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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UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors launch “Growing the Valley” podcast

A new UC Cooperative Extension podcast that focuses on growing orchard crops in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys is now available free at http://growingthevalleypodcast.com, Apple iTunes and Google Play Music.

The hosts are Phoebe Gordon, UCCE orchard systems advisor in Madera and Merced counties, and Luke Milliron, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Butte, Tehama and Glenn counties. The pair conduct research and extension programs that cover tree crops, with a focus on almonds, pistachios, walnuts, prunes, figs and cling peaches.

The podcast is a new extension format for UCCE. Podcasts are essentially audio files posted on the internet that can be downloaded and heard at the listener's convenience.

“Many of us in the ag world spend a lot of time in our trucks and it's a great time to learn new things,” Gordon said.

UCCE advisors Phoebe Gordon, left, and Luke Milliron are the hosts of the new 'Growing the Valley' podcast.

The podcast will feature brief research reports and timely topical information from the hosts, plus interviews with other UCCE farm advisors, specialists and professors, researchers from the USDA, other universities and industry representatives. It is intended for current and future farmers, pest control advisors, industry representatives and the public.

The first full-length episode is a 20-minute segment with veteran UCCE weed science advisor Kurt Hembree. Hembree, who is based in Fresno County, discusses herbicide resistant weeds that are a concern in orchard systems.

“As things get going, we'll be experimenting with podcast length and format,” Milliron said “We'd like to hear from listeners about the sorts of things they are interested in.”

Milliron and Gordon have posted a survey where listeners can weigh in about their content preferences and program length. In time, the dialog between the hosts and listeners will be expanded on the website to allow for questions and comments from the audience.

“Who knows, we might even set up a voice mailbox for people to call in with questions, too,” Milliron said.

Posted on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at 9:37 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

UC Master Food Preserver volunteers in tribal communities

Throughout Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the UC Master Food Preserver Program is actively engaging with tribal members. In fact, the UC Master Food Preserver volunteers have been “jamming it up” since 2017 with over 15 workshops for tribal community members.

UC Master Food Preserver Lena McCovey prepares candied orange peels. (Photo Barbara Goldberg)

Kella Roberts, of United Indian Health Services, has helped more than 280 community members improve their health and wellness - one jar, one dehydrator, one freezer bag at a time. Their workshops support existing efforts in the tribal communities to empower individuals, families, tribes, and the community to make healthy choices.

Roberts, along with her fellow UC Master Food Preserver volunteers, deserve recognition for coordinating and delivering food preservation classes to new audiences. They've adopted methods to help those with diabetes by limiting the sugar in recipes, and taught four workshops on ginger zucchini orange marmalade and strawberry jam using pectin. 

Adults and youth learn how to make strawberry jam. (Photo: Barbara Goldberg)

Over 130 youth and adults across four workshops went through the hands-on process of mashing and drying berries to make strawberry and beet fruit leather. 

Community members learn how to make strawberry jam. (Photo: Barbara Goldberg)

Roberts kept the crunch going by teaching workshops on kosher dills, pickled green beans and pickled beets. Kale chips were another crunchy treat with healthful benefits that were highlighted at a Hands on Health Conference workshop. Other healthy food preservation workshops included smooth applesauce and fruit dehydration. 

Making kale chips (Photo: UC Master Food Preserver Program)

To increase participation, these workshops were held at sites where tribal members already meet and live, including the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, Big Lagoon Rancheria, Blue Lake Rancheria, Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, Elk Valley Rancheria, Resighini Rancheria, Wiyot Tribe, Tolowa Dee-Ni' Nation, and the Yurok Reservation. 

UC Master Food Preserver volunteers perform outreach at tribal communities. (Photo: Barbara Goldberg)

Find a UC Master Food Preserver Program near you to get involved in sharing home food preservation techniques with your community. The program uses research-based methods to deliver home food preservation methods to Californians.

Posted on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 8:44 AM
Tags: Native American (2)
Focus Area Tags: Food

During California Invasive Species Action Week, learn about invasive species

Californians can help in the fight against invasive species by learning and participating during California Invasive Species Action Week, June 2–10.

During the week, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program invites the public to spend lunch learning about invasive tree killing pests, aquatic nasties like quagga mussels and nutria, and how the invasive weed/wildfire cycle is altering our ecosystems. http://ucanr.edu/sites/invasivelunch/

The invasive species killing trees is causing sugar volcanoes to erupt on avocado trunks and branches that might be infected with Fusarium dieback. Fusarium dieback is a invasive, beetle-vectored disease that causes damage on avocado and more than 39 other tree species. The disease has spread in urban forests and wild lands in the Los Angeles basin since early 2012, and in Orange and San Diego counties since early 2013 and Ventura County in 2015.

The symptoms — staining, sugary exudate, gumming and beetle frass — are often noticed before the tiny beetles (1.5–2.5 mm) are found.

As its name suggests, these beetles bore into trees. Near or beneath the symptoms, you might notice the beetle's entry and exit holes into the tree. The female tunnels into trees forming galleries, where she lays her eggs. Once grown, the sibling beetles mate with each other so that females leaving the tree to start their own galleries are already pregnant. Males do not fly and stay in the host tree.

