Posts Tagged: Bill Stewart
The recent outbreak in California of two devastating fires - the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties and the Camp Fire in Butte County - are being covered extensively by the news media. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources fire scientists provide a valuable service by making themselves available to share their expertise during these tragedies. Below are a sampling of recent fire stories with comments from UC ANR sources.
Why Wildfires Are Burning So Hot And Moving So Fast
(NPR) Kirk Siegler
…One recent study predicted several million homes built in the West are at immediate risk. Susie Kocher is a forester with the University of California's Cooperative Extension service here in the Sierra.
“We haven't caught up, and to retrofit our existing housing stock to fend off embers is a long-term, expensive proposition.”
These wind-driven fires often carry air and embers that land on a roof or get sucked into a vent long after the main wall of flames has passed through. In fact, that's when most homes actually burn in wildfires.
“Even areas like Paradise that have been inhabited for 140 years as more vulnerable than they used to be. And that's not because there's new development but because there's a new climate around the old community.”
And that brings us to one of the biggest factors: climate change. Droughts are longer and more severe. The snow is melting quicker. The fire seasons are longer if not year-round.
As wildfires grow deadlier, officials search for solutions
(Associated Press) Matthew Brown and Ellen Knickmeyer, Nov. 14
…"There are ... so many ways that can go wrong, in the warning, the modes of getting the message out, the confusion ... the traffic jams," said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension program.
As deadly urban wildfires become more common, officials should also consider establishing "local retreat zones, local safety zones" in communities where residents can ride out the deadly firestorms if escape seems impossible, Moritz said.
… In the mid-20th century, California ranchers burned hundreds of thousands of acres annually to manage their lands, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.
That was phased out in the 1980s after California's fire management agency stepped in to take over the burns, and by the last decade, the amount of acreage being treated had dropped to less than 10,000 acres annually, Quinn-Davidson said.
Former agricultural land that rings many towns in the state became overgrown, even as housing developments pushed deeper into those rural areas. That was the situation in the Northern California town of Redding leading up to a fire that began in July and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. It was blamed for eight deaths.
"You get these growing cities pushing out - housing developments going right up into brush and wooded areas. One ignition on a bad day, and all that is threatened," Quinn-Davidson said. "These fires are tragic, and they're telling us this is urgent. We can't sit on our hands."
Trump and Brown stir up rhetoric on wildfires but overlook pressing problems
(LA Times) Bettina Boxall, Nov. 14
… Similarly, UC Berkeley fire scientist Scott Stephens said that although climate change is playing a role in wildfire growth, he worries that a focus on global warming can leave the public thinking that “there's really nothing to be done.”
In fact, he said, “Communities could still be better prepared.”
How Does California's Wildlife Cope With Massive Wildfires?
(Atlas Obscura) Anna Kusmer, Nov. 13
While many animals are indeed displaced by wildfires, it's important to note that fire is not wholly bad for landscapes in an ecological sense. In fact, many California ecosystems rely on fire to thrive. “Fire in the human sense can often be catastrophic, but it's not necessarily the same for animals,” says Greg Giusti, a retired University of California researcher and an expert on the relationship between wildfires and wildlife. He says California wildlife have evolved to respond to fires, and can even sometimes benefit from the disruption. “It's harsh out there, but you know these animals have evolved to survive in that hostile environment.”
There are a variety to survival tactics that California wildlife will use, says Giusti. For example, birds are easily able to fly away and are usually not impacted as long as fires don't occur during the spring when they are nesting and raising their offspring.
The Manmade Causes Of California's Endless Fire Season
(OnPoint) Meghna Chakrabarti, Nov 13
California's endless fire season. Whether it's climate change, development or forest management, we'll look at the causes — all manmade.
Scott McLean, deputy chief, chief of information for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Ryan Lillis, reporter for the Sacramento Bee who has covered most of Northern California's fires for last 12 years. (@Ryan_Lillis)
J. Keith Gilless, professor of forest economics at University of California, Berkeley and chair of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection on Cal Fire's policy board.
Glen MacDonald, professor of geography at University of California, Los Angeles who has spent decades studying climate and the effects of wildfires. He and his family were among the hundreds of thousands of people who evacuated their homes because of the Woolsey Fire. (@GlenMMacDonald1)
California Must Better Prepare For The Inevitability Of Future Fires (reprint of The Conversation originally published in August)
(Pacific Standard) Max Moritz, Naomi Tague & Sarah Anderson, Nov 13
Wildfire has been an integral part of California ecosystems for centuries. Now, however, nearly a third of homes in California are in wildland urban interface areas where houses intermingling with wildlands and fire is a natural phenomenon. Just as Californians must live with earthquake risk, they must live with wildfires.
Forest management debate
(KTVU) Heather Holmes, Nov. 12
In a live interview, Bill Stewart, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, said,
“It was actually on the private land that we saw better performance in terms of being able to put out the fire quicker and a lot less smoke being produced. There is a package of vegetation management and fire suppression on private lands that have proved to be more effective than what's being used on federal land.
“What we found is about half the difference comes from the private land managers do more aggressive timber harvesting and some of that profit they spend to reduce the shrubs and fuels that are on the ground because they have that cashflow. They're protecting their long-term assets. The other half is CALFIRE is much more aggressive when it comes to fire suppression in forests or shrublands.
