Backyard Orchard News
An unusually cold and prolonged weather system moved into California on December 3rd, and temperatures in our area have plunged below freezing for eight consecutive nights. Citrus growers have engaged frost protection measures such as use of wind machines and extensive watering. Under certain conditions these measures have the effect of raising the air temperature at ground level to mitigate the danger of frost. Weather forecasts providing temperature and dew point are some of the tools that growers use to make decisions regarding which frost protection measures to implement. Warmer temperatures are in the forecast, and growers will continue to evaluate the extent of freeze damage to fruit and trees.
Meanwhile, harvesting is continuing in the area, as December is always a busy time for navel oranges and early mandarins such as clementines. Picking crews and forklift operators are battling icy conditions and mud from heavy irrigation in the groves to get the fruit from tree to packing house.
Lindcove REC recently installed a new weather station. Early morning low temperatures at the Center from December 4th through the 10th were 28.5, 25.2, 25.2, 29.0, 26.8, 24.2, and 25.8° F. Anyone is welcome to use our Western Weather Group login and password to access Lindcove weather data.
Application of water during freezing temperatures raises air temperature at ground level.
Wind machines raise air temperature at ground level.
It's rather troubling trying to rear subtropical butterflies, Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae), in late autumn.
The string of warm sunny days in late November meant plenty of days for Gulf Frits to mate and reproduce. From eggs to larvae to chrysalids to adults--we watched the life cycle unfold on our passion flower vines (Passiflora).
Now it's freezing cold, with morning temperature dipping below 23 degrees.
No Gulf Frits flying outside.
But there is one Gulf Frit flying inside. It emerged from its chrysalis Friday. It is the sole occupant of our butterfly habitat.
"That butterfly could not have picked a worse time to come out," commented naturalist Greg Kareofelas, a Bohart Museum of Entomology volunteer who rears butterflies, including Gulf Frits.
He's so right. Freezing cold and pouring rain are not conducive to releasing butterflies back into the wild--the wild meaning the Passiflora.
On Sunday afternoon as the mercury rose a bit, I contemplated releasing my Gulf Frit. I asked Siri "How COLD is it in Vacaville, California?"
She answered "It is 49 degrees in Vacaville and I don't find that particularly cold."
What? So, now we're getting editorial comment when we ask a question about the weather?
Siri, as you know, is that "intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator" (thanks, Wikipedia) that responds to questions you ask on your iphone. Siri is Norwegian for "beautiful woman who leads you to victory."
Beautiful woman or not, Siri is neither leading ME to victory nor my boy butterfly.
Yes, my Gulf Frit is a male, according to butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.
Like many other lepidopterists, Shapiro is concerned about the high pressure from the Arctic, resulting in freezing temperatures here. "The low temperatures we have experienced may be enough to extirpate the Gulf Fritillary butterfly regionally," he said. "This subtropical invader has become very popular with local residents (Yolo, Sacrameno and Solano counties, for instance), and if it is indeed wiped out, many will be sad to see it go."
Today Shapiro visited some of the warm pockets on the UC Davis campus but saw no "Leps" (Lepidoptera) of any kind.
There is, however, one restless male Lep in my butterfly habitat. His release date depends on the outside temperatures.
It does not depend on what Siri says.
Newly emerged Gulf Fritillary butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A brief bit of sunlight, and the newly emerged Gulf Frit fluttered its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two unique workshops on soil quality will be provided this week. One will be held on Tuesday,
December 10, 2013, on the UC Davis campus in 3001 PES (Physical and Environmental Sciences) at 11:00 am and the other will take place in Five Points on Wednesday, December 11, s013, also at 11:00 am.
The sessions will feature Brendon Rockey, a farmer from Center, CO and Jay Fuhrer, an NRCS District Conservationist from Bismarck, ND. They’ll be leading the workshop that will also include a lunch and a follow-up discussion.
For further information, please contact Jeff Mitchell, CE Cropping Systems Specialist, Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center, at (559) 303-9689 or email@example.com.
'Biotic farming' considers all living things, not just the crop being grown.
It's no secret that bugs often get a bad rap.
Take the negative expression, "Bah, Humbug!" uttered by Ebenezer Scrooge, a Charles Dickens character.
Now it seems that everyone who dislikes Christmas says it, with an emphasis on "bug."
Why not turn things around and say "Ah, humbug!" Think of the hum of the buzzing honey bees on a warm summer day.
Or even a cold wintry day.
Yesterday as the temperature hovered at 48 to 49 degrees on the University of California, Davis, we took a noonhour stroll behind the Lab Sciences Building to look for insects. We spotted a lone honey bee buzzing around some spiderylike red flowers, and buds that looked like tiny balls of red yarn. The plant? Calliandra californica, also known as Baja fairy duster, according to Ernesto Sandoval, director of the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory.
Now bees don't usually leave their colony until the temperature hits at least 55 degrees (although we've seen them flying at 50 in our backyard).
This bee apparently wasn't aware of the "no fly" list.
This honey bee was not aware of the "no fly" list; bees don't usually fly when the temperature is 49 degrees, but this one did. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee gathering nectar on Calliandra californica, aka Baja fairy duster. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee continues foraging on Calliandra caifornica. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Daane and his research associates followed moth populations in organic and conventional fields to document this observed change and determine if there were any specific causes for increases in raisin moth densities. In a 2013 season study, UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center entomologists found that spring to early summer pheromone trap catches of raisin moths were prevalent across numerous vineyards, regardless of management practices. However, overall seasonal damage in 2013 was low.
“The primary difference between vineyard sites with or without raisin moth damage appeared to be well-timed and effective insecticide sprays,” Daane said. “One problem for organic sites may be the availability of insecticide materials that have long enough residual activity to control the larvae of adult moths entering the vineyard, and once the larvae are deep inside the grape cluster they are difficult to control.”
In addition to Daane’s report, the San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium includes the following research updates:
- Rootstocks for raisin production by Sonet Von Zyl, Fresno State University
- Raisin production canopy management by Matthew Fidelibus, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, based at the UC Kearney Ag REC in Parlier
- Raisin grape breeding program by Craig Ledbetter, USDA Agricultural Research Service, based in Parlier
- Economics of producing raisins, by Annette Levi, Fresno State University
- Grapevine trunk diseases and grower survey
The symposium begins with registration at 7 a.m. and concludes following lunch at 1 p.m. at the C.P.D.E.S. Hall, 172 W. Jefferson Ave., Easton, Calif.
Registration is $15 in advance and includes lunch. Registration at the door is $20. To preregister, send the names of attendees and a check payable to UC Regents for $15 each to San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium, 550 E. Shaw Ave., Suite 210-B, Fresno, CA 93710. To register with a credit card, fill out the online registration form at http://ucanr.edu/sjv2014.