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

NEWS FEED

New cost estimates for strawberry production released by UC Agricultural Issues Center

The cost study for strawberry production notes that in 2016 new minimum wage and overtime laws were passed in California. Many growers already pay more than the current state minimum wage, but may be affected by the overtime law.

A new costs and returns study for strawberries has been released by UC Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension to help growers make farm management decisions. The study presents sample costs to produce and harvest strawberries for fresh market in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. 

“The study also has an expanded section on labor, which includes information on California's new minimum wage and overtime laws,” said Laura Tourte, UC Cooperative Extension farm management advisor in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties, who co-authored the study.

The analysis is based upon a hypothetical well-managed farming operation using practices common to the Central Coast region. The costs, materials, and practices shown in this study will not apply to all farms. Growers, UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisors and other agricultural associates provided input and reviewed the methods and findings of the study.

The study assumes a fairly flat farm operation of 50 contiguous acres of rented land. Strawberries are planted on 45 acres. From April through early October, the crop is harvested by hand and packed into trays containing eight 1-pound clamshells. Harvest peaks in June and July. 

The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for production material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. Ranging analysis tables show net 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.

Free copies of “Sample Costs to Produce and Harvest Strawberries in the Central Coast Region-2016” and other sample cost-of-production studies for many other commodities are available. To download the cost studies, visit the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at https://coststudies.ucdavis.edu

The cost and returns studies program is funded by the UC Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension – both of which are part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources – and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the study, contact the UC Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651, Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Santa Cruz County, at (831) 763-8025 or Tourte at (831) 763-8005.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 12:05 PM

Bananas!

Did you know that a banana tree is not really a tree? It's a giant perennial bulb that grows to maturity in less than a year, producing one flower that becomes one huge bunch of bananas. I learned this fact last month from banana growers while visiting the home of organic bananas, the Dominican Republic.

I was invited by a US AID Farmer-to-Farmer project to spend a couple of weeks as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic, primarily to work with the Banelino Banana Cooperative. Banelino is a banana production and exporting company comprised of approximately 320 mostly small-scale banana producers in the northwest section of the country, near the border with Haiti. All producers are certified, or seeking, organic, fair trade, or Global Gap certifications.

(Photo: Roberta Almerez)

Eighty percent of the bananas grown by Banelino are certified organic, and most of them are fair trade certified. The primary export destination for Dominican Republic organic bananas is Europe.

The growers have been impacted by climate change problems, including strong winds, more frequent and intense droughts and record high temperatures. My assignment, based on my work as UC Cooperative Extension Agritourism Coordinator, was to help Banelino assess the potential for successful agritourism development to diversify their income and carry them through hard times.

Like farmers all over the world, the Banelino banana growers have a story to share with visitors. Part of the story is the fascinating revelation of the annual growth cycle of the banana plant; the other part of the story is about the community. I learned the true meaning for the words "fair trade."  With the premium, or the added income, that Banelino receives by selling in the fair trade program, the company is able to provide schools, clinics and other social programs for the banana grower and banana worker families. We visited schools and talked with teachers, seeing primary grades classes smaller than most California classes, with children engaged in learning. We visited a school for special needs students, paid for through the Banelino fair trade income, that was so modern and well-equipped it would be the envy of most California special education teachers. It had a colorful art room and a fully equipped, small-scale bakery with mixers and ovens for a training program for the older youth.

Banelino Primary school. (Photo: Roberta Almerez)

Also, like other farmers around the world, Banelino growers have a challenge developing a program to attract paying visitors to tour the farms and learn their stories. They will need to create signs and brochures in multiple languages for their visitors. They will need to work with a local marketing professional to develop a website and social media marketing campaign. They will have to analyze their costs and price their tour so that they don't lose money in the efforts. They will need to connect with the local tourism community and get included in visitor guides and tourism maps. They will need to offer familiarization tours to travel agents, tour leaders and hotel staff to entice them to refer tourists from the all-inclusive beach resorts three hours' drive away. They will have to work with their local hotel association to create an attractive itinerary for visitors to the region - enough attractions to keep guests overnight in hotels - to justify the three-hour drive.

