Current issue and featured articles
Peer-reviewed research and review articles
Boons or boondoggles: An assessment of the Salton Sea water importation options
Importing ocean water from the Sea of Cortés to the Salton Sea would be substantially more expensive than leasing agricultural water from the Imperial Valley and transferring it to the Salton Sea.
Several ways to address the looming ecological disaster that is the Salton Sea have been proposed — including water importation. Here we considered two options: importing ocean water from the Sea of Cortés and leasing water from agricultural users in the Imperial Valley. We estimated the monetary costs for importing Sea of Cortés water to the Salton Sea and compared that with the costs of transferring water from agricultural users to the Salton Sea. We found that leasing water from agriculture would be substantially cheaper than ocean water imports. Additionally, all the infrastructure for leasing water from growers exists, which means water transfers could begin immediately. That is important given the present and increasing environmental and human health damages that are occurring at the Salton Sea.
Traditional market-animal projects positively influence 4-H enrollment
Linear modeling techniques suggest that beef, sheep and swine projects all contribute to increased county 4-H enrollment, though the degree of increase varies.
The 4-H Youth Development Program (4-H) teaches life skills. An understanding of the factors that drive participation in the California 4-H program can help the organization target its efforts to increase enrollment and benefit more California youth as they move toward adulthood. 4-H has long been associated with market-animal projects, but the effect of these projects on enrollment is not known. In this study, 7 years' worth of enrollment data from 27 Northern California counties was evaluated with linear modeling techniques to determine the impact of market-animal projects (beef, sheep and swine) on program participation. The analysis demonstrated that market-animal projects produce significant, positive effects on enrollment. Each beef project contributed nearly four new members to county enrollment; a single sheep project yielded just over two new members; and two new swine projects produced a single new enrollment. Region and population density influenced membership but year within the study period did not. These results demonstrate the multiplicative effect of beef and sheep projects on county 4-H enrollment.
UC pistachio cultivars show improved nut quality and are ready for harvest earlier than ‘Kerman’
In six commercial trials in the San Joaquin Valley, the percentage of split, in-shell nuts was higher for new cultivars ‘Gumdrop’, ‘Golden Hills’ and ‘Lost Hills’ than for ‘Kerman’, and bloom and harvest were earlier.
California pistachio growers have traditionally grown only one female cultivar (‘Kerman’) and one male pollenizer (‘Peters’). Starting in 2005, the UC breeding program released several improved cultivars, which are being planted on increasing acreage — and tested now under commercial conditions at multiple sites over multiple years. We conducted six experimental trials in the San Joaquin Valley to evaluate the performance of the UC cultivars ‘Gumdrop’, ‘Golden Hills’ and ‘Lost Hills’ and their associated UC male pollenizers ‘Famoso’, ‘Randy’ and ‘Tejon’ against the performance of the traditional pair, ‘Kerman’ and ‘Peters’. The new cultivars demonstrated a range of earlier bloom and harvest dates than ‘Kerman’ and some improved nut quality characteristics, such as a higher percentage of split, in-shell nuts. Results indicate that by growing the new female cultivars and synchronous pollenizers, producers can avoid the peak harvest period for ‘Kerman’, when equipment and processing facilities are limited, and maintain or improve their yield and nut quality.
Grape erineum mite: Postharvest sulfur use reduces subsequent leaf blistering
As vectors of a grapevine pathogen, erineum mites pose a potential new threat but are vulnerable to sulfur applications after harvest.
