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Lea Corkidi, Jeff Bohn and Mike Evans

The insecticide bifenthrin is a synthetic pyrethroid required by regulation for the production of nursery crops to suppress the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) in Orange and Riverside counties in California. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to analyze the effects of different rates of bifenthrin on the growth and mycorrhizal colonization of ‘Silver Queen’ corn (Zea mays) inoculated with VAM 80®, a mycorrhizal inoculum with spores, hyphae, and root pieces colonized by Glomus spp., used to inoculate California native plants in containers. Corn was used because it is the standard indicator plant used for mycorrhizal inoculum potential assays and it is a good host for arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi propagation. The application of bifenthrin had no detrimental effects on mycorrhizal colonization of corn. There were no significant differences in the root length colonized by arbuscules, vesicles, or in the total percentage of mycorrhizal colonization obtained in the plants grown with the different bifenthrin rates 6 weeks after transplanting. However, there were significant interactions on the effects of bifenthrin and mycorrhizal colonization on plant growth. The addition of 12, 15, and 25 ppm of bifenthrin reduced corn biomass of nonmycorrhizal plants, but had no effect on the growth of mycorrhizal plants. There were no significant differences between the mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal plants grown with 0, 10, and 12 ppm of bifenthrin. In contrast, inoculation with VAM 80® increased the shoot dry weight of plants grown with 15 and 25 ppm of bifenthrin. This study showed that mycorrhizal colonization can be helpful to overcome some of the negative effects of bifenthrin on the growth of corn.

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Lucia E. Villavicencio, James A. Bethke and Lea Corkidi

Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of the plant regulator uniconazole on plant height, flowering, and fruit yield of vegetable transplants. In the first experiment, seedlings of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Early Girl’), pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Jalapeno’), and eggplant (Solanum melongena ‘Millionaire’), were sprayed with water (untreated control) or with 2.5, 5, and 10 mg·L−1 of uniconazole. Five weeks after treatment (WAT), application of 2.5 mg·L−1 of uniconazole reduced the height of tomato by 17%, and of 5 and 10 mg·L−1, by 25%. The effect of 10 mg·L−1 of uniconazole on tomato plant height persisted until 13 WAT, but did not affect fruit yield. ‘Early Girl’ tomato plants treated with 10 mg·L−1 of uniconazole were still shorter than the untreated control at this time, but there were no significant differences in the number or weight of the fruit produced by the plants treated with 10 mg·L−1 of uniconazole, and the untreated controls. In contrast, as the rate of uniconazole increased, the height of ‘Jalapeno’ pepper and ‘Millionaire’ eggplant decreased. Application of uniconazole had no effect on the number of fruit produced by ‘Millionaire’ eggplant. However, treatment with 10 mg·L−1 of uniconazole reduced the number of fruit produced by pepper plants by 50%, and reduced the total weight of fruit produced by pepper and eggplant plants by 30% and 50%, respectively, compared with the untreated control. The second experiment analyzed the effects of 5, 8, and 10 mg·L−1 of uniconazole on two cultivars of tomato with different growth habit, Early Girl (determinate) and Sun Sugar (indeterminate). Application of all rates of uniconazole decreased plant height but not the final fruit yield of the two tomato cultivars.

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Lea Corkidi, Donald J. Merhaut, Edith B. Allen, James Downer, Jeff Bohn and Mike Evans

Our goal was to investigate the effects of mycorrhizal colonization on nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) leaching from plants grown in nursery containers. We compared the growth response and the content of nitrate (NO3), ammonium (NH4), and orthophosphate, in leachates collected from mycorrhizal (AM) and nonmycorrhizal (NonAM) plants of the fast-growing perennial, Encelia californica Nutt. (california sunflower), and the slow-growing woody shrub, Rhus integrifolia (Nutt.) Brewer & S. Watson (lemonade berry). Plants were grown for 8 weeks with no fertilizer or with 0.88 g (half rate) and 1.76 g (full rate) of 18N–2.6P–9.9K Osmocote (18-6-12, 6–7 month longevity at 26 °C, Osmocote® controlled-release fertilizer; Scotts Co., Marysville, OH). Mycorrhizal colonization increased the growth and nutrient uptake of E. californica and R. integrifolia but was more effective at decreasing nutrient leaching from containers with E. californica. Mycorrhizal colonization contributed to reduce the content of NO3, NH4, and orthophosphate by up to 65% in leachates from E. californica grown with half rate of Osmocote and up to 70% to 80% in those from plants grown in full rates of Osmocote. In contrast, only the leachates from AM plants of R. integrifolia grown without fertilizer had generally lower nutrient content than those from NonAM plants. Leachates collected from AM plants grown in half rates of Osmocote had less P but no less N, and there were mostly no significant differences in the leachate content of NO3, NH4, and orthophosphate from AM and NonAM plants of R. integrifolia grown in full rates of Osmocote. However, mycorrhizal colonization reduced the fertilizer requirement to achieve maximum growth in both species. AM plants of E. californica and R. integrifolia grown with half rates of Osmocote had greater dry weight than the NonAM ones grown in full rates of Osmocote. Our study shows that mycorrhizal colonization can reduce N and P leaching either by increasing nutrient uptake or by allowing the use of lower fertilizer rates.

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Donald J. Merhaut, Lea Corkidi, Maren Mochizuki, Toan Khuong, Julie Newman, Ben Faber, Oleg Daugovish and Sonya Webb

Agriculture is a major industry in California, with cool-season crops grown along the state’s coasts, warm-season crops grown in the hot deserts, and many temperate crops grown in the state’s valleys. In coastal communities such as Ventura County, the Calleguas Creek and the Santa Clara River watersheds have 50,000 and 60,000 irrigated acres of farm crops, respectively. These watersheds are considered impaired by nutrients, salts, pesticides, and other agricultural contaminants. Mitigation of chemical and sediment runoff through grower-implemented best management practices (BMPs) is therefore one of the highest priorities in the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Basin Plan. A 3-year project was designed to assist Ventura County growers in meeting regional water quality objectives. The University of California Cooperative Extension Ventura County and the University of California, Riverside, collaborated with the Ventura County Resource Conservation District and the Ventura County Agricultural Irrigated Lands Group (VCAILG) to address three project goals: increase grower and landowner understanding of local agricultural water quality issues; identify gaps or deficiencies in current management practices in agricultural operations; and reduce the contribution of nutrients, pesticides, and other pollutants to impaired water bodies. To achieve these goals, 469 surveys of agricultural water quality management practices were collected to assess the extent of current adoption of BMPs. Over 160 growers who farm more than 14,000 acres that drain into Calleguas Creek and 7,000 acres that drain into the Santa Clara River watersheds were assisted. Using the survey, growers developed site-specific farm water quality plans and received on-farm recommendations for BMPs. Additionally, 12 water quality educational programs, “including demonstrations of successful BMPs,” were developed and more than 2500 copies of educational materials published by the University of California, the Resource Conservation District, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were distributed at on-farm visits, workshops, and other grower events. The project resulted in improved understanding, by growers and landowners, of water quality issues and significantly increased the implementation of appropriate on-farm BMPs to protect water quality. Nearly 100 new BMPs primarily aimed at managing erosion, sediment movement, and irrigation runoff were identified and documented through annual reassessments for more than 8000 acres draining into Calleguas Creek. A total of 518 people attended the educational programs, and over 90% of participants who completed evaluations rated the programs highly. In the final year of the project, 75% of attendees indicated they plan to implement new BMPs within the next 5 years, especially in the areas of irrigation, erosion, and pest management.