Research and Extension Center System
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Research and Extension Center System

REC AO Blog

Sheepguards revised to be a useful livestock tool.

Since 1951 (and prior to), when the University purchased the HREC property from Roy Pratt, there have been sheep grazing much of the property.   To ease movement of researchers and staff on the Center devices commonly called "cattleguards" have been used to replace gates where roads cross pasture fencelines.  This allows free movement of vehicles without the need to get out of the vehicle to open/close a gate.  At HREC, since we only have sheep as livestock on the premises, we might call these "sheepguards".   Prior designs with flat, rail tops, have in recent years been "figured out" by sure-footed sheep and simply were not working to restrict the sheep movement between pastures.   This new design, with rounded pipes at the crossing-surface of the "sheepguard", seems to be working well to prevent sheep from crossing.

Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM
  • Author: Robert J Keiffer

Exotic stink bug threatens California viticulture

Brown marmorated stink bug (USDA photo)
Just as grape growers learn they have made excellent progress toward eradicating European grapevine moth, officials are expressing concern over a new exotic insect pest, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

BMSB is now found in 33 states. Although not established in California, it has been identified in Los Angeles and Solano counties. BMBS can fly, but they primarily move into new areas by hitchhiking on vehicles and equipment.

Native to Asia, it's thought that BMSB arrived in packing crates shipped to the Eastern U.S. It has a large host range that includes grapes and many of the fruits and vegetables grown in California. Damage can be substantial when BMSB populations are not identified early and managed appropriately.

Apple growers in the Mid-Atlantic states have reported losses of $37 million representing 18 percent of their fresh apple market. Growers and wineries are also concerned that the “stink” from any bugs accidentally crushed in wine or juice grapes could taint the product with off flavors. This insect should concern homeowners as well, since people in the Mid-Atlantic states have reported large populations of BMBS overwintering in their homes and becoming a nuisance.

BMSBs resemble some other California stinkbugs, such as the rough stink bug, a beneficial predator of other insects. If you think you’ve found a BMSB, or any other odd or unique looking insect pest, you should collect it and bring it to your local university advisor, ag commissioner or state ag department entomologist for proper identification. Early identification of invasive pests is critical for protecting California’s billion dollar agricultural industries.

You can learn more about the BMSB and current research here.

Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Greenhouse Renovation at LREC

Gerry, Jose T. and Jose H. make improvements in the benches

The benches in the entomology greenhouse at LREC are being renovated in order to better support potted citrus.  Seedlings are grown in this house and used for experiments to test the effects of insecticides on citrus leafminer.  These plants are also...

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Purple poisonous plant brightens brushlands!

California brushlands, or otherwise called chaparral habitat, are zones of mystery to many folks.  However, many interesting and colorful plant species can be found there.  Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti), found in cismontane brush or woods up to 4000' elevation, is one of those plants that brightens the chaparral landscape and is commonly known as "chaparral nightshade".  It is a perennial herb or subshrub that bears an umbel-shaped inflorescence with many purple-blue flowers complemented by bright yellow anthers that gather at the center.

As with most other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae) all parts of the plants are poisonous including the pea-sized purple berries.   Edible members of this family group include eggplant and potato.

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:56 AM
  • Author: Robert J Keiffer

Pacific Madrones grace the HREC landscape.

One of the most unique tree species found on the west coast of North America is the Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii).  Found from Vancouver Island down and into California, its species name was given to honor the Scots naturalist Archibald Menzies who noted the tree during George Vancouver's voyage of exploration.  It is a common tree species within the mixed hardwood vegetation zones of UC-HREC.  Being an evergreen the tree, it is never without leaves, but it does shed its annual crop of leaves in late summer blanketing the ground underneath with a golden carpet.  This is one of the larger specimens found on the Center.

Posted on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 12:13 PM
  • Author: Robert J Keiffer

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