Mexican Fruit Fly Quarantine in Portion of Los Angeles County

Three Flies Detected in Long Beach

CDFA News Release

A portion of Los Angeles County, including the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, has been placed under quarantine for the Mexican fruit fly following the detection of three flies, including two mated females, within the City of Long Beach. Mated females are significant because they indicate a breeding population that increases the risk of spread of this pest. CDFA is working collaboratively on this project with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

The quarantine area measures 79 square miles, bordered on the north by CA-91; on the south by the Pacific Ocean; on the west by I-110; and on the east by Palo Verde Avenue. A link to the quarantine map may be found here: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/mexfly/regulation.html.

Sterile male Mexican fruit flies will be released in the area as part of the eradication effort. The release rate will be approximately 325,000 sterile males per square mile per week in an area up to 50 square miles around the infestation.  Sterile male flies mate with fertile female flies in the natural environment but produce no offspring. The Mexican fruit fly population decreases as the wild flies reach the end of their natural life span with no offspring to replace them, ultimately resulting in the eradication of the pest.  In addition, properties within 200 meters of detection sites are being treated with an organic formulation of Spinosad, which originates from naturally-occurring bacteria, in order to remove any mated female fruit flies and reduce the density of the population. Finally, fruit removal will occur within 100 meters of properties with larval detections and/or mated female detections.

The quarantine affects any growers, wholesalers, and retailers of susceptible fruit in the area as well as nurseries that grow and sell Mexican fruit fly host plants. Those businesses are all required to take steps to protect against the spread of the pest. At the Long Beach/Los Angeles ports, exports as well as imports may be impacted depending on specific circumstances. The quarantine will also affect local residents growing host commodities on their property. Movement of those commodities is not permitted. Residents are urged to consume homegrown produce on site. These actions protect against the spread of the infestation to nearby regions, where it could affect California’s food supply as well as backyard gardens and landscapes.

The Mexican fruit fly can infest more than 50 types of fruits and vegetables. For more information on this pest, please see a pest profile at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/MexFly.  Residents who believe their fruits and vegetables may be infested with fruit fly larvae are encouraged to call the state’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.

While fruit flies and other invasive species that threaten California’s crops and natural environment are sometimes detected in agricultural areas, the vast majority are found in urban and suburban communities.  The most common pathway for these invasive species to enter our state is by “hitchhiking” in fruits and vegetables brought back illegally by travelers as they return from infested regions of the world.  To help protect California’s agriculture and natural resources, CDFA urges travelers to follow the Don’t Pack a Pest program guidelines (www.dontpackapest.com).

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Almond Export Diversification Helps During Tariff War

Overseas Markets are Vast for Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Diversification is a strength, Richard Waycott, president of the Almond Board of California, told California Ag Today recently. The Almond Board of California is a nonprofit organization that administers a grower enacted federal marketing order under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When it comes to any losses due to a tariff war in China, the almonds can be redirected to other countries.

“It’s fortunate to be as diversified as we are. Always a strength of this industry is the diversification of our overseas markets,” Waycott said. “I think whatever volume we ultimately do lose—if we do lose volume to China—can be redirected and absorbed by other markets.”

The USDA has opened up a direct payment program to the almond industry if growers were to lose any money in a tariff war.

As those programs were announced, by far the largest piece of the pie, $6 billion, initially was directed to the soybean and corn growers and livestock, while the specialty crops were completely left out of it.

“We got together with the Almond Alliance of California and some of our industry members made a very concerted effort while there was still time to do so before the rules around these programs and those that got to participate were set in stone and were able to convince the powers that be … to open up to the direct payment program to almonds, and the sweet cherry industry did the same,” Waycott explained

Waycott also commented on the epic frost that hit almonds this past spring. And he is not sure of the impact on the crop.

“We realized that we don’t understand the impact of frost on almonds all that well because we saw one side of the street there was quite a bit of damage, while on the other side there was no damage. So I think there’s mother nature at work here that, you know, we don’t necessarily completely understand,” Waycott said.

