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Cheryl Wilen's Blog

Report Unsolicited Seeds to APHIS

Author: UC Integrated Pest Management Program

Have you had unexpected seeds show up in the mail? Unknown seeds could be invasive plants, contain invasive insects, or have plant disease causing agents. Here's what the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) has to say about it.

APHIS Stakeholder Announcement July 28, 2020 (Language from their website)


USDA Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds

USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.

USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.

At this time, [USDA does not] have any evidence indicating this is something other than a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales. USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.

USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds. Visit the APHIS' website to learn more about USDA's efforts to stop agricultural smuggling and promote trade compliance.



Media Contact:
Cecilia Sequeira (301) 851-4054

Posted on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 6:13 PM

PPE in short supply for farm work during the COVID-19 crisis

While most Californians are staying home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, California farmers, farmworkers and other agricultural professionals are out in the fields and packing houses working to produce food.

With increased demand for personal protective equipment, or PPE, to protect against COVID-19, these essential workers are facing shortages. Agricultural commissioners in 28 counties are hearing from farmers who are having trouble getting PPE for their employees and farmers in another 11 counties who are worried about running out of PPE in the next month or two according to a California Department of Pesticide Regulation survey.

Gloves, N95 respirators, coveralls and other gear that workers wear to protect themselves from COVID-19, pesticides, dust and other health hazards are in short supply as priority is given to health care workers during the pandemic.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, workers may wear homemade face coverings, but for applying pesticides, they must wear respirators specified on the pesticide product label, said Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC Cooperative Extension rice advisor.

Pesticide applicators may use gear that is more protective than required by the product label and regulations. 

“Although this could change in the days ahead, half-mask and full-mask respirators are more available than disposable N95 respirators for now,” said Lisa Blecker, coordinator for the UC Pesticide Safety Education Program.

Before the pandemic, 10% of N95 respirators from 3M went to health care, but that number is now 90%, the company said in a letter to distributors. This has led to significant backorders of PPE supplies for distributors.

Carl Atwell, president of Gempler's, an online distributor of worker supplies, said that before the crisis, normal lead times for PPE was up to 10 days. He estimated disposable respirators will become available in the fall and other PPE supplies in August.

In the meantime, there is alternative PPE that agricultural professionals can use during the shortage.

Atwell suggests looking for lesser known brands of PPE as opposed to the first tier of choice: “It's sort of like searching for Purell hand sanitizer. Purell brand might be out of stock, but can you find a different disinfectant?”

On Gempler's website, the more recognizable Tyvek coverall from Dupont is sold out, however disposable protective clothing is available from other brands. Reusable chemical-resistant clothing is also available as opposed to their disposable counterparts. Supplies in high demand are reusable and disposable nitrile gloves, protective clothing, disposable respirators and certain protective eyewear, such as goggles and face shields.

For workers who will be applying pesticides, Blecker and Brim-DeForest offered some guidelines on how to meet PPE requirements as the shortage continues.

General PPE requirements: “Remember, the label is the law,” said Brim-DeForest. “PPE requirements for agriculture are not being loosened.” The UCCE advisor recommends purchasing only what you need for the season and choosing reusable PPE whenever possible. Growers who have excess supplies of PPE can coordinate with their county agricultural commissioner or UCCE advisor to help other producers in their area.

Respirators: If you can't find the respirator required on the label, Blecker said, “Use an alternative, more-protective respirator. For example, if an N95 is required, you can use a half-mask with N95 particulate filters; these can be stand-alone filters or ones that attach to an organic vapor cartridge. You could also use a different pesticide that doesn't require a respirator. Consult with your PCA (pest control adviser) for options.”

Gloves: Chemical-resistant gloves, usually 14 mil or more in thickness are required for most California pesticide applications and should be worn by mixers, handlers and applicators. If nitrile gloves are not available, viton and laminate gloves are universal chemical-resistant materials for most pesticide labels. If the glove material is specified on the label, that instruction must be followed.

“Disposable gloves less than 14 mil can be worn, but not for more than 15 minutes at a time,” Blecker said. “Farmers should also note that thinner gloves cannot be layered on top of one another.”

