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Posts Tagged: Daniel Sumner

Prop 12 builds on food animal welfare initiative passed 10 years ago

Proposition 12, a measure on California's Nov. 6 ballot, builds on the successful ballot measure Prop. 2, which 10 years ago required veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens to be kept on farms that allowed them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and extend their limbs, reported Paul Rogers in the Mercury News.

However, CDFA issued guidelines that said chickens could still be kept in cages and be in compliance with the law. That prompted sponsors - including the Humane Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other groups - to propose Prop 12, which will tighten the law. If passed by a simple majority, the new proposition would require 43 square feet of space for each calf raised for veal by 2020, 24 square feet for each breeding pig by 2022 and one square foot per hen by 2020, with all egg-laying hens required to be cage-free by 2022 — in other words, allowed to roam around a barn or large coop. Farmers from other states would also have to comply with these dimensions to sell their products in California.

Since Prop 2 went into effect, egg prices increased by 9 percent. California is also producing fewer eggs. In 2007, 5.3 billion eggs were laid by California chickens, with a value of $346 million. By 2015, California chickens laid 3.5 billion eggs with a value of $210 million. 

Some of the decline would have happened anyway, said economist Daniel Sumner, director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issue Center.

“The egg industry has been declining for decades in California,” Sumner said. “Raising eggs is about converting corn and soybeans to eggs. It's expensive to haul corn and soybeans around. And we don't grow corn and soybeans in California.”

But Sumner predicted if Prop 12 passes, it will raise the price of some types of eggs, perhaps by as much as 50 percent, and the price of veal and pork by about 20 percent.

“People spend 50 to 100 dollars a year on eggs,” Sumner told reporter Lesley McClurg of KQED. “It'll go up to $100 to $150.”

Though another factor could also be at play in egg prices: an uncertain future. 

“The concern for the people investing in these new standards is that it's not at all clear that they're going to last very long,” says Sumner.

The November 2018 ballot measure, Proposition 12, would tighten guidelines for confined food animal housing. (Photo illustration: Pixabay)
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2018 at 4:22 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

August 2018 News Clips 8/1-8/15

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.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/uc-tariffs-could-cost-fruit-nut-industries-over-3-billion

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.

http://agalert.com/story/?id=12106

Tariffs Could Cost California Growers Billions

(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Aug. 15

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.

https://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/tariffs-cost-california-growers-billions/

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.

https://www.circa.com/story/2018/08/14/nation/interior-secretary-environmental-policies-poor-forest-management-to-blame-for-wildfires

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.

https://www.bna.com/looming-chlorpyrifos-ban-n73014481691/

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.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/science/wildfires-physics.html

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.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-s-new-wildfire-reality-2-years-of-13153404.php

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

https://www.spreaker.com/user/10565136/sanchez0813

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.

http://www.californiadairymagazine.com/2018/08/10/ucce-manure-nitrogen-study-update-in-dairy-feed-crops

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.

http://www.hub-la.com/news/trees-heat-waves-ravage-southland-officials/

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.

https://www.hmbreview.com/news/elkus-ranch-brings-kids-to-nature/article_623c066a-9b25-11e8-b7bd-5b37951a239e.html

What These Wildfires Say About Climate Change

(OnPoint NPR) Eric Westervelt, Aug. 8

Guests

  • 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)

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/08/08/mendocino-complex-wildfires-california-climate-change

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.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/drought-may-be-increasing-camel-cricket-numbers

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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/amp-stories/humans-have-made-wildfires-worse-heres-how/

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.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/us/california-today-fires-and-climate.html

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.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-doles-out-170-million-in-13139050.php

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.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article216076320.html#storylink=cpy

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.

Guests:

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

https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101866607/can-more-logging-help-prevent-california-wildfires

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.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216160995.html

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.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216181625.html

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]

https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2018/08/06/california-groundwater-law-means-big-changes-above-ground-too

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.

https://abc7.com/politics/cal-fire-responds-to-president-trumps-tweet-/3896820/

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.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/08/05/california-wildfires-its-a-people-problem/

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.

https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/local/report-future-climate-could-affect-street-trees/

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.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0803/Wildfires-force-California-to-reckon-with-a-not-so-new-normal

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.”

https://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/6425094-151/will-smoke-taint-summer-harvests-in-the-mother

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.

https://www.10news.com/news/coyote-encounters-expected-to-rise-during-heat-and-drought

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.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article215859875.html

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.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/orchard-crops/growers-prepare-smaller-prune-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.

http://agalert.com/story/Default.aspx?id=12068

June 2018 news clips

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.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6396/1413.full

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.

https://californiaagtoday.com/agritourism-california/

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.

http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20180629/FEATURES/180629808 

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.

http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/features/story/2018/jun/29/answer-how-urban-coyotes-thrive-not-weak-stomached/732607/

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.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/mechanized-vineyard-saves-labor-boosts-quality

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.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/several-methods-available-control-vineyard-weeds

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.

http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20180626/new-podcast-offers-advice-to-california-farmers

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.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Proactive-Pawnee-Fire-response-in-Lake-County-13025296.php

UC's Humiston welcomes visiting Chinese ag scientists

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 25

Chinese agricultural scientists explore a potato research field at UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake.

