Grapes farmed in Northern California's famed "Wine Country" can be successfully produced with no irrigation water applied at all, reported Ellen Knickmeyer of the Associated Press.
She spoke to farmer Frank Leeds, who produces grapes in Napa Valley without adding water, not because of the drought, but because he believes the practice produces the best wine. Another option some farmers are using is deficit irrigation, which provides irrigation water at carefully timed intervals.
The farmers believe dryland farming and deficit irrigation force the vines to develop deeper roots that give wine distinctive "terroir" notes, flavor character it derives from the environment. But they must be cautious to avoid the dreaded "r" word - raisin, said an UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) expert.
"I do know that (various) wineries have a preference, but the overarching preference is that the fruit is sound and it arrives at the winery not shriveled up as a raisin," said UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor Rhonda Smith.
Dozens of northern California residents are expected at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center on Saturday to take part in activities to celebrate California Archeology Month, reported Sarah Reith in the Ukiah Daily Journal.
"Archaeology for All" is offered jointly by Hopland and local Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. The research center is located on historic Hopland Pomo land and is the site of many rocks that were used in rituals thousands of years ago, the article says. Visitors on Saturday will see tribal markings on the site which are thought to be more than 5,000 years old.
"It's not artwork," said Donna Gillette, an archaeologist who specializes in rock art. "It's a good chance (the markings) are the result of ritualistic quarrying of material, probably for increase," or human fertility.
Before beginning to study rocks at Hopland, Gillette asked permission from the tribal group. The Historic Preservation Offices assigned Shawn Padi to work with her. Padi and another representative of the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, Hillary Renick, will present talks at Saturday's event. Renick also plans to prepare and serve acorns, a traditional Native Californian stable, to participants.
The event will be at Rod Shippey Hall, 4070 University Road, in Hopland, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children under 12 will be admitted free. Advance reservation required. For more information, call Hannah Bird at (707) 744-1424 ext. 105.
Approximately 280 species of snails and slugs are found in California; 242 are thought to be native. The vast majority of the native species are not considered to be pests of nurseries or other production systems.
The most damaging snails and slugs are those that have been accidentally or purposely introduced from areas outside of the US. Most of California's pest gastropods are European species.
The Chico News & Review published a profile of local UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advsior Dani Lightle. Lightle works with Glenn County growers of walnuts, almonds, prunes, olives, pistachios, pecans and fruit. “Basically, if it grows on a tree, it comes my way,” said Lightle, referring to the calls she receives at her Orland office. The article provided background information about UC Cooperative Extension and ANR. "The system's purpose was to be a bridge between public universities and the general public," the article says.
The news website Ensia.com reported on research underway in Northern California on the role of bats in orchard pest control. An intern, under the guidance of UC ANR farm advisor Rachael Long, is comparing orchards with nearby bat boxes with orchards that do not have the convenient dwellings for the flying rodents. "If you increase diversity by relying on insects, bats, raptors, etc., you help strengthen your farming system," Long said.
Solis was born in Mexico City and began contributing to the family income at the age of 13 as a grocery store bagger. He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at Instituto Politecnico Nacional.
When Solis was hired to help a community of 300 manage its water resources, he was nervous about his abilities, the article said.
"However, like many hardworking Latinos, Samuel put his fear and doubts to the side, and decided to pursue this great opportunity," wrote reporter Vanessa Parra.
Solis earned a master's degree in hydraulics at Instituto Politecnico Nacional, and a Ph.D. in environmental and water resources engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. His research centered on the Rio Grande, a river shared by Mexico and the U.S. (Mexicans call the river Rio Bravo.)
"I was under friendly fire from people of both nations," Solis said. "Because I was doing my research in the Rio Grande/Bravo while living in Texas, people from the U.S. thought I was a spy and people from Mexico thought that I was a traitor," he said.
The language and culture barriers that Solis once perceived as negative characteristics became valuable assets when he joined the University of California. He is able to communicate with Spanish-speaking farmers on a personal level.
Solis began his work in California just as it was caught in the grip of the current four-year drought. The dry period, he said, can be viewed as a "tipping point" to change the way the state uses and manages its water. His research focuses on water planning and management.
"We develop methods for finding strategies to better distribute water, ensuring adequate quality and the right timing," Solis said. "We consider the scientific, social, environmental, and economic aspects of basins. Our goal is to improve California's water management through cooperation, shared vision and science-based solutions."
The project, called Niños sanos, familia sana (Healthy children, healthy family) has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families. Lucia Kaiser, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist, is leading the project. Outreach involves UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors and staff in Tulare, Yolo, Kern and Fresno counties and the UC CalFresh and EFNEP programs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
“The lasting impact that Niños Sanos, Familia Sana will have in Firebaugh is precisely the goal of the childhood obesity prevention program – working at the family, school, and community levels to make healthy kids and healthy families a part of everyday life,” said Deirdra Chester, NIFA's national program leader for applied nutrition research.
According to the USDA blog post, Niños sanos, familia sana has contributed to changes in the community:
- Slower weight gain among obese boys
- Reduction in children's consumption of high-fat/high-sugar foods
- Growing interest in programs and policy reflecting local commitment to improved health and nutrition
For more information, see a story and video snapshot in the UC Food Blog.