UC ANR in the news

January 2021

As COVID-19 Ups the Stakes, Advocates Say Prison Food Needs an Overhaul
(Civil Eats) Nadra Nittle, Jan 21

…“They’re the largest single food purchaser in the state, so it seems appropriate that that institution would be focused on California-grown produce,” said Wendi Gosliner, who heads research at the Nutrition Policy Institute and teaches at U.C. Berkeley. “We know from what people say and the limited information available that the food quality in prisons certainly needs a lot of work.”

https://civileats.com/2021/01/21/as-covid-19-ups-the-stakes-advocates-say-prison-food-needs-an-overhaul

The 2020 wildfires could cost California’s wine industry $3.7 billion — but it doesn’t have to be that way
(SF Chron) Esther Mobley, Jan 21

…“UC Davis probably needs $10 million over five years,” Moramarco said, referring to the country’s preeminent academic institution for wine science. “That’s a lot of money, but it’s a small amount of money relative to the risks that we face.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/article/The-2020-wildfires-may-cost-California-s-wine-15885706.php

New Hires at UC Ag Science Site to Boost Research
(Holtville Tribune) Julio Morales, Jan 21

… Starting next month, Apurba Barman will be working onsite at UCCE as an integrated pest management adviser.

Barman was hired Jan. 11, and for the time being has been working remotely from Georgia, where he recently led a whitefly monitoring and management program at the University of Georgia that targeted crop systems in the state’s southern region.

… With more than 386,000 head of cattle, the county ranked second in California for cattle and calf production, accounting for 13.5 percent of the state’s overall production in 2019, according to the ag report.

The significance of those figures is also reflected by the recent hiring of Pedro Carvalho as feedlot management specialist at UCANR’s Desert Research Extension Center in Holtville. The position is newly created and statewide in scope, said DREC Director Jairo Diaz.

https://holtvilletribune.com/2021/01/holtville-local-news/new-hires-at-uc-ag-science-site-to-boost-research

The childhood obesity crisis started before Covid-19. The pandemic has made it much worse
(The Counter) Sam Bloch, Jan 19

…“Since March, around 30 parents in six school districts in the San Joaquin Valley, a sprawling farm region in central California, have participated in school meal focus groups. Their conversations are being shared with Patel and Christina Hecht of the University of California’s Nutrition Policy Institute for a study about nutrition and food insecurity. As low-income families, they depend on schools to feed their children, and especially the undocumented immigrants among them, who are ineligible for government assistance such as SNAP or pandemic unemployment compensation. Nevertheless, at a time of great need, they’re turning their backs on the free meals, which they don’t believe are healthy or nutritious, said Veva Islas, a program director at Cultiva La Salud, the Fresno-based nonprofit that organizes the focus groups.”

https://thecounter.org/covid-19-childhood-obesity-health-school-lunch-crisis/

Biden climate plan to address worsening Western wildfires, but it will take years
Zach Urness and Damon Arthur, Salem Statesman Journal, Jan 18

… In 2020, Max Moritz [a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School] co-wrote a guide for communities on how to build in the wildland-urban interface. To protect homes from oncoming wildfires, he suggests new construction should be built in areas to take advantage of barriers in the landscape such as water bodies, roads, parks, irrigated farmland and meadows.

https://www.statesmanjournal.com/in-depth/blogs/environment/2021/01/18/biden-climate-plan-takes-aim-worsening-wildfires-across-west/6552660002

Backyard poultry a growing trend
(Pagosa Sun) Robin Young, Jan 17

…“This segment of agriculture has been largely overlooked by the veterinary community in North America,” said Dr. Alda Pires, University of California cooperative extension specialist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and co-principal investigator in the study. “Due to the potential for public health issues and the spread of zoonotic disease, veterinary professionals need increased training and better awareness of the health and welfare of these animals.”

http://www.pagosasun.com/extension-viewpoints-backyard-poultry-a-growing-trend

Sixth-graders in Calaveras County get hands-on experience building Mars rovers
(KCRA) Will Heryford, Jan 14

Students in Calaveras County are getting some novel hands-on experience about the planet Mars.

Sixth-graders at Avery Middle School spent the day building model Mars rovers at socially distanced in-class learning, then took their vehicles outside and tried to maneuver them around a small map using books and boxes to simulate rough terrain.

Every sixth-grader in Calaveras County will receive a rover kit, thanks to the Mars-based 4-H STEM challenge through the University of California.

https://www.kcra.com/article/sixth-graders-calaveras-county-get-hands-experience-building-mars-rovers/35220966

Popular organic weed-control product found to include banned chemicals
(Napa Valley Register) Tim Carl, Jan 14

…“Stop orders like this are not common in my experience,” Bradley Hanson, an extension weed specialist at UC Davis, wrote in an email. “I don’t recall anything similar with an herbicide in the last 15 years since I’ve been involved with weed-management research in the state.”

…“Because Weed Slayer was made from eugenol, which is on the federal exempt list, there was no registration necessary — therefore no reg number and no recording of usage,” wrote John Roncoroni, extension farm advisor emeritus of vineyard weed science, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE).

…“As I understand it, the questions about the integrity of the product were raised by UCCE scientists and growers,” wrote Monica L. Cooper, viticulture advisor at UCCE, Napa County. “This is consistent with our UCCE mission to ensure the continued economic prosperity and ecological sustainability of agricultural operations in California in partnership with industry and government agencies.”

https://napavalleyregister.com/wine/popular-organic-weed-control-product-found-to-include-banned-chemicals/article_e367219f-919d-5b35-8015-cf36eb1d7617.html

Science writers answer questions about SCU, CZU fires
(Gilroy Dispatch) Jan 14

…After the Tubbs fire burned through urban areas in Sonoma County in October 2017, the University of California Cooperative Extension received an influx of questions about local produce safety. “We started asking around, and there really was very little research—a void in information around the effects of urban wildfire on produce safety,” says food systems advisor Julia Van Soelen Kim.

https://gilroydispatch.com/science-writers-answer-questions-about-scu-czu-fires

Lemons Became More Popular, But then COVID Hit
(Cal Ag Today) Tim Hammerich, Jan 14

A recent study on the costs and returns of establishing and producing lemons in Ventura County was released by UC Cooperative Extension in Southern California and UC Agricultural Issues Center.

