“We do it in a controlled way,” Dahlke said. “We are not talking about unintentional or natural recharge that’s happening just as a result of precipitation, rainfall falling onto soils and then infiltrating.”
UC ANR in the news
First drought, then flood. Can the West learn to live between extremes?
(New York Times Magazine) Brooke Jarvis, May 31
In the Central Valley, Helen Dahlke, a hydrologist at U.C.-Davis, is working with farmers to experiment with diverting floodwaters to their vineyards, fields and orchards: Where does it infiltrate best? What crops are most capable of handling it? She told me that when she first came to California 10 years ago, the primary goal for floodwaters was to get rid of them: to confine them to narrow channels, to move them off the landscape as quickly as possible. When she tried to push farmers to hold floodwater on their cropland so it could recharge the groundwater below, most thought she was nuts.
California wildfire season could be one for the books after record winter rain
(Fox Weather) May 30
The time to protect your home from wildfires is now, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Director of the University of California ANR Fire Network told FOX Weather. She has tips to keep your home safe and tells us what kind of fire season we can expect after record rain and snowfall over the winter.
They were designed to be safer: How de-horned cows created at UC Davis were doomed
(San Jose Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, May 29
Under rigorous federal rules established in the early years of the genomic revolution, and upheld during the Obama administration, genetically modified animals are considered to be a new type of veterinary pharmaceutical, needing FDA approval. Without it, meat and milk can’t enter the food supply. As a result, the nine cows — and the experiment — are now dead, burned, at a cost of $1,200 each.
“It was a waste. There wasn’t any risk,” said animal geneticist and professor Alison Van Eenennaam of UC Davis, who spent seven years on the project. “Basically, they were an unapproved drug.”
Ground Rules: Can the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act ensure sufficient, safe, and equitable water for all Californians?
(Breakthroughs) Zac Unger, Spring 2023
In response to this crisis, California lawmakers passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, a package of bills that require local and regional authorities to actively regulate groundwater use and create sustainable management of groundwater by 2042. “Prior to that, we had no systematic management of groundwater at all,” says Kristin Dobbin, an assistant professor of Cooperative Extension in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, noting that “we were the last state in the West to enact a management plan.”
...A big part of the reason why groundwater supplies in California are so tenuous comes down to their relationship to property rights. “If you own a parcel of land in California, you have the right to use the groundwater underneath that land,” explains Ellen Bruno, an assistant professor of Cooperative Extension in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “You’ll pay the cost to drill the well and the energy costs to extract it from below, but that’s it.”
Castroville vs. Coachella: Battle heats up to grow the perfect California artichoke
(San Jose Mercury News) Julia Prodis Sulek, May 28
This revolution has uprooted thousands of acres of heirloom artichokes across Castroville — the “Artichoke Center of the World” — and replaced them with hybrids. Now, it’s pitting technology against tradition and playing out at farm stands and on dinner tables across the country.
The new varieties are cheaper to grow, have a longer shelf life and resist diseases, said Steven Fennimore, a UC Davis plant science professor.
But what about flavor?
“You can argue about taste all day,” he said, “but I won’t get into that.”
California Tree Nut Growers Bat Lead Off in Climate Change Workshops
(Growing Produce) David Eddy, May 22
To understand just how different farming is in California, consider the fact experts no longer believe the standard way of estimating chill hours — the number of hours in the winter between 32ºF and 45ºF — is all that useful in the Golden State, as “chill is just a guess,” says University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Orchard Crops Advisor Phoebe Gordon.
“It was not developed for California,” Gordon told an audience in Merced, CA, in late March at the Climate Smart Agriculture for Nut Production Workshop, noting the model was developed by scientists in colder climates. “They don’t tend to get 65°F in the middle of January.”
El Niño is back, bringing disruption, danger for California, world. ‘We need to be prepared’
(LA Times) Hayley Smith, May 19
...There are also potential direct effects to California’s agriculture, said Tapan Pathak, a specialist in climate adaptation in agriculture at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
El Niño’s agricultural effects in the state are usually most evident during wintertime, when warmer temperatures — especially warmer minimum temperatures — can negatively affect crops that require a higher chill during winter dormancy, such as pistachios, cherries and pears, Pathak said.
Warmer winters can also mean more pressure from pests, which might start their cycle earlier, he said. Earlier bud-breaks and flowering, as well as a longer growing season, are also possible.
What John Deere’s strong earnings say about the farm economy
(Marketplace) Savannah Maher, May 19
…When consumers invest in big-ticket items like cars, sofas and washing machines, they’re usually feeling optimistic about their finances. The same goes with farm equipment, said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis.
“When farmers have a little extra cash flow and they don’t see a crisis looming right now,” he said, that’s when they replace their tractor fleets.
And when John Deere is moving a lot of machinery, Sumner said, that indicates growers of global commodity crops are doing well.
“That is to say the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice,” he said. All of those were in extra high demand after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.
