UC ANR NEWS
Strategies for Increasing Ranch Income
(AgNetWest) Brian German, Oct. 31
There are multiple approaches that producers can take to help increase ranch income that ranges from improving traditional avenues of revenue to taking a more unconventional approach to the diversification of income. A workshop coming up on November 20 in Watsonville is focused on helping producers better understand the value of marketing their products.
“Some of the things that we're going to be talking about in this workshop are really basic things like what is marketing? How can we demystify marketing? What are its functions in your livestock operation and how can marketing benefit your operation?” said Devii Rao, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz Counties. “We wanted to start bringing up that conversation and help ranchers share with each other their successes and their challenges.”
Vineyards can help stop fires. They did in the Alexander Valley
(San Francisco Chronicle) Esther Mobley, Oct. 30
…“Vines are green and full of water,” said S. Kaan Kurtural, UC Davis professor of viticulture and oenology. “With the amount of water they can hold in their tissue, they become an oasis in a hot environment.”
Sounds simple enough. But if all it takes to stop a fire is a living plant, then why don't trees do the trick?
“Forests have a lot of underbrush, so there's a lot of fuel for a fire underneath the canopies,” Kurtural said.
Early UC Hemp Research Already Yielding Results
(Canna Product News) Oct. 30
For the first time ever, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers harvested an industrial hemp crop at one of its nine research and extension centers this fall.
“It's an interesting crop,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bob Hutmacher. “We don't have a lot of experience in UC ANR with hemp at this time. There is a tremendous amount of research that can be done to understand its growth and best cultural practices, optimal planting dates either by seed or transplants, irrigation and fertilization management, and, particularly, to address pest and disease management.”
(Devil's Garden Horses blog)
The 80-acre UC Berkeley Forestry Camp in Plumas County serves as a unique opportunity to implement techniques and research related to fire. With wildfires in California growing in intensity over the past few years, many foresters are trying to educate the public about using fire as a tool to reduce fuel loads. Last weekend we had the pleasure of attending a two-day Prescribed Fire on Private Lands workshop, hosted by the UC Cooperative Extension. It was a really educational workshop, especially going in with limited knowledge and exposure to forestry practices.
Are locally owned utilities an alternative to PG&E?
(KCRA) Vicki Gonzalez, Oct. 28
Sacramento is home to a municipality. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is a community-owned, not-for-profit service, with a locally elected board of directors.
“SMUD is one of the best operating municipals in the nation,” said Keith Taylor, with UC Davis Cooperative Extension. “They are very responsive to local consumers, local policy makers, so municipals are also another wonderful alternative we can pull into the conversation.”
Taylor goes a step further. He argues that although electricity co-ops are common in other parts of the country, they are almost nonexistent in California.
Why so many fires when PG&E power was off? Here's what we know
(San Francisco Chronicle) Jason Fagone, Oct. 28
Despite historic power shut-offs that have plunged much of the Bay Area into darkness — a Hail Mary by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to prevent new wildfires from starting and spreading in hot, dry winds — a spate of new fires have recently kicked up across the region.
Early clues point to malfunctioning power equipment as the cause of some fires, and PG&E is already under investigation in multiple incidents, including the devastating Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. But no one yet knows what sparked the other fires.
“Shutting off the power and expecting ignitions to go away is overly simplistic. It's very naive,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School. “There are many different human causes (of wildfires) in addition to power lines. And the patterns vary up and down the state, and through time.”
Orchard Recycling Getting Closer to Financial Assistance
(AgNet West) Oct. 28
Whole orchard recycling is a pricey practice, but financial assistance is on the way. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is looking to include the method in its Healthy Soils Incentives Program. U.C. Cooperative Extension's Brent Holtz has been researching the practice for over a decade and said the benefits include increased nutrients, water holding capacity, and of course, carbon sequestration.
Electric Utilities Can't Blame Wildfires Solely on Climate, Experts Say
(Scientific American) Daniel Cusick, Oct. 25
…“I find myself wanting to squash statements that this is the ‘new normal,'” said Yana Valachovic, Northern California lead forest adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension program. “You hear a lot of people promoting that idea, but I find it very defeating. It assumes an external force is operating on us in a way we can't deal with.”
In fact, part of adapting to changing climate conditions in California involves understanding risks from wildfire and then making choices to reduce them. “Unfortunately, we've been very unaware and uninterested in how we can design, construct and maintain our homes,” Valachovic said.
California's Power Shutoffs Might Prevent Wildfires. But Are They Worth the Risks?
(TIME) Tara Law, Oct. 25
… But Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara, says turning off the power won't prevent every wildfire. As he points out, wildfires can be ignited by anything from campfires to lightning to arson. And if a wildfire starts regardless of an outage, blackouts could make it harder for people in potential danger to get information or call for help. “You can't imagine a worse time to not have power,” Moritz says. Meanwhile, leaving thousands of people without electricity can have its own deadly consequences, especially for people with health issues, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups. And even absent a fire, power outages can present problems of their own — people may miss work, their food or medicine may spoil, and heat becomes a concern without air conditioning.