“We grow lemons along the coast because it doesn't get hot, and we do a really good sour lemon. The trees flower year-round, and so there's production year-round,” said Ben Faber, a Farm Advisor based in Ventura County.”

https://californiaagtoday.com/lemon-economics

Industry Input Encouraged for Shifting Animal Biotech Oversight to USDA
(AgNet West) Brian German, Jan 14

… “I think this is a step in the right direction, I don’t think that the approach of regulating them as animal drugs ever made a lot of scientific sense,” said Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension Specialist in Animal Genomics and Biotechnology at UC Davis. “I’m supportive of USDA taking over the regulation of food animals that have been modified for agricultural purposes. What I don’t understand is why there’s a different approach for plants than for animals.”

https://agnetwest.com/industry-input-encouraged-for-shifting-animal-biotech-oversight-to-usda

UC grant to strengthen honeybee health and crop pollination
(Davis Enterprise) Kathy Keatley Garvey, Jan 12

The UC Davis department of entomology and nematology is sharing a $900,000 grant from the University of California’s Office of the President to establish a four-campus network of bee researchers and engineers to strengthen honeybee health and crop pollination.

https://www.davisenterprise.com/news/local/ucd/uc-grant-to-strengthen-honeybee-health-and-crop-pollination

UCCE slates virtual winter rice meeting for Feb. 11
(Rice Farming) Jan 11

The University of California Cooperative Extension plans to hold its annual winter rice meetings as a virtual event Feb. 11 from 9 a.m.-noon PST.

https://www.ricefarming.com/departments/ucce-slates-virtual-winter-rice-meeting-feb-11

New avocado study examines high-density plantings
(Western Farm Press) Jan. 11

…A new study on the costs and returns of establishing and producing avocados in San Diego County has been released by the University of California Cooperative Extension, UC Agricultural Issues Center and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

https://www.farmprogress.com/extension/new-avocado-study-examines-high-density-plantings

The Math on Navel Orangeworm Sanitation
(Cal Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, Jan. 7

…David Haviland is a UCANR Cooperative Extension Entomologist in Kern County. “I just want to do a little bit of a back of a napkin math. Just think about this scenario. If you're down to two mummies per tree, if 10% of those were infested, you assume that half of any worms in there are going to be females. And each of those females, when it comes out, it's going to make 85 eggs. Just roughly look at that scenario,” noted Haviland.

https://californiaagtoday.com/math-on-navel-orangeworm

California’s sequoias and redwoods can survive climate change—if we help them
(Nat Geo) Alejandra Borunda, Jan 6

…“The empowering message there is, human management can actually override the effects of climate in a fire contest,” [UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor Lenya] Quinn-Davidson said. “It's not just a climate story. We can't just throw in the towel, feel overwhelmed, and tell ourselves these trees are done for. That's not true!”

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2021/01/california-redwood-sequoia-can-survive-climate-change-fires

December 2020

‘There’s good fire and bad fire.’ An Indigenous practice may be key to preventing wildfires
(Nat Geographic) Charles C. Mann, Dec 17

...But if people want to burn that same area preventively, an entire regulatory apparatus swings into motion, according to Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. On U.S. government land such as national forests, burns must follow federal standards. For every planned fire, those standards require an extensive environmental compliance process and many specific documents outlining the burn plan. Burn crews must be certified. For a Firefighter Type 2, that takes 32 hours of coursework; for a Burn Boss Type 2, it’s usually 10 years of experience.

Unprecedented losses plague lettuce growers as Salinas Valley scrambles to contain pests that threaten the region’s biggest crop
(Monterey County Weekly) Asaf Shalev, Dec 17

… “The losses were devastating in individual fields, in the range of 40 to 100 percent,” Richard Smith, a University of California farm adviser for Monterey County, says of crop loss this fall. “It was significant enough to cause a shortage of lettuce in September and October.”

People and Pets Contend With Urban Coyotes in Los Angeles
(Spectrum News1) David Mendez, Dec 16

…“But it doesn’t really matter where they came from, because they’re not going anywhere,” said Niamh Quinn, a Human-Wildlife Interactions Adviser with the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She’s part of a team focused on tracking coyote-human interactions, and educating professionals and local leaders on how to control coyotes.

Funding Cooperative Extension is Essential
(Cal Ag Today) Tim Hammerich, Dec 16

… Glenda Humiston is the vice president for agriculture and natural resources for the University of California system… “We're particularly excited this year because we had a 49% increase over last year. When you consider that the conventional wisdom was the giving would be down, that's quite phenomenal. I think we had a couple hundred new donors that had never given before, and a lot of them just commented about how much they really love the programs.”

Analysts Say Cat Models Would Encourage Wildfire Mitigation Measures
(Claims Journal) Jim Sams, Dec 11

… Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist for the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in many cases vegetation is left standing after a wildfire; it is the homes that are igniting and spreading the fire through embers.

He said growing losses from wildfires are not inevitable. “Humans can increase or decrease fire risk,” he said.

The uproar over Biden’s choice to run the USDA
(Grist) Nathanael Johnson, Dec 11

“Vilsack is a known quantity,” she [Glenda Humiston vice president of the University of California’s division of Agriculture and Natural Resources] said. “He’s not going to cause a fight in the Senate. And to be honest, for the first year or two the new secretary is going to be occupied with rebuilding programs and bringing science back as the key driver of policy.”

