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Posts Tagged: Pest Management/Diseases

Pests and pathogens place global burden on major food crops

On a global scale, pests and pathogens are significantly reducing yields of rice (shown), wheat, maize, soybeans and potatoes.

Farmers know they lose crops to pests and plant diseases, but scientists have found that on a global scale they are reducing crop yields for five major food crops by 10 percent to 40 percent, according to a report by a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientist and other members of the International Society for Plant Pathology. Wheat, rice, maize, soybean and potato yields are reduced by pathogens and animal pests, including insects, scientists found in a global survey of crop health experts.

At a global scale, pathogens and pests are causing wheat losses of 10 percent to 28 percent, rice losses of 25 percent to 41 percent, maize losses of 20 percent to 41 percent, potato losses of 8 percent to 21 percent, and soybean losses of 11 percent to 32 percent, according to the study, published in the journal Nature, Ecology & Evolution.

Sheath blight on rice
Viruses and viroids, bacteria, fungi and oomycetes, nematodes, arthropods, molluscs, vertebrates and parasitic plants are among the factors working against farmers.

Food loss

“We are losing a significant amount of food on a global scale to pests and diseases at a time when we must increase food production to feed a growing population,” said co-author Neil McRoberts, co-leader of UC ANR's Sustainable Food Systems Strategic Initiative and Agricultural Experiment Station researcher and professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis.

While plant diseases and pests are widely considered an important cause of crop losses, and sometimes a threat to the food supply, precise figures on these crop losses are difficult to produce.

“One reason is because pathogens and pests have co-evolved with crops over millennia in the human-made agricultural systems,” write the authors on the study's website globalcrophealth.org.  “As a result, their effects in agriculture are very hard to disentangle from the complex web of interactions within cropping systems. Also, the sheer number and diversity of plant diseases and pests makes quantification of losses on an individual pathogen or pest basis, for each of the many cultivated crops, a daunting task.”

“We conducted a global survey of crop protection experts on the impacts of pests and plant diseases on the yields of five of the world's most important carbohydrate staple crops and are reporting the results,” McRoberts said. “This is a major achievement and a real step forward in being able to accurately assess the impact of pests and plant diseases on crop production.”

The researchers surveyed several thousand crop health experts on five major food crops – wheat, rice, maize, soybean and potato – in 67 countries.

“We chose these five crops since together they provide about 50 percent of the global human calorie intake,” the authors wrote on the website. The 67 countries grow 84 percent of the global production of wheat, rice, maize, soybean and potato.

Top pests and diseases

 

Late blight in a potato field.

The study identified 137 individual pathogens and pests that attack the crops, with very large variation in the amount of crop loss they caused. For wheat, leaf rust, Fusarium head blight/scab, tritici blotch, stripe rust, spot blotch, tan spot, aphids and powdery mildew caused losses higher than 1 percent globally. In rice, sheath blight, stem borers, blast, brown spot, bacterial blight, leaf folder and brown plant hopper did the most damage. In maize, Fusarium and Gibberella stalk rots, fall armyworm, northern leaf blight, Fusarium and Gibberella ear rots, anthracnose stalk rot and southern rust caused the most loss globally. In potatoes, late blight, brown rot, early blight and cyst nematode did the most harm. In soybeans, cyst nematode, white mold, soybean rust, Cercospora leaf blight, brown spot, charcoal rot and root knot nematodes caused global losses higher than 1 percent.

Food-security “hotspots”

Stripe rust in wheat
The study estimates to losses to individual plant diseases and pests for these crops globally, as well as in several global food-security “hotspots.” These hotspots are critical sources in the global food system: Northwest Europe, the plains of the U.S. Midwest and Southern Canada, Southern Brazil and Argentina, the Indo-Gangetic Plains of South Asia, the plains of China, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

“Our results highlight differences in impacts among crop pathogens and pests and among food security hotspots,” McRoberts said. “But we also show that the highest losses appear associated with food-deficit regions with fast-growing populations, and frequently with emerging or re-emerging pests and diseases.”

“For chronic pathogens and pests, we need to redouble our efforts to deliver more efficient and sustainable management tools, such as resistant varieties,” McRoberts said. For emerging or re-emerging pathogens and pests, urgent action is needed to contain them and generate longer term solutions.”