Trump's Misleading Claims About California's Fire ‘Mismanagement'
(New York Times) Kendra Pierre-Louis, Nov. 12
…Mr. Trump is suggesting that forest management played a role, but California's current wildfires aren't forest fires.
“These fires aren't even in forests,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
…“We have vulnerable housing stock already out there on the landscape. These are structures that were often built to building codes from earlier decades and they're not as fire resistant as they could be,” Dr. Moritz said. “This issue of where and how we built our homes has left us very exposed to home losses and fatalities like these.”
California's year-round wildfire threat: Why aren't communities doing more?
(SF Chronicle) Peter Fimrite and Kurtis Alexander Nov. 10,
…“To have a president come out and say it's all because of forest management is ridiculous. It completely ignores the dynamic of what's going on around us.” said LeRoy Westerling, a climate and fire scientist at UC Merced, who blamed the increasing number of fires on rising temperatures and more variable precipitation, leading to longer spells of dry weather.
…“It's like a tragic replay of last year, with strong winds in both Northern California and Southern California blowing fire,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, recalling the 2017 Wine Country fires and the Thomas Fire, which burned through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December.
…“We had a lot of discussion after the fires last year about the liability issue with utilities, but it's interesting to see what didn't happen,” Moritz said. “Nobody has talked about mapping neighborhoods and homes in fire-prone areas like they do in flood plain hazard zones, engineering resilience into communities, or building a little smarter.”
…Everybody agrees the situation is dire. Fire officials blame shorter winters, hotter temperatures and drier vegetation, but very little is being done to improve the situation, said Scott Stevens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley.
“There is an under-appreciation of fire risk in a lot of communities,” Stevens said. “It feels like we can do better at allowing local communities to access information, reduce their vulnerability and understand their vulnerability a little bit more.”
Stevens urged the creation of cooperative programs at his and other universities that would allow local government officials to collaborate with fire experts on safety planning.
California's most destructive wildfire should not have come as a surprise
(LA Times) Bettina Boxall and Paige St. John
…“We have these Santa Ana-like events happening in places that are appearing to catch people by surprise,” said Max Moritz, a cooperative extension wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School. “But they shouldn't be catching people by surprise.”
“These are areas that have burned before,” he said. “And if we were to go back and do the wind mapping, we would find that at some intervals, these areas are prone to these north and northeasterly Santa Ana-like events.”
… “We have all kinds of tools to help us do this smarter, to build in a more sustainable way and to co-exist with fire,” he said. “But everybody throws up their hands and says, ‘Oh, all land-use planning is local. You can't tell people that they can't build there.' And the conversation stops right there.”
UC: Tariffs could cost fruit, nut industries over $3 billion
(Farm Press) Aug. 15
A new report released by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center estimates the higher tariffs could cost major U.S. fruit and nut industries $2.64 billion per year in exports to countries imposing the higher tariffs, and as much as $3.34 billion by reducing prices in alternative markets.
Evacuation priorities: Save people first, then livestock
(Ag Alert) Kathy Coatney, Aug. 15
"It's generally too difficult to get trucks out on such a short notice," said Glenn Nader, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor emeritus for Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties.
… Carissa Koopmann Rivers, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Siskiyou County, said the Klamathon fire, first reported in early July, devastated the town of Hornbrook, which is situated in a cattle-producing area.
…Ricky Satomi, UCCE forestry advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties, said if there's a wildfire and a person has advanced notice, there are several things that can be done to save buildings before evacuating.
Tariffs Could Cost California Growers Billions
(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Aug. 15
A new study from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center finds that tariffs on 10 fruit and tree nut exports alone are estimated to cost the U.S. $3.4 billion annually.
Interior Secretary: Environmental policies, poor forest management to blame for wildfires
(Circa) Leandra Bernstein, Aug. 14
…"Together, poor land management, poor land use planning and the onset of climate change, we have created the perfect environment for the perfect firestorm in California. It's completely expected and it's going to get worse," explained Dr. Kate Wilkin, a fire scientist at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Looming Chlorpyrifos Ban Has ‘Natural' Pesticide Makers Buzzing
(Bloomberg) Tiffany Stecker, Aug. 14
...Alternatives may be available, but they lack the punch of chlorpyrifos, which kills multiple pests at once, Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a scientist working with citrus farmers as part of the University of California Cooperative Extension, told Bloomberg Environment.
Fierce and Unpredictable: How Wildfires Became Infernos
(New York Times) Jim Robbins, Aug. 13
…Triple-digit temperatures “preheat the fuels, and it makes them much more receptive to igniting,” said Scott L. Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
In California's new wildfire reality, facing the need for periodic fires to clear fuel
(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Aug. 13
While misguided forest- management policies are just one reason that fire has become more devastating, a warming climate and more development in California's wildlands also contribute, making planned burning vital, said wildfire specialist Max Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“We need to become more comfortable with fire as a tool,” he said. “Prescribed fire could do a lot of good, restoring these forests to healthy conditions and reducing the fire hazard.”
