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

Row Crops

1402 - AIRE STUDY

Principle Investigator: Deborah Bennett

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: dhbennett@ucdavis.edu

Funded by the California Air Resources Board, this study examines air quality effects in children living in agriculture communities in the San Joaquin Valley and other California communities with high air pollution. California experiences some of the highest air pollution in the United States, with 8 of the top 10 cities for ozone pollution and 6 of the top 10 for particulate levels. The San Joaquin Valley, in particular, has some of the worst air quality in the country, as well as one of the highest rates of childhood asthma. Previous studies have reported that agriculture and farming emit more than half of the particulate matter in the San Joaquin Valley. While vehicular traffic accounts for the largest source of ozone emissions, agriculture also plays a role, directly emitting 21 percent of ozone-forming gases in the San Joaquin Valley. It is suggested that not only does ozone reduce yields of some crops in the San Joaquin Valley, but both ozone and PM have long been known to cause adverse respiratory health effects, both in agricultural workers and general populations, contributing to over 200,000 cases of asthma, respiratory and cardiac disease every year, with health-related costs estimated to be about $70 billion each year.  This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of high efficiency filtration of indoor air in reducing exposures to PM and ozone in agriculture regions with high outdoor air pollution, specifically Fresno and Riverside, CA. Two outcomes will be considered: the reduction of air pollution levels and the improvement of asthma.  Air pollution will be recorded every 6 months.  Indoor and outdoor air will be measured as one-week integrated samples for PM 10, PM 2.5, PM 0.2 (representing ultrafine particles), and ozone.  Ozone measurements will be made in the high ozone season, May – October.

1010 IR-4 Minor Crop Registrations

Principle Investigator: Jeff Dahlberg

Affiliation: KARE

Contact: jadahlberg@ucanr.edu

The Inter-regional Research Project #4, or IR-4, helps growers by facilitating registration of environmentally and economically sustainable pest management technology for specialty crops and minor uses.  For a pesticide to be labeled for use, a tolerance, or the legal allowable limit of pesticide residues, must be established on that crop.  The agrichemical industry spends approximately $40M to $80M to bring a new active ingredient to market, driving them away from registering products for specialty crops and minor uses due to insufficient return on investment.  Since 1963, the IR-4 project, which is a highly effective collaborative effort among the state agricultural experiment stations, USDA-CSREES, USDA-ARS, USDA-FAS, EPA, commodity growers and the crop protection industry, has helped insure an economically and environmentally sustainable specialty crop and minor use agricultural industry.  IR-4 is the primary source of research data to support registrations of conventional pesticides and biopesticides on specialty food crops (fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices).  IR-4 also cooperates in global harmonization of Maximum Residue Levels; US tolerance to support global export of US specialty crop commodities; and the registration of pest management tools for minor uses on major crops, invasive species, medically important arthropods and organic crop production. To help ensure pest management tools are there when California's growers need them, the IR-4 program conducts food use magnitude of residue pesticide research trials at the KARE IR-4 Field Research Center (FRC).

1106 - Field Demonstration of Sorghum Forages in CA Dairy

Principle Investigator: Jeff Dahlberg

Affiliation: KARE

Contact: jadahlberg@ucanr.edu

Sorghum is a drought tolerant crop that has potential as a forage crop that uses less water and inputs and would compliment the forage production systems of California. Sorghum forages are extremely varied. There are forages that produce a lot of grain, forages that will not produce any grain, both tall and short forages, and forages with improved digestibility that is derived from a brown midrib trait that lowers lignin content. With proper hybrid selection and good water and fertility management, sorghum forages can produce high quality, high tonnage forages on limited irrigation and fertility which should benefit the dairy industries of California and offer alternative solutions to a growing crisis in water availability in the state. The goal of this research is to sorghum forage research at Kearney and West Side Research & Extension Centers to showcase forage sorghums potential as a water saving, nutritionally important alternative to traditional water intensive crops used in this region.