… But Moritz says that PG&E is running what he calls a “very large-scale experiment” with little evidence to show that reducing the chances of a fire starting one particular way makes people safer overall. For his part, he would like to see more detailed plans from companies like PG&E regarding the outages, as well as evidence that they do in fact prevent fires. Indeed, a fire began in Sonoma County on Thursday in an area where PG&E said it had already cut power. While it's unclear what sparked this new blaze, the company says one of its power transmission towers malfunctioned just minutes before the fire began.
“I think we're missing this larger-scale and longer-term framework for how [shutoffs] fit in to an overall plan,” Moritz says. “Lacking that, it seems like an experiment.”
Potential E-Verify Deal Would Give Legal Status to Farmworkers
(Pew Trusts) Tim Henderson, Oct 24
…There have been numerous attempts since then to balance the needs of farmers, who depend on the labor, and those who want to discourage unauthorized immigration, said Philip Martin, an emeritus professor of agriculture and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.
Growers also would like to get easier temporary guest-worker visas with lower pay and fewer housing requirements, which may be part of the deal, Martin said.
Farmworkers from Mexico are more fearful now than in years past about crossing the border and moving around in the United States because of increased immigration enforcement. In the late 1990s almost 80% of farmworkers in the country illegally migrated from job to job, according to a 2016 University of California, Berkeley, study. That number was down to 6% by 2016.
11 tips to beat grape fungal diseases
(Good Fruit Grower) Leslie Mertz, Oct. 22
Grapes face all kinds of fungal diseases — from mildews, rots and blights to leaf spot and anthracnose. What's a grower to do? Here are 11 tips from Annemiek Schilder, who spent many years as a small fruit pathologist at Michigan State University and now serves as director of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Ventura County.
The New Yorker, Frank Mitloehner, Oct. 21
Tad Friend, in his piece on Impossible Foods, a startup that makes imitation meat in the hope of solving climate change, writes, “Every four pounds of beef you eat contributes to as much global warming as flying from New York to London” (“Value Meal,” September 30th). As a professor who studies the environmental impact of livestock production, I was surprised that Friend relied on such a high per-pound emissions rate for beef, since most estimates are much lower. According to a recent paper in Agricultural Systems, the carbon footprint of four pounds of U.S. beef is equivalent to about eighty-eight pounds of carbon dioxide. Per passenger, a flight from New York to London adds roughly 1,980 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, about twenty times more than the production of four pounds of beef.
Climate change is coming for your Cabernet
(CBS News) Oct. 19
…In Napa Valley, Cabernet is king. It's also where researchers are trying to save it with 11 different projects happening all around the area.
Beckstoffer Vineyards is investing tens of millions of dollars partnering with U.C. Davis for the world's most ambitious Cabernet Sauvignon root stock and clone trial. They're looking for more resilient combinations of Cabernet.
Vineyard manager Clint Nelson and researcher Kaan Kurtural said the area has heated up by nearly two degrees per decade. That may not sound like much, but viticulturists say it's enough to eventually make Cabernet grapes extinct.
"You cannot just say, 'Oh we gotta think about it 20 to 30 years from now.' You have to take action now," Kurtural said.
Sweet excess: How the baby food industry hooks toddlers on sugar, salt and fat
(Washington Post) Laura Reiley, Oct. 17
…Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, worries that low-income parents will be more inclined to spend their money on these heavily advertised baby foods, toddler milks and packaged snacks at the expense of healthier options.
“The amount of funding spent to promote healthy foods, which is mostly via federal nutrition education dollars such as WIC and SNAP-Ed, is dwarfed by food marketing which is mostly for unhealthy and ‘treat' foods and beverages,” she said. “I fear we will never make a big dent in diet-related chronic disease until we level this playing field.”
We Got The Snack Receipts For LA Rec And Park's After-School Programs — It's Mostly Junk
(LAist) Alyssa Jeong Perry, Oct. 17
…In 2017, 45% of all 5th graders in L.A. County were considered overweight or obese, according to data collected by the California Department of Education. About 41% of kids statewide were overweight or obese.
Child nutrition expert Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute, a research center connected with the University of California system, said eating junk food at snack time can affect a child's overall health.
"It's not massive gorging that contributes to obesity," Ritchie said. "It's just the small amount of extra calories every day."
PG&E outage fallout a test for Newsom, agencies
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Oct. 16
…But while many Californians were inconvenienced by the blackouts, University of California Cooperative Extension fire scientist Lenya Quinn-Davidson told Time magazine she worries that too much emphasis is being placed on utilities as the cause of fires.