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

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/extension/ucs-humiston-welcomes-visiting-chinese-ag-students

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.”

https://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/with-vineyard-labor-scarce-napa-growers-warm-up-to-machines/article_19f7f5c5-995f-5f21-ba6c-66af1fe6ce11.html   

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.

http://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/ceratocystis-canker-caused-by-the-fungal-pathogen-ceratocystis-fimbriata-is-one-disease-among-a-complex-of-fungal-canker-diseases-that-infect-almond-trees/ 

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.

https://www.vcstar.com/story/news/special-reports/outdoors/2018/06/22/survey-california-drought-millions-more-trees-dead/716277002/

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.”

http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/20180620/chinese-scientists-visit-tulelake

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.

https://www.sanluisobispo.com/living/home-garden/article212766254.html 

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.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/With-wildfire-season-at-hand-state-on-slightly-13000782.php

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.

https://www.morningagclips.com/reducing-food-waste-to-combat-world-hunger/

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.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/technology/dendrometers-drones-devices-drive-ag-tech-boom

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.”

http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/15/news/economy/california-farmer-workers-immigration/index.html
http://ktla.com/2018/06/15/santa-barbara-county-avocado-farmer-struggles-to-find-workers-amid-immigration-crackdown/amp

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.

https://californiaagtoday.com/research-nets-going-citrus-trees-prevent-huanglongbing-disease/

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.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/technology/overburdened-growers-fuel-ag-tech-investment-boom

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.

https://www.winebusiness.com/news/?go=getArticle&dataId=199959

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.

http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/20180612/local-groups-offer-water-measurement-course

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.”

http://agnetwest.com/new-potato-varieties-field-day-kern-county/

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.
https://www.farm-equipment.com/articles/15683-debating-california-tillage

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?

https://www.chicoer.com/2018/06/07/letter-residents-get-primer-on-fire-preparedness/

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.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-a-decline-in-insects-should-bug-you-1528467502 

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.

http://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/brown-marmorated-stink-bug-officially-deemed-pest-california-almonds/

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.

https://www.theunion.com/news/visible-smoke-coming-from-uc-field-station-burn/

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.comApple 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.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/extension/ucce-advisors-launch-growing-valley-podcast

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.

https://www.porkbusiness.com/article/7-highlights-2018-world-meat-congress

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.

https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/a-i-breeding/use-of-gene-editing-to-introduce-the-polled-trait-into-elite-germplasm

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.

http://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/grapes/early-ripening-grapes-revolutionize-raisin-production

May 2018 News Clips

Mien farmers get advice for growing strawberries in Yolo County

(Woodland Daily Democrat) ANR news release, May 31

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/business/20180531/mien-farmers-get-advice-for-growing-strawberries-in-yolo-county

Abnormal Weather Takes a Toll on California Olive Crop

(Ag Net West) Brian German, May 30

The late winter freeze caused significant issues for several different commodities throughout the state and has been especially problematic for the California olive crop.  The fluctuating temperatures have created substantial concern among the industry as bloom looks to be far below normal levels.

“Overall we're a little on the pessimistic side.  The bloom, on the whole, has been pretty poor, many orchards actually have a very light, to next to no bloom at all,” said Dani Lightle, Cooperative Extension Orchard Systems Advisor for Glenn County.  “There's an orchard here or there that looks pretty good, but on the whole, it is a little bit dismal.”

http://agnetwest.com/weather-takes-toll-california-olive-crop/


How Avocados Define LA and the Secret to Making the Best Damn Avocado Toas
t

(LA Taco) Gab Chabran, May 29

…Eric Focht who is a staff research associate in the lab of Mary Lu Arpaia at UC Riverside through UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences tells L.A. Taco that the recent avocado economy boom is “similar to what we see today with something like bitcoin.” He helps run a breeding program at UCR studying different avocados varieties, focusing mostly on Hass avocados but also looking at other less known versions of the popular fruit.

In short, he is working on breeding the perfect avocado that tastes great and is easier, faster, and less water-dependent to grow. This year is shaping out to be a good one for avocados, but this issue is always one to keep in mind.

Focht states that in the future, there will likely be more variety available in the mainstream marketplace. One varietal that Focht gets excited about is the Reed avocado which has now been popping up in places such as Whole Foods. It's known for its round, dinosaur egg shape and is about the size of a softball. It has a relatively large seed but the edible flesh is sometimes double or even triple that of a Haas that can make a lot more people happier per individual fruit.

http://www.lataco.com/how-avocados-define-l-a-and-the-secret-to-making-the-best-damn-avocado-toast/

Amazing graze

(Chico News & Review) Ashiah Scharaga, May 24

When drifting clouds dapple the sky and vibrant wildflowers—tickled pink buds, honey-hued petals and virent stems—awaken in the verdant fields of Table Mountain, explorers quicken their pace. They spot trickling streams and grazing cattle. Occasionally, they look straight down, turning anxious eyes to their mud-slicked heels—did they step in one of the fertile cow-pie mines littered across the landscape?

That may seem a nuisance, but it's a necessity. Tracy Schohr, a livestock and natural resources adviser for University of California Cooperative Extension, said the natural magic of the popular Butte County recreational spot is made possible because of a long-standing grazing program. “If cattle were not actually on Table Mountain Ecological Reserve,” she said, “essentially those invasive species would choke out those native plants, and they wouldn't be there.”

… In the past, grazing was misunderstood and primarily viewed as destructive, said Dave Daley, a fifth-generation Butte County cattleman and associate dean of Chico State's College of Agriculture. He credits changing perspectives to the development of grazing science, fueled by people such as Schohr and Kate Wilkin, a UC Cooperative Extension forestry, fire science and natural resource adviser for Butte, Yuba, Sutter and Nevada counties. (Schohr covers Butte, Plumas and Sierra counties.)

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/amazing-graze/content?oid=26315855

Sheep Shearing 101: Why Aspiring Shavers Flock to This California School

(KQED) Tiffany Camhi, May 23

…“We try to get the students shearing the first day because they make a lot of mistakes,” says John Harper, head of the UC Cooperative Extension Sheep Shearing School in Hopland.

Harper says if you can make the right moves with your feet, everything else falls into place.

“We're dancing instructors,” says Harper. “It's like 'Dancing With The Stars' on steroids, but with sheep.”

Around this time of year, hundreds of thousands of sheep in California need to have their wool shaved off. But Harper says there's a shortage of sheep shearers worldwide.

That's why he started the school in Hopland about 25 years ago.

Dan Macon of the California Wool Growers Association says the growing popularity of backyard flocks in California (usually just a handful of sheep) is adding to the demand for shearers, too.

