UC ANR in the news

August 2021

UC Berkley Study: Pot Farms not as Thirsty as Once Thought
(Sacramento Bee) Isabella Vanderheiden, Aug 1

A recent study from the University of California, Berkeley, Cannabis Research Center found permitted cannabis farmers are consuming less water than previously thought. 


How to Keep the Herd Hydrated During & After a Wildfire
(Progressive Cattle) Ritchie Industries, Aug 1

“During a drought or post fire, livestock drinking water may be compromised,” said Tracy Schohr, a partner at Schohr Ranch and a Livestock and National Resources Advisor at University of California Cooperative Extension. “Water is the most critical factor for cattle producers, without enough clean safe water you can have reduced productivity, declining feed intake and negative impacts to physiological processes, which can result in death.  Hauling water can be an option for livestock producers post fire and as a drought adaption strategy.


July 2021


Marin Master Gardeners’ drought-tolerant demonstration gardens offer inspiration
(Giving Marin Community Partnership) Jane Scurich, July 30 

As the reality of our water crisis settles in, and we begin to think seriously about saving every precious drop, it’s time to plan for some drought-tolerant replacements for our lawns as well as thirsty annuals and perennials. Garden books and visits to local nurseries provide lots of ideas, but there is nothing like observing a drought-tolerant specimen thriving in an actual garden. There may be no place better to begin your search than the UC Marin Master Gardeners’ demonstration gardens.


Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions
(San Francisco Examiner) July 30

Broad data patterns on climate change, frequency of fires or dry vegetation do not tell the whole story on California’s wildfire problems, according to Max Moritz, statewide wildfire specialist at the UC Cooperative Extension. People and the changes they’ve made to the landscape matter, too.

“That’s because we have done a lot of things to our landscape at finer scales,” Moritz said. “Look at the power line infrastructure. We’ve got road networks, we’ve got housing developments at different densities across the landscape.”


More ‘good fires’ could help California control future catastrophes
(US News Mail) July 28

In order to get the state back on track with its historical fire patterns, researchers suggest that about one million acres should be burned every year. The reality has been more than an order of magnitude away, despite persuasive evidence that prescribed burns are effective.

“We are just so out of touch with fire now,” says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire expert at the University of California’s Humboldt extension. “So much of our forests have this huge backlog, and we’re going to need to use prescribed fire to protect resources we care about—communities, places we love—and set larger landscapes up to thrive again.”


Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions
(SF Examiner) July 30

…Prescribed fires have already played a role in protecting WUI areas in places like Florida, which sometimes burns more than 2 million acres annually, according to Lenya Quinn-Davidson from UC Agriculture & Natural Resources.

“If any of you have traveled in Florida, or maybe some of you have even burned in Florida, you’re often right near homes, you’re seeing smoke right behind the grocery store, in the back 40 on private property,” Quinn-Davidson said. “Prescribed fire is part of the culture there, and it’s really integrated in and amongst human habitation, so it’s a great example and somewhere we should really be looking to understand the role of prescribed fire.”

…Broad data patterns on climate change, frequency of fires or dry vegetation do not tell the whole story on California’s wildfire problems, according to Max Moritz, statewide wildfire specialist at the UC Cooperative Extension. People and the changes they’ve made to the landscape matter, too.

“That’s because we have done a lot of things to our landscape at finer scales,” Moritz said. “Look at the power line infrastructure. We’ve got road networks, we’ve got housing developments at different densities across the landscape.”


‘Liquidation of cows.’ How the drought creates chaos on California ranches, dairy farms
(The Fresno Bee) Dale Kasler, July 29

So far the drought isn’t raising consumer prices, but that’s likely to change. In the meantime, ranchers and dairy producers are getting squeezed financially by higher costs — and are left with dwindling options.

“You’re going to have to cull your cattle,” said Tracy Schohr, a rancher and livestock advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Quincy. “You’re going to have to make decisions about which cattle to sell.” Her ranch sold 15 animals earlier this year.


Meet the People Burning California to Save It
(New York Times) Emma Cott, Caroline Kim and Elie Khadra, July 29

…“The thing prescribed fire does is actually removes the fuels – leaves and branches and grass – and the things that allow fire to burn. So if we can use prescribed fire, they’re not there when the wildfire comes through,” says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension.


New group hopes to spark ‘good fire’ movement across Central Coast
(Santa Cruz Sentinel) Hannah Hagemann, July 29

…“We’re sort of in this time period of … renewed interest in prescribed burning. There’s not a lot of people who know how to do it today,” said Devii Rao, livestock and natural resource adviser with the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The association is a collaboration of the UC Cooperative Extension San Benito County and the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County. It’s starting out with nearly $380,000 in funding from Cal Fire.


‘Liquidation of cows.’ How the drought creates chaos on California ranches, dairy farms
(Sac Bee) Dale Kasler, July 29

…“You’re going to have to cull your cattle,” said Tracy Schohr, a rancher and livestock advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Quincy. “You’re going to have to make decisions about which cattle to sell.” Her ranch sold 15 animals earlier this year.

…“Culling cows now lowers the price for hamburger now and it means steaks will be more expensive two years from now because there are fewer calves,” said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis.


Cannabis, utilities hold potential for economic development
(Western Farm Press) Olivia Henry, July 28

As the West strives to recover from the pandemic-induced economic slump, the University of California's Keith Taylor is taking an unconventional approach to economic development.

In the world's sixth biggest economy, where do you start? Taylor, who was hired in 2017 as UC Cooperative Extension's sole specialist in community economic development, started by tackling a couple of the state's thorniest sectors: cannabis and utilities.


Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) Doubles Down on Its Drought Resilience and Water Security Initiative
(BusinessWire) July 27

Other local organizations working in conjunction with MALT and other efforts include the Marin Resource Conservation District (MRCD), with programs such as Conserving Our Watersheds (COW); the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)/Marin County, for science-based resources that include webinars, seminars and other informational programs; and Point Blue Conservation Science’s Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) conservation education and plant restoration program.


Cannabis industry group pushes 'green seal' and tax credits
(New Haven Register) Rebekah Ward, July 27

Several researchers at Berkeley’s Cannabis Research Center have been considering these issues in their assessments of the state of the research on cannabis and the environment. 

“We found very few scientific, published studies on the topic,” said Ariani C. Wartenberg, who co-authored a review article on the subject earlier this year.


In with the old: 'Whole orchard recycling' gains traction
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, July 27

…According to University of California Cooperative Extension researchers Brent Holtz, fruit cultivation farm adviser, and Mae Culumber, nut crops adviser, whole orchard recycling provides tree fruit and nut growers who wish to remove unproductive and dead trees with a sustainable removal method.


Disaster Livestock Access Program established in Yuba County
(Appeal-Democrat) July 27

…The Disaster Livestock Access Program was created by the UC Cooperative Extension in partnership with agricultural departments in the three counties.


U.S. Wildfires Map, Update As California, Oregon and Washington Blazes Burn Nearly 1.5M Acres
(Newsweek) James Crump, July 26

A fire map provided by the University of California showing the active blazes in several states across the U.S. University of California Cooperative Extension.

The nine fires currently burning in California have so far burned 324,642 acres, while Washington has seen 126,609 destroyed from 10 blazes and Oregon has recorded 541,336 acres burned from just seven wildfires.


Humans are the cause of most wildfires. Climate change will make that worse
(The Hill) Zack Budryk, July 24

…“While it hasn’t gotten as much study, it would also appear that there’s an increase in the number of red-flag days, or the number of days affected by high-wind incidents,” according to Sabrina Drill, the natural resources adviser for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

These conditions can be particularly dangerous in Southern California, where the majority of fires are driven by drifting embers, she added. In addition to spreading individual fires, she noted, high winds can increase the rate at which moisture in vegetation evaporates. The couple whose gender reveal ignited the San Bernardino County fire were unable to extinguish it with water bottles due to the high winds present at the site.

“That’s also why during big wind events we have a lot of these power companies actually shutting power off,” said Max Moritz, a cooperative extension wildfire specialist at the Bren School, UC Santa Barbara.


Pot farms using groundwater can affect stream flows
(Western Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice, July 23

“Wells drilled near streams in upland watersheds have the potential to cause rapid streamflow depletion similar to direct surface water diversions,” said co-author Ted Grantham, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and co-director of the Cannabis Research Center.