Why we need to treat wildfire as a public health issue in California
(The Conversation) Faith Kearns and Max Moritz, Oct 15
… As researchers who have worked extensively on fire in California, we believe it is time to treat fires that affect communities as the public health challenge they have become. This means taking a more robust approach to a host of issues, including focusing on where and how we build, taking the needs of vulnerable populations seriously, and ensuring that solutions are equitable.
As Groundwater Law Plows Forward, Small Farmers Seek More Engagement
(KVPR) Kerry Klein, Oct. 15
… Ruth Dahlquist-Willard argues that more small farmers need to be taking part in such decisions, though as a small farms advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, she acknowledges those growers can be harder to reach. They tend to have fewer resources than bigger outfits to leave the fields and go to meetings. Many don't speak English, and those who lease land from far-off owners may not see policy mailings. “There's not the social network either, what we might call social capital, where you have other chances to hang out with the people that are making the decisions,” she says. Even five years after SGMA was passed, many small farmers have still never heard of the law.
But that's no reason not to engage, Dahlquist-Willard argues. With their Groundwater Sustainability Plans due to the state at the end of January, most GSAs in the Valley have drafted their plans and posted them to the web for public comment. “Right now is the time when farmers and anyone else who is interested can actually provide input on the plans that are going to be implemented next year,” she says.
In September, Dahlquist-Willard organized a meeting for small farmers and GSA representatives to come together in Fresno. Dennis Hutson attended; Chong Ge Xiong came out to a similar meeting for Asian business owners. “The goal was to connect the farmers with people who are putting the plans together that are going to affect how groundwater is going to be managed in the San Joaquin Valley,” she says.
Her Superb Swimming Didn't Stop With Pregnancy
(Wall St. Journal) Jen Murphy, Oct. 14
Lauren Au Brinkmeyer spent two years training and gained 10 pounds to swim the English Channel. After completing the approximately 21-mile crossing in July 2018 in 11 hours and 54 seconds, she was prepared to hang up her swim cap and start a family in Oakland, Calif., with her husband.
But when registration for the 20 Bridges Swim, a 28.5-mile circumnavigation of Manhattan, opened last November, she applied and earned one of the 67 spots for the July 2019 event. “I couldn't resist the pull of the open water,” she says. When she struggled to become pregnant, she initially blamed her intense training in 50-degree water without a wetsuit. But her doctor told her many women her age have trouble getting pregnant right away.
An associate researcher at the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Au Brinkmeyer, 34, shifted her focus back to the water. She set her sights on achieving the triple crown of open-water swimming, a challenge that consists of the English Channel, the 20 Bridges Swim and the Catalina Channel, which runs about 20 miles between Santa Catalina Island and Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
Eco-tip: Focus of composting may change from backyard to business
(Ventura County Star) David Goldstein, Oct. 13
…Residents may get some guidance from an upcoming workshop sponsored by Master Gardeners of Ventura County, a project of the UC Cooperative Extension. Meeting from 9-11 a.m. Oct. 26 at The ARC of Ojai, 210 Canada St., it will focus on winter vegetable gardening but also will include soil preparation methods, such as composting. You can register at http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=28244.
California Is Trying to Prevent Fires. No One Expected a Smoking Garbage Truck.
(New York Times) Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 12
…“Some of these things are really quite unbelievable when you hear about them,” said William C. Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. “But they just occur with a certain probability. They just do.”
Mr. Stewart has seen several fires that began when a lawn mower scraped against a rock on a hot day, sending sparks into the dry grass. The Sandalwood fire was the first time he had heard of a garbage truck's load igniting a wildfire, but not much surprises him anymore.
“There's just an endless series of things that people do to create sparks and fires,” Mr. Stewart said. “This time of year, when everything is bone dry, it really is just like kindling.”
Who Are Master Gardeners?
(My Motherlode) Rebecca Miller-Cripps, Oct. 11
You probably know a Master Gardener and may not even know it. Master Gardeners are your neighbors. We live in your community, and work in your local nurseries and hardware stores. Master Gardeners love plants and gardening and face the same gardening challenges that you do. We may be members of the local garden club, rose society, or California Native Plant Society. Master Gardeners are volunteers trained and certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension in home gardening and horticulture. We promote the application of useful basic gardening practices. Our purpose is to teach and extend research-based information to home and community gardeners.
California Fire Map: Track Fires Near Me Today
(Heavy.com) Stephanie Dube Dwilson, Oct. 10
…A new interactive fire map is below, provided by UCANR.edu https://ucanr.edu/wildfire. Note that this map is only updated up to twice daily, so it may not be not as current as the two interactive maps above.
'People Are Freaking Out.' Thousands of Californians Left Powerless Amid Electricity Cuts to Prevent Wildfires
(TIME) Tara Law, Oct. 10
As hundreds of thousands of Californians grapple with a power shutoff intended to reduce the risk of wildfires, people affected by the outages say that their communities are racked by anxiety and frustration about the disruption — as well as fear that the complications associated with the outages outweigh the intended benefits.
