March/April 2022 - 33

Industry looks skyward to take on
major pest
An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in
California is developing a new use for a tool that farmers have
had in their kit for over 100 years - aircraft.
Charles Burks, a research entomologist with ARS's San
Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier,
California, collaborated
with researchers from
USDA's Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) and University
of California, Riverside,
to merge those legacy
systems to take on navel orangeworm, a critical insect pest
of California's nut industry. Almonds, pistachios and walnuts
are grown on approximately 2 million acres in California and
contribute over $23 billion to the state's annual economy.
According to Burks, sterile insect technique (SIT), the
release of mass-reared sterile insects into the field to
prevent reproduction of invasive pest species, has been used
successfully to eradicate the pink bollworm from the United
States. SIT, which sterilizes insects with gamma or x-ray
irradiation, is one of the most environmentally friendly insect
pest control methods. The major challenge lies in how to
introduce the sterile insects to potential mates.
" The project adapts the technology infrastructure built
for the pink bollworm to navel orangeworm, " he said. " We
collaborated with APHIS to rear 20 million sterile navel
orangeworm per day and release them over California fields. "
Drones and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have been
used secondarily in this project, Burks said, but release with
UAS is likely to become more common in the future.
" Response to invasive pests has been a common use for
SIT, " he said. " This and other projects demonstrate that it is
important to have a capacity for an agile response to such
threats, using modular systems, and quickly adapting to key
differences in the biology of different insect pest species. "
- Scott Elliott, ARS Office of Communications
Project aimed at improving fertilization
and irrigation practices
The California Department of Food And Agriculture
(CDFA) has received $2 million from the USDA for a
research consortium to implement a
demonstration and outreach approach
to help farmers improve nitrogen
fertilization and irrigation practices.
These funds are being awarded
through the USDA Natural Resources
Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants
program, which this year is providing $15 million to 19
projects nationwide to support the development of new
tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further
natural resource conservation on private lands.
This project will be led by CDFA's Fertilizer Research and
Education Program and is a collaboration with the University
of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division and
UC Davis to support farmer-led coalitions in protecting the
long-term viability of farming in the San Joaquin Valley.
The three-year project will deploy seven UC Cooperative
Extension personnel to the San Joaquin Valley to perform
education and demonstration projects, provide on-farm
consultation, and conduct outreach activities to promote
locally appropriate best practices.
Program staff will consult with farmer-led water quality
coalitions in each region to further assess grower needs.
UC Davis researchers will study the effectiveness of this
demonstration-and-outreach approaches and will identify
extension methods that can efficiently help farmers adopt new
conservation practices.
California DPR/EPA approves
Section 18 emergency registration
for kasugamycin on almonds
On Jan. 28, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation
(DPR) issued a Section 18 SPECIFIC exemption for the use of
Kasumin 2L to control bacterial
blast in almonds. The exemption is
effective Feb. 1, 2022 through April
15, 2022. In the announcement,
DPR advised operations to use the
chemical number for kasugamycin
(6197) for their " Restricted Material
Permit Program. "
The approval applies to the
counties of Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Madera, Merced,
San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba.
Growers interested in this application are heavily
encouraged to reference the Almond Board of California's
Honey Bee Best Management Practices as well as the Quick
Guide for Applicators (in English and Spanish) to ensure
pollinator health is maintained. As stated in these practices,
growers should only use applications when absolutely
necessary and should only make applications in the late
afternoon or evening, when bees and pollen are not present.
Please contact your local county ag commissioner's office
for further details if interested in using this product. This
emergency exemption may also be viewed on the DPR
website at
Visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture
website for a full list of county ag commissioners' offices, as
well as contact information for each.
- Almond Board of California

March/April 2022

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