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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Dairy operators to learn how to help their cows beat the heat

Comfortable dairy cows will lie down 14 hours a day. (Photo: The Dairyland Initiative, U. of Wisc.)
It's cold outside, but dairy farmers can prepare for the inevitable summer heat by attending a UC Cooperative Extension program Jan. 29 on managing cow comfort in hot weather. The free meeting, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon followed by lunch, will be at the Tulare County Agricultural Building, 4437 S. Laspina St., Tulare.

“Dairies suffer many losses during hot summer months,” said Alex Souza, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tulare County. “Cows lose their appetite, milk production falls, fertility is down and feet problems are common during the heat of the summer.”

Feet problems result from cows' tendency to stand when they are hot, rather than lie down.

“Comfortable dairy cows will lie down 14 hours a day,” Souza said. “But when cows lie down, their temperature rises. If they can't tolerate the heat, they will stand. Too much standing is hard on their feet.”

The foot problems, lower rate of pregnancies and reduced milk production of summer can be alleviated with proper management. At the meeting, Souza will review programs, equipment and strategies that increase cow comfort during hot weather, including:

  • The NOAA/NWS Western Region Heat Impact Level Project
  • Assessing and improving animal welfare on the farm
  • Soakers to cool cows: Can we reduce water use?
  • Applied strategies to reduce heat stress in dairy herds
  • Heat stress management on California dairies
  • Interactions between milk production, heat stress and fertility

RSVP by calling (559) 684-3300 to be guaranteed lunch. The lunch is provided by Zinpro Performance Minerals.

Posted on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 2:46 PM
Tags: Alex Souza (1), dairy (3)

UC Cooperative Extension offers specialty-food business workshops

Learn how to make and sell specialty food products.
Everyone considering bringing a new food product to the market is invited to a one-day intensive specialty food workshop. “Starting a SUCCESSFUL Specialty Food Business” will be offered in Novato and Oakland by UC Cooperative Extension in February.

In this workshop, participants will learn the fundamentals of the specialty food marketplace and how to start creating their own success story. Specialty-food business experts will give tips for marketing and specialty food producers will tell their stories. All participants will receive the book “Sell Your Specialty Food,” and will leave with a clearer understanding of the industry and real-world answers to their questions.

Each workshop will last from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Online registration is encouraged. The fee is $20 for online registration by Feb. 2, or $35 (cash or check) at the door. Lunch and snacks are included in the workshop fee. Vegetarian options are available.

The Novato workshop will be Monday, Feb. 9, at the Hamilton Community Center, 503 South Palm Drive, Novato, CA 94949. More information and registration: http://ucanr.edu/spfoodsmarin

The Oakland workshop will be Friday, Feb. 13, at the Alameda County Public Health Dept., 1000 Broadway, Room 5000A, Oakland CA 94607. More info and registration: http://ucanr.edu/spfoodoak

Three additional specialty-food business workshops will be scheduled in Northern California this spring.

“Specialty food experts will discuss the business realities – from production to promotion. We'll cover financing, marketing, sales and distribution, as well as essential lessons about safe and legal production methods,” said workshop organizer and speaker Shermain Hardesty, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.

“Participants will also learn how to build their brand, get their product on the shelf, and price their product correctly for the market,” said Hardesty.

Other presenters will include Linda Harris, a UCCE specialist in food safety and microbiology at UC Davis, and Tim Sullivan, a specialty foods consultant with Sage Food Group. Harris will teach a section on “Staying Safe and Legal: Food Safety & Regulations.” Sullivan will discuss multiple aspects of pricing and marketing specialty food products. Two successful local specialty-food producers will describe how they began selling their products.

The workshop will include opportunities for attendees to ask questions. Participants who already have a specialty food product are invited to bring it to the workshop for everyone to taste.

For more information, contact Shermain Hardesty, (530) 752-0467,shermain@primal.ucdavis.edu

This project is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Posted on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 8:59 AM

Pistachio growers gather to hear latest research in Visalia Jan. 21

More than 500 pistachio growers and other industry members are registered to attend the 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day in Visalia on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Pollination, pest control, “bushy top” and water quality are among the subjects that researchers will be discussing.

“Given California's drought and the need to use all available water supplies, even those of marginal quality, there will be great interest in Ken Schmidt's and UC Cooperative Extension advisor Blake Sanden's talks about Valley water supplies and quality,” said Louise Ferguson, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and organizer of the event.

Sanden, who is based in Kern County, will give a presentation on his research on the effects of using saline water for pistachio irrigation on crop yield and soil quality.

“In 2014, there were problems of fruit set and pollination,” Ferguson said. She expects there will be strong interest in the talk about the effects of climate and other factors on pollination requirements and fruit set by Gurreet Brar, UCCE advisor in Fresno County.   

An emerging problem that growers have been seeing in California and Arizona in the past three years is what scientists are calling Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome in clonal UCB1 rootstocks. Affected trees are short and stunted, have closely spaced internodes, exhibit bushy growth and twisted roots. The cause is unknown, but scientists have found it to be associated with the bacterium Rhodococcus.

Jennifer Randall, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science at New Mexico State University, will deliver the first public presentation of research results on the "bushy top" syndrome.  

A full day of research presentations are scheduled.

Themis Michailides, a researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, will give an update on pistachio diseases.

David Haviland, UCCE advisor in Kern County, Kris Tollerup, UC IPM advisor, and Bob Beede, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension advisor will discuss management of navel orangeworm, Phytocoris, leaf-footed bug and stink bugs.

