ANR in the news August 16-30

Sep 1, 2019

Palm Springs area dog owners on high alert after coyote attack on pet. Here's what you should do

(Desert Sun) Ricardo Lopez, Aug. 30

…But coyotes are adaptable scavenger predators who often find suburban environments especially hospitable because of an ample food supply: rodents, cats and fruit trees. Dense shrubs are great for providing coyotes shelter and hiding spots, according to research by the University of California Cooperative Extension.

…Researchers say some coyotes have grown accustomed to people, associating them with food and protection. Coyotes at times have become aggressive toward humans, stalking or attacking children, adults or pets walked on leashes by their owners. More than 160 such attacks have occurred in California since the 1970s, according to Cooperative Extension research.

Macadamia growers to host field day, workshop

(Village News) Aug. 30

The University of California Cooperative Extension in conjunction with the California Macadamia Society and the Gold Crown Macadamia Association will hold their annual field day Saturday, Sept. 21, from 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the home of Jim Russell, 205 Calle Linda, in Fallbrook.

Free workshop Sept. 12 will cover restoring local rangeland, prescribed burns, fire-resistant plants

(Santa Maria Times) Aug. 30

Because the weather and wildfires have had major impacts on the livestock industry, the University of California and the USDA Agricultural Research Service will conduct a Central Coast Rangeland Workshop on Thursday, Sept. 12.

Why Are There So Many Palm Trees in the Bay Area?

(KQED) Daniel Potter, Aug. 29

… Foreign palms were originally brought to California's Spanish missions in the 1700s for religious services the Sunday before Easter, says Joe McBride, a professor emeritus of landscape architecture and environmental planning at UC Berkeley.

“They used the palm fronds for processionals on Palm Sunday once a year at their churches,” he says. “There was nothing like this growing in the vicinity of the missions.”

Can cannabis go green?

(Nature) Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Aug. 28

About four years ago, a flurry of headlines declared that cannabis cultivation was “sucking California dry”. The stories appeared in several major news outlets, many of which made the assertion that a single cannabis plant guzzles about 22 litres of water each day.

“Reading those stories made me wonder just how big an issue this was,” says Van Butsic, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. He found that the cannabis plant had also been described as being unusually thirsty by many scientists — dozens of peer-reviewed publications had cited the same 22-litre-per-plant figure. “We used that number in our earlier papers, too, because it's the only one we could find,” Butsic says. “But we always wondered, where did it come from?”

Sierra Science Lecture Series Presents: The Natural Benefits of Prescribed Fire on Sept. 10

(YubaNet) Sierra College, Aug. 28

What type of fire do you want? Dr. Kate Wilkin presents the benefits of a prescribed fire. California is in a wildfire crisis. We will have fires near our community. Rather than unplanned wildfires, we can choose when the fires will occur and what their impact will be to our community. These prescribed fires protect communities from wildfire's flames and smoke, and have natural benefits for biodiversity and water yield. Come learn more about the natural benefits of prescribed fire and how people across the west are using prescribed fire on private and public lands.

UC ANR: Oaks in Vineyards a ‘Win-Win' for Bats and Growers

(Sierra Sun Times) Pam Kan-Rice, Aug. 28 (News release)

…To find answers, a UC Cooperative Extension scientist in San Luis Obispo County collaborated with a U.S. Forest Service scientist to study how bats use blue oak and valley oak trees in vineyards. UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bill Tietje, a co-author of the study, says they focused on bats that eat insects because bat populations have declined dramatically in some areas due to habitat loss and disease. “And bats don't hurt grapes. As a matter of fact, thanks to the huge number of bugs they consume—bats could be very good for a vineyard.”

Almond growers, marketers assess crop

(Ag Alert) Christine Souza, Aug. 28

… A few almond farmers in Turlock and Modesto began harvest with infestations of a relatively new pest, the brown marmorated stinkbug, an invasive insect from Asia. University of California Cooperative Extension integrated pest management advisor Jhalendra Rijal, who serves Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties, said the pest first appeared in commercial almond orchards in 2017.

