Study: New Fumigation Stategy

New Fumigation Techniques for Soilborne Diseases

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Protecting fruit from soilborne pathogens is a big concern for strawberry growers. Researchers at the University of California Ag and Natural Resources are looking to see if a drip application of fungicides might be effective, noted UC Cooperative Extension advisor in entomology and biologicals, Surendra Dara.

“This particular study was based on a request from FMC. They wanted to evaluate if drip application of some fungicides could be supplemental to whatever the growers are currently following to control soilborne diseases. And they also wanted to see if it has any impact on improving the crop health, and potentially other diseases,” said Dara.

Dara noted the results from the first trial were positive, but he didn’t see enough incidence of soilborne disease in the control group to be sure. He’s optimistic though, given drip application of fungicides has been effective on other plant pathogens.

“They do apply fungicides to drip, but not necessarily for soilborne diseases. The management practices are usually obtaining clean transplants and fumigating or crop rotation. These are the typical management recommendations for soil-borne diseases,” explained Dara.

Dara hopes to continue to study the potential for this management practice.

2021-07-23T21:22:40-07:00July 22nd, 2021|

Lowering Cattle Emissions Part 2

Cattle Feed Additives Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Part Two)


By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Researchers at UC Davis are finding that a seaweed-based feed additive can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. One of the nice things about this approach is it does not have to replace any of the normal rations these cattle are fed. Ermias Kebreab is the associate dean and professor of animal science at UC Davis.

“The ration is going to be exactly the same. There’s nothing changing in the ration because we are giving the feed additive in such a small quantity. It has no contribution to the nutrition of the diet,” said Kebreab

This does represent an additional expense for producers, but Kebreab says regulations will make it necessary.

“There are states like California, who are going to mandate a reduction of methane emissions by 40% in the next nine years. So when you have a Monday like that, then it becomes more attractive to get something like this, to be able to show that you’re achieving the reductions that the state is mandating. And I see that this kind of thing is going to happen more and more often, particularly as the livestock industry in the U S and worldwide, has a goal to achieve net zero. And if you have something like this would really, really help the whole industry achieving net zero, a lot quicker than otherwise,” said Kabreab.

Further research will look at the use of these feed additives under various conditions.

2021-04-20T15:27:07-07:00April 20th, 2021|

Dirty Dozen List is Unscientific

Despite Significant Criticism, “Dirty Dozen” List Continues

After facing significant criticism in 2020 for the release of its “dirty dozen” list and raising unfounded food safety fears among consumers during the early days of the pandemic, it seems the list authors are again determined to move forward with its release in 2021.

Although the list has been repeatedly discredited by scientists, has been shown to negatively impact the produce purchasing habits of low-income consumers and 94% of registered dietitians surveyed agreed that the “dirty dozen” list messaging hinders their ability to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among their clients and consumers, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) continues to cling to this decades-old tactic.

As we have in previous years, the Alliance for Food and Farming calls on EWG’s leadership to instead prioritize public health and the best interest of consumers by using their considerable resources and connections to advance public and private initiatives that promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables


Decades of nutritional studies prove that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve immune function, encourages weight loss, prevents diseases and prolongs life span.  However, only one in 10 Americans eat enough each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  One such study from Tufts University found that “prescriptions” for fruits and veggies would prevent 1.93 million cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks) and 350,000 deaths, as well as cut healthcare costs by $40 billion.

Further toxicology studies and government sampling data consistently have shown the safety of the very same popular produce items on the “dirty dozen” list.  The United States Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program report shows that 99% of the foods samples had residue levels well below government safety standards.  And 42% has no detectable residues at all.

And, an analysis by university toxicologists found that a child could eat hundreds to thousands of servings each day of the produce items included on EWG’s list and still not have any health effects from residues because the levels are so minute, if they are present at all.

Faced with the weight of considerable scientific facts, EWG simply cannot continue to disparage the more affordable and accessible fruits and vegetables by calling them “dirty” and promoting false and fear-based messaging.  This tactic runs completely counter to recommendations by health experts and nutritionists everywhere who state that consumers can eat either organic or conventional produce with confidence – both are safe and nutritious.


