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Ag Beat RoundUp: Fighting HLB With Trickery

Immigration Reform: If the GOP leadership will not advance immigration reform, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is spearheading a plan to do so advance in the House of Representatives say a Politico article.
“The California Democrat’s strategy includes introducing legislation combining the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in May with a bipartisan border-security bill from the House Homeland Security Committee, according to sources familiar with the plans.”
Despite the urging of virtually all the California ag leadership and trade groups the House Republicans have yet to put forward a bill.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 4.35.33 PMTrickery & HLB: More finds of Asian citrus psyllids in Tulare County this week as separate,widespread discoveries imply not a general infestation says scientist Dr Beth Grafton Cardwell. As of yet the insects are not carrying the dreaded citrus greening disease or huanglongbing (HLB) disease that kills citrus trees and is spread by an insect, the Asian citrus psyllid.

Still the disease was found in one LA backyard some years ago and it is “just a matter of time” until the disease finds its way to Tulare County – the number one citrus producing county.”We assume it is in LA and it is moving up from Mexico.”

Backyard citrus is a major problem since homeowners don’t typically watch for the tiny insect.Some 60% of homes in the state have citrus and there are more backyard citrus trees in the state than commercial citrus trees says Grafton Cardwell.

Researchers are working on several fronts including developing a rapid detection test that “sniffs VOC’s” put out by a diseased tree.

Both cold weather and hot weather slow the insect down, a benefit of the California climate.

Researchers have a few tricks up their sleeve when disease does come here. One involves using the vector for another citrus disease – the mild strain of Tristeza (CTV) spread by aphids that causes little production losses compared to severe strains.  Grafton Cardwell says the idea is to use the CVT virus as a carrier into the tree that would inoculate the tree from HLB. Also modify a psyllid that can not acquire HLB and flood the area where these harmless insects disrupt the mating of HLB carrier psyllids.

Rainy Winter? Farmer’s Almanac Says So: Weather watchers can’t agree but the old standby Farmer’s Almanac has an optimistic forecast. “Winter will be much rainier and cooler than normal, with mountain snowfall much greater than normal. Most of the rain, snow, and storminess will come in January and February, when storm damage will be a concern. The coldest periods will be in mid-December and mid- to late January.”

Study Would Raise San Luis Dam: At a recent hearing Commissioner of Reclamation Michael Connor  announced that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is “looking at San Luis Reservoir and increasing storage there. We need to put everything on the table.”

The Commissioner, who made the announcement near the end of his portion of a panel discussion on Delta water issues and needs, said costs are being investigated.
After the panel was completed, Connor told reporters, “We’ve done an appraisal level analysis but we need to do more modeling.” He said a preliminary report is due October 1. If favorable, a feasibility study could follow.

Ron Jacobsma general manager of Friant Water Authority says the issue is one of dam safety but that the Bureau may decide to add additional storage as part of a fix for a safety issue.The proposal is an 18 and 1/2 ft raise.
San Luis Reservoir, located in western Merced County and built a half century ago, is a joint federal-state facility capable of storing a little over 2 million acre-feet of water. The Central Valley Project’s maximum storage share is 980,000 acre-feet. The reservoir currently holds about 350,000 acre-feet.
It is crucial to State Water Project and CVP operations in meeting water supply needs south of the Delta, including deliveries of water used within the Friant Division by eight agencies along the Friant-Kern Canal with CVP contracts for Cross Valley Canal water deliveries.

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