8/13/18 Trade Tensions
(NewsTalk 780 KOH) Jon Sanchez Show, Aug. 13
Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agriculture Issues Center, discussed the impact of trade tariffs on agriculture and U.S. economy with Jon Sanchez
UCCE Manure Nitrogen Study Update in Dairy Feed Crops
(California Dairy Magazine) Aug. 10
It takes time for the nitrogen found in dairy manure water to become available to feed crops out in the field, and as dairy producers don't want to under or over fertilize their feed crops, the UC Cooperative Extension is conducting a research trial to find out more regarding how manure water interacts in the soil with plant root systems. Watch this brief interview UC Agronomy Advisor Nicholas Clark as he summarizes a recent presentation he shared at the Golden State Dairy Management Conference.
Trees vital as heat waves ravage Southland, experts and L.A. officials say
(Hub LA) Hugo Guzman, Aug. 10
…Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension are helping do just that. In partnership with the United States Forest Service, researchers there have launched a 20-year study to identify trees that can withstand higher temperatures and lower rainfall. Native trees such as the Catalina Cherry and Ironwood trees, along with imports like Ghost Gum and Acacia trees, could form the future of L.A.'s canopy.
Elkus Ranch brings kids to nature
(Half Moon Bay Review) Max Paik, Aug. 8
“I think it's important that the children get to see what it takes to care for farm animals … from the cute to the somewhat smelly,” said Igor Lacan, environmental horticulture adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, which runs the ranch.
What These Wildfires Say About Climate Change
(OnPoint NPR) Eric Westervelt, Aug. 8
- Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state's fire agency.
- Ryan Lillis, reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered most of Northern California's fires for the last 12 years. (@Ryan_Lillis)
- Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser with the University of California's Cooperative Extension, which works with counties and communities in the state on managing the threat of wildfires. Northern California coordinator of the California Fire Science Consortium. (@lenyaqd)
Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at
Pennsylvania State University. Co-author of "The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy." (@MichaelEMann)
Drought may be increasing camel cricket numbers
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 8
A few years ago, University of California viticulture and pest management advisors noticed unusual leaf symptoms in certain Napa County hillside vineyards that were right next to oak woodlands.
As described by the UC Cooperative Extension's Monica Cooper and Lucia Varela, the feeding activity they noted in April 2015 resulted in a “lace-like” appearance to damaged leaves. Then last year, in March, they observed feeding damage to expanding buds.
… Where vineyards have come into play is when they were situated on hillsides next to oak woodlands and mixed species of white alders, madrone, California bay, and Douglas fir, according to Varela, a north coast integrated pest management advisor, and Rhonda Smith, a UCCE viticulture advisor.
Yes, humans have made wildfires like the Carr fire worse. Here's how.
(Washington Post) Sarah Kaplan, Aug. 8
…Many forests in the western United States are “fire adapted” said Scott Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Natural wildfires every 5, 10 or 20 years help clear debris from the forest floor and make room for stronger, healthier trees.
…Wildfires are as unstoppable as hurricanes, Stephens said — and much like hurricanes, increasingly inevitable as the climate changes. “But you could do a lot more when you're getting ready for fire to inevitably occur,” he said. By building with fire-safe materials, establishing buffer zones between ecosystems and communities, and better caring for forests before fire season starts, some of the destructiveness of fires could be mitigated, Stephens said.
The staggering scale of California's wildfires
(New York Times) Lisa Friedman, Jose A. Del Real, Aug. 8
…Lisa: Mr. Trump in his tweet referred to the longstanding dispute between California farmers and environmentalists over the allocation of the state's precious water resources. Both sides want more and Mr. Trump has embraced the arguments of the agriculture community.
But William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley said leaving less water for fish would have no impact on amount available for fighting fires. That water comes from local streams and rivers, where water-dropping helicopters drop their buckets. Neither he nor other scientists could point to a scenario in which California's environmental laws have prevented or curbed the use of water to fight wildfires.
California giving out $170 million in cap-and-trade revenue to help prevent wildfires
(San Francisco Chronicle) Kimberly Veklerov, Aug. 8
…Groups in six Bay Area counties will get a combined $7.4 million. The biggest portion of that, $3.6 million, will go to UC Berkeley. The Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2016 withdrew what would have been an award of roughly the same amount to thin and remove eucalyptus trees in the East Bay hills after a lawsuit by conservation activists.
…Keith Gilless, chairman of Cal Fire, said the state needs to do much more vegetation management — activities like reducing hazardous plant fuels — to address wildfire risk.
“One of the things we need in California moving forward is striking a better balance between carbon sequestration in forests and the risk associated with that densely stocked carbon sequestration,” said Gilless, also a UC Berkeley professor of forest economics. “We need to figure out ways to do vegetation management that are socially acceptable with the smallest public subsidy possible.”
These California counties have the highest concentration of homes vulnerable to wildfire
(Sac Bee) Michael Finch II, Aug. 7
In the case of the northern counties, the risk will be higher because homes there often dispersed at the edge of a wildland area, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a Eureka-based fire advisor for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“Those areas that you mentioned are areas that have a lot of homes mixed into the wildland-urban interface — areas where there are a lot of homes that are edgy and in the forest and have a lot of fuel.”