“Infrastructure of the sheep industry is a key component,” says Macon. “Having people with that kind of skill and willingness to work hard is desperately needed.”

https://www.kqed.org/news/11669643/sheep-shearing-101-why-aspiring-shavers-flock-to-this-california-school

AUDIO: Hey, Salad Lovers: It's OK To Eat Romaine Lettuce Again

(NPR Morning Edition) Allison Aubrey, May 23

…After a big foodborne illness outbreak linked to baby spinach back in 2006, the leafy greens industry put in place a number of procedures to prevent contamination. "Prevention became the major focus after that outbreak," says Michele Jay-Russell, a food safety researcher at the University of California, Davis.

"They set up intensive testing protocols to monitor water quality," Jay-Russell says. The industry also agreed on standardized setbacks — or buffers — to separate growing fields from livestock operations, which can be a source of E.coli contamination. "You want a safe distance from where you're growing fresh produce and where you have concentrations of animals, like on a feedlot or dairy," she says.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/05/22/613254356/cdc-gives-the-all-clear-to-start-eating-romaine-lettuce-again

Are avocados toast?

(Grist) Nathanael Johnson, May 22

…When Katherine Jarvis-Shean was a doctoral candidate researching the decline of cold winters a few years back, she thought more farmers should be freaking out. “I used to think, ‘Why aren't you guys more worried about this? It's going to be the end of the world.'”

After all, many fruit and nut trees require a good winter chill to bear fruit. But after spending a few years as an extension agent for the University of California — working directly with farmers and translating science into techniques they can apply on the land — she understands better. It comes down to this: Farmers have a ton of concerns, and the climate is just one of them.

“If you decide what to plant based on climate, but then can't make the lease payment, that's not sustainable,” Jarvis-Shean said.

https://grist.org/article/whatll-we-eat-in-2050-california-farmers-are-placing-bets/ https://www.wired.com/story/are-avocados-toast/

Lanternflies Eat Everything in Sight. The U.S. Is Looking Delicious.

(New York Times) Zach Montague, May 21

…Native to Asia, lanternflies first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite a quarantine effort, they have also been discovered in small numbers in New York, Delaware and Virginia.

… “Most pests deposit their eggs on their host plant, or very close, so they already have food available,” said Surendra Dara, an adviser at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

“Those that have the advantage of being able to lay eggs on non-plant material obviously have a better chance of surviving and spreading,” he added.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/science/lanternflies-pennsylvania-crops.html

Garbanzos are catching on in Yolo County

(Woodland Daily Democrat, Ag Alert) Bob Johnson, May 19

…“The largest part of our crop goes to canning, maybe 90 percent,” said Paul Gepts, UC Davis plant sciences professor and legume breeder. “California can only compete with high quality products. We have other varieties with higher yields, but the seeds are too small. The growers get a premium for larger, high quality seeds.”

Gepts developed the two newest UC garbanzo varieties, Vega and Pegasus. Both have large, attractive seeds well suited for the canning market, and both have resistance to Ascochyta blight, a fungal disease that can devastate the crop.

… “I think growers are more interested in garbanzos because it's a winter crop, and wheat prices are low,” said Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties. Long is finishing up UC's first Garbanzo Production Manual, which should be available before the end of the year.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/article/NI/20180519/NEWS/180519787

A French Broom smack-down

(Napa Valley Register) Elaine de Man, May 18

…If we all pull together and pay attention, we can eradicate French broom and send it packing. But it's going to take many, many hands and a concerted effort. It's going to take a village.

1. U.C. Agriculture and Natural Resources, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74147.html

https://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/a-french-broom-smack-down/article_cac2f485-4881-563b-84c9-0a5029b1ee40.html

Kale, Not Jail: Urban Farming Nonprofit Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter Society

(New York Times) Patricia Leigh Brown, May 17

Even by the standards of the Bay Area, where sourcing local, organic chicken feed is seen as something of a political act, the spectacle of 30,000 fruit and nut trees being tended by formerly incarcerated orchardists is novel.

…Jennifer Sowerwine, an urban agriculture specialist for the University of California Cooperative Extension at Berkeley, said that Ms. Haleh and Mr. Raders have “shifted the conversation around food justice.”

“It's not just about food security, but the security of providing living wages,” she said. That's no mean feat in a foodie monoculture.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/business/urban-farming-exconvicts-recidivism.html 

Tough winter weather devastates local cherry, blueberry crops

(Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, May 16

It's hard to say at this point just how much damage blueberry fields and cherry orchards sustained during the winter, said Ashraf El-kereamy, viticulture and small fruits advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Kern County.

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/tough-winter-weather-devastates-local-cherry-blueberry-crops/article_3f65d3ce-5957-11e8-9fb4-6779205d0a66.html

Machines take over for people at Napa vineyard

(Capital Press) Tim Hearden, May 14

In the heart of the Napa Valley, a vineyard produces fine Cabernet Sauvignon with virtually no help from laborers.

The 40-acre “touchless vineyard” was established by Kaan Kurtural, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist who has devoted much of his career to improving production efficiency in vineyards as labor shortages have worsened.

…When Kurtural started experimenting with vineyard automation 10 years ago, his primary goal was to save growers money in labor costs, he said. But since then, research has shown that grape quality is superior, largely because the tall canopy protects grapes from sun damage, he said. The system also uses less water than others, he said.

http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20180514/machines-take-over-for-people-at-napa-vineyard

Dozens of strawberry growers gather in Santa Maria to learn latest industry advancements

(KSBY Staff) May 9

More than 100 farmers and growers took park in a meeting teaching them on the best way to grow a healthy strawberry.

The University of California put on the annual event which was free to the public.

Growers discussed improvements handling weeds, disease, and insects.

The Santa Maria Valley is the second largest strawberry growing area in California after the Salinas Valley.

The crop means a lot to people in Santa Maria.

"We've got a number of challenges to the California strawberry industry and we're doing are best to work together," said Steven Fennimore of University of California Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources. "I'm optimistic that we'll find some satisfactory solutions."

