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Posts Tagged: Daniel Sumner

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

Monthly news round up: January 2018

Woodland as ag hub topic of forum

(Woodland Daily Democrat) Jenice Tupolo, Jan. 30

Developing Woodland as an agricultural center is becoming more of a reality, even as local organizations worked together in creating a forum focused on agricultural innovation in Yolo County.

...The city of Woodland, AgStart, UC Agricultural and Natural Resources, and the city's Food Front initiative hosted keynote speaker and vice president of the UC ANR, Glenda Humiston, at the conference.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/business/20180130/woodland-as-ag-hub-topic-of-forum

Small Farmers in Fresno Hope for Big Moringa Payoff

(KQED) Katrina Schwartz, Jan. 26

The Mouas, along with other Hmong farmers growing moringa, have been working with farm advisers at Fresno County's UC Cooperative Extension to learn how to dry, powder and store their moringa so they can expand into new markets. Most farmers sell it fresh, but most of the health food craze exists around moringa powder, often imported from India.

… “Value-added products are a great way for a small family farm to increase their income,” said Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, a small-farm adviser with the program. Many farmers are accustomed to only selling fresh produce. They plant a diverse set of crops in a small area and sell a little bit of everything. Producing a product that requires the extra step of drying, grinding and storing is a whole new world for many of them.

“I think there's a lot of opportunity there,” Dahlquist-Willard said. She's particularly excited about how a product might bring the younger generation back to their family farms. Kids who have gone off to college for business, marketing or graphic design might see a new kind of future for themselves on the family farm with a product like moringa.

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2018/01/26/small-farmers-in-fresno-hope-for-big-moringa-payoff/

SLO County's Top 20 Under 40: Meet the 2017 award winners

Katherine Soule
(San Luis Obispo Tribune) Staff, Jan. 26

…Katherine E. Soule, 35, is director of the UC Cooperative Extension for SLO and Santa Barbara counties, where she's earned state and national recognition for improving community health and increasing diversity in youth participation.

As the extension's youth, families and communities advisor for the last several years, Soule developed new 4-H programs engaging underserved youths and promoting healthy living, leadership and social development. Her efforts nearly doubled enrollment and boosted Latino participation 26.8 percent. She's delivered nutrition education to more than 10,000 people through various partnerships.

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/business/article196536784.html

Flooding alfalfa for groundwater recharge

(Morning Ag Clips) Jan. 24

A rigorous field study in two California climate zones has found that alfalfa can tolerate very heavy winter flooding for groundwater recharge. The research was published online Jan. 16 in California Agriculture journal.

The alfalfa research is the latest in a series of projects studying the effects of using land planted with permanent crops – including almond orchards and vineyards – to capture and bank winter storm water. Such projects have great promise but also require collaboration across multiple jurisdictions and agencies. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources vice president Glenda Humiston has made groundwater recharge on working lands and open spaces a division priority and is working with water and land use leaders around the state to facilitate it through policy recommendations and cross-agency collaboration.

https://www.morningagclips.com/flooding-alfalfa-for-groundwater-recharge/

Band Canker Affecting Younger Almonds

(California Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, Jan. 24

Brent Holtz is a UC cooperative extension Pomology Farm Advisor for San Joaquin County. He recently told California Ag Today about how the fungus band canker on almonds is becoming more prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley.

“I've seen a lot more band canker, which is caused by a pathogenic fungus, Botryosphaeria dothidea, and we're seeing it on young orchards, especially in in San Joaquin county," said Holtz.  "We've seen that a lot out in the delta and we've seen it in eastern San Joaquin county where the soils tend to be a little heavier, maybe old dairy ground and richer and we don't really know why."

https://californiaagtoday.com/band-canker-affecting-younger-almonds/

CCOF Annual Conference to Focus on Organic Hotspots

AgNet West) Jan. 22

Registration is available for the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) annual conference, Organic Hotspots: Revitalizing Rural America.  The event is scheduled for February 22 and 23 at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel in Sacramento.…

The event will focus on organic hotspots and how rural economies can potentially be stimulated by organic production.  Topics will include partnerships between elected officials and the organic community, the role of education and research, along with the process of growing organic produce in local communities.  The event will conclude with a keynote speech from Glenda Humiston, Vice President of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

http://agnetwest.com/ccof-annual-conference-organic-hotspots/ 

California Today: 100 Million Dead Trees Prompt Fears of Giant Wildfires

(New York Times) Thomas Fuller, Jan. 19

The more than 100 million trees that died in California after being weakened by drought and insect infestations have transformed large swaths of the Sierra Nevada into browned-out tree cemeteries. In some areas more than 90 percent of trees are dead.