The website globalcrophealth.org features maps showing how many people responded to the survey across different regions of the world. 

In addition to McRoberts, the research team included lead author Serge Savary, chair of the ISPP Committee on Crop Loss, epidemiologists Paul Esker at Pennsylvania State University and Sarah Pethybridge at Cornell University, Laetitia Willocquet at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Toulouse, France, and Andy Nelson at the University of Twente in The Netherlands. 

 

Posted on Friday, February 8, 2019 at 11:11 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Food

Roof rats unnerve farm workers, damage orchard crops

Roof rats are causing damage in nut and tree fruit orchards.

Monitor for rodent activity and use bait stations before the growing season to prevent problems, UC ANR scientists recommend.

Roof rats are running rampant in California orchards this year, according to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists.

“In pistachio and other nut orchards, roof rats are burrowing and nesting in the ground where they're chewing on irrigation lines, causing extensive damage,” said Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor. “They are also nesting in citrus trees, feeding on the fruit and terrifying field workers when they jump out as people are picking fruit. The chewing pests are also girdling citrus limbs, causing branch dieback.” 

Rats like to eat fresh avocados.
The wet winter of 2017 led to lots of weed seeds for rats to eat. “Last season, rats were also nibbling on pomegranates, avocados, and other fruit and nut crops, rendering them unmarketable,” Long said.

Holes in the ground around the base of pistachio trees throughout a Yolo County orchard puzzled the grower.

“We looked for ground squirrels, but never saw any,” Long said. “We set up game cameras, but only got birds and rabbits. We put rodent bait in the holes, but the digging didn't stop.”

Long, the pest detective, cracked the case by consulting Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor based in Irvine. “She informed us that the damage we were seeing was from roof rats.”

Burrowing roof rats sounds like an oxymoron. While roof rats generally don't burrow in urban environments, their country cousins have been known to burrow.

“It's not true that they don't burrow,” Quinn said. “When I worked as staff research associate for Roger Baldwin, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist, that is mostly what we studied, burrowing roof rats in orchards.”

Roof rats are nocturnal animals that climb in trees and burrow underground.

Control measures

Baldwin said, “It seems to be a good year for rats in a number of different areas and crops throughout the state. I've received more questions and comments about rats this year than perhaps the last 10 years combined. As for bait application, putting bait down burrow systems for rats doesn't usually work too well, so I'm not surprised that approach didn't work. Growers will likely have better luck with bait stations in the trees.”

Because the rats climb, Baldwin suggests attaching bait stations to tree branches.

“In addition, elevating the bait stations will eliminate access to bait for many protected mammal species, such as kangaroo rats,” Long said. “The bait diphacinone grain can be purchased from some ag commissioners' offices. This is what Roger Baldwin said they tested and it worked.”

As for the bait stations, they should be designed so that there isn't any spillage for nontarget animals to eat, Long said. 

When roof rat outbreaks occur, rodenticides are often needed to prevent crop damage. However, timing is critical as diphacinone use is highly restrictive and not allowed during the growing season, which is beginning as the weather warms. 

“Check the product label for application instructions,” Long reminds growers. “It's the law.”

Because roof rats climb, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist Roger Baldwin recommends attaching bait stations to tree branches.

Identifying the pest

Roof rat holes are typically 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
One way for growers to identify whether they have roof rats is by the size of the burrows. The nocturnal pests are active above ground in trees and below ground.

“Roof rats can forage away from their nest, so you won't likely find signs of their activity, such as rat droppings outside their burrow, to help identify them,” Long said.

Ground squirrels are active during the day, so they are more likely to be seen, dig holes about 4 inches in diameter and forage above ground near their burrows. Vole and mouse holes are 1- to 2-inches in diameter. Roof rat holes are typically 3 to 4 inches in diameter and might have nut shells in front of them, for example pistachio or almond shells. Rabbits will feed on seedling crops, but do not dig burrows.

Ground squirrels are active during the day and their burrows are 4 inches or more in diameter.
Roof rats are prolific breeders that reproduce year-round, according to Baldwin. Females typically have three to five litters per year with five to eight young, enabling their populations to rapidly increase. The omnivores feed on a wide variety of plant and animal materials, allowing them to adapt to any environment, including urban and agricultural lands.

