Posts Tagged: Doug Parker
Above average rainfall in February benefits strawberry crops in the Central Valley
(ABC 30) Reuben Contreras, Feb. 28
…Above average rainfall in February will help this year's harvest last through October.
"It looks like it is in full bloom right now and it looks like it is going to rain. So we need the water as much as we can right now," said Michael Yang, University of California Cooperative Extension.
He works with small farms and specialty crops in the Hmong community, including a strawberry field in Northeast Fresno near Willow and Behymer.
Yang said the rain will add to the groundwater supply most farmers use to grow their crops plus it will help make the strawberries sweeter.
Ventura County Helps Keep Farming Alive in Southern California
(KCET) Teresa O'Connor, Feb. 27
…Connecting the community to the food system is vitally important for the health of individuals and the survival of local farms, according to Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D., who is the editor of the UCFoodObserver.com, an online publication for the University of California (UC). A long-term county resident, Hayden-Smith was previously sustainable food systems initiative leader for UC's Ag and Natural Resources division.
“Everyone eats: everyone is a stakeholder,” says Hayden-Smith. “I would like people to be engaged with the food system, and to advocate for positive change. Think about where your food comes from and ask critical questions about the supply chain. Meet people who are involved in producing, processing, distributing and preparing the food you eat. Honor them with questions about and interest in their work.”
Gene-edited animal creators look beyond US market
(Nature) Heidi Ledford, Feb. 20
…It isn't always easy to pick up a research project and move it to a different country. About ten years ago, difficulties finding funding for his research drove animal geneticist James Murray to move his transgenic goat project from the University of California in Davis to Brazil. The goats were engineered to produce milk that contained lysozyme, an enzyme with antibiotic properties. Murray hoped that the milk could help to protect children from diarrhoea.
Newly discovered nematode threatens key crops
(Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Feb. 20
“The arrival of this nematode (Meloidogyne floridensis) in California is a little surprising — it has the potential to infect many of California's economically important crops,” says UCCE Kern County Advisor Mohammad Yaghmour. “Root samples had been collected from an almond orchard in Merced County last year, and confirmed at the California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) Nematology Lab as M. floridensis.”
Yaghmour facilitated the second discovery of the nematode in a Kern County orchard a month after the first was uncovered in an almond orchard in Merced County.
Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show returning to Santa Maria for third event
(Santa Ynez Valley News) Mike Hodgson, Feb. 19
The Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show will return to Santa Maria for its third event, this time focusing on biologicals, on March 5. The deadline for discounted early registration is next week.
… Considering the growing interest in biologicals and the demand for sustainably produced food, organizers selected topics on biocontrol agents, biostimulants and botanical and microbial pesticides and fungicides for the third conference, said organizer Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension adviser for entomology and biologicals.
“The use of biocontrol agents, biopesticides, biostimulants and other such tools is gradually increasing in our efforts to produce with sustainable practices,” Dara said.
Almond Update: Orchard Recycling Research Showing Strong Results
(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, Feb. 14
Orchard recycling research has been going on for over 10 years. UC Cooperative Extension Advisor Brent Holtz has been leading the project and said they continue to see positive results. There is an expense that comes with the practice but Holtz said their longest trial is making that cost back in added production.
NASA tech helps agriculture
(Hanford Sentinel) Julissa Zavala, Feb 13,
…In keeping with the expo's theme, “Harvesting Technology,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited the International Agri-Center in Tulare and spoke about how technology originally developed for space exploration is now being repurposed and used to improve numerous aspects of agriculture around the world.
…The measurement, also taken with LIDAR, can be used to calculate precise irrigation needs of plants and crops. Bridenstine said this pilot program, in partnership with the University of California Cooperative Extension and other agencies, is only being used in California.
UC Davis, wine industry cultivate relationship
(Fruit Growers News) Robin Derieux, Feb. 13
Under the hot summer sun of the San Joaquin Valley, just south of Merced, Miguel Guerrero of The Wine Group is trying a new high-wire act. In collaboration with University of California-Davis Cooperative Extension, Roduner Ranch vineyard manager Guerrero is experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon vines and other varieties elevated by a single wire at 66 inches – plantings that are 2-3 feet higher than the traditional winegrape canopy.
…“The beauty of the high-wire system is that the fruit zone is really defined – a solid wall of grape clusters – and the pruning machine can just zip right alongside the vines,” said Kaan Kurtural, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist. “We can carry more crop, and with mechanical leaf removal, we get that sun-dappled exposure that feeds the fruit. Less leaf cover means the vines require less water, and the grape quality is much better.”
There's Still So Much We Need To Learn About Weed—And Fast
(Wired) Matt Simon, Feb. 11
… But late last month, UC Berkeley opened the Cannabis Research Center to start tackling some of these social and environmental unknowns. With its proximity to the legendary growing regions of Northern California, the center can start to quantify this historically secretive industry, measuring its toll on the environment and looking at how existing rules affect the growers themselves. The goal is to create a body of data to inform future policies, making cannabis safer for all.