USDA Considers Banning One Of The Best Parts Of School Lunch: Chocolate Milk
(KPCC) AirTalk, May 19
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering taking flavored milks, including chocolate milk, off the menu in school cafeterias. The move could come as the group enacts the latest standards for school nutrition, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Joining to discuss how these policies are considered and implemented is Wendi Gosliner, senior researcher with the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Over time, studies find theres a rebound. There may be initial drop. Over time they go back to selecting milk.13% drop, but no change in consumption. More than half were before policy took effect were selecting chocolate milk. Most of the students who had been selecting chocolate milk selected the plain milk.
Climate Fix: Hetch Hetchy turns 100, can it meet the challenges brought by climate change?
(KQED Forum) Alexis Madrigal, May 18
In this installment of Climate Fix: Rethinking Solutions for California, guests, including Cooperative Extension specialist Samuel Sandoval Solis, talk about how climate change is putting pressure on Hetch Hetchy and what a far warmer future means for this "mountain bathtub."
Genetically edited pork Has entered the food supply
(Ambrook Research) Jesse Hirsch, May 18
Alison Van Eenennaam, extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics at UC Davis, isn’t hopeful that genetically engineered meat will be sold anytime soon in the U.S. She blames an outdated regulatory structure that doesn’t account for the rapid scientific advances made in recent years. “We need a different language because when the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was written, what, 40 years before the discovery of DNA, they were not envisioning genome-edited animals,” Van Eenennaam said. “To me, the only thing that’s going to change this is that Congress has to go and say, ‘This is stupid’ … and they have a few other things on their plates right now.”
Efforts to recharge California's underground aquifers show mixed results
(NPR) Nathan Rott, May 17
…ROTT: So now, when there's too much water, why not just put it back underground? That's what Khaled Bali, an irrigation specialist with the University of California, is trying to do at this research plot in the Central Valley.
KHALED BALI: Groundwater recharge is basically taking excess flood water and putting it in the underground aquifer.
Company hopes to test wildfire detection system in Ramona this summer
(Ramona Sentinel) Julie Gallant, May 16
…Luca Carmignani, a fire adviser at the university’s South Coast Research and Extension Center, observed the test while conducting separate research on the effects of irrigation on the flammability of plants.
“It’s definitely an interesting project that would allow for the detection of fires in an urban environment very quickly,” said Carmignani, adding he was was not directly involved in testing the Sentinel and is not endorsing it. “Rather than relying on a call from someone reporting smoke they would have a camera detect it immediately. The project itself sounds very interesting and useful for firefighters.”
Researchers explore risks of grazing sheep on pastures after wildfires
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, May 16
In a new study published in the journal California Agriculture, the University of California-Davis explored whether sheep grazing on pastures that have regrown after wildfires are negatively impacted by metal contaminants and altered minerals....
..."We didn't get striking evidence that tells us, when there's a fire, it means everything is contaminated with heavy metals. But it does raise the question that maybe we should be doing a little bit of surveillance to see if this is spurious or common. And we should be finding a way to screen grazing herds," Sarah Depenbrock, assistant professor and agronomist in the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a news release.
Annual sudden oak death survey underway to test for spread, activity of tree-killing organism
(The Press Democrat) Mary Callahan, May 13
...volunteers and LandPaths staff are contributors to California’s SOD Blitz Project, an annual survey that helps measure the extent of a disease that has gradually marched along the coast of California since it was discovered in Marin County in 1995.
The idea is to catch it early, in the vector host, before it can spread to a susceptible tree, said Matteo Garbelotto, adjunct professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist at Cal Berkeley, who launched the SOD Blitz in 2008.
Mangoes and agave in the Central Valley? California farmers try new crops to cope with climate change
(CalMatters) Alastair Bland, May 9
Climate change essentially means that Southern California’s conditions are creeping north up the coast and into the valley, while Oregon and Washington are becoming more like Northern California. Precipitation, winds, fog, and seasonal and daily temperature patterns — all of which determine which crops can be grown where — have all been altered.
“With climate change, we’re getting more erratic entries into fall and more erratic entries into spring,” said Louise Ferguson, a UC Davis plant physiologist....
...Research...suggests that high winter temperatures could severely reduce walnut yields about once a decade.
Katherine Jarvis-Shean, an orchard advisor with the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources program, said that effect will be magnified farther south: “That’s probably one in five years in the southern San Joaquin Valley,” she said....
...Warmer winters can cause male varieties to bloom and release pollen too late, after the female flowers have opened. This means less pollination and less fruit, and in 2015 many orchards suffered total crop failure.
Patrick Brown, a UC Davis nut crop breeder, said farmers have solved this problem, at least for now, by grafting additional male varieties with different blooming schedules into the groves. “It’s a fairly easy hedge against that problem (of warmer winters),” he said. “No matter when the females bloom, there should be some pollen for them.”...
