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Scholarships to study agriculture offered by UC ANR

Jeff Mitchell studies soil health in cropping systems. The $5,000 Howard Walton Clark Prize in Plant Breeding and Soil Building is given to a senior student in a college of agriculture at UC Berkeley, UC Davis or UC Riverside.

Three scholarships are being offered by the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources for college students majoring in agriculture. The scholarships will be awarded for the 2019-20 academic year. The deadline to apply or nominate for the scholarships is May 6, 2019.


Amount:  $2500 – two awarded each year, one each at UC Berkeley and UC Davis

The Knowles A. Ryerson Award in Agriculture is awarded annually to a foreign undergraduate student in a college of agriculture at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, in any curriculum, preferably after completion of the junior year. Students must be nominated by UC faculty or academic advisors. The $2,500 award is made on the basis of high scholarship, outstanding character and promise of leadership. One recipient will be selected from the Berkeley campus and one from the Davis campus.


Amount:  $5,000 – one awarded each year

The Howard Walton Clark Prize in Plant Breeding and Soil Building is given to a senior student in a college of agriculture at UC Berkeley, UC Davis or UC Riverside who seems to show the greatest promise. Students must be a senior at some point during the 2018-19 academic year and nominated by UC faculty or academic advisors. Selection for the $5,000 scholarship is based on high scholastic achievement, talent for independent research and other characteristics, with particular reference to either plant breeding (leading to new/improved crops and new/improved varieties using appropriate tools) or soil building (leading to improving soil quality related to soil productivity and sustainability as a resource).


Amount: $1,000 – one awarded each year

The $1,000 Bill and Jane Fischer Vegetation Management Scholarship will be given to promising students with demonstrated interest in vegetation management (weed control) careers. Students from any accredited California university are eligible, with preference given to graduate students. The recipient will have an academic major and emphasis in one of the following areas (listed in order of preference): 

  • Vegetation management in agricultural crop production;
  • Plant science with emphasis on vegetation management in horticultural crops, agronomic or vegetable crops;
  • Soils and plant nutrition with emphasis on field, vegetable crop relationships;
  • Agricultural engineering with emphasis on developing tools for vegetation management;
  • Agricultural botany with emphasis on weed biology and weed ecology;
  • Plant pathology with emphasis on integrated vegetation management;
  • Plant protection and pest management with emphasis on field, vegetable, or horticultural crop relationships; or
  • Agricultural economics with emphasis on vegetation management in field, vegetable or horticultural crops.

For more information about the scholarships and nomination and application processes, visit http://ucanr.edu/scholarship.


Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 12:06 PM

Seven academics take new positions with UC ANR during the first three months of 2019

Ashraf El-Kereamy named UCCE citrus specialist

Ashraf El-Kereamy was appointed UC Cooperative Extension citrus horticultural specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside on Feb. 1, 2019. He is based at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter.

El-Kereamy had been working as a UCCE area viticulture advisor serving Kern, Tulare and Kings counties since 2014.

Prior to joining UCCE, El-Kereamy was a post-doc research associate at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, studying plant drought and heat stress tolerance in plants from 2013 to 2014, and studying the genotypes variation in nitrogen use efficiency and plant heat stress tolerance from 2008 to 2012. From 2012 to 2013, he was assistant/associate professor in the Department of Horticulture, Ain Shams University, Egypt, where he taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses for horticultural science and served as the principal investigator for a U.S.-Egypt joint collaborative research project between University of Wyoming and Ain Shams. As a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Guelph, El-Kereamy studied the pathogenesis-related proteins during plum fruit ripening. As a University of Manitoba post-doc, he studied the physiological role of abscisic acid in plants.

El-Kereamy earned his doctorate degree in agriculture with an emphasis in grape physiology and molecular biology at Toulouse University, in France, and a master's degree in pomology and bachelor's degree in horticulture, both from Ain Shams University, in Cairo, Egypt.