Growers talked about all kinds of different ways to boost their crop including ways of using images from aircraft to detect stress in plants.

http://www.ksby.com/story/38155207/dozens-of-strawberry-growers-gather-in-santa-maria-to-learn-latest-industry-advancements

Pesticide Use on California Farms at Near-Record Levels

(Fair Warning) Paul Feldman, May 9

…Some experts say long-term changes in the mix of items farmers produce in California, including increases in almonds and other high value crops, give the agriculture industry the incentive to use more pesticides. Such crops present “a larger economic risk if pests are not controlled,”said Brad Hanson, a weed specialist at the University of California, Davis, plant science department.

Jim Farrar, director of the University of California's statewide integrated pest management program, added that more pesticides are needed when “you move from something like alfalfa and sorghum for dairies, where cosmetic injury isn't a problem … to something like oranges where if there's a blemish on the rind you get downgraded even if the orange is perfectly healthy.”

https://www.fairwarning.org/2018/05/pesticides/

Cherry growers expect lighter crop yields

(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, May 9,

…Kari Arnold, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Stanislaus County, said she's careful not to paint the 2018 cherry season as a disaster year "because it's really not." The crop may not be as robust, she said, but this was somewhat expected, because last year's crop was so big.

What wasn't expected, she said, was the freeze in the spring, which "did cause some damage to flowers." But the damage varied depending on the location of the orchard and whether growers were able to apply frost protection, she added.

"It's still going to be a good crop," she said. "It may not be the same as last year, but they're going to be good cherries. They're probably going to sell at a higher price because there'll be less of them."

She said she's concerned that word of it being a light crop may scare away field help, adding that "it's hard enough to get field labor in the first place anymore, because labor is becoming more and more difficult to come by and more difficult to keep."

http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=11854

Peak Avocado Is Yet to Come

(The Atlantic) Cynthia Graber, Nicola Twilley, May 9

…Its partners in evolution—the giant, elephant-like gomphotheres and three-ton ground sloths that dined on its fruit in return for transporting and then pooping out its giant seed—went extinct soon after the first bipedal apes arrived in the region. Rodents, jaguars, and eventually humans stepped in as dispersal mechanisms, albeit significantly less effective ones. The flourishing avocado forests that carpeted much of Mesoamerica dwindled and died out. And, as Mary Lu Arpaia, who runs the avocado breeding program at the University of California at Riverside, explained, the avocado became a backyard fruit, enjoyed by first the indigenous peoples and later the conquistadors, but rarely cultivated intensively—until recent decades.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/peak-avocado-is-yet-to-come/559883/ 

Climate change ruining California's environment, report warns
(SF Chronicle) Peter Fimrite, May 8, 2018 
“If I were going to look across North America, ground zero for climate change is the Arctic. It is just changing really, really rapidly,” said Steven Beissinger, professor of conservation biology at UC Berkeley. “But California is an important laboratory to understand the effects of climate change on biodiversity.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Climate-change-ruining-California-s-12899272.php

More illnesses with later onset dates linked to romaine outbreak

(The Packer) Ashley Nickle, May 8, 2018

Richard Smith, a University of California Cooperative Extension advisor based in Salinas, also said the outbreak is hurting sales.

“It's having an effect,” Smith said May 7. “This is the problem — lettuce is pretty expensive to grow, and you've got to cover your costs. You can lose money, at this point the bigger growers can afford to lose for a period of time, but then they've got to make it up, and it just makes it hard. We're not sure how the year's going to go.

“I guess the good news is that the consumers are being sophisticated enough to be focusing on the romaine (versus all lettuce) ... The reality is I guess the FDA doesn't want to clear romaine yet because they think that the lettuce from Yuma might have a 21-day shelf life, so until the FDA clears it and then that news gets clearly articulated, I think it's going to be a damper.

https://www.thepacker.com/article/more-illnesses-later-onset-dates-linked-romaine-outbreak

AEI economists say farmers have ‘beef' with Trump

(Hagstrom Report) May 7, 2018

…Daniel Sumner of the University of California at Davis also told The Hagstrom Report that farmers hurt by the administration's trade policies have "a beef" with Trump.

Sumner said that even though the tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum have not yet gone into effect, California farmers including wine and almond producers are already worried. "Even if the tariffs don't happen, the rhetoric has effects," he said.

Sumner also said that Mexican buyers of U.S. dairy products — "reasonable business people in Mexico" — began months ago to contact New Zealand dairy producers about becoming a supplier because the Mexicans are worried about the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation.

https://www.thefencepost.com/news/aei-economists-say-farmers-have-beef-with-trump/

City Visions: Tech and the future of smart, sustainable farming

KALW, May 7, 2018

Host Ethan Elkind and guests explore the impact of new technologies on our agricultural industry.

What are the biggest challenges to our current food production system?  And, how are Bay Area innovators meeting these challenges while promoting sustainability, efficiency and profitability?

Guests:

- Charles Baron, co-founder and vice-president of product at Farmer's Business Network.

- Jaleh Daie, Ph.D., founder and chair of AgriFood Tech and partner at Aurora Equity.

- Glenda Humiston, Ph.D., vice president of University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

http://kalw.org/post/city-visions-tech-and-future-smart-sustainable-farming#stream/0

Workshop planned on Napa fire prevention and best practices

(Napa Valley Register), May 7, 2018

A one-day seminar is planned for May 30 to look at the Napa ecosystem's recovery after the October wildfires and what policies are needed to reduce future fire impacts.

The workshop will be Wednesday, May 30, from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at Napa Valley College's Performing Arts Center, 2277 Napa Vallejo Highway.

Cost is $15 per person, with registration required at http://ucanr.edu/napafireworkshop2018. For more information, call 530-666-8143. 

