UC ANR NEWS
Before digging in to spring planting, pay attention to building the soil, advises an article in the Los Angeles Times by Jeanette Marantos.
Marantos visited the Pasadena backyard garden of Yvonne Savio, the retired coordinator of the UC Master Gardener Program in Los Angeles County. Savio is the creator of the Gardening in LA blog, with new stories appearing "every other week or so."
“The old saying is, ‘Feed the soil, not the plant,'" Savio said. “When you just use chemical fertilizers, you're not establishing a long-lasting base of nutrition for the plant. It's just giving it a huge piece of cake on Sunday, and then by Thursday it's nutritionally starving.”
Savio recommends a steady diet of organic matter be spaded into soil, and a layer of organic mulch added to the top of soil.
When you continually add organic amendments to the soil, the dirt comes alive as the amendments decompose, creating the beneficial bacteria, fungi and the nutrients plants need to grow strong and healthy, Savio said. “It's really like a cafeteria where your plants can pick and choose what they really like.”
CDFA awards grant for Proactive IPM program
(Morning Ag Clips) April 30
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded funding for one project in the initial funding cycle for the Proactive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Solutions grant program. The project, titled “Proactive Biological Control of Spotted Lantern Fly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae)” was awarded $543,936.
The three-year project will develop biological control agents for spotted lantern fly, an invasive pest that has not yet arrived in California but is spreading rapidly across the eastern US. This pest has the potential to affect many high-value California crops including grapes, walnuts, avocados, and pistachios. The project will piggyback on work that is already being conducted on the pest in the eastern US and abroad. Project leads are Dr. Mark Hoddle (UC Riverside) and Dr. Kent Daane (UC Berkeley). The biological control agent is a small (3 mm) stingless wasp, native to China, that parasitizes the eggs of the spotted lantern fly.
Learn about sheep, shearing, and more at Barn to Yarn in Hopland this week
(MendoVoice) April 30
If you've ever wondered how a sheep's wool becomes a sweater, you might want to check out the "Barn to Yarn" event in Hopland this weekend. This popular springtime event will return to the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center this Saturday, May 4.
The Barn to Yarn event will feature farmers and ranches, shearers, spinners, weavers, and knitters, and other local experts involved in the Northern California sheep industry. There will educational activities, presentations, workshops, take-home craft activities, and more for all ages.
Moth caterpillars are back for a rare second bite in the Bay Area
(Mercury News) Cat Ferguson, April 29
…Andrew Sutherland, University of California Cooperative Extension's urban integrated pest management adviser for the Bay Area, recommends a simple preventive measure: reach for the hose.
Right after the bugs have hatched, “use pressure washers to push the larvae off the trees before they start wandering around,” he said. “In the late summer and fall, if you've got egg masses, you can wash them off and you won't have an issue next year on that tree.”
Bay Area pest control and horticulture experts say most caterpillar calls come from Santa Clara and southern San Mateo counties, which Sutherland linked to warm weather and high densities of host plants — the caterpillars are particularly fond of oak and fruit trees. Sutherland said he doesn't field nearly as many calls from the East Bay.
Hopland Research Center holds BioBlitz for Mendocino County students
(Ukiah Daily Journal) Curtis Driscoll, April 26
The Hopland Research and Extension Center held its annual “BioBlitz” on Friday for over 200 students from across Mendocino County, giving them a chance to explore their interest in science by finding new species at the Hopland Research Site.
The BioBlitz went on at the same time as the 2019 City Nature Challenge, an international event where people find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. Although students in Mendocino County couldn't participate in the national event, the Hopland Research Center decided to have the BioBlitz as a way to allow students to explore nature in Mendocino County.
…Experts also helped the students learn more about the area in Mendocino County and the many kinds of unique species that are in the county. Anna Holmquist, an arachnologist from UC Berkeley, entomology students from UC Berkeley, and California Naturalists, people who have gone through a UC naturalist training program, were all available throughout the day to help students and guide them as they made different discoveries.