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$102.7 Million Available to Help Expand Specialty Crops

USDA Funding Program to Help Support Local Projects

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Specialty crop growers in California may be able to use part of the $102.7 million available to support local projects and to help expand markets for specialty crops.

“Every state has agricultural priorities that contribute to the well-being of farm families, consumers and the economic health of rural America,” said Under Secretary Greg Ibach in a recent press release. “These programs target resources to the state, local and regional level where the people who understand the issues best can find solutions that help everyone.”

Resources to be apportioned include:
  • $72.15 million is directed to state departments of agriculture in 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to support farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. States use the grant to fund research, agricultural extension activities and programs to increase demand for agricultural goods of value to farmers in the state or territory.
  • $13.35 million is directed to 49 projects supporting direct producer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agri-tourism through the Farmers Market Promotion Program.
  • $13.45 million is directed to 44 projects to support the development and expansion of local and regional food businesses to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets through the Local Food Promotion Program.
  • $1.1 million is awarded for nine projects through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.

For more information about these programs, visit www.ams.usda.gov

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More Cooperation Regarding Citrus Health and HLB Disease

Citrus Health Response Program Discussed at UC Riverside

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Ag Today recently interviewed Joel Nelsen, president and CEO of the California Citrus Mutual. He spoke on his recent trip to UC Riverside about the Citrus Health Response Program. While speaking with USDA, they discussed the game plans that will be used to battle Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, which is vectored by an invasive insect called Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“We got into it, which I thought was an interesting discussion. What would growers do if in fact HLB was discovered in a grower’s orchard and what would the be obligated to do,” Nelsen said.

“And what came out of that discussion is that we are going to work with the USDA. We’re going to develop a war game scenario. We’re going to bring people into a room and start talking about it, just to see what the reactions were, and we’re going to challenge these individuals to do what needs to be done,” Nelsen explained. “We’re just going to have to figure out how best to address the industry and areas like this.”

Nelsen said that they discussed whether or not there was enough being done in that partnership with the homeowner. “We came to the conclusion that no, quite frankly the industry has been carrying that ball and that USDA and CDFA can do a little bit more in their role as government”

Tree removal and beneficial insects were also discussed.

“We talked about the continued trees being removed, and everybody was satisfied about that. We talked about whether or not beneficial insects can help in this situation. Surprisingly, the answer was pretty much no,” Nelsen explained. “Beneficial releases may help in an urban environment to a small extent, but from a commercial standpoint, it doesn’t help. So there were a lot of discussions, some debate, and most of all, some camaraderie that was developed as far as going forward.”

Nearly 400 trees in front and back yards of homes have been destroyed due to testing positive to HLB disease.

“They’re all in a clearly defined geographical area in Southern California,” Nelsen said. “So what we have is a lot of backyard adventures that bring in rootstock that unfortunately was diseased, and as a result of that, those individuals are the ones that are seeing problems associated with their own trees.”

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Farmers Encouraged to Fill Out Ag Census

2017 Ag Census Under Way

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Scot Rumburg, the Nevada State Statistician for the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. He stressed the importance of the 2017 Ag Census, which has recently been mailed out to anyone who makes a $1,000 or more from any agricultural enterprise.

“USDA has mailed four million copies of the census that will cover what we suspect is about three million farms. We have an over coverage of about one million trying to find everybody, trying to turn over every rock,” Rumburg said.

The Ag Census is conducted once every five years. The census is based off of any ag commodity, from bees and honey to crops, fruit and nuts to livestock of any type. If you produce or have the potential to produce $1,000, the statistic service wants to hear from you. There are people out there planting permanent plantings that are not up and running yet, but they are still considered.

The census is one of the only ways that the USDA can collect data.

“We have to try and get agriculture across the entire U.S. We do a lot of surveys between the five-year census,” Rumburg explained. “This is the only census where we go out and find every agricultural operator in the U.S., and it provides numbers and data that we cannot get on a regular survey.”