1209 - Effect of Planting and Harvest Dates on Sorghum Bio

Principle Investigator: Jeff Dahlberg

Affiliation: KARE

Contact: jadahlberg@ucanr.edu

Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] is a unique annual feedstock for renewable energy. It is one of the few crops that can currently meet all of the different processing strategies currently being researched for renewable fuel production: starch-to-biofuel; sugar-to-biofuel; cellulosic/lignocellulosic-to-biofuel. Research on sorghum has focused on both grain and sugar as the primary feedstock, while biomass feedstock research is still underway. Sorghum has tremendous genetic variability for compositional characteristics that are critical to efficient conversion of biomass into biofuels; however, little work has been done to evaluate the effects of planting and harvesting dates on the compositional makeup of sorghum. Understanding the compositional characteristics of a biomass feedstock and the impact that agronomic and environmental practices have on that composition will allow plant breeders to optimize plant characteristics to meet the needs of a growing biomass renewable industry.

1210 - Evaluation of New Sorghum Germplasm for Forage

Principle Investigator: Jeff Dahlberg

Affiliation: KARE

Contact: jadahlberg@ucanr.edu

The San Joaquin Valley of California is home to a multi-million dollar dairy industry. The industry, like many in agriculture, is dealing with several issues that impact their bottom line. The demand for water in California is encouraging a renewed look at crops and cropping systems that conserve water and maintain both yield and quality. Kearney and Westside have begun evaluation of commercial sorghum hybrids that are currently available for sale to farmers in the region. Sorghum is also an important renewable crop that is being evaluated as a major annual feedstock for processing strategies currently being researched for renewable fuel production: starch-to-biofuel; sugar-to-biofuel; cellulosic/lignocellulosic-to-biofuel. This research will evaluate new sorghum germplasm that has application in both the dairy and the bioenergy industries. Agronomic as well as yield data generated from these trials will be utilized to determine the potential merit of experimental entries under consideration for the California silage market. Compositional samples will be evaluated for feeding quality on all entries. A subset of entries from each trial will have compositional samples evaluated for potential bioenergy utility as well. These new sources of germplasm may become the base for new hybrids that will be valuable to the producers of California as they look for crops that have greater drought tolerance and use less inputs.

1306 - Alfalfa Weevil Management

Principle Investigator: Pete Goodell

Affiliation: IPM

Contact: pdgoodell@ucanr.edu

Alfalfa weevil is a key pest in forage alfalfa, damaging hay quality and quantity by feed on leaves and growing meristems. Broad spectrum insecticides are utilized to manage this pest but more recently, reduced risk materials have been introduced which might have promise in suppressing weevil populations while protecting non target organisms and the environment. This project will compare several new biopesticides for their activity against alfalfa weevil. If successful, these products could employed in organic and conventional settings while preserving natural enemies and protecting pollinators.

1002 - Ozone Impact on Crops

Principle Investigator: David Grantz

Affiliation: UC Riverside

Contact: dagrantz@ucanr.edu

The Global Environmental Change components of temperature, aridity, carbon dioxide, and oxidant levels, are likely to remain dominant challenges to crop production and ecosystem function in the San Joaquin Valley. Direct effects will be on crop physiological processes and productivity, on range expansion and contraction of cultivated and non-cultivated species, and on water use by vegetation. Indirect effects will be on the competitive interactions between crops and weeds, and mutualistic as well as antagonistic interactions of plants and insects and pathogens, as well as direct effects of tropospheric ozone on rising global temperature. We use the greenhouse Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor facility at Kearney Agricultural Center to investigate multi-factor responses of common crops to these elements of climate change. Studies will investigate the physiological responses of cotton and other crops climate variables, particularly ozone. Specific areas of interest in the current proposal are 1) the regulation of carbon allocation between root and shoot, 2) regulation of water use and stomatal conductance;, and 3) impacts of ozone exposure on possible synthesis of environmental contaminants by plants.