The pandemic has illustrated the importance of providing consumers with science-based information so they can make the right health and safety choices for themselves and their families.  It has also shown us the harm from repeated misinformation.  Encouraging consumption by supporting and reassuring consumers about their produce choices is the right thing to do. And, it’s time for EWG to do what’s right and what’s best for public health. Click here to like or share this blog.

#NoMoreDirtyDozen, #FactsNotFears, #Eat More Produce

2021-05-13T16:08:09-07:00March 9th, 2021|

Yes, Ants Are Amazing!

Why Ants Are Amazing: UC Davis Programs

“Ants are amazing because they’re way more diverse than most people realize,” says UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Jill Oberski. “Some are huge, some are tiny, some are blue or green, and a lot of them have crazy spines. There are ants that run farms with crops and livestock, and ants that can build bridges and survive floods, and ants that live in the highest treetops and never touch the ground.”

That’s just some of the information showcased at the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month program on Saturday, Feb. 13 when three doctoral students in the Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, took the helm.  Oberski, a fourth-year doctoral student, and Ziv Lieberman, a first-year doctoral student, spoke about the diversity of ants and field questions, followed by doctoral candidate Zach Griebenow’s presentation on his research.

Then on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 11 a.m. to noon, Professor Phil Ward will host “All About Ants,” billed as a “fun and lively question and answer session.” The programs are free and family-friendly. See for the Zoom links.

Zach Griebenow
Griebenow grew up in rural Kentucky and received his bachelor’s degree in entomology in 2017 from The Ohio State University, undertaking undergraduate research with distinction on species boundaries in the Puerto Rican fauna of the subterranean termite Heterotermes.

“As so everyone in the Ward lab, I study how different groups of ants are related to one another, and why they look and behave the way that they do,” he said. “Specifically I study an obscure group called the Leptanillinae, which have no common name. As ants go, they are strange, and we know very little about them. So far, I have confidently teased out the major evolutionary relationships among leptanilline ants, but there is a lot more work to be done, particularly in comprehending the often bizarre structural modifications seen in the male Leptanillinae (legs that look like toothbrushes, etc.).”

Ziv Lieberman
Lieberman, born and raised in California, studied at the College of Marin before transferring to UC Davis to major in evolution, ecology and biodiversity, with a minor in insect evolution and ecology. “Prior to UC Davis, I spent several years working abroad for the California Academy of Science documenting historical ant specimens,” Lieberman said. “At the end of my undergrad, I published my first paper, a revision of the poorly-understood (and very cute) African species of the ant genus Discothyrea.”

In the Ward lab, Lieberman studies “ant evolution, specifically focusing on connecting evolutionary relationships (the ant ‘family tree’) with anatomy, using a combination of next-generation imaging techniques and large-scale genetic analyses. In particular, I am interested in describing and comparing internal anatomical features which are usually ignored, and understanding how these traits contribute to biodiversity.”

Jill Oberski
Oberski grew up in Minnesota. “I was fascinated by insects from a very young age,” she said. “I attended Macalester College, spent a few confused years on a pre-med track, and ultimately discovered a career in entomology was feasible and worth pursuing. This has led me to Phil Ward’s ant systematics lab at UC Davis, where I’m now a PhD candidate.”

“My research centers on the ant genus Dorymyrmex, which is commonly found all over the Americas,” Oberski said. “Even though they’re extremely common (Davis itself is home to two species!), we have no idea how many species there really are. In addition to discovering and naming these species, I’m really interested in biogeography and ancient history: Where did Dorymyrmex originate? How are the North American species related to the South American species? And how did they disperse before the isthmus of Panama was connected?”

Professor Phil Ward
Professor Ward teaches California insect diversity, insect taxonomy and field ecology, and introductory biology (the tree of life). His research interests include systematics, biogeography and evolution of ants; ant-plant mutualisms; phylogeny and speciation. He holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from Queens University, Canada (1973) and a doctorate in zoology from the University of Sydney, Australia (1979).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10th annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum program is all virtual this year via webinars and pre-recorded presentations and takes place throughout the month of February. The science-based event traditionally occurs on only one day–the Saturday of Presidents’ Weekend, when families and friends gather on campus to learn first-hand about the UC Davis museums and collections.