Can More Logging Help Prevent California Wildfires?
(KQED) Forum, Aug. 7
Cal Fire officials announced yesterday that the Mendocino Complex fire grew to over 283,000 acres, making it the largest in state history. As wildfires across the state rage on, Governor Brown and some lawmakers are calling for increased forest thinning to lessen the threat posed by fires. Those in favor of logging say that removing trees and vegetation can help reduce a fire's intensity and make forests more resilient. Opponents say thinning does nothing to protect communities from fires and imperils species that depend on dense forests. We'll take up the debate.
Chad Hanson, director, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute ; co-author, "Nature's Phoenix: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires"
Molly Peterson, reporter on assignment for KQED News
Scott Stephens, professor of fire science at the College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley
Rich Gordon, president and CEO, California Forestry Association, former assemblymember representing California's 21st district
Jim Wood, assemblymember for district 2, Sonoma County, a member of the Senate and Assembly conference committee on wildfire preparedness and response
Trump wants to clear more trees to halt fires. The feds need to spend more, experts say.
(Sac Bee) Emily Cadei and Kate Irby, Aug. 7
“I think for a number of years the feds were more ahead of this dilemma, at least in discussions,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. But “I have to say right now, I think the state is moving ahead. It's certainly being more innovative, it's doing more policy work.”
Trump says California's water policies are making the wildfires worse. Is he right?
(Sac Bee) Dale Kasler, Aug. 6
William Stewart, a forestry management expert at UC Cooperative Extension, agreed. “The entity that's doing the worst job are the people working for him,” Stewart said, referring to Trump.
Stewart said the Carr Fire, which killed seven people and forced mass evacuations in and around Redding, started in shrub and grasslands west of the city, not in the forests. Only lately, after the threat to Redding abated, has the fire moved north onto Forest Service land and forested property owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, he said.
California Groundwater Law Means Big Changes Above Ground, Too
(Water Deeply) Matt Weiser, Aug. 6
The best groundwater recharge areas have certain soil types that are good at absorbing water. These areas have already been mapped by, among others, the California Soil Resource Lab at the University of California, Davis. [Tobi o'Geen's lab]
Cal Fire responds to President Trump's tweet about state wildfires
(ABC7) Rob McMillan, Aug. 6
Cal Fire and a researcher from UC Riverside responded to Donald Trump's tweet related to the state's wildfires on Monday.
"Thinning would be a good idea, but the question is how you thin properly," UC Riverside's Dr. Richard Minnich said.
"There are too many trees in the ground sucking the ground dry. That's one of the reasons you had so many trees die in the Sierras."
But Minnich says that there is plenty of water in California. Shasta is the biggest reservoir in the state and it's currently more than two-thirds full.
California Wildfires: It's a people problem
(East Bay Times) Lisa Krieger, Aug. 5
Even as fires rage across California, thousands of new homes are being built deeper into our flammable foothills and forests, as lethal as they are lovely.
A big reason why: It's harder to do controlled burns — one of the most effective fire suppression techniques — near residential areas, due to smoke concerns. Until the 1970's, fire suppression tended to minimize fire spread.
“If homes are sprinkled through the landscape, you take that key tool off the table,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources.
Report: Future climate could affect street trees
(Turlock Journal) Kristina Hacker, Aug. 3
Eighty-one years from now, Turlock's climate could resemble more of southeast California's high desert areas, according to a new report that says inland California municipalities should consider increasing temperatures due to climate change when planting street trees.
…"Urban foresters in inland cities of California should begin reconsidering their palettes of common street trees to prepare for warmer conditions expected in 2099 due to climate change," said the study's co-author, Igor Lacan, UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in the Bay Area.
Wildfires force California to reckon with a not-so-new normal
(Christian Science Monitor) Martin Kuz, Aug. 3
…The committee's focus on improving utility grid safety and examining the liability of power companies reflects the causes of several blazes in 2017. The absence of land use planning from its agenda suggests what Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, describes as a “political will problem.”
“If you want to keep communities safe, then you have to think about living differently, about where and how we build our communities,” he says. “But there's no bill in the legislature about that.”
Will smoke taint summer harvests in the Mother Lode?
(The Union Democrat) Giuseppe Ricapito, Aug. 3
Drift smoke from the Ferguson Fire has some Tuolumne County vintners and agriculturalists concerned about the commercial viability of the early fall grape harvest, but one forestry official with the University of California noted that the native wilderness of the Mother Lode has a developed adaptability to smoky conditions.
Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor with the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Central Sierra Cooperative Extension, said that “smoke taint” of commercial agriculture was always a concern during fire season.
“It's grapes we worry about the most,” she said. “In the past there have been bad years when there was a lot of smoke where grapes were on the vine and wineries had to produce the smoky wine because of that effect.”
Coyote encounters expected to rise during heat and drought
(ABC 10) Jared Aarons, Allison Horn, Aug. 2
The record-breaking heat and drought are forcing animals, including coyotes, out of their natural habitats and closer to humans…
The University of California Coyote Catcher website tracks sightings and attacks. Their figures for 2018 show coyote incidents are down compared to last year. In 2017, there were 142 coyote attacks. More than halfway through 2018, San Diego is on track to stay below that number, with 64 attacks.
