Meanwhile, in between social distancing, what's happening in the world of insects? We were...
Early butterfly: This Umber Skipper, Poanes melane, was photographed in Vacaville, Calif. on March 25. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This Anise swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon, foraged March 21 in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. The plant: Brandeegee sage (Salvia brandegeei). (Photo by Allan Jones)
Side view of Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon), nectaring on Brandeegee sage (Salvia brandegeei) on March 21 in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Allan Jones)
UC Cooperative Extension specialist David Sunding and UC Berkeley professor David Roland-Holst estimate that one-fifth of cultivated farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will be permanently lost as groundwater plans take hold and water supplies are severely restricted, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press.
The report, Blueprint Economic Impact Analysis: Phase One Results, says statewide the losses could total about 992,000 acres of farmland, losses of over $7 billion from crop revenue and a loss in farm operating income of nearly $2 billion.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was passed during the 2011-2016 drought to return California aquifers to sustainable levels after decades of over drafting. Local agencies will ensure that groundwater extraction matches groundwater replenishment by 2040.
The report says the rise in almond acreage across the state will soon need to end as farmers in the San Joaquin Valley fallow more than 325,000 acres of tree nuts. Two-thirds of that acreage will be pulled from Fresno and Kern counties.
The labor market will also take a hit.
"We calculate that the direct employment losses from SGMA plus anticipated surface water reductions will total 42,000 jobs on average," Sunding and Roland-Holst wrote. These employment losses ... total $1.1 billion annually in the San Joaquin Valley."
New technique has potential
to protect citrus from HLB
Citrus greening, also called Huanglongbing (HLB), is devastating the citrus industry. Florida alone has experienced a 50 to 75 percent reduction in citrus production. There are no resistant varieties of citrus available and limited disease control measures.
Some scientists think it is possible that orange juice could one day become as expensive and rare as caviar. In an effort to prevent this, three plant pathologists at the University of California-Berkeley and United States Department of Agriculture conducted research into ways to boost citrus immunity and protect the valuable fruit against citrus greening.
Because the bacteria that causes citrus greening cannot be grown in a lab, scientists have to find novel ways to conduct experiments. The University of California-Berkeley/USDA team looked at many different strains of the bacteria that cause citrus greening to see if they could identify peptides (a compound of two or more amino acids) that would trigger immune responses.
"This was a long list, so we narrowed it down by selecting small peptides that were a bit different in their peptide sequence, which might imply that the bacterium had made those sequence changes so that they wouldn't be recognized by the plant immune system," explained Jennifer D. Lewis, group leader of the research team. "Then we further narrowed that list to peptides from strains that caused disease in citrus."
Through this research, they showed that two peptides could trigger immune responses in multiple plant species, including citrus. These peptides may play a role in preventing or reducing yield loss from citrus greening.
According to Lewis, "We thought it was particularly interesting that some of the peptides predicted to elicit a response, could actually trigger immune responses in multiple plant species. This suggests that the immune response to these peptides is conserved across species."
While you're sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic precautions, not too many people...
These redhumped caterpillars, to become moths, Schizura concinna, family Notodontidae, are dining on the leaf of a Western redbud, (Cercis occidentalis) in Vacaville, Calif. Emily Meineke, newest faculty member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, studies how climate change and urban development affect insects, plants, and how they interact with one another. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
From the UC Rice Blog (March 23, 2020) Weeds are important pests of California rice...