Oregon's statewide snowpack at 123 percent of normal
According to the first water supply outlook report for the year, released last week by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), all basins in Oregon are experiencing above-normal snowpack levels, already surpassing the peak levels of last year's snow season in all locations statewide.
Following a year of record-low snowpack, water shortages, fires and widespread drought across the state, there's cautious optimism that a successful start to 2016 will enable drought recovery.
"This is the scenario we had hoped for following last year's extreme drought conditions," Melissa Webb, NRCS snow survey hydrologist, said. "The fall and early winter precipitation have started to fill reservoirs across the state that were heavily depleted going into the fall. Also, the snowpack that we have right now in the mountains is more than we had at any time last year, which is very encouraging."
EPA study finds imidacloprid harmful to honeybees
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week released the results of field trials that show imidacloprid, a commonly used neonicotinoid pesticide, can cause harm to honeybees. Declines in the number of bees and the honey they produced were seen when imidacloprid was at the "low level" of 25 parts per billion in the nectar and pollen of the plants, which worker bees carry back to their hive.
The study is the first of four assessments of different classes of neonicotinoids to be released by the EPA this year. The assessments will form the scientific basis for U.S. government policy as it considers whether to control the use of the pesticides.
Bayer, the German agrochemical company which manufactures imidacloprid, released a statement in response to EPA's findings: "We will review the EPA document, but at first glance it appears to overestimate the potential for harmful exposures in certain crops, such as citrus and cotton, while ignoring the important benefits these products provide and management practices to protect bees."
Imidacloprid was the first of the neonicotinoid chemicals to come on the market in the U.S. and has been in wide use since 1994 on crops from corn to vegetables. Three neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid, are currently banned in the European Union.
Pear trees remain under quarantine due to Xylella fastidiosa
Officials with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) continue to survey and test for the presence of Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterial plant pathogen, in pear trees. So far, about 40 percent of the samples gathered have been tested, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
"The ODA lab is putting a lot of effort into processing the samples quickly, and we should know a lot more soon," said Gary McAninch, nursery and Christmas tree program manager with ODA.
The pathogen was first detected in Oregon on Oct. 30. As a result, Oregon lost its status as an X. fastidiosa Pest Free Area (PFA) as recognized by the European Union. This means host plants from Oregon are prohibited into EU countries until it is determined which counties in Oregon do not have the disease and the EU officially recognizes these counties as PFAs.
One of the conditions for establishing counties as PFAs is the adoption of quarantine for the disease. ODA Director Katy Coba did just that on Nov. 17. The quarantine is scheduled to remain in effect until June 15. While movement of pear trees from quarantined counties is prohibited to other Oregon counties, growers in quarantined counties are permitted to move pear trees to states and foreign countries that do not have regulations prohibiting pear.
ODA officials are expected to provide an update to OAN members at the next meeting of the OAN Government Relations Committee, to be held Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the State Capitol in Salem. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for noon–2 p.m. Save the date and watch your Member Update for further details.
The Mystery Tour returns February 12!
It's been several years since the last Mystery Tour, but the legendary event hosted by the Willamette Chapter is scheduled to make its highly anticipated return on Friday, Feb. 12.
Folks will congregate at 5 p.m. at Van's Nursery (3775 Brooklake Road NE, Salem) and board a charter bus, which will transport them to a top-secret location where fine food, drink and entertainment awaits. When pressed for more details about the evening, chapter representative Robert van Klaveren remained tight-lipped.
"All I can tell you is we're excited to bring back this special social gathering, and we hope to see a lot of people come out and have a great time," he said. Cost is $65 per person now through Jan. 28, and $75 thereafter. For more information, contact Robert at 503-463-4507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stone appointed to Oregon Freight Advisory Committee
Matthew Garrett, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, has appointed OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone to the Oregon Freight Advisory Committee.
The committee makes informed recommendations to the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Transportation Commission. Garrett stated in a letter of appointment that Stone will provide "an important perspective on freight transportation, trends and issues" due to his wide experience in economic development, agriculture and planning.
"The ability to move freight is of vital importance to Oregon's nursery industry," Stone said. "I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and serve as a voice for agriculture."