According to the website, there have been six reported pet deaths this year.
Backyard chickens are dying in droves in SoCal. Will disease spread to Valley?
(Fresno Bee) Robert Rodriguez, Aug. 2
Maurice Pitesky, a veterinarian and University of California extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, said backyard chicken owners should closely watch their flocks.
Symptoms include, sneezing, coughing, green watery diarrhea, neck twisting, paralysis, decreased egg production and swelling around the eyes and neck.
Growers prepare for smaller prune harvest
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug 2
…With guidance from University of California Cooperative Extension advisors, growers have been paying close attention to tree water stress and sugar levels in the weeks leading up to the harvest, which was expected to begin in about the third week of August.
… “It's probably going to vary a little bit because the cropping is really variable,” UCCE advisor emeritus Rick Buchner says of the prune crop. “Some of it is good and some is really light. We had a heck of a time pollinating them.”
…“Harvest can be a nerve-wracking time in the prune business,” UCCE advisors Franz Niederholzer and Wilbur Reil note in a California Dried Plum Board blog post. “The finish line – when the entire crop is in the bins – may be in sight, but here are still tough decisions to be made that influence your bottom line.”
…In general, harvest can be expected roughly 30 days after the first healthy fruit in an orchard starts changing color, UCCE orchard advisor Katherine Jarvis-Shean explains in a separate blog post. She urged growers to time their irrigation cut-off to improve dry-away ratios, reduce premature fruit drop and decrease shaker bark damage at harvest.
Researchers look at ways to improve onion yields
(Ag Alert) Padma Nagappan, Aug. 1
Jairo Diaz-Ramirez and five other scientists have recently completed year two of an irrigation trial for onions, testing furrow and drip irrigation, and found that their methods produced good results, without water distress or soil tension. They tested the Taipan variety of onions.
Agricultural advances draw opposition that blunts innovation
(Science) Anne Q. Hoy, June 29
Scientists are using technology to expand global food production and ease its environmental impact, but advances are being challenged by claims that lack scientific evidence and raise public distrust and concern, a leading agricultural scientist told an American Association for the Advancement of Science audience.
Alison Van Eenennaam traced the advent of campaigns against agricultural innovations related to areas from cattle and chicken production systems to plant biotechnology. The impact such efforts are having on agricultural advances was the focus of the ninth annual AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture on 5 June at the AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
UC Davis Experts Help Farmers, Ranchers Profit in Growing Trend
(Cal Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, June 29
Many farmers could benefit from agritourism and the added value it brings, but developing successful agritourism operations can be tricky. Experts at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis are helping farmers and others in the agricultural community understand the regulations, permits, insurance, marketing and other considerations needed to succeed.
“Agritourism operations are more successful when they're part of a supportive community of tourism professionals, county regulators, agriculture regulations and others,” says Gail Feenstra, ASI's food, and society coordinator.
Feenstra and her team recently received a $73,000 grant from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, to develop training, resources and peer support for farmers and ranchers considering agritourism. Feenstra is working with Penny Leff, ASI's statewide agritourism coordinator and team project manager.
Green thumbs at the Marin County Fair
Wendy Irving, June 29
…UC Marin master gardeners is a group of more than 300 trained volunteers who work as non-paid staff members of the University of California Cooperative Extension. There are master gardener programs in 50 counties across California; our Marin group is one of the largest and most active.
Answer to how urban coyotes thrive is not for weak-stomached
(Texarkana Gazette) From the LA Times, June 29
This scientific study is a coyote postmortem on an unprecedented scale—it has so far documented the contents of 104 stomachs and intends to examine 300 by the end of the year. The team, led by Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension's human-wildlife interactions advisor, is already generating a wealth of data to better understand how these omnivorous canids sample everything from pocket gophers to hiking boots while managing to survive in a land of 20 million people.
Mechanized vineyard saves labor, boosts quality
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 27
Kaan Kurtural started working on a fully mechanized vineyard to help growers save on labor costs, but then he noticed it also produced grapes with superior quality.
“We made wine from these last year and compared it to our traditionally-farmed vineyards,” says Kurtural, a specialist in the University of California-Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “Until we tell people what it is, they can't distinguish the quality of the fruit or the wine.”
He demonstrated the 40-acre experimental vineyard during a recent field day at the UC-Davis Oakville Station north of Napa. About 200 winegrape growers, vineyard consultants, and other industry representatives attended.
Several methods available to control vineyard weeds
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 27
As most fumigants in California are being phased out, growers are having to find other ways to control weeds in young vineyards.
And while weeding by hand has been done, increased costs and a shrinking labor force have made this task impractical, says John Roncoroni, University of California Cooperative Extension Weed Science Farm Advisor in Napa County.
New podcast offers advice to California farmers
(Capital Press) Padma Naggapan, June 26
Two enterprising farm advisors with the University of California's cooperative extension have begun a podcast that will focus on tree crops and other produce grown in the Central Valley.
Called “Growing the Valley,” the podcast will have a new episode every two weeks, with each episode focused on news growers can use, such as managing specific pests, irrigation techniques, alerts about what to watch out for, and what tasks to take care of at particular times of the year.
