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Minor Vegetable Crops on the Coast Supported by Cooperative Extension

The Issue

The agricultural industry in coastal California features a great diversity of specialty vegetable crops. The extensive production of these so-called minor crops reflects the consumer’s increasing interest in diverse vegetables, tastes and nutrition. Such crops include arugula, beet leaves, chervil, cilantro, corn salad (mâche), escarole, fennel, mizuna mustard, radicchio, rappini, red mustard, tatsoi and others. Unfortunately, like all crops, these minor crops are susceptible to a number of damaging insect, pathogen, and weed pests that reduce yields and quality. Because industry commodity boards and university programs rarely include such crops, there is very little statewide research on pest biology and control options for these specialty crops.

What Has ANR Done?

UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors in Monterey County stepped in to provide services to growers of specialty minor vegetable crops. Steve Koike, Bill Chaney and Richard Smith regularly diagnose pest and production problems on these crops, provide management advice to farmers, and develop research information for new pesticide registrations. UC research from other cropping systems can often be adapted for specialty minor vegetable crops. For example, the advisors found that the specialty greens known as corn salad are susceptible to the same soil borne fungus (Sclerotinia minor) as lettuce. As a result the advisors demonstrated that lettuce/corn salad rotations should be avoided. Advisors confirmed that disease outbreaks on radicchio were caused by the tomato spotted wilt virus. Management of aphids, for example, can often benefit from intercropping with insectary plants, plants that attract beneficial insects. Field trials have also been conducted to obtain data necessary for herbicide registrations and alternative weed control strategies (precision guided cultivation, organic herbicide materials) are also being studied.

The Payoff

Advisors provide research and extension support for specialty vegetable crops.

Through research-based information from Cooperative Extension, growers practice improved crop rotations and other production practices to avoid problems. With this help, the consumer can be provided with high quality, affordable specialty commodities that add variety and nutrition to their diets.

Clientele Testimonial

"In my ten years as a crop consultant I have found UCCE advisors to be invaluable in diagnosing diseases, identifying pests and weeds, and incorporating practical and preventative control measures for my toughest problems." - Jeena Andrews, pest control adviser,
Santa Cruz County


Supporting Unit: Monterey County

Steven T. Koike, Richard Smith, and Bill Chaney, UCCE Farm Advisors, 1432 Abbott Street, Salinas, CA 93901 - (831) 759-7350 - tkoike@ucdavis.edu, rifsmith@ucdavis.edu, wechaney@ucdavis.edu