Monthly news roundup: September 2017
Rice acreage is down, and yield seems to be too
Steven Schoonover, Chico Enterprise, Sept. 30, 2017
The Sacramento Valley rice harvest, now underway, is expected to come in about 10 percent lower than normal because of late planting due to the wet spring and extended heat waves. UCCE Colusa County advisor Luis Espino said some farmers may have skipped or rushed some of the steps they normally take in preparing the fields for planting, and that could have consequences at harvest time. UCCE Yuba-Sutter advisor Whitney Brim-Forest said the plants made “too much foliage, too fast” because of the summer heat, giving them less energy for producing rice grain.
Booming demand for hay in Asia, Middle East driving agribusiness in the California desert
Ian James, Desert Sun, Sept. 28, 2017
Less than 6 percent of the alfalfa grown across the U.S. is exported, said UCCE specialist Daniel Putnam. Domestic dairies continue to buy the most hay, and California alone has about 1.5 million dairy cows, many of them in the Central Valley. In a report last year, Putnam and his colleagues said exporting hay is likely to be a permanent phenomenon in western states as foreign demand continues to grow and as “scarce land and water limit production” of hay in Asia and the Middle East.
UCCE to offer Oct. 28 seminar on Sudden Oak Death
Napa Valley Register, Sept. 28, 2017
UCCE specialist Matteo Garbelotto presents a free training session on the prevention and management of Sudden Oak Death Oct. 28. He will discuss the results of the 2017 Sudden Oak Death bio-blitz and provide practical information on Sudden Oak Death disease.
Lodi Library to host series of nutrition classes
Danielle Vaughn, Lodi News-Sentinel, Sept. 27, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension will hold an eight-part nutrition class at the Lodi Library. “We wanted to help out the community in our area there in Lodi. It's something new for them to try because some people don't have access to these classes for free,” said Claudia Montelongo, UCCE nutrition educator. “Some people have to go to Delta to take some of these classes and some of these lessons we are covering in the series.”
Student organic garden association hosts CA Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross
Jenny Weng, The Daily Californian, Sept. 27, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jennifer Sowerwine was part of the contingent who spoke with CDFA secretary Karen Ross when she visited the Berkeley campus at the behest of the Student Organic Garden Association. They discussed the campus's plans for a housing development on the Oxford Tract, where the students currently cultivate an organic farm. Sowerwine talked about her work in urban farming and sustainability.
UC Merced launches new standalone Ph.D. program in public health
Sierra Sun Times, Sept. 24, 2017
UC Merced's new Ph.D. program in public health includes the opportunity for community outreach. Students can work with Karina Diaz Rios, a UC Cooperative Extension physical activity and nutrition specialist. “Karina is a real asset to our program and she offers something unique to our campus,” said Nancy Burke, professor and chair of public health at UC Merced. “She's on the ground working with a variety of community-based intervention programs. She's plugged into different groups of scholars and she provides access to a great network for students and faculty.”
Blueprint for produce: How fruits & vegetables are designed for the market
Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 22, 2017
With UC Davis a top agricultural research center, the Central Valley's excellent growing conditions and new farm technology constantly emerging from Silicon Valley, a lot of seed development is happening quietly in the Bay Area's backyard. “The seed industry is essential to agriculture — we have to have seeds to start — but it's sort of a hidden part,” says Kent Bradford, professor at UC Davis' Seed Biotechnology Center. “It's where the new technology comes in.”
Concours d'Elegance raises money for youth agriculture programs
Kyla Cathey, Lodi News-Sentinel, Sept. 22, 2017
The former chair of the California State 4-H Foundation, Gail Kautz, now chairs an annual car show at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, which raises funds for the Ironstone Concours Foundation. The foundation donates $10,000 to State FFA headquarters in Galt each year and presents scholarships at the California State Fair and the Calaveras County Fair. The foundation also helps support 4-H programs like the leadership conference, guide dog and horse projects.
In the West, communities pioneer cooperative approach to fighting wildfires
Jessica Mendoza, Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 21, 2017
As climate change leads to hotter, drier summers, and populations grow in fire-prone regions, fire professionals have increasingly turned to strategies beyond fire suppression. “It's almost a shelter-in-place mentality,” says UCCE specialist Max Moritz. “If we're going to see more events that are more extreme ... we're going to have to learn to live in tune with the natural hazards of the environment where we are.”
Agritourism provides cash cow amid drying revenue streams
Sara Hayden, Half Moon Bay Review, Sept. 20, 2017
Natalie Sare of Santa's Tree Farm east of Half Moon Bay remembers when it was possible to make a living just by farming. That's less common now. “It's changed a lot in terms of the fact that in order to survive, you need to be able to offer something a little bit more,” Sare said. Many farmers are turning to agritourism, said UC agritourism coordinator Penny Leff. “They do (agritourism) to connect with their communities and educate. They're genuinely really interested in doing what they do,” Leff said.
Growing popularity of Moringa powder could be a boon for Valley farmers
Dale Yurong, ABC Channel 30 news, Sept. 19, 2017
San Joaquin Valley farmers are always looking for new crops to grow their profits. UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard believes local farmers can find a niche with Moringa. “It has very high nutritional content, especially in the leaves, so a lot of development projects overseas will use it as a powder to add to food to give more vitamins and nutrients to people. And it's actually grown here in Fresno by some Hmong and Filipino farmers,” she said. The valley's extreme summer heat poses a challenge, however.