A master gardener transforms a South L.A. food desert into an edible oasis
(LA Times) Lisa Boone, Dec 10

…When a woman from a nearby apartment hesitantly wanders into the demonstration garden without a face mask, master gardener Florence Nishida immediately grabs one for her and proceeds to show her around the L.A. Green Grounds demonstration garden.

“That is quintessential Florence,” says Rachel Surls, sustainable food systems advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County. “She is an amazing mentor and teacher to so many people. She would never send somebody away.”

They’re Among the World’s Oldest Living Things. The Climate Crisis Is Killing Them
(New York Times) John Branch, Dec 10

…“Suddenly, fire is part of the conversation in ways that it hasn’t been before,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, who lives near Redwood National Park.

Mendocino County 4-H continues during pandemic, with modifications in place 
(Willits News) Jaclyn Luna, Dec 10

University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR) 4-H Program remains an activity that has not been cancelled during 2020, with the global pandemic causing many events and programs to be put on hold.

4-H Community Education Specialist UCCE Mendocino County, Jessica Farfan said, “UC ANR and the state 4-H program has been working to provide guidelines for programming in the time of COVID-19.”

Beyond the impossible: Meat grown from cells is better for the planet -- if you'll eat it
(CNET) Brain Cooley, Dec 8

"Cultured meat production will likely require more industrial energy than do livestock to produce equivalent quantities of meat," says Alison Van Eenennaam, a cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis, in a presentation to the 2019 Range Beef Cow Symposium.

Can ‘fire hardening’ solve California’s home insurance crisis?
(ABC10) James Bikales, Dec 8

Yana Valachovic, a forest advisor and researcher with the University of California Cooperative Extension, agreed that the science is not there yet to quantify the dollar value from taking particular mitigation measures.

Most of the home mitigation in California thus far has focused on reducing ignition through direct flame contact, but two other ignition types — embers and radiant heat — have not been addressed as frequently, Valachovic said.

2020 Giving Tuesday Donations Break UC ANR Records
(AgNet West) Dec 9

The 2020 Giving Tuesday donations for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources have broken records for the organization’s previous giving campaigns.

“I am thrilled to report that we raised over $196,000 for UC ANR programs on Giving Tuesday this year – a 49% increase over the $130,000 raised during Giving Tuesday last year!” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

UC ANR received 854 gifts from 736 donors during the 24-hour campaign this year; in 2019, 494 donors gave 580 gifts for Giving Tuesday.

November 2020

In California, rethinking who ‘owns’ wildfire
(Christian Science Monitor) Martin Kuz, Nov 30

The national wildland fire strategy devised in 2014 details the importance of educating community members about the benefits of putting fire on the landscape. Lenya Quinn-Davidson has committed to that cause as director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. 

Two years ago, she co-founded the West’s first prescribed burn association in Humboldt County, along the forested North Coast. A fire area adviser with the University of California system, she has traversed the state since then to help another dozen associations to organize.

…Investigators outlined preventive actions familiar to Max Moritz, a wildfire expert with the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research has explored living with fire, a concept that reflects a sense of individual and communal responsibility for wildfire preparedness.

“Fire isn’t going away,” he says. “We have to accept that here in the West and then take the right steps in our communities.” 

Self-driving tractors, robot apple pickers: Witness the high-tech future of farming

(Grist) Nathanael Johnson, Nov 27

Electric cars and renewable power plants tend to get all the attention when it comes to clean tech. But this harvest season, you might also spare a thought for those working just as hard in the food tech sector to build autonomous tractors, and weed-stomping robots designed to grow more food while using fewer resources.

The climate argument for ag-bots is simple, said David Zilberman, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Berkeley. Farming needs better technology to replace the materials we currently get from fossil fuels, and the bots can help.

Severe Wildfires Raise the Chance for Future Monstrous Blazes
(Scientific American) Ula Chrobak, Nov. 24

… But the megafires of late have a larger proportion of high-severity areas. Susie Kocher, a forester at the University of California Cooperative Extension, says researchers estimate that prior to the advent of official policies going back 100 years, which dictate that all wildfires should be put out, only 5 to 10 percent of a typical blaze in California’s Sierra Nevada range would burn at high severity. Today, as forests have become dense with trees and fuels, that proportion is between 40 and 60 percent for fires that break out after initial containment efforts. In 2014 about half of the King Fire burned at high severity and killed all the conifers across a 40,000-acre area in the central Sierras east of Sacramento. “That’s way outside of what we think would have been natural,” Kocher says.

California Turkeys Will Likely Trot North As Climate Warms, But May Not Leave The Suburbs
(Cap Radio) Ezra David Romero, Nov 23

…But even as temperatures warm, turkeys adapted to city life won’t likely abandon water and food sources in urban areas for the woods, said Greg Giusti, forest and wildland ecologist emeritus with the University of California Division of Agriculture Natural Resources. He’s also writing a book about turkey behavior [It's actually an IPM Pest Note]. 

“I don't see them leaving downtown Davis because of climate change,” he said. “Let me be blunt. I see them simply adapting to the environment that they're in. As people will adapt, I think they will adapt as well.”

Environment Report: Pipeline Plan Takes a Small Step Forward (With Some Drama)
(Voice of San Diego) MacKenzie Elmer, Nov 23

…An article in the Union-Tribune claimed that the sap of a milkweed, the staple in a Monarch butterfly’s diet, is “toxic to (human) skin and eyes.”

“All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Protection is needed when planting and pruning,” wrote Chris McDonald, a natural resources adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, and Francie Murphy from the San Diego County Master Gardener’s club.

El Retorno de la Sequia
(Univision) Andres Pruna, Nov 21 

… The challenges with water will be even more challenging with climate change,” said Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Merced.

