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Posts Tagged: Kevin Day

Tree fruit and nut growers invited to two-week UC orchard management course

Kevin Day, center, discusses tree development with course participants in a young orchard.

Tree fruit and nut growers are invited to attend the “Principles of Fruit and Nut Tree Growth, Cropping and Management” course offered by the UC Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center. The annual two-week course will be held from Feb. 19, 2018, through March 1, 2018, at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC).

Understanding the fundamentals of tree biology is essential to making sound orchard management and business decisions in the fruit and nut industries. However, access to educational courses on basic fruit and nut tree biology, and how it relates to horticultural practices, is limited. This course incorporates lecture, lab exercises and field demonstrations to provide information on all aspects of plant biology and the relationship between tree physiology and orchard management.

Week 1 (Feb. 19 – Feb. 23) – Five days of lectures, hands-on exercises, demonstrations and field tour at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center and UC Davis teaching orchards. 

Week 2 (Feb. 26 –March 1) – A four-day field tour throughout tree fruit and nut growing regions in Northern and Central California. The field tour includes visits to current UC experiments, processing facilities and orchards in a wide range of tree fruit and nut crops.

This course is designed by UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences scientists for tree fruit and nut growers and professionals. People who have small acreage farms or who are new to the fruit and nut business are also welcome.

Ted DeJong examines the root structure of an established tree.
Lecture topics include:

  • The basics of how trees work
  • Ideal climatic and soil conditions for tree fruit and nut crops
  • Dormancy, chill requirements and rest breaking
  • How trees grow and what determines architecture
  • Understanding cropping, pollination and fruit set
  • How trees use water and nutrients
  • Fruit growth and development
  • Harvest and harvest indices
  • Postharvest quality and technology

Hands-on exercises and field demonstrations include:

  • Bearing habits
  • Measuring fruit quality and fruit tasting
  • Pruning, training and light management
  • Measurement of plant water status and irrigation scheduling
  • Measurement of plant nutrient status and fertilization scheduling

The course instructors are experts in fruit and nut tree production:

  • Ted DeJong, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
  • Carlos Crisosto, UCCE specialist and director of the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center
  • Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
  • Astrid Volder, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
  • Kevin Day, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Tulare County
  • Ken Shackel, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis

There is no known comparable course in the United States that provides instruction by faculty and Cooperative Extension researchers in university research facilities. The course provides a UC Davis pomology education in a shorter time frame and at a reduced cost than is currently available through traditional university classes.

In previous years, participants have included first-time growers as well as established members of the California fruit and nut tree industries, growing almonds, walnuts, pistachios, stone fruit, pome fruit, and specialty tree crops. In course evaluations, participants stated that the course was “superb,” “an amazing opportunity” and “an interesting week of fruit tree wisdom. 

Attendees will receive a certificate after completing the course.

The fee is $2,850 for the entire course (plus the lodging cost for the field trips), or $1,850 for the first week only. A scholarship is available for California growers under specific criteria.

Visit http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/education/principles to register and for more information about the program and instructors.

If you have any questions, please contact Julie Jacquemin at the Fruit and Nut Research Center at fruitsandnuts@ucdavis.edu or (530) 754-9708.

 

 

 

Posted on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 10:52 AM

The drought may be over, but water concerns haven't been doused

Record winter rainfall during the 2016-17 winter has enabled farms to emerge from survival mode in the short term, but scientists are still working hard to be ready for the next drought, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.

Hearden spent a day at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier to learn how researchers at the facility and the UC West Side Research and Extension Center near Five Points are combining technology with management practices to put every drop of irrigation water to work.

Director of the UC Kearney REC, Jeff Dahlberg, said the facility is ideal for conducting drought research. (Photo: Evett Kilmartin)

“This is one of the few places in the world where you can do drought research on a field level,” said Jeff Dahlberg, director of the 330-acre Kearney facility. “What I'm planning is a world-class drought nursery.”

At the West Side REC, researchers are working with farmers to perfect micro-irrigation efficiency and test drought stress on the area's most prevalent crops.

“We'll grow a tremendous number of cultivars of a crop” and identify “what seem to be the most promising cultivars when you grow them under drought conditions,” said Bob Hutmacher, a cotton specialist and the center's director.

Overhead irrigation is one of the promising techniques being used in conservation agriculture systems.

Hearden spoke to Jeff Mitchell, UCCE cropping systems specialist and director of the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation center (CASI). CASI is encouraging farmers to adopt farming practices that save water, reduce dust and help improve the condition of soil, such as subsurface drip irrigation, overhead irrigation, minimum tillage, cover crops and crop residues. 

“This is not done right now in California,” Mitchell said. “In the future, there may be a strong likelihood of certain agricultural sectors adopting these practices.”

UCCE irrigation specialist Khaled Bali said underground drip systems in alfalfa fields have achieved 20 to 30 percent more yields while in some cases using 20 percent less water. (Photo: Evett Kilmartin)

Other subsurface irrigation trials are showing dramatic increases in yields. Khaled Bali, an irrigation water management specialist at Kearney, said underground drip systems in alfalfa fields have achieved 20 to 30 percent more yields while in some cases using 20 percent less water.

Kevin Day, a UCCE pomology advisor in Tulare County, is trying subsurface drip in a peach and nectarine orchard after working with the USDA to use it for pomegranates. He's seen as much as a 90 percent reduction in weeds because there's no surface water to feed them.

“Fewer weeds, fewer pesticides,” he said. “We use high-frequency irrigation. We irrigate as the crop needs it. When you do that, you keep the roots deeper, which makes for better aeration.”

Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 11:00 AM

California summer fruit smaller and tastier this year

Drought and warm winter weather combine to reduce the size, and increase the taste, of 2015 California stonefruit.
California's summertime stonefruit - peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots - are tending to be smaller in 2015, reported Lesley McClurg on Capital Public Radio. But don't despair. The smaller fruit is typically tastier, said a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) expert.

"That smaller peach this year very likely is sweeter than the moderate-sized peach of last year," said Kevin Day, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor and director in Tulare and Kings counties.

Most of the change in fruit size can be attributed to the drought. When irrigation is limited, water content of the fruit diminishes and sugars become a greater proportion of the fruit mass. However, Day says drought isn't the only reason for 2015's smaller fruit size. California also had unusually warm temperatures in January and February 2015, causing fruit to ripen faster.

"A variety that might ripen after 120 days of being on a tree in a year like this ripens in only 110," Day said. "And, so it's consequently shortchanged out of 10 days of growing."

Posted on Monday, August 31, 2015 at 9:38 AM
Tags: apricots (1), Kevin Day (6), nectarines (2), peaches (3), plums (1), stonefruit (1)

UC research on dwarf fruit trees featured on local news

Rootstocks evaluated by UC scientists help control peach tree growth.
Kevin Day, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Tulare County, has been comparing the quality of fruit on stone fruit trees pruned conventionally, in hedge rows and other configurations for 17 years. Now he and his colleague Ted DeJong, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, are taking a new look at small-sized trees, reported KSEE Channel 24 news in Fresno.

The idea is keeping the fruit trees short so ladders won't be necessary for harvest and other orchard operations, while at the same time maintaining excellent yield and fruit quality.

Day talked to the KSEE news crew in a peach and nectarine orchard at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. 

"This is good news for farmers and farmworkers," said reporter Theresa Sardina. "This means safer working conditions for workers and less money out of farmers' pockets."

Day said the researchers are trying to better understand the labor savings aspect of small fruit trees, but he believes they will be proven to be significantly more cost effective.

"You can save a minimum of 25 if not up to 50 percent on any particular labor operations," Day said.

The lead agricultural technician at Kearney, Rudolfo Cisneros, was also interviewed for the story.

See the video on the KSEE Channel 24 website.

Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Tags: Kevin Day (6), nectarines (2), peaches (3)

Ladderless peach and nectarine orchards explored

UC researchers are experimenting with peaches on semi-dwarfing rootstock.
Can shorter peach and nectarine trees reduce labor costs without sacrificing fruit quality and yield?

The answer may be developing soon at a 4-acre test orchard south of Fresno, where University of California researchers are planting semi-dwarfing rootstocks as part of a large, integrated experiment on virtually every aspect of peach and nectarine production.

“We're designing ‘ladderless' orchards, which have the potential to cut labor costs by 50 percent or more and improve worker safety,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Ted DeJong, a plant physiology professor at UC Davis. DeJong and Kevin Day, a Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Tulare County, are leading the experiment.

Conventional peach and nectarine trees grow about 13 feet tall. Setting up, climbing and moving ladders to prune the trees and harvest fruit consumes about half the workday. Ladders are dangerous, too, which is why peach and nectarine growers pay about 40 percent more for workers' compensation insurance than growers who work with more low-lying commodities, like grapes.

Developed by breeders at UC Davis, the new rootstocks will produce trees that grow about 7 or 8 feet tall and can be pruned and harvested from the ground. With the right orchard management — which Day and DeJong will test at their plots at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, near Fresno — the shorter trees could produce just as much high-quality fruit as their lofty kin.

“Ladderless orchards would be huge for our industry,” said Bill Chandler, who grows several varieties of peaches and nectarines on his 250-acre Chandler Farms in Selma, California. “There are so many costs associated with ladders that many growers are switching over to almonds just to stay in business. It costs me $1,400 an acre to thin our trees.”

Rod Milton, a fourth-generation stone-fruit grower, said he would welcome a ladderless system for the peaches and nectarines he grows in Reedley, California.

“Even with conventional rootstocks, I prune my trees so workers can take two fewer steps on the ladder come harvest time,” he said. “And the savings are huge, even with that. It's important to keep farm work safe. And it's important to keep farming viable, or else we'll be getting all our produce from overseas.”

Shorter trees are just one of the elements of DeJong's and Day's experiment, which explores best practices for keeping peach and nectarine production economically and environmentally sustainable. Funded by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, their model orchard will integrate virtually every UC pomology advancement in the past 30 years.

The team will plant conventional, tall trees in one plot and cultivate them using standard irrigation, fertilization and pruning practices. On three other plots, they will grow shorter trees with new, “best-management” practices such as minimal pruning, using pressure chambers to measure a tree's water needs, and applying compost and nitrogen sprays to minimize nutrient leaching and groundwater contamination. They will compare fruit size and yields, canopy light interception, water and nitrate leaching, and more. Graduate students will have opportunities to get hands-on experience as the next generation of stone-fruit experts.

“We're excited to take our experiments to the next level, to provide growers what they need to make good management decisions,” Day said.

Growers are excited, too.

“If it wasn't for people like Ted DeJong and Kevin Day, I'm not sure there'd be any of us peach and nectarine growers left,” Chandler said. “They work so hard to make farming efficient.”

The team will begin planting in spring 2015 and should have preliminary data by 2016.

Posted on Friday, August 8, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Tags: Kevin Day (6), peaches (3), Ted DeJong (2)

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