Five Lodians to be inducted into Ag Hall of Fame
Danielle Vaughn, Lodi News-Sentinel, Sept. 15, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus Joseph Grant was one of five local agriculturalists to be inducted into the Ag Hall of Fame. “It's kind of awesome. I mean when you look at the other people that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I don't consider myself in that class of people so it's humbling,” Grant said. For most of his career Grant focused his research on walnuts, cherries, apples, olives and other tree crops. He retired in 2016.
Rabid bat cases coincide with beginning of fall migration
Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News, Sept. 14, 2017
Lake County's public health officer said a second bat in Lake County has tested positive for rabies. The danger is the potential for a dog or cat to be infected, and then expose people. The level of rabies in bats “is really a numbers game,” said UC Cooperative Extension advisor Rachael Long. More bats with rabies are being seen because more bats are migrating. Bats that have rabies are easy to distinguish, she said, as they usually are so sick they're paralyzed. If you come across such an animal, it should be tested.
Yolo tomato field contaminated by branched broomrape
Jenice Tupolo, Woodland Daily Democrat, Sept. 13, 2017
Branched broomrape was found in a Woodland tomato field. The field was quarantined and treated to eradicate the pest. Three years ago, a different broomrape species — Egyptian broomrape — nestled itself in Solano County. “The canning tomato industry and CDFA cooperated on an eradication effort in the Solano County tomato field,” said UC Cooperative Extension advisor Gene Miyao. “This was the first report of this introduction in North America.”
Wildfires are raging across western North America and climate change is contributing
Hilary Beaumont, Vice News Canada, Sept. 12, 2017
Climate change is contributing to 2017's extreme fire season. As of Sept. 12, 62 fires were burning in the western half of Canada and the United States. Some of these areas are already fire prone, so it's harder to blame those fires on climate change, said Max Mortiz, UC Cooperative Extension fire science specialist. But some fires have struck areas that are normally wet with precipitation, but this year had hot, dry conditions.
First baby born during 4-H Week to receive a gift basket
Red Bluff Daily News, Sept. 9, 2017
The first baby born in Tehama County during National 4-H Week Oct. 1-7 will received a basket of handmade, store bought and cash donations courtesy of 4-H volunteers. Other events that coincide with National 4-H Week are National 4-H Youth Science Day, which takes place on Oct. 4 when members are encouraged to learn more about fitness by building their own wearable fitness tracker.
Improving water management: Can Silicon Valley help?
Michael Cahn, Growing Produce, Sept. 7, 2017
many high-tech start-up companies have developed well-intentioned products without first understanding the constraints of most vegetable production operations. Silicon Valley may have the know-how to develop high-tech tools that can help achieve better water management, but these companies will need partnerships with the agriculture industry for their investments to pay off.
Sonoma County grape growers working long nights, days to bring in crop
Guy Kovner and Martin Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sept. 7, 2017
The four-day heat wave over Labor Day weekend threw the wine grape harvest into high gear. Rain would be unwelcome at this time, since it could trigger botrytis. Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County, said botrytis infections are “ubiquitous” and ever present. The real concern, she said, is whether high humidity and mild temperatures persist long enough to allow the fungus to trigger “disease onset.”
Group aims to tackle Sonoma County food waste
Christi Warren, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sept. 6, 2017
a group of Sonoma County nonprofits aim to divert food waste to the homes of the estimated 82,000 local residents who go hungry each month. The project's creation was made possible through a $5,000 grant from Impact 100 Redwood Circle, said Mimi Enright, a program manager at UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma and coalition member.
Holy guacamole! Avocado prices rise to record highs
Benjamin Parkin, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 6, 2017
A small crop in California coincided with a tough season in Mexico to drive wholesale prices to around $80 a case, which is threatening the bottom line at restaurants as they try to meet rising demand for the fruit. “The market is growing faster than the supply,” said Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Cooperative Exltention subtropical horticulture specialist.
Reading the tea leaves of alternative crops
David Eddy, Growing Produce, Sept. 2, 2017
Director of the UC Kearney REC, Jeff Dahlberg, has one word for those who scoff at the notion of growing tea in California: blueberries. About 20 years ago, when a UCCE advisor suggested blueberries, “Everyone laughed at him,” Dahlberg says. Now California producers have yields that double those of blueberry farms in a traditional location like Michigan. Craft California tea may be the next big thing.
California farmers say they don't have enough workers – but it's not because of Trump
Stephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, Sept. 1, 2017
The slowdown of illegal workers coming from Mexico has transformed California agriculture, resulting in higher wages and mechanization, said UC ANR agricultural economist Philip Martin. “In 2000, about 1 in 3 California farmworkers was what the government called a newcomer – young, single males about 25 who went wherever they were needed,” Martin said. “Over the last 20 years, the arrival of new illegal workers was sort of the grease that kept the farm labor market running smoothly.” But while about 55 percent of the nation's farmworkers are still undocumented, Martin said the average age is almost 40 and these workers have established homes and don't migrate any more.