0502 - Weed Control In Blackeyes

Principle Investigator: Kurt Hembree

Affiliation: UCCE

Contact: kjhembree@ucanr.edu

The unsaturated zone is the link between the crop management zone and groundwater. In the San Joquin Valley it includes the root zone (upper six feet) and the deep unsaturated zone, which can be several tens of feet thick. The unsaturated zone acts as a critical buffer to protect groundwater from nonpoint and point sources of pollution. Percolation of water through the unsaturated zone is a major component of recharge to local groundwater systems in all of California’s agricultural basins. Under various state and federal regulatory guidelines, agriculture is increasingly assessed for its quantitative contribution to nonpoint source pollution of groundwater. Currently, the effects of agricultural management practices on groundwater quality are evaluated by assessing the bulk nitrogen (and pesticide) leaching from the root zone but little is known about the role of the deep unsaturated zone in mitigating and transferring contaminants to groundwater. The overall goal of this project is to improve our understanding of the role of the unsaturated zone as the link between agricultural management practices and groundwater quality. The field site is providing a realistic laboratory to study in particular the transport of nutrients to groundwater. Over the past six years, we have developed and published a detailed characterization of the vadose zone at this field site, which is now the most detailed characterized vadose zone research field site in California. Our objective is to maintain this field site as a live laboratory for related follow-up research. We are open to working with any cooperator interested in putting the field site under production.

0410 - Host Plant Resistance Evaluation for Race 4 Fusarium in Cotton

Principle Investigator: Bob Hutmacher

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: rbhutmacher@ucdavis.edu

A greenhouse project is requested to continue for germplasm screening for resistance / susceptibility evaluations for a specific race of Fusarium vas infectum (race 4 FOV), which can cause a highly-damaging wilt disease.  Races of the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Vasinfectum (FOV) can cause wilt disease in many varieties of cotton grown in the San Joaquin Valley, but prior recognized races of FOV in California have only caused significant economic loss and broad development of disease symptoms when FOV inoculum was present in combination with susceptible cotton varieties and at least moderate populations of root knot nematode.  Within the past nine years, evaluations in both grower fields and in greenhouse screenings at Kearney, we have identified broad capacity of this race 4 FOV to infect many varieties of both Upland and Pima cotton without the root knot nematode association.  These differences in infection capabilities allow a much broader distribution and greater damage as inoculum spreads.  The greenhouse facilities also allow microplot or container evaluations of field sanitation and containment practices potential, and small scale trials of this type are planned to continue as materials of interest are identified.   From our greenhouse and field evaluations to date, however, we still are of the opinion that identification of highly-resistant varieties are widely considered the best approach when the goals are to limit production of additional inoculum and sustain acceptable crop yields. This proposal requests continued access to greenhouse space at Kearney REC to do germplasm screening under FOV race 4 and race 1 disease pressure, where multiple generations and small scale controlled evaluations allow more rapid progress in identifying directions for host plant resistance improvements.

1202 - Silage Sorghum Irrigation Management Strategies

Principle Investigator: Bob Hutmacher

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: rbhutmacher@ucdavis.edu

A sorghum irrigation trial is proposed to develop information on the yield and forage quality responses of two types of sorghum cultivars to furrow irrigation management strategies ranging from nearly full evapotranspiration (ET) replacement to deficit irrigations that target different growth stages.  Interest in sorghum in terms of utility as an alternative forage/silage material for animal feed could be based on the idea that sorghum requires significantly less water than other crop choices, so the investigators feel that it is important to quantify actual water use in east side soils closer to dairy operations and to identify yield and quality responses to periods of deficit irrigation. This proposed two year study would represent a follow-up to a similar field evaluation / sorghum irrigation trial conducted in a loam soil at the College of Sequoias farm.

1307 - Cotton Variety Seed Increase

Principle Investigator: Bob Hutmacher

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: rbhutmacher@ucdavis.edu

The overall purpose for this project is to develop a continuing source of cotton seed for screening and seed increase purposes as part of a multi-location program to eventually develop both Upland and Pima cotton varieties with improved host plant resistance to the fungal disease organism Fusarium oxysporum vas infectum, race 4 (FOV-4).   This disease organism, first identified in California in the year 2001, has been an expanding issue in production areas for cotton in the state of California, and is now present in farm field sites in six counties in the San Joaquin Valley, and is of concern for possible expansion to other areas of the U.S.  Despite the fact that cotton is not a typical crop in eastern San Joaquin Valley in soils such as that at Kearney REC, a primary reason why the Kearney REC is considered by the Project Leaders as a good location for this trial is the lack of many other cotton projects or commercial fields in the area of the REC.  For a screening population and seed increase location, it is highly desirable to be away from other cotton fields and cotton research projects, in particular it is desirable to be located ½ mile or more away from any commercial field or large research trial planted to transgenic cotton varieties.  Cultivars produced in this trial are all from recent crosses or experimental lines where we have very limited supplies of seed, and the project, if successful, will provide additional seed needed for such various purposes as: (1) field screening of these materials for resistance to FOV-4; (2) greenhouse screening for resistance to FOV-4 in a related experiment underway at Kearney REC; (3) yield and fiber quality analyses of promising cultivars; and (4) seed increase for materials showing favorable characteristics in tests (1), (2) and (3) mentioned here.

