What is in this article?:
- There is bad and good news for the U.S. leafy greens industry. First the bad, leafy green consumption has been flat overall for the last 30 years. The good news is the latest data suggest the consumption of spinach and spring mix is on the increase.
- The spinach industry is on the rebound, says Mary Zischke, chief executive officer of the California Leafy Greens Research Board.
- The University of California is among several institutions providing valuable production research to advance the U.S. leafy greens industry.
Trevor Suslow, UC Davis Extension Research Specialist, standing, consults with staff research associate Adrian Sbodio on a research project for the California Leafy Greens Research Program.
Current pest management research tackles the biology of downy mildew disease and root rot in spinach, lettuce viruses, the impact of rotational crops on soil-borne disease levels, and insecticide efficacy trials.
Food safety studies are often partnerships funded by the CLGRP and the Center for Produce Safety.
Water quality management research centers on denitrification chambers, crop nitrogen requirements, sediment reduction, and best management practices.
The CLGRP’s latest research accomplishments are available online at www.calgreens.org.
Researchers in CLGRP projects primarily tackle time consuming initial research and then provide potential solutions to seed companies for further development. Among the researchers include Trevor Suslow, UC Davis Extension research specialist.
Suslow discussed with the workshop crowd ongoing research on soil and water contamination that he and UCCE plant pathologist Steve Koike are conducting. The aim is to develop improved protocols for soil microbe management in vegetables which, in the end, could improve and impact food safety.
Field trials conducted by the duo suggest that bacterial pathogens can exist longer in the soil under higher soil moisture and milder temperature conditions, especially if associated with contaminated organic matter.
Once a field is disked after harvest, Suslow says both pathogenic E. coli and salmonella can live in the soil for more than 110 days. Research trials in 2011 and 2012 showed that a low yet detectible number of samples from replanted mini-greens were positive for the research strains inoculated on the previous crop.
Other trials conducted by Suslow and Koike address whether cultural changes implemented by growers can reduce a pathogen’s life span.
Suslow said, “Our preliminary findings suggest that delaying residue disking for at least a week after harvest, especially if the field is believed to be contaminated, allows existing environmental conditions to reduce pathogen numbers naturally.”
Commercial sponsors of the 23rd annual Fall Desert Crops Workshop included: Platinum Level – BASF and Bayer CropScience; Gold Level – Dow AgroSciences, Oro Agri, Westbridge Agricultural Products, and Syngenta; and Silver Level – FMC and Valent.