“We will be looking for species with them and searching and trying to add to the list, but there will be a bit more depth to it with the kids actually trying to build on their understand of our Mendocino habitats,” said Hopland Research Center Community Educator Hannah Bird.
Have the Tough Conversations: Koopmann Family Ranch Transfer
(Capital Press) Ashley Rood, April 26
… The next generation of Koopmanns, Carissa and Clayton, are well-poised to continue the family legacy of conservation and ranching. Both are building up their own cow herds on leased land while, as partners in the family LCC, they help make the big decisions. They also have full-time agriculture jobs off the ranch focused on grazing. Clayton is the range manager for the local water utility, the SFPUC, and has a grazing management consulting business. Carissa is a livestock and natural resources advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County. Both Carissa and Clayton emphasize how hard it is to make a living ranching alone, even with all the advantages of the family ranch. But getting out on the land, despite the hard work, is a place of relaxation for both of them.
For others considering succession planning, Carissa says, “Get started early and don't ever make assumptions. It's vital to know what everybody truly wants. Ultimately, the end goal that is that you're still a family, regardless of what happens.”
Fresh, local and sustainable advice
(Marin Independent Journal) Jane Scurich, April 26
Ah, spring! Time to visit the local farmers market for tender locally grown asparagus, luscious spring peas and great gardening advice. Wait — what's that last item — advice? Yes — and it's free!
Knowledgeable, UC-trained volunteers in the University of California Marin Master Gardener program officially open their market advice tables in May to provide research-based information on horticulture and sustainable gardening practices to Marin residents.
Love science? Free app allows you to assist in research!
(ABC10) Monica Woods, April 25
…In the words of Laci Gerhart-Barley, iNaturalist is "Instagram for biology and nature enthusiasts." The professor with the biological services department at the University of California, Davis, is even incorporating it into her classroom.
… Each year iNaturalist users participate in a "competition" to see what region can upload the most photos in the matter of a few days. The City Nature Challenge started as a competition between the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum and gradually grew to include regions all over the world.
The Sacramento region is getting on board for the first time in 2019. [Sarah Angulo, community education specialist for the California Naturalist Program, is helping organize the challenge.]
The City Nature Challenge Sacramento will take place from Friday, April 26 to Monday, April 29.
UC Extension head updates supervisors on programs and leaders
(Plumas News) Victoria Metcalf, April 24
The face of the Farm Advisor's office is changing.
Plumas and Sierra county Farm Advisor Director David Lile was before the Plumas County Board of Supervisors April 9, explaining just how much his staff has changed.
… Holding up a copy of the local University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources annual report for last year, Lile said, It's “easy to look at with plenty of pictures.”
…Lile then introduced Ryan Tompkins as the new forestry advisor. He replaces longtime representative Mike DeLasaux who retired in 2018.
…Natural resources and livestock liaison with local ranchers was introduced next. That's Tracy Scholr [Schohr].
…Most 4-H members and their parents already know 4-H Program Representative Kari O'Reilly.
… Tom Getts was also introduced as the technical assistance for Plumas and Sierra farmers and Susanville area land managers.
… And Barbara Goulet, as administrative assistant, provides support to the staff, but also works with local Master Gardener volunteers and 4-H volunteers, according to Lile.
Can California get cows to burp less methane?
(NBC News) April 24
California is now requiring the beef and dairy industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Some scientists are testing and growing a red algae seaweed that can reduce methane from cow burps.
How to Control Thrips in Blueberries
(California Fresh Fruit) Matthew Malcolm, April 24
Citrus thrips have been a major nuisance for California blueberry growers, but how do you keep them under control and when should you apply crop protection materials? Is there an organic treatment available? Watch this brief interview UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor David Haviland as he answers all these questions. Read more about blueberry pest management in California Fresh Fruit Magazine.
UC: Older vineyards can be modified for mechanization
(Ag Alert) April 24
Saying they have proven that older vineyards can be converted to mechanization, University of California Cooperative Extension specialists say winegrape growers in the San Joaquin Valley do not have to replant vineyards if they want to switch to mechanical pruning.
