Research and Extension Center System
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Research and Extension Center System

REC AO Blog

It's show time for California blueberries

Manuel Jimenez speaks at a previous Kearney Ag Research and Extension Center blueberry field day.
The California blueberry industry is growing at a healthy pace, and with 6,000 acres producing about 30 million pounds of the antioxidant-rich fruit, the industry’s volume has now surpassed Florida, said UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Manuel Jimenez.

The milestone is significant, since the southern highbush blueberry cultivars grown in California originated in the Sunshine State. Southern highbush cultivars are well adapted to the California climate because they require fewer “chill hours” to produce fruit.

A leader in the development of the California industry, Jimenez has conducted blueberry observational trials – looking at yield and flavor characteristics – for more than a decade at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. In addition, the Kearney blueberry plantings have been the scene of ongoing studies on plant spacing, mulches and pruning, research that has helped farmers successfully establish the crop in the semi-arid San Joaquin Valley.

Jimenez will invite blueberry farmers and those considering entering the industry to Kearney this week to taste and compare 35 varieties of berries. Looking over the plots, Jimenez said it wouldn’t be difficult for a farmer to use information from the Kearney trials to select good-tasting berries that ripen sequentially for months, extending one farm's blueberry season from spring until mid-way through the summer.

“You could plant Snow Chaser, a very sweet, early variety, in hoop houses and start harvesting in the second or third week of April,” Jimenez said. “Next, Reveille could come into production. Southmoon is really late and then Centurion, a rabbit eye blueberry that’s small and sweet, would be ready in late July.”

On Wednesday, May 18, Jimenez will lead a tour to small and large commercial berry farms and packing facilities. Discussion topics include blackberry sunburn prevention, blackberry trellising systems, blueberry field design and layout, soil and water acidification, irrigation scheduling, harvest practices and blueberry packing and cooling.

A blueberry meeting on Thursday, May 19, features presentations on world production systems, blueberry nutrition, frost protection and blueberry market outlook. Following lunch, participants adjourn to visit the research plantings and industry exhibits.

For more information about the blueberry meetings this week at Kearney, see the flyer.

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 8:43 PM

HREC archives Mendocino County bird records!

Mendocino County has 409 species of birds that have been documented within its terrestrial and off-shore boundaries.  Bob Keiffer, Supt. and Chuck Vaughn (retired SRA) have diligently archived all historical and current important birds records from Mendocino County for over twenty years.  Hard files are kept with data such as observer notes and descriptions and photographs, and digital files (approximately 7000 entries thus far) are kept on an Avisys database.  Keiffer is the official compiler of the county records, and Vaughn is the "gatekeeper" of all the Mendocino County eBird records.

Here you see a first-year Short-billed Albatross (pink-bill) seen yesterday at 6 miles SW off Noyo Harbor.  Up until now there has been only one accepted county record for this species ... a species thought to be extinct after WWII.  The species was brought to near extinction by the feather trade and war activities, but a few nesting pair were found nesting on the volcanic island of Torishima in the 1950's.   Conservation efforts since that time have rebounded the population to about 2000 birds, and they are once again rarely showing up along the Pacific West Coast of North America where we know they were once common from archeological evidence found at Native American "middens".   

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 9:33 AM
  • Author: Robert J Keiffer

Rare Flower Blooms at Hopland REC!

A bright yellow aster bloom adorns three small isolated locations at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center.  Colusa Layia (Layia septentrionalis) is an annual herb that is endemic to California and is only found in 9 counties, with Mendocino County being one of those.  It is included in the California Native Plant Society Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants and is rated as 1B.2 (rare,threatened, or endangered in CA and elsewhere).  This plant qualifies for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) protection.  The plant is currently blooming at HREC, and the blooms are quite thick and robust this year.

Posted on Friday, May 13, 2011 at 9:00 AM
  • Author: Robert J Keiffer

Black Oaks part of an oak medley at HREC!

The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center has quite a medley of oak species at the Center with over a dozen species occurring (19 species currently accepted as native in California).  The Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii) is a deciduous (looses its leaves in winter) oak, and this photo shows the bright, new foliage that has just emerged.  Found in mixed evergreen forests, oak woodlands, and coniferous forests in California and Oregon, this oak produces acorns that were historically a favorite food of Native American tribes because of lesser amounts of tannins as compared to other oak species' acorns.

Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 1:23 PM
  • Author: Robert J Keiffer

Reedley students experience ag science

A group of eighth-graders from Riverview Elementary School in Reedley toured the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center today for an introduction to agricultural science.

In Kearney's greenhouse facility, UC staff showed the students some of the pests farmers must manage - including leaf footed bug, navel orange worm and olive fruit fly - and explained research underway to help farmers control pests in ways that are effective and environmentally sound.

 

Students were encouraged to touch the insects.
Students peer into a tent filled with leaf footed bugs.
Staff research associate Andy Molinar informs students about May and June beetles.
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Tags: outreach (39)

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