“People are freaking out around here,” says Jeffery Stackhouse, a Livestock and Natural Resource Advisor from Fortuna, Calif who spoke with TIME along with his colleague, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, the area fire advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County, Calif., and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. They said the outages have fundamentally disrupted life in their community: Schools have closed, some businesses can't run credit cards, people have lined up outside of gas stations to try and get fuel, and cars have been stuck in traffic jams as a result of traffic light outages.
… “If a fire starts because of other causes — which could easily happen under severe conditions — now we have no way to communicate,” Quinn-Davidson says. “Seriously, like, if this power outage happened when the Carr Fire happened — how would you evacuate people? That's completely possible. You could have a power outage and have a fire start from a roadside cigarette. Or arson. Or anything. And then what?” (The Carr Fire was reportedly sparked by a vehicle.)
You've heard of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The Modesto area also grows them
(Modesto Bee) John Holland, Oct. 9
…Chestnut acreage might be small, but the state has the advantage of an early harvest compared with other growing regions, said Roger Duncan, county director for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
“We would be one of earliest in the world market, so there is some price advantage to it,” he said.
Sudden Oak Death: Detected in Del Norte County, quarantine continues in Curry
(Curry Coastal Pilot) Jeremy C. Ruark, Oct. 9
…Lee: The samples were collected as part of a UC Berkeley-led effort called a SOD blitz. For this effort, the Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab at UCB provides collection materials to samplers throughout the range of sudden oak death in California, then tests the samples that are sent back to them in order to help track the distribution and progress of sudden oak death in California from year to year. For Del Norte County, the SOD blitz is the latest part of an effort to monitor the county for signs of the disease that dates back to 2004. Over the years, this effort has involved University of California Cooperative Extension, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Cal Fire and the Del Norte County Agriculture Department.
As dangerous fire conditions target California, Weather Service is rethinking its warning system
(Washington Post) Diana Leonard, Oct. 8
…Yana Valachovic, a forest adviser and county director with the UC Cooperative Extension, thinks specific actions taken in the hours and days before a wildfire could help prevent future disasters.
“We need to get more sophisticated in helping the public understand what the vulnerabilities are and how to prepare,” she said.
Her post-fire investigations of neighborhoods destroyed in California's 2017 and 2018 firestorms reveal lessons about both wildfire evacuation and home wildfire protection. For example, knowing when to leave, even without an official evacuation order, is crucial during fast-spreading wildfires. That decision requires close monitoring of (and access to) weather and wildfire information. And for last-minute home preparation, if time allows, she said, residents should target the immediate zone around the home — zero to five feet from outside walls and decks— and clear any materials that could ignite in an ember storm.
“I think education is really important, and the alerts are a very good example of where that education needs to happen,” she said.
Navel Orangeworm Plague Might be Growing Out of Control
(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Oct. 8
…“Although this is a proven practice, we still see some growers are not doing this practice, for whatever reason. Sometimes, it is difficult to do mummy sanitation due to the rainfall in the winter, or due to the heavy ground in some orchards. But it is important to plan in advance considering these factors. Sanitation can be done at any time between October and Feb. 1,” Jhalendra Rijal, University of California Cooperative Extension Area Integrated Pest Management Advisor for the Northern San Joaquin Valley, says.
A Cow, a Controversy, and a Dashed Dream of More Humane Farms
(Wired) Megan Molteni, Oct. 8
On the morning of August 7, Alison Van Eenennaam awoke to a tweet from a man she had never met. He had sent her a link to a story written in German, illustrated with a clip-art cow next to an udder-pink biohazard symbol. “Aren't you involved in the hornless cows criticized here by a German NGO?” the man tweeted at Van Eenenaam from nine time zones away. “Can you give us some details on what @US_FDA found?”
Horned bull genetically edited by scientists becomes 'dad' to six hornless calves
Hornless Genome-Edited Bull Passes Trait to Offspring
Scientists Used Gene Editing to Create a Bull Without Horns. It Passed the Trait to its Offspring
Country Life Today: Sir David Attenborough's heartfelt call to arms
West Coast Rodent Academy Set for November 6-8
(PCT Online) Brad Harbison, Oct. 7
The West Coast Rodent Academy (WCRA) will be held at University of California's South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine, Calif., November 6-8th.
…The featured speaker is Niamh Quinn, the new University of California Cooperative Extension Human - Wildlife Advisor, based at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine.
Survey Helps UC Understand Cannabis Production Challenges in State
(Cal Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, Oct. 7
Results from a UC Cooperative Extension survey of registered and unregistered marijuana (cannabis) growers in California will help researchers, policy makers and the public better understand growing practices since cannabis sales, possession and cultivation first became legal for recreational use.
