Kern County Pest Control Advisor Awarded CAPCA Member of the Year

Jeff Rasmussen Honored at CAPCA

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

At the 40th Annual Meeting of the California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA) in Anaheim this week, Jeff Rasmussen, a pest control advisor with Crop Production Services in Kern County was recognized as the CAPCA Member of the Year.

“I’m humbled, it’s an awesome feeling to be presented with an award by your peers, and they appreciate all the efforts that we as a team have accomplished,” said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen is among a small group of PCAs who spearheaded the important Spray Safe program, which was created in Kern County in 2006 by a group of Kern County farmers and PCAs. Spray Safe was designed to reduce spray drift, enhance worker safety, and protect public health through more effective communications among farmers about pending and ongoing pesticide applications.

Rasmussen and the others dedicated time to solve a problem, “and since then we have stuck together and resolved the problem of spray drift. Proactive involvement can make a difference.”

“It’s the ‘Three C’s’: collaborate, connect, and commit, that has been our focus point. It’s a matter of the industry stepping up and taking responsibility, and continuing to own and protect that space,” said Rasmussen.

Ultimately, according to the Spray Safe website, the goal of the program is to instill increased resolve among farmers to take every precaution necessary to ensure public safety – this is particularly so when it comes to protecting farm workers and field crews.

At the heart of Spray Safe is a checklist.

The photo shows Jess Rasmussen, left, and his family at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, following his honor.

Imperial County Breaks Ag Production Record in 2013

The big Imperial County Region had a record year of Ag production value in 2013 of more than 2 billion dollars.

“It’s the first time that we ever hit the 2 billion dollar mark. We hit 2.158 billion dollars this year in production value,” said Linsey Dale, Executive Director of the Imperial County Farm Bureau.  Dale is based in El Centro—the county seat of Imperial County.

“We had a bump in price of cattle last year, we had a bump in the price of some of our forage crops last year, and our onion market went up a bit, broccoli market went up a bit, so there were several different crops that had an increase in price in 2013 over 2012,” said Dale.

Dale says that agriculture drives the economy in Imperial County. “We are the single biggest private employer in Imperial County, agriculture is. It has been since day one and will continue to be. If we lose agriculture here in Imperial county we lost Imperial Valley. We have thousands and thousands of jobs in farm services providers and right in production agriculture, its a tremendous impact,” said Dale.

Dale noted that Imperial County, through the Imperial Irrigation District, has some of the strongest water rights in the state. “We do have a very strong water rights. Water is a key issue for us here, we have very little rainfall, less than 2 inches per year. All of our water comes from the Colorado river, so with drought conditions here in California currently, areas are looking at us to produce that the fruits and vegetables need for the nation, especially for the winter months,” Dale said.

“We produce crops 365 days a year, some of our fields actually have 3 crop rotations. We get cuttings on alfalfa year-round, and again we have that strong water right that is necessary to be able to grow these crops,” said Dale.

Record Walnut Crop Harvest

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

With a predicted record 545,000 tons to be harvested, the walnut industry is getting very busy this time of year.

Janine Hasey is a UC Cooperative Extension Tree Crops Farm Advisor and County Director for Sutter-Yuba Counties. She also assists growers in Colusa County.

“We started early up here, but the hot weather we’ve had has slowed things down again. So we’re working on early varieties, a lot of Serrs are in; Vinas are in, and Tulares are being harvested, and we are trying to get the Howards harvested.”

“Right now it sounds like we’re on track for that record production prediction to come true,” said Hasey. “Growers are now harvesting early varieties; I have just talked to a grower who doubled Serr production from last year, and her Ashley production has tripled or more,” Hasey commented.

Growers have used a lot of Ethrel, a common late-season spray, to help speed up harvest and trigger a more even harvest period. “Some growers are saying it has worked, while others say maybe not so well,” said Hasey.

In addition to the hot temperatures and dryness, Hasey said, “we’ve had a little bit of dew last week. We are expecting some possible rain showers on Thursday…which would be really good to get the walnut hulls splitting, and get things moving again.”

Ag Official on Asian Citrus Psyllid in Tulare County

Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County Ag Commissioner, talks about the Asian Citrus Psyllid and how its affecting growers in the area.

“Our growers have the heavy commercial production as opposed to the ranchettes in San Diego Count, so we got more emphasis on spray treatments immediately after a find. We’ve had really good success rate, and so our trapping program is top-notch, so if psyllids are found, we have the ability to eradicate immediately and keep it under control that way,” said Kinoshita.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid, or ACP, is a tiny insect that acts as a carrier of the citrus disease Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease. this bacterial disease is transmitted by the ACP, after it feeds on affected plant tissue.

Without proactive measures such as quarantine and eradication treatments, ACP could have dire consequences for the entire California citrus industry.

“We always knew that we were going to be ground zero. Because we’ve got the most packing sheds in the state, and the most juice facilities, and we’re receiving products from Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and Southern California and our growers need to stay diligent. We got all but 13,000 acres of citrus within the quarantine area, and so that can cause some problems with not having the entire county included,” said Kinoshita.

Citrus Greening Disease has only recently become a problem for California. The first infected plant was discovered in March 2012. It has still caused a concern in that short period of time, as the California Department of Food and Agriculture has found that here is no physical, cultural, or biological methods to completely eradicate ACP.

“So far we are dealing with it, and I have heard that this fall would kind of be the ‘trigger point’ that the Southern California counties saw at the two and a half year point of having Psyllids in their county. So we will see,” said Kinoshita.

Tips on Minimizing Herbicide Drift

Its critically important to minimize drift when applying crop protection materials.

Alan James is a Technical Services Agronomist with Mid Valley Agriculture Services, based in Linden, in Stanislaus County. James noted the usual drift issue.

“We get called out all the time by the growers themselves, ‘What are those spots on my leaves?’ and eight times out of ten, it’s drift from the herbicide application they put on, on their own. There is always a little bit, you can’t eliminated drift, you can minimize it,” said James.

James points out some practical strategies in minimizing drift, and not just the obvious of not spraying during heavy wind.

“They need to think about the type of nozzles, the 800 nozzle produce fewer finds than the 110 nozzles, and they came out a few years ago with an extended range, T-Jet extended range nozzle, which allowed you to work at lower pressure and still the coverage,” said James. “And since then there has been at least 2 types of air induction nozzle, where you draw air in, and produce droplets that are bigger because they are wrapped around a little bit of air, and they tend to settle quicker,” he added.

Low pressure is the key, says James.

“You get a good pattern with 15-20 PSI, which produces much fewer finds if you are up at 30-40 PSI. and sometimes they think the higher the pressure the better ill drive it down into the weed, and that has nothing to do with that, it just producing more finds.” said James.

James comments on the scenario of worn out or missing nozzles.

“Every year, you ought to start out with a new set of nozzles, and make sure they are all the same. That is the other thing, when they have weed sprayers got 8 nozzles across the boom, and one plugs up, they have to put in the that plugged one, whatever they got in their pocket. which may or may not be the right size.” said James.