Pistachios Suffer Navel Orangeworm Damage

Overwintering NOW Population Must Be Reduced

By Robert H. Beede, UCCE Farm Advisor, Emeritus

The following is a special report by Robert H. Beede, UCCE Farm Advisor, Emeritus, on the state of the pistachio harvest and the fight against navel orangeworm damage.

Season Wrap Up: It looks like we wound up with about 600 million pounds. Only God knows how many million navel orangeworm got, but you all know it was a bunch! Processors have their hands full delivering the quality nut California is known for. Many growers I speak to ask, “What happened?” From my discussions with many crop consultants, what DIDN’T happen was sanitation! This was not only true for the pistachio growers, but almond producers as well.

Growers barked at me about the wet weather making orchard access difficult to impossible, the size of the trees making sanitation cost prohibitive, and the difficulty in getting the nuts out of the trees. These issues are all true. So, if you decide that you cannot sanitize, then you had best figure out how you are going to run the ranch on pistachios that are 30 to 40 cents less valuable than those with low worm damage.

I know I sound like the donkey’s behind with all the answers, but the pistachio industry needs to join forces with the almond guys to determine what we can collectively do to reduce the overwintering NOW population.

There has been millions spent studying NOW, and I have NEVER waivered on the fact that sanitation is the cornerstone to controlling this beast! I also still think that once we get the kinks out of mating disruption, that everyone should use it as a means to SUPPRESS the population. Note that I did NOT say, “Control it as a stand-alone program,” just in case someone out there wants to stuff words in my pie hole!

We are in DESPERATE need of an effective adult monitoring tool for NOW mating disruption. I hope this comes soon, in order to give pest managers a method of knowing when the pheromone is not reducing mating sufficiently. We also need more research on the cultural and environmental factors affecting the number of early split nuts, which become the NOW link to the new crop at harvest.

Sanitation: Now is the time to begin winter sanitation by removing the nuts that did not come off during harvest. Many of these nuts are blank, but do not assume that all of them are. Research by many good scientists has proven that winter sanitation is the key to breaking the overwintering NOW population cycle, which looms ever greater when the winter is warm and dry. Beginning the season with a large overwintering population simply reduces the effectiveness of your in-season sprays. Although the research has not been done, to my knowledge, the TIMING of sanitation may be a factor in its efficacy.

Nut removal and destruction early in the fall may be more effective, because the percentage of NOW larva in the early instar stages should be greater. This is due to the large peak in egg laying that occurs during hull degradation. Thus, they may be more susceptible to desiccation or fungal attack because of their smaller size. Disturbing their overwintering site from the tree onto the ground early also places more environmental pressure on their survival. This is just my opinion; it may be worthy of investigation.

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Spray Safe Meeting Nov. 17 in Modesto

Event Organized by Stanislaus County Farm Bureau

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

Wayne Zipser, executive director of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, announced the Farm Bureau will hold a Safe Spray and Safety Event on November 17, at the Modesto Junior College’s West Campus Ag Pavilion, located at 2201 Blue Gum Ave. in Modesto. The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau is a non-profit, volunteer membership organization that provides many programs like Spray Safe to assist its members and to educate the general public.

“The Spray Safe meeting will be a big event,” Zipser said, “not only because will it cover how to safely apply pesticides, but also provide tractor safety training, [pesticide application] mask fit testing and physicals [if needed for mask fit testing] for farm employees.”

“Registration opens at 7 AM,” Zipser explained. “A grower panel will start the day at 8 AM with a discussion of the safety and procedure challenges encountered by some of our folks who do pesticide applications. Given the new rules for pesticide applications around schools and preschools, we want to hear how they cope with and mitigate these new challenges.”

The Safe Spray Meeting will also feature a trade show. Attendance is free, courtesy of event sponsors, and lunch is provided.

Additional topics will include: drift prevention, school notification requirements, calibration, sexual harassment prevention, equipment safety and heat illness prevention. The meeting also offers 4 hours of Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Continuing Education (CE) credit.

The all-Ag committee coordinating the event includes the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, the Ag Commissioner’s Office, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE).

For more information, contact the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau at 209-522-7278.

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Fresno County Cotton Bloom Nearing

Cotton Bloom Is Later This Year

By Melissa Moe, Associate Editor

Cotton is an important crop in the Central Valley. We spoke with Daniel Munk, an irrigation, crop nutrition management, and cotton production systems farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County. He told us about the heat that Fresno has been seeing and it’s effect on the upcoming cotton bloom in the area.

