What is in this article?:
- Walt Bentley, UCCE advisor, retires after 35 years
- Relation to growers
- "Mr. Bentley's career represents the best UCCE's faculty has to offer, “ said his IPM colleague, Pete Goodell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor based at Kearney. “Unselfish service, loyalty to his peers and clientele, intellectual honesty, dedication to the mission of UCCE and a genuine love for his work.”
Relation to growers
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment, however, was the relationship he cultivated with growers and pest control advisers in Kern County. In particular, Bentley worked closely with pioneer Bakersfield apple grower Lewis Sherrill to combat the problem of codling moth in apples. Sherrill started his own farm at age 76 and continued farming until he was nearly 100 years old.
“Apple farmers in Kern County were relying on information from Washington state, where a large part of the U.S. apple industry is located,” Bentley said. “But in Washington, codling moth only produces two generations in the summer. In Kern County, we had four. Lou and I analyzed codling moth flight dynamics, integration of materials and we began experimenting with mating disruption.”
At Kearney, Bentley continued his work on apples and almonds, plus he began to work extensively in grapes. Mealybug management in grapes, he said, became the most important and impactful part of his job. Bentley also played a role in developing a management plan to control katydid damage in peaches and helped farmers use mating disruption against oriental fruit moth in peaches.
“In my generation as an entomologist, a major breakthrough was the development and use of pheromones for ag pest monitoring and management,” Bentley said. “We found ways to use pests’ own biology against them.”
During his 36-year career, Bentley authored 65 chapters or sections in pest management manuals and 75 peer-reviewed articles. In addition, he wrote more than 250 articles for trade journals and newspapers.
"Mr. Bentley's career represents the best UCCE's faculty has to offer, “ said his IPM colleague, Pete Goodell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor based at Kearney. “Unselfish service, loyalty to his peers and clientele, intellectual honesty, dedication to the mission of UCCE and a genuine love for his work.”
Bentley credits the success of his program to the UC Cooperative Extension research and education continuum, which is designed to foster communication and collaboration from campus laboratories to farm fields and back again.
“I think this is one of the best educational programs in the world,” Bentley said. “We take information from UC campuses to the farms. And those of us who work with farmers bring first-hand experiences back to the campus and work with scientists to develop solutions.”
Bentley’s personal interest in insects, which got him into his line of work, will carry through into his retirement. One of his goals, he said, is building a teaching collection of insects, spiders, mites and other arthropods at Kearney. He has already acquired some of the equipment needed to house the collection, and plans to maintain some samples on pinned displays and others in live colonies. The collection will be a learning tool for farmers, pest control advisers, students and interns.
“Knowing what’s out there is an important part of understanding entomological science,” Bentley said.
Insects are also a part of his favorite pastime, fly fishing. Bentley said retirement will give him more time to spend on local rivers catching (and releasing) trout with his hand-tied flies. Bentley speaks passionately about the joy of fly fishing.
“There’s a pulse that runs through you,” Bentley said. “It feels like you’re a child on Christmas every time the fish hits the fly. It’s such a thrill.”