El-Kereamy can be reached at (559) 592-2408, cell: (661) 703-4678 and aelkereamy@ucanr.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ashrafelkereamy.

Giuliano Galdi joins UCCE in Siskiyou County

Giuliano C. Galdi joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2019, as a UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor in Siskiyou County.

Prior to joining UCCE, Galdi was a junior specialist at UC Davis, where he worked on a variety of field trials aimed at improving sustainable water use and hay quality. Tasks included irrigation scheduling, planting/harvesting trials, and data handling and analysis. As a master's student and student research assistant at Fresno State, Galdi evaluated salinity tolerance in different alfalfa varieties and presented research in the form of posters and talks. He speaks Portuguese fluently.

Galdi earned a master's degree in plant sciences from Fresno State and a bachelor's degree in agronomy engineering from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Galdi is based in Yreka and can be reached at (530) 842-2711 and gcgaldi@ucanr.edu.

Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @uccesiskiyou.

Ian Grettenberger joins UCCE as field and vegetable crops specialist

Ian Grettenberger joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2019, as a field and vegetable crops assistant specialist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis. Grettenberger is interested in advancing integrated pest management in field and vegetable crops, plant-insect interactions, and applied insect ecology.

Grettenberger earned a doctorate degree in entomology from Penn State University and a bachelor's degree in biology from Western Washington University.

Prior to joining UCCE, Grettenberger was a postdoctoral research scholar at UC Davis, working first with UCCE entomology specialist Larry Godfrey and then UCCE entomology specialist Frank Zalom.

Grettenberger is based at UC Davis in Briggs Hall and can be reached at (530) 752-0473 and imgrettenberger@ucdavis.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @IGrett.

Yu Meng joins UCCE in Imperial County

Yu Meng joined UC Cooperative Extension on Jan. 2, 2019, as the youth, families and communities advisor serving Imperial County, UC Desert Research and Extension Center and communities near the U.S.-Mexico border. Her responsibilities will focus on providing community development programs in the area of youth, families and communities, with major outreach to Latino youth and families.

Prior to joining UCCE, Meng worked for a USDA-funded project known as "the WAVE~Ripples for change" in collaboration with Oregon State University professionals, extension, community partners, high school soccer coaches, school districts and other volunteers. The program was designed to prevent unhealthy weight gain among 15- to 19-year-old soccer players. Most of the youth she worked with were Latinos and from low-income families. During this time, Meng helped develop and test the first sports nutrition, physical activity, family and consumer sciences curriculum for active youth. Her work resulted in positive developments in youth, reducing added sugar intake, maintaining fruit and vegetable intake over time, and improving the awareness of sports nutrition. Participating youth also applied additional skills they learned from gardening and cooking workshops at their homes, and shared the lessons and practical applications with their families.

Meng is fluent in Chinese and originally from China, where she worked for food industries and started to notice the nutrition issues with processed foods and their effects on children's health. With that in mind, she came to the U.S. and studied nutrition.

She completed a doctorate degree in nutrition science from Oregon State University, a master's degree in food science and nutrition from Utah State University, and a bachelor's degree in food science and engineering from Southern China University of Technology, China.

Meng is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and ucmeng@ucanr.edu.

Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann named UCCE advisor in urban forestry and natural resources

Beatriz Nobua-Behrman joined UC Cooperative Extension as an urban forestry and natural resources advisor serving Orange and Los Angeles counties on March 25, 2019.

As a UCCE staff research associate in Orange County since 2017, Nobua-Behrman provided management and direction to conduct a research and extension program focused on the impact of invasive insects on urban landscapes and wildlands surrounding urbanized environments. The main focus of the program was to conducting surveys of infestations in regional parks and open spaces in order to develop management strategies that are efficacious and economically feasible.

Nobua-Behrmann completed bachelor's and doctorate degrees in biology from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Nobua-Behrman is based at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. She can be reached at (949) 301-9182, Ext. 1006, benobua@ucanr.edu.