Proactive Pawnee Fire response in Lake County seeks to avoid another catastrophe
(SF Chronicle) Lizzie Johnson, June 25
“I've never seen so much focused attention in Sacramento on the issue,” said Keith Gilless, a professor of forest economics and dean of the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley.
“Last year, 2017, got everybody's attention,” said Gilless, chair of the California State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. “Last year was just terrible. Everybody involved is doing their best to be as prepared as we can. Any area might burn now, including those with much higher structure densities than they did 20 or 50 years ago.
“You are going to need a lot of resources that you might not have needed before,” he said. “The state is being very aggressive in its suppression efforts.”
UC's Humiston welcomes visiting Chinese ag scientists
(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 25
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources vice president Glenda Humiston recently welcomed a delegation of Chinese agricultural scientists to UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake, reported Danielle Jester in the Siskiyou Daily News.
With vineyard labor scarce, Napa growers warm up to machines
(Napa Valley Register) Henry Lutz, June 24
On a recent morning at the UC Davis Oakville Experimental Station, extension specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural walked along the edge of an especially tall block of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Planted in 2016, the block hosts 1,340 vines and produces roughly 15 to 18 pounds of fruit per vine. “So it'll be yielding quite nice,” Kurtural said as he walked down the 62-inch tall rows.
Far more notable than the vineyard's fruit, however, is how it gets farmed.
“There are no hand practices out here,” said Kurtural. “Everything is done by machine.”
Early Detection Key to Managing Ceratocystis Canker in Almonds
(Growing Produce) Dianne Munson, June 22
...Based on a statewide survey out of the Department of Pathology at University of California, Davis, canker diseases are the primary cause of tree death in almond orchards, and Ceratocystis canker is one of the most prevailing canker diseases found in California. This canker disease is aggressive, but it doesn't have to mean disaster.
“If you know what to look for, the disease is manageable,” says Florent Trouillas, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis.
California has 27M more dead trees than in 2016, but numbers may be easing in some areas
(Ventura County Star) Cheri Carlson, June 22
“Trees aren't getting moisture that they need to be healthy and they're stressed,” said Susan Kocher, a natural resources adviser for UC Cooperative Extension. “We had a huge insect outbreak because of the drought.”
Kocher, based in South Lake Tahoe, focuses on the Central Sierra, where stands of ponderosa pines were hit hard by beetle attacks.
…The highest risk of fire is when trees still have their needles – the so-called “red and dead” phase, Kocher said. Green needles turn red, and those dried-out needles are a particularly flashy fuel, like tinder in a campfire. Once the needles fall off, the risk drops a bit.
Chinese scientists visit Tulelake
(Siskiyou Daily News) Danielle Jester, June 20
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake hosted a group of scientists from Chinese universities on Sunday; the scientists are on a tour of agriculture in northern California through June 22.
University of California Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston explained the purpose of the tour, noting, “The Chinese face many of the same issues that we do here in the U.S. The Chinese universities want to improve rural economic development to lift up the quality of life for people in rural communities.
“They are also responding to global climate change, drought and pests while trying to improve food security and water use efficiency. They see UC Cooperative Extension as an effective research model; we hope that scientific collaborations will accelerate solutions and help maintain relations for California agriculture with China.”
It's summer. Here's how to preserve those fresh fruits and veggies
(San Luis Obispo Tribune) Rosemary Orr, June 20
June in San Luis Obispo County is a wonderful time to start preserving our summer bounty of fruits and vegetables.
The UCCE Master Food Preservers will teach the basic principles of food preservation and canning in its Introduction to Canning class on Saturday.
With wildfire season at hand, California on slightly safer footing this year
(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, June 17
… But as significant, and plentiful, as the new fire-protection measures are, they merely nip at the edge of an underlying issue: that fire is a constant in California, and as long as people choose to live in and around the state's wildlands, experts say, the threat remains.
"I would not be surprised if we have another big fire," said Bill Stewart, forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. "I just don't think we're where we need to be."
… “We really haven't put together the pieces of a resilient fire strategy in local areas,” Stewart said.
Reducing food waste to combat world hunger
(Morning Ag Clips) June 17
One-third of the world's food is spoiled or tossed rather than eaten, a fact that is tragic when nearly one billion people go hungry. The injustice of food waste is worsened by the fact that food decomposing in landfills emits greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
UC Cooperative Extension is working closely with the cities and county of Santa Clara in a far-reaching program to divert organic matter – food and green waste – from landfills by composting and using the product to enrich soil in the home garden.
From dendrometers to drones, devices drive ag-tech boom
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 16
Agriculture across the country is going high-tech, and California is leading the way as the tree nut and other industries are looking for ways to save water.
Agriculture across the country is going high-tech, as the ag and food sectors invested $10.1 billion in digital technologies in 2017, according to a University of California study. That's up from $3.2 billion in 2016, reports the UC's Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics.
In California, which was the leading state last year with $2.2 billion spent to adopt new technologies in ag and food production, UC Cooperative Extension researchers are researching or developing lots of new, innovative ideas. And growers are putting them to work in their fields and orchards.