The program is sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension, Napa County Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

https://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/workshop-planned-on-napa-fire-prevention-and-best-practices/article_571e3754-8904-580e-b620-4fe3fd0e4e91.html

Egg prices plunge as supplies rebound

(Capital Press) Tim Hearden, May 4

 Commercial egg prices in California are plummeting, and a slow global economy combined with a rebounding chicken flock after last year's devastating avian flu outbreak are among the contributing factors.

…At first, Midwestern egg producers that didn't want to retrofit their barns simply avoided California. Those that did want to market to California found confusion in what actually constituted a Proposition 2-compliant cage, said Joy Mench, a University of California-Davis animal science professor.

“(T)he wording of Prop. 2 does not allow it to be regulated, so there is no official definition of what it means,” Mench said in an email. “That will have to be decided in the courts, either because there is a lawsuit or because someone is prosecuted.”

In enforcing the initiative, the CDFA uses the federal Shell Egg Food Safety rule, whose space requirement is larger than the United Egg Producer guidelines that most of the other states use, noted Maurice Pitesky, a poultry specialist at the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160504/egg-prices-plunge-as-supplies-rebound  

Farming takes center stage at Yolo County Fairgrounds

Woodland Daily Democrat) Cutter Hicks, May 4

Field trips to the fairgrounds led to a farming experience for students as the Yolo County 4-H and Farm Bureau hosted its 10th annual Farm Connection Day to kick off the Spring Show this weekend.

The four-hour event Friday featured more than 100 agricultural displays and hands-on activities for kids of all ages as nearly 2,500 visitors walked through the gates.

Farm Connection Day was open to the public and more than 200 4-H students teamed up to host the event — with a little help from adult volunteers. Their focus was to teach students of Yolo County the aspects of the organization before judging shows later that day.

DeAnn Tenhunfeld, a Farm Connection Day organizer, said that the attendance was the largest seen since she founded it in 2008.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/business/20180504/farming-takes-center-stage-at-yolo-county-fairgrounds

Frost damage varied for California nut trees

(Farm Press) Robyn Rominger, May 2, 2018
Some almond growers experienced frost damage from recent freezing conditions, say University of California experts.

“There's really a lot of damage,” says Katherine Jarvis-Shean, UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor for Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo counties. “The earlier varieties really took a hit. Some trees even dropped their nuts due to frost damage. It's pretty bad in some orchards.”

… Bruce Lampinen, UCCE almond and walnut specialist, measured temperatures in an almond trial at Davis, and notes that “Feb. 20 and 24 were the coldest days. It was very problematic because that's when the trees were in full bloom.” At full bloom, temperatures below 28 degrees F. can cause crop loss.

…Phoebe Gordon, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Madera and Merced counties, says, “From what I've seen and heard, the damage has been variable. Some orchards weren't hit that hard, and others were hit very hard. I think it depended a lot on micro-climate and what stage the trees were in. They become more susceptible to frost damage as they transition from dormant to full bloom, and to nut set. I don't think we'll really know until ‘June drop' is finished what the final load is.” 

Dani Lightle, UCCE orchard systems advisor in Glenn and Butte counties, says, “Almonds were right in the middle of full bloom when the frost happened. Most of the orchards in my area seem to have escaped. We didn't seem to cross the threshold to where there was heavy damage. Of course, there are exceptions, but by and large we came out better in the end than we thought we would.”

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/frost-damage-varied-california-nut-trees

New weapon in fight against walnut blight

(Farm Press) Robyn Rominger, May 2, 2018
Walnut growers have a new tool to help manage blight disease in their orchards — Kasumin 2L, manufactured by Arysta LifeScience, is the trade name for kasugamycin, and is available as part of a strategy to control the disease.

The new bactericide was discussed at a recent University of California Cooperative Extension breakfast meeting at Yuba City. “It's great to have another chemistry in the rotational loop for blight management in walnuts,” says Emily Symmes, UCCE integrated pest management advisor.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/new-weapon-fight-against-walnut-blight

March news clips

Unprecedented Study Discovers what Urban Coyotes Really Eat

(Care2) Laura Goldman, March 30

Hiking boots, avocados, candy wrappers and fast-food containers. These aren't a few of my favorite things, but they are some of the items found inside the stomachs of dead urban coyotes in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Since the study began over a year ago, the researchers, led by Dr. Niamh Quinn, the human-wildlife interactions advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension, have discovered that cats make up only about eight percent of a coyote's diet.

https://www.care2.com/causes/unprecedented-study-discovers-what-urban-coyotes-really-eat.html

Red blotch grape virus confirmed in Calaveras

(Calaveras Enterprise) Jason Cowan, March 29

Red blotch virus, a DNA infection that decreases a grape's sugar levels on the vine, has been confirmed in Calaveras County, officials said last week.

After confirmed cases of the virus were located recently in El Dorado and Amador county vineyards, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Adviser Lynn Wunderlich saw what she thought were symptoms of the virus in Calaveras and recommended farmers test for red blotch.

The results came back positive.

http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_4ebae972-33aa-11e8-ab5c-cb61df3e8deb.html

Raising chickens at home? Get their eggs tested for free

(Daily Democrat) ANR News release

Californians who raise poultry outdoors are invited to get their eggs tested for contaminants.

To find out if harmful substances on the ground that are eaten by hens get passed along in the eggs they lay, Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is providing free egg testing.

“We're trying to understand the connection between the environment that backyard poultry are raised in and the eggs they are producing,” Pitesky said.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/article/NI/20180329/FEATURES/180329815

Here's what trade tariffs could mean in Merced County, where nuts are big business

(Merced Sun-Star) Thaddeus Miller, March 28

China has threatened retaliatory tariffs on a select group of exports from the U.S. following President Donald Trump's plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

China's tariffs would first hit U.S. products such as avocados and nuts, with 15 percent duties. Beijing, if officials deemed it worthwhile, could also place 25 percent tariffs on American-made goods such as pork and aluminum.

…"It doesn't really matter which one it is, whether it's alfalfa, almonds or wherever it may go," said David Doll, a farm adviser with the Merced County UC Cooperative Extension. "They're as much political as they are anything else."