1404 - Winter Annual Oilseeds as Alternative Crops of California

Principle Investigator: Steve Kaffka

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: srkaffka@ucdavis.edu

This project is conducting variety evaluations and agronomic studies on the species canola and camelina. These species have potential as alternative crops for the diversification of Californian agricultural systems.  Brassica oilseeds have large and growing markets in the United States, with current demand for oil and meal outstripping supply. Oilseeds can also provide valuable break crops in otherwise cereal-dominated rotations.  Preliminary trials of various oilseeds in California have been promising, but yields vary considerably between varieties, sites and years, and therefore the yield potential of the speices in California remain unclear, especially in areas different from those used for tests. The over all goal of the project is to investigate oilseeds as new crops for California and identify better-adapted varieties. From 2012 and 2015 we aim to conduct variety trials at ten sites throughout the state. The sites will be selected to represent the environmental heterogeneity of Californian agricultural systems.

0809 - Honey Bees and Pollination Education and Research

Principle Investigator: Shannon Mueller

Affiliation: UCCE

Contact: scmueller@ucanr.edu

Over 350 different crops are grown in California and many of them require pollination for maximum yield and quality. This is accomplished most often by introducing honey bees to the field during bloom. Some of the most important crops produced in the San Joaquin Valley depend on honey bee pollination, and with recent concerns associated with mite infestations, diseases, and nutritional deficiencies contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder, there is a significant need for research and education efforts in this area. We propose to maintain a small number of honey bee colonies at the Kearney Ag Center to improve our understanding of honey bee biology and ecology while at the same time having access to and control of honey bees for educational efforts and research at the Center.

1009 - Non Chemical Control of Root-Knot Nematodes in Veg Crops

Principle Investigator: Antoon Ploeg

Affiliation: UC Riverside

Contact: antoon.ploeg@ucr.edu

Root-knot nematodes cause serious damage to vegetable crops in the US. Carrot is particularly sensitive because the harvested product is directly affected, resulting in severe losses in quality and marketable yield. Soil fumigants are heavily used in carrot to control nematodes, but have been implicated as important causes of poor air quality, and their use is being restricted.  Thus, there is an urgent need for effective, economically viable, and sustainable nematode management strategies.  Two strategies will be evaluated in this project: using nematode resistant cover crops, and coating carrot seed with a biologically-based nematicide. Specific varieties of sudangrass (var. Trudan 8), sorghum-sudangrass (var. SX-17), and cowpea (var. UCR CC36) have been reported resistant to root-knot nematodes. Sudan and sorghum-sudan are widely grown in California and can be harvested for hay or ethanol production, or incorporated to increase soil organic matter and act as a biofumigant through the release of nematicidal metabolites. Cowpea can fix large amounts of nitrogen and can be harvested for forage, or incorporated to increase soil organic matter. We will evaluate their effect on root-knot nematode populations, and nematode damage in a following carrot crop. Coating seed with minute amounts of abamectin has proven to dramatically lessen the impact of root-knot nematodes in several susceptible crops, including carrots. We will evaluate the effectiveness of this combined strategy in fresh carrot production. Our goal is to develop an integrated, non-fumigant strategy to minimize root-knot nematode damage in carrot without compromising air quality.