Like farmers everywhere who are considering agritourism, the Banelino banana growers will soon be part of the hospitality industry. They have a wonderful story to share of a hard-working and warm-hearted community. Please look them up if you visit the Dominican Republic.

(Photo: Roberta Almerez)
Posted on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 9:16 AM

Backyard poultry enthusiasts invited to participate in UC research survey

By learning how backyard poultry enthusiasts share information with each other, UC researchers will be able to deliver poultry-health information more effectively to poultry owners.

Californians who raise backyard poultry are invited to participate in a study to help the University of California more effectively deliver poultry health information, especially to prevent the spread of poultry diseases.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Cooperative Extension are conducting a research study consisting of a voluntary survey designed specifically for backyard poultry owners in California. 

“Our goal is to better understand how backyard poultry enthusiasts communicate with each other in California and to design and execute effective and efficient backyard poultry outreach programs,” said Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “To do this, we are sending out a short survey to help us understand the ‘structure' of the backyard poultry network."

Identifying information will be stripped from survey answers to create a network of anonymous dots.
This information will be crucial in the event of a poultry disease outbreak such as avian influenza.

For example, if the researchers know which counties have a large number of birds traveling in and out, then they can focus outreach resources, such as biosecurity workshops, in those higher-risk counties. In addition, the information will guide UC scientists to plan custom workshops depending on the needs of poultry owners in specific counties.

“Please note we are a university not a regulatory agency and therefore our focus is on outreach and education, not regulation and enforcement,” Pitesky said.

If you would like to participate in this voluntary study, please fill out the California Backyard Poultry Survey at http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry/CA_Backyard_Poultry_Survey by June 1, 2017. 

If you have any questions or comments, please contact UC Cooperative Extension specialist Pitesky at mepitesky@ucdavis.edu or his research associate Myrna Cadena at mmcadena@ucdavis.edu.

 

Posted on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 3:10 PM

UCTV launches new portal to sustainability for California

The University of California today launches Sustainable California, a new media-rich web portal to share its efforts to sustain the world's sixth largest economy, a site of unequal natural resources and provider of more than half the nation's fruits, nuts and vegetables. The portal is hosted by University of California Television (UCTV).

Principal project partners are UC Water, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and UC Merced School of Engineering, among others.

Together with UC ANR and other UC partners, UCTV launches the new Sustainable California channel at http://www.uctv.tv/sustainable-cal/.

“California has a tremendous diversity of plants, animals, ecosystems and people,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC ANR. “The state also plays an important role in feeding the nation and the world. We are now facing climate change, increasing conversion of agricultural land to urban uses, introductions of invasive diseases and pests, and other threats. UC ANR will share its science-based solutions for California sustainability on this new outlet.”

Sustainable California will broadcast stories of sustainability research and outreach conducted by University of California faculty, scientists and student.

“This is what UCTV is about, connecting Californians to the real-world, inestimable values that the UC provides all of California,” said UCTV Director Lynn Burnstan. “We are very excited to be able to join these partners and give the public direct access to what they are doing for all our benefit.”

As well as a video introduction to the portal, the launch features three fresh videos, spanning natural resources and agriculture. Water in the Balance, from UCWater, is a five-minute journey from Sierra Nevada snowpack through the state's system of dams and reservoirs to groundwater storage. The first in a series of six episodes, Introduction to Conservation Agriculture Cropping Systems, from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, features California farmers and UC scientists working together to develop sustainable farming practices. Taking technology to the mountains, Sierra-Net highlights the development of innovative cyber-infrastructure to provide real-time monitoring of the state's water resources and forest health. Produced by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute, viewers will gain a deeper understanding of natural resources management and innovation.

The channel's content is appropriate for audiences of all ages and freely accessible to the public online at uctv.tv/sustainable-cal. The integrated video, article and curriculum format of the channel, in addition to its focus on biodiversity, natural resources and low-impact living, provides users both a look at and connection to practical solutions and approaches the UC is developing, making it a valuable resource for professional practitioners, educators, and media outlets.

