Crop Protection

Ag Start Provides a Place to Start for Agriculture Innovations

California Ag Start Helps Startup Companies

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With the help of corporate sponsors, new agriculture technology companies are making strides to improve efficiency for growers. California Ag Start, a nonprofit incubator for startup companies in the food and agricultural technology sector, is helping to process these sponsors and support innovations throughout the industry.

“We have access to our corporate sponsors who are also in the Ag Technology space, and we can access some of their science and other professionals as mentors to these startup companies,” said John Selep, President of AgTech Innovation Alliance—the 501(c)3 non-profit behind Ag Start.

One of the ways Ag Start is helping to improve efficiency in the field comes from a company using hyperspectral imagery to check nutrients in soils. “They can actually do almost a continuous scan as a plow is going through the field and develop a continuous map of the nutrient profile within that soil,” Selep explained.

Typically, when a grower tests their soil, they pick two to three spots to sample from and will not receive data on it for a couple of days. According to Selep, hyperspectral scanning will not only help eliminate that wait time, but will provide a much more detailed analysis of the entire field.

“You’d be much more precise about where you put nutrients. Just enough in the places it’s needed as opposed to blanketing the field and pouring on gallons of fertilizer,” Selep said.

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00June 14th, 2019|

CA Citrus Growers Work Hard to Prevent HLB Devastation

Learning From the Florida Industry as to How Bad it Can Be

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The severe effects of the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease on Florida citrus is cause for California growers to take important preventative measures to ensure the safety of their trees. Keith Watkins, vice president of outside operations for Bee Sweet Citrus, has seen the damage firsthand and has been hard at work to protect his trees.

“I’ve been to Florida, and I’ve seen how devastating the disease can be,” he said. “We have to spend money now to basically prevent that from happening to us.”

There are currently around 1100 trees that have tested positive for HLB in the Orange County and Anaheim-Garden Grove areas, but they are mainly backyard citrus trees. Luckily, Watkins said that the disease has not yet been traced in commercial operations.

Keeping HLB out of commercial growth is the biggest challenge growers face. There is not yet a cure for the disease, but according to Watkins, growers can help prevent it from reaching their crops by staying on top of killing psyllids when spotted. “We have to stay diligent. Our future really is maintaining a psyllid free population,” he said.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00June 4th, 2019|

Western Growers Statement on California DPR Ban on Chlorpyrifos

Tom Nassif: CA Farmers Face the Most Stringent Regulations in the World

By Cory Lunde, Western Growers

In response to the recent announcement that the California Department of Pesticide Residue (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“California farmers are universally committed to the safety of their food, the health of their workers and communities, and the sustainability of their land. At every turn, they strive to achieve efficiencies in their use of resources like water, fertilizer, and pesticides and seek to minimize both the human and environmental impacts of these inputs.

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Tom Nassif

“California farmers also face the most stringent regulatory environment in the world, one that often limits their access to many of the tools still available to farmers elsewhere in the U.S. and in foreign countries, including certain types of pesticides. Indeed, over the last 20 years, California regulatory actions have removed several of the most important crop protection tools farmers rely on to fight pests and diseases.

“With … [the] announcement that DPR will initiate the cancellation of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely studied and globally approved insecticides, California farmers now stand to lose yet another arrow in their quiver—without effective and ready replacement tools—making their quest to grow the safest, healthiest and most abundant food supply in the world even more difficult.

“California farmers are resilient, but the long-term viability of our farms in California depends on proper support from the Administration and renewed cooperation of the state’s regulatory agencies, especially in light of the many other unique and expensive regulations that place California farmers at a growing competitive disadvantage.”

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00May 22nd, 2019|

CCM Statement on Chlorpyrifos Ban

Flawed Data Forcing Cancellation

News Release From California Citrus Mutual

Recently, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that they are going to begin the cancellation process of chlorpyrifos. The statement cites scientific findings that chlorpyrifos poses serious public health and environmental risks to vulnerable communities.SaveOurCitrus Logo

“The decision to ban chlorpyrifos is not surprising given the significant pressure from anti-pesticide groups, active legislative proposals, regulatory proceedings, and ongoing court battles,” said CCM President Casey Creamer. “However, this decision relies heavily on an evaluation that was significantly flawed and based upon unrealistic modeling scenarios that are not verifiable by actual results in DPR’s own air monitoring network.”

