Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Fights Back

New Strain Creates Challenges

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

A new strain of the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus has created a challenge among vegetable growers, making integrated pest management, or IPM, increasingly critical. Bob Gilbertson, plant pathologist at UC Davis, has insight and advice as to how farmers should tackle this new strain.

“The first thing is to know what’s out in your field. And there’s a good diagnostic test for curly top, spotted wilt, alfalfa mosaic, and other viruses,” Gilbertson said.

Bob Gilbertson

After the virus is confirmed, he encourages growers to explore their options of treatment. Prior to the new spotted wilt virus strain, growers could turn to the SW-5 resistance gene to cure their field. Unfortunately, Gilbertson explained, the new strain actually breaks that resistance, which is where IPM becomes even more important.

In the future, Gilbertson hopes to find additional resistance genes to break the new strain. Until that time comes, he wants to use good IPM to manage it.

Gilbertson further added, “Increased sanitation, removing overwintering hosts, weeds, and bridge crops like lettuce, and then timing the applications of thrips management better, to slow down the appearance of adult thrips that carry the virus,” are all examples of good IPM.

2021-05-12T11:01:50-07:00January 18th, 2019|

California Crop Values for 2017 Released by CDFA

Full Statistics Now Available For the Crop Year 2017

News Release

The California Agricultural Statistics Review for crop year 2017 has been released. It reports that California’s farms and ranches received more than $50 billion in cash receipts for their output. This represents an increase of almost 6 percent in crop values compared to 2016.

California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California is the leading U.S. state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value. The top producing commodities for 2017 include:

Dairy Products, Milk — $6.56 billion

Grapes— $5.79 billion

Almonds— $5.60 billion

Strawberries— $3.10 billion

Cattle and Calves — $2.53 billion

Lettuce— $2.41 billion

Walnuts— $1.59 billion

Tomatoes— $1.05 billion

Pistachios— $1.01 billion

Broilers— $939 million

Complete Report at this Link:

https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Statistics/PDFs/2017-18AgReport.pdf

2019-01-10T15:52:42-08:00January 10th, 2019|

Bowles Farming Co. Shares Success Secrets

Google Hangouts Helps Bowles Farming Communicate Throughout 

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

When it comes to agriculture, Merced County-based Bowles Farming Company has it figured out. With 160 years of experience, and six generations worth of history, the company has had a major influence on the state. Danny Royer, Vice President of Technology at Bowles, has valuable insight on what makes the company so successful.

Royer is in charge of the technology behind growing various crops including tomatoes, cotton, wheat, watermelon, and other organic commodities. He said that the key to solving issues is by sharing data within the operation.

“Data is what’s going to provide the solution, but we have to create systems that give the people [the data] who have the competencies to solve the problem,” he explained.

One way Bowles Farming Co. is able to achieve this is by using Google Hangouts on the farm, which enables them to communicate with different sectors of the operation single-handedly.

“We’ve got to be a little more transparent and open about sharing our information with people that are coming from the tech sector trying to help us,” Royer said.

2021-05-12T11:05:08-07:00November 5th, 2018|

Spotted Wilt Virus Light This Season on Tomatoes

Thrips Widespread But Yields are High

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Spotted wilt virus on tomatoes was a big concern at the beginning of the season. California Ag Today spoke with Tom Turini, vegetable crops farm advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Fresno County, about the topic. We caught up with him on the west side of Fresno County. He said despite the potential virus pressure, tomato yields have been very high this year.

“Thrips are the vector of tomato spotted wilt, and while the thrip distribution is much wider than it was last year, it doesn’t look like we’re seeing the level of economic damage,” Turini said.

Tom Turini

“We had had concerns initially about problems, and of course that could get worse as we get later in the season, but so far our yields have been very, very high,” Turini said.

He explained that the strong yields is in part due to the mild temperatures during the spring, so there was good early fruit set. “Even that, I would expect that now with these higher temperatures over the last six weeks, we’re going to start seeing the effects of the yield-robbing virus with a later harvest, he said.

Last year, the concern was with fresh market tomatoes.

“We had concerns late last year in the fresh market, but this year it’s at moderate levels of economic impact. “It doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the future, but at this point, it looks like we were spared, at least for the early season crop.