… So for the past few years Van Butsic, codirector of the Cannabis Research Center, and his colleagues have been sifting through satellite images to pinpoint those unaccounted-for farms. “We have an army of undergraduates who look at high-resolution imagery and digitize how big the farms are, how many plants we can see,” Butsic says. Because cannabis plants love light, growers usually keep them out in the open. The researchers still miss many trespass growers, however, who tend to hide their plants in the brush to avoid detection.
Cultured meat: Good or bad, promise or peril?
(Agweek) By Jonathan Knutson, Feb. 11
…To Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics, proponents of cell-based meat are "overhyping the environmental benefits" and providing an incomplete, misleading case for it.
Broomrape Weed Spreads Quickly
(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, Feb. 8
By the time you see broomrape weed in your fields, it may be too late. There has been a resurgence of broomrape reports over the last decade in California. Retired UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Gene Miyao said although the parasitic weed is far from widespread, it could become so quickly. “The seeds are very small, the growth is primarily underground until it starts sending up shoots and then it very quickly starts setting seed,” he said. “A single seed attached to a tomato plant may send up half-a-dozen shoots, and each shoot might have 1,000 seeds or more.”
New CA Bill Aims to Help Prepare Farmers for Extreme Weather, Changing Climate
(YubaNet) CalCAN, Feb. 7
The state and University of California have made significant investments in research to better understand agriculture's unique vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies to a changing climate, including in the state's recently released Fourth Climate Change Assessment. But not enough has been done to translate climate risks to the farm level and assist farmers in adapting to climate change.
…The bill would also fund trainings for technical assistance providers and agricultural organizations. According to a 2017 survey of 144 University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources staff, 88% of respondents believe it is important to incorporate climate change information into farm extension programs, but only 43% actually do. Respondents cited a lack of access to climate information relevant to farmers and expressed interest in education on technical tools and information resources.
Top administrators from UC ANR visit Imperial Valley
Imperial Valley Press
They were also briefed about UCCE and DREC projects, accomplishments and barriers by the directors, county advisors and CES representatives.
Drought concerns loom for California farmers, ranchers despite recent rain
(KSBY) Dustin Klemann, Feb. 6
Even with the onslaught of rainy weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor states San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County remain in a moderate drought.
On Wednesday, the UC Cooperative Extension held a workshop in Solvang titled “Weather, Grass, and Drought: Planning for Uncertainty.”
“Leave it to a drought workshop to bring the rain,” Matthew Shapero joked. He is a livestock and range advisor for UCCE.
Shapero pointed out a call he received questioning the monitor's accuracy on a local level.
“He said ‘I really don't think the drought monitor accurately reflects what I am seeing on the ground.'”
… “We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons. We do,” said Dr. Royce Larsen, an advisor of the UCCE. “We have fire, flood, mud, and drought. That's what we live with. And it's getting more and more so every year.”
California legislators honor Summit's Steward Leader Award Winners
(California Economic Summit, Feb. 5
Monday, February 4 was a red-letter day for stewardship in California. Not only was the California Legislature celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year and “National Wear Red Day” as a symbol of support for women's heart health, but members of both houses also paused to recognize Glenda Humiston and Paul Granillo as recipients of the California Economic Summit's 2018 Steward Leader Awards.
Revealed: how big dairy pushed fattier milks into US schools
(Guardian) Jessica Glenza, Feb. 4
…A nutritionist for the University of California called the idea that chocolate milk could help athletes “preposterous”.
“Milk is a very healthy beverage, it's got protein, calcium, vitamin D – there's a reason we are mammals and grow up drinking milk,” said Lorrene Ritchie, the director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California. “There's nothing about adding chocolate to it that's going to help an athlete.”
California's water paradox
(Morning Ag Clips/The Conversation) Faith Kearns and Doug Parker, Feb. 4
These days, it seems everyone is looking for a silver bullet solution to California's drought. Some advocate increasing supply through more storage, desalination or water reuse. Others propose controlling demand through conservation or restriction of water use by urban and agricultural users.
Camp Fire: When survival means shelter
(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Feb. 2
“We have to talk about it, as a community, to reduce vulnerability – especially for citizens who don't drive,” said Scott Stephens, co-director of UC-Berkeley's Center for Fire Research and Outreach. “In the Camp Fire, people didn't die because they wanted to stay. They had to stay. All of a sudden, the fire was at their front door step.”
For Australia's policy to work in California, residents must be physically and mental trained, said wildfire specialist Max A. Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources. In Australia, which conducts formal training, “there is active participation from homeowners … so both homes and people are better prepared.”
"This is one of the things that has happened in past droughts," Parker said. "If you look at the drought of 1976-77, that was the beginning of a push for irrigation efficiency in California. The state put money into weather stations across the state."
The drought that ran from the late 80s to early 90s led to changes in state law that partially opened up the opportunity for water markets in California. The current drought has resulted in new groundwater management legislation.
The focus of the hour-long program, hosted by David Onek, was the impact of the drought on the food Californians eat.