Growers who want to make the switch can retrain the vines to make the transition, without losing fruit yield or quality, according to a UCCE study.
UCCE specialist Kaan Kurtural said the study found that "growers do not have to plant a new vineyard to mechanize their operations."
"We have proven beyond a doubt that an older vineyard can be converted to mechanization," he said.
There is no loss in yield during conversion, Kurtural said, "and post-conversion yield is better and fruit quality is equivalent to or better than hand-managed vines."
No replanting needed for mechanical pruning
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 24
University of California (UC) researcher Kaan Kurtural has gained recognition in recent years for automating a vineyard operation in the Napa Valley, which was planted at a density conducive to the practice.
Now Kurtural and other UC Cooperative Extension scientists are applying their knowledge in the San Joaquin Valley, where they say growers who wish to switch from hand to mechanical pruning to save labor won't have to replant to do so.
Wet winter in Sonoma County may have helped spread virulent oak disease
(Press Democrat) Derek Moore, April 24
Now that the North Coast is finally drying out from an unusually wet winter, concern is growing over the potential rapid spread of sudden oak disease, renewing calls for the public's help tracking the deadly forest pathogen.
“Now is when we might expect the pathogen to take off a bit,” said Kerry Wininger, a UC Cooperative Extension staffer in Santa Rosa.
Wininger is a local organizer of annual sudden oak death surveys known as the SOD Blitz. This year's survey occurs from April 25 to 28 across Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Organizers are hoping for a good turnout of volunteers, who will become educated spotters and collectors to help scientists slow the disease's spread.
Young chefs: Local students prepare and taste international meals at fourth annual Culinary Academy
(Lompoc Record) Lorenzo J. Reyna, April 24
Twenty-one elementary school students spent part of their spring break learning to cook various international recipes inside Rice Elementary School's cafeteria Wednesday.
The fifth- and sixth-graders from 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council Clubs took part in the fourth annual Culinary Academy, spearheaded by six adults from UC CalFresh Healthy Living.
…Janelle Hansen helps oversee the 4-H SNAC Clubs as supervisor of the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo group.
She said Wednesday's five-hour event from 1 to 6 p.m. was much more than just students learning how to create various dishes.
“The hope is that they will learn the life skill of healthy living and nutrition — and that's really one of our goals,” Hansen said as the students were preparing their meals.
Close to home or farther afield, visit California's native plants and gardens
(Los Altos Online) Tanya Kucak, April 24
If you're in the mood for some road trips, immerse yourself in an atmosphere of beautiful plants and enthusiastic people by attending the Going Native Garden Tour, now in its 17th year.
Sponsored by the California Native Plant Society in association with the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, the tour offers an unparalleled chance to talk with gardeners and designers, view gardens of different types and compare gardens planted a year ago to those planted a couple of decades ago. More than 50 gardens are scheduled to be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 4 and 5. Gardens in San Jose and other southern Santa Clara County cities will be open May 4, while May 5 will feature visits to northern gardens from San Mateo to Sunnyvale, including Mountain View. No Los Altos gardens will be on display this year.
AgriTalk: How Agriculture is Managing High-Level Issues
(Agweb.com) Ashley Davenport, April 23
Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California-Davis recently was awarded the 2019 Borlaug Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) award. He talks about what that award means for him, how he started on social media, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Mechanical Vineyard Pruning Possible Without Replanting
(AgNet West) Brian German, April 23
One of the major concerns regarding mechanical vineyard pruning is the time and cost associated with replanting a vineyard in a manner that would accommodate the process. However, a report from University of California Cooperative Extension researchers that was published in HortTechnology demonstrates that replanting is not necessary. Research conducted in Madera County found that growers can mechanize their operations by retraining vines without suffering any fruit loss or decline in quality.
“The trial actually ran for three years,” said Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “In the end, there was like no loss in yield even during the conversion years and the quality was actually much better in the mechanically managed plants.”