Posted on Friday, May 5, 2017 at 9:59 AM

Visit a UC Master Gardener demonstration garden, learn and be inspired

Birds are chirping, the sun is shining and flowers are in bloom – it is time to get out into a garden and enjoy nature's beauty. UC Master Gardeners have been working hard to bring demonstration and community gardens to life across California, and volunteers are eager to teach how you can create sustainable splendor in your own landscape.

UC Master Gardener demonstration gardens offer knowledge and examples on how to grow a variety of plants in your garden. Visit one today and be inspired!

The UC Master Gardener Program is in your community

Be inspired. Visit a garden that has the power of the University of California and the UC Master Gardener Program behind it. With thousands of volunteers, hundreds of demonstration, school and community gardens across California and programs in 50 counties plus Lake Tahoe basin it is easy to discover the joy of gardening in your community. 

Hit the road and get excited about gardening

UC Master Gardener demonstration gardens showcase best practices for garden management from plant selection to ground covers and irrigation. Demonstration gardens can appeal to everyone as they often include multiple themes like bumble bees, growing veggies, historical roses and low water–use plants. 

Things you can discover in a demonstration or community garden: 

  • Mediterranean or native plants
  • Roses
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Succulents
  • Orchard trees and vegetables
  • Pollinator habitats
  • Composting
  • Irrigation methods
  • Mulch

Whatever your interest, you'll be sure to take something away from your visit to one of the many gardens across California. Find a location by visiting the UC Master Gardener Program garden map: http://bit.ly/2qqWRM4

Visit one or all of the beautiful gardens across California that UC Master Gardeners play an active role in bringing the garden and educating the public to life! UC Master Gardener Program garden map: http://bit.ly/2qqWRM4

“When on a road trip I love to stop, stretch my legs and walk around a garden in a new town or city. It gives me an opportunity see new and unique plants that grow in different areas, plus I have the opportunity to recharge,” says UC Master Gardener volunteer Lauren Hull. “Recently, I was driving to Lake Tahoe and made a point to stop and visit the Sherwood Demonstration Garden, it was the perfect break during the long drive!”

UC Master Gardener classes share science-based gardening practices

For more direct educational opportunities, attend a gardening workshop hosted by local UC Master Gardener Program.  Workshops are free or very low cost and cover a vast array of gardening topics. To find a UC Master Gardener event in your area, visit: mg.ucanr.edu/Events.

As you plan your summer travel, consider attending a workshop or event where you are vacationing. The UC Master Gardeners of Orange County are teaching the power of perennials on May 20, UC Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County will present at the Santa Ynez Valley Earth Day celebration May 21, the UC Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County will have a Kids' Day in the Garden on June 3 … and so many more events to choose from!

“Attendees at workshops, classes and on demonstration garden tours can expect to hear from gardening experts in their local community. UC Master Gardener volunteers have been trained by UC scientists to become a 'master' in the garden and are proud to share their expertise and knowledge with an inexperienced gardener or an industry professional,” said Missy Gable, UC Master Gardener Program director.

UC Master Gardener volunteer Lauren Hull stops at a local community garden in Davis, Calif. and helps harvest blackberries for the resident chickens.

Take ideas home

Whether your landscape needs a total overhaul, a few new plants or nothing at all, the knowledge and new ideas gained from workshops and demonstrations gardens is inspiring. Invite bees, butterflies and hummingbirds into your life by adding pollinator friendly plants to an existing landscape. Become more water-wise by adding mulch, changing out sprinkler heads and replacing high water user plants. Continue growing as a gardener by staying connected with your local UC Master Gardener Program, and stopping at demonstration gardens throughout the state. 

The UC Master Gardener Program extends to the public free UC research-based information about home horticulture and pest management. In exchange for the training and materials received from the University of California, UC Master Gardeners perform volunteer services in a myriad of venues. If you are interested in becoming a certified UC Master Gardener contact your local UC Cooperative Extension office.

 

Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 1:46 PM

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