Nuts are big business in Merced County, where almonds are the second largest commodity at $578.5 million, according to the 2016 Merced County Crop Report, the most recent available. Almonds, pecans and pistachios bring in tens of millions of dollars more.

Out of every dollar made on a farm in the Central San Joaquin Valley, half pays for salaries and 40 cents goes to pay for supplies, Doll said, citing UC cooperative studies.

"Farms are businesses, and if they aren't profitable they're not going to stay in business," Doll said.

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/business/agriculture/article207155554.html

A film you may want your favorite doctor, trainer, chef and lawmaker to see

(Farm Week Now) Mike Orso, March 28

In the documentary “Food Evolution,” scientist Alison Van Eenennaam captures a smartphone selfie image of her with Bill Nye, the “Science Guy,” following a spirited forum in New York City on genetically modified organisms or GMOs. That was three years ago. Now, Van Eenennaam has young people coming up to her asking for selfies.

“If we can engage this next generation with critical thinking skills and trying to get to the bottom of what actually is true, I think we will have accomplished our job,” said Van Eenennaam, a University of California-Davis Extension specialist and one of several scientists featured in the film.

http://farmweeknow.com/story-film-may-want-favorite-doctor-trainer-chef-lawmaker-1-173628

Scientists say regulation stifles many new biotech traits

(Agri-Pulse) Jim Weber, March 28

Federal regulation of agricultural biotechnology needs to be based on risk and not on process, a wide range of scientists and food industry executives agreed at the Agri-PulseAg and Food Policy Summit. Coincidentally, a similar message was delivered a day later by a Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) task force.

“Scientists have been screaming that for 30 years,” said Alison Van Eenennaam, a cooperative extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California-Davis. “That's where regulation should be.”

…Although the USDA, universities and small businesses have developed dozens of GE crops – with improved traits ranging from healthier and less allergenic to safer and more environmentally sustainable – and carried many through safety and pre-market testing, almost all have been denied commercial release mainly because of U.S. regulatory obstacles,” according to the CAST task force, led by Alan McHughen, who chairs the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at California-Riverside.

https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/10764-scientists-say-regulation-stifles-many-new-biotech-traits

If China Strikes Back On Tariffs, California Tree Nut Exports Could Take A Hit

(CapRadio) Julia Mitric, March 27

California agriculture could find itself caught in the middle of the U.S. — China trade dispute.

After President Trump ordered a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum last week, China hit back, announcing it may impose a 15 percent tariff on agricultural exports from the U.S. 

The U.S. faces competitors for every agricultural product it exports. California wines, for example, compete with wines from New Zealand and Chile. If China hits the U.S. with a 15 percent tariff on wine, that's a problem, explains Dan Sumner, Director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

"We may think California wine is special, but not everybody does,” Sumner said. "And if it's 15 percent more expensive than it used to be because of the tariff, there'll be a substantial reduction in how much gets sold in China."

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/03/27/if-china-strikes-back-on-tariffs-california-tree-nut-exports-could-take-a-hit/

State senator to honor UC 4-H program

(Morning Ag Clips)

California State Senator Ben Hueso will honor California and Baja California 4-H with a resolution in the State Senate at 2 p.m. April 2 to recognize the cross-border team that established a 4-H Club in Mexicali, Baja Mexico, in January 2017.

Last year, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston signed a memorandum of understanding with the Baja California Secretary of Agriculture Development, Manuel Vallodolid Seamanduras, to offer UC's 4-H expertise to youth south of the border. The agreement increases the academic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation that are part of UC President Janet Napolitano's Mexico Initiative.

https://www.morningagclips.com/state-senator-to-honor-uc-4-h-program/

Building an IPM Program to Fight Fruit Flies

(Growing Produce) David Eddy, March 26

When faced with spotted wing drosophila (SWD), it's critical for growers to keep in mind this is almost certainly unlike any pest they have dealt with before. That's because it's one of two species — out of a potential 1,500-plus — that feeds on healthy, not rotting, fruit.

That's certainly not the end of growers' difficulties with SWD, says Jhalendra Rijal, University of California Cooperative Extension Area IPM Advisor, Northern San Joaquin Valley. It's tricky because vinegar flies — the tiny flies often found circling above fruit bowls on kitchen tables — are so ubiquitous. Even the oh-so-common name, “fruit flies,” indicates the pests' omnipresence.

http://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/building-ipm-program-fight-fruit-flies/

Stallion Springs 4-H Swine Group visits local swine breeder

(Tehachapi News) Olivia Loyd, March 24

Tim Sturm, owner and operator of California Swine Services, farrowed approximately 600 piglets this year which will be shown all over California by 4-H and FFA members who take them to fairs and jackpot shows.

Sturm, who has a passion for teaching today's youth about raising swine, allowed the members of the Stallion Springs 4-H swine group to come to his facility on March 17 to learn to process one-day-old piglets. The kids learned to ear notch, dock tails, administer shots and clip needle teeth. Members learned why these processes are necessary, how to do them cleanly and correctly, and last were actually able take part in the process. They also learned valuable information about pig breeding and husbandry.

http://www.tehachapinews.com/lifestyle/stallion-springs--h-swine-group-visits-local-swine-breeder/article_b358c48c-2fd4-11e8-b763-83619955990b.html

World Water Day

(KCAA) Water Zone, March 22

For World Water Day, Glenda Humiston discusses UC water research and what UC is doing to help ensure farmers and other Californians and the environment get the water they need. She also explains the Farm Bill. Humiston is introduced around the 30 min mark.

http://podcasts.kcaastreaming.com/water/ http://youtu.be/hN5pxvVI42A?a

Small Farms Must Include Marketing

(Cal Ag Today) Jessica Theisman, March 22

Mark Gaskell is with the University of California cooperative extension as a small farm and Specialty Crop Advisor for San Luis Obispo County. Gaskell recently told California Ag Today about his work with growers and small farms in the county since 1995.