How many turkeys? How big? California turkey farmers, retailers must be nimble during coronavirus Thanksgiving
(North Bay Business Journal) Jeannie Orvino, Nov 20

…“The Project” turkeys have been bred and cared for by [UC] 4-H and National FFA Organization youth who are the direct recipients of the proceeds. Sales records from last year show that a boy who grew 24 birds earned $2,800. Two siblings and a cousin in Sonoma raised 36 birds and earned $4,800.

North Complex: Forest could take 100 years to grow back
(KTVL) Austin Herbaugh, Nov 20

The North Complex, which killed 16 people and devastated Berry Creek, took scientists by surprise and left a lasting scar on the landscape.

It will take decades, maybe even a century for the forest to grow back, says Scott Stephens, a fire scientist at UC Berkeley.

“For me, it was a very personal and a sad story because I knew the forest and the people impacted there,” he said.

Experts Frustrated by Stalled Efforts to Counter Megafires
(NBC Bay Area) Jaxon Van Derbeken, Nov 19

…"It's a problem that we as a society have created -- of how we are loving the forest to death," says retired UC Cooperative Extension forester 

Mike De Lasaux, who lives in Quincy, a Sierra town surrounded by the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe national forests.

Extent of sudden oak death spread in California unexpected in dry year
(Press Democrat) Guy Kovner, Nov 15

...“The numbers are surprising,” said Matteo Garbelotto, director of the UC Berkeley laboratory that has organized the survey, known as the SOD Blitz, since 2008. “We expected to see a slowing down of the disease. That’s not what happened.”

“It’s the first time we’ve seen an increase in a dry year,” he said in an online webinar.

How Californians came together to deal with wildfires during the pandemic
(AlterNet) April M. Short, Nov 11

…And, Gardner further reports, "Climate change undoubtedly played a role, scientists affirm. The fires this summer resulted from a confluence of factors, including a severe drought that California began experiencing in 2012 and this year's unprecedented heat waves, in August and early September, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a University of California wildfire expert, said, adding that, together, these factors produced 'a condition in California where our fuels are basically drier than they've ever been. … Then we get this slightly unprecedented lightning storm' with thousands of strikes 'within thirty-six hours.'"

A program based on mindfulness increases pre-school children's interest in fruit and vegetables
(Washington Newsday) Nov 9

...“Repeated exposure of young children to fruits and vegetables is key to getting them to like them and eat them,” said Lorrene Ritchie, a nutrition specialist at the University of California’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“It can take up to 20 times – and even more for some children – for a child to learn to like a new food, especially vegetables and other things that aren’t sweet, salty or high in fat,” said Ritchie, who was not part of Schmitt’s work.

Tracy Schohr and the ranchers: 'They saved our animals'
(Capital Press) Sierra McClain, Nov 5

…Curtis called the local animal control agency for help. The agency, in turn, called Tracy Schohr, livestock and natural resource adviser at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

“Animal control was like, ‘Hey, can you help move 100 head of cattle?’” said Schohr.

Schohr, who knows producers through research projects, cattlemen’s associations and other networks, called and texted numerous ranchers. In response, Schohr said, dozens of ranchers dropped what they were doing to help.

… “I’m sure Tracy (Schohr) gives the credit to the farmers — as she should — but she’s a hero, too, for organizing the rescues,” said Katie Roberti, spokesperson for the California Cattlemen’s Association.

Report: Organic crops on the rise in California
Sacramento Business Journal, Emily Hamann, Nov 5

…“In general, the number of organic producers and the number of (organic) farms has been going up over time,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center.

UC’s Houston Wilson Leads New Organic Agriculture Institute
Taylor Chalstrom, Nov 3

In recent decades, as California’s organic agriculture industry has grown, education and research on specific practices for organic agriculture has in some cases lagged behind that growth in acreage. The University of California (UC) now has a specific institute dedicated to organic farming in the newly created UC Organic Agriculture Institute (OAI). The OAI is housed within the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and was established with endowments from Clif Bar and UC President Janet Napolitano. These endowments will provide the initial annual funds to support the efforts of the OAI, which will be focused on the development of research and extension programs for organic production of tree nuts, tree fruit, raisins and rice.

October 2020

5 climate ghost towns
(E&E News) Daniel Cusick, Oct. 30

...There almost certainly will be more "dead towns" as fires consume more of Northern California, added [Yana] Valochovic, [an extension forest adviser at the University of California].

"It's hard to imagine that there are towns that are just drying up and disappearing because of a climate-related issue," she said. "If you have a place that's based on a single industry, that's how you get these new ghost towns."

The Case for Reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps
(Wired) Matt Simon, Oct 23

"...But popping up across the state is a glimpse at how a new CCC might help California in its struggle against wildfire fuels: prescribed burn associations, which aim to prevent out-of-control blazes by pre-treating the landscape. About two years ago, Lenya N. Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, cofounded the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association. The group’s experts craft prescribed burn plans for owners of private land, and local volunteers do the actual work. The association has 90 members, and can easily pull 30 people to do a controlled burn. “It really is a social movement around prescribed fire,” Quinn-Davidson says. Since their founding, a dozen other similar groups have formed across California. “It's a great grassroots, local model of people helping each other out, and getting the work done virtually for free,” Quinn-Davidson adds."

California’s Mega Fires Have Arrived 30 Years Early
(Scientific American) Anne Mulkern, Oct, 20

..”Climate research takes a lot of projections and finds a sort of ensemble average, which mutes extremes, said Max Moritz, wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. Models also look at “bookends” such as a very wet or very dry future, “because we don’t know which is most likely,” he said.”

Grazing program offers green way to reduce fire danger
(Sonoma Index) Guy Kovner, Oct 13

A website created by Sonoma County’s UC Cooperative Extension enables landowners to rent cattle, sheep or goats to devour the worrisome vegetation, restoring what used to be one of nature’s ways.