"We've seen a couple of orchards that have pretty bad BMSB damage in almonds," said Rijal, who calls the stinkbug problematic because it can attack the crop throughout the season. "In terms of what percent of the almonds are damaged, we won't know until they've shaken the trees."

Making Sense of Sensors for Precision Agriculture

(AgriBusiness Global) Daniel Jacobs, Aug. 28

… We host a continuing education show called “Advances in Imagery.” On our most recent episode, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, George Zhuang argued that data is the single biggest thing holding back precision application. We agree with this view and think sensors will provide:

  • Important input into pre-season nutrient VRA prescriptions and planning;
  • A critical component for any in-season nutrient VRA prescriptions; and
  • Critical data for non-nutrient related precision applications, including pesticide, fungicide, water, and growth regulator applications.

UC offers hands-on look at alfalfa, forage research

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 27

…The University of California's Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier is the site of the latest trials using winter surface-water runoff to flood alfalfa fields.

A team led by University of California (UC) of Davis integrated hydrologic science professor Helen Dahlke is testing the effect of modest and high amounts of water application on growing-season alfalfa yield in different soils and under different climate conditions, Dahlke has said.

The recharge effort “has a lot of geographical significance” in the Tulare Lake Basin, where land subsidence because of excessive pumping is particularly severe, notes Nicholas Clark, a UC agronomy and nutrient management advisor for Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties.

Studies show capitalism's role in saving planet

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 27

…In one, University of California (UC) communications specialist Jeannette Warnert explains that the growing severity of wildfires in recent years has led to growing acceptance of “pyrosilviculture” – a new term coined by UC fire scientist Rob York to emphasize the importance of fire in silviculture, the management of forests for wood.

…“Fire is such an important ecological process, you can't manage for timber without fire,” York told her.

Prescribed burns are routinely done on public lands, but scientists say they're not enough to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire. Enter the UCCE, where scientists including forestry and natural resources advisor Susie Kocher has been working with landowners to encourage more prescribed burning to reduce risk.

In Humboldt County, UCCE advisors Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeff Stackhouse helped set up California's first Prescribed Burn Association, whose members will pool their resources to conduct burns to maintain productive grasslands, enhance wildlife habitat and ensure safer communities.

U.S. approval process for gene-edited livestock may hamper research

(AgriNews) Jeannine Otto, Aug. 26

A proposed U.S. regulatory framework for how the FDA treats gene-edited livestock may do more than put U.S. livestock producers at a disadvantage globally. It already has proven to be a source of food waste.

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam knows firsthand how the proposed framework under which U.S. researchers must operate — which regards gene-edited livestock as a new animal drug and thus subject to the FDA's new drug approval process — is and will be a source of food waste on a major scale.

“Typically at the university, our milk and meat and eggs go into commerce. We sell our milk from the dairy to the creamery, we slaughter our animals and the meat goes in the food supply. That is part of what keeps the wheels running at the research establishment,” Van Eenennaam said.

After 2017 fires, Sonoma County residents, groups rally to protect large animals in disaster

(Press Democrat) Hannah Beausang, Aug. 25

…The agency is developing a program that would allow animal owners to apply for permits enabling them to enter evacuation zones during a disaster to check on or rescue their animals, he said. Animal Services also is working with the Sonoma County Horse Council and the UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma County to create a database with information about locations of large animals in the county, he said. Local groups are working to lobby for the implementation of a statewide training protocol for animal services agencies that would offer mutual aid during disasters.

Stephanie Larson, the county director and livestock range management adviser for the UC Cooperative Extension, said her organization is also educating residents about the importance of creating defensible space around livestock pastures. She is working to match ranchers with shepherds who have herds of goats or sheep available for targeted grazing, and to facilitate controlled burns that will help ranchers reduce the amount of flammable vegetation around their properties.