“There are people that want many different kinds of data to provide a near complete picture of what is going on in agriculture at nearly every level. The census is all- encompassing,” he said.

Many of the paper censuses arriving to farmers will direct them to an online digital census, by using a code that is given with the census. Operators are encouraged to use the online version.

The 2017 Ag Census is a reflection on 2017; it is not a future forecast. The census asks age, ethnicity, veteran status and many other items that give more information on American farms and farmers.

All farmers and those related to farms, including beekeeping operations, are encouraged to complete the census.

“Money for conservation programs and many other areas to be distributed at the national level is based on this data. It’s important for every operation to get the funding at, a minimum, the state level. All information is private and will not be disclosed to anyone,” Rumburg said.

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Almond and Pistachio NOW Sanitation Critical This Winter

Joel Siegel on NOW Sanitation

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Last year was a bad year for navel orangeworm (NOW) mainly in pistachios, but also in almonds. If left in the trees, infested nuts become a great reservoir for more NOW to inhabit them.

Joel Siegel, NOW research entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Joel Siegel, research entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Joel Siegel, a research entomologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service based in Parlier, stresses the importance of having a good sanitation plan in place to remove those NOW mummy nuts. “When we talk about sanitation, it should be the foundation for everyone’s nut program. That’s something that you control.”

“In almonds, it’s absolutely essential. Where we’ve taken a look at it in the south, every infected mummy per tree is good for 1 percent damage. So going from one mummy to two mummies, your damage on average increases another 1 percent.”

“It’s also important to destroy the mummies on the ground. You figure, for every eight or nine mummies on the ground, that’s good for about a half a percent increase in damage. Get them off the tree and shred the almonds.”

Siegel noted that while pistachio growers can clear mummy nuts off the tree, the industry has not been able to shred the fallen pistachios effectively. The hard, rounded pistachio shells just bounce around in the shredder machine.

almond_mummies
Almond Mummies

“What you can do is shake them off the tree as soon as possible so they’re on the ground where they can start rotting. You get those weeds growing around them. It has been shown that they break down faster in the weeds,” said Siegel.

“Growers disc them in. But if you’re going to disc them in, you have to disc them twice. Again, you’re not destroying the nuts, you are burying them so that NOW cannot lay eggs in the spring,” he said.

The risk of poor sanitation is high. Considerable NOW damage can prevent pistachio and almond growers from earning the premium paid for nuts that are pest-free.

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Drought Takes Big Toll on Sierra Nevada Mountains

New Aerial Survey Identifies More Than 100 Million Dead Trees in California

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the U.S. Forest Service has identified an additional 36 million dead trees across California since its last aerial survey in May 2016. This brings the total number of dead trees since 2010 to over 102 million on 7.7 million acres of California’s drought-stricken forests. In 2016 alone, 62 million trees have died, representing more than a 100 percent increase in dead trees across the state from 2015. Millions of additional trees are weakened and expected to die in the coming months and years.

With public safety as its most pressing concern, the U.S. Forest Service has committed significant resources to help impacted forests, including reprioritizing $43 million in California in fiscal year 2016 to conduct safety-focused restoration along roads, trails and recreation sites. However, limited resources and a changing climate hamper the Forest Service’s ability to address tree mortality in California. USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Forest Service officials are seriously hampered not only by short-term budgets passed by Congress, but also a broken budget for the Forest Service that sees an increasing amount of resources going to firefighting while less is invested in restoration and forest health, Vilsack said.

“These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California,” Vilsack said. “USDA has made restoration work and the removal of excess fuels a top priority, but until Congress passes a permanent fix to the fire budget, we can’t break this cycle of diverting funds away from restoration work to fight the immediate threat of the large unpredictable fires caused by the fuel buildups themselves.”