“The only good side on the heat is that we haven’t had this heavy, very high temperature heatwave occurring during the bloom period. The problem with heatwaves is that you can get pollen sterilization and incomplete pollenization of the flower. With that, you can get reduced seed count and you get flower drop. Certainly don’t want to have these above average temperatures well into 105 and beyond during our bloom period,” Munk said.

“I think we’ll see some of our early bloom fields occur right about July 4th, which is a little bit later than we’d like to see it. We’re talking Pima and Acala as far as the bloom period. Well over 90% of our cotton here in California is Pima cotton,” he said.

It’s advised that farmers monitor their crop for necessary nutrient application, and consider their options when doing so.

“I think with the variable stands that we have out there right now and the variable productivity of those stands, it’s certainly appropriate to consider the variation and nutrient availability and requirements out there. This would be a good year to look at differential applications of a nutrients in a field, particularly where there’s some stand issues,” Munk said.

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Fine Tuning Almond Irrigation

New technology helps farmers use water to maximum effectiveness

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

At the recent big Almond Conference in Sacramento, there were a lot of discussions on water use in almonds. And while growers are doing a great job in conserving, there’s always ways to improve, according to Larry Schwankl, UC Cooperative Extension Irrigation Specialist Emeritus. He shared with California Ag Today the take-home points of his talk in front of several hundred growers.

larry_schwankl
Irrigation Specialist Larry Schwankl

“We have been researching, ‘How much do growers need to irrigate?’ We want to make sure that their irrigation system are effective and that they know how long to operate it and then ways of checking to make sure that they’re doing a good job and utilizing soil moisture sensors and devices,” Schwankl said.

Schwankl also suggested that growers use pressure bomb to accurately measure the pressure of water inside a leaf. When used, it’s possible to measure the approximate water status of plant tissues.

In using a pressure bomb, the stem of a leaf is placed in a sealed chamber, and pressurized gas is added to the chamber slowly. The device has been calibrated to indicate whether or not that leaf is stressed for water.

“We can predict how much water the tree’s going to need, and we can predict how much an irrigation system is going to put on, but there’s errors in all predictions,” Schwankl said.   “We need to go back and check and make sure that we’re staying on target. That’s where knowing the soil moisture and the plant water status really helps.”

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Initial Walnut Irrigation Can be Delayed

Walnut Irrigation Research Update

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

 

First springtime walnut irrigation can be delayed, according to a UC Cooperative Extension team in Tehama County working on some fascinating research regarding irrigation practices. Allan Fulton is an Irrigation and Water Resource Advisor who covers Tehama, Colusa, Shasta and Glenn counties. “We actually just finished one of our irrigation experiment harvests this weekend. It was looking at early season water management decisions, basically deciding when to begin the irrigation season,” Fulton said.

allan_fulton
Allan Fulton, UC Cooperative Extension Irrigation Specialist

Growers typically begin irrigating their walnuts sometime between late April and early May. In order to be as thorough as possible in their experiment, Fulton and his team have been pushing the limits beyond what most growers would ever consider. “We had some treatments that got no irrigation until almost the end of June,” Fulton explained.

Now in its third year, the research experiment is generating information that will provide a variety of benefits. “The whole motivation is to avoid possible injury to the trees from irrigating too much, too early, from lack of aeration and damage to the root system,” Fulton said. Delayed irrigation, while having no impact on yield or nut size, can also provide a bit of water savings. “We’re trying to look for the sweet spot,” with less intensive early season irrigation in favor of root health, tree health and disease prevention.

California walnut orchard, walnut irrigationThe research is being conducted in the northern Sacramento Valley primarily using the Chandler variety of walnut trees. Fulton has spent some time working in the San Joaquin Valley as well and understands different weather conditions can be a significant factor when applying their findings to other regions. “Our spring rainfall is quite a bit different than other walnut growing areas. Usually we’ve got an added source of water that sometimes you might not have in the southern San Joaquin Valley,” Fulton noted. From his experience, he suggested growers could usually wait until “the first week of May in most years, before really getting pressed for irrigation.”

The location of the research exposes groves to the opportunity to receive “more rain during the dormant season with a better chance at a deeper profile in moisture before you ever break dormancy,” Fulton said. More regional rainfall is possible in the spring as well, while the trees are growing.