Burning issues fire up residents

(Ventura County Star) Colleen Cason, Aug. 24

…In Ventura County, we have one of the state's brightest researchers, Matthew Shapero of the UC Cooperative Extension, performing experiments to fully understand this suppression technique.

His conclusion: Fires in shrub-dominated landscapes burn hotter. And yet, between January 2014 and May 2017, the Ventura County Fire Department torched only about 450 acres. That's a third of what the state permitted, by the way.

Oak-killing beetle a threat to Chino Hills trees

(Chino Champion) Marianne Napoles, Aug. 24

…The pest has killed thousands of oaks in the Cleveland National Forest, said Mark Hoddle of the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside.

“The goldspotted oak borer poses an unprecedented threat to native oaks in southern California,” Dr. Hoddle said. “Hiking trails and campsites have been closed because of the risk of branches dropping from dead trees.”

Strawberry acreage still shrinking in California

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 23

The acreage drop reflects the increasing difficulty of producing strawberries amid persistent labor shortages and the elimination of methyl bromide. So growers are gravitating to more prolific varieties developed by the University of California Cooperative Extension, other agencies and private companies.

Among the more popular new varieties are the University of California-developed Monterey and San Andreas strawberries, both of which are “day-neutral” varieties that are more tolerant of summer heat and more resistant to diseases.

Potential money troubles for the Fresno County 4-H Youth Development Program

(KSEE) Kaile Hunt, Aug. 22

You may recognize Fresno County 4-H when you go to the Fresno Fair. These boys and girls are the ones behind maintaining the show animals like cows, pigs, and goats. 

However, recently University of California said they will soon pull all funding for this organization in Fresno County.

Sunpreme Raisin Trial Returns to the Kearney Ag Center

(American Vineyard magazine) Aug. 21

It's human nature to point fingers, but let's face it — accidents happen, and we all make mistakes from time to time. What matters is how we respond to them. And despite an accident that setback the DOV Sunpreme raisin variety trial at the UC Kearney Ag Center, the trial continues on. Watch this brief interview with UCCE Viticulture Advisor George Zhuang as he explains their progress, and read more it in American Vineyard Magazine.

State Appoints Working Group To Help Growers Transition Away From Harmful Chlorpyrifos

(KVPR) Kerry Klein, Aug 20

Last week, the State of California took its first steps to fully ban the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos that can cause neurological problems and developmental delays in children. The ban means, however, that growers have to find alternatives for managing insects. Finding those alternatives is the goal of a new statewide group that includes members of the San Joaquin Valley agriculture community.

David Haviland is a farm advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension in Bakersfield. He's been helping farmers control pests for 16 years, and he's been appointed to the new Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Work Group established by the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, or DPR. “This is an important topic,” he says. “Chlorpyrifos has had a lot of benefits to agriculture for many years. At the same time, it does have some negative issues associated with it that were the reason that the product has been proposed to be discontinued.”

A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires

(The New Yorker) Nicola Twilley, Aug. 19

…In 2004, one of Brown's colleagues at Berkeley, a fire scientist named Scott Stephens, came to Sagehen and took samples from the stumps of huge trees cut down during the gold-rush era. Examining tree rings and scorch marks, Stephens was able to construct a record of fires dating back to the sixteen-hundreds. His findings confirmed that, in pre-Colonial times, Sagehen burned regularly. Those fires sometimes occurred naturally, from lightning strikes, but they were also deliberately set by Native Americans. The consensus now is that the entire Sierra Nevada burned every five to thirty years.

The future of 4-H in California amidst the budget deficit

(Ukiah Daily Journal) Lindsay R. Peak, Aug. 19

… On July 22, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty became the Director of the University of California Statewide 4-H Youth Development Program. Dr. Shannon Horrillo resigned from the position. She is now the Associate Director of Cooperative Extension at the University of Nevada, Reno.

