June 5, 2019 has been designated by my organization UC Agriculture and Natural Resources "Big Dig Day", which basically means dig in the soil, dig in your heart and dig in your wallet for the programs you care about.
Sure we have people doing a lot of good things statewide, but since state and Federal funds are not adequate to meet the challenges coming at us in the future, from population growth, to technology deployment to management of scarcer resources, private contributions on this day are being requested to help us enhance our work.
I'm pretty fortunate though since I am able to count on support from individual growers (this is huge), grants from Federal and state agencies, private interests and the California Strawberry Commission. In other words, for the time being, I'm good.
Then again, as County Director for UC Cooperative Extension Santa Cruz county office, I oversee a lot more than just strawberries and caneberries! One of the programs I particular take pride in is the 4H program we have here; in case you haven't heard it's about more than cows and cooking these days and they are doing work on keeping our youth engaged in science and technology. For sure, getting kids ready for our future through a tried and true program like Santa Cruz County 4H (110 years and counting) is a big job that your donation is going to help enhance.
On this Big Dig Day, personally I'm doing more than talk about it and putting up some of my own money to this great program and all the wonderful things it is doing and will do for the kids in our community. I'm asking you to think about doing the same.
On June 5, tomorrow, not earlier and not later, you'll find 4H Santa Cruz County donation button two or three clicks away. Me, the volunteers and kids in this wonderful program thank you.
The fairly heavy rains over the past weekend (1.06" from CIMIS station #111 in Watsonville), have given people concern about what sort of damage our strawberry crop has sustained. Indeed, a front page above the fold article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel this past Monday expressed similar concern:
Well you are in luck. As part of my previously blogged Botrytis trial, I am evaluating fruit on a weekly basis and was able to examine fruit harvested on Monday, right after the bulk of the rain had passed. Variety is Monterey, fertility practices are normal and picking is twice weekly.
Photo 1 below shows a basket of fruit held two days out at room temperature. They look pretty good, in fact taking an average of the water damaged fruit (see photos 2 and 3 for what that looks like) from the study it comes out to be a bit less than 9 % of the total. Not bad, and is remarkable but not unique to this field judging by the number of trucks loaded with fresh fruit bound for the cooler I saw on my rounds yesterday.
Typical basket composition for Monterey fruit picked May 20, after an inch of rain and evaluated May 22..
Typical case of water damage, soft spot on fruit, lustrous and very soft to the touch.
Comparison of common water damage to fruit tip to fruit infected with Botrytis.
This one is a toughy. Soft spot, but discolor diagnostic of Botrytis; my call is disease.
Strawberry season has started to kick into high gear on the Central Coast (at least until this spell of rain), and inevitably comparisons arise of fruit sizes. The posting of a 154 gram fruit by the CalPoly Strawberry Center on their Facebook page prompted a local breeder, CBC, to forward me the picture posted below of a substantially larger fruit from their program weighing 194 grams.
That's close to a half a pound people. For perspective, I weighed an apple (yes, I do eat fruit other than berries) and it was only 150 grams.
Just a note on the rain. I spoke with someone earlier who will make a media appearance today, but yes rain will damage a lot of fruit. Many of our varieties tolerate up to a quarter inch before exhibiting water damage, some up to a half an inch. Don't forget too that a week of free moisture is going to really kick up the Botrytis counts, which weren't low to begin with. Hopefully a lot of you growers and managers have had the foresight to put up some sprays to protect that bloom, maybe even bringing out the good stuff from the back of the barn - don't forget to mix it with a good spreader sticker too.
Never a dull moment here in Berryland I tell you.
If you read Spanish and want to know more about Botrytis in strawberry with a focus on this year, I include for you below my interview with UC ANR's Spanish language service. If you listen to Spanish radio, you will have occasion to hear their public service announcements sprinkled from time to time into some of the commercial breaks. It's a good deal, they do a lot of translation of the work being up and down the state by our division, as well as do live interviews with those of us who have some facility the language.
A number of you have checked in about large numbers of larvae and or butterflies that haven't been very common in the past years. We find them a lot on cheeseweed (Malva), but there is some damage on berries as you can see from the pictures below.
Great post included below from colleague Emily Symmes up in Colusa County on this one; she checked in with UC Emeritus Professor Art Shapiro and the bottom line that our berries are not much of a host. Plus these guys are just passing through on their migration north. Nice to have them here though for a bit, really pretty butterflies and a lot of them.
Again, thanks to the PCA's for giving the head's up on this one.
Painted lady larvae feeding on raspberry.
Feeding damage of painted lady larvae on raspberry. Note the skeletonized aspect of the leaves.
Painted lady adult. Photo courtesy Kathy Keatley Garvey.