Is a small farm or ranch your dream? The Beginning Farming Academy is for you!
(Yuba Net) April 23
Is your dream to start a small farm or ranch? Are you ready to get started on your dream? Apply for the Beginning Farming Academy offered by the University of California Cooperative Extension on April 26th and 27th, 2019. The class is held in Auburn and runs from 8 AM to 8 PM on Friday, April 26th, and from 8 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, April 27th. April 23 is the application deadline for the April class.
The Academy is an intensive 2-day introduction to starting a small commercial farm or ranch and will help prospective farmers jumpstart their operations. “Participants will learn to assess their land and resources, research markets, and analyze the potential economic viability of their operation,” says Dan Macon, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor.
California's high-value crops, like fruits and nuts, are the ones most vulnerable to climate change
(Fast Company) Larry Buhl, April 22
Agronomy, a peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal, laid out a stark future for California agriculture, predicting it will be vastly different by the end of the century. Led by Tapan Pathak of the University of California, Merced, the research team concluded that almost all of California's crops, together valued at more than $50 billion a year, will be endangered by rising temperatures and unstable weather patterns brought by climate change. The state will face wildly fluctuating precipitation patterns, leading to severe droughts and flooding, warming temperatures, more heat waves, and shorter chill seasons. The researchers wrote that the increased rate and scale of climate change “is beyond the realm of experience for the agricultural community,” and that changes in the state's crop output “would not only translate into national food security issues, but also economic impacts that could disrupt state and national commodity systems.”
Michael previews the UCCE Annual Spring Garden Tour
(Fox 26) Stephen Hawkins, April 22
The University of California Cooperative Extension Fresno County Spring Garden Tour & Plant Sale takes place this weekend.
Michael Ikahihifo spent the morning at Garden of the Sun on Earth Day to give us a preview.
California Has Farmers Growing Weeds. Why? To Capture Carbon
(KQED) Lauren Sommer, April 22
…“I think there's great potential for agriculture to play a really important role,” says Kate Scow, professor of soil microbial ecology at UC Davis, of the state's climate goals. She's standing in a large wheat field at Russell Ranch, seven miles west of the campus, where the university plants crops to study sustainable agriculture.
“Soil is alive,” she says. “There's farmers that know that.”
California farmers try new strategy to cut carbon
Mitloehner To Receive CAST Award
(Drovers) Greg Henderson, April 19
Frank Mitloehner has been chosen by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) as 2019 Borlaug CAST Communication Award recipient. A professor and air quality extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California-Davis, Mitloehner is the 10th recipient of this award.
“I'm honored to be selected by CAST, an org I've long admired, and to be in the company of so many recipients who have inspired me during my career,” Mitloehner said. “Being recognized with the Borlaug CAST Communication Award is an affirmation of the importance of sharing research and academic pursuits well beyond labs, classrooms and universities.”
How One Entomologist Found His Calling as an IPM Facilitator
(Entomology Today) Lina Bernaola, April 18
Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia, Ph.D., is currently an IPM entomology advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension. He serves the vegetable industry in the Central Coast region of California by conducting applied research on pest management and implementing an extension program for stakeholders.
Alejandro was born and raised in Lima, Peru, where he earned his bachelor's degree in agronomy from La Molina National Agrarian University. Then, he went to Washington State University, where he obtained his master's degree in entomology working on integrated pest management (IPM) in irrigated hybrid poplars. In 2016, he obtained his Ph.D. in entomology at North Carolina State University (NCSU). During his doctoral studies, he worked on proposing management practices for the kudzu bug, an invasive pest of soybeans.
America's leading animal geneticist wants to talk to you about GMOs
(Pacific Standard) Emily Moon, April 18
At 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning, Alison Van Eenennaam is sitting in a harshly lit lab room, surrounded by her graduate students, talking about cattle sex—sex that, unfortunately, has not gotten anything pregnant. With the gene-editing techniques she's using, there could be many factors to blame: the location in the DNA strand of the edit, the biopsy performed to check the results of the edit, the freezing and the thawing of the embryo, the embryo's journey from lab to farm in a thermos. Now, Van Eenennaam floats another idea. "No foreplay, the poor guy," she says, a cheeky grin on her face. "The candle and the lighting wasn't right."