“California Citrus Mutual and our member growers stand by science that is sound, that properly evaluates risks and puts forward appropriate safeguards to protect ourselves, our employees, and our surrounding communities. We are committed to safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos and other crop protection tools.”

“The process for which this chemical was evaluated was purposely exaggerated to achieve the desired outcome and jeopardizes the scientific credibility of the Department of Pesticide Regulation. This decision sets a terrible precedent for future evaluations and creates a chilling effect on companies planning on making significant investments to bring new products to the market in California.”

“The citrus industry is fighting feverishly to protect itself from the deadly citrus disease, Huanglongbing,” Creamer continued. “In order to do so, we must have the necessary tools in the toolbox for an effective Integrated Pest Management program.”

“The once mighty citrus-producing state of Florida has lost 70% of its production due to this disease, which is expanding exponentially in residential citrus trees in Southern California at this very moment. While our commercial growers will remain vigilant, it is vital that our policymakers recognize the seriousness of the threat and ensure sound scientific procedures are followed.”

“California Citrus Mutual will continue to be actively engaged in the regulatory processes around the cancellation decision and will continue to explore all potential remedies to allow the safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos.”

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00May 14th, 2019|

Biological Products Finding More Demand

Biological Products Industry Alliance Growing Rapidly

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) was started 16 years ago for only five biopesticide member companies. Now there are 129 member companies and membership ranges from manufacturers of biopesticides and biostimulants to service providers, marketers, distributors, and anybody who touches this industry.

Keith Jones is executive director of the BPIA. He said during a recent meeting in Rochester, NY, that the alliance is growing.

“The running theme for the event was the growth of our association, the growth of the industry, and much of that is driven by consumer demand, regulatory pressures, and just a real move towards a sustainable future in agriculture and other markets where biological products are used,” Jones explained.

Biological products got their start in commercial agriculture, such as fruits and vegetables but have grown in demand by other markets like golf courses and ornamental operations. Among the earliest biologicals used in production agriculture are B.t. products.

“For a variety of reasons, some traditional chemistries are losing efficacy because of pests developing resistance,” Jones said. “Biologicals can be helpful with that. They don’t replace traditional chemistries, but they can actually extend the life of traditional chemistries.”

Biologicals are all part of integrated pest management and can be used during different parts of the production season, where conventional products are not labeled for use.

Biologicals can be used at the onset of a growing season and when getting close to harvest, because there are less or no pre-harvest intervals.

“What’s great about biologicals is that most of them have multiple modes of action, so it’s very hard for the pests to become resistant to that,” said Jones, adding that, “There are many benefits of biologicals, and their acceptance is growing rapidly.”

Jones said that biological products don’t replace traditional chemistries, but they can actually extend the life of traditional chemistries.

2021-05-12T11:01:48-07:00May 9th, 2019|

Reducing ACP Spread In California

Beth Grafton-Cardwell: Spread of Disease Must Be Prevented

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Collaborative changes are being made to combat the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP). Beth Grafton-Cardwell is the director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center near Exeter, as well as a research entomologist with UC Riverside. She recently spoke at the 2019 Citrus Showcase in Visalia as a key speaker on the state of Huanglongbing (HLB) in California, with an overview of how to prevent ACP,—which vectors HLB, a fatal disease to citrus—from moving around the state.

We were trying to communicate why we’ve made the changes we’ve made for the industry that has been a collaborative effort between CDFA, growers, and the university, Grafton-Cardwell said. “We need better ways to prevent psyllids from moving around the state because they might have HLB in their bodies, and we’ve got to prevent the spread of the disease.

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Beth Grafton-Cardwell

The Florida citrus industry did not do a great job in containing the Psyllid, and now HLB is rampant in the state’s citrus industry, which has devastated the citrus economy there.

“Florida found that they did not do much to control psyllid movement, and they found that psyllids were moving in bulk citrus bins and retail nursery plants around the state, and within a concise amount of time, they spread the Psyllid and the disease everywhere,” Grafton-Cardwell said. “We’re trying to avoid that. We have 100% tarping of citrus truckloads. We have treatments that have to be done if growers want to move citrus between major zones in California, so that we can prevent that kind of movement.”

Conversations continue about quarantine areas in California to reduce spread.

“There’s been a lot of discussion regarding quarantines because it’s painful for some growers who have low Psyllid numbers to have to treat and to move their fruit to other zones.”