2021-05-12T11:01:53-07:00August 15th, 2018|

Caltec Shares Innovative Pest Control Practices

A New Approach to Managing Vine Mealybug

By Hannah Young, Contributing Editor

Some innovative pest and disease control products, such as heat application to kill insects, are making their way to the market, according to Caltec.

California Ag Today spoke with Rudy Monnich, president of Caltec Ag, about some of the new ways California farmers are fighting pests.

caltec

Rudy Monnich with Caltec

“We have a product which is the diatomaceous earth that controls vine mealybugs and ants and mites in orchards and vineyards,” Monnich said, adding, “There is nothing more damaging than vine mealybug. In fact, Monterey County is forming a committee to be zero tolerant just for that insect pressure.”

The product is silica dioxide and will scarify the body of insects, dehydrate them, and in result kill them off in three or four days, Monnich explained.

However, the product is not a chemical, but a mineral, which significantly diminishes resistance issues.

“You don’t have the resistant issues build up,” Monnich said. “It’s also controlling thrip and whitefly in tomatoes.”

Caltec introduced the product this past spring.

Heat application can also be used by growers to combat insect problems.

“We are working with the Agrothermal people who have a machine that 300-degree to 400-degree temperatures will annihilate soft-bodied insects in tomatoes and powdery mildew in grapes,” Monnich said.

The application of heat kills the spores before signs of damage appear on the plant, Monnich explained.

This method of pest control is increasing the quality of wine, Monnich concluded.

2021-05-12T11:05:10-07:00July 20th, 2018|

Spotted Wilt Virus Impacting Tomatoes Again

Virus has Gotten Past Resistant Gene

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Tomato spotted wilt virus is becoming big in the central San Joaquin Valley, according to Tom Turini, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor in Fresno County for vegetable crops. The virus had earlier been spotted in lettuce, and this has caused some concern in this season’s tomato crop.

Tom Turini

“We had some concerns early in the season that we might be looking at a year where it’ll become a challenge, because we were finding it in lettuce back in February and March in the Huron area,” Turini said. “And then we notice that tomatoes were showing the virus symptoms. We had been managing tomato spotted wilt in processing and fresh market tomatoes largely with a resistance gene, and it seemed that the resistance was breaking.”

The virus is spread by thrips, and the gene in the tomato was the biggest deterrent in combating thrips.

“We were also talking about an IPM program, but the industry was leaning on this gene. This gene became a big part of their spotted wilt prevention program,” Turini said. “While sanitation of weeds was practiced, and there was some thrips management, it was really dependent upon this single gene resistance in the tomatoes, and as of 2016, we saw evidence that that gene was no longer performing.”

Because the virus can wipe out entire tomato fields, researchers are scrambling to find a new way to deter the thrip spreading the virus on tomatoes.

2021-05-12T11:01:55-07:00June 18th, 2018|

BioConsortia To Bring New Tools to Ag

BioConsortia Continues Growth and Success, Securing $10 million in Series D Funding

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Getting even closer to helping California agriculture, BioConsortia, Inc., an innovator of microbial solutions for natural plant trait enhancement and yield improvement, has closed a further round of equity financing to support its continued growth, research achievements, and development of superior products.

Three new PhD scientists working on plants in lab: (from left) Jorge Santiago, Jenna Lang and Steve Wu

The $10 million round was led by Otter Capital and contributed to by Khosla Ventures, both of which are long-term backers of the biotechnology company and experienced ag tech investors.

The completion of Series D will further support the increased momentum BioConsortia saw in 2017, with three strategic new hires, the addition of a sixth U.S. patent, and the planting of fall and winter field trials. Funds raised will be used for the commercial development of a number of novel microbial consortia products — focused toward corn, wheat, soy, tomatoes, and leafy vegetables.

Marcus Meadows-Smith

BioConsortia will also continue to build upon its proprietary discovery process Advanced Microbial Selection (AMS) including supporting the expansion of the AMS platform itself, incorporating deeper and more specialized analytics. Collectively, these steps will drive the company towards the establishment of an original and proven platform for the development of more efficacious and consistent microbial products for a wide range of agricultural crops.

“We are excited by the progress that we have made in product development, for both biostimulants and biopesticides, and the recognition from our investors.” says Marcus Meadows-Smith, CEO. “This new funding allows us to increase our annual spend on R&D, adding more tools from genomics, microbiome and machine learning to our already powerful discovery platform.”