This week a group of scientists warned in the journal BioScience that the dead trees could produce wildfires on a scale and of an intensity that California has never seen.

…“It's something that is going to be much more severe,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at Berkeley and the lead author of the study. “You could have higher amounts of embers coming into home areas, starting more fires.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/us/california-today-100-million-dead-trees-prompt-fears-of-giant-wildfires.html

Winter's good time for gopher control in nut crops

(Western Farm Press) Cecelia Parsons, Jan. 17, 2018

Tree nut growers who are plagued by gopher invasions in their orchards need to stick with effective control measures if they want to minimize tree losses.

Pocket gophers are common in most nut production areas, says Joe Connell, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Emeritus in Butte County. In the absence of cover crops or weeds, they will gnaw on tree roots and trunks, and the hungry vertebrate pests can even girdle — and kill — older trees. Trees with root damage and girdling will lose production, and will be susceptible to crown gall, which weakens their structural strength.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/winter-s-good-time-gopher-control-nut-crops

Bloomington nursery's citrus trees to be destroyed by California agriculture department

(ABC7 KABC) Rob McMillan, Jan. 17, 2018

Roxana Vallejo was 12 years old when her parents opened up Santa Ana Nursery in Bloomington. Wednesday, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will be at her business to destroy almost all of their citrus trees. Vallejo said the combined value of the trees is almost $1 million.

"They're all fine, and look at all the new growth, it's pretty good," Vallejo said.

The reason they're being cut down is huanglongbing, or HLB, one of the world's worst citrus diseases. The insect that spreads HLB has taken a strong foothold in Southern California.

"It's estimated that the citrus industry may go commercially extinct unless they can get a handle on this problem," said Mark Hoddle, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Riverside, more than one year ago.

http://abc7.com/food/ie-nurserys-citrus-trees-to-be-destroyed-by-ca-agriculture-department/2959173/

OPINION: Ranchers give thanks

(Ventura County Star) Beverly Bigger, president of the Ventura County Cattlemen's Association, Jan. 16, 2018

Matthew Shapero
The majority of attention and sympathy have rightly gone toward those who lost their homes in the Thomas Fire, but I would like to take a moment to highlight the story of others who have suffered as well. They are largely invisible, hidden among the hills and canyons, but their contribution to the county is significant.

Ventura County is home to a robust and historic cattle industry, one that makes up a $2 million portion of Ventura County's agricultural sector. Ranchers play an important role in land management as well, their grazing operations clearing overgrown brush, reducing the fuel available to wildfires and protecting nearby communities.

In the space of 12 hours, the Thomas Fire ripped through vital grazing land that cattle rely on for their daily feed. Sadly, some animals were also lost to the fire.

With feed and fencing gone, many ranchers had hard decisions to make regarding the future of their operations, and some were not prepared for this kind of disaster. Thankfully, we have dedicated public servants who stepped up to help the cattle industry.

Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales, Matthew Shapero from the UC Cooperative Extension, and Donna Gillesby and Bryan Bray of Ventura County Animal Services all reached out to ask what they could do to help.

An emergency program was put in place to supply five days of hay until ranchers could get on their feet. The UC Extension also provided a one-stop location where ranchers could meet with representatives from multiple agencies to apply for assistance programs.