“There’s been a lot of questions. We did a lot of scientific analysis to look at impacts as well as numbers. It’s not just about psyllid numbers; it’s about their impact if growers were to move the disease into a high citrus growing region,” Grafton-Cardwell explained.

2021-05-12T11:01:48-07:00May 8th, 2019|

Alliance For Food and Farming Launches New Website!

New Safefruitsandveggies.com Website Will Improve Visitor Experience

News Release

The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) has launched an updated safefruitsandveggies.com website with new content and to improve visitors’ experiences on the increasingly popular site.

“The safefruitsandveggies.com website now receives tens of thousands of visitors each year,” said Teresa Thorne, AFF Executive Director.  “We want to continue to improve the site, retain our visitors, and attract new users.  The newly formatted site will help us to do that.”

New sections include “A Dozen Reasons to Eat Fruits and Veggies,” and “Five Facts About Produce,” which are based upon popular blog posts.  These sections provide quick and easily-retained information about the benefits of eating fruits and veggies as well as the safety of organic and conventional produce.

The Safety Standards section of the website, which provides comprehensive information about the stringent regulations governing the approval and use of organic and conventional pesticides, has also been updated.

“This has become among the most visited sections of safefruitsandveggies.com because all the pesticide regulation information from various government agencies can be found in one place,” Thorne said.  “Instead of going through multiple searches and websites to learn more about these regulations, people can just come to safefruitsandveggies.com.”

Still to come are web pages specifically designed for nutritionists and dietitians to help them answer produce safety questions from consumers, their customers, and clients.

“This new web page was actually requested by dietitians, and we are excited to have their input as we build the content,” Thorne said.

“Since research shows consumers find dietitians and nutritionists are among the most credible sources when it comes to pesticide residues and produce safety, it is important they have readily usable information,” Thorne added.

Among the most visited website section continues to be the residue calculator, which shows consumers they could literally eat hundreds to thousands of servings of a fruit or veggie in a day and still not have any health effects from residues.

“All of the website content is either based upon peer reviewed research or on analyses by experts in the areas of toxicology, risk analysis, nutrition and farming,” Thorne said.  “Consumers can also view 40 videos featuring farmers and scientists, as well as information about peer reviewed studies.”

The AFF works to provide credible, science-based information so consumers can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families.

“The safefruitsandveggies.com website is the cornerstone of our efforts,” Thorne said. “By providing facts about produce safety and countering misinformation, we hope to remove fear as a barrier and encourage increased consumption of all forms of produce.”

2021-05-12T11:05:04-07:00April 24th, 2019|

Protecting Melons From Silver Leaf Whitefly

Avoid Planting Near Earlier Planted Crops

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Silver leaf whitefly can be a severe yield-robbing pest in melons, but there are ways to prevent the damage, according to Tom Turini, a UCANR Vegetable Crops Adviser in Fresno County.

“A tactic is going to depend upon planting. If you’re able to put the crop into an area where you’re not next to earlier planted melons or cotton or known sources of whitefly, your likelihood of experiencing damaging whitefly levels is going to be lower,” Turini said. “Growers can’t always do that, but that’s part of the approach when you can. You’ll limit your risk.”

Tom Turini, UCANR Farm Advisor, Fresno County

Turini said the pest could mainly be a problem when you’re putting in those late melon fields when whitefly populations are higher.

“Whiteflies are not good fliers, so when you put those fields in areas where you don’t have sources of whitefly nearby then you will have less pressure for sure,” Turini said.

“Then there are some insecticide programs that you can look at, particularly when you know you’re going to have pressure,” Turini explained. “If you’re coming into high temperatures, and you’ve got late-planted melons, you may want to start with soil-applied insecticides, through the drip. It could be Admire; also Sivanto is a newer material that that has registration and has shown efficacy in desert production areas, which have much higher pressures and more consistent pressures than we do in the San Joaquin Valley.”

2021-05-12T11:01:49-07:00April 23rd, 2019|

Charlie Arnot: A Better Way to Talk To Consumers About Ag

Listening to Customers Concerns Will Help With Skepticism

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

There are biases against large-scale businesses, according to Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center For Food Integrity. He said that listening to customers concerns will help with the skepticism.