456 - Alfalfa Cultivar Evaluation

Principle Investigator: Dan Putnam

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: dhputnam@ucdavis.edu

This trial at UC Kearney Agricultural Center is part of a state-wide alfalfa variety program that has been ongoing for more than 30 years, one of the most comprehensive in the US.  Alfalfa variety choice, guided by variety data such as the one at Kearney, has been shown to return hundreds of dollars per acre to the producer. The average yield difference due to variety in the San Joaquin Valley from our 25 trials in this region (86 years of tests) were 3.67 tons/acre, or about 36% of the mean yield of these trials.  This indicates the economic incentive to growers to choose high yielding varieties, using data such as these. These public trials also help guide private seed companies to make good decisions on varieties to promote.  A new trial was established in Kearney in September, 2013, and should last for approximately 3 years.   This trial includes both Roundup-Ready and conventional lines.   Additionally, experimental lines which are close to release are included.   Unbiased data comparing conventional and RR lines is important as this technology moves forward.  Germination was good, and the stand is being established.   This project is a component of the ongoing effort to evaluate varieties state-wide in California, and to provide an independent evaluation of the latest technologies and latest varieties released to growers.  It will be conducted as a standard variety trial is conducted, according to standards common across the US.

1301 - Characterizing N Fertilizer Requirements of Crops

Principle Investigator: Dan Putnam

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: dhputnam@ucdavis.edu

Alfalfa-Grains rotations are a major part of the cropping system in the Central Valley region and all over California.  Farmers have been under scrutiny from several quarters to more accurately match the needs of the crop with fertilizer applications.  It is well known that perennial legumes such as alfalfa confer benefits to the subsequent non legume crop, especially from residual soil N from N2 fixation that can be absorbed by the following crop.  This lessens the N fertilizer need of the non-legume in rotation.  However, quantification of this fertilizer benefit, and its impact on fertilizer applications has been largely ignored, due primarily to lack of data.  Alfalfa produces between 300 and 750 lbs of N per acre per year (above ground), often greater than 90% originating from the atmosphere through biological N2 fixation.  Estimates of the residual N benefit (from roots, remaining plant parts, and soil microorganisms) from other regions have ranged between 30 and 200 lbs/a per year, and in some cases may satisfy the entire N needs of a subsequent crop.  There are currently no estimates from California Our objective is to determine the impacts of rotation with alfalfa on the N fertilization needs of a non-legume crop (wheat), to develop an ‘N credit’ recommendation for management of N fertilizers in non-legumes rotated with alfalfa.  Wheat was chosen as a test crop, since wheat is grown throughout California and is an excellent indicator crop for N.  Sudangrass-wheat will be used as a non-legume rotation. An existing vigorous alfalfa field will be chosen, and crop rotations established on portions in an experimental design in strips for one or two years before the test plots would be applied to allow alfalfa-wheat and non-legume-wheat rotation comparisons to have significant soil effects.   The design will allow internal replications as well as 2 years, in two phases.  This study is part of a state-wide evaluation of alfalfa rotations, incorporating the differences between Intermountain, Central valley, and Imperial Valley conditions.  N15 data utilizing the natural abundance method will be used to estimate the quantity of N derived from atmospheric N2 fixation in the alfalfa before plowdown.  Soil samples will characterize N profile prior to the test wheat crop.  Crop uptake data in wheat will be measured with whole plant and grain samples, and yield and quality response to N will be measured following either a non-legume (wheat/sudangrass) or alfalfa.  The difference method will be used to estimate N credits ascribed to the legume—this includes non-N rotation benefits (such as soil tilth) which may be present.  This study will enable the agricultural sector to promote more sustainable techniques which will reduce the risk to groundwater from excess and unnecessary N applications and better utilize the benefits of crop rotation.

1406 - Dormant Alfalfa Herbicide Tolerance Trial

Principle Investigator: Dan Putnam

Affiliation: UC Davis

Contact: dhputnam@ucdavis.edu

Currently, there are few options for a ‘burndown’ herbicide for use during the dormant period in alfalfa to control the winter weed complex.  Paraquat is widely used to control weeds, but also exhibits crop injury and has high levels of worker-toxicity risk.  This trial at UC Kearney Agricultural Center will test Sharpen® herbicide to evaluate burndown of broadleaf weeds and residual control when applied at three timings.  Sharpen is considered to have lower risk to the operator and has been shown in earlier tests to be efficacious. This trial will be conducted to test the crop injury potential of this herbicide, starting December, 2013 through May or June, 2014 on an existing alfalfa stand.