UCCE Marin Creates Online 'Story Map' Annual Report
(Patch) Susan C. Schena, April 16
The University of California Cooperative Extension team in Novato has created an online "story map" that capsulizes in an interactive way its ongoing programs and key 2018 accomplishments, instead of a written annual report.
An Inviting Summary of UCCE Marin's Exploits
Why bees swarm and what you should – or shouldn't – do about them
(San Jose Mercury News) Rebecca Jepsen, April 16
…Last year was a particularly bad year for honey bees. Some bee keepers reported up to a 90 percent loss in their hives in 2018. Causes for this include varroa mite infestations, increased pathogens due to the warm weather, increased use of pesticides and a decrease in diversity of food sources.
So, what can we do about a swarm? “If you leave the bees alone, they will leave you alone.,” said Dr. Elina L. Niño, honey bee expert at UC Davis. “It only takes a few hours or at most a day or two for them to find and settle into their new home.”
Santa Maria expects big strawberry crop
(The Packer) Carol Lawrence, April 16
…Two of the three top-yielding varieties in production yield studies conducted in Watsonville by the University of California, Davis, include the monterey variety, producing 10,554 cartons per acre, and the san andreas variety, which yielded 10,414 cartons per acre. O'Donnell said the commission has noticed those varieties as well as some proprietary ones from growers.
“We're seeing more fruit per acre from when these fruits are planted,” she said.
A newer variety, the cabrillo, was reported as producing 11,605 cartons per acre in recent tests.
These California communities could be the next Paradise. Is yours one of them?
(Sacramento Bee) Ryan Sabalow, Phillip Reese and Dale Kasler, April 11
…“There's a lot of Paradises out there,” said Max Moritz, a fire specialist at UC Santa Barbara.
California's state-of-the-art building codes help protect homes from wildfire in the most vulnerable areas, experts say. But the codes only apply to new construction. A bill introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood would provide cash to help Californians retrofit older homes.
“This will go a long way toward these different municipalities (in showing) that they deserve funding,” Moritz said.
U.C. Davis Animal Science Professor Discusses Agriculture's Contribution to Climate Change
(Cornell Sun) Stacey Blansky, April 11
On Monday afternoon, Prof. Frank Mitloehner, animal science and Air Quality Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis, discussed the latest research surrounding animal agriculture and its “surprisingly modest” contribution to global greenhouse emissions. Mitloehner pointed at food waste as the largest contributor to environmental damage.
Scientists studying smoke taint as next fire season approaches
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, April 10
…A Los Angeles Times report on the subject put it this way - “Smoke taint rears its head when grapes, kissed by environmental smoke as they're growing, eventually yield a wine with unexpected smoldering flavors…, ‘like drinking from a well-used ashtray,'” using the words of University of California-Davis enology specialist Anita Oberholster. The story noted: “It's a vintner's worst horror movie nightmare - the smoke is coming from inside the grapes.”
Says Oberholster: “Compounds that are responsible for smoke taint are naturally present in grapes at low levels, they add complexity to the wine. Research into the subject is a slow process and to date, I can say there is very little you can do to prevent extracting smoke taint compound from grapes. We are currently in the process of evaluating different amelioration techniques from finished wines and there is some promise there, but research is still on-going, and I have no data yet.”
The farmer that saw his budding California tea farm go up in smoke
(San Francisco Chronicle) Jonathan Kauffman, April 8
…What Mike Fritts didn't know in 2010 — what almost everyone had forgotten, in fact — was that the UC Extension Service planted California's first modern test plot of Camellia sinensis in Fresno in the 1960s, when it partnered with Lipton.