“This survey is a starting point from which UC scientists could build research and extension programs, if possible in the future,” said lead author Houston Wilson, UCCE specialist with UC Riverside. A report on the survey results was published in the July-December 2019 issue of California Agriculture journal, the research publication of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
California ignores the science as it OKs more homes in wildfire zones, researchers say
(LA Times) Joshua Emerson Smith, Oct. 6
…“The notion that this is all about how we will plan our future developments ignores the 800-pound gorilla of the built environment as it exists on the landscape today,” said Keith Gilless, professor of forest economics at UC Berkeley and chairman of the state's Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.
…“It's really common to see post-fire neighborhoods and there's a lot of the vegetation left,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “You realize, it was embers that started some of the homes on fire, and then the homes themselves generated a bunch of heat and fire that caught the neighboring homes on fire.”
CA Gov. Newsom signs 22 bills for wildfire mitigation
(Daily Cal) Olivia Buccieri, Oct. 4
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of 22 bills for California's wildfire mitigation and preparedness efforts Wednesday, building on the $1 billion allocated for wildfire and emergency investment in the budget.
Multiple Assembly members and senators contributed individual bills related to wildfire intervention, ranging from fire prevention techniques to mitigating climate change through clean energy policies.
[Should be Yana Valachovic] Lenya Quinn-Davidson, an area fire advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension, worked closely on AB 38 with Assemblymember Jim Wood's office, D-Santa Rosa. AB 38 works to develop community-wide resilience through home-hardening techniques and defensible space development. Assemblymember Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, author of AB 1584, wrote about the relevance of climate change in enhancing wildfire risk.
Value up, acreage down in 2018 ag report
(Imperial Valley Press) Tom Bodus, Oct. 3
…”The agricultural industry is not alone in their contribution to our economy in Imperial County,” said Agricultural Commissioner Carlos Ortiz, in a written statement. “What contributes to the success of agriculture is the support and advocacy from such organization as Imperial County Farm Bureau and Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and agencies including the University of California Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural Commissioner's staff who all work tireless to promote and support the industry.”
California's Prune Orchard of the Future
(Progressive Crop Consultant) Oct. 3
Luke Milliron | UCCE Farm Advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama Counties
Franz Niederholzer | UCCE Farm Advisor for Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba Counties
Dani Lightle | UCCE Orchards System Advisor for Glenn, Butte and Tehama Counties
Katherine Jarvis-Shean | UCCE Orchards System Advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo Counties
California will likely have a large prune crop in 2019 following favorable bloom conditions and lower yields in 2018. Unfortunately, in prune production with larger crops typically comes smaller fruit, of which there is currently an over-supply in the world market. High production of small fruit world-wide has come at a time when demand for small fruit from consuming nations like China, Brazil, and Russia has been in decline. California handlers have been strongly urging their growers to use shaker thinning to reduce the fruit number during spring and help deliver large, high-quality fruit at harvest.
How to Prepare for Wildfire Season, According to Experts
(Inside Hook) Diane Rommel, Oct. 3
…Whether you blame climate change or population shifts, utility companies or bad luck, one thing is clear: a drier, hotter environment requires new thinking, and some difficult questions. Does your Napa Valley wedding spot have an evacuation plan? Is an autumn getaway in the mountains worth the risk? For the answers, we went straight to the experts: Dr. Tom Scott and Area Fire Advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson of the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Major fires are sometimes caused by utilities, but there are many other potential causes, including lightning, arson and sparks from dragging chains. All of these factors, are compounded by "lack of fuel management, poor land-use planning, and homes that aren't ready for fire and aren't resilient to fire," Quinn-Davidson said.
Power outages can complicate response and evacuation efforts should a fire break out, Quinn-Davidson said. Phone lines have been jammed during this week's outages and people have had trouble communicating with loved ones.
“If a fire starts because of other causes — which could easily happen under severe conditions — now we have no way to communicate,” she told the TIME reporter. “Seriously, like, if this power outage happened when the Carr Fire (sparked by a vehicle) happened — how would you evacuate people? That's completely possible. You could have a power outage and have a fire start from a roadside cigarette. Or arson. Or anything. And then what?”
The TIME article also quoted Jeffrey Stackhouse, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, about the sweeping power outages.
“People are freaking out around here,” he said.
Nevertheless, Stackhouse and Quinn-Davidson agree that scheduled power outages shouldn't be eliminated as a tool for preventing fires. They believe outages should be used sparingly, and in conjunction with preventative measures, such as fire-proofing homes and managing land.
“The disruption is pretty huge for something we're not sure is going to prevent a major wildfire. The actual likelihood of that event was not equal to the impact that this is having,” Quinn-Davidson said.
Read about Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse's efforts to improve fire resilience in Humboldt County by establishing a prescribed burn association.
Zheng Wang, vegetable crops advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County, visited an ag class at Stanislaus State to discuss a state-of-the-art vegetable production practice that involves grafting, reported Alivah Stoeckl in Stan State News.