The information gathered so far indicates growers should not jump the gun on springtime irrigation, particularly if there is still any kind of standing water issues. “The data is starting to suggest that you’ve got some room. You don’t have to irrigate at the first sign of heat; you can use a little bit of the stored moisture coming out of winter,” Fulton said. He also noted “It’s a lot more difficult to recover from a damaged tree with a sick roots system,” than it is to recover from a lack of early season irrigation.

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Weed Control in Rice Fields

Controlling Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in California Rice Fields

By Emily McKay Johnson, Associate Editor

Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC ANR Cooperative Extension rice farm advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer and Sacramento Counties in California, currently works in all rice production areas across the state to identify problematic weeds in rice fields.

Given her background in weed science, Brim-DeForest explained California rice growers flood their fields for weed suppression, as well as use herbicides for weed control and management. “I’d say that we do have quite a few herbicides right now. As we continue to get new herbicide resistant weeds every year,” said Brim-DeForest, “we are starting to run out of options, especially for some growers who encounter herbicide resistance.”

Brim-DeForest believes herbicide resistance was first discovered in the early 1990’s, but “has become significantly problematic for growers within the last 20 years. Because of the herbicides we use and the limited number that we have, we have ended up with an increasing number of weeds that are herbicide resistant every year. Since about 2000,  we’ve had a new species or herbicide that encounters resistance every year,” she stated.

Brim-DeForest treats a multitude of weed species in her line of work. “I would say the watergrass species is our biggest problem,” she noted. “We also have a weedy red rice that was discovered in the early 2000s. It is not widespread, but we do have a few fields with it,” she explained.

Featured Photo: Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC ANR Cooperative Extension rice farm advisor.

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Greg Douhan is New Citrus Farm Advisor

UCCE Tulare Welcomes New Citrus Farm Advisor

By Brian German, Associate Director

The UC Cooperative Extension Program has served Tulare County since 1918 and continues to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. UC Cooperative Extension, Tulare County is preparing to welcome their new citrus farm advisor, Greg Douhan, on March 1, 2016. Douhan, who noted his excitement for the opportunity, will be taking the reins from the recently retired Neil O’Connell who gave over 34 years of faithful service advising Tulare County citrus growers.

Douhan shared that his relatives inspired him to focus his career in agriculture. “I had an uncle who was an almond grower when I was a kid. And my grandfather was an avid horticulturalist; he used to graft different trees and I always found that fascinating.”

“As I got older, I decided I was interested in plants, so I went to Humboldt State University. I also got interested in fungi, so I decided to fuse my interests in fungi and in plants and go into plant pathology,” Douhan said.

“I earned my Master’s and Ph.D. at Washington State University, and then completed a post-doc assignment at UC Davis for 3-4 years. I moved to UC Riverside for about 6 years. Now I am here in Tulare County!” 

Cooperative Extension advisors serve as conduits of information from various UC campuses. Subject matter specialists, along with local research centers, collaborate with local advisors to identify and solve local problems through research and educational programs. The mission of the program is to serve California through the creation, development and application of knowledge, in agriculture, natural and human resources. Farm advisors then apply this knowledge to improve our agriculture and food systems along with our natural resources and environment.

“I’ve been working for the UC system basically since I was a post-doc,” Douhan said, “so it has been for many years. I think Cooperative Extension was the best system for working with both the growers and everybody else to better California agriculture,” Douhan said. “This was just an incredible opportunity. I was doing science and looking for another career move, and this was a perfect opportunity to have a next chapter in doing something different.”

_______________________

Link:

Tulare County Cooperative Extension

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Drought-Focused Soil Nutrient Management Forum Offered for Winegrape Growers

Winegrape growers are invited to participate in an online forum to discuss vineyard nutrient management in limited water conditions. The free nutrient management forum, which will run Jan. 12 through Jan. 23, is hosted by the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (UC SAREP), FarmsReach and Sustainable Conservation.

Farmers and UC Cooperative Extension advisors from different regions will answer questions and share resources throughout the discussion. Participants can post a question in the forum and receive an e-mail when there is a reply.

To participate in the forum, sign up for free at http://ucanr.edu/onlineforum.

“Nutrient management for grapes can be very complicated, and growers have to continually adapt to changing conditions such as this year’s drought,” said Maxwell Norton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor. “It’s good to spend some time exploring how grape growers can succeed in challenging circumstances, and learn from each other about the many ways nutrient management can affect your farm in the coming season.”

