The 2019 UCCE Annual Strawberry Production Research meeting for the Central Coast is set to take place February 14 at the usual location at the Elk's Lodge in Watsonville.
Even a cursory glance at the agenda below informs one that this is not your grandfather's (or your father's, for that matter) extension meeting! Back to back presentations by the best researchers in the business, all new data on topics of extreme importance to the industry.
Personally, to take the full advantage, I'd be sure to get a full eight hours of sleep the night before and bring a thick notepad. Get there early too because attendance at this quality of meeting is certain to be very strong.
See you there!
Paint 2019 Strawberry meeting English
I spent some time over the holidays doing some reading, and one intriguing book I finished was the recently published "Bad Blood" by John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal. If you aren't familiar with the story, it's the account of Theranos, the Silicon Valley start up that blew up in spectacular fashion when its blood testing machine supposedly testing for some 200 factors from a single drop of blood drawn from the patient's finger was found to be bogus.
Whatever drove them to do this, be it money, hubris or just a bad moral compass, it was actually pretty dangerous, since as a medical device generating inaccurate data on real people it was putting many unsuspecting people in harm's way.
What is striking about all of this is that the science already says that a finger stick system drawing a single drop of blood from a finger can't be accurate. A scientist from the UC San Francisco Department of Laboratory Medicine, quoted well into the book, shared with the author that since the capillary blood from the small vessels located in the fingertips is so polluted with fluids and cells it will render any sort of measurement unreliable. He underlines this statement by saying of what Theranos was doing, "I'd be less surprised if they told us they were time travelers who came back from the twenty seventh century than if they told me they cracked that nut".
So pray tell me why we had a questionable medical technology being rolled out on live patients all the while the real scientists in academia knew it wasn't going to work in the first place? That this basic information didn't reach the people who were involved in doing business with Theranos, from big money investors, to the retailers who were going to use this system in stores, to the unsuspecting customers serving as guinea pigs for the machine tells me something is not right here.
It's clear that academics have a lot of valuable information and comprehension of the world, both old and new, that should be shared. Cooperative Extension does exactly that, and and believe me if there is a fraudulent technology being touted to the growers we work with, we are going to apply the cold unemotional eye of science to it, call it for what it is, and spare people the cost (and possible danger, apparently) of having to figure it all out on their own.
When it comes to agriculture in California, charlatans, carpet-baggers, shysters and snake oil salesmen still need to take heed.
As most people in the berry industry, I believe quite strongly that there is a lot of variation in strawberry bed temperatures. Sides that face the sun longer tend to be warmer and those that don't are cooler. This consequently has an effect on plant growth, and what's more there is good reason to believe that this can also have a bearing on disease severity in an infested field.
Problem is that this hasn't really been thoroughly tested. Thanks to a local grower and a research company loaning me their equipment, I have an opportunity to thoroughly test the above. We have green plastic compared to transparent, and then I am placing Hobo dataloggers at 2" and 6" deep 5" away from the bed shoulders. The loggers will stay put for the duration of the season.
Check back in December!
Getting ready to bury the datalogger 6 inches deep. Ruler is to make certain the depth is correct.
Data logger placed in the hole. Soil is filled back in and tamped down.
Plastic is sealed back up; using clear Gorilla tape to interfere as little as possible with the plastic.
A lot of growers already know this, but here we have a clear (no pun intended) demonstration that the thin colored plastics deployed as mulch in our strawberries are not as opaque as one would think. Today I discovered several plants and mosses green and bright under some colored plastic I had peeled back to do some work, meaning plenty of sunshine is getting through.
We've got some dataloggers buried at various depths underneath this, it will be an interesting comparison to the data being collected under the clear plastic laid out close by.
Some weeds and moss doing quite well under a plastic most people think of as opaque.
This piece was originally posted in late November, but see updated postscript concerning the identity of the pest at the bottom:
Already giving away the punchline in the title, but I was approached yesterday by a grower experiencing an unusual problem on his strawberries. All of this has been handled remotely, so on first glance I see drying out spots of various sizes and shapes on the leaves with dark spots in the middle of many of them (Picture 1 below). Problem tends to occur and be more severe on mature leaves. Pretty inconclusive, but the gut response would be a fungal disease with the dark spots being fruiting bodies of some sort.
However, on receipt of more pictures (Picture 2 below) this morning, lo and behold I was able to discern the culprit as thrips. Note the similar sized and shaped yellow objects gathered around one of the spots in this picture.
Haven't seen this problem before, but the situation in which it is happening is also unusual. Strawberry grown in substrate under a tunnel without weed mat and consequent weed growth underneath.
Directing the grower and his support staff to our recently updated UC IPM Guidelines for strawberry for counsel on how to manage this problem:
Updated postscript: A reader in Uruguay noted that he had this sort of damage on strawberries there caused not by our typical Western flowers thrips, but a species of Caliothrips. This for sure was intriguing, so I had a sample mailed to me by the grower and my colleague Steven Koike at Trical graciously agreed to do the identification.
Just got word back and based on the sample submitted to Steve, the thrips occurring in this field are Western flowers thrips. My take on the unusual nature of the damage is that the weeds below the growing area and the higher temperatures of the tunnels must have something to do with this.
Anyway, real group effort here to get the right answer and a workable solution to the grower. Thanks everybody!!
Brown, various shaped and sized spots on strawberry leaves. Note black spots towards the middle of many of them.
Note the yellow colored thrips (circled in red) gathered around one of the spots on the top center leaf. These are clearly the cause of the issue here.