University of California


Light brown apple moth in the cross hairs

Government agencies are continuing their efforts to eradicate the light brown apple moth in California, according to media reports.

A story in today's Salinas Californian says three airplanes will spray moth pheromones for up to three nights over northern, coastal Monterey County in an effort to stop male light brown apple moths from finding mates

The Vallejo Times Herald reported yesterday that USDA has announced that it will provide $15 million to help fund the fight to rid the state of the pest.

In the meantime, the Central Valley Business News used a press release in it's Aug. 14 edition by Stephanie Klunk of the UC IPM program with "all you ever wanted to know about light brown apple moth." The story refers readers to a new brochure produced by the IPM program, "Light Brown Apple Moth in California: Quarantine, Management, and Potential Impacts," which is available free online.

Posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 9:53 AM

Madera Tribune gives Master Gardener update

I’m back from vacation and ready to resume blogging about ANR in the news. It will take me some time to review the news of the past few weeks, but I happened to see a story yesterday in the Madera Tribune about UC Master Gardeners.

Madera Tribune columnist Ramona Frances published a column about changes in the Fresno County Master Gardener program’s budget and speculated on any effect that might have on the Madera County program.

I checked with Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension director Jeanette Sutherlin to make sure the column was accurate. Some of the details, she said, were not reported correctly. Sutherlin said the facts are as follows:

  • The half-time Master Gardener coordinator position in the Fresno County UCCE office, currently held by Leslie Feathers, will no longer be funded by Fresno County.
  • Funds in a UC educational trust fund held by the County of Fresno and a generous donation from the non-profit Master Gardener Association will enable the continuation of Feather’s half-time position.
  • This arrangement is now settled for one fiscal year.

Leslie Feathers
Leslie Feathers

Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 12:18 PM

Dan Sumner a media regular.

The director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, Dan Sumner, has become something of a regular in the news. When media call me for an ag expert, I frequently refer them to Sumner, since he is readily available and willing to supply informed comment.

Here are some examples of recent Sumner quotes:

In an AP story just this week, Sumner commented about California growers who are cashing in on China's increasing wealth and growing hunger for table grapes, almonds and other high-quality fruits and nuts that don't grow as well in the Asian nation. "There's a big enough group of people there that don't want just the cheapest; they want high-quality stuff, and they're willing to pay more for it," Sumner is quoted.

In a Reuters story, the reporter refers to a book Sumner and a colleague wrote about the Farm Bill. "There is little economic rationale for the billions of dollars the US government pays out each year in farm subsidies, experts assert in a new book pressing Congress for more ambitious reform to farm policy," the article says.

In a Sacramento Bee story, Sumner commented on specialty crop and organic farmers complaints that a current version of the farm bill shortchanges the fastest-growing sector of U.S. agriculture. "This is a last gasp, or last grasp, to try to maintain the commodity programs," Sumner is quoted.

In a Fresno Bee story, about aging farmers, Sumner said he thinks ado over aging is unmerited. "We have all been getting older," he was quoted, referring to increased life expectancy.

To my loyal reader(s), I will be on vacation for the next two weeks and unable to blog about UC ANR news. I'll play catch up when I return on Aug. 13.

Dan Sumner
Dan Sumner

Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 9:45 AM
Tags: Sumner (13)

New obesity material available in California Agriculture journal.

It may not have quite the dramatic impact as Vitamin C on scurvy or iodine on rickets, but scientists are making another connection between a dietary deficiency and a dreaded disease. The condition is asthma and according to a research article in the most recent issue of UC's California Agriculture journal, a deficiency in dietary magnesium could be related.

California Agriculture editor Janet Byron distributed a news release today about the report that also touches on the disease's connection with obesity and offers hope to people with asthma.

"Replacing low-magnesium foods with high-magnesium foods may be a practical, low-cost way to reduce asthma symptoms,” the article quotes post doctoral researcher Alexandra Kazaks. “It may also improve overall health.”

Another press release about an article in the publication teases out some of the reasons for America's epidemic of obesity and overweight.

"UC scientists were able to pin down four factors that are most likely to cause overweight and obesity in America: the consumption of dietary fat, sweetened beverages and restaurant foods, and a pattern of breakfast-skipping," the news release says.

The systematic review Byron reported on also found that intake of protein, simple sugars and fruit juice, as well as food variety, portion size, snacking and frequency of eating, were not consistently related to obesity.

The conclusions can help parents and health professional focus their efforts on the prime culprits in their efforts to stop the obesity epidemic currently sweeping the United States.

I will be traveling to UC Riverside July 24-25, but will return to blog about UC ANR news once again on July 26.

California Agriculture Journal
California Agriculture Journal

Posted on Monday, July 23, 2007 at 8:41 PM

Corn smut is edible -- even gourmet.

You might say UC Cooperative Extension has its very own "News of the Weird." UCCE farm advisor Michelle LeStrange wrote about corn smut in a recent column for the Visalia Times-Delta. Unlike most stories about controlling what is viewed a "pest," she writes that the ugly bluish galls that may be found on home-grown corn can actually be considered a delicacy.

The condition is common corn smut.

"In Central and South America there has long been a tradition of eating corn smut (huitlacoche or cuitlacoche); farmers there receive a premium price for their infected corn. Huitlacoche is just now becoming a gourmet item in the United States, with trendy restaurants in California and New York offering it," LeStrange writes in the article.

The UC Integrated Pest Management Web site offers information on corn smut that sounds pretty creepy.

"Galls on ears and stems expand and fill with masses of powdery, dark olive brown to black spores. . . . Ear and stem galls rupture, and wind, rain, or irrigation water spread them through the garden," according to the IPM site

If you don't want to experiment with this gourmet food, IPM suggests removing and destroying the tumorlike corn smut growths as soon as noticed to keep the black powder in galls from getting into the soil.


Common corn smut.
Common corn smut.

Posted on Monday, July 23, 2007 at 8:59 AM

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