Kicking off on Jan. 12, the Nutrient Management Solutions online discussion forum will offer the agriculture community:

  • Online videos and Q&A with farmers and advisors on nutrient management and soil fertility issues, with a special focus on winegrapes.
  • Online discussions via the FarmsReach website, moderated by series presenters.
  • A new “Soil Nutrient Management Toolkit” on the FarmsReach site, with selected practical resources and fact sheets for farmers of all crop and product types.

This online series is part of the Solution Center for Nutrient Management—a growing resource for nutrient management research and information, created by UC SAREP. For more information, contact Aubrey White, UC SAREP communication coordinator, at abwhite@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-5299.

About UC SAREP
  

The University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (UC SAREP), a program in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, provides leadership and support for scientific research and education in agricultural and food systems that are economically viable, conserve natural resources and biodiversity, and enhance the quality of life in the state’s communities. SAREP serves farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, researchers, educators, regulators, policymakers, industry professionals, consumers and community organizations across the state.

About FarmsReach

Founded in 2007, FarmsReach is a network that connects small- and medium-scale farms to the products, support and services they need to be successful.  By partnering with farmer members and agriculture organizations, FarmsReach offers a growing suite of services that empower farmers to make better business decisions, access new markets, preserve the environment and strengthen rural communities.

About Sustainable Conservation

Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing our land, air and water. Since 1993, Sustainable Conservation has brought together business, landowners and government to steward the resources that we all depend on in ways that make economic sense. Sustainable Conservation believes common ground is California’s most important resource. www.suscon.org

For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California’s systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

 

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Free UCCE Online Training to Increase Food Safety and Protect Natural Resources

UCCE On-Line Training Helps Growers Safeguard Their  Produce Fields

By Pam Kan-Rice, Assistant Director, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

 

On their farms, growers are active stewards of the land, protecting soil quality and water quality as well as supporting wildlife by preserving their habitat. At the same time, fresh produce growers must ensure that their crops are free from pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses.

To help growers and food safety professionals achieve all of these important goals, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has launched a free online course.

“Actions that farmers take to protect food safety may affect natural resources, and conservation practices may affect food safety,” said Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, who oversaw design of the course.

The intent of the UCCE online training is to demonstrate that communication between food safety professionals and growers can help to achieve a balance between food safety and sustainability.

“Our co-management course will help food safety professionals better evaluate the risk of conservation practices,” said Bianchi.

“For example, cover crops attract beneficial insects, help control soil erosion and improve soil quality, but they may attract wildlife,” she said. “In the course, we demonstrate frank conversations between food safety auditors and growers about strategies for minimizing the potential risks of crops being contaminated by animal feces. Growers can often provide existing examples, such as monitoring programs or temporary fencing that excludes wild and domestic animals from produce fields.”

The course also provides growers with tools to evaluate their strategies for managing food safety and sustainability.

“After the training, growers and auditors will be better prepared to engage in realistic and frank discussions of co-management strategies used in crop production” Bianchi said.

The free UCCE online co-management course and related resources are online at UCCE San Luis Obispo County website.

This project was funded by a $39,650 grant from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

A video describing co-management practices from farm to fork can be viewed online at “Co-Management of Food Safety and Sustainability in Fresh Produce“.

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Palo Verde Valley Prepares for Fall Crops

Dr. Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension Entomology Farm Advisor in Blythe located in Imperial County, reports the Palo Verde Valley has a lot of activity this time of year.

“Currently we’re transitioning out of the summer crops; temperatures are getting cooler; we’re no longer in the 114° to 116° F zone; and nighttime temperatures are dropping. So we are transitioning to our late fall/winter crops, which is predominantly lettuce in the Palo Verde Valley,” said Barlow.

“A lot of those growers out there are pre-irrigating their fields now to increase soil friability—to break it up so that when they come in and mulch the soil, they can create fine soil and soil particles—because lettuce seed needs good soil contact for it to imbibe water and germinate,” said Barlow.

“The Palo Verde Valley is unique in the desert in that it is a highly productive agricultural region. It’s the second largest alfalfa production in that area outside the San Joaquin Valley, and it actually has greater production than the inner-mountain areas in Northern California. We have plentiful sunshine, good soil types, easily-drained soils, and available water for irrigation, so that’s the trifecta for agriculture,” said Barlow.

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