77 - Control of Root-Knot Nematodes in Vegetables

Principle Investigator: Phil Roberts

Affiliation: UC Riverside

Contact: philip.roberts@ucr.edu

The project addresses economic trends in agriculture for crop production costs and the impact of federal and state regulatory policy for pesticide use and public opinion related to concerns for human health and the environment.  Research is required on nematode pest management systems that integrate chemical nematicide treatments or replace them with less expensive and environmentally benign control methods, including tolerant and resistant cultivars, cultural practices such as rotations and manipulation of planting and harvest dates, and soil amendments.  These management tactics will provide the basis for nematode management in the future. The project focus is on analysis and development of nematode resistance in annual crops. The project provides a field uniformly infested with the common root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita. The project objective is the development and study of cultural and genetic (host plant resistance) control strategies for root-knot nematode in vegetable and rotational row crops.  Much of the research is linked with established breeding programs for development of resistant cultivars suitable for California growing conditions and yield and quality standards.  Breeding programs at UC Riverside, UC Davis, and University of Wisconsin are involved as collaborators in this work.  The project will focus on root-knot resistance in carrot, common beans, Lima beans, cotton, cowpeas and pigeonpea.

501 - Evaluation of Blackeye Breeding Lines

Principle Investigator: Phil Roberts

Affiliation: UC Riverside

Contact: philip.roberts@ucr.edu

Blackeye and other types of cowpea cultivars with improved yield potential, grain quality and resistance to root-knot nematodes, cowpea aphid, and lygus bug are needed for California growers to remain profitable in the face of high costs and competition from other states.  Research conducted at Kearney Research and Extension Center (KREC) supports our Blackeye/Cowpea breeding program at UC Riverside with the goal of developing improved varieties.  KREC provides a representative field environment to select for yield potential and is an ideal location to screen germplasm for resistance to lygus bug and cowpea aphid because infestations of these pests are severe and occur reliably.  At KREC we evaluate and select blackeye/cowpea breeding lines developed at UC Riverside, conduct replicated large plot grain yield evaluations of advanced breeding lines, and screen diverse cowpea germplasm for resistance to cowpea aphid and lygus bug.  Tests at KREC helped us to identify blackeye breeding line 03Sh-50,that was released in 2009 as "California Blackeye No. 50" or 'CB50'. Through our extensive screening work at KREC, we identified sources of resistance to lygus bug and strong resistance to cowpea aphid and have incorporated these resistances into adapted blackeye varieties. Pigeonpea is the most popular grain legume in India and a potential new crop for California growers.  It currently has strong demand in international markets and this is projected to continue over the next 20 years.  This project has developed advanced breeding lines of this crop that need to be tested under conditions representative of the Central Valley.

811 - Root-Knot Nematode Resistance

Principle Investigator: Phil Roberts

Affiliation: UC Riverside

Contact: philip.roberts@ucr.edu

The overall research objective is to develop varieties of grain legumes and vegetables with resistance to root-knot nematodes and develop knowledge concerning their integration into cropping systems. The project site is infested with Meloidogyne javanica, one of two common root-knot species in the warm interior valleys of California. This site, and a sister site at KREC infested with M. incognita, are utilized in field screening wild germplasm, new and advanced breeding lines, and finished varieties of crops including cowpea, baby and large Lima beans, and carrot. Breeding programs at UC Riverside, UC Davis, and University of Wisconsin are involved in this work, with support from the California Dry Bean and Fresh Carrot Advisory Boards. The site is used comparatively with other infested sites at field stations in Tustin (SCREC) and Coachella Valley (UCR-CVARS). We evaluate different breeding populations, genetic stocks, and germplasm lines of Blackeye beans, Lima beans and carrot with and without nematode resistance genes, in plots with different nematode population levels. These experiments provide assessment of the relative value of resistance in protecting against nematode infection and promoting yield. The long-term breeding effort requires cycles of screening, selection, and re-screening and selection as resistant materials are identified and advanced. The project site is an important resource in development of nematode resistant crops and their effective deployment in annual crop systems for California and elsewhere.

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