The occurrence of eriophyid mites (Calepitrimerus vitis [rust mites] and Colomerus vitis [erineum mites and bud mites]) in vineyards worldwide is associated with leaf deformation, stunted shoot growth and reduced yield potential. In the North Coast region of California, leaf blistering by the erineum strain of Colomerus vitis is the most widespread symptom of eriophyid mite damage. Unlike rust and bud mites, erineum mites are generally considered a nuisance pest that is incidentally controlled by sulfur-dominated management programs for powdery mildew. However, recent reductions in the use of sulfur have allowed erineum mite populations to expand, highlighting the need for alternative management options. In this study, we posited that, during autumn, mites moving to buds from erinea (leaf blisters) to overwinter could be susceptible to sulfur applications. During four growing seasons, we documented patterns of mite movement to identify key sulfur application timing. We found the greatest numbers of migrating erineum mites from late September to early November. Concurrently, in replicated trials, we evaluated the efficacy of postharvest sulfur applications to reduce blistering. Sulfur applied during the migration period in 2013 appeared to eradicate leaf blistering in the 2014 growing season. In subsequent trials, sulfur treatments reduced blistering to less than 10% incidence, compared to 40% to 50% incidence in control plots.
Supporting evidence varies for rangeland management practices that seek to improve soil properties and forage production in California
The authors synthesized the effects of silvopasture, grazing, compost application and riparian restoration on soil properties and forage production.
California is increasingly investing in policies and programs that promote soil stewardship on natural and working lands as a way to help achieve multiple goals, including improved forage production and climate change mitigation. To inform the growing expectations for rangeland management activities to promote such services, we conducted an evidence synthesis assessing how four commonly suggested practices (silvopasture, prescribed grazing, compost application and riparian restoration) affect a suite of soil properties and plant-related metrics throughout the state. We extracted data on soil properties that are potentially responsive to management and relevant to soil health. We also extracted data on aboveground forage production, forage nitrogen content and herbaceous species richness. Our search resulted in 399 individual soil observations and 64 individual plant observations. We found that the presence of oaks had the largest effects on soil properties, with soil organic carbon, microbial biomass and other measures of soil fertility increasing beneath oak canopies. The presence of grazing increased compaction and total nitrogen, and decreased pH. Compost applications did not significantly affect any of the measured soil properties, but did boost forage production. Due to a lack of published data, we were unable to characterize the influence of rangeland riparian restoration on any of the soil or plant metrics in our review.
News and opinion
OUTLOOKBurn permits need to facilitate – not prevent – “good fire” in California
The weather last fall was unusually favorable for private landowners to carry out prescribed burns to reduce wildfire hazard. Burn permits, however, made burning unnecessarily difficult. Safe and effective prescribed burns can benefit from changes in permitting.
OUTLOOKCOVID-19 and California farm labor
COVID-19 may accelerate trends in California agriculture toward mechanization and the use of guest-worker programs.
CONVERSATIONHow is coronavirus affecting agriculture in California?
An interview with UC Cooperative Extension experts about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on food production.
RESEARCH BRIEFRecent blue oak mortality on Sierra Nevada foothill rangelands may be linked to drought, climate change
UC Cooperative Extension and landowners join forces to probe possible causes of mysterious blue oak mortality in the Sierra foothills.
Early view articles
RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTSResearch highlights
Recent articles from the Agricultural Experiment Station campuses and UC ANR's county offices, institutes and research and extension centers.
PEER-REVIEWEDSurveys of 12 California crops for phytoseiid predatory mites show changes compared to earlier studies
In phytoseiid samples from 25 counties from 2000 to 2018, the western predatory mite, long recognized as an important biological control agent, was found in relatively low numbers.
Phytoseiid mites are key predators in agricultural crops. However, not all species regulate pest populations below economic thresholds, and therefore knowledge of which species are associated with particular crops aids pest control recommendations. Surveys of 12 crops across six geographical regions of California demonstrated that phytoseiid species varied by crop and geographical location, with subtropical crops exhibiting the lowest species diversity and grape the greatest. The western predatory mite, Galendromus occidentalis, long cited as a dominant species in California crops, was not found to be the major species in most situations. Euseius stipulatus, a species introduced in the 1970s, was found in the surveyed crops in many areas of the state and appears to be displacing E. hibisci along the south coast.
FeaturedBurn permits need to facilitate – not prevent – “good fire” in California
FeaturedBoons or boondoggles: An assessment of the Salton Sea water importation options
The primary technical publication of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources for 70 years is accessible online.