“Rats are sneaky and hard to spot,” Long said. “If you see damage, including digging in the soil but no wildlife, suspect rats.”

For more information on controlling roof rats, download Quinn and Baldwin's free UC ANR publication 8513, Managing Roof Rats and Deer Mice in Nut and Fruit Orchards at http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8513.

For more information about ground squirrels, download the free UC IPM Best Management Guidelines http://www.groundsquirrelbmp.com or UC IPM Pest Note http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7438.html.

 

Posted on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 3:11 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Pest Management

Living with Wildlife – Outcomes and actions following the recent workshop at UC ANR Hopland REC

submitted by Hopland REC Director, Dr. Kim Rodrigues

Since arriving as the Director for HREC in 2013-2014, I have been committed to protecting all of the amazing resources here at the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC,) with a dedicated effort to saving wildlife and reducing losses of sheep.  As one of the last remaining sheep research facilities and one of the largest flocks in our immediate area, the sheep are prey to coyotes and other potential predators on the landscape. 

IMG 5223 (2)

With increasing numbers of wildlife across the region, state and nation, conflicts between humans and wildlife are increasing.  Our workshop at HREC on August 31, 2017 focused on living with wildlife while managing livestock, with an overarching goal to seek a shared understanding of non-lethal tools through research, implementation and education.

Over 80 participants from a diversity of backgrounds including researchers, ranchers, community members and non-profits attended. All participants experienced demonstrations of several non-lethal tools, including some exciting applications of scary devices, such as Halloween decorations, collars to protect sheep with strobe lights and canine avoidance noises built into them, fencing with an electric charge, lion proof pens and flagging attached to deter movement across the fencing and more.  Many participants wanted more hands-on field time with the ranchers using these tools and HREC is working to develop this for late spring/early summer of 2018.

We explored new and emerging research with Dr. Brashares and his team only to learn that it “depends.”  Everything is situational and place-based and this is a key lesson or outcome from the meeting.  The situational questions asked of each rancher on the panel may help inform the choice of tools and the mix of tools to reduce losses.

IMG 5219 (2)

We learned that there are practical barriers – such as time, money and labor, as well as scientific barriers to fully implementing non-lethal tools.  Yet, one common message was to mix and match tools and vary them frequently.  “Match” the tools to your specific situation(s) and mix them up over time and space frequently.   Many creative ideas came up to help share tools and other resources and the concept of a lending library with non-lethal tools available to ranchers emerged as a local action HREC will explore further with our community partners.

We understand the importance of strong working relationships and diverse partnerships and we will work with the participants who were able to attend and outreach to partners, such as local agricultural commissioner and staff, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Wildlife Services to ensure we are all working together. 

We learned from and valued the diverse perspectives and there was a tremendous sense of respect for all people present that allowed a dynamic and safe learning environment.

Already, HREC is moving forward with new research to better track and document the work of our large guard dogs (LGDs) as a tool to prevent losses of livestock. The concept of putting GPS collars on our dogs and tracking their movements over a variety of pasture types and sizes and landscapes is already being discussed and outlined by HREC staff and research colleagues. It is recognized that LGDs can and do kill wildlife, so they are not truly a “non-lethal” tool yet they remain one of the most important tools livestock managers rely on to protect their animals.  Lethal controls are still used in combination with non-lethal tools – snares, calling, shooting – in most ranching situations but not all.  Yet all ranchers shared their goals to reduce losses of both livestock and wildlife and agreed that preventing losses is the best approach in all cases.

I welcome you to visit our HREC site and you can review the amazing graphic art that captured the essence of the workshop, as well as the rancher panel interviews, the presentations and more online.  Please join us for future events.

Together, we may find innovative tools and solutions and keep ranching viable in our communities to prevent further fragmentation and conversion to other uses, saving both livestock and wildlife.

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 11:09 AM

Top 10 pests in gardens and landscapes and how to control them

Download the free booklet at the bottom of the page!

1. Ants

Most people deal with ants around their home at some point. Because most ants live outdoors, focus efforts on keeping ants from entering buildings by caulking entryways. Follow good sanitation practices to make your home less attractive to ants. Spraying ants inside the home will not prevent more ants from entering. Use baits to control the ant colony. Pesticide baits work by attracting worker ants who then take the poison back to the nest where the entire colony, including queens, can be killed. In the landscape, ants protect honeydew-producing pest insects from predators, so use sticky barriers or insecticide baits to keep ants out of trees and shrubs.