“Part of my job has to do with applied research and educational programs, and this case related to keeping small farms viable and successful,” Gaskell said. “These activities include troubleshooting problems, helping growers develop new crops and develop new market opportunities that make them more competitive.”

https://californiaagtoday.com/small-farms-must-include-marketing/

How Biocontrols Fit into a Traditional Pest Control Program

(Growing Produce) Carol Miller, March 21

One of the great strengths of using biocontrols is that it allows growers to use traditional chemistries less often, says Surendra Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crop Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. Dara was speaking to a packed room at the Biocontrols USA West conference in Carlsbad, CA, hosted by Meister Media Worldwide, the parent company of American Vegetable Grower.

http://www.growingproduce.com/vegetables/biocontrols-fit-traditional-pest-control-program/

Has the California dairy industry gone sour?

(Agri-Pulse) Tyler Ash, March 21 (Subscription only)

Rumors are circulating that a stampede of California dairy producers is heading toward greener pastures in other states. But why?

Experts in the nation's No. 1 milk-producing state have been ruminating on this dilemma for over a decade now, and it seems to stem from the same problems that are plaguing farmers all over America. Typical of the ag industry in general, mom-and-pop farms are going by the wayside and more large-scale farms are increasing production. So, the production seems to truck along but the number of players in that production does not.

“I remember being a kid, driving up I-5 and there were dairies all over the darn place,” said Jeff Stackhouse, livestock adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. “Now there's one.”

Statistics from the California Department of Food and Agriculture back him up. According to the agency, the state had 1,563 dairies in 2012 and four years later the number was 1,392, an 11 percent decline. The drop was 4 percent from 2015.

...Frank Mitloehner, professor of Animal Science at UC-Davis and a UC Cooperative Extension specialist, said California has lost approximately one fourth of its dairies over the last 15 years. His research focuses primarily on air quality related to livestock production and specified that the number of dairy cows in California hasn't actually decreased, just the number of dairies. He confirmed that most of the dairies that have closed were relatively small and weren't as competitive in today's market.

“The small ones often have a harder time in a strongly regulated environment,” Mitloehner said. “Large dairies generally hire some consultants to deal with air and water regulations to get their dairies to comply, but many small folks lack resources.”

According to Betsy Karle, dairy farm adviser for the University of California's Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the primary regulation that significantly affected California dairy producers was the General Order of Waste Discharge Requirement that was implemented by the Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2007, which affected approximately 1,400 dairies in California's Central Valley.

https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/10689-has-the-california-dairy-industry-gone-sour 

'Buy local' food programs deceive consumers and are rarely enforced, a USA TODAY Network investigation finds

(The Republic) Robert Anglen, March 20

As local-food sales grow into a $20 billion industry, a USA TODAY Network investigation found that state-branding programs designed to inform consumers and support local farmers are deceptive and virtually unregulated.

These "buy local" programs purport to connect shoppers with food from their states by affixing logos and stickers.

…"The word local is chic; it sells things," said Cindy Fake, horticulture and small-farms adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. "So it's used by everybody and anybody."

Fake said the word "local" has no clear definition and consumers are easily misled.

"They are likely to be deceived," she said. "Consumers are thinking one way and the marketers know that. They know consumers want local, so they say it's local." 

… "There is a huge diversity across states about what is local," said Gail Feenstra, deputy director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

Feenstra said there is more transparency on fresh produce because it's easier for consumers to identify where it came from and recognize regional products on store shelves. 

But shoppers need to do their research, she said.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2018/03/13/buy-local-made-food-labels-programs-deceive-consumers-rarely-enforced-usa-today-network-finds/389155002/

Roof Rat Damage Causing Concern for Growers

(AgnetWest) Brian German, March 16

Typically more of a problem in urban areas, roof rat damage is causing significant concern for farmers. According to University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) scientists, roof rats are appearing in considerable numbers this year.  Researchers suggest monitoring fields for rodent activity and using bait stations before the growing season to prevent problems from developing further.

http://agnetwest.com/roof-rat-damage-causing-concern-growers

Valley farmers welcome rainstorms

(KFSN-TV) Reuben Contreras, March 15

Rain in the valley and snow in the Sierra from the last few weeks is adding to the water supply local farmers count on to grow their crops.

…"During the strawberry season if you have too much rain it is going to cause the fruit to rot," said Michael Yang of the UC Cooperative Extension Fresno County. "So during the full harvest, we don't want any rain."

Yang works with smaller growers in Fresno County. He says almost all of them rely on groundwater and wells to grow Asian specialty crops sold at farmer's markets.

http://abc30.com/weather/valley-farmers-welcome-rainstorms/3221598/

Pedestrian Orchards Will Reduce Injuries

(California Ag Today) Jessica Theisman, March 14

California Ag Today recently spoke with Becky Phene with the University of California out of the Kearney ag center. She's working alongside Kevin Day, UC tree fruit advisor in Tulare County, on development of pedestrian orchards.

"My background is irrigation. I got asked to participate in the pedestrian orchard with Kevin because he wanted to demonstrate multiple technologies that would be beneficial not just now, but in the future,” Phene said.

Day has combined his pedestrian orchard with subsurface drip irrigation. The pedestrian orchards are by design kept short so that there is no usage of ladders. Eliminating the usage of ladders can help prevent on the job accidents.

“The pruning lets the tree grow quickly and fill in as quickly as possible in the first couple of years, and then he develops the shape of the canopy and the shape of the leaders,” Phene said.

https://californiaagtoday.com/pedestrian-orchards-will-reduce-injuries/

Whole orchard recycling has promise for new almond plantings

Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, March 14

When it comes time to push out old almond orchards, grinding them into the ground will improve soil nutrients for the next planting, a University of California Cooperative Extension researcher has concluded after years of studying the practice.