Master Gardener to Engage Green Thumbs
(Holtville Tribune) Julio Morales, July 22

…Dr. Oli Bachie, local UCCE director and UCCE agronomy adviser for Imperial, San Diego and Riverside counties, said his efforts to hire a local master gardener date back a few years and had taken repeated appearances before the county’s Agricultural Benefits Program Committee to secure the grant funding.


Forest fires intensify. Here’s why and what can be done
(Newsbeezer) July 21

“We have good science that shows homes retrofitted or built this way are more likely to survive forest fires,” said Susie Kocher, forest consultant at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Landscape changes can also make a difference. Fire experts think in terms of the 0-5 zone, which refers to the five feet of circumference around a house. This zone should be kept free of debris, firewood, plants, or mulch. “It looks nice to put a bush under our window, and that’s exactly the wrong thing to do,” says Ms. Kocher.


Map: All the wildfires currently burning in California
(KGET.com) Fahreeha Rehman, July 20 

Most of the state is in either an extreme drought or exceptional drought, raising concerns for the wildfires to come. But crews across the state are already battling several major fires.

The University of California Cooperative Extension has a fire activity map that shows where in California fires are currently burning.


Organic Farming Battle Pits Aquaponics, Hydroponics Against Traditional Soil Farms
(KPIX) Kenny Choi, July 19

As more U.S. farmers turn to high-tech indoor techniques, some are raising questions about the true meaning of organic farming. Kenny Choi reports.

[He talked to Daniel Sumner, UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics]

The fires California grieves—and needs
(Zocalo) Lenya Quinn-Davidson, July 19

…In my work, I focus on bringing fire back. As a fire advisor, I work with individual landowners, tribes and cultural practitioners, community groups, and agencies to build capacity for prescribed fire—to set intentional fires that provide ecological and social benefits, reducing fire hazard but also restoring wildlife habitat and biodiversity, eradicating invasive species, and restoring landscape and community resilience. The idea is to rebuild the relationship between people and fire, and to empower the kinds of change that might bring us back into balance.


Governor signs 'transformational' budget for UC ANR research & outreach
(Morning Ag Clips) July 18

The state budget signed by Governor Newsom on July 12th includes a historic increase for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. The state restored UC ANR’s budget to pre-COVID levels of FY 2019-20 and provided a 5% increase plus an additional $32 million in ongoing funding, bringing total state support to $107.9 million for the division, which contains the county-based UC Cooperative Extension, Integrated Pest Management and 4-H Youth Development programs.


Map shows where every wildfire is burning in California right now
(SF Gate) Katie O’Dowd, July 18

An interactive map put together by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources makes things a bit easier to visualize. Active and recently contained fires are shown, as well as areas that have a red flag warning (those are the purple areas). The map is not meant to be used for evacuations or real-time threats. For that, you should look to your local government's alert system or Cal Fire. 


The number of controlled burns is rising in California. Is it enough?
(SF Chronicle) Yoohyun Jung, July 17

…The public’s perception of prescribed fires has shifted in the past five to 10 years, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire adviser with the University of California’s Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. There’s an increased acceptance of their value as a tool to reduce fire risk.

“People in general are tired of scary fire season after scary fire season,” she said. The public is desperate for a solution and rethinking what’s working versus not, and community members — not just fire agencies — are increasingly getting involved in prescribed fire efforts by joining and forming associations, of which there are 13 now in California, she said.


Wildfires Are Intensifying. Here’s Why, and What Can Be Done
(New York Times) Winston Choi-Schagrin, July 16

By nearly every metric, the wildfires in the Western United States are worsening. They are growing larger, spreading faster and reaching higher, scaling mountain elevations that previously were too wet and cool to have supported fires this fierce.

“We have good science that shows that homes that have been retrofitted or built in this way are more likely to survive wildfires,” said Susie Kocher, a forestry adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension.


Wildfires Are Intensifying. Here’s Why, and What Can Be Done 
(New York Times) Winston Choi-Schagrin, July 16

“Ten years ago, we weren’t really seeing fires move like that,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, referring to 2021’s Bootleg Fire, which began July 6 and at one point consumed more than fifty thousand acres in a single day.

“We have good science that shows that homes that have been retrofitted or built in this way are more likely to survive wildfires,” said Susie Kocher, a forestry adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension.


Tech Innovations Changing Farming In California
(Bay Citizen) July 15

… One of the directions in which AI innovations are aimed is the speeding up of genetic crop selection. However, the vice president for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Glenda Humiston, claims that the implementation of AI in agriculture faces many difficulties due to the high variability of environmental conditions across a single field. The detection and analysis of all those conditions require the use of sensors, complex algorithms, and advanced data processing all together to enable smart decision-making in farm management.


UC Berkeley study finds marijuana farms require less water than previously assumed
(The Daily Californian) Kavya Gupta, July 14

Researchers looked into farms in Northern California, including those in Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Their findings found that earlier assumptions about marijuana production and water use had been misinformed by incomplete data. Earlier studies did not take into account differences in growing conditions, temporal variation and water storage.

According to Van Butsic, campus assistant cooperative extension specialist and one of the study’s researchers, legal marijuana production is generally sustainable, given that stored water is used.


Communities Share Wildfire Preparedness Activities with Online Firewise Reporting Tool
(Sierra Sun) July 13

… “Californians can collaborate and motivate each other to prepare for wildfire,” said Ryan Tompkins, UC Cooperative Extension forester and natural resources advisor. “The more neighbors who prepare their property and residences, the safer a community is.”


Helping California’s Diverse Small Farmers Thrive Through Drought And Upheaval
(CA Forward) Nadine Ono, July 13

University of California Cooperative Extension provides Small Farms Advisors across the state to help small farmers thrive economically and sustainably. They assist small farmers in the production of small acreage crops, assist with regulatory compliance and work with policymakers on small farming regulations when California takes a one-size-fits-all approach to agriculture regulations. Four advisors are active in Fresno/Tulare Counties, San Benito/Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties, Sacramento/Yolo/Solano Counties, and San Diego County.


More catastrophic fires in California - can Australia's prescribed burning help?
(Australia Broadcasting) Linda Mottram, July 12

Another catastrophic fire season has begun in the western United States. Multiple, massive blazes are raging in several states, some defying fire fighting efforts, as temperatures soar above 50 celcius in places, in tinder dry, prolonged drought conditions. Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Northern California Area Fire Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, says climate change is driving fire seasons that some estimate are about 70 days longer than in the past. But she says is 100 years of keeping fire out of fire-adapted and fire-dependent ecosystems, allowing fuel buildup, which feeds worsening seasons. She says active management of the system, including prescribed burning on the Australian model, and better building and planning are vital tools to ameliorate the impact of wildfires.


What caused the 2021 wildfires in California and Oregon?
(The US Sun) Jacob Bentley-York, July 12

Max Moritz, a wildfire expert with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Santa Barbara, said: “We’re off to a daunting start.

"We're starting off much drier and we're seeing more fires much earlier than usual."


Reservoirs are drying up as consequences of the Western drought worsen
(WaPo) Diana Leonard, July 9

…Faith Kearns, a scientist at the California Institute of Water Resources, said many communities face chronic water supply issues that are exacerbated by drought and groundwater withdrawal.

“My biggest concern is always with ensuring that people have affordable clean water at the household level, and that ecosystems and the life they support can manage,” she wrote in an email. “It's already a struggle that will continue to worsen throughout the dry season.”


Connecting Ranchers with Land Stewards Could Be Key to Less Disastrous Wildfires
(Civil Eats) Anna Guth, July 8

…“I finally said, ‘Enough!’ [We’ve had] four catastrophic fires and we’re not doing enough with the livestock owners in the areas where vegetation has grown back to continually manage it,” said Stephanie Larson, who directs the University of California Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County and served as a consultant to the Fitch Mountain project.

… Sheila Barry, a U.C. Extension livestock and natural resource advisor and a contributor to the cattle study, highlighted that as long as land managers use practices, such as rotational or “managed” grazing—which involves regularly rotating the animals between separate pastures or “paddocks”—there can be myriad additional ecological benefits besides addressing wildfire. Barry’s research has shown positive impacts for special status species, such as the California Condor. She also found evidence that the managed grazing can help control non-native plants, providing habitat for pollinators, and sequestering carbon.


Another California Heat Wave Will Bake Forests Already Primed to Burn
(KQED) Raquel Maria Dillon, July 8

…Scott Stephens, a forestry professor at UC Berkeley is seeing evidence of that firsthand in the Plumas County town of Quincy, where he’s teaching a summer field course for undergraduates.

He said after several weeks of temperatures above 90 degrees, plants there are “already showing signs that look like August: leaves starting to shrivel, shutting shut down because moisture is being depleted by the heat.”

“The hot temperatures plus the combination of two years of below average precipitation this year is really worrisome because that lower moisture is going to make fire behavior more extreme, spread rates more extreme,” he said.


Study Shows Growing Cannabis Uses Less Water than Previously Thought
(High Times) AJ Herrington, July 8

A study from the University of California Berkeley Cannabis Research Center has determined that licensed cannabis cultivation operations use less water than previously thought. Researchers from the center began studying water use by cannabis growers in 2017, following the legalization of recreational marijuana in California the previous year.

… Van Butsic and Ted Grantham, co-directors of the Cannabis Research Center and adjunct fellows at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, told local media that the study “hasn’t found cannabis to be particularly thirsty relative to other crops.”

“Legal, outdoor production uses about the same amount of water as a crop like tomatoes,” Bustic said.


Commentary: Legislature recognizes UCANR’s value with funding
(Ag Alert) Taylor Roschen, July 7

… But in a clear spot within the opaqueness, the Legislature has agreed to use its overwhelming resources this year and in future years to fully fund the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Ag Alert® readers, UCANR supporters and staff, and the farm community surely recognize the critical role farm advisors, specialists and community education specialists serve to help farms identify pests and diseases; implement water use efficiency; improve soil health, biodiversity and crop efficiency; adapt to climate change; and promote agricultural education. But due to significant funding reductions over the last two decades, UCANR has lost almost 40% of its program staff, leaving them reliant on fees, inconsistent grant funding and perpetuating service area deficits.


Morning Brief: Grasshoppers Wreak Havoc, Missing Rent Relief, And CicLAvia Returns
(LAist) Jessica P. Ogilvie, July 5

…“Ranchers are already short of forage because of the drought,” said David Lile, the Lassen County Director of the U.C. Cooperative Extension. “They can’t afford to lose more.”


Here’s how California homeowners are trying to save their fire insurance
(East Bay Times) Kate Selig, July 4

Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension at the Bren School in Santa Barbara, gave a hypothetical example of fire-resistant roofs: Perhaps one study finds a statistically significant risk reduction of 5%, but another found a 25% decrease. From that, researchers could recommend people replace their wood roofs, but it would be hard to assign a dollar value to that reduction in risk.


Here’s how California homeowners are trying to save their fire insurance
(Mercury News) Kate Selig, July 4

…Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension at the Bren School in Santa Barbara, gave a hypothetical example of fire-resistant roofs: Perhaps one study finds a statistically significant risk reduction of 5%, but another found a 25% decrease. From that, researchers could recommend people replace their wood roofs, but it would be hard to assign a dollar value to that reduction in risk.

“There’s a lot that we know is a step in the right direction, but we have very little information to base an actual number on,” Moritz said.


California Farmers Fear Land Will Be ‘Stripped Bare’ By Grasshoppers
(LAist) Olivia Richard, July 4

…“It seems like it coincides with dry weather, drought years, and that’s certainly the case this year,” said David Lile, the Lassen County Director of the U.C. Cooperative Extension. “It also seems like it runs in two or three year cycles ... if you get a bad grasshoppers year, you’re going to have another one for the next two or three, and we’re not quite sure what breaks that cycle.”


Why Are Almond Growers Uprooting Their Orchards?
(Atlas Obscura) Jessica Leigh Hester, July 2

…Leaving drought-stricken trees in the ground can also be a gamble: “I don’t think we have a lot of information about how little we can water a tree in a given year and expect it to produce in a following year,” says Phoebe Gordon, an orchard crops farm advisor at the UC Cooperative Extension whose areas of expertise include almonds in the counties of Madera and Merced.



Firefighters are Tackling Three Major Wildfires in California in Worrying Sign as Summer Begins
(The Washington Post) María Luisa Paúl, July 2

Firefighters in California are battling three sizable wildfires in what authorities are characterizing as a worrying sign that this year’s fire season could be even more devastating than the record-breaking destruction seen in 2020.

For Yana Valachovic, forest adviser and county director a the University of California Cooperative Extension, a combination of adaptation, prevention and action is necessary.


When wild critters move into tony neighborhoods
(LA Times) Diane Bell, July 1

They discovered that some spend 100 percent of their time in suburban Los Angeles and some spend 20 percent of their time in urban areas. Some live right next to natural habitats but never venture into them, says Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions adviser with the UC Cooperative Extension who works on the program.


June 2021

Northern California property owners flock to grazing companies as fire outlook worsens
(The North Bay Business Journal) Susan Wood, June 28

Stephanie Larson, the University of California Cooperative Extension Sonoma County director and livestock and range management adviser, shared a letter written to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors asking it to intervene and waive the ag regulations for herders.

Larson expects to bring a long list of financial requests to the board within a month. She wants to add to the $5,000 the group received in seed money from Rebuild North Bay and $600,000 it got from the Pacific Gas & Electric settlement. The county received $3.7 million for vegetation management as a result of the same settlement.


Drought hurts California's urban farmers, too
(Western Farm Press) Olivia Henry, June 22

Many community farms and gardens cultivate land owned by city or county departments, schools and private landowners. Lucy Diekmann, a UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture and food systems advisor in Santa Clara County, says that how those institutions handle rationing or surcharges set by water retailers makes all the difference for urban farmers. Diekmann co-authored a 2017 study looking at how urban agriculture in Silicon Valley was affected by the last period of extreme drought. 


Fear as the East Bay hills fill up with dead and dying trees
(SF Gate) Katie Dowd, June 21

… Drought and parasites may be intersecting to exacerbate the crisis. by UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management adjunct professor Matteo Garbelotto attempted to determine what is causing the "highly unusual" spate of deaths among acacia trees. Garbelotto found the presence of two fungi, Diaporthe foeniculina and Dothiorella viticola, at all the Bay Area sites he studied. 

"They both start as endophytes, living inside trees without any obvious effect on tree health," the study found, "then often become pathogens — some relatively aggressive — in conjunction with the onset of predisposing stress factors (drought, heat stress, fewer foggy days, competition due to high stand density) and then survive as saprobes on the wood of the dead trees."


In Russian River’s fabled vineyards, the harvest of a drought
(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, June 21

“Whatever water we have on the ground is all we’re going to get,” said Mendocino County supervisor and [UC ANR emeritus] plant scientist Glenn McGourty, whose district spans the rural upper reaches of the river’s watershed, where the dance of cool nights and hot days, combined with alluvial soil, produces unique growing conditions.

“We hope and pray that we can make it to harvest without our fruit becoming raisins and the leaves falling off the vines,” he said.


Heat Wave Raises Fears West Could Face a Severe Fire Season
(The Herald Sun) Derek Hawkins & David Suggs, June 19

"We're going into fire season with fuels that are already much drier than we expected this time of year," said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. 


Sheep Ranchers Face Drought, Wage Issue
(Daily Democrat) Ching Lee, June 18 

In his own operation, Macon, who also works as a University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor said he's trying to maintain his breeding flock numbers - at least for this year. 


Sonoma County Apple Growers Find Their Crop Holds up Well Despite Drought 
(The Press Democrat) Bill Swindell, June 18 

The apple industry in the western United States eventually migrated to Washington State and parts of Oregon where those crops are produced more like factory farming with bunched rows and irrigation. “In Sonoma County, we don’t have enough irrigated water to make the crop competitive with other areas,” said Paul Vossen, an agricultural consultant who previously worked for the UC Cooperative Extension.


Heat wave raises fears Western U.S. states could face severe fire season
(The Washington Post) Derek Hawkins & David Suggs, June 18

"We're going into fire season with fuels that are already much drier than we'd expect at this time of year," said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension. "Everything is kind of primed. If we get those ignitions, everything will be ready to burn easily."


Heat wave raises fears western U.S. states could face severe fire season
(WaPo) Derek Hawkins and David Suggs, June 18

…“We’re going into fire season with fuels that are already much drier than we’d expect at this time of year,” said Lenya N. Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “Everything is kind of primed. If we get those ignitions, everything will be ready to burn easily.”


West Risks Blackouts as Drought Reduces Hydroelectric Power 
(Wall Street Journal) Katherine Blunt and Jim Carlton, June 18

…“The soil is like a sponge that absorbs water and stores it for vegetation,” said Safeeq Khan, adjunct professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Merced. “If you don’t get enough water, the storage will deplete and the next year first it [new runoff] will fill that sponge.”


Preparing home for wildfires is topic of Solano-Yolo webinar
/strong>(Daily Republic) June 18

Yana Valachovic, forest adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will share steps homeowners should take to prepare their homes for wildfire, Sherlock said in the statement.


Believe It or Nut: Bugs Like Almonds, Too
/strong>(Entomology Today) Jody Green, June 17

…Jhalendra Rijal, Ph.D., an area IPM advisor with the University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension, has studied insect pests of almonds for six years. Due to the exclusive geographic region of almond crops, Rijal has the opportunity to study unique agricultural systems and the pests associated with them. Navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) is recognized as the most economically important insect pest of all major nut crops in California (which include almonds pistachios, and walnuts), but until now, little has been published about the 60 other species of insect pests that infest almond orchards.


Industry Survey Looks at The Impact of Wildfire on Grazing Livestock
(Ag Net West) Brian German, June 17

…“What we wanted to do with this survey is find out from producers what they observed,” said Gabriele Maier, Cooperative Extension Assistant Specialist at UC Davis. “Did they see an increase in respiratory disease? Was there any impact possibly on reproduction or on other production parameters? On weight gain? On milk production for dairy animals? So, we just want to see if people noticed any impact on the health or production of their livestock.”


How you can keep your grass and garden alive during Sacramento’s heat wave and drought
(Sacramento Bee) Zaeem Shaikh, June 17

According to the University of California Cooperative Extension, it’s important to dig down a few inches to see if the soil is drying, and check out signs of too little water — such as when your lawn retains a footprint for several minutes. Make sure to water deep, write Janet Hartin and Ben Faber from the Cooperative Extension.


What is causing meat prices to rise?
(KRON4) Noelle Bellow, June 16

…“Beef prices have bene relatively cheap for a while, and now they’re not at all.”

Professor of Agricultural Economics at UC Davis Daniel Sumner says the seasonal increases will always come and go, but this year most of the increase you’re paying for has to do with the cost and demand for corn and soybeans.

“Its supply and demand fundamentals in a worldwide basis.”

“Underlying is the price of corn and soybeans. What does a steer eat? Corn and soybeans. What does a pig eat? Corn and soybeans. And those crops have gotten more expensive in part because of demand from China. They don’t produce a lot of that in China, they’re willing to pay for it so there they go. So that demand you and I see is when we go to the Costco or other super market.”

Professor Sumner also points to slower production lines at meatpacking plants following the pandemic, but he’s confident prices will moderate soon.

“Within a month or two, we’ll see some moderation “I’m thinking.”


Oregon governor signs bill to explore liability changes for prescribed fire
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, June 14

Prescribed fire, also known as “planned,” “Rx” or “controlled” fire, is a fire set intentionally to limit hazardous fuels on the landscape — for example, by burning brush under trees in the spring to prevent a larger wildfire in the summer or fall.


There’s a danger in over-simplifying Calif. water conservation
(Western Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 11

Wintertime flooding in permeable areas is one way groundwater can be recharged as it is used during the dry season. Getting access to water, developing infrastructure and flooding large farms will allow water to seep back into aquifers. Small-scale farmers can also be involved, said Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, the UC Cooperative Extension advisor to small-scale farmers in Fresno and Tulare counties.


Extension services are the best free cooking resource
(Washington Post) Becky Krystal, June 10 

Julie Garden-Robinson, vice president for awards and recognition at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences, says people in her line of work call themselves “the best-kept secret.”

“We don’t want to be a secret,” she says. “We want people to access our resources.”

Formally established by an act of Congress in 1914, extension programs are based at land-grant colleges and universities and tasked with providing informal, research-based education to agricultural producers, business owners and the general public on a wide variety of topics, from parenting and gardening to cooking and food safety.


Groups: Align Calif. workplace regs with CDC guidelines
(Western Farm Press) Time Hearden, June 9 

Western Growers has teamed with a handful of business and restaurant industry groups in California to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to align coronavirus-related workplace regulations with current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The groups urge Newsom to issue an executive order which aligns physical distancing guidelines with a planned June 15 "reopening," provides safe harbor from fines and penalties for employers who act in good faith, and removes a requirement for stockpiling N-95 respirators.


Robots Replace Workers in Vineyards as Wineries Struggle with Labor Shortages
(Newsweek) Meghan Roos, June 8

Kaan Kurtural, a viticulture specialist at UC Davis' Department of Viticulture and Enology, told Newsweek the changing economic reality is making machine use increasingly appealing to winemakers.

"We started having the economic need to do a lot of the practices mechanically because there's just not enough people to do this work," Kurtural said.


Western Drought Forces Farmers to Make Tough Decisions
(Modern Farmer) Shelby Vittek, June 7

… Conditions are especially dire in California, where 41 of 58 counties are under a drought state of emergency. This year’s drought is similar to years past, with one caveat, says Dan Sumner, UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics and director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. “Sonoma County has been hit more this time,” he says, “and that is less common.”

…UC Davis’ Sumner says it’s not time to worry just yet. “It could become more severe, but that is a few years away,” he says. “Droughts in California have been part of agriculture for a very long time…California is a wonderful place for many crops and that has not changed at all.”


Legislature rejects mill fee increase, restores UC ANR funding
(Agri-Pulse) Brad Hooker, June 4 

Budget committees for both houses this week rejected a proposal by the governor to replace the pesticide mill assessment with a tiered system that penalizes toxicity. The Legislature would instead provide two years of bridge funding for new pesticide monitoring and outreach programs.

The committees also rejected the governor’s proposal to remove a budget line-item for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Instead, they offered to boost the division’s budget by $32 million. This would fill 120 positions for academic advisors and specialists and support extension programs.


5 Ways to Save and Cool the Planet
(Marin Independent Journal) Marie Narlock, June 4 

When it comes to water consumption, plants come in low, medium and high. At the highest end is lawn, which gulps water precipitously. If there’s one plant to replace or reduce, make it your lawn. (Marin Water and North Marin Water District are paying customers to remove their lawns.) Grow California native plants or other species that are low on water and high on ecological value. Go to the UC Marin Master Gardener website to learn about plants that need little or no water once established, plus instructions for replacing your lawn.


How a Ceres program has schoolkids eating up lessons in nutrition and gardening
The Modesto Bee) Andrea Briseno, June 2

Kids are not just eating their veggies but growing them, too, thanks to a collaboration formed in Stanislaus County.

Ceres Partnership for Healthy Families, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency and local promotoras — volunteer health workers — have teamed up to encourage children to eat well via gardening and nutrition lessons.

Among the other agencies involved are CalFresh Healthy Living, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and Cultiva La Salud.


Sonoma County Board Of Supervisors Approves Over $3.7M For Vegetation Management Projects To Reduce Wildfire Risk
(Patch) Trish Glose, June 2

"Given that this is the first grant program of this nature administered by the County, we were not sure how many applications we would receive," said Caryl Hart, former interim General Manager of Ag + Open Space and county lead for the vegetation management program. "The sheer amount and quality of the applications we received is a clear indicator of the need and desire of the community to reduce fire risk across the county; and we look forward to working with those applicants that were not awarded funds during this cycle to address vegetation management concerns through other funding and technical assistance channels, and to encourage them to apply for the next round of County funding."


Livestock owners face tough choices amid water shortages
(AgAlert) Ching Lee, June 2

…Lack of rain has shorted not just forage for grazing but the silage dairy farmers grow, with some estimating about a 50% loss on their crop, said Randi Black, a University of California Cooperative Extension dairy advisor for Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties. Because silage remains "such a good feed source" for milking cows, she said loss of the crop could reduce milk production and, therefore, dairy farmers' milk checks.

With more livestock owners needing to buy hay, the market has become "incredibly competitive," Black said. Some dairy farmers have reported paying about $100 more per ton compared to last year for quality lactating-cow hay. Plus, many farmers have incurred new costs of hauling water, with estimates of around $15,000 per month to pay for water and for labor and diesel to haul it, she added.


A Tiny Pest, a Big Crossroads for California Citrus
(Civil Eats) Anne Marshall-Chalmers, June 2

… “It’s a pretty nasty vector,” says Matt Daugherty, a cooperative extension specialist at the University of California, Riverside. “Their populations can get roaring pretty quick.” A female psyllid can lay 500 to 800 eggs. In a sinister twist, psyllids that do not carry HLB are attracted to infected trees, Daugherty says, conversely those that are infected tend to prefer healthy, uninfected trees. And in California, citrus is everywhere, with trees lining farmland and dotting residential yards. “That’s bad luck on our part,” he says.

… Neil McRoberts, a professor of plant pathology at UC Davis, says that California’s climate may impede the psyllids’ ability to spread the disease. “Winters are colder than they like. Summers are hotter and drier than they’re used to,” he explains. But that climate is changing. Temperatures are trending hotter in California, and that could mean increased pest populations, and an increased reliance on pesticides.


How a Ceres program has schoolkids eating up lessons in nutrition and gardening
(Mod Bee) Andrea Briseno, June 2

…Rosalinda Ruiz, community education specialist at UCCE, ran the project and decided to teach the promotoras how to implement the TWIGS: Youth Gardening and Healthy Eating Curriculum, a comprehensive course consisting of 16 garden and 15 nutrition lessons.

“Learning about gardening is the best thing families can do to teach their kids about healthy foods,” Ruiz said.


Landowners team up to fight wildfires — with fire
(E&E News) Kylie Mohr, June 2

After watching Nebraskan farmers and ranchers team up to do prescribed burns on their fields, Lenya Quinn-Davidson was hooked on the idea of pooling resources as a way to get fire back on the landscape out West.

She and other advocates for prescribed fire in Northern California formed a group to conduct burns on private land. As word spread, interest skyrocketed.

"Our phones were ringing off the hook," said Quinn-Davidson, an area fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. "We were evangelizing this prescribed burn association model."


Rangeland advisers worried about drought classification as some California ranchers begin culling herds
(Agri-Pulse) Amy Mayer, June 2

…Dan Macon, a livestock and natural resources adviser with U.C. Cooperative Extension in Placer, Nevada, Sutter and Yuba counties, says there is “a


Will Drought Fan the Flames this Fire Season?
(PPIC) Lori Pottinger, Sarah Bardeen, June 1

Will the current drought increase the chances of another bad fire season this year? We talked to Scott Stephens?a fire ecologist at UC Berkeley and a member of the ?about the risks, and what can be done.


Herbicide drift is affecting hemp production
(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 1, 2021

Adding to a growing body of research about hemp cultivation, UC Cooperative Extension advisor Sarah Light and UCCE weed specialist Brad Hanson studied the symptoms of herbicide drift on this high-value commodity that is now being produced in many parts of California.

The results are available in a free downloadable publication in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources catalog at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8689.




May 2021


Ripple Effect: Controlling the Burn
(The Modesto Bee) Andrea Briseno, April 31

Kids are not just eating their veggies but growing them, too, thanks to a collaboration formed in Stanislaus County.

Ceres Partnership for Healthy Families, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency and local promotoras — volunteer health workers — have teamed up to encourage children to eat well via gardening and nutrition lessons.

Among the other agencies involved are CalFresh Healthy Living, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and  Cultiva La Salud.


Extension services are the best free cooking resource. Here’s how to use them.
(WaPo) Becky Krystal, April 31

…Serve as a reliable information source: Anyone who has ever done an online search knows how much bad advice there is out there. When it comes to food, it may not just be bad, says Sue Mosbacher, a master food preserver program coordinator for the  it could be unsafe. Part of what extension does is take research happening on campuses or in the broader scientific community and translates it into something accessible to the general public, says Mosbacher’s colleague, Erin DiCaprio, a specialist in community food safety.


New Cost Study Available for Organic Alfalfa Hay
(AgNet West) Brian German, May 27

… The Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Organic Alfalfa Hay is available for free online. Information for the study was compiled by UC Cooperative Extension, the UC Agricultural Issues Center and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.


Water Talk Podcast
(AgInfo Net) Tim Hammerich, May 26

As most in-person cooperative extension events were cancelled this past year due to the pandemic, some innovative outreach initiatives have started as a result. One of which is a podcast discussing California water issues featuring co-hosts and UC Ag and Natural Resources professionals Mallika Nocco, Sam Sandoval, and Faith Kearns who says they hope to capture the breadth and diversity of issues surrounding water in the state.


UCANR Scientist Publishes Guide to Science Communication
(AgInfo Net) Tim Hammerich, May 25

When it comes down to it, many of the problems we face in our work and even personal life are often problems in communication. This is certainly true in agriculture when it comes to trying to clearly communicate the science behind how food is produced. In a new book called “Getting to the Heart of Science Communication”, UC Ag and Natural Resources Scientist Faith Kearns provides guidance on how to communicate science in a way that not just informs, but connects.


Grim western fire season starts much drier than record 2020
(AP) Seth Borenstein, May 24

…In California, normally drought-tolerant blue oaks are dying around the San Francisco Bay Area, said Scott Stephens, a fire science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “They don’t have access to water. Soil moisture is so low. When you start to see blue oak dying, that gets your attention.”


Kids learn about healthy eating through gardening
(IV Press) Jeannette Warnert, May 20

When local promotoras -- volunteer health workers -- team with CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Cooperative Extension educators, magic happens in school gardens. Trained by Ceres Partnership for Healthy Families in Stanislaus County, promotoras encourage children to eat well by growing their own produce in school gardens.


Wildfires and Climate Change Are Spoiling California Wine
(NBC LX) Chase Cain and Cody Broadway, May 20

…“People ask me, ‘How many miles do I need to be from the fire to be safe?’ There’s no distance,” said Anita Oberholster, a researcher at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis.

“Sometimes you have two vineyards next to each other, and the one is greatly impacted, and the other one isn’t.”


Extension writers serve a valuable purpose
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, May 19

…The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources has two of the best in the business in Pamela Kan-Rice and Jeannette Warnert. Jeannette, who’s retiring June 30, got her start at a small daily newspaper in Los Angeles County before joining UCANR 31 years ago.


Winter Flooding of Farm Lands Could Ease Drought Impacts
(Western Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, May 19

Helen Dahlke, professor in integrated hydrologic sciences at UC Davis, has been evaluating scenarios for flooding agricultural land when excess water is available during the winter in order to recharge groundwater.

If relatively clean mountain runoff is used, the water filtering down to the aquifer will address another major groundwater concern: nitrogen and pesticide contamination.


Event helps residents better prepare for fire season
(Plumas News) Victoria Metcalf, May 18

… The Keynote Speaker was Steve Quarles of the University of California Cooperative Extension program. He discussed how to prepare the home and assisted Ryan Tompkins, also of UCCE, on a burn demonstration.


Napa County Winegrape Crop Value Down 50% Amid Fires, Pandemic
(Patch) Maggie Fusek, May 18

The county's Ag Department also said goodbye to two of its most valued UC Cooperative Extension staff, who retired in 2020.

The Crop Report Cover Art Contest has been held among Napa County students for more than 16 years. Because the coronavirus shelter-at-home order was in place during much of 2020, this year's cover features the art of the past five winners.


Amend The Soil, Or Not To Amend?
(My Motherlode) Rebecca Miller-Cripps, May 16

We all “know” that to help our plants grow we need to amend poor soil, right? Well, maybe not… In a recent article from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) Green Blog, author Jeannette Warnert quotes UC advisors who recommend against it. So, do we amend soil when planting or do we not? As we were taught during Master Gardener training classes, the process of gardening is rarely straightforward and the answer is often “it depends.” That is the case with soil amendments.


Learning from past mistakes helps animal agriculture move forward
(High Plains Journal) Kylene Scott, May 14

Alison Van Eenennaam said innovations in animal agriculture should be celebrated and not hidden.

“When I talk about some of the innovation that we're doing in animal agriculture, because it seems like sometimes, that is a controversial thing in and of itself,” she said. “I'm excited about the research we're doing—the genetic improvements and the opportunities for continuous improvement.”


‘Good fire’ revival: How controlled burns in Sonoma County aim to curb risk of catastrophic wildfires

(The Press Democrat) Mary Callahan, May 13)

One of the hardest-charging leaders in the local movement is Sasha Berleman, a 31-year-old wildland firefighter with a doctorate in wildfire science from UC Berkeley. She leads ACR’s Fire Forward, which is spreading the gospel and capacity for prescribed burns among landowners and everyday recruits alike, through an expanding array of training opportunities.


Last Year's Santa Cruz Lightning Fires Still Causing Trouble
(KQED) Kevin Stark, May 13

…Coastal California around the Bay Area received less than half its average rainfall this past winter. “When you have that type of setup, these fuels can smolder,” said Scott Stephens, a fire scientist at UC Berkeley. “And they could smolder for many months.”


Learn how to prepare your home for fire season on May 15
(Plumas News) May 13

The keynote speaker, Dr. Steve Quarles, will be talking about home hardening and retrofitting considerations to make homes less susceptible to ember ignition.  Dr. Quarles is a UC Cooperative Extension Advisor Emeritus and was the Chief Scientist for Wildfire and Durability at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). His research and outreach efforts focused on the durability and performance issues of buildings exposed to wildfire. He served on the initial Wildland Urban Interface task group that developed recommendations on Chapter 7A building standards for the Office of the State Fire Marshal.


Fight animal ag misinformation with facts, expert says
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, May 12

…Caulfield’s presentation appealed to Alison Van Eenenaam, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics. She said she rejects fears that debunking misinformation could make animal ag advocates appear too confrontational.

“I feel like animal science has been dealing with this my entire career,” she told Farm Progress after the webinar. “It’s not a shock to me that misinformation becomes the dominant paradigm and it becomes hard to counteract information that people have come to believe is just truth.”


Los Altos Hills seeks citizen scientists to save local oaks
(Los Alto Town Crier) Megan V. Winslow, May 12

… As SOD thrives in cool, wet environments with dense canopy cover, introduction along the Peninsula likely initiated within the forests around Skyline Boulevard, according to Matteo Garbelotto, leader of the UC Berkeley lab and of the SOD Blitzes. From there, the disease descended into the Santa Cruz Mountain canyons and gradually inched east.

“It’s getting worse in that, inevitably, every time we have a Blitz, we identify new outbreaks,” Garbelotto said.


Which rose first: the price of chicken or corn?
(Marketplace) Justin Ho, May 11

…“So China has turned to U.S. corn, and that drives prices in the United States,” said agriculture professor Daniel Sumner at University of California, Davis.

He said American farmers have been growing more corn to meet demand, so they have less room for other crops.

“Corn takes land away from wheat. Well, that reduces wheat supply, and you increase the price of wheat as a consequence,” Sumner said.


Kern Farmers Make Do Under Drought Conditions
(The Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, May 9

Kern County ag producers are making changes big and small — from redeveloping entire orchards to fine-tuning their irrigation systems — as they try to adjust to worsening drought conditions across the Central Valley.

Strategies vary depending on access to water and ability to shift irrigation to different fields. Some landowners are trying to hold onto as much water as they can in case prices rise later in the year.


Kern Farmers Make Do Under Drought Conditions
(The Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, May 9

…To focus on hot spots that might need more water, growers are turning to satellites and multispectral imagery, Blake Sanden, a University of California Cooperative Extension emeritus irrigation soils advisor and advanced irrigation management consultant, said by email.

Otherwise, he wrote, there are four options: fallow land, convert from flooding to drop irrigation, deficit irrigate or buy water on the open market.


‘Megadrought’ persists in western U.S., as another extremely dry year develops
National Geographic (Alejandra Borunda) May 7

…“When we sweat, water evaporates from our skin, and that evaporation acts as a cooling mechanism for our body,” says Amir AghaKouchak, a climate scientist at the University of California, Irvine. “Earth’s surface works the same way.”


Is growing weed sustainable? The answer is complicated.
(Pop Sci) Shaena Montanari, May 6 

… Studying cannabis is important because it isn’t lumped in with traditional agriculture as far as regulations go, says Van Butsic, study author and Cannabis Research Center co-director. “One of the reasons why we do research on cannabis is because it has a sort of unique and separate social and cultural history than other agricultural crops,” he says. 

… Quantifying the overall environmental impact of cannabis cultivation is difficult because of illegal or trespass farming done without state permits. It is difficult to quantify how many illegal farms there are in any state. Still, in northern California, Butsic says, it is a lot. “In northern California, where we’ve done the finest grain research and the most research, over two-thirds of the farms are not permitted,” he says.


On-The-Ground Forest Resilience Projects Forging Ahead In California
CA Forward Deb Kollars, May 6

…The webinar concluded with Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Institute, and Glenda Humiston, vice president of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, describing new efforts to partner on wildfire mitigation and economic development opportunities in Southern California.


Bridging Intention and Outcomes
(JD Supra) May 5

On March 24, 2021, the Groundwater Resources Association of California and California Groundwater Coalition hosted the virtual 2021 Groundwater Law & Legislation Forum, featuring a keynote address from California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and updates on pending groundwater legislation, DWR’s SGMA implementation, and ACWA’s position on potential bond measures.

…As Ruth [Dahlquist-Willard, a small farms advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension who works primarily with immigrant, refugee and other farmers with limited resources] eloquently put it during the discussion, “when using a macroeconomic lens, many of the small-scale stories and impacts get lost, and it typically hurts the communities that are most vulnerable to these impacts.” Not all outcomes and impacts are easily comparable nor quantifiable. A proportionally equivalent impact of say net water allocation or reduction for two stakeholders could very likely have drastically different implications for those entities. While a larger entity may be able to absorb a change with efficiencies and scale, a smaller entity may have no further wiggle room or funding to make the required adjustments.


Why the hate?
(High Plains Journal) Kylene Scott, May 5

… I just can’t get past the fact some people believe they can thwart climate change. You can’t eat your way out of changes in the environment. Alison Van Eenennaam probably said it best in the April 28 pre-conference event for the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Obstacles to Opportunities virtual summit.

“I think that it's—do you want intensive production systems with low land use and greenhouse gas emissions per unit of product or extensive systems? Which maybe have the opportunity to also capture carbon. And here again, my friend (Hanna Tuomisto) is making the argument that livestock production especially extensive cattle grazing maintains habitats and species and is therefore really important for biodiversity and so, eliminating all livestock is really not reasonable from the perspective of biodiversity conservation, and perhaps most importantly, is that livestock are a hugely important role in sustainable ag systems as nutrient recyclers, and up cyclers, and their ability to utilize plants and other food that humans cannot consume.”


New Podcast Targeting California Cattle Producers
(CalAg Today) Tim Hammerich, May 5

Attention cattle producers and enthusiasts. The University of California Cooperative Extension has launched a new podcast just for you: CattleCal. That’s “Cal” with only one “L”, is targeting both beef and dairy producers and will be hosted by assistant feedlot management extension specialist, Pedro Carvalho.

Carvalho… “The focus of my job is the feedlot producer, but the podcast is not only focused on the feedlot producer. There are a couple of series that are going to be focused on people who work in agriculture in general. So we have two episodes that we bring a guest to our podcast and we do two episodes with that person. One is that person just to talk about their career, where they're from, what they have done, how they started working with cattle. What they are doing in their current job. Things that they learned during that undergrad and grad school process and things that they are learning still today. So that's something for maybe for undergrads, people who are deciding to go into an ag career or something like that. It's also good for producers because we always learn listening to people's stories.”


Wine Waste: The New Superfood?
CBS 13 Sacramento) Valerie Jones, May 5
…“We can give a second life to the grapes by doing the chemistry,” explained [UC Davis] Professor Daniela Barile.

Barile found processing residue like grape skin, seeds, and pulp can all be reused by isolating sugar molecules in white grapes called oligosaccharides. The sugar molecules in turn help to feed bacteria in your gut.


Several Factors Contributing to Wider Adoption of Agtech Innovation
(AgNet West) Brian German, May 4

Agtech innovation is continually evolving, making more advanced tools available for farmers and ranchers. Although a slow process, farmers and ranchers have been more receptive to adopting automation and mechanization in their operations. Cooperative Extension Specialist and Weed Scientist with UC Davis, Steve Fennimore said that several factors come into play as to why agtech adoption has grown.

“There are a number of trends that are contributing to this,” Fennimore explained. “I think age and demographics of the decision-makers in ag, and I think people are getting more comfortable with this, that’s probably driving a lot of it. There are reasons to cut costs, increase your reliability and resilience and as well people don’t want to be left out.”


Educational Zoom lecture shows students the dangers of Sudden Oak Death
(Sonoma State Star) Pamela Meyers, May 4

Sudden Oak Death (SOD), an “exotic disease that arrived in California in the 80’s” is ravaging our forests in California. Based on the training video that students are required to take before attending the Zoom event, Dr. Matteo Garbelotto at UC Berkeley’s Pathology and Mycology Laboratory explained that “Sudden Oak Death, when it arrives in site, can kill almost all of the oaks in about a decade.”


UC SAREP Reinstates Grant Program with $77,000 in Awards
(AgNet West) May 4

The University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program is once again offering support for innovative pilot projects. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has reinstated the program after a 10-year pause on the program. Eleven recipients were recently named for its 2021 Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Small Grants Program. A total of $77,000 in funding will go towards supporting a variety of pilot projects from higher learning institutions and other organizations.


