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Posts Tagged: Gurreet Brar

Pistachio growers gather to hear latest research in Visalia Jan. 21

More than 500 pistachio growers and other industry members are registered to attend the 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day in Visalia on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Pollination, pest control, “bushy top” and water quality are among the subjects that researchers will be discussing.

“Given California's drought and the need to use all available water supplies, even those of marginal quality, there will be great interest in Ken Schmidt's and UC Cooperative Extension advisor Blake Sanden's talks about Valley water supplies and quality,” said Louise Ferguson, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and organizer of the event.

Sanden, who is based in Kern County, will give a presentation on his research on the effects of using saline water for pistachio irrigation on crop yield and soil quality.

“In 2014, there were problems of fruit set and pollination,” Ferguson said. She expects there will be strong interest in the talk about the effects of climate and other factors on pollination requirements and fruit set by Gurreet Brar, UCCE advisor in Fresno County.   

An emerging problem that growers have been seeing in California and Arizona in the past three years is what scientists are calling Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome in clonal UCB1 rootstocks. Affected trees are short and stunted, have closely spaced internodes, exhibit bushy growth and twisted roots. The cause is unknown, but scientists have found it to be associated with the bacterium Rhodococcus.

Jennifer Randall, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science at New Mexico State University, will deliver the first public presentation of research results on the "bushy top" syndrome.  

A full day of research presentations are scheduled.

Themis Michailides, a researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, will give an update on pistachio diseases.

David Haviland, UCCE advisor in Kern County, Kris Tollerup, UC IPM advisor, and Bob Beede, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension advisor will discuss management of navel orangeworm, Phytocoris, leaf-footed bug and stink bugs.

Brad Higbee, director of entomology research for Paramount Farming Company, will discuss how winter sanitation of orchards can decrease pest pressure and, in turn, reduce the need for pesticides. 

Joel Siegel, USDA-ARS research entomologist, will explain how to how to anticipate pest pressure based on past infestation levels.

Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, will discuss nutrient management in pistachios.

The 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the
Visalia Convention Center. For more information, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/pistachioday.

For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California's systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM

National magazine profiles the California almond industry

Healthy and delicious almonds, shown here topping oatmeal, are big business in California.
When Mother Jones magazine reporter Tom Philpott toured Central California to gather information for a lengthy profile of the California almond industry, he sought out UC expertise to round out the story.

UC Cooperative Extension advisors Gurreet Brar in Fresno County and David Doll in Merced County were among the sources. The reporter also spoke to Richard Howitt, an agricultural economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.

Much of the article focused upon the industry's growth in recent years, especially in the face of the California drought. Farmers in the Central Valley once grew mostly wheat and cattle. But over time, they have gravitated toward more-lucrative crops.

"It's a normal, natural process driven by market demand," Howitt says. "We grow the stuff that people buy more of when they have more money."

But the shift impacts water use flexibility, the article said.

While farmers can forgo annual crops like tomatoes and melons during droughts, failing to irrigate trees means losing the entire orchard. That leaves many nut and fruit farmers with only one option: groundwater.

Brar told the reporter that the amount of water it takes to produce a pound of almonds has fallen by a third since 1990. But increases in the number of irrigated orchards has off-set those gains.

Doll, author of The Almond Doctor blog, said he believes the "nut boom" is still going strong.

No other region has California's combination of land, climate, infrastructure and research support. "India and China have tried, and failed," Doll said.


Posted on Monday, January 12, 2015 at 4:20 PM
Tags: almonds (68), David Doll (26), drought (202), Gurreet Brar (4), Richard Howitt (12)

Agriculture research not immune to drought

Ag research at the West Side Research and Extension Center and other sites has been impacted by the California drought.
Even as farmers across California struggle with the third year of drought, so do University of California agriculture researchers, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press.

Fitchette opened his story with the plight of ag research at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center near Five Points. Many of the farmers in the area will receive no surface water allocation this year; neither will the research center.

The facility can pull water from a deep well, but it is not enough nor is the water quality adequate for all the farming operations, said Bob Hutmacher, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and center director. He said scientists at the station must cut back their water use this year by 25 percent.

“I can speak for myself: I have about a half dozen cotton projects and a sorghum project, along with a sesame project and a couple of other things I'm working on,” he said. “I'm downsizing most of them to the greatest degree I can and I'm going to cancel one of them.”

One trial that will not go forward at West Side is an almond variety trial. However, UC Cooperative Extension advisors in other areas are working with the Almond Board to keep the research underway. UCCE advisors Joe Connell will oversee the Chico State almond variety trial, Roger Duncan the Salida trial, and Gurreet Brar the Madera County trial.

The Western Farm Press Story included drought-related ag research news from myriad UCCE academics:

  • Duncan said his work with fruit and nut crops has not been negatively impacted by the drought.

  • David Doll, UCCE advisor in Merced County, said the increased reliance on groundwater has ruined several orchard nitrogen trials because the groundwater in northern Merced has high rates of nitrate nitrogen, which acts as a nitrogen fertilizer.

  • Dan Munk, UCCE advisor in Fresno County, said he will continue putting off alfalfa trials at the WSREC “indefinitely until a more secure water supply is available.”

  • Scott Stoddard, UCCE advisor in Merced County, reports positive and negative impacts from the drought. He won't do tomato research at West Side REC, but will continue work in sweet potatoes to determine how little water they need to produce a reasonable crop.

  • Chris Greer, UCCE advisor in Sutter, Yuba, Colusa and Glenn counties, said some rangeland trials were impacted by the lack of rain.

  • Bruce Lampinen, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, has seen his orchard trials in Arbuckle severely impacted by the drought.
Posted on Friday, April 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Western Farm Press profiles new UCCE advisor

Gurreet Brar is the new UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Fresno and Madera counties, working on nut crops. (Photo: David Doll, thealmonddoctor.com)
Gurreet Brar, newly appointed UC Cooperative Extension advisor, has seen the effects of intensive agriculture in his homeland, Punjab, India, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press. Fitchette wrote a 1,300-word profile about Brar, who is working with almond, pistachio and walnut growers in Fresno and Madera counties.

The article said Brar will collaborate on nitrogen management studies, establish a regional almond variety trial, take on projects involving pistachios, conduct a grower survey of problems related to walnuts, pistachios and almonds, and host tree nut short courses.

Other research goals Brar shared  include planned research on water stress and tree physiology, training and pruning young almond trees, development of innovative nursery production practices to achieve better tree health, and the management of root diseases in trees.

Brar believes that by seeking out the early innovators of various technologies and agricultural practices, and by working with them to achieve greater success with it, he can expand the adoption rate of better technologies and agronomic practices throughout the farming community, Fitchette reported.

“Through this kind of communication, if the farmer is doing good things you can share this and increase the adoption rate of that technology,” he said.

Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Tags: Gurreet Brar (4)

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