Coveralls: Coveralls should be worn when required by the pesticide label or when the signal word is “WARNING” or “DANGER,” or when applying by backpack or airblast. “Coveralls can be made out of high-density polyethylene fibers (Tyvek and other brands), which are disposable, or cotton, which are reusable,” Brim-DeForest said. “If reusable coveralls are worn, the employer must ensure employees are provided clean coveralls.”

Goggles/face shields: Face shields are required for mixing and loading pesticides only if it's stated on the label. “If a face shield is unavailable, a full-face respirator can be used,” Blecker said. “Goggles or protective eyewear should always be worn in California when handling pesticides, regardless of what the label says. The face shield, goggles or safety glasses must provide front, side and brow protection and meet the American National Standards Institute Z87.1 standard for impact resistance.

For more information about PPE, contact your county agricultural commissioner or see the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's posters at https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/pdf/gloves_for_pesticide_handling.pdf and https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/pdf/n95_alternatives_for_pesticide_handling.pdf.

UC IPM also covers these topics in their pesticide safety webinar series at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/IPMPROJECT/workshops.html

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 1:30 PM

Online training courses and webinars available from UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

This spring if you are looking for options to obtain your continuing education units (CEUs) and not sure where to get them, why not check out the online options that the UC Statewide IPM Program (UC IPM) has to offer. For license and certificate holders from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) with last names beginning with the letters A through L, 2020 will be the year to renew.

UC IPM currently offers 16 online courses for DPR credit. Many of the courses are also accredited by the California Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB), Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA), or Arizona Department of Agriculture.

If you are looking for CEUs in the Laws and Regulations category, check out these courses:

  • Proper Pesticide Use to Avoid Illegal Residues (2.0 Pesticide Laws & Regs)
  • Proper Selection, Use, and Removal of Personal Protective Equipment (1.5 Pesticide Laws & Regs)
  • Providing IPM in Schools and Child Care Settings(1.0 Other and 0.5 Pesticide Laws & Regs)

Some of our courses do require a fee and are being offered at an early-bird price through October 31st. These courses can be purchased individually, or they can be purchased as a 4-course bundle for a special price of $85—a total discount of $20 versus purchasing each course separately.

In addition to offering online courses, UCIPM also hosts a monthly webinar series sponsored by the Citrus Research Board. The UC Ag Experts webinar series is designed for growers and pest control advisers. It includes presentations on various pest management and horticultural topics, primarily for citrus and avocados. The next webinar will be held on April 8th from 3 PM until 4 PM with Dr. Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Riverside Department of Entomology and Extension Specialist, speaking about citricola scale. This webinar has been approved for one hour of Other CEUs from DPR and 1 hour of IPM units from CCA. Registration is currently open. View past webinars on the YouTube UC Ag Expert Talk Playlist. CEUs are only available for attending the livewebinar.

DPR always encourages license and certificate holders to avoid the last-minute rush and renew early to ensure your license will be renewed by January 1st. Take advantage of UC IPM's online courses and webinar series to get a jump start on your renewal today!

Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 10:47 AM

UC IPM Celebrating 40 Years

UC IPM Celebrating 40 Years

—Tunyalee Martin, UC Statewide IPM Program

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Established July 1, 1979 with funding from the California Legislature, UC IPM built upon a growing movement to reduce dependence on pesticides. Drawing on expertise across the University of California system, UC IPM develops and distributes UC's best information on managing pests using safe and effective practices that protect people and the environment.

Over the years, UC IPM expanded its efforts beyond agriculture to include residential audiences such as schools, landscape and structural professionals, and public health agencies; public agencies; and natural resource managers. UC IPM works through Cooperative Extension to deliver information to clientele in every California county.

Since its inception, UC IPM delivered science-based integrated pest management (IPM) information. There's no plan to change this, but it's exciting to think about the next 40 years. Improvements in technology have changed how people learn and who they get information from. UC IPM's website and online tools need to grow and change as our users change the way they like to get information. And some of these changes will be mandatory as our funding sources have changed as well.

Some things haven't changed like the IPM advisors and affiliated advisors solving problems and providing local, practical, trusted pest management information. Over the last 40 years, pest management successes happened in both agriculture and communities.