 

2. Aphids

Aphids can curl leaves and produce sticky honeydew, but they rarely kill plants and you usually can wash them off with water. When aphid numbers get high, natural enemies such as lady beetles (lady bugs), lacewings, syrphid fly larvae, soldier beetles and others frequently feed on them, eliminating the need for pesticides. Protect these good bugs by avoiding the use of insecticides that can be toxic to a broad variety of insects. Ants protect aphids from these natural enemies, so keep ants away from your garden as well. When pesticides are necessary, use less toxic products such as insecticidal soaps and oils.

 

3. Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing disease

The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and the deadly bacterial disease it spreads, Huanglongbing (HLB), threaten citrus trees in backyards and on farms. There is no cure or effective control method for HLB disease.  All types of citrus—including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and mandarins—are affected as well as a few closely related ornamentals. ACP and HLB have already devastated the Florida citrus industry, and now that it is in the Western U.S. it is threatening the California citrus industry as well.

 

4. Gophers

Gophers are small burrowing rodents that feed on roots of many types of plants. A single gopher can ruin a garden in a short time, and gopher gnawing can damage irrigation lines and sprinkler systems. In lawns, their mounds are unsightly and interfere with mowing. Early detection is critical to prevent damage. Use both traps and underground fencing to manage gopher problems. Toxic baits are available but can pose threats to wildlife, pets, and children, especially in backyard situations.

 

5. Leaf-feeding caterpillars

Caterpillars, which are the larvae of butterflies and moths, damage plants by chewing on leaves, flowers, shoots, and fruit. Caterpillars in fruit or wood can be difficult to manage because they are hidden most of their life and can cause serious damage even when numbers are low. However, many plants, especially perennials, can tolerate substantial leaf damage, so a few leaf-feeding caterpillars often aren't a concern. Handpicking and beneficial predators and parasites often provide sufficient control. Look for feeding holes, excrement, webbed or rolled leaves, caterpillars, eggs, and good bugs.

 

6. Peach leaf curl

Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease that affects only peach and nectarine trees. Distorted, reddened foliage in the spring is a distinctive symptom. New leaves and shoots thicken and pucker and later may die and fall off. An infection that continues untreated for several years can lead to a tree's decline. To prevent peach leaf curl, treat peach and nectarine trees with a copper fungicide every year after leaves fall. After symptoms appear in the spring, any treatment will not be effective. When planting new trees, consider buying peach tree varieties that are resistant to the disease.

 

7. Rats

Rats eat and contaminate food, garden produce, and fruit, and transmit diseases to humans and pets. Manage rats by removing food and shelter, eliminating entryways into buildings, and trapping. Snap traps are the safest, most effective, and most economical way to trap rats. For Norway rats, place traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners, and in places where you have found rat droppings. For roof rats, place traps in off-the-ground locations such as ledges, shelves, branches, fences, pipes, or overhead beams. Ensure traps are out of reach of children and pets.

 

8. Scales

Scale insects suck plant juices and are pests of many trees and shrubs. Infestations can cause yellowing or premature dropping of leaves, sticky honeydew, and blackish sooty mold. Plant parts can distort or die back, depending on the species and abundance of scales. Most plants tolerate low to moderate numbers of scales. Provide plants with proper cultural care, especially irrigation. Encourage scale predators such as lady beetles or lacewings and look for parasite emergence holes in scale covers. Use sticky barriers or insecticide baits to selectively control scale-tending ants. Consider replacing problem-prone plants because most scales are highly specific to certain plants.

 

9. Snails and slugs

These slimy mollusks emerge from hiding at night and chew holes in leaves and flowers of many succulent garden plants and fruit. Management requires a vigilant and integrated approach that includes eliminating moisture and hiding spots, trapping, setting up barriers, and handpicking. Regularly remove snails from shelters you can't eliminate such as low ledges on fences, undersides of decks, and meter boxes. Place traps in your garden and dispose of trapped snails and slugs daily. Reduce moist surfaces by switching to drip irrigation or watering in the morning rather than later in the day. Consider snail-proof plants such as impatiens, geraniums, begonias, lantana, nasturtiums, and many plants with stiff leaves and highly scented foliage such as sage, rosemary, and lavender.

