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Shade Trailer

(originally May/June 2017)

The busy season is now upon us and it is the time of year when we need to be vigilant in our efforts to keep our workers safe.  The incident trends from the summer of 2016 are a great indicator of where we saw our greatest issues, as well as feedback from the industry about the challenges they faced in protecting our workforce.  While some of these issues are emerging, many are the same struggles we have each year.  Regardless, it is critical that employers take the time now to evaluate their impending peak-season needs and plan accordingly to mitigate workers’ risk exposure.

oranges

(originally March/April 2017)

Citrus thrips is a common pest of California citrus, attacking leaves and the calyx end of newly forming fruit, when the epidermal cells are quite sensitive.  In leaves, this causes distortion of the leaves and light lines of scarring

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(originally published January/February 2017)

California has been in a historic drought and the lack of water has been a major problem for agriculture especially for crops that depend on irrigation. Deficit irrigation may be used in some cropping systems as a potential water saving strategy (Goldhamer et al., 1999). The term “Deficit Irrigation” simply means irrigating at less than the full amount required by crop evapotranspiration needs. For fruiting trees such as peaches, because fruit yield and quality at harvest may not be sensitive to water stress at some developmental stages such as during the non-fruit bearing postharvest season, there is an interest in applying deficit irrigation strategies. Deficit irrigation has not been widely used due partially to the lack of effective and fast methods of monitoring plant water stress in near real-time and determining associated risks of applying deficit irrigation. When crops are managed under deficit irrigation, the margin of error in timing and amount of water application becomes smaller before causing yield losses. Monitoring the soil and plant water status is more critical for reducing risks of a crop failure or permanent damage to the trees.  However, current established techniques of monitoring the soil and plant water status such as neutron probe readings of soil water profile and pressure chamber measurements of stem water potential are labor intensive, and lack the timeliness needed for irrigation scheduling purposes.

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(originally published September/October 2016)

Shortly after hiring on as the inaugural executive director of the University of Arizona’s new Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, a public-private partnership devoted to applied agricultural research needed by the desert agriculture industry, Paul Brierley asked his stakeholders what they would like the Center to address first.  The answer was resounding:  Help us mitigate plant diseases!  And not just any plant disease – help us with the seemingly impossible-to-eradicate Fusarium wilt of lettuce.  And thus began the Center’s odyssey against the insidious disease that is wiping out entire fields during warm-season production of iceberg lettuce – costing the industry millions of dollars.

First step:  figure out what we already know.  No need to re-invent the wheel.  For that, Brierley turned to Dr. Mike Matheron.  Matheron is an extension plant pathologist and professor at the University of Arizona’s Yuma Agricultural Center.  When the disease first migrated to California and Arizona at the turn of the twenty-first century, Dr. Matheron and others from the U of A and UC Davis undertook research to better understand the disease and how to fight it.