The assistance of these agencies was very much appreciated. We want to thank and recognize them for helping us in our time of need. We look forward to returning to our passion: managing and improving the land and continuing Ventura County's ranching heritage.

http://www.vcstar.com/story/opinion/readers/2018/01/16/ranchers-give-thanks/1038625001/

Farm advisor tests strategies for controlling horseweed

(Ag Alert) Bob Johnson, Jan. 10, 2018

One morning last summer, University of California Cooperative Extension vineyard weed control advisor John Roncoroni displayed a horseweed plant that had grown to more than 10 feet tall in a Yolo County vineyard.

Horseweed, which is widely seen on the sides of the state's highways, is among the glyphosate-resistant weed pests that can develop healthy populations in even well managed vineyards.

"We're really having problems with weeds coming in the fall that are resistant to Roundup," Roncoroni said. "Willow herb is tolerant; it's never been completely controlled by glyphosate."

http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=11460

Pomegranate returns not so wonderful but largest grower says otherwise

(Hanford Sentinel) By John Lindt, Jan. 11, 2018

A few years ago Central Valley pomegranate growers appeared to be riding a rising tide of popularity for pomegranates spurring optimism about the crop's future. Growers, including those in Kings County, enjoyed prices of over $1,700 a ton as recently as 2011.

After a significant planting of new trees, by 2015 pomegranate tonnage was fetching just $450 a ton in Fresno County and falling to $362 a ton in Tulare County according to its 2016 crop report.

…UC Farm Adviser Kevin Day says it's simple economics. “We are seeing both overproduction and lack of demand for pomegranates despite expectations to the contrary."

http://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/business/another-ag-co-will-relocate-to-make-room-for-hsr/article_bb81b0e9-ef28-55d9-b80f-f352bea38466.html

Western Innovator: Promoting sustainable ranching

Tracy Schohr
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Jan. 9, 2018

Tracy Schohr has devoted much of her career to promoting sustainability in ranching.

While at the California Cattlemen's Association, she put on an annual “rangeland summit” that brought ranchers together with environmental experts and climate change policymakers.

She also worked on a program to limit ranchers' risk of facing Endangered Species Act violations if they created habitat on their land.

After going back to school to earn her master's degree at the University of California-Davis, Schohr has become a UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources adviser based in Plumas, Sierra and Butte counties. http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20180108/western-innovator-promoting-sustainable-ranching 

Weed Control with Brad Hanson UC Cooperative Extension Weed Specialist at UC Davis 

(California Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, Jan. 8, 2018

“Weeds are probably one of the year-in, year-out problems that growers face,” said Brad Hanson, UC Cooperative Extension, who discussed herbicide resistance with California Ag Today.

https://californiaagtoday.com/podcasts/brad-hanson-uc-cooperative-extension-weed-specialist-at-uc-davis-on-weed-control/ 

Building blocks for tending flocks

(Auburn Journal) Julie Miller, Jan. 7, 2018

Counting sheep is no longer for the tired and sleepy.

Shepherding has become a booming industry in Placer County. At last count, there are 9,000 head of sheep registered with the county, said Dan Macon, livestock and natural resources advisor for University of California, for Placer and Nevada counties. And there may be more sheep that have not been registered, perhaps because they are in a smaller flock of 10 to 15, he said.

Sheep have proven to be versatile. Not only raised for the meat and milk, but also wool fibers, plus, they can help reduce fire danger by eating away tall grasses and shrubs.

http://www.auburnjournal.com/article/1/06/18/building-blocks-tending-flocks#

After a recent outbreak of E.coli, is it safe to eat romaine lettuce? Experts differ

(Fresno Bee) Robert Rodriguez, Jan. 5, 2018

If you are staying away from romaine lettuce because of an outbreak of E.coli, it's understandable. But at least one food safety expert says it may not be necessary.

…But University of California food safety expert Trevor Suslow said it's unlikely the lettuce you buy at the grocery store these days is going to do you any harm. That's because the illnesses happened from Nov. 15 through Dec. 8. Lettuce sold during that period wouldn't be around anymore.