California Braces for Severe Fire Season
(Los Angeles Times) Alex Wigglesworth, May 2

"All the indications are that we are heading into another really bad fire year," said Safeeq Khan, assistant cooperative extension specialist of water and watershed scientists at University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Commodity Upswing Helps Alfalfa Growers but The Timing Could Be Better
(Bakersfield.com) John Cox, May 2

Only one of the county's top-10 crops — alfalfa — has benefited noticeably from recent bad weather in Brazil and strong Chinese demand for grains that feed livestock. And unfortunately for local alfalfa growers, the timing's all wrong.

Problem is, California finds itself in another drought, and because alfalfa is a relatively water-intensive crop, growers often must pay top dollar to supplement meager supplies for irrigation.


$1B wildfire plan takes heat
(The San Diego Union Tribune) Joshua Smith, May 2

"There is a pretty big disconnect between the budget and trying to do something about the loss of lives and homes," said Max Moritz, a widely recognized wildfire expert with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Santa Barbara. 


Gotham Greens goes west to unlock next growth chapter: ‘The indoor environment is relatively unexplored but offers fantastic opportunities’
(Food Navigator) Mary Ellen Shoup, May 2

Using funding from its recent $87m Series D capital raise, indoor agriculture company Gotham Greens has expanded operations to Northern California – its first West Coast greenhouse location – opening a 10-acre facility, which will bring its total annual production to 40 million heads of lettuce and herbs.

…Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer, UC ANR, believes the CEA industry a new and exciting frontier for agriculture.


Commodity upswing helps alfalfa growers, but the timing could be better
(Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, May 2

…Blake Sanden, an advisor emeritus with the University of California Cooperative Extension program, said by email farmers comparing crop prices, land requirements, production volumes and water needs may find alfalfa's suddenly the way to go these days.

… Daniel Putnam, a forage specialist at the University of California, Davis said those still growing alfalfa locally should enjoy good profitability this year "if they have water to grow the crop."


April 2021

Guardian dogs bond with livestock, deter predators
(AgAlert) Bob Johnson, April 28

… "They mostly work as a deterrent," said Carolyn Whitesell, University of California Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor. "They will mark the pasture, to let the predators know."

… Sheep rancher Dan Macon, who also works as the UC Cooperative Extension livestock advisor in Placer, Nevada, Sutter and Yuba counties, put his Pyrenees-mix guardians Elko and Dillon with his sheep when they were 12 weeks old.

… "You can spend from $250 to $1,500 for a collar, but I use build-yourself collars to track the dogs' activity that cost me from $60 to $100 to make," Macon said.


Local rice fields being prepared, planted for season
(Appeal Democrat) Lynzie Lowe, April 28

…Whitney Brim-DeForest, University of California Cooperative Extension rice and wild rice advisor and county director, said growers have been able to get into the fields a little earlier than usual to conduct tillage operations and apply fertilizers due to the record dry winter the region has experienced this year.

“Average rice planting date is usually May 15, with most fields planted in the month of May,” said Brim-DeForest. “Some fields this year have already been planted, so I would guess that the average planting date for 2021 will be a little earlier than normal.”


CattleCal podcast launched for cattle ranchers
(Ag Clips) April 27

Cattle ranchers have a new source for cattle research news from UC Cooperative Extension. CattleCal podcast is produced by Pedro Carvalho, UC Cooperative Extension feedlot management specialist; Brooke Latack, UC Cooperative Extension livestock advisor for Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties; and Richard Zinn, UC Davis professor in the Department of Animal Science.


California is primed for a severe fire season, but just how bad is anybody’s guess 
(Los Angeles Times) Alex Wigglesworth, April 27

…“All the indications are that we are heading into another really bad fire year,” said Safeeq Khan, assistant cooperative extension specialist of water and watershed sciences at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


The Diseased Rhododendrons That Triggered a Federal Plant Hunt
New Republic (Ellie Shechet) April 26

… Matteo Garbelotto, a forest pathologist at U.C. Berkeley who has researched the connection between Sudden Oak Death and nursery stock, also questioned the regulatory change in a January phone interview. “I’m wondering whether relaxing the regulation is really the thing to do, is that really correct?” he said. “In my opinion, it’s not the way to go.”



Bipartisan coalition introduces bill to spur water research innovation
Augusta Free Press

…“As president of the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR), I am pleased to see that Reps. Harder, Wittman, Napolitano, and Griffith in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sens. Cardin and Boozman in the U.S. Senate are again leading the effort to reauthorize the Water Resource Research Act,” said Doug Parker, president of the National Institutes for Water Resources. “This critical program at USGS funds research, education and outreach in each State of the nation and helps address national, regional, and local water issues.  As champions of water research and education, these Members of Congress are ensuring that challenging issues related to water quality and quantity are addressed in partnership with states while supporting the development of the next generation of water scientists and engineers.”


Cattle grazing and prescribed burns can help California beat devastating wildfires
(Sac Bee) Dave Daley, April 24

… Research by UC Cooperative Extension experts has shown that targeted grazing is a cost-effective tool for managing vegetation, and one that can be employed in areas where other measures are not possible.


Free webinars explore small-business ideas for life after COVID-19
(Ag Clips) April 22

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought disaster upon small businesses and the people and communities dependent upon them, with Fortune estimating over 100,000 businesses closing. Even before 2020, the forces of high finance, competition from corporations and smartphone apps were pressing on small businesses, according to Keith Taylor, UC Cooperative Extension specialist. But promising solutions exist.


California ‘burn bosses’ set controlled forest fires. Should they be safe from lawsuits?
(Sac Bee) Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, April 22

…Generally, burn bosses working for Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service are protected if something goes awry. But private bosses, working primarily on private land, face the prospect of litigation if a fire gets out of control, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, who heads the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.

…Quinn-Davidson said the problem isn’t just liability, “it’s also perceived liability — people are scared to get involved in prescribed fire. Escape rates are very limited but for the private practitioner who wants to get involved in this work, it’s a barrier.”


California Extension stations face irrigation curtailments
(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, April 22

California farmers aren't the only ones suffering with zero water allocations this season. The research efforts they rely upon from Extension programs will also be hurt as two University of California research stations have been told not to expect surface water deliveries and others may suffer similar water woes this year.

… "We can't do anything with zero water," said Rob Wilson, director of the Intermountain REC.


California's droughts sometimes make better wine - but they're bad for the industry overall. Here's why
(San Francisco Chronicle) Esther Mobley, April 21

…“Our water footprint is awfully low compared to other crops, and grapes are more drought resistant,” says [Kaan] Kurtural [an associate specialist in cooperative extension in viticulture with UC Davis]. Whereas almonds need about 4 acre feet of water to grow in California, he says, grapes demand only about 1 to 1.5 acre feet.


California PD/GWSS Board Recommends 2021-22 Research Funding
(WineBusiness.com) Ted Rieger, April 21

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease (PD)/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Board approved more than $2.1 million in new funding for 12 research projects ranging from one to three years related to Pierce’s Disease, grapevine viruses and vectors at an April 19 meeting held via web conference from Sacramento.

Monica Cooper, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)—A three-year project to improve decision-making for grapevine leafroll and red blotch diseases using rapid identification tools and a regional approach to monitoring and management.


Grants Awarded for Sustainable Food-Systems Research
(Western Farm Press) Laura Crothers, April 21

The University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program — a statewide program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources — announced the recipients of its 2021 Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Small Grants Program today (April 13, 2021). 


We Need to Talk About the Enviornmental Impact of Marijuana
(InHabitat) Grae Gleason, April 20 

To further illustrate the importance of decriminalization, JSTOR Daily enlisted Van Butsic, co-director of the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California Berkeley. As Butsic explains, “There are lots of technologies that capture VOCs before they enter the atmosphere that are required in other industries like gas stations.” But, “before [emissions] standards can be set for cannabis, we need recognition of the issue and long-term data to develop regulatory statutes—and we’re a long way from that because federal prohibition has hindered research and we don’t have the science yet.”


The Los Angeles River’s overlooked anglers
(High Country News) Miles Griffis, April 20

…“Most tend to think the quality of the water in the Los Angeles River is poor, but it’s fairly clean water,” says Sabrina Drill, natural resources advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. While toxicity varies by species and location on the river, a 2019 LA River report found that a person can safely consume 8 ounces of common carp, bluegill, and green sunfish, up to three times per week. Still, Drill did not recommend this, since most of the studies contained small samples.


