- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
"If you don't water in the San Joaquin Valley, you're not getting a yield," Larry Williams, a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis and based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, told Pierson.
Last month Sacramento Bee columnist Mike Dunne used Williams' study of water use of chardonnay grapes in the Carneros Region to refute the amount of water a Dutch researcher claimed was required to produce a single glass of wine. “In California vineyards and cellars, is 29 gallons of water to produce a single glass of wine a realistic estimate?” Dunne asked Williams, who explained that California grape yields per gallon of water are much higher than in Europe.
“The mean yield of wine grapes in Europe ... is around 1.8 tons per acre using data I've gleaned from research papers,” Williams says. “The mean chardonnay yields across California are 7.4 tons per acre.”
Based on Williams' research, Dunne wrote, “Vines of the dry-farmed portion yielded 4.9 tons per acre, while vines on the irrigated portion produced 6.3 tons per acre. The upshot was that 14.2 gallons of water was needed in the dry-farmed block to produce a typical 4-ounce pour of wine, while 15.3 gallons of water was needed in the irrigated parcel to produce a 4-ounce pour of wine, totals far lower than the figure calculated by the Water Footprint Network.”
"Whether it's good or bad, in California we've become accustomed to a steady water supply though our catchments, dams and aqueducts that deliver water to the (Central) Valley," Ferguson said. "In the past 3 or 4 years of drought, we've become more dependent on wells, what you're always dependent upon here in Australia."
She predicted that, in the next three to five years, California will see a significant decrease in tree crops as a result.
"In California, up till now, we did not have groundwater use regulations," she said. "The increase in wells very shortly will lead to regulations, both quantity and quality. Meaning how much you can draw out and how much nitrogen you can use in your fertilization program."
Jasper also interviewed Almond Board of California president and chief executive officer Richard Waycott.
"As an industry we've been doing deficit irrigation research, and applying water efficiency research across our industry for many years," Waycott said. "The drought is caused by Mother Nature. All agriculture needs water, and our growers are responsible with the water they use."
"Sometimes, I think there's local elected officials who feel the highest use of that land is to build businesses that will create jobs," Surls said. "And although urban agriculture can sometimes create jobs, it has other community benefits that perhaps aren't entirely valued, like offering healthy food, beautifying the neighborhood. Oftentimes, neighborhoods get a Burger King on a piece of vacant land rather than a community garden."
Surls said beginning urban farmers at first need basic horticultural information - what to grow, when to plant, how to irrigate and how to manage pests. As they gain experience, they often encounter challenges there weren't aware of at first, such as regulatory or zoning issues.
"And if they stick around long enough," Surls said, "they get to a phase where they need more sophisticated production information, more marketing and business-oriented information, and advice on things like labor. How can I legally use volunteers? What are California labor laws? Just a lot of information that commercial farmers have been dealing with for a long time."
To help farmers at each of these stages, Surls developed a website for urban farmers that aggregates information and resources needed to start a new farm, work with city and county officials, and market their produce.
Produce tasting, nutritional tips and raffles were part of a celebration around the release on Monday of a new guide to local fruit and vegetables in Santa Cruz County, reported Donna Jones in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
The 40-page booklet - titled "Fresh*Starts*Here" - was developed by UC Cooperative Extension, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau. It includes nutrition information, tips for choosing and storing produce, recipes, and profiles of local farmers and health care professionals.
"It's about healthy eating and a healthy community," said Laura Tourte, UCCE farm management advisor in Santa Cruz County.
Tourte said the guide promotes consumption of food grown by local farmers. The recipes were chosen with an eye toward simple preparation and appeal to families.
UCCE contributed $4,100 to support the printing of the booklet, and all development committee members and participants contributed their time and effort. Funds to produce additional copies and a Spanish-language version are being sought.
Additional events marking the release of the booklet take place at 3 p.m. Nov. 18, at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation main clinic, 2025 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz; and at 3 p.m. Nov. 20 at the PAMF westside clinic, 1303 Mission St., Santa Cruz.
The story said Forero is working with a rancher in eastern Shasta County to measure the efficiency of well water on irrigated pasture. He plans to share results with other ranchers at "irrigation school" in January. (Date and location TBA at http://ceshasta.ucanr.edu.)
“If they're over-irrigating in September or October, could we do something different with that water?” Forero said. “What we're hoping with this irrigation school is to get this real-time data out there and share it with participants so they can look at what alternatives they might develop with irrigation scheduling.”
Forero is well-positioned to help with new regulations that will likely come down now that Gov. Brown has signed legislation that will give the state water board broad control over groundwater in California. Forero has experience helping farmers comply with new regulations.
In 2012, when local farmers with surface water rights had to begin submitting precise monthly water-use records, Forero and his colleague UCCE advisor Allan Fulton wrote a paper that explained how to measure surface water diversion.
"What we really tried to do," Forero said, "is make it so it wasn't so overwhelming that people said, 'I don't have time to do this.' From a Cooperative Extension perspective, we don't buy, sell or regulate. We try to provide ideas for folks, and what they do with them is up to them.”