This year’s biodiversity event is showcasing 12 museums or collections:

  • Anthropology Museum
  • Arboretum and Public Garden
  • Bohart Museum of Entomology
  • Botanical Conservatory
  • California Raptor Center
  • Center for Plant Diversity
  • Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven
  • Nematode Collection
  • Marine Invertebrate Collection
  • Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
  • Paleontology Collection
  • Phaff Yeast Culture Collection

For more information and the schedule, access these two formats on the UC Davis Biodiversity program website: (1) live talks and demonstrations at and (2) pre-recorded talks and activities at

To help support the Biodiversity Museum event, contributions are being accepted through a month-long crowdfunding campaign program at

2021-02-23T18:10:14-08:00February 23rd, 2021|

Virtual Almond Conf. Attracted World Wide Audience

Virtual Almond Conference Was Big Success


By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

The recent virtual almond conference was a big success and people all over the world were watching and participating.

Richard Waycott is president and CEO of the almond board of California, with some details of the virtual conference.

“We have a few statistics. We had over 3,000 unique visitors and participants throughout the three days, we also had 149 exhibitors that partook in this year’s conference, and more than 40 countries from around the world participated as well. So, I think a pretty robust experience or the Almond Conference 2020,” said Waycott.

Waycott said, it always seems to go by fast, whether it’s a virtual or in- person conference.

“I know that usually when we’re in an in-person conference environment, we usually have a gala dinner on the second night and all the remains of the conference is sort of a half day on Thursday on the third day,” Waycott said. “And I always remark how, wow, how did those two days go by so quickly? And we’re almost over, you know?”

And it happened in the virtual conference as well. And Waycott is confident that we’re going to be meeting in person next year.

“It’s December 7-9 2021, we are going to be in Sacramento at the Convention Center. I will be there, come vaccines, whatever it takes but we will be there. And we look forward seeing you there,” Waycott noted.

2021-01-05T10:26:15-08:00December 22nd, 2020|

Dan Sumner on Almond Industry


Economics Of The Massive and Growing California Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

Dan Sumner is a Distinguished professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, as well as the Director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis.

“Of course, we’ve seen this coming for a decade. So, we’ve known that the bearings acreage was going to continue to go up because we’ve got the non-bearing acreage, and that’ always coming up,” Sumner said. “We don’t know for sure how many acres will be pulled, but nobody’s surprised that we have a massive crop.”almond crop

“The question is long-term demand. Do we get used to lower prices? There’s a million-dollar question. Actually, that’s a billion-dollar question, isn’t it? And nobody really knows the answer and I’m not going to pretend like I do either,” said Sumner.

“And we do know as well that even though you can’t grow almonds, very many places everybody’s trying to figure out whether the can expand outside of California. So,we know it’s a world crop and California dominates the world,” Sumner said. “It’s not just our additional size of crop, but it’s the rest of the world as well. And you can do a few almonds in Australia and you can do a few almonds here and there, and everybody’s going to try to figure out they can expand,” he said.

“And so, I don’t see any long-term disaster going on and almonds that is to say demand will continue to grow. But the real question is can demand keep up with the very rapid production increases. And the answer is maybe,” explained Sumner.

2020-12-17T18:01:07-08:00December 17th, 2020|

Jose Dias A New UCANR Agronomy/Weed Advisor


Jose Dias Named UCANR Agronomy and Weed Management Advisor

José Luiz Carvalho de Souza Dias joined UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) on Nov. 2, 2020, as an area agronomy and weed management advisor in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties.

Jose Dias

Prior to joining UCCE, Dias was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he worked with Mark Renz and John Grabber on projects focused on identification of management practices and environmental factors to ensure successful establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn silage; sustainable management of waterhemp in established alfalfa for dairy systems; and weed control, clover selectivity and resulting yield of grass-clover mixed swards treated with florpyrauxifen-benzyl + 2,4-D in Wisconsin.

Dias earned a Ph.D. in agronomy with focus in weed science from the University of Florida and an M.S. in crop protection and B.S. in agronomy from São Paulo State University in Brazil. He is fluent in Portugese.