...Another tropical fruit more suitable for drought-prone land is the pitaya, or dragonfruit. Grown from tropical cactus plants, it can be farmed in California with as little as 1.5 feet of applied water — a third of what citrus and avocados need, according to Ramiro Lobo, a San Diego County farm advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension program. His program has distributed about 50,000 dragonfruit cactus cuttings to small farmers from San Luis Obispo down to San Diego and at least 1,000 acres are in production....
...Daniel Sumner, a UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics, said California’s agricultural identity already has changed drastically over time. In its earliest days of statehood, California was a major producer of rain-watered wheat, grown on several million acres. When irrigation became ubiquitous, so did specialty crops that thrive in a hot, dry climate but need water in the summer....
USDA to Establish New Regional Food Business Centers
(AgNetWest) Brian German, May 4
…“It is so exciting to see 16 organizations, across four states, coming together with us to enhance and expand much-needed business support services to our food and farm businesses,” UC Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston said in a news release. “Our strategy of quickly scaling existing successful programs offers quick returns on this investment, as does a focus on ensuring service for disadvantaged and historically underrepresented communities of producers, farmers and agrifood businesses.”
California’s Ag Vision Comes Into Focus
(Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association) Allen Moy, May 3
I recently had the honor of speaking on a panel about community partnerships at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Conference in Fresno. Joining me as I spoke about farmers markets and food access programs like Market Match, were speakers who shared the important work happening in the Farms to School and Community Garden movements. Each of our individual efforts are on parallel tracks. While we rarely engage directly, we are all committed to a common goal of supporting a healthier local food system and healthier Californians.
What can Northern California expect this wildfire season? Risk depends on where you live
(Sac Bee) Hanh Truong, May 2
With the winter rain and snow, certain ecosystems in Northern California may be spared of some of the ravenous fires that usually spark in late spring to fall, said Dr. Andrew Latimer, professor of plant ecology at the University of California, Davis.
Areas with more trees and shrubs, such as conifer forests in the mountains and redwood forests, may have less fire activity in the summer compared to the last two years, said Latimer, who researches how forests and grasslands respond to drought and fire. This is due to the snowpack, which will likely last longer into the summer, giving fires less time to start and spread, he said.
Big wildfires can devastate California’s fish. But they thrive with frequent, small burns
(KQED) Danielle Venton, May 1
“If we don’t have a good grasp of what’s going on with fire, there’s no way we can manage for things like fish, for people, for communities or anything, really,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Fire Network, addressing a crowd gathered for a healthy fire and fish workshop at the 40th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference last week in Fortuna.
The crowd, composed primarily of fish devotees from nonprofits, regulatory agencies and universities, had gathered to spend the day discussing how the fates of fire and California’s beloved charismatic aquafauna are intertwined.
“The future of fire is the future of fish,” said Quinn-Davidson.
'The big melt is now here': California braces for floods
(NBC News) Evan Bush, Jiachuan Wu and Kathryn Prociv, April 27
...Flood worries are centered on the San Joaquin River system, the Tulare Lake Basin and some parts of the Eastern Sierra, which don’t have as much capacity to control flooding and are fed by the outsize, high-alpine snowpack in the central and southern Sierra.
“In the southern Sierra, where we have the deepest snowpack, at some points we have about 5-6 feet of water sitting in the snowpack,” said Safeeq Khan, an assistant adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Merced. “Imagine 5 feet of water coming down within five or six weeks – how do you go about managing that water?”
Beyond kids, cows, sows and plows
(Farm to Table Talk) Rodger Wasson, April 28
In this podcast interview, Brent Hales, UC ANR's new associate vice president for research and cooperative extension, discusses how "collaboration and communication are community building tools of Cooperative Extension where modern engagement goes way beyond kids, cows, sows and plows."
This year's 100% water allocation in California does not mean the water crisis is over, experts say
(ABC News) Julia Jacobo, April 27
…The extra water is "great news" for the beneficiaries of the water projects, since in recent drought years the water allotments have been cut back "sharply," Mark Battany, water management and biometrerology advisor at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, told ABC News.
Salinas to host three-day AgTech conference
(KSBW) David Aguilar, April 27
Salinas will become the hub of ag innovation when it hosts the 2023 International Forum for Robotic Agriculture in September. [Co-sponsored by UC ANR’s The VINE]
After the deluge: Floods may taint more drinking water in California
(CalMatters) Alastair Bland, April 19
… Helen Dahlke, a UC Davis professor of integrated hydrologic sciences, said stormwater percolating into the ground will flush soil nitrates into groundwater basins, causing levels to jump.
Whether the concentrations drop again soon “depends on how much clean water comes along on the back end,” she said. Flooding will probably provide enough water to dilute nitrate-tainted runoff, while groundwater basins recharged by rainfall alone are likely to remain elevated, she said.
…Thomas Harter, a UC Davis professor who co-authored the nitrate report for state officials, said the contamination will haunt at least another generation of Californians. That’s because the lag time between the application of fertilizer and its entry into groundwater basins can be many years, and decades more may pass before the nitrate reaches a well.
“Even if we were able to change how we manage agricultural fertilizer today, it would still take years or decades before wells actually see an improvement,” he said.
Climate change is killing California trees. Texas trees may be the answer.
(Mercury News) Lisa M. Krieger, April 18
… “Municipal tree managers and other urban residents, especially those in the inland cities of California, should begin reconsidering their palettes of common street tree species,” said Joe McBride, professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley.
These farmers recharged groundwater by catching atmospheric rivers
(Civil Eats) Grey Moran, April 17
“The groundwater reserves we have stored underground are so much larger than any surface water storage that we have combined in rivers, lakes, and man-made reservoirs. So, it really is a much more convenient way of storing water for multiple years,” said Helen Dahlke, who leads a laboratory focused on catchment hydrology under a changing climate at the University of California, Davis. “California is coming to realize that our surface water storage is only typically carrying us over for two or three years,” she added.
County ag advisory group approves draft of resilient ag plan
Ojai Valley News, April 13
… Core project team members of the initiative included people from the Farm Bureau, Ventura County Resource Management Agency, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Director Annemiek Schilder.
Commentary: How managing flood flows can help rescue aquifers
(Ag Alert) Thomas Harter, Mallika Nocco, Isaya Kisekka and Helen Dahlke, April 12
As a changing climate stresses water supplies, a key focus for California is on how to manage flood flows in ways that store more water for drought years while reducing risk to life and infrastructure.
A potential solution to this question is to enhance groundwater recharge, a natural process in the water cycle that leaks water from rainfall, rivers or flooded areas into the subsurface. Natural recharge is no longer enough to refill our overtapped groundwater reserves. But intentional, managed aquifer recharge, or MAR, can help reduce flood risk and store more water for dry periods.
Fighting fire with fire in California
(Smithsonian Magazine) Andria Hautamaki, April/May issue
The Plumas Underburn Cooperative and other Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs) were founded on the belief that by sharing equipment and labor—and with proper training and experience—neighbors can manage fires together safely and effectively. First formed in the Great Plains in the mid-1990s, this collaborative model has since spread across the United States. In California, the first PBA was established in 2018; now, the state has 22. “Communities are desperate for solutions,” says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire expert with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “Many of the landowners and people involved want to restore fire to the system. They’re inspired now, because they’re seeing it happen in other places.”
Sudden Oak Death Blitz planned for May 12-14
(Lamorinda Weekly) William Hudson, April 12
... Professor Matteo Garbelotto's lab at UC Berkeley has been studying SOD and ways to combat it since its arrival in California. A key part of these efforts is the lab's annual spring SOD Blitz-signifying intense effort in a short period of time-a citizen science survey of Bay leaves with characteristics that are produced by SOD, but also other causes. To determine the actual presence of SOD, the leaves are analyzed over the summer, and in the fall the location and actual infected status of each sample is displayed on a Google Earth map viewable at www.sodblitz.org. There is no cure for infected trees, so the Blitz information is critical to determining the areas most at risk in which to focus efforts to prevent infections; the fall is the best time for the measures to protect the oaks against infection in the following spring.
Why California Can’t Catch a Break
(The Atlantic) Caroline Mimbs Nyce, April 11
… But in the long term, all of this vegetation might be a problem. Plants, both living and dead, are fuel, so a productive spring growth could bring trouble when the heat hits and things dry out. Lower-lying grassy areas are particularly at risk. Research has shown that “some of our biggest wildfire years have been drought years that’ve followed really good rainfall years,” Leslie Roche, a professor at UC Davis in the plant-sciences department, told me. “If we go from a really, really good year to a really, really extreme drought year again, the risks there are magnified.”
California just can’t catch a break. Part of the problem is its unique boom-bust climatology: The state always seems to go big, and that includes its weather cycles. “When it’s dry, it’s really dry. When it’s wet, it’s really wet,” Faith Kearns, a researcher at the California Institute for Water Resources, told me. (This variability has to do with the jet stream, the position of which affects both the number of winter storms that hit California and their size.) Changes to the planet’s climate are supercharging this ping-pong effect, creating what researchers call “climate whiplash.”
…The state’s water infrastructure isn’t designed to handle the climate whiplash, Ted Grantham, a professor who studies water management at UC Berkeley, told me: “We really need to start making decisions and investments in adapting to this new normal.” Because the next disaster will come. This year, next year, or later, there will be floods. There will be wildfires. There will be another drought. Living in California means having to prepare for all of those threats, sometimes in quick succession.
After a crippling drought, California has enough water to grow rice this year. Its troubles aren’t over.
(Ambrook) Lela Nargi, April 7
… This year, “There’s a lot of optimism out there,” said Luis Espino, rice farming systems advisor for Butte and Glenn Counties at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
… When there’s no water, there’s no rice, and no one is naive enough to believe that drought will never come again or that the state’s rice production is saved forever. “Growers have to think about this as the new normal, where some years we have water and some years we don’t,” Espino said. Which means strategies abound for ways to prepare for upcoming water shortages in order to become more resilient.
