Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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UC ANR provides new cost and return studies for California agriculture

The costs and returns of producing alfalfa under flood irrigation is one of five new reports by UC ANR.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources economists have completed five new cost and return studies, analyzing the financial aspects of establishing or reestablishing irrigated pasture, producing alfalfa under flood irrigation, establishing winegrapes, and producing field corn.

The newly available studies are as follows:

  • There are two new cost and return studies for establishing or reestablishing and producing irrigated pasture in the Sacramento Valley. The studies focus primarily on establishment and production costs in the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba. The two separate studies list estimated production costs for establishing and producing irrigated pasture for hay and grazing. The major differences between the two companion studies are establishment and reestablishment of the pasture under two separate scenarios. One covers tilled and no-till planting methods and the other is for pasture production for high intensity grazing and for harvesting hay.
  • The third new study outlines cost and returns for producing alfalfa under flood irrigation in the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys. This study focuses on the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sutter and Yolo. This study can be compared to the 2014 cost and return study, “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Alfalfa Hay in The Sacramento Valley and Northern Delta Using Sub-Surface Drip Irrigation (SDI)-2014.”

  • A study is available for establishing and producing winegrapes in the Central Region of the Sierra Nevada foothills. This study focuses on the establishment and the first five years production costs of red wine varieties on bilateral cordon vineyards in the Central Sierra Nevada Foothill Region counties of Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Tuolumne. The majority of the production operations are performed by a vineyard management company.
  • A cost study is complete for producing field corn for grain in the southern San Joaquin Valley. The study focuses on the production costs in the southern San Joaquin Valley counties of Kern, Kings and Tulare. The study is based on furrow irrigation and uses Roundup Ready-GMO seed.

Each analysis is based upon a hypothetical farm operation using practices common to the region. Input and reviews were provided by growers, farm advisors and other agricultural associates. Assumptions used to identify current costs for individual crops, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead are described. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

These new study titles are:

  • “Sample Costs to Establish or Reestablish and Produce Pasture in the Sacramento Valley-2015”,
  • “Sample Costs to Produce Pasture in the Sacramento Valley-2015”,
  • “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Alfalfa Hay Using Flood Irrigation in the Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley, North-2015”,
  • “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Wine Grapes in the Sierra Nevada foothills-2015”,
  • “Sample Costs to Produce Field Corn in the San Joaquin Valley, South-2015”

These and other sample cost of production studies for many commodities are available and can be downloaded from the UC Davis Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics website, http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Many earlier, archived studies are also available on the website, http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/archived.php

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies call UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist Karen Klonsky, who is based at the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC Davis, (530) 752-3589, klonsky@primal.ucdavis.edu or call Don Stewart, (530) 752-4651, destewart@ucdavis.edu, Kabir Tumber, (530) 752-5489, kptumber@primal.ucdavis.edu.

An initiative to enhance competitive and sustainable food systems is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Friday, May 22, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Public invited to food security symposium June 4

A public symposium on "Food for a Healthy World: Monitoring progress toward food security" will be held Thursday, June 4, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon, at the UC Davis Student Community Center. The event is hosted by the UC ANR Agricultural Issues Center and UC Davis World Food Center.

“This program will be of much interest to students, faculty and researchers with an interest in agricultural, environmental and development issues related to sustainable nutrition security,” said Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center.

Discussions will include

  • Environmental Quality and Ecosystem Services by William Clark, Harvard University, and Pamela Ronald, UC Davis
  • Agricultural Production Issues by Paul West, University of Minnesota, and Jan Hopmans, UC Davis
  • Nutrition Security by Barbara Schneeman, US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Bruce German, UC Davis
  • Food Policy and Trade by Joseph Glauber, International Food Policy Research Institute, Jikun Huang, Chinese Academy of Sciences,  and Sumner

The closing discussion will be moderated by Roger Beachy, executive director of the UC Davis World Food Center.

Admission is free. Please RSVP by sending an email to worldfoodcenter@ucdavis.edu. For more information, visit http://aic.ucdavis.edu/events/FoodForHealthyWorld.html or call (530) 752-7172.

Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 5:47 PM

Three long-time UC ANR academics in Tulare County retire in 2015

Left to right, Jim Sullins, Cathi Lamp and Neil O'Connell.
Three members of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) academic staff in Tulare County, with a combined 90 years of experience, are retiring in 2015. UC ANR Cooperative Extension is the local arm of UC ANR, conducting research and education programs in Tulare County for agricultural production, home gardening (UC Master Gardeners), youth development (4-H) and public health and nutrition.