His Ph.D. research focused on developing and implementing integrated management practices to reduce giant smutgrass populations in bahiagrass pastures. His M.S. research focused on investigating the selectivity of several residual herbicides applied preplanting of prebudded seedlings of different sugarcane cultivars.

2020-12-03T09:05:40-08:00December 3rd, 2020|

Navel Orangeworm Control Strategies

Climate Change and Navel Orangeworm


By Tim Hammerich, with the AgInformation Network 

Navel Orangeworm is a major pest of crops like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Dr. Tapan Pathak with the UC Cooperative Extension recently completed a study on how climate change might impact the pest.

“Navel orangeworm, when they finished their first generation, their population number is low. But for every additional generation they can complete during the growing cycle, their population increases significantly,” said Pathak.

This is a concern because the study reveals that earlier springs and warmer falls are likely to increase these Navel Orangeworm populations.

“In the past, we used to see two to four generations of navel orangeworm, depending on the location. If it is in the southern part of the central valley, that would be more generation compared to the north. But on an average, two to four generations are typical for navel orangeworm,” said Pathak.  “

But what we are seeing with this climate change study is that under future climate, the fifth generation of navel orangeworm is more likely in many, many counties. And especially by the end of the century, it’s present or expected to be present in the entire central valley,” Pathak

Pathak says orchard sanitation and integrated pest management will continue to be critical to remain resilient under these conditions.

2020-12-02T08:17:26-08:00December 2nd, 2020|

Mummy Shake Video Contest Announced

Almond Board’s Video Contest Helps Remind Growers of Mummy Nut Sanitation

The Almond Board of California is excited to announce its third-annual Mummy Shake Video Contest, and we would deeply appreciate your help in spreading the word about this year’s competition. This contest is aimed at helping remind growers to break the link between mummy nuts (nuts left on the tree after harvest) and overwintering navel orangeworm (NOW).

NOW is the primary insect pest in California almonds, posing a high risk to the crop as the worms bore into the nut and feed on the nutmeat. This not only damages the nut but also opens the door to Aspergillus molds that can produce aflatoxins, a food safety contaminant.

To participate in this contest, almond industry and allied industry members are invited to submit a video of their families dancing – or even singing – along to The Mummy Shake! This year’s contest will run from Monday, Oct. 26, and end at 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 20. The winner of this year’s contest will receive a $500 Amazon gift card. Entries will be judged based on enthusiasm, creativity and composition, and a full list of contest rules may be found at

If you’re interested in helping us promote this year’s contest, please let me know. Sharing this event with industry stakeholders could include anything from mentioning the contest dates in an online calendar, sharing the contest in an email newsletter or on a social media page, or even giving the contest a shout out during a radio segment. Here’s some quick links to various mummy shake/NOW information that you may use in your promotions:

2020-11-04T12:02:43-08:00November 4th, 2020|

Walnuts Are the Omega3 ALA Nut!


Imagine Walnuts Being on the USDA MyPlate Recommendations

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is recognizing walnuts because they mostly contain polyunsaturated fats, including 2.5 grams of Omega3 ALA per ounce. In fact, walnuts are the only nut with an excellent source of ALA making them the Omega3 ALA nut.

Jennifer Olmstead is Marketing Director for Domestic Public Relations for the California Walnut board and Commission. She noted her big goal is to get the walnuts on the MyPlate graphic. “Yes, the government takes the committee report, drafts up their guidelines, and then they put it into easy to understand graphics like MyPlate, previously it was the food pyramid,” explained Olmstead.

What would it be like if everyone looked at that my plate graphic and saw a few walnuts on it every day? “Absolutely, and the great thing about this is it really gets consumers thinking about reasons to include walnuts in their diet and ultimately driving consumption for our industry. It would be tremendous. Right now the per capita consumption is at 0.6 pounds per year. So if people just even ate a few handfuls a week, consumption would go through the roof.

It’s certainly not a done deal yet, but the Walnut Board and Commission are working hard on that goal. We’ll keep you updated.

2020-09-28T11:22:21-07:00September 28th, 2020|
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