 

10. Weeds in landscapes

Prevent weed invasions in new beds with good site preparation. Keep weeds out with an integrated program that includes competitive plants, mulches, and hand removal. Be particularly vigilant about removing aggressive perennial weeds. You rarely should need herbicides in established landscape plantings. Mulches prevent weed seed germination by blocking sunlight. Remove small weeds by hand before they flower and set seed. Use shallow cultivation or hoeing to remove annual weeds from ornamental plantings. Only use herbicides for special-problem situations before establishing new plantings or for difficult-to-control perennial weeds.

 

To see all of the University of California's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's information on home, garden, and landscape pests, visit http://www.ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html

For other short pest “Quick Tips” like the ten above, see http://www.ipm.ucanr.edu/QT/

 To read even more in-depth, peer-reviewed information on many other common home and landscape pests in California, see the Pest Notes series at http://www.ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/index.html

Download your free UC IPM Quick Tips Booklet of the Top Ten Pests in Gardens and Landscapes and How to Control Them with the link below! 

Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 12:30 PM
  • Author: Tyler Ash

From superweeds to Pierce’s disease: California Agriculture reports on fighting diseases and pests

This issue of California Agriculture focuses on pests and diseases.
California agriculture is unique and diverse — and so are its pest and disease problems. Take herbicide resistance. While in the rest of the country herbicide resistance problems center on broadleaf weeds in corn, soy and wheat, in California the greatest problems are found in grasses and sedges in orchards, vineyards and rice fields. Herbicide resistance among California crops also varies widely. In vegetable fields, for instance, resistance is not a serious problem and is unlikely to become one.

An article in the current issue of California Agriculture, the peer-reviewed journal from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, examines the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds in California and shows how UC researchers and Cooperative Extension specialists are helping growers to understand and manage the factors that drive it.

Five more articles in this special issue of California Agriculture highlight the work of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources on pests and diseases that threaten the state's people, agriculture and natural resources. The commitments to research and outreach profiled in the issue include the Endemic and Invasive Pests Strategic Initiative, the UC Statewide IPM Program and several successful collaborations with regulatory agencies and the agricultural community.

European grapevine moth
Excluding pests and pathogens

Diagnostics in animal health: How UC helps exclude and minimize impact of livestock pathogens

Whether it's pinkeye, bluetongue or poisonous plants, UC maintains a strong network of laboratories and field experts to protect livestock health in California.

Plant health: How diagnostic networks and interagency partnerships protect plant systems from pests and pathogens

Regional alliances of federal, state and university plant diagnostic labs work together to identify and control disease spread.

Managing newly established pests

Growers, scientists and regulators collaborate on European grapevine moth program

A regulatory program coordinated by government agencies, scientists and growers successfully contained an infestation that threatened California vineyards.

Pierce's disease symptoms on grapevine.
Cooperative efforts controlled spread of Pierce's disease and found genetic resistance

The 1999 arrival in California of a new Pierce's disease vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, posed a major new threat to California vineyards and orchards. A 15-year collaborative effort has successfully contained the sharpshooter and led to major improvements in our understanding of the biology of Pierce's disease, including promising advances in the development of disease-resistant grapevine lines.

Maintaining long-term management

Herbicide-resistant weeds challenge some signature cropping systems

Little or no crop rotation and limited herbicide options have contributed to the rise of herbicide-resistant weeds in orchards, vineyards and rice fields.

Over 35 years, integrated pest management has reduced pest risks and pesticide use

The UC Integrated Pest Management Program helps provide management solutions for invasive pests that destabilize IPM programs in agricultural and urban landscapes.

E-edition research article

The cost of the glassy-winged sharpshooter to California grape, citrus and nursery producers

The spread of the invasive insect in the late 1990s led to increased costs and changes in agricultural practices for grape, citrus and nursery producers.

These articles and the entire October-December 2014 issue are available at http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu.

California Agriculture is the University of California's peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources. For a free subscription, go to http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu or write to calag@ucanr.edu.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is the bridge between local issues and the power of UC research. UC ANR's advisors, specialists and faculty bring practical, science-based answers to Californians. Visit ucanr.edu to learn more.

 

 

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