Match.Graze Connects Landowners with Grazers
(AgNet West) Brian German, Oct. 13

…“What we’re doing is encouraging livestock producers to sign up on this website. It’s free of charge. They can tell whatever they want to tell about themselves, create their own profile, and then a landowner can do the same. They can sign up their property, some of their particulars, and what they’re looking for,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Livestock and Range Management Farm Advisor. “Then hopefully people can look back and forth and make a match and we can have grazing in more areas in California to reduce fire fuels.”

UC Berkeley study shows interventions affect school lunch participation
(DailyCal) Annika Constantino, Oct 12

Overall, the study showed that the interventions had modest effects on students’ perceptions of school lunches. The perception that school lunches tasted good and were enough to make students feel full increased by 0.2 points on a five-point scale among 8th graders in schools with intervention, according to study co-author Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, or UCANR.

Smoke, plants and people
(Nevada Appeal) JoAnne Skelly, Oct. 12

With all the smoke lingering lately and on hearing that Napa grape growers lucky enough to still have grapes may not harvest them due to smoke contamination, I wondered how smoke affects plants as well as people. I found some interesting articles.
The first was from University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) of Sonoma County that addressed “Produce Safety After a Fire.”
UCCE pointed out was there can be contaminants in ash and debris that land on edible plants during and after a fire depending on “what built environment and natural materials burned.”

UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisor strives to make farming more inclusive and equitable
(CDFA Planting Seeds) Pam Kan-Rice, Oct. 12

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life for everyone, with information about COVID-19 changing daily. For Californians who aren’t fluent in English, obtaining reliable information is particularly difficult. Aparna Gazula, a University of California Cooperative Extension advisor who serves Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, has been providing COVID-19-related information in Chinese and Spanish for immigrant Bay Area farmers.

New study to investigate influence of cattle grazing on particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires
(Benito Link) Devii Rao, Oct 10

UC Cooperative recently wrapped up a grant that explored the benefits of livestock for fire fuels reduction and fire safety. The next phase of this study has just been initiated. The research team will build on their prior work to calculate the particulate matter (PM) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from herbaceous vegetation (fine fuels) consumed by livestock, compared to those produced if the same forage/fuels were instead burned in a wildfire. They will also consider the potential PM and GHG emissions from the same quantity of decaying vegetation.

Grazing program offers green way to cut grass, reduce fire danger in Sonoma County
(Press Democrat) Guy Kovner, Oct. 9

A website created by Sonoma County’s UC Cooperative Extension enables landowners to connect with livestock owners to rent cattle, sheep or goats to devour the worrisome vegetation, restoring what used to be one of nature’s ways. “It’s a dating service for grazing,” said Stephanie Larson, county director and livestock and range management adviser for the UC service.

These UC Davis food experts want your sauerkraut and kimchi samples — for science
(Sac Bee) Darrell Smith, Oct. 9

It may be a take on Lady Liberty’s iconic words, and this pair of researchers may well be yearning to breathe free when they walk out of the lab, but Maria Marco and Erin DiCaprio have put out the call to kitchens across California: If it’s fermented, these UC Davis food scientists want it.

The Farm Of The Future Might Be In Compton. Inside A Warehouse. And Run Partly By Robots
(LAist) Stefan Slater, Oct 6

The amount of time produce spends in the grow room depends on the crop. Nate Storey, chief science officer and co-founder of Plenty, explains that one leafy green crop might go through the entire process from seedling production to harvesting in two to three weeks. That's significantly less time than if those crops were grown via traditional agriculture.

On a large, outdoor farm in the Salinas Valley, baby kale would typically require 35 to 50 days, depending on the time of year, before it was ready for harvest, according to Richard Smith, a University of California Cooperative Extension vegetable adviser for the Central Coast.

When blazes spark, ‘Fire Twitter’ heats up
(SF Chron) Ryan Kost, Oct. 3

…Twitter launched in 2007, right in the middle of Faith Kearns’ four-year stint as associate director of the Center for Fire Outreach at UC Berkeley. At the time, she says, it was hard to get any sort of fire news. Mostly, they relied on customized news filters, but almost from the start, Twitter proved useful, especially in the early moments after a fire ignited. “Just like with earthquakes,” says Kearns, a scientist who focuses on water, wildfire and climate change. “If you want to figure out what just happened, you look at Twitter.”

September 2020

Can California's wine country survive the climate crisis?
(Salon) Matthew Rozsa, Sept 30

Dr. S. Kaan Kurtural, a specialist in viticulture at the University of California – Davis, said that the environmental calculus had shifted with climate change.

"The ecological challenges have been known for a while and we have initially benefited from it," Kurtural wrote to Salon. "As our climate got warmer (growing season mean temperature) we were able to make more fruit for wine, and grow a lot of it. Now it has passed a tipping point."

California wildfires: Nearly 4 million acres have burned statewide as red flag warning looms for Wine Country
(Mercury News) Paul Rogers, Maggie Angst, Evan Webeck, Sept 30

“Two outlier events — the lightning and the heat waves — coincided as a double whammy. It’s just incredible,” said Max Moritz, a fire scientist with UC Santa Barbara. “And with climate change we are probably going to make these extreme events more common. This could be what we are going to see more of. When you put Diablo and Santa Ana winds on top of that, it’s really scary.”

Megafires Are Breaking Climate Models, Highlighting California's Need To Focus On Prevention
(CapRadio) Ezra David Romero, Sept 29

Michael Jones was up the entire night Sunday watching the Glass Fire take off in Napa and Sonoma counties. At more than 42,000 acres Tuesday it’s damaged at least eight wineries, 80 other homes and businesses and forced tens of thousands to flee.

“It's blown into Santa Rosa — it's not super surprising that we're in the same boat again,” said Jones, a forestry advisor for the UC system in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties. 

…“It's actually burning in a strip of the coastal range that hasn't burned in recorded history,” Jones said.

… This new baseline of information is part of why Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a UC system fire advisor in Humboldt county, says it’s no longer time to debate “base-level conversations” over whether prevention tactics like prescribed burns are beneficial.

