Researcher Spotlights

Sonia Rios

Sonia Rios 1 (1)

Sonia Rios is an Area Subtropical Horticulture Advisor for Riverside County. She conducts research at South Coast REC.

What led you to become a subtropical horticulture advisor?

After graduating from Cal Poly, I moved back up to the San Joaquin Valley where I'm originally from, and took a position with UCCE in Tulare County as a staff research associate II. It was while in Tulare that my superior, an agronomy Farm Advisor, urged me to continue my education so that I can be a Farm Advisor. With his support, I received my master's from Fresno State, applied for the Subtropical Horticulture position, and was hired! Having come from an agronomy background, transitioning to a permanent tree crop came with a steep learning curve.

What brought your work to South Coast REC?

I was conducting an IR4 trial on testing glufosinate herbicide efficacy and evaluating the phytotoxicity on young and old avocado trees. 

What do you hope to learn from your research at South Coast REC?

With this research, the goal was to gather enough data to show that this herbicide could be a potential new chemistry that can be used in avocados. With hopes of eventually getting a CA label for use. Currently, there are very few herbicides registered in avocados as of today, with the main player being glyphosate. Glyphosate has been a recent high-profile chemistry for various reasons, one in which it can create herbicide-resistant and tolerant weed biotype in a short amount of time if continuously used with no other herbicide modes of action. So, being prepared by searching for glyphosate alternatives is the best way to prevent further resistant weed populations by giving CA avocado growers another tool for their integrated weed management program.

What is your favorite part about conducting your research at South Coast REC?

The weather! It's always a joy to work at the REC.

What is your favorite crop to work with and why?

I would have to say avocados! Growing up in the San Joaquin Valley, I didn't see many if not any avocados. So, getting the opportunity to work with this crop has been a great experience. They are unique in that they are subtropical, rainforest trees that are very climate-specific. Avocado growers are a delight to be around. The industry welcomed me with open arms even though I did not have a background in avocado. They were all very willing to teach me about this special fruit. To this day, most of everything I know about the industry was taught to me by the growers. I also like how closely the University works with the California Avocado Commission and the CA Avocado society, we all work well together.