Shothole borers have a special structure in their mouth where they carry two or three kinds of their own novel symbiotic fungi. Shothole borers grow these fungi in their tree galleries. It's these fungi that cause Fusarium dieback disease, which interrupts the transportation of water and nutrients in the host tree. Advanced fungal infections will eventually lead to branch dieback.

Early detection of infestations and removal of the infested branches will help reduce beetle numbers and therefore, also reduce the spread of the fungus.

  • Chip infested wood onsite to one inch in size or smaller. If the branch is too large to chip, solarize them under a clear tarp for several months
  • Avoid movement of infested firewood and chipping material out of infested area

Avocado is one tree host. Shothole borers successfully lay eggs and grow fungi in many tree hosts, with some of these trees susceptible to the Fusarium dieback disease. For more information about tree host species, where the shothole borer is in California, and what symptoms look like in other tree hosts, visit the UC Riverside Eskalen Lab website or the Invasive Shot Hole Borers website.

Content in this post taken from the UC IPM Avocado Pest Management Guidelines. Faber BA, Willen CA, Eskalen A, Morse JG, Hanson B, Hoddle MS. Revised continuously. UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines Avocado. UC ANR Publication 3436. Oakland, CA.

Posted on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 1:04 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Radiant daisy-like sunflowers produce a valuable crop with little water

Sweeping acres of striking golden flowers may soon grace California's desert southwest. UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali believes sunflowers may be an ideal crop for the state's most punishing agricultural region.

California produces more than 90 percent of the country's hybrid sunflower planting seed, which is shipped around the nation and world. The seed is used to grow sunflower seeds for a healthy snack or salad topper, and for seeds that are expressed into sunflower oil, valued for its clean taste and polyunsaturated fat.

Sunflowers are a potential drought-resistant rotation crop in the Southern California desert.
 

Most California seed is produced on about 50,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley. But the plant's low water use and early maturity hold promise for production in Southern California's low desert.

Bali's research began two years ago with 1,800 plots of sunflowers, nearly 300 different genotypes, at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville. All plants were well-watered for four weeks before drought treatment started. In 2016, the trial plots were irrigated at 60 percent of the area's ETo (the full amount of water used by well-irrigated, mowed grass in that environment), and at 100 percent.

“Sunflower is a California native species grown as a hybrid seed crop,” Bali said. “With limited water, we wanted to look at varieties that tolerate drought and stress.”

That year, Bali found significant variation in yield across the varieties, but no difference between plots that received 60 percent of ETo and 100 percent

“I've been doing deficit irrigation for a long time,” Bali said. “I never expected that.”

For the 2017 season, the 60 percent ETo plots were dropped to 10 percent to better understand the implications of severe drought on the sunflower cultivars.

“The emphasis in 2017 was to intensify our drought treatment, giving less water earlier and to quantify the genotypes' drought avoidance strategy by digging up roots and using computer image analysis to determine root traits,” Bali said.

Bali attributes the sunflower crop's low water needs to its deep tap root and crop production timing. Sunflower in the low desert may be planted from January to February, and harvested in May and June.

“Sunflower water needs are relatively low since they are harvested before the hottest part of the summer,” Bali said.

His research is continuing in 2018.

Currently, the majority of California hybrid seed sunflower is grown in the Sacramento Valley.

A new UC publication, Sunflower Hybrid Seed Production in California, is now under review and is expected to be available to producers in fall 2018. Written by UC Cooperative Extension advisor Rachael Long and colleagues, including Bali, the publication outlines crop production standards, land preparation, fertilization, pest management, harvesting and more.

Long said sunflowers are favored for crop rotations because they help in long-term management of weeds and diseases, the plants add biomass to the soil after harvest, and they are a profitable specialty field crop.

Read more about California sunflowers in a Green Blog post by Rachael Long, Sunflower seeds are boosting California's ag economy.

Posted on Friday, June 1, 2018 at 8:41 AM
Tags: desert (4), Khaled Bali (8), Rachael Long (25), sunflowers (2)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Is climate change chasing away 'June Gloom'?

Low-lying morning clouds in Southern California coastal areas form the predictable "June Gloom" in early summer - at least, they used to. The combination of urbanization and a warming climate are driving up summer temperatures, reducing cloud cover and increasing the risk of bigger and more intense wildfires, reported Julie Cohen of UC Santa Barbara's The Current.

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz, UC Santa Barbara geography professor Dar Roberts and colleagues published the study results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The scientists compared hourly cloud observations recorded by Southern California airports since the 1970s with a large database of vegetation moisture levels in the hills outside of Los Angeles. They found that periods of less cloud cover during the summer correlated with lower vegetation moisture and increased fire danger. 

“Because fires can already be very difficult to control in these areas, a reduction in cloud cover and its effects on fuel moisture is likely to increase fire activity overall,” Moritz said. “In areas where clouds have decreased, fires could get larger and harder to contain.”

Conditions vary year to year, but Moritz said he expects fire danger to increase in California as climate change accelerates.

Early summer cloud cover at Seal Beach in June 2013. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
 
Lead author of the research is A. Park Williams. In addition to Moritz and Roberts, Pierre Gentine and John T. Abatzoglou are co-authors.
 
 
Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 3:17 PM
Tags: climate change (77), Max Moritz (21)
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

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