Napa and Sonoma are burning again. Here’s why scorched areas can remain vulnerable
(SF Chron) Kellie Hwang, Sept 28

…“The term we like to use is resilience,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire adviser for the UC Cooperative Extension. “Resistance implies a fire won’t enter an area again. What we’re looking to achieve is resilience in a forest, landscape or community structure, where fire can be part of the system but won’t remarkably change it … and actually preserve what’s there.”

California’s ancient ‘asbestos’ forests no longer seem immune
(CalMatters) Julie Cart, Sept 28

…“There is a collective sensation that we are reaching a tipping point,”  said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “This year was not just the fluke burning horrifically. This is 3.2 million acres of fire that burned in a month. It was complete triage and disaster.

Groups find solutions to local food insecurity
(Modesto Bee) Chrisanna Mink, Sept 28

“The help start the garden project, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency provided funding and the University of California Cooperative Extension provided resources and education for CUSD staff, promotoras and the children.”

Kids still drink milk when chocolate milk is pulled
Krissa Welshans, Sept 28

Results from a new study by the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) revealed that while removing chocolate milk modestly reduced students' milk consumption, it did not compromise average intake of key milk-related nutrients.

Local groups plan prescribed burn events this fall
(Plumas News), Sept 23

In addition to the Plumas Underburn Cooperative, the Feather River RCD, and the Plumas County Fire Safe Council, event cooperators include the University of California Cooperative Extension, Chico State University Ecological Reserve, and Plumas National Forest.

Reshaping How Research is Viewed, Accessed Amid The Pandemic
(CapRadio) Insight, Sept 23

UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Cooperative Extension Specialist Anita Oberholster with new research on how the state’s wine crop has been affected by wildfire smoke and ash.

Why you'll sometimes still see trees around towns destroyed by wildfires
(Kens5) Terry Spry Jr, Sept 21

Another aspect of wildfires contributing to this is that houses are especially vulnerable to embers that spurt off from the flames.

“Embers can be blown for miles ahead of a fire front,” said Susan Kocher, another forest advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “The embers can penetrate the home through the vents or open windows and catch the home on fire, which then burns the trees [immediately surrounding the house].”

Take precautions when wildfire ash falls on fruits and vegetables
(Statesman Journal) Kym Pokorny, Sept 17

“Mapping the food-growing area and soil sample spots allows you to correlate your test results, and identify spots of concern in case you need to do more testing, according to the UC Cooperative Extension of Sonoma County, California. Ask the lab for a heavy metals panel analysis that includes lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel and mercury.”

The Indigenous Tradition That Can Help California Avoid Some of Its Endless Wildfires
(Slate) Delilah Friedler, Sept 17

“We aren’t anywhere near bringing fire back at the scale we need to,” says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension who helped lead that burn. “It’s important to push forward with a grassroots model that empowers people to do the work, instead of having bottlenecks with the agency that’s in charge.”

Crops’ recovery from wildfires may take time, experts say

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept. 16

…“There’s a strong emotional desire to do something big because there’s so much damage, and that’s certainly understandable,” said Morgan Doran, a University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor. “My recommendation is to temper that with the financial feasibility and goals that you have for the landscape you manage.”

How To Keep California's Forests Healthy and Reduce Fires

(KQED Forum) Michael Krasny, Sept. 15

Wildfires seem to be getting bigger, more frequent and more dangerous. Experts say that won't change this season or next, unless the state and federal governments spend billions of dollars more on thinning forests and making California communities more resilient to fire. That would mean a big shift for foresters and firefighters who've spent the past century working to preserve timber and beating back the flames. But people who study fire say that shift in thinking is long overdue. We'll talk about what it would take to rework how California manages wildfires and forests.

Guests:

  • Craig Thomas, director, Fire Restoration Group
  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire advisor, UC Cooperative Extension
  • Danielle Venton, reporter, KQED Science
  • Scott Stephens, professor of fire science, the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley

Power Up: California may be burning. But it's also still drilling for oil

(WaPo) Jacqueline Alemany, Sept. 15

… Cities and communities can take more immediate steps to lessen the wildfire damage: "At this point we’ve learned a lot about how to engineer homes and communities so that they can be more survivable,” Max Moritz, a wildfire expert affiliated with the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the New York Times's Brad Plumer and John Schwartz. “But these lessons aren’t being implemented fast enough.”

Forests That Survive Megafires Prove Good Management Trumps Climate Change

(Forbes) Michael Shellenberger, Sept. 13

…But whatever happens to Shaver Lake, says University of California, Berkeley forest scientist Rob York, “There are lots of cases in the scientific literature of prescribed burns having changed fire behavior.”

150 million dead trees are fueling huge Sierra wildfires

(Los Angeles Times) Bettina Boxall, Sept. 13

“I don’t want to be alarmist. But I think the conditions are there,” said Scott Stephens, a UC Berkeley professor of fire science and lead author of a 2018 paper that raised the specter of future mass forest fires as intense as the Dresden, Germany, and Tokyo firebombings.

“As those [trees] continue to fall, the physics of it are unchanged. If you have dead and downed logs … the fires described in warfare are possible.”


Wildfires will be more common in a warming world

(The Economist) Sept 12

“It's not that different to building on an earthquake-prone landscape,” says Max Moritz, a wildfire expert at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Fire Suppression — And Climate Change — Is To Blame For California’s Megafires. Experts Unpack The Term.
(CapRadio) Ezra David Romero, Sept 12

…More than a century later fire suppression is still taking place, even though there are efforts to change a mentality of putting fires out. But that’s slowly changing as the pace, scale and astronomical costs of wildfires exponentially grow, says Michael Jones, a UC system forestry advisor for Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties

Cattle might be secret weapon in fight against wildfires, experts say. Here’s how
(Sac Bee) Katie Camero, Sept 11

… Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension set out to evaluate how much fine fuel — grasses and other plants known to start fires — cattle eat and how their feeding behavior affects flame activity.

