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Posts Tagged: Margaret Lloyd

New guide helps organic growers manage burrowing rodents

A pocket gopher emerges from a burrow. The holes and mounds created by burrowing rodents pose hazards to farmworkers and farm machinery. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark

Burrowing rodents can cause extensive and expensive damage to orchards and crop fields. To manage the pests without chemicals used on conventional farms, organic growers can consult a new publication from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists.

“Burrowing Rodents: Developing a Management Plan for Organic Agriculture in California” outlines management within organically acceptable methods using an integrated pest management approach.

California ground squirrels, pocket gophers and meadow voles are the three most common species that cause damage. Squirrels chew on seedlings, fruit and nuts, killing young trees and reducing crop yields. In addition to plants, ground squirrels, pocket gophers and voles can chew on irrigation lines, and their burrow systems can channel water away from plants and erode the soil. The holes and mounds created by burrowing rodents pose hazards to farmworkers and farm machinery.

This publication helps growers identify the rodent species on their properties, their life cycles and tools available to control them.

California ground squirrels chew on seedlings, fruit and nuts, killing young trees and reducing crop yields. Photo by Roger Baldwin

“Growers can read about how to effectively select and set a range of traps for burrowing rodents,” said co-author Margaret Lloyd, UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisor for the Capitol Corridor. “Traps are an important tool for organic management, but maximizing control comes from integrating knowledge. Here we present information about rodent biology, trap efficacy, biocontrol, habitat management, plant protection and other approaches to collectively manage the pest problem.”

In the publication, Lloyd and Roger Baldwin, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist in the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, review the effectiveness of commercially available traps – where to place the traps, whether to use attractants, and methods of euthanizing the animals.

Traps are an important tool for rodent management on organic farms, but integrating traps with other tools are necessary for effective management, according to the authors. Photo by Roger Baldwin

They also offer cultural techniques for deterring rodents such as flooding fields and deep ripping soil to destroy burrow systems. Crops for orchard floors or cover cropping can be selected and managed to minimize habitat that protects and encourages gophers and voles.      

For biological control, they suggest barn owls, raptors and snakes might be able to assist, but warn growers that predators alone will not be able to eat enough of the rodents to reduce the high populations to tolerable levels for many growers.   

“Effective management will rely on a suite of tools,” said Baldwin.

The 15-page publication is available for free download at

Posted on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 11:08 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Grafting tomato transplants could improve taste and yield

A larger assortment of tastier tomatoes could be in Californians' future.
Two UC Cooperative Extension advisors are conducting field research to determine whether grafting tasty tomato plants onto high-performing root stock will increase yield and disease resistance while improving tomato flavor, reported Ezra David Romero on Valley Public Radio.

Romero spoke to Scott Stoddard, the UCCE vegetable crops advisor for Madera and Merced counties, and Margaret Lloyd, the UCCE small farms advisor for Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties.

Stoddard has planted 3,500 grafted tomato seedlings on a farm north of Madera.

“Now we got them in the field and so approximately 83 days from now, if all goes according to plan, we will be harvesting out here and we will see if we can see some yield differences,” Stoddard said.

Lloyd grafted heirloom tomato varieties onto disease-resistant roots on a quarter acre at UC Davis.

“We're kind of working at this level of finding non-chemical management tools that will help overcome these challenges so they [farmers] can continue to grow these nice heirloom varieties,” says Lloyd.

Both scientists will collect data from their trails to see whether it makes sense for growers to implement the practice on their farms. Romero reported that both agreed consumers could, in time, have a tastier, larger assortment of tomatoes to purchase at farmers markets and stores.

Posted on Monday, July 18, 2016 at 2:20 PM

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