A portion of BioConsortia’s planned development has been and, will continue to be, driven by the key hires made last year: Drs. Jenna Lang and Steven Wu providing scientific leadership in Microbiome Ecology and Computational Biology, respectively. Microbiome analysis and computational modeling underpin BioConsortia’s AMS process. When combined with the extensive physiological data collected throughout the discovery program, microbiome insights enable identification of the functional microbes benefiting high-performing plants, either as individuals or as consortia.

“Collectively, Jenna and Steven have a tremendous wealth of experience and expertise,” says Dr. Sue Turner, Sr. VP of Research. “Throughout the AMS process, we are capturing huge amounts of data; knowing how best to efficiently manipulate and analyze it is crucial for advancing leads and finding new, superior microbial solutions.”

In addition to adding big-data expertise to its research group, BioConsortia has been developing a strong fermentation team as it reaches the final steps in developing leads for commercial launch. Dr. Jorge Santiago-Ortiz joined the company as lead Fermentation Scientist early last year and has worked closely with Dr. Hong Zhu, Sr. VP Lead Development and Manufacturing, to lead scale-up and formulation experimentation in the newly built formulation facilities at the company’s Davis headquarters.

The drive to commercialization is now under way as several microbial treatments transitioned from second and third year field trials across a range of crops and geographies last year. A select number were entered into repeat field trials by major industry players, and these are moving forward to further testing and development. The early-stage biopesticide program also saw many remarkable successes in greenhouse and field trials, and so will be expanded onto many more crops in 2018.

“The expertise that we have added really reflects the comprehensive nature of our discovery and development platform,” Zhu said. “It has set us up for success as we ramp up our 2018 R&D program and move ever closer to product launch.”

2021-05-12T11:05:12-07:00April 10th, 2018|

Rootstocks Offer Production Attributes

Tomato Rootstocks Grafting

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Brenna Aegerter, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in San Joaquin County, about grafting rootstocks to tomato plants.

“Rootstocks are cut below the cotyledons, while the scions are cut above the cotyledons at an angle,” she said.

These two plants are then clipped together and go into a high humidity healing chamber for about one week.

Aegerter explained that, “In the beginning, there is no light. They gradually increase the light because they do not want to stress the plants, and so if those two angles match … then everything grows back together.”

Each tomato plant can differ depending on the rootstock that it has been grafted to. Different rootstocks have varying levels of resistance to disease and pests. Rootstock resistance does have an effect on crop yield. If all of the fruiting varieties had the nematode resistance gene, they could potentially improve their yields.

There is great success rate on grafting these tomato plants.

“We have had pretty good success, 90 percent and up,” Aegerter said.

The remaining 10 percent is because the angles were not matched up quite right and there is not enough contact between the two tissues.

“Rootstocks are for the most part, hybrids between our cultivated tomato and wild tomato species,” Aegerter explained.

Wild tomatoes are used often to bring in new genetic material due to their diversity and natural resistance. Depending on the type of tomato that is being used, the resistance can differ.

The fruiting varieties are resistant, but are resistant to a shorter list of diseases.

“These root systems are are bigger, the crown is bigger, and sometimes they aren’t even purely resistant to the disease, but just by virtue of the fact that they grow faster, they can outgrow it,” Aegerter said.

2021-05-12T11:05:14-07:00February 2nd, 2018|

California Supplies Thanksgiving

California Feeds the Nation on Thanksgiving!

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California ranks #8 in turkey production in the United States (2016), and we supply most of the western states from our poultry farms located in several areas in the state.

The famous Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing or “Dressing” originated from a ç, born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. In short, Cubbison graduated from California Polytechnical University in May 1920 with a degree in Home Economics having paid her way through school with the money she earned feeding the farm workers.

Cubbison created her popular stuffing in 1948 using broken pieces of the popular Melba toast and various seasonings. The factory in Commerce, California churns it out in mass quantities this time of year.

California farmers produce almonds, raisins, walnuts, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, pistachios, and pomegranates, right on up the food line.

These are all celebrated Thanksgiving foods.