UC Climate Experts Warn California Wildfires, Extreme Weather Events Will Get Worse
(KPIX) Andrea Nakano, Sept 10

“Unfortunately we can expect more of the same. That is absolutely clear because all the science is very consistent that these are the kinds of events that have been predicted for decades and all of the signs point to more of the same,” says Dave Ackerly, Dean of Rausser College at UC Berkeley.

Wildfires Are Worsening. The Way We Manage Them Isn’t Keeping Pace.
(New York Times) Brad Plumer, John Schwartz, Sept. 10

…“At this point we’ve learned a lot about how to engineer homes and communities so that they can be more survivable,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire expert affiliated with the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But these lessons aren’t being implemented fast enough.”

Climate change fuels wildfires in the west
(Desert Sun) Ian James, Sept 3

“There are things we can and should be doing to address the fire problem and fire risk in California, and to get ahead of it, and to make ourselves more resilient,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.

We Know How to Prevent Megafires. We’re Just Not Doing It.
(Defense One) Elizabeth Weil, Sept 2

“Some fire Cassandras are more optimistic than others. Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, remains hopeful. She knows the history. She understands that the new MOU is nonbinding. Still she’s working on forming burn cooperatives and designing burner certificate programs to bring healthy fire practices back into communities.”

 

August 2020

Six ways California can reduce dangerous wildfires
(SF Chronicle) Peter Fimrite, Aug. 29

…“This is not a matter of raking some leaves,” said Keith Gilless, a forest economist at UC Berkeley and chair of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, referring to President Trump’s much-ridiculed suggestion that California rake the forest floors. “This is a matter of untold tons of biomass from decades of fire suppression.”

Why California spends billions but can’t control its wildfires. ‘No simple or cheap solution’
(Sacramento Bee) Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, Aug. 27

...“I don’t think at this point we’ve gotten much traction with the problem,” said Malcolm North, a fire ecologist at UC Davis and the U.S. Forest Service. “The enormity of it … it would probably take years. There’s no simple or cheap solution to this problem.”

...“Every part of California is receptive to wildfire,” said Yana Valachovic, a UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor on the North Coast. “Especially in a year like this, when we had a pretty dry winter and spring, so a lot of the state is in drought conditions.”

...“We’re just trying to dig ourselves out of a very, very deep hole,” said Michael De Lasaux, a retired UCANR forester who had to be evacuated from his home in Quincy recently. “We’re decades behind the curve.”

UC Davis lands $20 million grant to research artificial intelligence in food systems
(Sacramento Business Journal), Mark Anderson, Aug 26

The University of California Davis has received $20 million to launch and lead a research institute integrating artificial intelligence in food systems.
UC Davis will be part of a $140 million national effort through research universities and agencies that is being sponsored by the National Science Foundation, UC Davis reported.

“The food system is ripe for disruption, with many advances over the past decade paving the way to a transformation,” said Ilias Tagkopoulos, professor in the UC Davis Department of Computer Science and Genome Center, in a news release. Tagkopoulos will be director of the new center, called the AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems, or AIFS.

Why California’s wildfires keep getting worse
(Salon) Nicole Karlis, Aug 25

"They are certainly getting worse over time," Susan Kocher, a forestry advisor at the University of California-Cooperative Extension Central Sierra, told Salon. "We burned fewer acres in wildfires in 2019 than 2018, but overall, yes, the trend is progressing to burning more and more acres at high severity over time and affecting more people through evacuations and damages to homes and communities."

Stop Blaming Climate Change For California’s Fires. Many Forests, Including The Redwoods, Need Them.
(Forbes) Michael Shellenberger, Aug. 24

“When I hear climate change discussed it’s suggested that it’s a major reason and it’s not,” Scott Stevens [Stephens] of the University of California, Berkeley, told me.
Redwood forests before Europeans arrived burned every 6 to 25 years. The evidence comes from fire scars on barks and the bases of massive ancient trees, hollowed out by fire, like the one depicted in The New York Times photograph.

“There was severe heat before the lightning that dried-out [wood] fuel,” noted Stevens. “But in Big Basin [redwood park], where fire burned every seven to ten years, there is a high-density of fuel build-up, especially in the forests.”

What to let burn, what to save? Firefighters must practice triage in California
(KCRW), Madeleine Brand, Aug. 24

Guest:
Lenya Quinn-Davidson - Area Fire Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County, CA; Director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council

What should wildfire prevention look like? Three experts urge action.
(Christan Science Monitor) Martin Kuz, Aug. 24

National Guard and U.S. military helping to fight California fires
(Los Angeles Times) Alex Wigglesworth, Susanne Rust, Ruben Vives, Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Aug. 23

Does California have the resources to fight Bay Area fires?
(Los Angeles Times) Susanne Rust, Joseph Serna, Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Anita Chabria, Aug. 22

Smoke, ash from River Fire raises questions about produce, farmworker safety
(Salinas Californian) Kate Cimini, Aug. 21

…According to a preliminary UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma study, smoke from 2017 fires had little impact on local Sonoma County produce.
Based on preliminary findings, "...produce safety was not significantly affected by the fires and may be mitigated by washing produce." 

Who’s eating my tomatoes? Pt. 1
(Farmer Fred) Fred Hoffman, Aug. 21

… U.C. Farm Advisor Rachael Long tells us about the mud dauber wasp, which can be very effective at controlling another backyard nemesis: black widow spiders.

Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted’
(Sacramento Bee) Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, Sophia Bollag, Aug 19

…“They can’t put as many firefighters next to each other on the fire line,” said Bill Stewart, a UC Berkeley wildfire expert. “The pickup trucks (transporting crews) are historically full of people. Now they’re limited to one or two.”

