When doctoral candidate and entomologist extraordinaire Brendon Boudinot delivered his exit seminar on ants to the UC Davis Department of...
Doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot getting ready to present his exit seminar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ant specialist Brendon Boudinot recommends one of his dog-eared textbooks. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Brendon Boudinot tells the crowd we all share a common ancestor. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Okay, we don't maybe generally care about the abdomen and maybe we don't care that much about insect genitalia, but I care about insect genitalia and a lot of insects do, too."--Brendon Boudinot (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Text of Brendon Boudinot's PowerPoint slides onto his face. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Brendon Boudinot drew acclaim, admiration and applause at his exit seminar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
COVID-19 does not currently pose major threats to overall global food security because adequate stores of staples — like wheat and rice — remain available. But the sustainability of California specialty crops may face greater hurdles, reported Laura Poppick in Scientific American.
Poppick spoke with two UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) scientists for perspective on the future of California agriculture considering the market and production constraints posed by measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Everybody is scrambling to figure out what to do,” said Gail Feenstra, deputy director of UC ANR's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. “There's just a lot of disruption.”
Specialty products — such as some fruits and organic produce grown on smaller-scale farms — are often sold to restaurants and farmers markets, many of which are now closed or have reduced service, rather than directly to the grocery stores that are still operating. Even if these farmers are able to continue working, they may have limited places to sell their goods, the article said.
Strawberries are another crop likely to be affected. Laborers picking strawberries typically work more closely than is advisable to prevent the spread of the virus, said Mark Bolda, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor based in Watsonville. He said farmers are already making plans to spread workers between rows.
Strawberries, however, hit prime ripeness within a narrow window of just two to three days and must be picked quickly, Bolda says. Spacing workers may slow picking, and, "being slower is expensive."
Last winter I bought a portable grow light on sale (for $10 with free shipping) to help with indoor seed germination during the winter. I was lucky that the light I bought was exactly what I needed and works great. But if you ever decided to shop online for plant grow lights, you undoubtedly were presented with a multitude of options, ranging from the type of bulb to the light spectrum produced. To determine the best grow light to meet your needs, you should be clear as to why you want a grow light (for example for seed germination, to provide additional light for houseplants, etc.). Next, you first need a basic understanding of the light needs of plants.
Basically, plants need light for three purposes, photosynthesis, phototropism, and photoperiodism. Photosynthesis is the process where plants convert sunlight to chemical energy. In phototropism, growth hormones are produced on the side of the stem causing the plant to lean towards the light so that the leaves are closer to intercepting the light. And photoperiodism involves how the plant reacts to different types of light. These reactions range from seed germination to breaking dormancy and even blooming.
Now let's talk about the light wavelength. Sunlight contains several different wavelengths or colors, like the colors seen in rainbows. Red and blue light spectrums are absorbed by plants and are essential in helping them grow. Red light is essential for seed germination, blossom, and fruit production. Blue light is essential for plant production of chlorophyll and producing strong leaves and stems.
Violet light is said to enhance the taste and aroma of plants. Yellow light is absorbed by the plants but doesn't promote growth as much as red and blue light. Green light is reflected back by the plants. Researchers have conducted numerous studies on the specific wavelengths and ratios needed for specific plants to grow, and in the case of vegetables, to produce best.
Grow lights range from incandescent and fluorescent to LED bulbs. Incandescent lights are a good source of red light, but a poor source of blue light. Because incandescent bulbs generate considerable heat, they need to be located at a distance from the plants, thereby reducing the light intensity. Fluorescent tube lights are available in types that emit particularly red and blue light. They generate little heat and have a life about ten times that of an incandescent light. LED lights produce little heat, are energy efficient and have a long life, but are more expensive than other lights. There are three basic types of LED bulb types for grow lights - bulged reflectors, tubular, and miniature. There are also high-intensity, or gas, discharge (HID) lights which are used primarily in greenhouses.
To learn more about the different types of grow lights, the light spectrum and intensity they produce, their efficiency, and determining the best type of grow light for your needs, see the following documents listed below.
Indoor Lighting for Plants. University of Vermont Extension. https://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/lighting.html
LED Grow Lights for Plant Production. Oklahoma State University Extension Service. April 2017. http://factsheets.okstate.edu/documents/hla-6450-led-grow-lights-for-plant-production/
Lighting Indoor Houseplants. University of Missouri Extension. Revised June 2016. https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6515
“Grow Lights for Indoor Plants and Indoor Gardening: An Overview.” Modern Farmer. March 2, 2018. https://modernfarmer.com/2018/03/grow-lights-for-indoor-plants-and-indoor-gardening/
“How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops.” http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/how-to-talk-to-your-plants/
photo by Kathy Low
"Eat your greens," they say. Okay, we don't need any encouragement, but apparently many other folks need a push, a poke or a prod to eat cole crops,...
These cabbage aphids, Brevicoryne brassicae, are not practicing social distancing on this yellow mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of cabbage aphids, Brevicoryne brassicae, on yellow mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Meanwhile, in between social distancing, what's happening in the world of insects? We were surprised to see a skipper butterfly today (March 25)...
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)