“It's not going to last that long, it's gone,” Suslow said.

http://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/article193301924.html

Cattle Ranchers Join Conservationists To Save Endangered Species And Rangelands

(Forbes) Diana Hembree, Jan. 5, 2018

…California has a strong incentive to preserve its 18 million acres of ranchland: Cattle and calves are the state's fourth-leading agricultural commodities (milk and cream are No. 1), according to state agricultural data. But in a Duke University survey of the state's ranchers, more than half said they were “more uncertain than ever” that they would be able to continue ranching. California is losing an estimated 20,000 acres of rangeland each year, according to the Nature Conservancy, and on any given day ads for the sale of cattle ranches dot the Internet. The median age of California ranchers is 58 to 62, and more are aging out of the business with no children interested in taking over the ranch.

But this trend can be reversed, according to Lynn Huntsinger a professor of environmental science and rangeland ecology at UC Berkeley. To preserve these landscapes for future generations, ranchers need payment and recognition for their ecosystem services “in order to preserve these working landscapes for future generations,” Huntsinger writes.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianahembree/2018/01/05/cattle-ranchers-join-conservationists-to-save-endangered-species-rangelands/#56c2400f220d

Months after Wine Country fires, damaged vineyards face uncertainty

(SF Chronicle) Esther Mobley, Jan. 4

…“No one knows what's the real threshold for heat damage,” says Rhonda Smith, the Sonoma County-based viticulture farm adviser for the University of California, who has come to Gilfillan to consult on its rehabilitation.

Much of the conventional wisdom about how fires interact with vines — that vines can't burn, because of their high water content, for instance — didn't turn out to be true for every vineyard, she says.

“In 99 percent of cases, vines were fire breaks,” says Smith. But if there was dry vegetation, if there was wood mulch on the ground, if the soil was especially dry — if, if, if — then they weren't.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/article/Months-after-Wine-Country-fires-damaged-12474309.php

Progress reported on robotic weeders for vegetables

(Ag Alert) Bob Johnson, Jan. 4

The next generation of computer-controlled, automated cultivators will be able to use cameras to remove weeds in the seed line as close as 1 inch from young tomato or lettuce plants, without damaging the crop.

“It must be more than half the lettuce acreage that is already using the automated thinners,” said Steve Fennimore, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable weed specialist.

Fennimore is supervising the Salinas lettuce trials of “marking” the crop in order to make this technology practical for weeding as well.

“The weeders already out there tend to be prototypes that people are still experimenting with,” he said.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/article/NI/20180104/NEWS/180109957

2017's natural disasters cost American agriculture over $5 billion

(New Food Economy) Sam Bloch, Jan. 4, 2018

Over a period of 10 months in 2017, America experienced 16 separate, billion-dollar weather and climate-related disasters. Those weather events carved paths of destruction straight through some of the most fertile and productive regions of the country, wreaking havoc on beef cattle ranches in Texas, soaking cotton and rice farms in Louisiana, orange groves in Florida, and burning up vineyards in California. And that was all before Southern California's still-active Thomas fire, which began on December 4, and then closed in on the country's primary avocado farms. It's now the state's largest-ever, in terms of total acreage.

  • Acres of cherimoya trees in Santa Barbara County destroyed by the Thomas fire: 100
  • Total dollar value of Santa Barbara cherimoya fruit damaged by fire: $5,000,000
  • Acres of avocado fields in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties threatened by wildfire: 5,260
  • Estimated pounds of Hass avocados in Ventura County lost to wildfire: 8,060,000
  • Total dollar value of that lost harvest: $10,175,750
  • Approximate percentage of American avocado crop threatened by wildfire: 8
  • Expected effect of wildfire on avocado prices in America, due to reliance on imports: 0
  • Winegrape acreage in Napa and Sonoma Counties: 104,847
  • As a percentage of total California winegrape acreage: 22
  • Estimated dollar value of unharvested Cabernet grapes in those counties, before the wildfires: $175,000,000
  • Estimated dollar value of those grapes, now tainted by smoke: $29,000,000
  • Bottles of 2016 Napa Cabernet you can buy for the price of two 2017 vintages, due to winegrape scarcity: 3

California wildfire data from Daniel A. Sumner, Ph.D. of UC Agricultural Issues Center, USDA NASS, Ben Faber, Ph.D. of UC Cooperative Extension Ventura.