 

dead trees sierra nevada california drought
Bark Beetles have contributed to tree die-off in the Sierra Nevada forest due to the drought in California

The majority of the 102 million dead trees are located in ten counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region. The Forest Service also identified increasing mortality in the northern part of the state, including Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.

Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off. As a result, in October 2015, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on the unprecedented tree die-off and formed a Tree Mortality Task Force to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees.

This year, California had a record-setting wildfire season, with the Blue Cut fire alone scorching over 30,000 acres and triggering the evacuation of 80,000 people. In the southeastern United States, wildfires have burned more than 120,000 acres this fall. The southeast region of the Forest Service is operating at the highest preparedness level, PL 5, reflecting the high level of physical resources and funding devoted to the region. Extreme drought conditions persist, and many areas have not seen rain for as many as 95 days.

Longer, hotter fire seasons where extreme fire behavior has become the new norm,] – as well as increased development in forested areas – is dramatically driving up the cost of fighting fires and squeezing funding for the very efforts that would protect watersheds and restore forests to make them more resilient to fire. Last year, fire management alone consumed 56 percent of the Forest Service’s budget and is expected to rise to 67 percent in by 2025.

As the situation in the southeast demonstrates, the problem of shrinking budget capacity is felt across the U.S., not only in the western states. The health of our forests and landscapes are at risk across the nation, and the tree mortality crisis could be better addressed if not for the increasing percentage of the Forest Service budget going to fight wildfire. “We must fund wildfire suppression like other natural disasters in the country,” Vilsack said.

Forest Service scientists expect elevated levels of tree mortality to continue during 2017 in dense forest stands; stands impacted by root diseases or other stress agents; and in areas with higher levels of bark beetle activity. Photos and video of the surveys are available on the Forest Service multimedia webpage.

Learn more about tree mortality and the work to restore our forests in California at the Forest Service’s web page by clicking here.


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

U.S. Forest Service

Trump Election May Help California Agriculture

President-Elect Trump May Help Make California Agriculture Great Again!

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States may prove very significant for California. He and his future administration may be able to make sense of the devastating water deliveries diverted from California farms to protect fish species that may already have become extinct, in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

Joel Nelsen, president, California Citrus Mutual and a leader in California agriculture, is encouraged by the election results. “You know, the Donald Trump election was a bit of a surprise to me. You can always hope, but the numbers did not look that good. Now that he is our president-elect, I think we can be somewhat optimistic about the next Congress and this next administration,” Nelsen said.

Joel Nelsen, president, California Citrus Mutual.
Joel Nelsen, president, California Citrus Mutual.

Nelsen said the optimism is going to be on several fronts. “One, I think we have an opportunity now to move water legislation that contains real storage and creates water for a bigger population in California,” he said.

“We also have an opportunity to slow down a rogue agency—which I would call Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—and their activity specific to crop protection tools. We can get an effort going to modernize the Endangered Species Act. Nobody wants to eliminate species, but let’s face it, when that was first signed and passed, it was two generations ago. I think we need to take another look at that,” he said.

Nelsen noted there are some opportunities on the horizon. He hopes the upcoming Congress and new presidential administration will generate some positive activity for the California agriculture industry .

Nelsen and other California ag leaders will soon return to Washington to make sure things are getting done. “A couple of us are going back next week for the lame-duck session because we are hoping Congress will pass a budget that will fund the Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanlongbing program,” he said. “There is no money for it in the USDA budget. As a result, the support at the federal level is less than what it could be or should be.”

“Because the current administration is going to be in office until January 19, 2017, the activists have until then to get things moving in a direction that cannot be stopped from their perspective. I don’t think these next two months will necessarily be quiet.”

“We must have a mindset that others will attempt to do what they think cannot be done. It will be up to many of us in leadership positions to ensure that there’s still a balanced approach with this administration before the next one comes in,” Nelsen said.

