Posts Tagged: drought
Flash bloom: Warm weather has all almond varieties blooming at the same time
(Chico Enterprise-Record) Steve Schoonover, Feb. 9
The warm weather we've been enjoying has produced what's called a “flash bloom” in almonds, with all the varieties blooming at once.
…The idea is to get what Butte County UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Luke Milliron called “bloom overlap.”
…Glenn County Farm Advisor Dani Lightle said the weather has been good for bee flight, with warm temperatures and little wind.
“But with the crush of flowers all at the same time, can they get to them all?” she asked.
Farmers Can Put Themselves On The Map If They Complete The U.S. Agriculture Census By February 5
(Capital Public Radio) Julia Mitric, Feb. 5
…The once-every-five-year census also paints a picture that can help the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which leads beginning farmer and rancher training programs.
Jennifer Sowerwine works on these programs through the UC Cooperative Extension at UC Berkeley.
"The Ag Census data is helpful in my work because we can see changes over time in the demographic profile of farmers [race, gender and size] that can help inform the type of training we offer," explains Sowerwine.
New frontiers await groundwater recharge projects
(Capital Press) Tim Hearden, Feb. 2
While California's groundwater reserves have been systematically depleted since the 1920s, the notion of recharge really took hold with the passage of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which includes intentional recharge of farm fields as an available option, said Helen Dahlke, a UC-Davis hydrologist who has led some of the research.
UC scientists have been working with growers throughout the valley to find fields with soils conducive to recharge and set up pilot projects, as have groups such as the Almond Board.
The project is one of numerous efforts in various crop fields throughout crop fields being done with the help of UC Cooperative Extension advisers. In the Scott Valley in far northern California, for example, rancher Jim Morris obtained permission to take winter stormwater from a local water district's irrigation canal and apply different amounts of water to different sections of a field to test the tolerance of his alfalfa to the practice.
UC launches drought video series
Red Bluff Daily News, Feb. 3
Because periodic droughts will always be a part of life in California, the UC California Institute for Water Resources produced a series of videos to maintain drought awareness and planning, even in years when water is more abundant.
Shasta County wants to grow agritourism
(Redding Record Searchlight) Damon Arthur, Feb. 1
Penny Leff, agritourism coordinator for the UC Cooperative Extension, said agritourism has been going on for many years throughout the state.
“Agritourism is a supplemental business for a working rancher or farmer,” she said.
The California Agritourism Directory online listed eight destinations in Shasta County. However, one of them could not be reached because its phone service and website were no longer active. Another had quit the agritourism business.
Dixon Siblings Win Solano Co. 4-H Chili Cook-Off
(Dixon Patch) Susan C. Schena, Feb. 1
"The Chili Cook Off is a great hands-on opportunity for youth to build confidence and spark their creativity," said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H Program representative. " Chili team members build food preparation skills, learn food and kitchen safety, and use math and science concepts, as they develop their chili recipes."
Warm and sunny winter days are no cause for celebration among the farmers, ranchers and forest managers who rely on UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' research-based information and expertise to make their work more profitable. Such is the feeling shared by UC Cooperative Extension advisor Dan Macon in his Foothill Agrarian blog. He began worrying more than a month ago about the spate of dry weather in the state.
"While I'm a worrier by nature, I think worrying about the weather is natural for anyone who relies on Mother Nature directly," Macon wrote.
"He knows his subject and he writes well about it. I read every post, but his most recent piece about Old Man Reno, one of his farm dogs, really resonated with me. Read his blog every chance you get: it will make you feel better about life," wrote Rose Hayden-Smith, the author of the UC Food Observer.
The column included a shout-out about the recent launch of a three-video series on the drought produced by UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR). The series opens with Cannon Michael of Bowles Farming in Los Banos. The alfalfa grower works with UCCE specialist Dan Putnam.
“There's a lot of misunderstanding about alfalfa as a crop,” Michael said. “It does take water to grow it, as with anything, but you get multiple harvests of it every year.”
Videos two and three will be launched March 2 and April 6.
The UC Food Observer also recommended a blog produced by the CIWR's Faith Kearns – The Confluence. She recently wrote about how California's idea of “natural” beauty may have shifted during the drought.
California's years-long drought is easing up, with storms delivering rain and snow that has exceeded "normal" for the state, reported Jed Kim for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk. Kim interviewed Dan Sumner, the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources statewide program that focuses on such topics such international markets, invasive pests and diseases, and rural development.
Sumner shared a message of hope during the two-minute Marketplace clip.
"So far at least, things are close enough to normal that farmers aren't going to make drastic changes in either their planting decisions or their irrigation decisions," Sumner said.
The abundant rainfall this year will ease pressure on the state's groundwater reservoirs, which have been tapped extensively during the drought to keep crops alive when surface water was unavailable.
"What that does is give us a little cushion in terms of planning for long-term changes," Sumner said.
Kim said the state may need to plan for a future with more limited water resources, "a future that may come sooner rather than later."
The California rainy season is off to a good start, raising hopes that the ongoing drought will be snapped, reported Aaron Davis in the East Bay Times.
"We've seen a sigh of relief from a lot of growers that are right at about half of their total seasonal average and we are halfway through the season," said Paul Verdegaal, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor in San Joaquin County.
The rain is helping flush salts away from the grapevines' rootzones and refill the aquifer, which has been depleted in some areas due to the years-long drought.
The National Weather Service's Seasonal Drought Outlook shows areas of Northern California already free from drought, some areas where the drought designation remains, but is improved, and areas where drought designation removal is "likely."
Half of the state's annual rainfall comes in December, January and February. "This is only mid-December .... So we still have a ways to go in our wet season and Northern California is well above average," said Jeanine Jones, deputy drought manager with the California State Department of Water Resources.
Public Policy Institute of California.
Pottinger asked Ted Grantham, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, whether the state's fish are adapted to periodic droughts.
Drought is one stressor, he said, but there are additional factors imperiling fish.
"California's native fish have been in steady decline for at least 50 years — in part due to dams, habitat degradation, and the introduction of non-native species," Grantham said. "Native fishes have developed several strategies to cope, but key to their long-term survival is their ability to recover from drought during wet years."
Grantham said there are at least three strategies that would help better manage the state's native fish.
- Better define the amount of water needed to sustain healthy fish populations.
- Create an accurate accounting system for tracking water availability and use.
- Recognize that not all streams are created equal. Some streams support more biological diversity.
The ecosystems science researcher said he is optimistic about the future.
"Although the drought has severely affected California's freshwater ecosystems, it also has raised awareness about the need to improve water management and better prepare for climate change," he said.
For more on threats to California native fish, read Identifying gaps in protecting California's native fish in the UC California Institute for Water Resources' blog The Confluence.