Here's Why Wildfire Experts Are Worried About an EPA Plan for Cleaner Air
(KQED) Danielle Venton, April 7
…“We’ve got to start doing larger prescribed burns if we want to make a difference to what is actually happening on our landscape,” said Scott Stephens, fire science professor at UC Berkeley. “That just means there’s going to be more smoke.”
Return of Tulare Lake
(NASA Earth Observatory) Emily Cassidy, April 5
“The Tulare basin floods occasionally, especially during extremely wet years and years with abundant snowpack on the Sierra Nevada mountains,” said Safeeq Khan, agricultural engineer and adjunct professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Merced....
“The basin is a powerhouse for agricultural production and the impact of the flooding is going to be prolonged,” Khan said. “The four counties within the basin—Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare—are some of the top-producing counties in the state.” Khan also serves as an extension specialist for the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), which helps connect farmers, industry, and communities with the latest scientific research.
Should You Paint Your Lawn Green? What to Know About This Trend
(Family Handyman) Kiersten Hickman, April 3
… But is the paint bad for your lawn? What is the purpose of painting your lawn green if it’s just going to die in the wintertime? We spoke with Dr. Jim Baird, a turf grass specialist at the University of California, Riverside, about this recently popular trend and if it’s something you should try at home for a greener, lush lawn.
'Drought is really the rule rather than the exception': The future of rangelands in California
(ABC10) Brody Adams, April 2
…“Rangelands you can think of as those big open landscapes that surround us all over the state. They are incredibly biologically diverse," said Leslie Roche, associate professor of Cooperative Extension at UC Davis. "They range from arid deserts and shrublands to grasslands and woodlands, and even a lot of our forest lands up in the High Sierras."
Here’s where California’s remarkably wet year is bringing welcome recovery
(LA Times) James Rainey, April 1
The path for spawning salmon also will be eased by the surfeit of water.
“When we’re in drought, it makes it very difficult for fish to move upstream and also for juvenile salmon trying to get back to the ocean,” said Ted Grantham, a freshwater ecologist and hydrologist with UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “All this water should smooth their way.”
High rivers have also created more overflows into natural and human-made floodplains. The water soaks up nutrients, enriching the waterways. “That creates perfect conditions for a lot of wildlife, including for fish growth,” Grantham said. “Salmon can get fat before moving out to the ocean and that means they are much healthier and have a better chance for survival.”
Tuolumne County Volunteer Fair: Why volunteering is beneficial
(Union Democrat) JoLynn Miller, March 30
… Volunteering is part of the fabric of our nation. From the very beginning, community members banded together to help each other out.
… Volunteering could serve as a path to employment, not only for teens and young adults, but for others trying to re-enter the workforce after time off. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) states that volunteers have a 27% higher chance of finding a job after being out of work compared to those not volunteering.
UC Regents March 15-16 meeting highlights
(UCSB Daily Nexus) Sindhu Ananthavel, Asumi Shuda, Nisha Malley and Mark Alfred, March 30
…UC Agriculture Natural Resource (ANR) Master Gardener Program Director Missy Gable delivered her update to the committee remotely from Capitol Hill.
“I’m here in D.C. today because I have compelling stories to share about the work of the UC ANR Master Gardener Program, and why the UC ANR is a great ongoing investment for federal capacity grant funds,” Gable said.
The UC Master Gardener Program is a community practice that brings together academics, staff and volunteers to address significant challenges like drought, fire and food security through gardening. Last year, over 6,000 active workers volunteered with the program, extending to partners such as schools, memory care facilities, prisons and jails.
Egg market may be improving ahead of Easter, but bird flu brings unknowns: Wells Fargo
(Food Dive) Chris Casey, March 28
…Maurice Pitesky, a poultry health professor at University of California, Davis, told Food Dive earlier this month that a large vaccination program for birds would be a difficult task. “We have to figure out how to thread that needle and think about how much vaccine we can feasibly produce,” he said.
The Conversation: JoLynn Miller, Central Sierra Cooperative Extension
(Access Tuolumne) Ryan Campbell, March 25
JoLynn Miller, director of UC Cooperative Extension for the Central Sierra, talks with Tuolumne County Supervisor Ryan Campbell, about UC ANR, 4-H, UC Master Gardeners, UC Master Food Preservers, Team ELITE, a nonprofit she helped start to evacuate animals during a wildfire or other disaster, and the Volunteer Fair.
Sensors to help fine-tune precision irrigation systems
(Agronomic Minute, AgNet West) March 22
Associate Professor of Hydrology and Irrigation at UC Davis, Isaya Kisekka has been looking at different sensor technology in almonds. Some options appear to have some good potential for growers.