  • UC IPM and Cooperative Extension advisors joined a multi-government and grape industry team to develop and extend a low-impact pest management program for European grapevine moth and con­duct research to inform regulatory policy. In 2016, European grapevine moth was declared eradicated.
  • UC IPM partnered with stormwater agencies and state regulators to train IPM Advocates. IPM Advocates work as consultants to help retail stores provide informa­tion about less toxic products and the safe use of pesticides. Surveys after the IPM Advocates program indicated that 76% of participating stores used the UC IPM website for identifying pests or solving problems, more than 70% increased shelf space for green or less-toxic pest manage­ment products, and more than 76% increased sales of green products.
  • UC IPM and Cooperative Extension advisors worked together with com­modity boards and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a successful mat­ing disruption program to prevent codling moth damage in pears without pesticides. In 2009, 95% of California pear acreage used pheromone mating disruption, eliminating the need for codling moth pesticide sprays.

UC IPM has dedicated program staff at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) headquarters in Davis. The staff provides IPM leadership, training, content development, and is the magical information technology (IT) presence behind UC IPM's website and online tools. UC IPM is also the home of the Pesticide Safety and Education Program (PSEP) in California, which trains pesticide safety trainers to teach pesticide applicators, pesticide handlers, and fieldworkers safe practices.

UC IPM will continue conducting research to solve important pest problems, extending IPM programs to practitioners, providing training, and developing outreach material. Over UC IPM's next 40 years, be on the lookout for changes for the better. Changes that engage users by using new technology, adapt UC IPM's existing knowledge into easy to use decision-making tools, and facilitate the development of new products—products that Californians seeking pest solutions can use to safely and effectively solve their pest problems.

Posted on Monday, July 1, 2019 at 10:47 AM
  • Author: Tunyalee Martin

UC IPM online courses: New Fuller rose beetle course and early-bird pricing

Summer is here, and we're halfway through 2019 already! Why not get jump on finishing up your continuing education units by taking online courses from the UC Statewide IPM Program (UC IPM). If you are a license or certificate holder from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), and your last name begins with the letters M through Z, you should be receiving your renewal packet in August.

We're excited to announce some changes.

  • In January, we switched all of our online courses to a new learning system located at https://campus.extension.org/. This new system has extensive technical support, is easier to navigate, and is more stable than the old one. Note that the extension platform offers courses from all across the country, including several providers from California. Look for the UC IPM logo to be sure you are taking one of our courses.
  • We are pleased to announce that a brand-new online course on the Fuller rose beetle was added to our citrus integrated pest management IPM series. Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a citrus IPM specialist and research entomologist, and Dr. Joseph Morse, emeritus professor of entomology, developed the course. The course describes the life cycle, natural enemies, and management of Fuller rose beetle and explains why it is important for countries that export citrus. Fuller Rose Beetle has been approved by (DPR) for 1 hour of credit in the Other category and by Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) for 0.5 hour of IPM credit.
  • Many of our courses are now credited not only by DPR for continuing education hours, but also by the California Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB), Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA), and also by Arizona Department of Agriculture.

DPR encourages license and certificate holders to avoid the end-of-the-year rush and submit renewal applications by November 1 to ensure license renewal by January 1, 2020. Submitting your renewal early avoids late fees and gives you time to address any issues that may arise such as not having enough hours to successfully renew.

Another incentive to get a jump on completing your needed continuing education units (CEUs) with UC IPM's online courses is that we are offering an early-bird price for four of our most wanted courses until November 1st.

  • Proper Pesticide Use to Avoid Illegal Residues (2 hours Laws and Regulations; early bird price $40, full price $80)
  • Proper Selection, Use, and Removal of Personal Protective Equipment (1.5 hours Laws and Regulations; early bird price $30, full price $60)
  • Pesticide Resistance (2 hours Other; early bird price $20, full price $40)
  • Pesticide Application Equipment and Calibration (1.5 hours Other; early bird price $15, full price $30)

You can find all of our twenty-one courses listed on the UC IPM website at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/training/.


Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 6:07 PM

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