Parker explained that the state's agricultural industry is part of the global food market. If California residents choose to eat foods from other areas to reduce their water footprints, they are likely increasing their environmental footprint due to impacts in those other places and transportation costs.
Boycotting certain crops perceived to be water guzzlers probably won't have the intended impact either, he said.
"Growers will shift what they do because of the drought," Parker said. "But these are long-term decisions. They don't have the flexibility to make quick changes because of the drought."
Nathanael Johnson, the food writer for Grist.org, was also a guest on the show. He agreed that boycotting California produce because of its water use is ill-advised.
"If you are choosing not to buy almonds or avocados from California, you're not supporting the farmer," Johnson said. "You're not putting water back in the aquifer. You are making it tougher for that farmers to make a profit. Boycotting just discourages farmers."
One of the people who called into the show asked about the affiliation and funding sources of the California Institute for Water Resources.
"It is a unit of the University of California, part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources," Parker explained. "We are located at the Office of the President. We have offices in every county in the state working with growers on irrigation and other things. We are funded by the University of California and also have funding form the U.S. Geological Survey."
The same caller asked why cotton is grown in California during the drought. Johnson said there is no overarching rule that dictates what crops may be grown where.
"Individual farmers are making those decisions," he said.
Parker pointed out that California cotton acreage is just a fraction of what it used to be.
"Most of the cotton grown is of higher quality that doesn't grow as well elsewhere," he said.
More than a half million acres of California farmland has been left fallow this year, making a deep cut in the state's ag economy, reported Heesun Wee on CNBC.com.
"Land is incredibly productive. Nobody leaves land idle unless something really bad happens," said Dan Sumner, the director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center, based at UC Davis. The bad thing that happened is four winters of well-below-average precipitation in California.
According to Sumner and his colleagues' analysis, 564,000 acres of land have been left fallow, statewide revenue losses amount to $1.8 billion, and there are 8,550 fewer farm jobs.
The dairy industry is being hit particularly hard. The economy of China, a big U.S. dairy consumer, has slowed while at the same time dairy farmers are paying higher feed prices because hay farmers have lowered production due to water shortages.
"Dairy is in a world of hurt right now," Sumner said.
Reporters Jim Carlton and Ilan Brat reported in the Wall Street Journal today about the impact of the state water board's decision to revoke some senior water rights in California.
Holders of senior water rights are concerned that the state has stricter and longer-term cuts in store for the future, cuts that could reshape how and what they grow, said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. "The drought has really taught people that water supplies aren't as permanent as they thought," Parker said.
California's irrigated agriculture is suffering due to drought.
"Look at this," said west side farmer John Diener. "In this field, I tried to cultivate a type of wheat that doesn't need as much water. But it did not (thrive). We did not get enough rain. Now the entire crop has withered." (Translation by Google Translate.)
Rønneberg walked on the bank of Millerton Lake, north of Fresno, where he would have been wading through water in a normal year. He reported that the reservoir is at 30 percent of its capacity.
The reporter also touched on a common theme during the 2010-14 drought: the water needs of California's almond crop, which has more than doubled in size over the last 20 years. Each almond, the story said, requires 4.2 liters of water.
"There are many who believe that almonds require much more water than other plants. That's just nonsense," Diener said. "But there are some who have an interest in blaming farmers for water shortages, and they have chosen to use the almond as a kind of symbol."
The Norwegian newspaper reported that urban Californians were irritated when Gov. Brown's April 1 water conservation restrictions didn't include agriculture.
“Why should they give up their lawns when farmers are growing vegetables, grains and nuts?” the story asks, noting that a significant portion of alfalfa and almonds grown in California are exported to other countries.
Doug Parker, director of the UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources, said that's the wrong way to look at the issue. “So what if it is exported?” Parker said. “We also import plenty of food to California. That's how the global market works.”
The reporter spoke to a yard worker who said customers are asking for service once a week, where they used to have it twice a week.
“The grass is starting to die out because they've been told to bring down their watering times. Before, they watered two times a day, four times a week. Now, they only water once a week," the worker said.
But in time, the industry is bound to adjust to a new water-conserving reality, assured Doug Parker, director of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) California Institute for Water Resources.
“Eventually, with redesign and installation, those landscapes will need maintenance as well. So it could be in the long term, those maintenance crews come back to where they were," Parker said. "They may not be mowing as much as they were, but the bushes will still need to be trimmed.”
Other drought news:
Ag woes have big impact on San Joaquin Valley economy
Tim Hearden, Capital Press, May 21, 2015
While agriculture may seem small compared to the entire California economy, it has a big impact on commerce in the San Joaquin Valley, according to Daniel Sumner, director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center. “Statewide, agriculture is 2 percent of the state's economy,” Sumner said. “That's the number, and if agriculture is cut 10 percent, that's two-tenths of 1 percent (of the economy).” But, he adds, “…That doesn't mean it's tiny.” In some communities in western Fresno County, a lack of ag-related jobs because of fallowed acres has led to an unemployment rate of nearly 40 percent.