Berry Industry Without Methyl Bromide

Berry Industry Must Now Work Smarter in Post Methyl Bromide Era

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The strawberry fruit production industry, with the exception of plant nurseries, has reached the point where methyl bromide is no longer available under any circumstances, and new alternatives or strategies must be found to protect strawberries from serious diseases.

The University of California is focused on a holistic approach, which includes the tried-and-true method of integrated pest management in this post Methyl Bromide era.

“None of the alternative fumigants are as good as methyl bromide,” said Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor for Santa Cruz County, who is working closely with growers on alternative methods. “So one area that we could focus on is different strategies at the time of planting. For example, strawberries have different chill times. You must add cold conditioning to give the plant more vigor.”

Mark Bolda

There are many questions. Could the colors of the plastic mulch that growers are using manage the temperatures of the soil? How about the amount of fertilizer that is being used?

“We need to start integrating these variables into the way we grow strawberries with the lack of fumigants that are as effective as methyl bromide,” Bolda explained. “We need to integrate all these things and others in order to grow berries with the lack of available fumigants that are as effective as methyl bromide.”

“It’s a little disappointing that here we are at zero-hour and we do not have this worked out,” he continued. “The University of California Cooperative Extension have had a number of meetings in my office, as well as other places where we get many people in the same room to try to figure out what we know and what we don’t know.”

“There’s a lot of smart people in the industry, and I know we can get on this and find solutions,” he said.

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Secretary Ross Joins Ag in the Classroom Event

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

More than 220 California educators and volunteers attended an annual California Agriculture in the Classroom Conference earlier this month to learn about agriculture and connecting Common Core to California crops. The conference, hosted by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAITC), was held October 16-18 in Santa Cruz County and provided participants with free resources and valuable avenues for teaching Common Core, STEM, and school garden/nutrition lessons.

The program, designed for educators, administrators, and community volunteers, presented opportunities to explore the agricultural industry and enhance existing curriculum with examples and scenarios about food and fiber production.

California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross welcomed the group of educators along with Dr. Jim Painter, professor emeritus at Eastern Illinois University. Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee’s Garden, also spoke to the educators and Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, closed the conference with trivia about the more than 400 crops grown in California. Conference participants were able to experience the variety of agriculture at the conference and were able to learn directly from leading agricultural experts.

In her comments, Secretary Ross shared the importance of California agriculture, emphasizing the many things that stem from from agriculture, and helped teach the educators the 5 F’s of agriculture – Food, Fiber, Forests, Flowers, and Fuel.

From cut flowers and strawberries to artichokes and timber, Santa Cruz County is the smallest agriculture producing county in California in land mass and one of the most diverse.

The California Ag in the Classroom conference empowers attendees to return to their classrooms and school communities confident and capable of sharing the importance of agriculture’s significant impact on California and its economy with their students.

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