Backyard Orchard News
A field of green ribboned in yellow.Anyone who drives down Pedrick Road in Dixon, Calif., and sees...
Honey bee foraging on sunflower in a field off Pedrick Road, Dixon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dixon, Calif. farmland ablaze with sunflowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of sunflowers. Just add bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Head's up! A lone sunflower head towers above the field as bees buzz toward to it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The research aims to give vintners blending varieties that will make San Joaquin Valley wines with familiar names more interesting. Vintners may use up to a quarter of their grape volume to impart distinctive color, flavor and structure to a varietal wine without calling it a blend. Grapes being studied at Kearney may one day add a certain flavor note - such as cherry, tannin, black pepper or citrus - to fine San Joaquin Valley wine.
"High levels of color and tannin cannot compensate for a variety whose yield is far below the economic threshold," Wolpert said.
At another stop on the Grape Day tour, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture farm advisor Mark Battany demonstrated the "Paso Panel." Battany developed the tool - composed of an inexpensive, lightweight solar panel and digital meter mounted on an aluminum frame - to help farmers fine tune their irrigation scheduling.
The Paso Panel allows farmers and researchers to quickly and easily calculate the amount of canopy shade in a vineyard or a vineyard row. The data can be combined with climate data to calculate crop water needs.
Measuring soil moisture and using plant-based monitoring systems are other ways to determine plant water needs, but Battany said currently climate-based methods are underused.
"A lot of farmers guess when they need to irrigate," Battany said. "People tend to guess on the conservative side, and put on more water than necessary."
New York-based USDA-ARS plant breeder Peter Cousins was also at the field day to explain his grape root stock variety trials planted at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Cousins and his staff screen 3,000 to 4,000 seedlings a year. The best prospects are sent to California, where 140 experimental root stocks are growing.
"Here at Kearney, the vines grow so vigorously, we can get more than 100 cuttings per plant," said Cousins. "This is their last stop, where we determine whether you can grow them in a field and make wood that propagates vines."
It's a perfect example of "the bad, the ugly and the good."In that order. Not "the good, the bad...
Honey bee on a yellow starthistle flower on Bee Biology Road at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee gathers both nectar and pollen from yellow starthistle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Yellow starthistle is a good plant for bees, but not for people. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
First you give them roots, then you give them wings. That's what's happening in our bee condo, a...
Hole in one--a hole signifying the emergence of a leafcutting bee (Megachile). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bee provisioning her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bee on sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Peter Cousins of the USDA-ARS in Geneva, N.Y., will be referring to these charts during his presentation at Kearney Grape Day. The title of Cousins' presentation is "The development of new grape rootstocks for the San Joaquin Valley."