Backyard Orchard News
“We think the flavor of mandarins declines much more rapidly than oranges,” said Sue Collin, a UC Riverside staff research associate who is based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
The way oranges are set out at the grocery store or on home counter tops could be trouble for the more delicate mandarin. And when mandarins make a six-week sea voyage to the Pacific Rim, will Asian consumers find the fruit acceptable?
In order to provide farmers, shippers and retailers accurate information about the impact of different storage temperatures on the quality of the fruit, Collin is working with UC Riverside sub-tropical horticulturalist Mary Lu Arpaia and USDA plant physiologist Dave Obenland to understand the changes in mandarins stored at a variety of temperatures, at different humidity levels, for various periods of time.
“A grocery store may be holding fruit at room temperature, 68 degrees or even warmer,” Collin said. “We’re comparing fruit that has been stored in very controlled atmospheres – at temperatures in the 40s, 50s and 60s.”
When it comes to understanding the acceptability of fresh fruit, nothing can match the human palette.
Collin recruits staff based at Kearney to take a break from their jobs to come to a laboratory built at the agricultural research station specifically for sensory testing. The 1,100-square-foot laboratory features neutral white paint and broad-spectrum lighting. The ventilation system was designed to minimize distracting odors. Inside, six tasting booths each have small windows that open to the kitchen area, where samples are prepared.
“We do quite a bit of testing to see if our volunteers can tell the difference in fruit stored at different temperatures,” Collin said.
In conjunction with the human testing, Obenland studies the fruit’s chemical composition to find out if objective numerical values correlate with the more subjective findings of the human tasters.
Although the optimal storage temperature for mandarins is still under investigation, Collin suggested consumers should keep their mandarins in the refrigerator at home for best results.
“I think the flavor holds better and the fruit lasts longer in the refrigerator,” Collin said.
This research is being funded in part by the Citrus Research Board.
“We’re looking for vegetables that are not on everyone’s radar yet,” explained Mark Gaskell, farm advisor. “In some cases, a new crop is one that’s been grown by another culture for hundreds of years and is just ‘new’ to us.”
The program’s five farm advisors will be testing varieties of rainbow carrots, watermelon radishes, party cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli. The crops are grown in a demonstration plot at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, as well as plots in Santa Clara, San Luis Obispo, Tulare and San Diego counties.
“This is another opportunity to highlight specialty crops that could be profitable for small-scale growers, with the tastes and interests of kids in mind,” said Shermain Hardesty, program director and Cooperative Extension economist at UC Davis.
Five schools, which each received a $20,000 “Love Your Veggies” grant from Hidden Valley Salad Dressing, will also be planting and growing the vegetables. The schools and the farm advisors will share their gardening and tasting experiences via blog posts, time-lapse photography in the garden, taste-testing activities and promotion of the program within their networks and local communities.
Now in its fifth consecutive year, the Love Your Veggies program is also providing $100,000 in funding to support the UC Small Farm Program as it identifies and grows these vegetable varieties.
Hidden Valley created the Love Your Veggies program in 2007 after a study conducted by UC Cooperative Extension researchers found that children in the study consumed more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing.
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Prunes are just past petal fall, but I've been shown several examples of bacterial canker and/or blast in the last week (see pictures below).
These symptoms are caused by infections of Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringe, a common bacteria found throughout orchards. Particularly in years with cold wet winters/springs, the bacteria enter prune trees -- and other stone fruit and almonds -- damaging scaffolds (bacterial canker) and buds (bacterial blast). The bacterial blast generally is not a major economic issue for growers. However, canker can spread rapidly and kill trees from the top down. Strangely enough, the rootstock is not affected by the bacteria, and damaged trees often show vigorous sucker growth.
Once the symptoms appear, there is little to be done. Don't remove damaged trees when symptoms first show. The trees may recover.
Bacterial canker is associated with:
- Soil related stress such as acid soils, shallow soils over hardpan, or coarse texture (sandy) soils with nematode (specifically ring nematode) pressure. The bacteria don’t enter the plant through the soil – at least they don’t harm the rootstock, but soil stresses predispose the tree to above ground infection.
- Low soil nitrogen availability
- Pruning during wet, cool weather.
- Rootstock selection. M2624 is most sensitive to bacterial canker, although M29C is susceptible as well. M40 is reported to be the rootstock that is least susceptible to bacterial canker.
What can be done to avoid bacterial canker?
- Avoid soil stresses listed above, wherever possible.
- Spot fumigate to control nematodes in coarse texture (sandy) soils
- Maintain adequate soil nitrogen levels
- Prune in late summer/early fall or late spring
- Plant on M40 rootstock
Also, Jack Dibble, retired UCCE entomology specialist, told me that, in his experience, trees with bacterial canker pressure showed dormant oil burn more readily than trees not under pressure from bacterial canker. If your block is at risk from bacterial canker (sandy soils, low N levels, nematodes, etc.), consider avoiding high dormant oil rates.
Prune trees showing bacterial canker symptoms (scaffold collapse, gumming). Sutter Co. April 8, 2011
Prune buds damaged by bacterial blast.