Grafting plants onto specially bred rootstocks is a practice that is common in tree crops. Grafting confers resistance to soil-borne diseases and pests, requiring less inputs and leading to sustainable crop productivity. It is now being used in some vegetable and fruit crops, such as tomatoes, eggplant, watermelon, cucumbers and cantaloupe.
“Grafting conveys a lot of merits in terms of disease resistance and yield maintenance. It enriches the production practices by introducing more variety. And by making impossible things become possible,” Wang said.
Vegetable grafting has been used since early 2000s, but to many agriculture students the idea was new, reported Stoeckl.
“We're moving forward and advancing with our food which I think is interesting because we used to be all natural and simple but now it's all scientific,” said senior agriculture major Madeline Morataya.
The Camp Fire started on federal land. This rule would make PG&E clean up its power lines
(Sac Bee) Emily Cadei, Sept. 30
…“In California, it is fairly clear that PG&E did not keep an up-to-date inventory and accomplishment schedule on vegetation clearance on all of their power lines,” William Stewart, director of the Berkeley Forests program at UC Berkeley, said in an email. “ I think the Forest Service wants to make sure that they are sending the same signals to their staff and partners that judges are now sending to PG&E — do proper power line clearance or some entity (or entities) is going to be on the hook for billions of dollars of damages.”
UC ANR Takes In-Depth Look at the Cannabis Industry
(AgNet West) Brian German, Sept. 27
Following the passage of Proposition 64 which legalized recreational cannabis, there was significant excitement surrounding the potential for a legal and regulated cannabis industry in California. However, the development of the guidelines for cannabis cultivation has undergone significant delays as the state works to build infrastructure for a commodity which is still federally prohibited. The July-December 2019 issue of the research publication from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, California Agriculture, highlights multiple components for the development of legal cannabis in California. The special issue details the history of cannabis in the state, as well as some of the research being conducted on various aspects of cannabis.
Industry advocates weigh in on California's proposed rodenticide ban
(Pest Management Professional) Diane Sofranec, Heather Gooch and Marty Whitford, Sept. 26
…Dr. Niamh Quinn, Human-Wildlife Interactions Advisor University of California Cooperative Extension, Irvine, Calif.
There have been several iterations of bills in California over the past four years. Most of them are targeting anticoagulant rodenticides, although they morphed along the way; they started with all of the rodenticides, and now they're particularly focused on SGARs. As it was written, AB 1788 proposed serious restrictions on the use of SGARs, with some fairly limited applications throughout the state. In essence, it would have been an almost total ban of SGARs for structural pest control.
California farm region faces furry new threat: swamp rodents
(AP) Samantha Maldonaldo and Terry Chea, Sept. 26
…Damage to the region's soil or water infrastructure would be devastating to the economy and diet.
“It would mean no more sushi because the alternative would be to buy rice from Japan or Korea, where the price is five times higher,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at the University of California-Davis. “Kiss off carrots, or live without table grapes in the summertime.”
New California lab seeks cure to deadly citrus disease
(Washington Post) Amy Taxin, Sept. 26
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — In a lab southeast of Los Angeles, researchers are opening a new front in the yearslong battle against a tiny pest that has wreaked havoc on citrus groves around the world.
California citrus growers and packers and the University of California, Riverside on Thursday marked the opening of an $8 million lab dedicated to finding a solution to the tree-killing disease known as Huanglongbing that has ravaged groves in Florida, Brazil and China.
…Georgios Vidalakis, director of the Citrus Clonal Protection Program at University of California, Riverside, said citrus boomed in California in the late 1800s. In the decades that followed, researchers in Riverside started a citrus breeding program, which helped develop new varieties, and a citrus collection, which now has more than 1,000 kinds of trees, he said.
Vidalakis, a plant pathologist, oversees a program aimed at ensuring trees don't introduce diseases into the region. But without the ability to study the illness, research was hampered, he said, until experts and growers joined together to build the lab.
“This disease is like nothing we have ever faced as plant pathologists,” he said. “We need all hands on deck.”
These Big Plans to Protect California Homes From Wildfire Fell Short in the Legislature
(KQED) Lauren Sommer, Sept. 26
…While Cal Fire has a goal of inspecting 33 percent of structures in its jurisdiction each year, a KQED investigation found the agency only did half that in 2018. In some parts of the state, only 6 percent of homes in risky areas were inspected.
“It's becomes really clear that our defensible space has been insufficient to protect homes from embers,” said Yana Valachovic, a fire expert with UC Cooperative Extension. “What's immediately adjacent to a structure affects the probability of a structure's survival.”
…“The science has been clear for quite a while, but it's been slow to incorporate into codes, standards and practices,” said Valachovic.
… “There's no single solution that's going to solve the fire problem,” said Valachovic. “It takes an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Lindcove dedicates conference center to Exeter man
(Sun Gazette) Sept. 25
A late Exeter man who donated most of his fortune to local agriculture and educational institutions, will soon have his name affixed to University of California research facility.