“For a long time, we have not had a tool that allows us to measure stem water potential remotely. You can think about stem water potential as the amount of work that the plant has to do to pull water from the soil,” said Kisekka. “More recently, we now have sensors that appear promising to give us data that is comparable to a pressure chamber or a pressure bomb.”
Amid soaking storms, California turns to farmland to funnel water into depleted aquifers
(LA Times) Ian James, March 21
The governor’s order is a positive step, said Helen Dahlke, a professor in integrated hydrologic sciences at UC Davis. She hopes the order may help “trigger some new movement to revise what system we have in place to get these high flows diverted for groundwater recharge.”
The current regulatory system is cumbersome and bureaucratic, requiring water agencies to hire consulting firms and lawyers, Dahlke said. Many applications are rejected the first time, she said, and it typically takes months for an agency to get a permit approved.
Dahlke said she hopes state officials speed up the process. The system should strike a balance between maintaining needed river flows for the environment and replenishing aquifers, she said.
Explainer: What California's atmospheric rivers mean for drought, floods, fires
(Reuters) Steve Gorman and Daniel Trotta, March 21
During any normal 20-year period of the 20th century, about 10 years were wet and 10 years were dry - a sustainable ratio, said Thomas Harter of the University of California at Davis. During any normal 20-year period of the 20th century, about 10 years were wet and 10 years were dry - a sustainable ratio, Harter said. But in the past 25 years, only nine years were wet and 16 were dry, meaning the state needs seven more wet years to recover. And climate change points to future years that are likely to get warmer, exacerbating the increasingly dry climate.
Leadership Redwood Coast launches in Humboldt, Del Norte counties
(Del Norte Triplicate) March 21
On Thursday, March 2, 25 cross-sector leaders from across the region came together over dinner at Café Marina as the inaugural class of Leadership Redwood Coast.
… The Leadership Redwood Coast Class of 2023 includes:
- Alec Dompka, University of California Cooperative Extension, Del Norte
Bird flu: What is it and what's behind the outbreak?
(BBC News) Helen Briggs & Jeremy Howell, March 20
China has been vaccinating its domestic poultry flocks.
However, other countries avoid this because it is hard to judge which birds have been made immune and which have not - and so the meat and eggs from vaccinated flocks cannot be sold abroad.
"There are strict export controls when a country decides to vaccinate," says Dr Maurice Pitesky of the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.
School gave students bugs to eat as part of an assignment. Is that safe?
(Today) Elise Solé, March 17
…"Bugs are eaten just about everywhere in the world except the United States and Europe," Rick Redak, a professor of entomology and department chair at UC Riverside, tells TODAY.com. "There are probably 500 to 1,000 species of insects that are used for food."
How California is using recent floods to prepare for future drought
(Washington Post) Allyson Chiu, March 15
The technical term for the process of diverting or taking surface water and storing it underground is “managed aquifer recharge,” said Helen Dahlke, a professor and groundwater hydrologist at the University of California at Davis.
Instead, she said, the approach typically involves taking water from one location, directing it onto a certain parcel of land and letting it percolate down into an aquifer.
Much of California has escaped drought, but what lies ahead?
(The Hill) Sharon Udasin, March 18
But with such an influx of water also come many challenges — including the risk of dangerous floods, as well as a need to improve methods for filling up depleted groundwater reservoirs.
“Coming out of a drought and having this much snowpack in the mountains and a threat of floods, clearly there is a big interest in squirreling away as much of this water as we can,” Thomas Harter, a professor of water resources at University of California, Davis, told The Hill.
Snowmelt this spring could lead to “welcomed water supply benefits” in much of California and the Great Basin, while helping boost key Colorado River reservoirs, according to NOAA.
California will use floodwater to recharge groundwater
(LA Times) Ian James, March 11
…The water that’s used to replenish the aquifer will help local agencies move toward goals of addressing overpumping under the groundwater law, said Thomas Harter, a professor of water resources at UC Davis.
Harter said 600,000 acre-feet is “a significant chunk, and it’s certainly an important stepping stone toward future wet years and getting to these goals.” He said the water stored underground can allow for eventual cutbacks in well-water use to be somewhat less severe than the reductions would otherwise need to be.
California’s wet weather ripe for reserves
(News Nation On Balance) Leland Vitter, March 10
More than 9,000 California residents were under evacuation orders Friday as a new atmospheric river brought heavy rain, thunderstorms and strong winds, swelling rivers and creeks and flooding several major highways during the morning commute. UC Davis groundwater hydrology expert Thomas Harter weighs in on NewsNation's "On Balance."
Editorial: Learning will yet grow near Camarillo
(Ventura County Star) The Star Editorial Board, March 10
…Much of that same land, 114 acres of it, has been purchased by the University of California to become the site of the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Collaborating with scientists from UC agricultural colleges at Davis and Riverside, it seems destined to become one of the state’s premier agricultural research facilities.
The possibility for this research jewel is the result of the vision and philanthropy of Thelma Hansen, the last member of a pioneering farm family who upon her death in 1992 established a $12 million trust dedicated to preserving and advancing agriculture in Ventura County.