Ryan Tompkins named forestry and natural resources advisor

Ryans Tompkins joined UC Cooperative Extension as a forestry and natural resources advisor on March 18, 2019, serving Plumas, Sierra and Lassen counties. Prior to joining UCCE, Tompkins held forester positions with the U.S. Forest Service, worked in the fire effects program with the National Park Service and served as associate faculty in the Environmental Studies Department at Feather River College, teaching forest ecology and management.

Most recently, Tompkins served as the forest silviculturist and vegetation program manager at the Plumas National Forest, where he designed, planned and implemented landscape-scale forest restoration projects.

Tompkins earned master's and bachelor's degrees in forestry from UC Berkeley.

Tompkins can be reached at (530) 83-6125, retompkins@ucanr.edu.

Robert York joins UCCE as silviculture and forest specialist

Robert York joined UC ANR on Jan. 2, 2019, as a UC Cooperative Extension silviculture and applied forest ecology assistant specialist and adjunct associate professor of forestry in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. He directs research and management activity on the Berkeley Forests, a network of five research forests covering the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forest from Shasta to Tulare counties.

York is a Registered Professional Forester in California. He earned a doctorate degree in forest ecology and silviculture, a master's degree in forest community ecology and a bachelor's degree in forest management, all from UC Berkeley.

Prior to joining UCCE, York has been the research station manager at Blodgett Forest Research Station with UC Berkeley.

York is based in Georgetown and can be reached at (530) 333-4475 and ryork@berkeley.edu.

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 8:36 AM

Riverside Washington Navel gets additional protection

The city of Riverside is taking steps to protect a 143-year-old Washington Navel orange tree - the tree that parented most navel oranges alive today, reported the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

According to legend, the seedless and sweet Washington navel was an accidental mutant that appeared on the grounds of a Brazil monastery in the early 1800s. Tree clones were sent to USDA in Washington, D.C., and from there acquired by Eliza Tibbets, who tended the trees at her home in Riverside.

This month, city workers removed two trees that were planted near the iconic navel orange - a Marsh Grapefruit and another navel, which was planted in the 1940s and doesn't have the historical value. They have built a steel structure over the Washington Navel to support a transparent screen that will keep out Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that spreads the devastating huanglongbing virus in citrus.

The measures to protect the tree were planned by a team that includes scientists from UC Riverside, the Citrus Research Board and the USDA, the article said.

The Riverside Washington Navel tree surrounded by open fencing in this 1932 picture. View the Riverside Press-Enterprise to see a photo of the large steel structure that now looms over the tree. (Photo: Department of Interior)

 For more information on the photo above, see visit this UCLA Library page.

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 11:42 AM

Winegrape vineyards can be converted for machine pruning without replanting

Mechanical pruning reduced labor costs by 90%, resulted in increased grape yields and berry quality was as good or better than hand-pruned vines.

Wine grape growers in the San Joaquin Valley who want to switch from hand pruning to mechanical pruning won't have to replant their vineyards to accommodate machinery, according to a new study published in HortTechnology by University of California Cooperative Extension researchers. Instead, growers can retrain the vines to make the transition, without losing fruit yield or quality.

Mechanical pruning reduced labor costs by 90%, resulted in increased grape yields and had no impact on the grape berry's anthocyanin content. That's welcome news for growers because the cost of re-establishing a vineyard in the region is roughly $15,600 per acre.

“We found that growers do not have to plant a new vineyard to mechanize their operations,” said Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “We have proven beyond a doubt that an older vineyard can be converted to mechanization. There is no loss in yield during conversion and post-conversion yield is better and fruit quality is equivalent to or better than hand-managed vines. The economies of scale are evident in the savings per acre and per vine as depicted in the balance sheet provided with the newly published paper.” 