Retiring this year will be:

Jim Sullins, director of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Tulare and Kings counties and livestock range, and natural resources advisor, retires after 32 years of service. Sullins began his UC ANR career in Southern California, serving as livestock and range advisor for San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Early in his career, Sullins' work in rangeland management focused on applying scientific principles to the relationship of livestock grazing and implementation of the Endangered Species Act.

In July 1993, Sullins took the position of UC ANR CE director and livestock, range and natural resources advisor in Tulare County. In the advisor aspect of this role, he concentrated on watershed management and control of invasive species.

“I am proud to say we have been responsible for the untimely demise of many yellow starthistle plants,” Sullins said.

A significant moment in his career was prompted by the devastating citrus freeze of 1998. UC ANR CE stepped forward – as it did following after the previous “100-year freeze” of 1990 – to aid the community after thousands of acres of citrus were damaged and thousands of workers lost their jobs. Sullins co-chaired the community Freeze Relief Committee and the Fund Raising Committee, working with numerous nonprofits and establishing partnerships that have endured for years, enabling collaboration on additional projects.

Another major event during Sullins' tenure was development in 2001 of a new agricultural complex for UC ANR Cooperative Extension and the Tulare County Department of Agriculture. Sullins worked with the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner and industry support groups to build a modern and highly visible facility across Laspina Street from the World Ag Expo grounds in Tulare County.

Three years ago, Sullins also took the reins of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Kings County.

“I believe that Cooperative Extension is the very best organization of its kind on earth,” Sullins said. “I have worked with committed and highly trained professionals who make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of the people they serve.”

In retirement, Sullins said he and his wife will ride California's highways and byways on his Harley motorcycle – a hobby he recently revived after a 30-year hiatus. He also plans to write some opinion pieces and look into editing and publishing two books written by his late mother. Retirement will also give him more time to spend with his grandchildren and following baseball. Sullins will stay active in the community as a volunteer with the World Ag Expo, working with the Happy Trails Therapeutic Riding Academy, and as president of the County Center Rotary Club in Visalia.

Cathi Lamp – nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor – is completing a 27-year career with UC ANR Cooperative Extension. Lamp joined the organization after working for 10 years in the Tulare County Department of Health as a public health nutritionist.

She said the position appealed to her because it involved both research and community nutrition. Her work on a “nutrition plate” project exemplified the ability she had to identify a need in the community, find a solution, research its effectiveness and see the results benefit society.

“Years ago, the educators I worked with were telling me that people didn't understand the abstract nature of nutrition guidance in pyramid form,” Lamp said. “We started using a plate as a nutrition education tool in Tulare County.”

This led to a statewide research project to evaluate the use of the plate showing the proportions of foods needed to achieve a healthy diet in nutrition education. Lamp and her colleagues took the project a step further and photographed plates of familiar foods in proper proportions to demonstrate the concept. The pictures were evaluated by low-income families and many changes were made based on their feedback. The photographs are now incorporated into posters, handouts, and other teaching aids and are used in conjunction with nearly all UC ANR nutrition curricula for youth and adults. A UC ANR nutrition specialist asked if she could share the work conducted in California with USDA.

“She thinks that our project was instrumental in the eventual adoption of MyPlate to replace MyPyramid by USDA,” Lamp said. “We saw a local need, worked on it, did a study and developed it further, and had a considerable impact on providing clear nutrition education.”

In retirement, Lamp plans on traveling extensively, with places in Europe, Asia and Australia on her list of international destinations, plus sites in the U.S., including Savannah, Charleston, Austin and many national parks. She is interested in training from the Society for California Archaeology that will allow her to visit and record changes at archaeological and historical sites in the state.

Neil O'Connell, UC ANR Cooperative Extension citrus advisor, retired after 34 years serving Tulare County citrus producers. O'Connell studied entomology in college and took a position with Sunkist Growers, Inc. and then a packing association affiliated with Sunkist in Visalia. When he learned the local citrus advisor, John Pierson, was moving to a specialist position at the UC ANR Lindcove Research and Extension Center, he applied for the extension job.

O'Connell developed a strong relationship with citrus farmers and pest control advisers working in the citrus industry.

“They trusted my judgement and experience,” O'Connell said. “My interaction with growers was always pleasant and they were very appreciative of my efforts to help them solve problems.”

He views the current battle to control Asian citrus psyllid and the pest's ability to spread huanglongbing, a devastating citrus disease not yet found in California, as the biggest challenge to citrus producers since he became involved with the citrus industry four decades ago.

“Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing have stimulated a tremendous amount of research work in Florida and at the University of California,” O'Connell said, adding that he believes in the resiliency of California growers to overcome the challenge with the help of world-class University of California researchers.

O'Connell and his wife wish to travel in retirement, including trips to Alaska and Pacific Northwest among the first.

Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 8:41 AM

Scientists to bury time capsule with letters to their successors

Jeff Dahlberg, director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, with the time capsule that will be buried May 26.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, six UC scientists have written letters to their successors at Kearney to be read when the center celebrates its centennial in 2065.

Center director Jeff Dahlberg, who will be 108 years old in 2065, predicted in his letter that today's modern technology – smart phones and computers – will be ditched by then in favor of holographic demonstrations about new plants and agronomic practices.

“You'll be able to see, in 3-D, how plant systems function, how genes work, and what happens when you turn a gene off or on and the cascading effects of those actions,” Dahlberg predicted.

A time capsule containing the letters will be buried on May 26, exactly 50 years after the May 26, 1965, dedication of the sprawling research station near Parlier in the Central San Joaquin Valley. It will also contain a 20-foot-long banner with a timeline showing significant research accomplishments at Kearney. The banner will have signatures and messages from all the attendees at the 50th anniversary celebration on May 26, 2015.

Kearney is one of nine agricultural research and extension facilities UC Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains in California. The northernmost is on the Oregon border near Tulelake; the southernmost is in Holtville, a short drive from the border with Mexico. Centers are found in the Sierra foothills, in the North Coast and in suburban Southern California. Each center represents local conditions and focuses on crops and activities important in the area.

At the 330-acre UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, scientists conduct research on a diversity of Central San Joaquin Valley crops, including grapes, stone fruit, almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, blueberries, alfalfa and more recently sorghum. Twenty Ph.D.-level scientists are based at the center, where they conduct research in pest control, new crop varieties, plant disease control and irrigation strategies.

A scientist who joined the staff in 2013, Kris Tollerup, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM), will be looking for some answers from his successors.

“Growers and pest control advisors are reluctant to adopt new IPM practices until they are well proven,” Tollerup wrote. “I am curious, do you face the same challenge?”

Since Tollerup will be 105 when the time capsule is opened, his young children, who will be 54 and 58 in 2065, may have to collect the responses for him.

UC IPM advisor Pete Goodell, who with 34 years of service to UC ANR is approaching retirement, had sage advice for successors that might continue to be bombarded with modern conveniences.

“My advice,” Goodell wrote. “Get out of the office and get to the farm . . . Create and nourish human networks as well as virtual ones.”

Goodell tells his successors that, no matter the technological advances that are sure to come, knowledge transfer will always be based on personal contact and trust.

“Humans, even in your time, are high touch species who thrive on social interaction,” he said.

The other three letters going in the time capsule include these quotes:

“I assume that (nematodes) still will be around when you read this letter. At least this is something that I tell my students: ‘nematode problems will outlive us.'” – Andreas Westphal, UC ANR Cooperative Extension nematology specialist.

“Release of genetically modified mosquitoes carrying sex lethal genes has been approved on a relatively small scale in a few countries. I wonder if this method of control will be better perceived in the future and become the norm?” – Anthony Cornel, entomologist and director of the Mosquito Lab at Kearney.

“It will be interesting to see how the citrus industry adapts to the (Asian citrus psyllid/huanglongbing) situation. Growers are very creative people and I believe they will find a way.” – Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC ANR Cooperative Extension entomology specialist.

Read the letters to the future in their entirety on the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center website.

Author: Jeannette Warnert

Posted on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 10:42 AM

Public invited to tour UC ANR research and extension center in Fresno County on May 27

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center opens its doors to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 27 for free tours of the 330-acre facility. The center is at 9240 S. Riverbend Ave., Parlier.

At the facility, which is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, scientists conduct research on a diversity of Central San Joaquin Valley crops, including grapes, stone fruit, almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, blueberries, alfalfa and more recently sorghum. Twenty Ph.D.-level scientists are based at the center to study pest control, new crop varieties, plant disease control and irrigation strategies.

Trams will run throughout the day on 30-minute guided tours that highlight research in permanent and row crops. The research includes plant pathology, integrated pest management, winegrape rootstocks, fresh fig varieties and handling, carbon sequestration, nematology, medical entomology, orchard strategies, organic alfalfa strategies, dried on the vine strategies, wine varieties.

Large groups are asked to register in advance on the Kearney website, http://kare.ucanr.edu/Open_House. For more information, contact Laura Van der Staay, (559) 646-6030, ljvanderstaay@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9:33 AM

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