Luke Milliron belongs to the newest ‘crop’ of University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisors. Based at Oroville, he’s now assisting orchard crop growers in Butte, Glenn, and Tehama counties.
As an orchard systems advisor, Milliron’s crop focus includes walnuts, almonds, prunes, pistachios, pecans, olives, and vine crops. He has several years of practical experience with field and laboratory research, plus is a certified crop advisor.
“The challenge with this job is that it takes time before I’ve seen most problems at least once,” Milliron told Western Farm Press.
Most recently, Milliron was an agronomy technician at Dellavalle Laboratory in Davis, Calif., assisting growers with analytic crop nutrient management through soil and plant tissue sampling. He also worked in irrigation management in walnut, almond, grapevine, and processing tomato systems.
Prior to his work at Dellavalle, Milliron was a UCCE horticulture intern through an internship program funded by the Almond Board of California and the California Dried Plum Board. The program trains the next generation of UCCE farm advisors, ensuring that vital research continues for California farm commodities.
During the internship, he contributed to walnut production research in Sutter and Yuba counties with UCCE farm advisor Janine Hasey, and worked in San Joaquin County with now retired UCCE farm advisor Joe Grant and others.
Milliron participated in 20-plus research projects in almond, prune, walnut, processing tomato, and landscape horticulture.
The new NorCal farm advisor is a graduate of California State University (CSU), Chico where he was a student assistant to tree crop advisor Bill Krueger in the UCCE Glenn County office. His undergraduate research with Cooperative Extension and CSU Chico tested stem water potential measurements with a pressure chamber in super high density olive production.
His Master of Science work in horticulture and agronomy with Ken Shackel at UC Davis included pressure chamber research to measure the dormant stem water potential of almond trees during winter drought conditions.
Looking to the future
Looking to the future in his UCCE post, Milliron is specifically interested in irrigation and horticulture research, including varieties, rootstocks, and orchard spacing, plus pest and diseases on the perennial effects on plant health.
He is passionate about plant-based techniques including pressure chambers, but also emerging technology including the Phytech dendrometer which measures trunk shrink and swell.
Milliron’s horticultural interests include leveraging the existing variety, rootstock, and other trials conducted by UC researchers and growers to look for differences in stem water potential, carbohydrates, and canker disease levels. He wants to research plant pests and diseases, including wood rot, cankers, and scale insects and the perennial impact on tree health.
Another Milliron goal goal for Milliron is conducting a cost benefit analysis on the many irrigation management tools available to growers. Looking at the cost per acre of different irrigation technologies, Milliron says different soil, plant, and weather-based technologies have tremendous variation in costs and provide different information.
For the most part, he says these technologies are designed to help growers answer two questions - when do I irrigate, and for how long? He wants to detail the per acre cost of different irrigation approaches, the information provided, and learn the strengths and weaknesses in answering these fundamental grower questions.
Milliron comes to UCCE system at a time when advisors and specialists are covering much more territory than their predecessors. Advisor numbers have dropped about in half since 1990 and advisors can work in multiple counties.
Reach out to Milliron by e-mail at [email protected] and by phone - (530) 538-7201.