Sacramento Bee. At a press conference yesterday, Chuck Ingels, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sacramento County, encouraged residents to find their automatic sprinkler controllers and turn them off.
“A single lawn sprinkler can use as much water as taking a shower,” Ingels said. “Many people don't even know where their (sprinkler) controller is. They are often hidden behind boxes or bicycles in the garage.”
The press conference was held jointly by the California Department of Water Resources, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis. The speakers noted that every drop of water saved by not watering already moist lawns will ensure there's more water when warmer months arrive. As part of the event, Ingels demonstrated a simple test to determine lawn moisture.
He easily pushed a flat-head screwdriver into the lawn up to its handle, indicating the soil beneath the surface is moist. If it doesn't sink in all the way or needs pressure, the lawn may need water.
In the coming months, there are many more strategies that can be employed to make the most efficient use of water placed on landscapes, which represents more than half of home water use.
- Determine your home sprinklers' output by conducting a catch can test
- Program the controller to deliver water in short increments broken up with time for the water to soak into the ground
- Use drip irrigation for plants and trees
- Cover the soil with mulch to reduce evaporation from the soil surface
Read more here: Conserve water with proven landscape irrigation strategies
Additional home and ag water conservation resources are available from the UC California Institute for Water Resources, http://ucanr.edu/drought.
Chico Enterprise Record.
Many of these farmers use groundwater to irrigate their orchards, and groundwater in the Sacramento Valley is in pretty good shape, said Joe Connell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and county director in Butte County.
If groundwater levels drop, growers will be pumping from farther down. So far, things look like they will be OK for orchard crops, Connell said. The supply of bees was adequate and before the rains, there was time for bees to pollinate.
The outlook isn't quite as rosy for rice farmers in the area, Randall "Cass" Mutters, UCCE advisor in Butte County, told the reporter.
"The buzz is that everyone is waiting on what the allotment will be," Mutters said. "No one will know until April 1."
However, recent rains were just a dribble compared to normal for this time of year. The Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation have said surface water deliveries will be very low or nonexistent for growers.
The article concluded with a link to the UC California Institute for Water Resources drought page and a list of the resources available there to farmers, homeowners and the media.
During a drought, salts that would normally be leached out by rainfall stay on the surface. Growers are forced to irrigate with groundwater to wash salt out of the plants' rootzone.
Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Santa Cruz County, told AgAlert, a publication of the California Farm Bureau Federation, that in Northern California many strawberry and cane berry fields are being affected. The result will be loss in yield.
In a blog post Bolda wrote in December titled A tsunami of salt is on the way, he said strawberry growers across the state need to keep running that water until we get some rain.
"There is so much salt building up in these soils right now," Bolda said more than two months ago.
The most serious damage, the Californian reported, is occurring in the Oxnard area and Choachella Valley.
Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Portuguese broom (Cytisus striatus). Brooms were introduced as ornamentals, but also were used extensively for erosion control along roadsides and in mined areas.
Now growing profusely in California forests, on roadsides, and wildlands, brooms:
- Crowd out out desirable vegetation
- Form impenetrable thickets that limit access to some areas
- Shade out tree seedlings, and make reforestation difficult
- Burn readily, increasing the intensity of fire, and carry fire to the tree canopy
- Are toxic to cattle and horses and unpalatable to most wildlife
- Produce abundant, long-lived seed
- Are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, giving broom a competitive advantage over native plants
Management of these and other weeds are presented in the recently published second edition of Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control. Invasive species that create a dangerous wildfire hazard and crowd out desirable vegetation and wildlife are examples of why this book emphasizes vegetation management and pesticide handling, including correct equipment calibration and effective herbicide application. The second edition also provides broader coverage of insects, plant pathogens, vertebrate pests, and the various practices to manage them, recognizing that lands commonly have multiple uses and when and how pests are managed depends on many considerations with sometimes conflicting goals.
Experts with Cal-Fire, Caltrans, PG&E, USDA Forest Service, private industry, the University of California (UC) Berkeley and Davis campuses, UC County Cooperative Extension offices, and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) contributed to Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control, prepared by UC ANR's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control is available for $35 online in the UC ANR Catalog. The table of contents and more information about the book are available on the UC IPM website. You can also preview and electronically search the contents on Google Books.
It looks harmless enough – a light dusting like baby powder sprinkled on the leaves. But powdery mildew can attack new buds and shoots, stunt growth and distort plant development. If not controlled, the fast spreading fungus can cause billions of dollars of crop damage in California. For example, powdery mildew is the most significant disease affecting grapes in California, with all productive acreage treated to help minimize loss. Borne by the wind, its spores race through fields and can easily damage a season's crop, resulting in losses of 30 percent or more.
Growers combat powdery mildew with sulfur, fungicides, and other deterrents, but treatment is costly, and timing is difficult. But a much more precise strategy may be on the way.
With the funding from UC Berkeley's Bakar Fellows Program, which supports early-career faculty conducting commercially promising research, Wildermuth is applying her discoveries to protect commercially valuable crops. She uses a plant in the mustard family popular with researchers for it small, sequenced gene and a short life cycle.
“We've already identified the parallel genes in a number of important crops,” she said. “By targeted breeding to limit these genes' powdery mildew-promoting effects, we should be able to protect plants without extensive chemical treatments.”
When powdery mildew spores land on a leaf, the spore germinates and bores through the leaf surface to make a lobe-shaped feeding structure. The fungus also influences nearby plant cells, manipulating the leaf cell physiology to gain nutrients. A high nutrient supply is needed to support the large fungal network on the leaf surface and the formation of new spores, which propagate the infection.
Wildermuth's lab used a highly refined technique under an optical microscope to scrutinize the fungus-plant interaction and focus in on the plant cell housing the fungal feeding structure and the neighboring leaf cells.
"We can see these cells under the microscope and use the laser to cut them out. The dissected cells literally drop into a tube below," she said. "It's quite fun to do."
The research team isolated the cells and extracted the RNA. They then determined which genes are turned on and which are turned off in specific cells at the infection site versus uninfected cells. They zeroed in on genes likely to be critical to the infection process, and used plants in which these genes were knocked out in order to see if the plants respond differently to powdery mildew.
The lab identified a set of genes that actually help the mildew fungus steal more food from the plant. The process, called endo-reduplication, allows cells in the leaf to increase production of DNA without dividing – one of the few ways cells can increase their metabolism and size, Wildermuth says.
“The fungus induces endo-reduplication in the plant cells underneath the feeding structure, and gains access to more nutrients in the leaf.” This, in turn, spurs fungal growth and reproduction. “We showed that if the DNA-enhancing process is blocked, the fungus gets put on a diet, and its proliferation is limited,” she says.
The Bakar Fellowship supports her current effort to determine whether similar genes in grapes, tomatoes and other crops threatened by powdery mildew can be targeted to limit the fungus's growth. Crop strains in which these genes are less active or even absent could be selectively bred to thwart fungal growth.