“The fundamental bias we see against size and scale is a belief that the larger companies, the larger entities, will put profit ahead of public interest. We know that’s not true,” Arnot said. “Those of us who work in agriculture … know that the people—the men, and women who work in agriculture—are terrific. They’ve got values that resonate. They’re committed to doing what’s right. But because of the size, the scale of agriculture today, it raises greater questions.”

Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center For Food Integrity

Arnot explained that this means that the ag industry needs to embrace that consumer skepticism and be willing to address those questions and not be defensive.

“We want to help people understand that yes, the size and scale has changed, but our commitment to do what’s right has never been stronger.

Consider the adage, “it’s better to make a friend than win an argument.”

“And when you get into that conversation, do you want to win an argument or do you want to win a friend?” Arnot asked. “You know, what’s important to you? And frequently if we listen hard enough, we can hear people’s values. We can listen to what they’re talking about and find that place of connection.”

“So when someone says, you know, ‘it makes me uncomfortable to see all the pesticides and the spraying on all the produce in California. I don’t think it’s safe.’ We can either defend pesticides and applications of crop protection chemicals, or we can listen to say, okay, well [what] I heard them say is they care about safe food.”

“Terrific. I care about safe food. Let’s have a conversation about our commitment to safe food as opposed to a conversation about trying to defend pesticides or crop protection chemicals,” Arnot explained.

He said that consumers have many needs when they’re making decisions about food. “Historically, we’ve thought about their rational needs. We’re going to give them information, but they also have social and emotional needs that they’re trying to meet as well.”

“They want to feel good. They want to have that emotional reinforcement [that] they’ve made the right decision for their families. They want to have confidence and feel good [that] they’ve decided to buy food that’s going to be safe and nutritious,” Arnot said. “They want to get that social reinforcement when they bring it out of the bag, when they talk to their friends, when they post a picture on Instagram or Facebook about what they’re doing. They want people to reinforce [that] they made the right choice about what they purchased.”

For more information on the Center For Food Integrity: http://www.foodintegrity.org/

 

 

 

 

2019-04-19T15:47:57-07:00April 19th, 2019|

Lettuce Aphids Showing Up on Late Produce

Lettuce Aphid Pressure Has Been Steady

By John Palumbo, University of Arizona Professor/Extension Specialist, Department of Entomology

This season has been a banner year for aphids in the desert.  Aphid pressure has been steady on most crops throughout the spring.  Consistent with the warm weather we have been experiencing lately, Lettuce aphids, Nasonovia ribisnigri, (aka., Red aphid) have shown up in desert lettuce again.

The last time lettuce aphid was this abundant on desert produce was the spring of 2012.  However, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve identified lettuce aphid appearing on both head lettuce and romaine in Roll and Wellton. I’ve also had reports of the aphid showing up in the Imperial Valley.

At the Yuma Ag Center, we began seeing lettuce aphid a couple of weeks ago on untreated lettuce, and they have recently built up to high numbers. Previous experience has taught us that daytime high temperatures in the 80’s are ideal for population growth.  A few things to remember about lettuce aphids relative to the other aphids we commonly see.

First, the immature nymphs are small and have a red appearance, whereas the apterous adults are typically a large brown colored aphid with dark bands running across the abdomen.  Second, among the crops we grow locally, lettuce aphids are only found on the lettuce types(Lactuca spp.)

Lettuce aphids prefer to colonize the terminal growth, and can often be found in heads or hearts, whereas green peach aphids are often found on the frame leaves in high numbers before moving into the heads. Sampling should be focused on the terminal growth of young plants and in the heads and hearts of older plants. Third, they can reproduce prolifically, producing many more winged alates than other species, which can quickly lead to widespread abundance throughout a field or a growing area.  Finally, as the saying goes “he who hesitates is lost”.

If lettuce aphids are found on your lettuce, it is recommended that you respond quickly with an insecticide treatment. The product of choice is Movento at 5 oz/ac. Because of its systemic activity, Movento will reach aphids in the protected terminal growth.

Be sure to include a penetrating adjuvant for best results at a rate of at least 0.25% v/v. It normally requires 7-10 days of activity before a significant reduction in the infestation is observed. For more information on lettuce aphid please refer to Lettuce Aphid on Late Season Produce.   If you’re finding lettuce aphid on organic lettuce, you’re out of luck; none of the registered biopesticides will control this aphid.

2021-05-12T11:01:49-07:00April 9th, 2019|
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