Millions of Older Californians Live Where Wildfire Threatens. Mostly, They’re on Their Own
(KPBS), August 17

That’s why we have to learn to live with wildfire and adapt to the increasing risks brought by climate change, says Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist for the UC Cooperative Extension. 

“To finally come to a coexistence with wildfire: that is a whole different way of thinking and living with a given hazard,” he said. “It means that we have to be ready for them and we have to look out for the most vulnerable people when they do come.”

UCCE promotes nature as a way to improve wellness
(MorningAg Clips), Aug 13

Could A Phone App Help Prevent California Wildfires?
(Capital Public Radio), Ezra Romero, Aug 10

Helping Farmers Manage Risk
(CalAg Today), Tim Hammerich, Aug. 6

Mediterranean oak borer detected in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties
Lake County News, Aug. 5

Several Factors Increasing Northern Pistachio Acreage, Including SGMA
(Agnet West), Taylor Hillman, Aug. 3

5 Diseases Threatening Your Garden & How to Fight Them Off
(Chowhound), David Klein, Aug. 3

Former Goat Herder’s Crop Research Promotes Prosperity for Imperial Valley Farmers
Morning Ag Clips, Aug. 2

July 2020

Elderberries
(AgInfo Network) David Sparks, July 30

Scientists create calf designed to produce 75% male offspring
KNEB, July 28

California: New bill could prevent by-products going to feed
Feed Navigator, Jane Byrne, July 27

UC Cooperative Extension offers virtual range camp
Benito Link, Devii Rao, July 27, 2020

Meet Cosmo, a bull calf designed to produce 75% male offspring
Morning Ag clips, July 27

Want to become a San Bernardino County Master Gardener? Here’s how
San Bernardino Sun, July 26

Why aren’t loquat and orange trees producing?
(Los Angeles Times) Laura Simpson, July 25, 2020'

Edible landscape is good for table, world
(The Record) Lee Miller, July 24, 2020

The Quest for the Best
PacHort, Karrie Reid, July 20, 2020

Potential cure for ailing citrus trees is a dose of hope for the industry
(Los Angeles Times) Jeanette Marantos, July 18, 2020

Burger King, Lemongrass and Methane
Global Ag Network, July 15, 2020

Local Preserve Wants To Change The Way We Fight Wildfires In California
(KAZU), Michelle Loxton, July 14, 2020

Burger King Tells A Whopper!
(Drovers), Greg Henderson, July 15, 2020

Community Members Encouraged to Support UC ANR Funding
(AgNet West), Brian German, July 16, 2020

Supervisors support Siskiyou County’s 4-H program
(Siskiyou Daily News), Bill Choy, July 16, 2020

Marin County agricultural production grew 4% in 2019
(Marin Independent Journal) Richard Halstead, July 12, 2002

His ‘Eco-lutionary’ Call to Action
(The Los Angeles Times) Jeanette Marantos, July 11, 2020

Voles Populating Chino Hills
(Champion Newspapers) Marianne Napoles, July 11, 2020

Suggestions amid a sizzling summer
FarmPress, July 8, 2020

The University of California announced its first Black president
(CNN) Sarah Moon, July 8, 2020

Climate-change research provides tools for farmers
FarmPress, July 7, 2020

UCCE pear expert Rachel Elkins retires from 33-year career
Lake County News, July 7, 2020

A Big Rat in Congress Helped California Farmers in Their War Against Invasive Species
Inside Climate News, Abby Weiss, July 5, 2020

Step up your watering of roses in the summer
The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 4, 2020

Fight fire with fire
Calaveras Enterprise, July 3, 2020

Improving forest health would create jobs, improve economies in rural California
Cal Matters, July 2, 2020

Rhonda Smith
Anderson Valley Advertiser, Bob Dempel, July 1, 2020

Vegetable Growers Rally to Conquer COVID-19 Induced Challenges
(Growing Produce) Carol Miller, July 1, 2020

UC ANR Engaged in Projects to Increase Internet Connectivity
AgNet, West, Brian German, July 1, 2020

June 2020

CA budget deal proposes fewer cuts for K-12 than May revision
Daily Californian, June 30, 2020

Hermosa Beach a natural habitat for coyotes
(Easy Reader News) Kevin Cody, June 26, 2020

UC Berkeley researchers find forests are becoming younger, smaller
Daily Californian, June 26, 2020

2020's Only Live Junior Livestock Show
(Modoc Record) Laura Snell, June 25, 2020

Head of UC ANR has ideas for rural recovery
(Agri-Pulse) Brad Hooker, June 24, 2020

Southeast Asian farmers face total loss in COVID fallout
The Business Journal, June 22, 2020

Making California Wine in the Time of Covid-19
Courthouse News Service, June 17, 2020

Study: Most retailed avocado oil is of poor quality
(Farm Press) Diane Nelson, June 17, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic has affected state’s food, agriculture and environment
Daily Democrat, June 16, 2020

Bradford-Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award presented
Daily Democrat, June 13, 2020

In absence of federal action, farm workers’ coronavirus cases spike
Politico, June 9, 2020

A new class of California naturalists 
(Catalina Islander) Jessica Boudevin. June 5, 2020

How has the pandemic impacted Calif. agriculture? 
(Morning Ag Clips) June 4, 2020

Prescribed Burn Association Coming to Central Coast 
(AgNet West) Brian German, June 4, 2020

Dairy researcher looks to improve feeding efficiency
(Capital Press) Julia Hollister, June 4, 2020

Almond farming, like baseball, requires a game plan
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, June 3, 2020

Tehama County expands re-opening following COVID-19 closure 
(Red Bluff Daily News) Julie Zeeb, June 2, 2020

UC ANR Getting Creative with Diversifying Funding Support 
(AgNet West) Brian German, June 2, 2020

What if food were the focus of the school curriculum?
(Futurum) Christian Nansen, June 1, 2020