As US mulls vaccinating poultry for bird flu, chicken industry could stand in the way
(Food Dive) Chris Casey, March 9
A number of vaccines against different strains of bird flu have been developed and tested on flocks in recent years. Vaccinating birds was mandated in China in 2017, according to health organization Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. These vaccines have shown strong efficacy, said Rodrigo Gallardo, a poultry medicine professor at University of California, Davis.
“In terms of the feasibility of vaccination and how to do it, that’s already proven,” Gallardo said. “It’s more of a political problem.”
But the broiler chicken industry could be the main group standing in the way of the industry embracing immunization.
The HPAI vaccines have not been used on a large scale in the U.S. because of the ramifications the inoculations would have on international trade of chicken products, said Maurice Pitesky, a poultry health and food safety epidemiology professor at UC Davis.
“Vaccination, as we all know from COVID, protects against the disease but doesn’t protect per se against infection,” Pitesky said. “The worry is that the product could spread HPAI around the world.”
Tahoe locals inundated with snow
(Cap Radio Insight) Vicki Gonzalez, March 8
This winter, the snowfall in the Central Sierra this winter is nearing snowfall records leaving residents in Meyers and other communities in the high country buried in a bewildering amount of snow.
One of the residents of this town is Susie Kocher, a Forestry Advisor for the University of California’s Cooperative Extension in South Lake Tahoe. When she and her family haven’t been shoveling snow at their home? She's been chronicling the incredible snowfall amounts on her Twitter page for the last couple of weeks.
Avian flu digs hole in our pocket, raises health concerns
(NBC Bay Area) Stephanie Magallon, March 7
Experts say egg prices will likely rise even further in the months ahead as wild birds migrate, and with them, outbreaks.
This is one reason why, according to The New York Times, the U.S. is considering vaccinating chickens.
“We’ve had to euthanize over 50 million domestic poultry over the last year, and for a lot of people, that's unacceptable. So, if we can protect against disease, that’s something we need to consider,” said Maurice Pitesky, poultry specialist at the UC Cooperative Extension.
UC Hansen Center buys new farm property near Camarillo
(Ventura County Star) Tony Biasotti, March 5
The Hansen Center has been looking for property on the Oxnard Plain for years, since it's more centrally located in the county and its climate and growing conditions are better for the berries and vegetables that make up many of Ventura County's top crops....
“We’ve been searching for a while, and there just wasn’t much for sale, and of course, the value of land here is very high,” said Annemiek Schilder, the director of the Hansen Agricultural Research Center and the UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County. “It was difficult to find anything, so we are very happy with this.”
Bringing a fresh perspective to combatting disease in lettuce
(MyAgLife podcast) Taylor Chalstrom, March 3
Taylor Chalstrom sits down with Kirsten Pearsons, UCCE IPM advisor, and Yu-Chen Wang, UCCE plant pathology advisor, to discuss new perspectives on combatting the lettuce industry’s most prevalent diseases, such as impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) and Pythium wilt.
How much wildfire smoke can California wine grapes sustain? A new bill aims to find out
(Sacramento Bee) Maggie Angst, March 1
…Anita Oberholster, one of the lead researchers, is training students to help examine grapes in Napa and Sonoma counties and analyze how much exposure to harmful compounds renders the grapes tainted. Although the federal grant may help answer some of the vintners’ questions, it’s not enough, she said, to cover them with the urgency deserved. “When you divide (the grant) across three states and four years, then suddenly it’s not that much money anymore,” Oberholster said. “It limits the amount of progress you can make.”
California’s famed almond blossoms are opening up — despite unusual chill
(Washington Post) Leila Barghouty and John Farrell, Feb. 28
…“There was snow on the ground between these and these orchards, which is not something you see every day in California,” said Luke Milliron, an orchard farm adviser for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. He spotted the unusual phenomenon on his drive into work on Thursday morning and stopped to take a picture.
Editorial: Can California's legal cannabis industry survive while illegal competitors still operate?
The San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb 20
… It's a tall order. As long as illegal cannabis products cost half as much as legal ones — as documented last year by University of California, Davis economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner — they will dominate sales. Voters' 1996 approval of a law allowing legal "medicinal" cannabis — with buyers essentially self-attesting to why their health issues required its use — set up a multibillion-dollar industry that often skirted state laws. A prescient 2018 analysis by the Southern California News Group noted that the industry was only emboldened by the fact that Proposition 64 reduced the penalties for most cannabis crimes and eliminated others entirely.
US Forest Service report shows tree mortality is worsening in Lake County
Lake County Record Bee, Feb. 20
…A 2022 windshield survey identified approximately 4,000 dead and dying trees near Lake County roadways and evacuation routes, alone. Dr. Michael Jones, the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Forest Advisor for Lake County and a trained entomologist, indicates removal of dead and dying trees is critical to mitigating multi-species bark beetle infestation. Costs for remediation of the highest priority areas, alone, are expected to exceed $12 million. County officials and partners are heavily engaged in efforts to secure funding.