Santa Barbara County Avocado Farmer Struggles to Find Workers Amid Immigration Crackdown
(CNN Money/KTLA) Kristen Holmes, June 15
…“The crops that are most affected are the ones that use hired labor,” explains Daniel Sumner, director of the University of California, Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, pointing to avocados, berries and tree fruits. “It's really now through the rest of the summer that we're going to hear more and more farmers and farm workers rushing to get a harvest in with really not enough labor force to do it. And that's a real challenge. It may mean that we have crops rotting in the fields.”
Research Nets Going Over Citrus Trees To Prevent Huanglongbing Disease
(Cal Ag Today) Jessica Theisman, June 15
Beth Grafton-Cardwell is the director of the Lindcove Research Extension Center in Tulare County and research entomologist based out of the University of California, Riverside. She recently told California Ag Today that there is work being done on installing a net structure to protect trees from Asian Citrus Psyllids, which spread the deadly Huanglongbing disease. Texas A&M researchers are installing net structures on the edge of groves to block psyllids from coming into an orchard.
Overburdened growers fuel an ag-tech investment boom
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 14
…While ag was slower than some other industries at adopting digital technologies, farm and food sector investments in these technologies zoomed to $10.1 billion nationwide last year, up from $3.2 billion in 2016, according to a new University of California report.
California was the leading state for ag-tech investments with $2.2 billion in 2017, or 22 percent of the total, and ag and food producers in the Golden State spent $5.1 billion on new technologies between 2012 and 2017, reports the UC Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics.
UCD Oakville Field Day Highlights: Trellis Trials, Red Blotch Vector Update, Mechanization Tools
(Wine Business) Ted Rieger, June 12
The University of California, Davis (UCD) hosted its annual Grape Day at the Oakville Station experimental vineyard in Napa Valley June 6 with talks and presentations by UC Cooperative Extension specialists, and presentations and equipment demos from vineyard industry suppliers.
UCD viticulture extension specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural showed a trial planted in 2016 with six different trellis systems designed for mechanical harvest in a 1-acre block at the experimental vineyard using Cabernet Sauvignon 08 on 3309 rootstock. The six trellis types include: a traditional vertical-shoot- positioned (VSP) trellis as a control; a single high-wire system designed for mechanized management; a high-quad system; a cane-pruned system with 12-inch cross arms for a sprawl-type canopy; and two versions of a relaxed VSP, one with a T-top post for a wider canopy.
Local groups offer water measurement course
(Siskiyou Daily News) June 12
The Siskiyou County Cattlemen, Siskiyou County Farm Bureau and University of California, Cooperative Extension will sponsor a Water Measurement and Reporting Course in order to comply with Senate Bill 88.
New Potato Varieties Displayed at Field Day in Kern County
(AgNet West) Brian German, June 11
Dozens of industry professionals took part in the annual Kern County Potato Variety Field Day where attendees got an opportunity to view new potato varieties and see the progress of ongoing growing trials.
“The potato field day in Kern County has a long history, it's been going on for generations essentially,” said Farm Advisor Emeritus with Kern County Cooperative Extension Joe Nunez. “It's an opportunity for the growers to see all the new varieties that are being developed throughout the country and see how they perform here in Kern County because our growing conditions here are a little bit different than where most of the potato varieties are being developed.”
Debating California Tillage
(Farm Equipment) Alan Stenum, June 9
Despite differing opinions, Alan Wilcox, of Wilcox Agri-Products and Jeff Mitchell, no-till advocate at University of California–Davis, sat down during World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., to discuss the challenges and the opportunities for conservation tillage practices to take hold in California's Central Valley.
Letter: Residents get primer on fire preparedness
(Chico Enterprise-Record) Calli-Jane DeAnda, June 8
May was wildfire awareness month and the community participated in the wildfire safety fair at Lake Oroville Visitor Center on Saturday, May 19. At this fantastic event community members were able to get information about how to sign up for emergency notifications, access the evacuation preparedness plan, get wildfire recovery information and get tips for protecting homes from wildfire.
Kate Wilkin, UC Cooperative Extension, provided two presentations on prescribed fire and ways to protect homes from wildfire. Local fire-safe councils were there to answer the question: What does a fire-safe council do?
Why a Decline in Insects Should Bug You
(Wall Street Journal) Jo Craven McGinty, June 8
Entomologists want to put a bug in your ear: Insects are necessary for the survival of mankind.
“It's the classic third-grade food chain,” said Richard Redak, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, and co-author of the book “Bugs Rule!” “If you pull insects out, you've got a problem.”
…“Any organic product in a human's life probably has a beneficial insect and a pesty insect,” Dr. Redak said. “The pesty ones are an incredibly small fraction of the total. Those that are not a problem are critical to the ecosystem.”
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Officially Deemed Pest of California Almonds
(Growing Produce) David Eddy, June 7
Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is certainly not new to California growers, but in the wake of some more troubling finds, it is now officially a pest of almonds.
Almonds are now listed as a preferred host on the Stop BMSB website, which was created by a team of researchers from all over the country dedicated to finding a way to stop the pest from damaging a wide range of crops.