The Lindcove Research and Extension Center, part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources system, will rename its conference center after the late Ray Copeland. The Ray Copeland Citrus Center will be dedicated during the Lindcove Citrus Gala on Oct. 4.
Participating in Agricultural Meetings Creates Long-Term Benefits
(AgNet West) Brian German, Sept. 24
…“It's an all-encompassing benefit for everyone,” said Brooke Latack, Cooperative Extension Livestock Advisor serving Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. “Not just the farmers, but the people putting the workshops on also benefit a great deal from it.”
A Healthy Agriculture Approach
(CSU Stanislaus Signal) Aliyah Stoeckl, Sept. 23
UCCE Vegetable and Irrigation Advisor Dr. Zheng Wang held an insightful lecture at Stan State among students and faculty discussing the values of vegetable grafting.
… “Grafting conveys a lot of merits in terms of disease resistance and yield maintenance, it enriches the production practices by introducing more variety. And by making impossible things become possible,” said Wang.
UC Cooperative Extension Survey Results on Cannabis Cultivation
(Sierra Sun Times) Jeannette Warnert (news release) Sept. 23
A UC Cooperative Extension survey of California registered and unregistered marijuana growers will help researchers, policy makers and the public better understand growing practices since cannabis sales, possession and cultivation first became legal for recreational use.
“This survey is a starting point from which UC scientists could build research and extension programs, if possible in the future,” said lead author Houston Wilson, UC Cooperative Extension specialist with UC Riverside. A report on the survey results was published in the July-December 2019 issue of California Agriculture journal, the research publication of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In a Race Against the Sun, Growers Try to Outsmart Climate Change
(New York Times) Marla Cone, Sept. 21
…“We can't continue to do the exact same thing we are doing now,” said Katherine Jarvis-Shean, a University of California researcher who advises orchardists on how to cope with climate change. “There are a lot of solutions to the anticipated problems. We just have to get on top of them, testing them and making them available to growers.”
…“For the most part, the world gets fed by row crops,” said Pat J. Brown, an associate professor at the University of California-Davis, referring to wheat, corn and other staples. “But a lot of the stuff that makes life really worth living comes from trees. Think of the world without chocolate or wine or coffee.”
…The Agriculture Department has repositories that store genetic material from every type of tree on earth. Dan Parfitt, a now-retired University of California-Davis plant geneticist, started breeding pistachios using tissue from those repositories more than 30 years ago in an effort to help growers economize their harvest.
As the climate changed, Dr. Parfitt got the idea to plant a few hundred of the trees in the California desert. “The Coachella Valley is the closest to the warmer winters and drier conditions that we will see in the San Joaquin Valley in 20 to 30 years,” he said.
Cannabis findings presented in Mendocino County by Berkeley's Cannabis Research Center
(Ukiah Daily Journal) Carole Brodsky, Sept. 21
One knows times have changed when California Agriculture, the official magazine for the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources Division features High Times-worthy photos of cannabis flowers on the front cover. In fact, cannabis is the sole focus of the quarterly, peer-reviewed publication.
Since 2017, the University of California's Cannabis Research Center (CRC) has been hard at work. A 12-person research team, supported by 50 undergraduates, has been conducting groundbreaking research, some of which was presented to the public on Sept. 15 at the Hopland Research and Extension Center.
Team members presented their findings, including the results of a cannabis production survey, which was taken by 350 California cannabis farmers largely located in the Emerald Triangle region. Dr. Van Butsic, assistant cooperative extension specialist and co-director of the Cannabis Research Center, acted as presenter for the event.
Butte County suffers two more human cases of West Nile
(Chico Enterprise Record) Brody Fernandez, Sept. 20
…Maurice Pitesky, is a researcher medical professional for the Veterinary Medicine Extension at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Pitesky specializes in poultry health and food safety epidemiology — the study of diseases and large populations.
“The reason chickens are ‘sentinels', are because they don't really get sick,” Pitesky said. “Chickens are the canaries in the coal mine for the West Nile virus. We use them to determine if certain areas contain infected mosquitoes and if they've contracted the virus themselves. It's also a good way to put chickens in strategic places and check to see if they are producing the appropriate antibodies to the virus. From a preventative health perspective, they do serve a beneficial service.”
Chickens can not transmit the virus, they are only carriers, Pitesky said.
A tiny beetle has decimated hundreds of SoCal trees. Now experts are worried about Sacramento
(Sac Bee) Michael Finch II, Sept. 19
…The shot hole borer is not a strong flier so it's unlikely to move far on its own. It can, however, move faster when hiding in firewood and other green waste or landscaping equipment, said Akif Eskalen, a plant pathologist and professor at UC Davis.
