a few colonies for other people.”

As it turns out, this year is not a good year for bees. “Mostly my bees aren’t doing well this year,” she said. “The nectar flow was non-existent, and the recent fires haven’t helped. For the first year ever I am harvesting no honey from my yard at home.”

Hustead home-schools her twins. “I am very serious about home-schooling my kids, and part of our curriculum is extensive travel.” The Hustead family has visited a number of states in the nation, and has already been to Mexico, Ireland, Costa Rica. “We are planning a Europe trip as soon as possible.”

Since late 2016, CAMBP has certified 206 Apprentices and 22 Journey-level beekeepers, who have volunteered more than 24,510 service hours in science-based education and outreach in beekeeping and environmental stewardship. Total value of the service hours: $623,289. Total number of individuals served:  98,618.

“This year, despite COVID-19 constraints, the California Master Beekeeper Program continues its mission of using science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping, by moving its courses and exams online,” Mather said.

Online Exams

CAMBP’s current 53 Apprentice candidates took their online exam Sept. 12. To pass, they had to score at least 75 percent. “Candidates uploaded videos or partook in ‘live from their apiary’ Zoom sessions to satisfy the requirements of the practical rubric,” Mather said.

The Journey-level candidates have completed the online written portion of their certification and their videos and Zoom practicals are in progress. “So far, we’re proud to announce that all 15 Journey level candidates scored above 80 percent on their written exams, and their videos and Zoom practicals are looking great!” Mather commented.

The Master level usually takes an average of five years to achieve. Some candidates choose to remain as Apprentice or Journey-level beekeepers. CAMBP offers pre-approved Master Capstone Tracks, but also encourages candidates to follow their passion if their favorites are not on the list, which includes:

  • Native Bees and Pollinator Gardens
  • Commercial Beekeeping
  • Scientific Research
  • Education and Outreach
  • Policy for Honey Bees and Native Pollinators

Seven Master-Level Candidates

The seven Master-level candidates for the 2020-21 season are pursuing a variety of projects, including mapping drone congregation areas, authoring a book on the history of honey in ancient Greece, establishing a pollen library for the state of California, starting a commercial beekeeping business, and training a “detector dog” in the apiary.

To maintain active status as a Master Beekeeper with CAMBP, members are required to perform and log 25 hours of BEEs (Beneficial Education Experiences).  Hustead will perform a minimum of 25 volunteer hours annually. Her volunteer service, at the minimum, is valued at $25.43 per hour or about $600 per year.

“Amy will have no problem doing that as she’s active as the president of her local beekeeping club,” Mather said, “and she mentors many new beekeepers to help them become science-based stewards and ambassadors of honey bees and beekeeping.”

For more information about CAMBP, see its website at