One of those researchers is Jhalendra Rijal, University of California Cooperative Extension Area IPM Advisor for San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, who said the first such damage was just two years ago, when they were found in peaches. The actual first finding in the state was three years before that, in Sacramento, but despite being a very large find, they never appeared to spread, adding to the mystery of BMSB movement.
Visible smoke coming from UC field station burn
(The Union) June 7
Nevada County residents wondering why there is smoke in the air coming from our neighbors to the west today may be seeing smoke from a live fire training held by the University of California Cooperative and Extension at a field station in Browns Valley, according to Cal Fire spokesperson Mary Eldridge.
UCCE advisors launch 'Growing the Valley' podcast
(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 5
A new UC Cooperative Extension podcast that focuses on growing orchard crops in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys is now available free at http://growingthevalleypodcast.com, Apple iTunes and Google Play Music.
The hosts are Phoebe Gordon, UCCE orchard systems advisor in Madera and Merced counties, and Luke Milliron, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Butte, Tehama and Glenn counties. The pair conduct research and extension programs that cover tree crops, with a focus on almonds, pistachios, walnuts, prunes, figs and cling peaches.
7 Highlights from the 2018 World Meat Congress
(Pork) U.S. Meat Export Federation, June 4
The 2018 World Meat Congress concluded Friday with sessions focused on consumer trends and education, as well as an in-depth look at cutting-edge technologies reshaping meat production around the world. The 22nd World Meat Congress was held in Dallas May 31 and June 1. Hosted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), the event drew about 700 participants from more than 40 countries.
…The panel featured Gary Rodrigue, blockchain food trust leader for the IBM Corporation; Dr. Martin Wiedmann, Gellert family professor in food safety at Cornell University; and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative extension specialist for animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California-Davis.
… Van Eenennaam, whose program at UC-Davis focuses on research and education around the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems, explained the value of gene editing. For example, research is underway to utilize gene editing to prevent such diseases as African swine fever in hogs and tuberculosis in cattle.
“What better way to approach dealing with disease than through genetic improvement?” she noted.
Use of gene editing to introduce the polled trait into elite germplasm
(Progressive Dairyman) Alison L. Van Eenennaam and Maci L. Mueller, June 4
Physical dehorning of dairy cattle is a standard practice to protect both human dairy workers and other animals from injury. However, it is not only costly for producers, but also painful and stressful for the animals. As a result, dehorning is currently facing increased public scrutiny as an animal welfare issue. Despite these factors, 94 percent of U.S. dairy cattle producers report routine dehorning.
Early Ripening Grapes Could Revolutionize Raisin Production
(Growing Produce) Matthew Fidelibus, June 2, 2018
The USDA-ARS raisin grape breeding program has long focused on the development of early ripening varieties. Early ripening allows drying to begin sooner, thus helping to avoid inclement weather and enable production of dry-on-vine (DOV) raisins. ‘Fiesta' and ‘Selma Pete' are examples of early ripening raisin grapes from the USDA that have helped change the way California raisins are made.
Weather is one factor causing greater wildfire damage in California, but more critical is the state's exploding population, spawning communities in the once sparsely inhabited ranch and timberland regions long known to burn, reported Scott Smith of Associated Press. The story was picked up by the New York Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the Texarkana Gazette, and other publications.
The Erskine Fire destroyed 285 homes and an AT&T microwave cell hub in a rural-residential neighborhood near Lake Isabella last month. Twelve more homes were damaged. An elderly couple died of smoke inhalation.
Bill Stewart, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and co-director of the Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley said rural areas throughout California, where cattle grazed and loggers harvested trees, have given way to subdivisions of homes in the last 50 years. Residents in these places must be aware of the danger, and not rely on the local fire department to tell them when to clear the grass and trees that could easily spread fire to their homes, he said.
"That's the issue — more people living right next to wildland," Stewart said of the wildfire near Lake Isabella. "If no one lived there, this wouldn't have been a big story."
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) forestry expert Bill Stewart joined U.S. Representatives Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) and Tom McClintock (R-California), and an environmentalist in a one-hour discussion about the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 with Michael Krasny on KQED Forum. The act was recently passed by the House and is now awaiting action by the Senate.
During the program, Stewart said there is a need for more research to study different approaches to forestry management.
“Chad (Hanson, the environmentalist) and the representative (McClintock) feel they figured it all out, but there are some big questions worth exploring,” Stewart said.
Hanson is the director of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute.
At the beginning of the discussion, Westerman and Hanson outlined their visions of proper management of federal forests. Westerman said the bill would make forests more healthy and sustainable.
"We're going to have fire," he said. "In California, a lot of resources are being spent on fire suppression. With the Resilient Forests Act we are creating more fire prevention, scientifically. Salvage logging is a part of that. Also, thinning and reducing fuel load."
Hanson said Westerman's points were untrue. He said current efforts to suppress fires and post-fire logging lead to more intense fire in the future and damage wildlife habitat.
Stewart said salvage logging need not be a yes-or-no question.
"It depends how you design that," he said. "Snags (standing dead trees) are important. Do we leave 500 snags per acre, 50, 5 or zero. We can try all four approaches and see."
Stewart pointed out that the Resilient Forestry Act, if passed, would require environmental assessment of active forest management vs. following a hands-off policy.