Eskalen is one of many investigators looking for ways to naturally eradicate the beetle. Eskalen's work focuses on using native plants, but there is an ongoing trial with pesticides and another using natural predators. The studies, he said, “may take several years to complete.”
… Once inside a tree, the female produces offspring that mate with each other when they grow up and the death-dealing cycle repeats. This sequence happens as many as four times a year, or more if the weather is hotter, said Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann, a researcher studying the insect for the UC Cooperative Extension in Irvine.
They're believed to have arrived in wood packing materials made with infested wood from Taiwan and Vietnam, she said. Climate change could make it worse since the beetle thrives in warm weather. Its reproductive cycle accelerates as the temperature rises.
“Knowing that they can travel in wood or in green waste or in equipment that makes it a little bit more dangerous,” Nobua-Behrmann said. “It could easily make it to the northern counties with people moving firewood because they find it for cheap or for free.”
CBD oil price likely factor in $100 million payoff predicted for Ventura County hemp crop
Kathleen Wilson, Ventura County Star, Sept. 18
…More than 25,000 products can be made from industrial hemp, said Oli Bachie, a UC Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Imperial County who is studying hemp production. The plant can be used for fiber, feed, textiles and oils, but most if not all of the strains of hemp being planted in the county are for CBD, apparently because of the large profits that are expected.
Bachie would not be surprised to see that happen around the state.
"There is a huge interest in this because people want to grab the first economic benefit out of it," Bachie said.
Federal Government Approves Release Of Non-Native Weevil In California To Combat Invasive Thistle
(CapRadio) Drew Sandsor, Sept 18
…The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it will permit use of the weevil native to Europe and western Asia to control yellow starthistle, which is from the same areas.
Brad Hanson, UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist at UC Davis, says yellow starthistle thrives in part because of its prickly spines.
"So it's not very palatable to any livestock, especially once it's started to flower, and it's toxic to horses. So often times the other grasses and more palatable plants are grazed and the starthistle persists and is sort of the only thing left,” he said.
California farms, ranches strive to adapt as climate warms - it's a matter of survival
(San Francisco Chronicle) Peter Fimrite, Sept 18
…Josué Medellín-Azuara, the associate director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Merced, said the biggest issue will be irrigation. Decreases in the Sierra snowpack mean less melting in the summer, so more rainwater will need to be stored in the winter. Hotter temperatures would also mean crops and orchards will retain less moisture.
“Plants may actually lose water more quickly because of the heat, so they may actually need more water than they need now to survive,” Medellín-Azuara said. This at a time when California is expected to experience more droughts.
…Frank Mitloehner, a professor in the UC Davis animal science department, said that is why sensors are being installed to monitor water use, and more ranchers are adopting regenerative farming and grazing techniques that ensure the land sequesters more carbon than it emits.
Drought tolerant crop being studied in the Valley
(ABC 30) Cristina Davies, Sept. 17
Big research is happening at the Kearney Agriculture and Extension Center in Fresno County.
Sorghum, a crop that looks similar to corn, is under a microscope.
Jeff Dahlberg, director of the center, said that sorghum is very drought tolerant.
"What we are looking for is the mechanism behind the drought tolerance in sorghum and if we can elucidate the genetics behind that, what we believe is we can use those genetics to see if the genetics in corn, or in rice, or in wheat," he said.
UC Pot Researchers Working with 'Gray Literature'
(East Bay Express) Dan Mitchell, Sept. 17
… The problem was brought into sharp relief last week when the Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley made its first formal presentation of the work that it's been doing. The center began operating at the beginning of the year to "promote interdisciplinary scholarship on the social and environmental dimensions of cannabis production." Every one of the five researchers who spoke during the presentation addressed the often-ridiculous restrictions under which they still operate. As Chronic Town reported recently, researchers in public universities all over the state aren't even allowed to be around pot plants, thanks to the federal ban — a mighty hurdle for people studying health effects, cultivation methods, pest-management techniques, and the like.
"It's a tricky problem," observed center Co-Director Van Butsic, an adjunct professor who specializes in land use. "We don't want our researchers to stay in the academy."
Here's a talk about creating sustainable landscapes in Redlands, sponsored by Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society
(Redlands Daily Facts) Sept. 17
Janet Hartin, an area environmental horticulture adviser for San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, will present a program on “Beautiful Sustainable Landscapes for Redlands” when the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Redlands Church of the Nazarene, 1307 E. Citrus Ave.
Sept. 18 meeting to explore prescribed burning
(Taft Midway Driller) Sept. 17
The SRWC's meeting will begin with an introduction from Etna Fire Chief Alan Kramer, after which Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse, advisors with UC Cooperative Extension and co-founders of the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association, will share the story of how their PBA got started two years ago. They'll talk about their PBA's work – more than a thousand acres of prescribed fire through 18 different projects – and they'll talk more generally about options for prescribed fire on private lands, permitting and regulations, project costs, and the benefits of prescribed fire on rangelands, forests, and woodlands.