Celery from the Oxnard and Ventura area completes the stuffing mix. Nutrient-dense carrots, lettuce and fresh spinach from Salinas now arrive, pre-washed and bagged, in your local produce department. Your Thanksgiving traditional green beans come from California growers.

An ample supply of freshly harvested oranges and kiwi fruit, table grapes, strawberries, and raspberries are shipped from many areas in the state. Seasonal features include sweet potatoes from the Merced, about an hour north of Fresno, plus all kinds and colors of potatoes and tomatoes, parsley, onions, and garlic—all crops are raised in California.

Nearly all the fruits, vegetables and nuts that are part of America’s Thanksgiving are sourced from California.

Don’t forget about the great varieties of wine grapes grown in the No. 1 agricultural state that are deftly crafted into delectable California wines.

Or the thirst-quenching Martinelli sparkling apple or grape cider from Watsonville California, near the Monterey Bay area. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company that is still family-owned after almost 150 years and is managed by the founder’s grandson and great-grandson. Here’s something to discuss at your Thanksgiving meal:  the company won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair in  Sacramento.

How about those heirloom and new apple varieties, plus those small round watermelons that we snack on or toss into a dessert fruit salad, topped with California pomegranate arils?

Of course, we raise poultry, and even California lamb, if you want to go that way. Here is a Did-you-know? challenge for your holiday meal:  What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents? (Answers are below.)

And by the way, you know that food-safety pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? Public relations genius Leo Pearlstein and a turkey producer in Turlock, a small town north of Fresno in Stanislaus County, invented this Thanksgiving fixture.

Back in the 1960s, they were sitting in a room trying to solve the undercooked poultry challenge, when they looked up and noticed ceiling fire sprinklers. The sprinklers sprayed water when the room temperature became hot enough to melt a tiny piece of metal alloy in the mechanism. This innovative team of two applied the same concept to the pop-up timer!

With the exception of cranberries, our national day of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest is really a California Thanksgiving.


Here are some friendly topics for discussion at your Thanksgiving Table:

  • What is the name of the famous Thanksgiving stuffing that originated in California?
  • What beverage company that is still operating won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair?
  • How was the pop-up timer invented and by whom?
  • How does high does California rank in U.S. turkey production?
  • What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents?

In 2010, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey from Modesto, California-based Foster Farms; and alternate bird Cider. 

In 2015, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey and an alternate 43-pound bird named Honest, again from Foster Farms.

The Presidential Turkey flock are Nicholas White turkeys, which originated in California’s Sonoma Valley in 1957. Today, the Nicholas White is the industry standard. (Foster Farms)

2021-05-12T11:17:10-07:00November 20th, 2017|

Managing DiMare Fresh Tomatoes

Season Starting for DiMare Fresh Tomatoes

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

DiMare Fresh is a fresh market tomato company with operations throughout California. California Ag Today spoke recently to Brian Souza, who is the in-house pest control advisor, among other things, for the company.

Souza explained how he manages the work throughout the state: “We start down south and work our way north as the season progresses. Other than being a PCA, I start in the greenhouses and manage our transplants, and just work from there.”

“We also schedule all the plantings, and manage the crops, and myself and another PCA walk the fields two times to four times a week. We always have someone in the fields every day looking, because … fresh market is sensitive, and they definitely need a lot of attention,” he said.

“We have great team members, and communicate constantly. We’re always in different areas at different times, so if there’s something I’m missing the other guys hopefully catch it, and that’s usually the case. It’s a lot of good communication and team work,” he said.

DiMare Fresh does not grow any tomatoes, but they manage a lot of growers who grow for the company.

“DiMare doesn’t own any of the property, but we do have growers that grow for us. And they are very loyal growers that we’ve had for 20, 30, 35 years.

All the rain this winter certainly can be a game changer for companies like DiMare. “We are one of the first tomato companies to start planting,” Souza said. “We love these rains, but it does bring challenges getting in as early as we normally would like to do. Sometimes we’ll have to just chance it and get our stuff in if we can.

Rains also means a lot of weeds in those fields. “For sure, there’s a lot of weeds out there, and especially with the drought we’ve noticed some newer weeds that are taking over, that are a little more drought tolerant. Horseweed and hairy fleabane are the most prominent,” Souza said.

 

 

2017-02-15T15:55:44-08:00February 15th, 2017|
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