Jacquelyn Gervay Hague, a chemist at UC Davis who conducts studies of tea-growing in Taiwan and is active in the university's Global Tea Initiative, said she learned about the plots just a few years ago when the director of UC Extension's Fresno office gave her a call.
“It blew my mind,” Hague says. She pored over the records, which covered 1963 to the early 1980s, when Lipton pulled out of the study. “It was concluded that we could grow tea very well,” she said.
Goats are the latest weapons in the war against wildfire
(CNN) Sarah Lazarus, April 8
… Lynn Huntsinger, professor of range ecology and management at the University of California, Berkeley, says that California has seen an increase in "fuel" -- the term fire experts use to describe "dead plants."
Huntsinger, who used to keep goats in the backyard of her Bay Area home, says the fire problem has its roots in history.
In the past, Native Americans lit fires to control the vegetation, she says. These deliberate burns created a landscape of open grasslands, so wildfires were smaller and less frequent.
That changed with the arrival of colonial settlers. They did not understand how "using fire prevented fire," and banned deliberate burns from around the turn of the 20th century, says Huntsinger.
The Age of Robot Farmers
(The New Yorker) John Seabrook, April 8
…To get an idea of what might be possible, I arranged to visit Professor David Slaughter in his office at the University of California at Davis. Slaughter leads the university's Smart Farm Initiative, which explores how future farmers might employ emerging technologies. Drones, for example, can automate the inspection of fields for pest or weed outbreaks, and can use high-resolution cameras and algorithmic processing of the images to pick up incipient problems before a farmer or a hired hand might spot them. Another possible application is plant breeding. Breeders currently rely on humans to evaluate seedlings produced by new combinations of already existing varieties.
…If the future of fruit-and-vegetable farming is automation, farmers will not only need the machines, and the funds to afford them, they will also require a new class of skilled farm workers who can debug the harvesters when something goes wrong. Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, a colleague of David Slaughter's at the University of California at Davis, is trying to ensure that domestic farmworkers' children have the STEM skills to compete for those jobs. De Leon Siantz is the daughter of Mexican immigrants; she has a Ph.D. in human development and focusses on migrant health in her research. She hopes to use existing Head Start and 4-H programs to teach math and engineering.
Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning
(Red Bluff Daily News) Julie Zeeb, April 5
Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino.
The event was a collaboration between the Tehama County UC Cooperative Extension and Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation.
Allan Fulton, a Tehama County farm advisor, served as moderator.
“We're four years into Sustainable Groundwater Management Act that went into affect Jan. 1, 2015,” Fulton said. “There's been a lot of organizing (of groundwater management agencies). Now the governance structure and planning is underway. This venue is perfect for people to learn about the act and what is going on locally. It's a chance to see, as landowners and water operators, how to engage in the process and give feedback on what they think about it.”
The worst fire in California history illuminates fire preparation needs
(Yuba Net) April 5, 2019
Four months have passed since the Camp Fire, the worst wildfire in California history, ravaged bucolic communities in the Butte County foothills, including Paradise, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon, Cherokee, Yankee Hill and Magalia. Eighty-five people died, many of them elderly and unable to safely evacuate from an area where a wind-driven fire raced from home to home.
The unspeakable loss of human life and the serious challenges being faced by survivors has dominated the Camp Fire conversation. Now, UC Cooperative Extension is beginning a dialog with many agencies involved to understand how such tragedies can be prevented in the future.
UC course helps landowners track water use
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 5
On a recent morning, Jim Edwards and about 70 of his fellow farmers and ranchers from Northern California went back to school. Each was handed a binder full of worksheets as they embarked on a three-hour course to learn how to measure and report their own water diversions – a state requirement now for landowners with rights to draw water from a river or stream.
There were lectures by University of California Cooperative Extension advisors and were even quizzes at the end of each unit so the landowners could demonstrate what they'd learned about open-ditch flow readings, measuring weirs, in-pipe flow meters, the calibration and accuracy of measuring devices, and measuring reservoir diversion quantities.
“I think it's great,” said Edwards, who takes water from Antelope Creek near Red Bluff to raise cattle, orchards and hay.
