California Berry Cultivars, LLC (CBC) is hosting an open field day on Friday, May 5 from 10AM-12PM at their location at 181 Dairy Rd, Watsonville. Everyone is invited to attend. It's a good opportunity for the strawberry industry to see the work they've been doing in developing new varieties to meet the needs of our industry.
I have done a lot of research with CBC over the past few years, so I will be there as well to talk with growers and other agricultural professionals about our collaborative work - the effects of mustard seed meal, plastic color, nitrogen application rate and cold conditioning duration on the efficacy of the methyl bromide fumigant alternatives Dominus, chloropicrin, anaerobic soil disintestation and steam. Additionally, I can share information regarding a propriety fumigation alternative that I ran with CBC and another farm.
Also, this is a good venue for me to solicit from you ideas on future research needs, especially in the methyl bromide alternative arena.
Look forward to seeing you all there!
Link here with more info about the meeting:
Pretty decent article here from the Capitol Press on how growers are struggling with how to make sense of the really large amounts of data so easily available to them in our increasingly technological age.
The fact of the matter is that reduced computing costs have created an enormous wave of information, and in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal written by Michael Milken and Igor Tulchinsky, caution us to buckle up because this already large tsunami of data "doubles in size every few years". The two authors, while conceding that this is a challenge, also recognize it as an opportunity.
As many are finding, the problem of understanding the meaning of lots and lots of data is deeper than just pressing the whole undifferentiated mass into Google and getting an actionable answer. I would suggest it is rather more a matter of sorting out the unimportant data from the important, and then having the mastery of that body of knowledge to which the data refer and only then be able put it all together to arrive at a good decision.
The book titled "The Signal and the Noise", written by statistician Nate Silver makes some progress on this issue. A lot of the data available to decision makers and prognosticators in a wide range of fields, from weather, to markets, to sports events, to elections, and yes to agriculture is not that useful, is not worth listening to and can be called noise, while those bits that are really useful, the signals, are where we should be spending our time and attention.
Complicating this however is the fact that it's very rarely just one signal that merits our attention, but rather it can be a multiple or even further an interaction of these signals which is most meaningful, and yet not all are as equally important. Take for the example the malnourished plant with a compromised root system. Is the malnourishment truly just the roots, or do we also face some deficiencies in the soil? What of the soil pH or CEC which might be impeding the transmission of these nutrients to the plant? The knowledgeable person is going to know what compromises a root system, what soil nutrient deficiencies look like, what a pH of x means to the whole shebang and weighs its value, pieces the important parts together, discards the rest and then makes the call on how to proceed.
In short, it is a deception to think that simply having access to ever greater amounts data effortlessly bestows upon one the ability to make better and more accurate decisions. Really it takes some accomplishment, experience and quite frankly a lot of hard work as an individual to sort out the signals from the noise, and further be able to put this concert of signals into a comprehensible whole.
The extensionist of the 2010's is faced with a multitude of choices concerning where he or she will be most effective in transmitting good information to the clientele he has been assigned. While traditional formats like face to face meetings and on site farm calls still work, others liked mailed newsletters have been set aside in many cases for more timely, content rich and effective media, including vehicles like this blog.
On point, some of us Advisors and Specialists have taken to playing around a bit with Twitter, the microblog site which allows a person to keep others up to date on their own doings without having spend hours crafting an article. Personally, if one's business is to connect with a larger audience, I think Twitter can work.
I don't express myself so well on this point, so I'm including below a (mildly inflammatory) piece by Barry Ritholz, a blogger whom I follow pretty closely concerning the use of social media to connect with people in the professional space. The highlight in the middle is mine:
"For years we heard about people tweeting their every move. If you think this is how Twitter still works, you're probably e-mailing your friends jokes on AOL. Twitter has moved on. The looky-loos have long departed. The self-righteous wannabes tweeting over a hundred thousand times are living in their own tiny silos, in their own echo chambers. That's one of the great things about Twitter, when you see somebody hating on you you can check them out and in almost all cases they have almost no followers and no one sees the hate, so you can relax. This is not the network television of yore, this is one jerk with a megaphone in the middle of the prairie with no impact.
So you've got experts in every field tweeting about their findings, what interests them.
When breaking news occurs a hive emerges with tons of data... if you can't adjust on the fly, you don't deserve to be on Twitter, you need remedial reading classes."
I'll rephrase in less forthright language. Twitter has moved on from being the redoubt of the solipsist and the extremist, as in "hey, look where I am" or "hey, this is what I think" over and over again, to a medium for experts to connect quickly, effectively and share with those who are interested in what they think.
Not all a bad thing.
Whole post is below.
Ok. So I've been getting a good number of texts these past two days of people showing off and holding up pretty good sized fruit. San Andreas and Sweet Ann are clear leaders in this category, but none is going to be as large as the 197 g (very nearly half a pound!) beast picked out of the CBC breeding program last year and the photo of which was contributed by manager Kyle.
Some discussion of the origin of this 197 g fruit. Some would say that this is a "fused fruit" meaning it is derived from two flowers and thus not truly a single berry, but there are some fruit of this size and shape which come from a single flower. It's hard to tell which is it from the photo, but at any rate growers will find these from time to time, more often than not in the early part of the season.
I think this enormous fruit should settle all arguments about who has the biggest fruit around. At any rate, if you think you've found a bigger one, try me and I'll post it.
Certainly a lot of big berries around right now. The CalPoly program posted a picture of a 102 gram berry on its Facebook page, and here we are shown one mondo fruit out of a local strawberry breeding program that tops out at 130 g and another weighing in at 109 grams (plus the weights are proven by photographing them on a scale). What's more, we are shown six fruit of the same cultivar as the 109 g specimen that each weigh over 100 grams. As the CalPoly page points out, cultivar, along with time of year and of course producer skill, is what brings in the big berries.
It's pretty notable that all of these berries were picked today and nevertheless after the substantial amount of rain we got this past Friday and Saturday they are completely free of blemish or water soaking. Remarkable rain fastness for a strawberry.