Whole orchard recycling increases soil organic matter and carbon, soil nutrients, and microbial diversity, leading to better productivity for the new trees planted in the old orchard's place, says Brent Holtz, pomology farm advisor in the UCCE office at Stockton, Calif.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/whole-orchard-recycling-has-promise-new-almond-plantings

California Almonds Are Back After Four Years of Brutal Drought

(Bloomberg) Alan Bjerga, Donna Cohen and Cindy Hoffman, March 14

After dropping during the drought, the 2017 almond crop rebounded to a record 2.14 billion pounds of shelled nuts. That's more than triple the amount of walnuts, the No. 2 U.S. nut, and more than four times that of pistachios, which are emerging as a serious competitor for California acreage. Almonds are “incredibly versatile,” said Daniel Sumner, an economist at the University of California, Davis. “And California is the best place to grow it. Where else can the weather be hot and dry and perfect, but you also have a system where you can bring water from mountains full of snow?” Almond-picking is also highly mechanized, which attracts farmers concerned about migrant-worker labor shortages, and its long history in the state creates a level of expertise competitors can't match, he said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-thirst-for-almonds

International delegation will be looking for trade, research partners

(Sacramento Business Journal) Mark Anderson, March 13

Subscription only. Article based on ANR news release http://ucanr.edu/News/?blogpost=26598&blogasset=44547.

https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2018/03/13/international-delegation-will-be-looking-for-trade.html

The What, When, and Why of Using Microbials on Your Farm

(Growing Produce) Robin Siktberg, March 12

Why should microbial controls be a part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program? The first, and main one, is that research shows that they work. Many microbial products in the market today are backed by trial data that shows when used correctly, microbials can be a very effective way to improve plant health, suppress pest pressure, and improve yields.

“Microbials are very powerful tools,” says Dr. Surendra Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension. “They have a number of benefits for the grower. Microbial control agents are either very specific (as with some viruses or Bt) or can attack a broad range of pests (as with fungi). They can have multiple modes of action, which prevents development of pest resistance. They are very safe for workers and consumers, and are a sustainable control option.”

http://www.growingproduce.com/events/biocontrols-conference/the-what-when-and-why-of-using-microbials/

Roof rats are invading California farms and destroying fruit, nuts and irrigation lines

(Fresno Bee) Robert Rodriguez, March 12

Roof rats, a common problem for city dwellers, are migrating to California farms and nibbling on everything from avocados to irrigation tubing.

University of California scientists say last year's wet weather created a perfect environment for the quick-breeding rats to flourish.

…"Rodents are everywhere and they are opportunists," said Rachel Long, a University of California, cooperative extension adviser. "They move in from their surrounding urban habitats to take advantage of any food source they can find. And once that food source disappears they search for food elsewhere."

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article204696074.html

Do Backyard Chickens Need More Rules?

(KQED) Menaka Williams, March 12

…It was easy to welcome another chicken, partly because Oakland's local policies for keeping poultry aren't that restrictive. Roosters aren't allowed, and hens just have to be housed at least 20 feet from any house. That's it. No rules about the number of birds, their coops, slaughter or care. Bare-bones local laws around chickens are really common, says Catherine Brinkley, a veterinarian and urban planner at the University of California, Davis.

Brinkley says these policies tend to focus on limiting nuisances, like early morning cock-a-doodle-dos or eyesore coops — leaving a gap in codes when it comes to health and safety. "They're not at all focused on public health considerations, like [requiring] training for new owners in washing hands and selling eggs, nor do they think about if somebody is hoarding chickens or other awful things that, quite honestly, happen with animal welfare," Brinkley says.

https://www.kqed.org/bayareabites/125604/do-backyard-chickens-need-more-rules

OPINION Farm Bill must include climate change adaptation

(Redding Record Searchlight) Marty Walters, March 9

A new study published by a group of University of California researchers led by Tapan Pathak, published in the journal Agronomy, provides a whole new level of analysis in the ways that California's agriculture will change and be stressed by our changing climate, and it recommends ways to reduce some of the negative effects.

https://www.redding.com/story/opinion/readers/2018/03/08/farm-bill-must-include-climate-change-adaptation/408262002/

OPINION The self-inflicted economic damage to American agriculture

(The Hill) Daniel Sumner, March 9

Agriculture is so fully integrated into world markets that consumers everywhere take for granted that ripe peaches will be available to everyone, everywhere in January, while Zinfandel, Shiraz and Prosecco are universally available. Likewise farmers all over the world use tractors made in America, and tomato processors use equipment from Italy.

http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/377591-the-self-inflicted-economic-damage-to-american-agricultural

Study indicates that climate change will wreak havoc on California agriculture

(LA Times) Michael Hiltzak, March 9

The California we know is the breadbasket of the nation, producing more than two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts, including almonds, pistachios, oranges, apricots, nectarines and prunes, and more than a third of its vegetables, including artichokes, broccoli, spinach and carrots. It's all valued at more than $50 billion a year.

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-climate-agriculture-20180309-story.html

Precise gene technology impacts GMO debate

 (Capital Press) Tim Hearden, March 8

Precise gene-editing technology is bringing the debate over genetically modified crops into a new era, researchers and experts say.

While the use of GMOs has ignited a high-pitched public debate for years, the ethical and socioeconomic debate over the newer techniques “seems to be keeping pace with the science,” observes Neil McRoberts, a University of California-Davis associate professor and plant pathologist.

http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Seed/20180308/precise-gene-technology-impacts-gmo-debate

Trade war could spark food fight, California growers fear

(LA Times) Geoffrey Mohan, March 2

Steel and aluminum may be the intended quarry of a trade war that President Trump has said would be "good" for the U.S. economy, but the casualties of the conflict could be food, agricultural economists warn.

No state has more at stake than California, which leads the country in agricultural revenue. Farmers and ranchers in the Golden State are twice as dependent on foreign trade as the country as a whole. World leaders also likely know that Trump enjoyed deep support in rural, agricultural areas, including much of the Central Valley, said Dan Sumner, an economist who directs the Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-trade-war-agriculture-20180302-story.html

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