… “I think this is a good crash course to get people to understand flow measurements and what is required of them to report,” says Khaled Bali, a UCCE irrigation specialist who helps lead a course unit on device accuracy.
DIY with classes at the UC Cooperative Extension in gardening and food preservation
(New Times SLO) Camillia Lanham, April 4
A soft-hued planter full of pale gray-greens and purple flowers waits just through the gate of the Garden of the Seven Sisters off Sierra Way. Those winter colors will soon be replaced by flora made just for spring. This "curbside garden" is the first of 15 demonstration plots manned by Master Gardener Program volunteers at the UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo.
If you're a newbie like I am—or an oldie looking for some new tricks—the UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo County has got something just for you. Whether you're trying to figure out what to do with all of that extra produce on your kitchen counter or trying to decide exactly what to plant and when, there's probably a class for that either through the extension's Master Gardener Program or Master Food Preserver Program. You can become certified as a master and volunteer for either program or both programs, or you can dabble with a class here or there.
Backyard chickens hit hard by a long-gone, extremely contagious disease
(New Food Economy) Tove Danovich, April 4
In California, backyard birds are in lockdown. County fairs are canceling their poultry shows. Veterinary hospitals aren't accepting chicken appointments. Local 4-H leaders are telling chicken owners to keep their birds sequestered. Some poultry breeders are even worried their birds will need to be euthanized.
… There are approximately 100,000 backyard flocks in California according to Maurice Pitesky, Cooperative Extension poultry specialist with the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. “They don't focus so much on biosecurity, which is just a fancy word for disease prevention,” he says. Backyard poultry owners regularly mock the CDC's advice to avoid snuggling or kissing their chickens, but that's not the worst of it: 25 percent of urban poultry owners reported not even washing hands after handling their birds.
Dr. Monica Cooper to be honored at ASEV in Napa June 19
(Napa Valley Register) April 4
Dr. Monica Cooper, farm adviser of UC Cooperative Extension, Napa Valley, is the recipient of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture's (ASEV) Extension Distinction Award for 2019.
Cooper will receive the award at the 70th ASEV National Conference on June 19 in Napa, where she will be presenting, “Building Effective Extension Networks to Support Data-Driven Decision Making.”
It Wasn't Just the Soda Tax That Dropped Berkeley Soda Sales by 52 Percent
(The Inverse) Emma Betuel, April 3
University of California, Berkeley professor Sofia Villas-Boas, Ph.D., and Ph.D. candidate Scott Kaplan show in the new paper that soda purchases fell between 10 and 20 percent on Berkeley's campus directly after the soda tax was passed but before the prices officially increased in 2015. They also used Nielsen data to show a similar pattern: soda purchases at local stores decreased by 10.8 percent even before the higher prices went into effect.
“The election outcome caused a 10-20% reduction in sales of regular soda beverages before consumers faced higher prices anywhere, on campus or in stores off-campus,” Kaplan tells Inverse, “This suggests that you might not witness these types of effects if a sugar-sweetened beverage (or soda) tax was implemented without a preceding campaign and public vote.”
UC IGIS to host DroneCamp 2019 in Monterey
(Santa Cruz Tech Beat) Sara Isenberg, April 2
The Informatics and GIS Program (IGIS) of University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is pleased to host the second offering of DroneCamp. This three-day intensive workshop covers everything you need to know to use drones for mapping, research, and land management, including…
Tiny whiteflies seem to be bugging people across the Central Coast, but why are there so many this year?
(KSBY) Megan Healy, April 1
A master gardener from the SLO University of California Cooperative Extension says dozens of people from south SLO County called asking why there are so many.
“It's probably a reflection of the increasing temperatures coming on top of all that nice water we have had, so we have had a flush of vegetation and the flies that came from eggs originally have just all hopped out,” said Cathryn Howarth, a master gardener a the SLO County UC Cooperative Extension.