Brad Higbee, director of entomology research for Paramount Farming Company, will discuss how winter sanitation of orchards can decrease pest pressure and, in turn, reduce the need for pesticides. 

Joel Siegel, USDA-ARS research entomologist, will explain how to how to anticipate pest pressure based on past infestation levels.

Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, will discuss nutrient management in pistachios.

The 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the
Visalia Convention Center. For more information, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/pistachioday.

For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California's systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM

UC creates President’s Sustainability Student Fellowship/Internship Program

Solar panels catch rays at Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center.
The University of California has created the President's Sustainability Student Fellowship/Internship Program to support UC's goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025.

The UC Office of the President will provide $7,500 to each of UC's 10 campuses, as well as the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to fund student awards in support of UC's Carbon Neutrality Initiative and other university sustainability efforts. Awards could be made as early as late February.

The program was inspired by UC's Global Food Initiative fellowship program, through which 54 students across the university system have received $2,500 awards to support projects that further the food initiative's goals.

UC President Janet Napolitano said she hopes this new program will spark a similar universitywide interest among students in advancing UC's carbon neutrality goals.

"It is essential that we harness the passion and creative energy of our students as we look for new ways to reduce the carbon footprint of our campuses, our communities, our country and the world,” Napolitano said. “I am hopeful that these awards will galvanize student activity.”

The program will be open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and will be administered at each location to ensure that student efforts align with local needs. UC locations will also have flexibility in determining the number of awards to issue.

At each UC campus, one award recipient will be designated to support student engagement and communications for the Carbon Neutrality Initiative and the President's Global Climate Leadership Council, which was created in 2014 to guide UC's efforts on climate action and sustainability.

Since President Napolitano launched the Carbon Neutrality Initiative in fall 2013, UC has achieved several key milestones, including:

  • Creation of the President's Global Climate Leadership Council, which is now mapping out UC's long-term strategy for achieving university-wide carbon neutrality.
  • Becoming a wholesale power provider, a move that has allowed UC to begin supplying electricity to some of its campuses and medical centers. The change allows UC to make renewables a bigger portion of its power supply and brings energy price transparency to its electricity purchases.
  • UC signed an agreement with Frontier Renewables for the largest solar energy purchase by any higher education institution in the United States. As a result, a significant share of UC electricity will come from solar power beginning in 2016.


Posted on Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 12:17 PM

California chickens at increased risk for severe 'bird flu' strain

Poultry owners are urged to watch for signs of avian influenza in chickens.
UC Davis poultry experts are urging backyard chicken enthusiasts and commercial poultry owners to practice strong biosecurity measures to prevent contact with wild birds, due to highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza recently detected in migratory waterfowl in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Butte County, California.

The current detected strains, H5N2 and H5N8, are not a risk to human health and have not been found in commercial poultry in the United States. However, commercial poultry flocks in British Columbia and backyard flocks in Washington and Oregon have been affected.

Avian influenza -- commonly called "bird flu" -- is a disease found in a wide variety of domesticated and wild birds. Once introduced into an area, infection can spread through bird-to-bird contact or through contact with contaminated clothing, shoes, hands, feed, water or equipment. Because waterfowl are reservoirs for avian influenza strains that can be fatal to domestic poultry (yet often show little to no signs in waterfowl), backyard and commercial chickens raised near areas commonly used by migrating waterfowl are at risk of transmission.

"Due to normal waterfowl migration along the Pacific Flyway, during the winter there are approximately eight times the number of waterfowl in California than what we will see three months from now," said Maurice Pitesky, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. "There are lots of birds that winter and establish roosting and feeding habitat in California wetlands and agricultural crops. If you are a poultry owner -- either backyard or commercial -- and live in proximity to waterfowl and their habitat, your birds are at risk."

Owners of backyard chickens who observe illness or increased mortality in their birds should call their veterinarian or the California Department of Food Agriculture sick bird hotline at (866) 922-2473.

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System includes four diagnostic labs in Davis, Turlock, Tulare and San Bernardino. The labs encourage veterinarians and owners of backyard chickens to submit sick or recently dead birds for necropsy (postmortem) examination. The exam is free of charge for California backyard flock owners of fewer than 1,000 birds (chicken, turkey, waterfowl and squabs). For more information, contact (530) 752-8700 or visit: <http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/cahfs/>

Reduce the risk of bird flu

To reduce the risk of avian influenza transmission, chickens should be kept separate from wild birds and monitored for signs of illness or increased mortality. The CDFA also urges owners to take the following necessary and crucial precautions:

  • If you have a pond or body of water that can attract waterfowl to or near your facility, consider draining if feasible.
  • Provide housing to confine domestic poultry and/or enclose an exercise area with netting.
  • Avoid use of water that comes from sources where waterfowl may congregate during migration.
  • Ideally, owners of poultry should try to avoid waterfowl hunting during migration. Otherwise, ensure clothing, footwear, vehicles, etc. used during hunts are laundered and/or disinfected.
  • Permit only essential workers and vehicles on premises and provide disposable coveralls, boots and head coverings for visitors.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment entering or leaving the premises.
  • Control movement associated with the disposal of mortality, litter and manure.

Additional resources

Information on good biosecurity and hygiene precautions to keep backyard flocks healthy can be found at:

Reports of dead, wild birds can be directed to the Wildlife Investigations Lab at (916) 358-2790. There is also a Web application for submission: http://bit.ly/17ESHWy.

The University of California Global Food Initiative aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 2:55 PM

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