… “For the 2019 year, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is short roughly 5 million dollars. If we had an additional 5 million dollars, we could stay where we are. We can't hire anyone new. We can't grow.”

… Individual counties are being asked to meet 6.25% of the deficit for employee's salary and benefits this fiscal year. Universities are contemplating initiating “user fees” in order to subsidize funds for research facilities. Additionally, an academic hiring freeze went into effect.

…According to 4-H Program Representative Jacki Zediker of Yreka, the County of Siskiyou will cover a percentage of their deficit. An education centered non-profit organization also invested.

The 20-year employee envisions 4-H in surrounding areas will evolve into more short-term type programming due to budget restrictions. 4-H clubs will not simply shut their doors. “We have a long history and viability of the program. We just have to become a lot more flexible,” says Zediker.

Climatologists Say Cabernet's Days as King in Napa are Numbered

(Wine Business) Larry Brooks, Aug. 19

…Four academics and Doug McKesson, general manager at Enologix, presented different facets of the problem. They are Dan Cayan, research meteorologist, Scripps Institute; Greg Jones, professor and climatologist, Linfield College; Daniel Sumner, director, UCD Agricultural Issues Center; and Elizabeth Wolkovich, University of British Columbia and Harvard University.

Sidebar: New Program to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture

A new $1.1 million program has been designed to spur climate-smart agricultural practices in 10 California counties. The program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The Advance of Almonds

(Sacramento Business Journal) Emily Hamann, Aug. 16

…"On the whole, it's pretty positive for the Sacramento Valley," said Richard Howitt, an environmental and agricultural economist. "The San Joaquin Valley, not so much."

…Demand is growing in the U.S. and Europe, as well, said Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center.

…But the investment comes with risks, said Katherine Jarvis-Shean, an orchard systems advisor at the UC Cooperative Extension. Because almonds are a permanent crop, it means farmers aren't able to be as dynamic season-to-season in deciding what to plant.

“Being with the same plants for a couple of decades, when prices aren't so good, you're stuck in it for the long haul,” Jarvis-Shean said.

The end of Cabernet in Napa Valley?

(SF Chronicle) Esther Mobley, Aug. 16

…Climate change isn't coming for Napa. It's here, explains S. Kaan Kurtural, UC Davis professor of viticulture and enology.

“Napa already has moved into another climate category,” says Kurtural. By “climate category,” he's referring to the Winkler Index, a Davis-developed scale that maps which types of grape varieties can grow within specific temperature bands.

…On Aug. 15, Kurtural directed a planting of 3,600 new Cabernet plants at Beckstoffer's Lake County vineyard, representing 100 different combinations of rootstock and clone. (A clone is a distinct but genetically identical version of a grape variety.) The scale of this is enormous: Normally, Kurtural says, an ambitious project might look at two or three different combinations, not 100.

Spraying Antibiotics to Fight Citrus Scourge Doesn't Help, Study Finds

(NY Times) Andrew Jacobs, Aug. 16

James Adaskaveg, a plant pathologist at the University of California, Riverside who specializes in the agricultural application of antibiotics, cautioned that the results should not be interpreted to mean that spraying a tree's leaves with oxytetracycline is useless in the fight against citrus greening.

“The good news is that oxytetracycline is definitely inhibiting the pathogen,” he said. “They just need to figure out how to deliver it in the most effective way.”

Tree-killing beetle discovered near Big Bear; second time in San Bernardino County

(Victorville Daily Press) Martin Estacio, Aug. 16

… “This find is a big deal. GSOB is a very destructive oak pest and as it kills oaks, people cut them down, sell them for firewood, and the pest is moved into new areas,” said Dr. Mark Hoddle, biological control specialist, in an email.

Hoddle is also the Director of the University of California Riverside's Center for Invasive Species Research and has studied the insect.

By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach