Additional Chinese Tariff on Ag is Disruptive

Growers Concerned Over Added Tariff into China

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Trade to China is so important to California, and for that reason, the 15 percent added Chinese tariff on ag products is devastating. It’s due to the retaliation of the Trump administration tariff, which he put on steel and aluminum exported by China.

Jeff Colombini with Lodi Farming Co.

It’s worrisome for growers such as Jeff Colombini, the president of Lodi Farming, with partners that grow cherries, apples, walnuts, and olives. He noted that apples and walnuts are an essential crop to China and he’s concerned.

“Trade is significant to the apple crop for California apples, but particularly for Washington state. Apples in Washington state is the largest producer of apples. They export greater than 25 percent of their crop,” Colombini said.

“Both China and Mexico take apple varieties that have fallen out of favor for U.S. consumers. So really, it’s a match made in heaven,” he said.

Colombini said growers have made decisions over the last 10 to 15 years on planting orchards based on these growing export markets.

“Then when the markets slam shut, what do we do with all this excess production/ This becomes disruptive to the markets … not to mention it significantly affects the farmer’s bottom line,” he explained.

Colombini said apples require a lot of labor—a big economic boost to many communities—and disruption in getting that crop to China is not good.

There’s a lot of people employed in the apple industry throughout the United States, and so a trade war can have a significant impact on many thousands of families.

Colombini said it took many years to get that China market open, and when it finally got opened in 2015, it has grown to be their sixth largest export market.

“Similarly, the export disruptions for walnuts is extremely concerning to that industry,” he said.

ACP Quarantine in San Joaquin County, Guidelines and Scholarship

Expanded ACP Quarantine

Two portions of San Joaquin County have been placed under Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) quarantine following detections of one ACP within the City of Manteca and one within the City of Lodi. The quarantine zone in Manteca measures 105 square miles and in Lodi it measures 95 square miles.

The quarantine prohibits the movement of citrus and curry tree nursery stock out of the quarantine area and requires that all citrus fruit be cleaned of leaves and stems prior to moving out of the quarantine area. An exception may be made for nursery stock and budwood grown in USDA-approved structures that are designed to keep ACP and other insects out. Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to transport citrus fruit or leaves, potted citrus trees, or curry leaves from the quarantine area.

Asian citrus psyllid (Source: UC ANR)
Asian citrus psyllid (Source: UC ANR)

The ACP, a tiny (0.125 in. length) mottled brown insect that is about the size of an aphid, is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species such as curry trees are susceptible, and there is no cure. Once infected, a diseased tree will decline in health with yellowing shoots, asymmetrical leaf mottling and abnormally shaped bitter fruit until it dies—typically within three years.  HLB was detected once in California, in 2012, on a residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County.  This plant disease does not affect human health.

Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their citrus trees are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.  For more information on the ACP and HLB, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp

ACP Effective Treatments

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program  has developed treatment guidelines for citrus growers within the quarantine zones. A general principle when applying insecticides to control ACPs in commercial citrus is that no one insecticide fully controls ACP across all life stages because:

  • All stages are difficult to contact with insecticides; eggs and nymphs are tucked inside new foliage and adults can fly.
  • Some insecticides show better efficacy against one stage over another.
  • Because systemic neonicotinoid insecticides require root activity for uptake, they are best applied during June through September.

The UC IPM Guidelines for Citrus provides a ranked list of insecticides that are effective against the Asian citrus psyllid with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honeybees, and the environment are at the top of the table.

According to Mark Hoddle, UC Riverside (UCR) Director, Center for Invasive Species Research, “The science of biological control, the use of a pest’s natural enemies to suppress its populations to less damaging densities,” shows promise against the ACP with releases over the last three years of Tamarixia radiata–a parasitic wasp from Pakistan–in urban areas of southern California Thus far, this natural ACP enemy helps to control ACP growth in residential areas, but is inadequate for commercial application.

Biological Control Scholarship Fund

Harry Scott Smith (Source: Citrus Research Board, "Citrograph")
Harry Scott Smith (Source: Citrus Research Board, “Citrograph”)

Harry Scott Smith was the first to use the phrase “biological control” in 1919 at the meeting of Pacific Slope Branch of the American Association of Economic Entomologists at the Mission Inn in Riverside. Smith worked on the biological control of gypsy moth with USDA, then moved to the University of California Riverside where he eventually created and chaired the Department of Biological Control, which offered the only graduate degree in biological control in the world.

The Harry Scott Smith Biological Control Scholarship Fund at UCR aims to attract the brightest students to study biological control by providing assistance to its students to attend conferences to present their research or to participate in training workshops. More information on the Scholarship, past awardees, and a list of donors can be reviewed on the website.

Sources: CDFA; UC IPM; UC Riverside (UCR); UCR Center for Invasive Species Research; USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

2014 California Winegrape Harvest: Earliest and Third in a String of Great Vintages this Decade

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

California vintners and growers across the state are grateful for another excellent vintage, despite an ongoing drought and earthquake that rocked south Napa in late August just as crush was getting underway. A mild winter and spring caused early bud break, although the overall length of the growing season was similar to past years.

“We are about 80 percent done, going into the second week of October,” said Glenn Andrade, vice-president winemaking for Trinchero Family Estates, farmers of more than 10,000 acres of vineyards across Napa, Sonoma, the Central Coast, Lodi and Amador. “We’ve had pretty light to moderate yields this harvest, resulting in exceptional quality. Our Amador Zinfandels are amazing—great intensity and quality. We should be done by the week of October 20, which is early for us, as typically, it’s the first week in November.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Pacific Regional Crop Production Report of August 2014, California’s winegrape production this year is forecast at 3.9 million tons, down 8 percent from 2013’s record high crop. The 2014 harvest is the third largest on record.

“The 2014 vintage was by far the earliest start of any harvest I can recall,” said Adam Mettler, director of winemaking for Michael David Winery in Lodi. “Early concerns about adequate storage quickly faded as our vineyards continued to check in at 20-25 percent down in volume from the previous two years. The moderate crop size allowed for rapid sugar accumulation early, which created some challenging high-density fermentations, but resulted in some real nice wines.”

A compacted harvest began in July for sparkling wines and started winding down by mid-October for later ripening varieties. Moderate temperatures, with only minimal rain in September, allowed for even ripening. Despite unusual circumstances, President and CEO of Wine Institute Robert P. (Bobby) Koch is extremely pleased with the 2014 vintage for California wine.

“We are very pleased with the assessments of an exceptional 2014 vintage for California wine statewide,” said Koch. “And we look forward to sharing these outstanding 2014 wines with wine lovers throughout the nation and the world. Although we came through this harvest without major impact, we’re keenly aware of the ongoing drought and its effects on California’s entire agricultural community, including wine. We are doing our part as vintners and growers to mitigate water usage through a variety of sustainable practices.”

Lodi 10th Annual Zinfest a Celebration of Community

A message from Karen Ross; California Agriculture Secretary

I recently was invited to Lodi to join that region’s Winegrape Commission in celebrating the 10th annual “Zinfest.” It’s a great example of food and wine events that create local economic activity and foster direct communication between consumers and farmers.

Zinfest is very well done – a testament to the visionary leaders who created the Lodi Winegrape Commission, and to the outstanding farm families that have forged partnerships with the local community to make it known that Lodi is a premium grape-growing and wine-making region.

I’d like to thank the commission for its kind invitation and I hope I get to celebrate many more Zinfests!