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Pest/Disease Management

$12 Million to Eradicate an Invasive Rodent of Unusual Size

You may have heard of them in the comedy film Princess Bride as “Rodents of Unusual Size”, but this is the real thing — only not so large and formidable.  Nutria were originally introduced into the United States as part of the fur trade in the late 1800s, but were eradicated from California in the 1970s.  They made a sudden …

How to Prevent Grape Bunch Rot

At Malcolm Media’s recent Grape, Nut & Tree Fruit Expo, UCCE Viticulture Advisor Gabriel Torres provided an in-depth presentation on sour rot prevention and management. If you missed his presentation or would like a refresher, watch this brief interview as Gabriel provides of some key points growers should consider in season-long prevention/management of this crop spoiling complex. Please thank this …

UC Cooperative Extension Investigates the Reality of Steam-Weeding Lettuce Fields

Despite the tremendous need, there are currently no preemergence herbicides that are organic-compliant. Steam injected into the soil such that the soil temperatures reach >140°F for 15-20 minutes will kill weed seed in the soil. The effect of this reduction in the seedbank viability results weed control in the treated area that persists for several weeks or months, similar to …

USDA Study Reveals Airborne Fungus Can Trigger Plant Growth

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently announced that a harmless airborne fungus, Cladosporium sphaerospermum strain TC09 (TC09), can dramatically accelerate plant growth if a germinating plant is near the fungus as it emits volatiles or gases. Scientists used tobacco and pepper plants as models to study the conditions for accelerated plant growth once exposed to …

Grafting Watermelon Prevents Disease, WSU Study Shows

A new study from Washington State University’s Department of Horticulture found that splice grafting helps watermelons resist disease. For more than 10 years, watermelon growers in Washington’s Columbia Basin have been struggling with a disease called Verticillium wilt, caused by the fungus Verticillium dahliae. The findings were recently published in the American Society for Horticulture Science. For decades, methyl bromide, a fumigant used …

Five Steps for Ag Processors to Adapt their COVID-19 Incident Response Approach

COVID-19 is a health crisis in the United States but major industries, like agriculture, chemical manufacturing, oil and gas exploration and production, all need to keep functioning as essential businesses in the midst of the crisis.  The response to COVID-19 has core parallels to major industrial accident response, which involves deploying the right resources for the task.  Every incident, be …

Evaluating Biological Fungicides Against Fruit Rot in Strawberry

Several crown, fruit, and foliar diseases cause significant yield losses to strawberry.  Gray mold or Botrytis fruit rot caused by Botrytis cinerea, mucor fruit rot by Mucor spp., and Rhizopus fruit rot by Rhizopus spp. are common fungal diseases in California.  Botrytis cinerea is more prevalent and damaging fungus among these pathogens warranting regular fungicidal applications.  Fungal spores survive in plant debris and soil and infection can …

Pythium & INSV Infections in Salinas Lettuce Fields

In 2020 the incidence of Pythium wilt (caused by Pythium uncinulatum) of lettuce has increased in severity and in the number of affected fields. Pythium infections in lettuce fields have been observed frequently, but not always, occurring with INSV infection. As a result, there has been confusion distinguishing between these two diseases and the role of each of them in causing …

Managing Root-Knot Nematodes in Crop Rotations

A question came up about managing root-knot nematodes in processing tomato and lima bean rotations.  Root-knot nematodes are tiny worm-like soil dwelling pests that cause root galling on plant roots, resulting in significant yield and quality losses. Symptoms of severe root-knot infestations include patches of chlorotic, stunted, necrotic, or wilted plants. These nematodes also predispose plants to other soilborne pathogens …

Plant, Insect Viruses Work Together to Spread Disease

In what may be a first for science, researchers with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found an example of plant and insect viruses working together to increase their spread. Michelle Heck, an ARS research molecular biologist, was leading research into poleroviruses, a type of plant virus spread by aphids, when she and Cornell University graduate students Jenny Wilson and …

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