'Dry fallowing' ground may aid in weedy rice control
(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, April 20

…Managed fallowing can help with some varieties of weedy rice, according to Whitney Brim-DeForest, Extension rice advisor with the University of California. This is a practice that still uses irrigation water but does so on a more limited basis than if fields were planted to common rice varieties. During the last multi-year drought period a few years ago she said some growers left fields unplanted for more than one season to get a handle on weedy rice populations. That seemed to work for them.


Is California suffering a decades-long megadrought?
(LA Times) Alex Wigglesworth, April 18

… Annual droughts are also nothing new. “You will have these dry years and then in between you will get these really, really wet years,” said Safeeq Khan, assistant cooperative extension specialist of water and watershed sciences at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “They can be what we describe as drought busters.”

… “From a water supply aspect, that ended the drought,” said Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. “From an ecosystem aspect, I don’t think our forests and our natural lands that rely on rainfall ever fully recovered from that drought, and now we’re into the next one.”

…Groundwater supplies also take years to rebound, said Hoori Ajami, assistant professor of groundwater hydrology at UC Riverside, who is part of a team of researchers that analyzed data from wells impacted by climate for a paper currently in peer review.

“Once your precipitation has recovered, that doesn’t mean your stream flow is recovered or your groundwater is recovered,” she said. “Our estimate is it could take for groundwater between three to 10 years on average to recover.”


Drought adds pressure on Central Valley farmers as other factors cause food prices to rise
(ABC 10) Luke Cleary, April 16

…Snowpack statewide is only at 59% of its April 1 average, based on electronic measurements according to the California Department of Water Resources. Farmers in the Central Valley producing water-intensive crops such as almonds and tomatoes are already facing some difficult choices. 

"It's really serious, particularly in the Central Valley," said UC-Davis Agricultural Economist Daniel Sumner. 

"The cost of water, the scarcity of water adds into all the costs of food throughout the system," Sumner said. 


Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway
(The Conversation Ellen Bruno) Heidi Schweizer, April 15

… As the economics of water resources, we believe there are many benefits of a well-functioning water futures market, especially as climate change&nbsp makes the amount available for use increasingly hard to predict. The market’s main purpose, after all, is to provide protection for California water users – such as farmers and cities – against fluctuations in prices.

While there are real risks, we think they’re misunderstood and overblown. And anyway, very few are actually trading water futures.


California Dreaming: Artificial intelligence and robots are helping farmers prepare for climate change crisis
(ABC 7 Los Angeles) Juan Carlos Guerreo, April 14

…"Suddenly we can control the environment in ways we never thought possible," said [Gail] Taylor [chair of the Plant Sciences Department at UC Davis]. "Part of the bigger mission of the University of California is to breed resilient crops for the future, crops that can tolerate higher temperatures and crops that don't need so many chilling days in the winter."


Ventura County Compost Cup Competition April 16-19
(VC Reporter) David Goldstein, April 14

… Dr. Ben Faber, Ventura County Farm Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, evaluates compost through analysis of nutrient values. As. Faber noted, however, people familiar with compost can often detect good compost through smell, “There is nothing better than good smelling compost!” 


With Wildfire Season Looming, Early Budget Action Is A Welcome Start
(California Forward) Deb Kollars, April 13

…“Investing in forest management is a win-win-win-win,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and co-lead of the California Economic Summit’s Empowering Resilient and Productive Landscapes work group. “Not only do we help reduce fire risk, but we can also protect air and water quality, manage gas emissions, and infuse our economy with innovative wood products, while also training a workforce that will be vital in helping us manage our forests well into the future.”


Unwelcome and tough to evict: California’s costly, uphill battle against invasive species 
CalMatters) Julie Cart, April 12

…Funded by about $500,000 in federal grants, Ted Grosholz, a professor and ecologist at the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy, has spent more than a decade trying to evict green crabs from the lagoon. 

…Grosholz is almost admiring when he describes the characteristics of European green crabs that allow them to thrive wherever they wash up. “It has a suite of traits that make it a good invader,” he said. “They are physiologically tougher than a lot of other crabs. They are more tolerant of variable salinity. They are very tolerant of terrible conditions.” 


UC ANR Strategic Plan Serves as Roadmap for Future Success
(AgNet West) Brian German, April 9 

The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) helps to serve as a roadmap for accomplishing ambitious goals moving forward. UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston said the plan helps the department carry out its overall mission. A multi-year framework is established through the plan, enabling UC ANR to prioritize programs and resources to better serve the state.

“The strategic plan really gets into criteria, milestones, budgets, people, who’s responsible for what, and how we’re actually going to get it done,” Humiston explained. “I think that’s critical because having that kind of specificity helps to ensure that we are getting the job done.”


Weather, Wildfire and Wine: Challenges Facing California Wineries
(American Vineyard) April 9

California’s wine grape growers and wineries are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of climate change, wildfire, drought, and labor-related shortages. Join us on ARE Discussions where Aaron Smith (Deloach Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis) will provide an overview of the challenges facing the wine industry and Walt Brooks (Brooks Family Vineyards and Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association) will provide industry insights and on-the-ground perspectives from Napa County.


Lush Urban Forests Can Help Communities Fight Climate Change
(Enviornmental News Bits) Laura B., April 7

Urban trees are much more than lovely greenery and stately landscape features. Scientists believe trees are a key tool for combating climate change and living with warming temperatures in California.

UC Cooperative Extension is bringing together municipal and nonprofit organizations, homeowners associations, contractors, the green industry and educators to increase the tree canopy in urban areas by planting recommended species. Nearly 200 people gathered online in March 2021 to share research results, accomplishments and tree canopy growth strategies at the “Trees for Tomorrow Start Today” workshop.


UCR Entomologists Collecting Swarming Termite Specimens
PCT April 5

If you see western subterranean termites swarming in the spring, from now through June, save the specimens for University of California Urban Integrated Pest Management (IPM) advisor and urban entomologist Andrew Sutherland.

…“A major taxonomic question surrounding western subterranean termites remains unsolved,” said Sutherland, the Urban IPM Advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area. 


7 foods you should be storing in the freezer, including yeast, nuts and peppers
(WaPo) Becky Krystal, April 5

…Nuts: If you’ve ever grabbed nuts out of the pantry and they didn’t taste right, it’s probably because they’ve gone rancid. Ditto nut flours. Nuts are packed with fatty oils, which are prone to going off, especially in warmer temperatures. According to this handy guide from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources folks, rancid nuts are not unsafe, but they aren’t particularly pleasant to eat. The guide recommends that if you know you won’t be using nuts within a few months, cold storage is best. Refrigeration extends the storage life to a year, the freezer, on average, to two. Frozen, shelled pistachios will last the longest (at least three), followed by walnuts and pecans (at least two), then almonds and chestnuts (at least a year). Shelled nuts are susceptible to picking up flavors and moisture, so store in something clean and airtight.


Ross Valley volunteers raise tomatoes for benefit
(Marin IJ) Adrian Rodriguez, April 2

…David Lewis, director of the University of California Cooperative Extension, which manages the UC Marin Master Gardeners program, called the community effort “a wonderful idea.”


Oberholster of UC Davis receives ASEV Extension Distinction Award
(Good Fruit Grower) April 1

Anita Oberholster, associate specialist in enology for the University of California, Davis, Cooperative Extension has received the American Society for Enology and Viticulture's 2021 ASEV Extension Distinction Award, according to a news release. 


North Redlands residents can get free trees
(Redlands News) Dina Colunga, April 1

… The project was conceptualized a few years ago when Janet Hartin, an environmental horticulturist with the University of California Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources, researched multiple natural resource areas, including climate readiness of landscaping and street trees installed by cities. Part of Hartin’s research revealed significant gaps in urban forest in cities across California. She responded by creating a step-by-step process to engage residents in collaborating with agencies to select and install species that both add to canopy cover and are resilient to rising temperatures and increasing pest presence. Hartin said the North Redlands project is about getting trees into the ground in a place where the urban tree canopy is lacking.


Almond Update: Spider Mites the Focus of Next Training Tuesday
(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, April 1

Mites can be a frustrating issue for almond growers. Research over the last several years has identified a shift in what producers need to do in order to manage the pest. “It used to be that predatory mites were the main beneficial arthropod out there helping to control mites but that has changed,” UC Cooperative Extension Advisor David Haviland said. “Almond growers have gotten a lot greener. They’ve gotten away from the organophosphates, particularly in the dormant season. As that’s gone, pyrethroid has gone down. We’ve seen a big shift in the natural enemies for spider mites.”