The research was conducted in an 8-acre portion of a 53-acre, 20-year-old Merlot vineyard in Madera County. After completion of the research project, the grower converted the rest of the 53-acre vineyard to single high-wire sprawling system. Many other wine grape growers have followed suit.

The Wine Group, which manages 13,000 acres of vineyards across Central California, is establishing new vineyards and converting old vineyards for mechanical pruning and suckering, said vineyard manager Nick Davis. Davis, who works closely with Kurtural and the UCCE viticulture advisor in Fresno County, George Zhuang, said the company greatly values the UC Cooperative Extension research that is guiding the changes.

“I think extensionists are undervalued,” Davis said. “We lean on them for applied research, which has been wonderful. They offer us what we can't provide ourselves.”

A bilateral cordon-trained, mechanically box-pruned single high-wire sprawling system proved to be the most successful system for mechanical pruning in the San Joaquin Valley.

More than half of all California wine grapes are grown in the San Joaquin Valley. Worker shortages, rising labor costs, low returns and occasional droughts are driving wine grape growers to seek innovative ways to sustain their businesses.

“To help growers maintain the profitability of their vineyards, we're studying the use of machines to reduce the number of people needed to perform tasks like pruning,” Zhuang said.

“Because the canopy architecture and yield characteristics of mechanically pruned vines are different from vines that are hand-pruned, the water and fertilizer requirements for the mechanically pruned vines can be quite different. So we are studying the yield and fruit quality of grapes produced on different rootstocks in mechanical pruning systems in the San Joaquin Valley,” Zhuang said.

UC scientists are studying the use of machines for pruning to reduce the number of people needed to maintain a vineyard.

The Madera field study was conducted for three consecutive seasons in the hot climate conditions typical of the San Joaquin Valley. In this area, traditional vineyards are head-trained to a 38-inch-tall trunk above the vineyard floor and two eight-node canes are laid on a catch wire in opposite directions and two eight-node canes are attached to a 66-inch high catch wire. Although this traditional training system can work for mechanical harvesting, it doesn't accommodate mechanical dormant pruning and shoot removal with limited success in other mechanical canopy management operations.

To accommodate mechanical pruning and shoot removal, the vines were converted to a bilateral cordon-trained, spur-pruned California sprawl training system, or to a bilateral cordon-trained, mechanically box-pruned single high-wire sprawling system.

The latter option proved to be the most successful system for mechanical pruning in the San Joaquin Valley.


Posted on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 2:22 PM

Whiteflies are swarming like snow flurries at the Central Coast

A common springtime nuisance, whitefly populations have escalated this year in California Central Coast areas, reported Megan Healy on KSBY Channel 6 in San Luis Obispo.

People are mistaking them for clouds of pollen or ash; some leaves look like they're coated with a thin layer of new-fallen snow.

The reporter spoke to Cathryn Howarth, a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in San Luis Obispo County. She said the office has received dozens of calls from residents wondering why the whiteflies are so abundant this year.

"It's probably a reflection of the increasing temperatures coming on top of all that nice water we have had, so we have had a flush of vegetation and the flies that came from eggs originally have just all hopped out," Howarth said.

A dense population of winged adult whiteflies and nymphal stages cover foliage, producing large amounts of honeydew (the clear droplet). (Photo: California Agriculture journal)

The story referenced the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Integrated Pest Management Program, which has produced a Pest Note on whiteflies that says signs of an infestation include:

  • Tiny nymphs on the underside of leaves
  • Sticky honeydew on leaves or a covering of black sooty mold
  • Yellowing, silvering or drying of leaves that have whitefly nymphs on them

Howarth said home gardeners can spray the whiteflies with a stream of water from a hose or spray them with insecticidal soap to reduce the population. The pest has abundant natural enemies in the yard, including ladybugs, spiders, lacewings and hummingbirds. However, whitefly outbreaks can occur when the natural biological control is disrupted.

For more information on whitefly management, read the UC IPM Pest Note on whiteflies.

Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 1:43 PM

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