According to the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, signs of whitefly manifestation include…
Inside the race to build the burger of the future
(Politico) Michael Grunwald, April 1
…Conglomerates like Walmart, McDonald's and General Mills have been setting emissions reduction targets for their suppliers, which will ratchet up pressure on farmers and ranchers to green their operations. But at a time when they're already getting squeezed by a handful of giant agribusinesses that process their animals, as well as the economic fallout from President Donald Trump's trade wars, they're hoping for government incentives to reduce their emissions. Frank Mitloehner, a professor of animal agriculture at the University of California-Davis, believes farmers and ranchers deserve to be paid for their ecological services—and recently said so to an Ocasio-Cortez staffer. For example, California is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help them manage their manure in cleaner ways, which makes more sense to Mitloehner than demonizing them for the messes they make while putting food on people's tables. Many of them are conservative Republicans who deny climate science, but they're also pragmatic businesspeople—Mitloehner says they could store tremendous amounts of carbon on their lands if the price and the politics were right.
“Politically, farmers tend toward the Trump camp, and when they hear all this finger-pointing about farting cows, they just shut down,” Mitloehner says. “It troubles me, because I know how urgent this climate discussion is.”
… “There's such an enormous opportunity to reduce emissions in meat production, if you didn't hear all this counterproductive talk about how everything about it is terrible,” says Mitloehner, the Cal-Davis agricultural scientist. “Let's not alienate the people we need the most on our quest for a climate solution.”
Sulfur is a natural element that can be used in strawberries, grapes and other crops to protect fruit from powdery mildew, a fungal disease that results in damaged fruit, reported Eilis O'Neil on Reveal, a podcast produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.
Because sulfur is natural, it can be used by organic and conventional farmers alike. And it is inexpensive.
"Farmers use tons of it," O'Neill said. "It's the most used pesticide in California and it's widely used in the rest of the country."
However, it is an irritant. People who accidentally breath it in can have irrigated eyes, sore throats or difficulty breathing.
"There's something about sulfur that makes people (react more strongly) every time that they're exposed to sulfur ... kind of like if you are allergic to a bee sting. So every subsequent time that you are stung, your body responds in a more severe way," Blecker said.
Brenda Eskenazi, a public health researcher at UC Berkeley, also appeared on the podcast. She said she had seen case reports about an increase in asthma symptoms in children who live near fields where sulfur was sprayed. Eskenazi and her colleagues followed the health of more than 500 children in the Salinas Valley from pre-birth to 7 years old.
"Kids that lived closer to where sulfur was applied had more asthma problems and also poorer lung function," Eskenazi said.
Blecker said that sulfur must be closely regulated.
"Anything that we do to reduce the offsite movement of pesticides is good, (such as) monitoring wind speed and direction," Blecker said. "A lot of grape growers do night applications because they are trying to just minimize the exposure to people because there's more people out during the day. If you're spraying in a situation where grapes are only on one side of you, it's best to be spraying into the vineyard."
UC Cooperative Extension is hosting a sudden oak death bioblitz April 25-28 in Northern California, in which a corps of volunteers will fan out across the wildland areas to track the progression of the devastating disease, reported Derek Moore in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Sudden oak death is caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, which was inadvertently introduced to California forests on nursery stock in the 1990s. The disease has killed up to 50 million trees (primarily tanoak, coast live oak, California black oak, Shreve's oak and canyon live oak) from Big Sur to southwest Oregon.
Kerry Winiger, the UCCE sudden oak death outreach coordinator, is organizing this weekend's bioblitz in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Wininger said one of the highlights of this year's surveys is the unveiling of a new test for the European strain of Phytophthora ramorum in time to possibly thwart its spread. The new strain has been detected in Oregon.
“We want to nip it in the bud, if it's here,” Wininger said.
Sonoma County is still reeling from deadly wildfires, making the spread of SOD infection seem to some like a lower priority.
But Winiger said that oaks, as a keystone species, are crucial to the overall health of an ecosystem.
“It's like an arch,” she said. “If you lose a stone in the arch, everything else in the ecosystem is affected.”