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Hope Yet For California Dairy Industry

Proposed Federal Marketing Order Would Benefit California Dairy Farmers

By Brian German, Associate Editor

Chandler Goule, senior vice president of programs for the National Farmers Union
Chandler Goule, senior vice president of programs for the National Farmers Union

California gets hit the hardest when milk prices drop and it is the last state to recover from depressed dairy prices. The California dairy industry eagerly awaits a decision from the USDA regarding the move to a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO). Chandler Goule, senior vice president of programs for the National Farmers Union, believes the state will gain from moving to FMMO.

“I think it will definitely be a win for the dairy industry,” said Goule, “and for our dairymen out there.” Goule anticipates increased participation in the margin revenue program that was incorporated into the FMMO.

Should the USDA hand down a positive determination, the move to a federal order would require a 2/3 majority vote from California dairy producers. “With California being so far from the corn and grain belt, even though you all produce a lot of food in California, it’s not necessarily feed additives for livestock,” Goule remarked.

Unfortunately, the FMMO has a much better chance of being voted in during a time when milk prices are low, according to Goule, as high milk prices may lessen voter turnout and sense of urgency.

“I’m definitely not advocating for low milk prices whatsoever,” Goule said. “We want high milk prices out there. The sooner we can get this vote done, the better off California will be, and the better off your milk prices will be. Then we can start working on this as a nation rather than 48 states—and California by itself.”

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Health Benefits of Pomegranates

Dong Wang on Health Benefits of Pomegranates

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

As the demand for healthy food items increases, farmers are choosing from among a larger diversity of crops to grow. Dong Wang, research leader with the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service in Parlier, spoke at the 2015 UC Kearney Ag Research and Extension Center (KARE) & USDA-ARS Pomegranate Field Day last week.

Wang said “the International Society of Horticultural Sciences[1] organized a conference in 2013 on pomegranates and other minor fruits. Attendees from about 20 countries presented their pomegranate research findings on crop production, yield, quality, and genetic aspects of different species, including cultivars. They also presented findings relating to health benefits and the biochemistry of pomegranate products.”

Researchers and experts in California and around the world continue to explore producing a plant variety with the genetic potential for higher yield. And while increased marketable yield is important, Wang said researching pomegranate health benefits and phenolics—compounds with antioxidant propertiesmay be more beneficial than the absolute yield, “so people are researching multiple aspects of the topic.”

Dong Wang, research leader with the USDA-Agriculture Research Service in Parlier
Dong Wang, research leader with the USDA-Agriculture Research Service in Parlier

While the U.S. has a relatively small market for fresh pomegranates, pomegranate juice and secondary products, which are more common in the U.S., help to increase the fruit’s marketable yield. Wang explained some Americans eat fresh arils atop salads and other dishes, but those not-so-perfect on-the-surface pomegranates will still be desirable for the fresh market because they still contain beneficial compounds when processed. This research on phenolics, vitamins, and other compounds found in the fruit has been performed not only on the juice and the arils, but also in high-concentrate peels.

The International Society of Horticultural Sciences organized a conference in 2013 on pomegranates and other minor fruits. Conference attendees from about 20 countries presented their pomegranate research findings on crop production, yield, quality, and genetic aspects of different species, including cultivars. They also presented findings relating to health benefits and the biochemistry of pomegranate products.”

As a result of the 2013 International Society of Horticultural Sciences Conference in 2013 on pomegranates, Wang co-authored a proceedings book published by the International Society of Horticultural Sciences in July 2015. Co-written with Zhaohe Yuan, Nanjing Forestry University and Erik Wilkins, Paramount Farming Company, the volume, “Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Pomegranate and Minor Mediterranean Fruits,” covers the following major areas of research and state-of-the-art technology: Physiology and Biochemistry, Secondary Metabolism and Human Health, Integrated Pest Management and Disease Control, Marketing and Economics, Genetic Resources and Breeding, Cultivation Techniques, and Post-harvest Technology. According to the USDA, “The book serves as the largest collection of the most current knowledge on pomegranate science and technology in the world.”[2]

_____________________________________

[1] International Society of Horticultural Sciences

[2] USDA ARS

 

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