Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
University of California
Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Kearney News Updates

Home is where the habitat is: This Earth Day, consider installing insectary plants.

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Help the environment this Earth Day, which falls on Sunday April 22 this year, by installing insectary plants! These plants attract natural enemies such as lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Natural enemies provide biological pest control and can reduce the need for insecticides. Visit the new UC IPM Insectary Plants webpage to learn how to use these plants to your advantage.

The buzz about insectary plants

Biological control, or the use of natural enemies to reduce pests, is an important component of integrated pest management. Fields and orchards may miss out on this control if they do not offer sufficient habitat for natural enemies to thrive. Insectary plants (or insectaries) can change that—they feed and shelter these important insects and make the environment more favorable to them. For instance, sweet alyssum planted near lettuce fields encourages syrphid flies to lay their eggs on crops. More syrphid eggs means more syrphid larvae eating aphids, and perhaps a reduced need for insecticides. Similarly, planting cover crops like buckwheat within vineyards can attract predatory insects, spiders, and parasitic wasps, ultimately keeping leafhoppers and thrips under control.

Flowering insectaries also provide food for bees and other pollinators. There are both greater numbers and more kinds of native bees in fields with an insectary consisting of a row of native shrubs planted along the field edge (called a hedgerow). Native bees also stay in fields with these shrubs longer than they do in fields without them. Therefore, not only do insectaries attract natural enemies, but they can also boost crop pollination and help keep bees healthy.

Insectary plants may attract more pests to your crops, but the benefit is greater than the risk

The possibility of creating more pest problems has been a concern when it comes to installing insectaries. Current research shows that mature hedgerows, in particular, bring more benefits than risks. Hedgerows attract far more natural enemies than insect pests. And despite the fact that birds, rabbits, and mice find refuge in hedgerows, the presence of hedgerows neither increases animal pest problems in the field, nor crop contamination by animal-vectored pathogens. Hedgerow insectaries both benefit wildlife and help to control pests.

How can I install insectary plants?

Visit the Insectary Plants webpage to learn how to establish and manage insectary plants, and determine which types of insectaries may suit your needs and situation. If you need financial assistance to establish insectaries on your farm, consider applying for Conservation Action Plan funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Sources:

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 1:48 PM

New discovery shows promise for battling the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

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Native to Asia, the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina ciri, was first detected in the United States in June 1998 in Palm Beach County, Florida. Since then, ACP has invaded all other US citrus areas.  It has been detected in 26 of California's 58 counties. Infected psyllids can transmit the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, which causes the fatal citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB). HLB is currently the most devastating threat to the worldwide citrus industry. A citrus tree infected with HLB may not exhibit any symptoms for two years, and will usually die within five years. UC ANR IPM states that there is no known cure. “The only way to protect trees is to prevent spread of the HLB pathogen in the first place, by controlling psyllid populations and removing and destroying any infected trees.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has set up extensive monitoring and quarantine programs to track and try to slow the spread of the insect and disease. Currently, both residential and commercial sites that have citrus are monitored by checking yellow sticky traps. Psyllid and leaf samples are being tested for the presence of HLB.

If ACP is detected in an area, farmers must resort to regular spray programs to try to control the ACP population. This practice negatively impacts efforts to have a citrus crop grown with IPM strategies that rely on beneficial insects. In a ground-breaking discovery encompassing six years of research, an international team of scientists led by UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal announced they've identified the sex pheromone of ACP. This pheromone can be used to attract more ACP to sticky traps. “Having a [pheromone] lure to dramatically improve captures of this psyllid with the conventional sticky traps is a major progress toward [developing] integrated pest management [strategies],” said Professor Jose Robert Parra of the University of Sao Paulo. Read more.

This is an Asian citrus psyllid, which is about the size of an aphid.

Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 11:16 AM

Almond and Walnut Pest Management Guidelines revised just in time for the holidays.

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‘Tis the season for baking lots of tasty treats. Breads, cookies, cakes, and candy are just a few that come to mind. What makes many of these treats so tasty is the addition of almonds or walnuts to the list of ingredients.

In California, we are lucky to be at the center of almond and walnut production. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA's) latest Agricultural Statistics Review, more than 99% of the almonds and walnuts produced in the United States are grown in California. 

Almond and walnut growers work tirelessly to supply enough nuts to not only satisfy domestic demand, but also for export. Worldwide, almonds rank as the largest specialty crop export. California is the top almond producer in the world, accounting for about 80% of all almonds grown. For walnuts, California ranks as the second largest producer in the world. To keep up with this demand, almond and walnut growers must be constantly aware of pests, diseases, and abiotic problems that can affect the tree and growing nuts. 

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) has recently published revised Pest Management Guidelines for almonds and walnuts, helping growers prevent and manage pest problems with the most up-to-date information. 

Revisions in the Almond Pest Management Guidelines include: 

  • A new section on bacterial spot, a new disease of almond in California found in the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys
  • A renamed section on fruit russeting, revised from the old powdery mildew section
  • Significant revisions made to the management section of navel orangeworm, one of the major pests attacking California almonds
  • Improvements on how to do dormant spur sampling section with easier-to-understand information on monitoring and thresholds

 Revisions in the Walnut Pest Management Guidelines include: 

  • Updated information on the association between walnut twig beetle and thousand cankers disease
  • New sections for Botryosphaeria and Phomopsis cankers, branch wilt, and paradox canker
  • Significant changes to the walnut husk fly management section 

Both the almond and walnut revised Pest Management Guidelines also include updated information on fungicide efficacy, weed management, and vertebrate management. 

Authored by University of California specialists and advisors, the Pest Management Guidelines are UC's official guidelines for monitoring and managing pests in California crops. For more information on pest management in these or other crops, visit the UC IPM website.

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Giving Tuesday is November 28th. Why not make a gift to support the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center?

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This Giving Tuesday, why not donate to KARE? Donations to KARE will be used to help expand our local programs, including research, extension and outreach. KARE is part of the REC system, which is a strong, vibrant organization of research and education academics supported by extraordinary research management capacity to conduct agriculture, natural resource and human resource programs that enable the delivery of the highest quality science to promote healthy citizens, thriving communities, and best practices to protect our agricultural and natural systems. 

UC ANR Giving Tuesday poster.
 

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 2:56 PM

Central Valley Summit on alternatives to open burning of agricultural waste is being held at Kearney 11/7 and 11/8/2017.

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“Building on past efforts by Valley growers to reduce open burning of agricultural waste, the Valley Air District is bringing together Valley growers, researchers, experts, biomass industry representatives, scientists, representatives from new and developing technology vendors, and other Valley stakeholders for a two day summit aimed at advancing new and existing cost-effective clean alternatives to open burning of agricultural waste.” Source: http://www.valleyair.org/cvsummit/.

Please go to the above link to explore the agenda, topics, and presentations.

Snapshot of the Central Valley Summit website.

Posted on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 4:56 PM

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