https://newfoodeconomy.org/2017-natural-disasters-agriculture-damage-5-billion/

There Is No “No-Fire” Option in California
(Bay Nature) Zach St. George, Jan. 2, 2018

As the use of prescribed fire by Cal Fire declined in recent decades, its use also declined with private landholders, says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, who leads prescribed burning workshops across the state. Scott Stephens, the UC Berkeley professor, concurs. Decades of suppression left the western U.S. with relatively few people trained to carry out the work: “We just don't have that experience to pass on.” But it's important not to let the current enthusiasm pass, he says—as climate change continues to push conditions toward extremes, as wildfires consume more and more of fire agency budgets, and as the wildland-urban interface expands, it will only become more difficult to bring fire back.

https://baynature.org/article/no-no-fire-option-california/

Scientist discusses working on Food Evolution movie

(Brownfield Ag News) Larry Lee, Jan. 1

A scientist involved in a movie about genetically modified food says many don't understand what GM is, let alone the benefits.  Alison VanEenennaam says, “Really, it's a breeding method, and I think the public sector applications for things like disease resistance have very compelling societal benefits that I think most people can relate to.  I don't think we want plants and animals getting sick, and if we can solve that problem genetically rather than using chemicals, I think people get that.”

VanEenennaam is a geneticist at the University of California.  She tells Brownfield there is a lot of unnecessary fear about eating genetically modified food.  “The safety around GM (Genetically Modified) has been established and is, you know, agreed on by every major scientific society in the world and yet we've got the vast majority of consumers that don't believe that.”

https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/scientist-discusses-working-food-evolution-movie/

Urban Edge farm program offers immersion-style learning

(East Bay Times) Lou Fancher, Jan. 1, 2018

After operating a pilot version of the ambitious program, a $200,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is a launch pad for the immersive learning experience.

For the first cohort of students, many of them women and/or people of color, immigrants, refugees, veterans or farmers-to-be with limited resources, the land is a classroom. Instruction comes from First Generation and experts from the National Center for Appropriate Technology and UC Cooperative Extension. Participation in the program represents opportunity and fulfills dreams the first-time farmers hold of agricultural avocation, economic stability, families, homesteads and permanence.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/01/01/urban-edge-farm-program-offers-immersion-style-learning/

Tribute to Paul Verdegaal – one of Lodi's “men behind the curtain”

(Lodi Wine blog) Randy Caparoso, Jan. 1, 2018

This coming February 6, 2018, Lodi winegrowers will get together for their 66th Annual LODI GRAPE DAY. They will also mark the occasion with a celebration of the retirement of Paul Verdegaal, who has been working full-time as San Joaquin County's viticulture, bush berry and almond Farm Advisor under the auspices of UCCE (University of California Cooperative Extension) since 1986.

http://www.lodiwine.com/blog/Tribute-to-Paul-Verdegaal---one-of-Lodi-s--men-behind-the-curtain-

Farmers are disappointed Trump has scrapped TPP

California farmers could have reaped substantial profits if the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership had become law, reported Robert Rodriguez in the Fresno Bee, but President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal.

According to the American Farm Bureau, California fruit and nut producers could have made $562 million in sales through lower tariffs and the elimination of tariffs. Dairy producers could have made $53 million in additional revenue.

Rodriguez spoke with Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agriculture and Natural ResourcesAgricultural Issues Center. Sumner said an outcome of Trump's decision may be for the U.S. to negotiate individual deals with Pacific nations.

"Vietnam could prove to be very useful," Sumner said. In Vietnam, a growing middle class is making the country a more attractive destination for California agricultural products.

Trump also promised during the campaign to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Sumner said could prove difficult because Canada and Mexico are key California trade partners.

"When you unilaterally open a trade agreement that has been successful, it can be very scary," Sumner said. "It is a huge market for California."

Trump's decision to withdraw from TPP has significant financial implications for California farmers. (Photos: Pixabay)
Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 1:10 PM
Tags: Daniel Sumner (25), TPP (3), trade (2)

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