How Climate Change Is Making Tampons (and Lots of Other Stuff) More Expensive
(New York Times) Coral Davenport, Feb. 18
…“Since the 1930s, government programs have been fundamental to growing cotton,” Dr. [Daniel] Sumner [an agricultural economist at UC Davis] said. “But there’s not a particular economic argument to grow cotton in West Texas as the climate changes. Does it make any economic sense for a farm bill in Washington, D.C., to say, ‘West Texas is tied to cotton?’ No, it doesn’t.”
LA Explained: How To Live Safely With Our Coyote Neighbors
(LAist) Caitlin Hernández, Feb. 17
…“Gone are the days where coyotes are coming from the hills for a drink,” said Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“I think that people need to know that coyotes are everywhere, like literally everywhere. Just because you don't see coyotes doesn’t mean that they're not in your neighborhood.”
Editorial: Beverly Hills is chopping down ficus trees — and replacing them with palms? Bad idea
Los Angeles Times, Feb. 17
…Other possibilities are the “Bubba” desert willow and “Red Push” pistache, says Janet Hartin, an environmental horticulture advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Could this week's cold snap cause problems for residents, growers?(Bakersfield Californian) Steven Mayer, Feb. 15
…Mohammad Yaghmour, an orchard systems adviser with the UC Cooperative Extension, said temperatures haven't been cold enough to cause a lot of concern for Kern County's billion-dollar almond crop.
"Almonds are just starting to bloom," Yaghmour said. "Generally speaking, the blossoms are less sensitive (to cold temperatures) than the fruit itself."
The edges matter: Hedgerows are bringing life back to farms
(Civil Eats) Anne Marshall-Chalmers, Feb. 14
About 30 years ago, Rachael Long, a farm advisor with the U.C. Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) began preaching the power of hedgerows to farmers in the Sacramento Valley. She eventually followed her own advice and planted a half-mile stretch of redbud, coyote brush, toyon, and other native California species at the edge of her tomato and wheat farm.
More vineyards opt to send in the machines
(Good Fruit Grower) Matt Milkovich, Feb. 13
… To educate Michigan and Midwest growers about the adoption of vineyard mechanization practices in California — by far the largest grape-producing state — Nasrollahiazar asked Kaan Kurtural to speak at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in December. Kurtural, an extension specialist with the University of California, Davis, spoke virtually.
… Combine the cost of labor with the limited availability of land and foreign competition, and the case for mechanizing vineyard management tasks has never been clearer, Kurtural said.
“There’s really no other alternative at this point,” he said.
A battle to save Beverly Hills' shady ficus trees is underway
(LA Times) Dorany Pineda, Feb. 13
Not only do trees filter pollutants from air and quell storm water runoff, they also help cool surface temperatures during extreme heat waves with shade and transpiration.
“Those two combined processes can result in black asphalt surfaces that otherwise could be 140, 150 degrees in L.A., or out in Coachella 170 degrees, to be cooled down, in Coachella, about 100 degrees, and in L.A. down to 80 degrees,” said Janet Hartin, an environmental horticulture advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Yet when trees are not being killed off by drought, disease and insects, many mature shade trees that offer more environmental benefits are being cut down. Less than half of the trees planted in urban settings live to be 20 or 30 years old because of poor tree selection and care, Hartin said.
Why historic storms are 'both a blessing and a curse' for California's fire season
(San Francisco Chronicle) Jack Lee, Feb. 12
If the state continues to see wet weather over the next few months, vegetation will stay damp, making it less likely for a blaze to rapidly spread. The moisture also means healthier forests and fewer dead trees.
“That’s going to reduce the chance for a real big forest mortality event like (what) happened (from) 2012 to 2015 in the southern Sierra Nevada,” said Scott Stephens, a fire science expert at UC Berkeley. “That drought — 2012 to 2015 — killed 150 million trees.”
Why are California's trees dying?
(New York Times) Erik Vance, Feb. 10
...Last year saw a shocking 16 times more dead Douglas-firs than the previous one. In other words, the trees that should be the most able to survive the drought are now dying in large numbers.
“Doug fir is probably one of the most resilient species in the Sierra Nevada,” said Scott Stephens, a forestry professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “It is the last species that actually has not been really significantly impacted.”
New advisors bring fresh ideas for lettuce
(Western Farm Press) Mike Hsu, Feb. 10
In a dramatic spike, 36.3 million trees died in California last year. Drought, disease blamed
(Los Angeles Times) Nathan Solis, Feb. 7
…The statewide results are alarming but not surprising to Ryan Tompkins, a forester and natural resources advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension. Starting in early 2022, CalFire was sounding the alarm on tree mortality in Northern California.
“The real problem here is that our forests are far too dense. And when these forests are really dense, trees are competing for a finite amount of water, particularly in a dry year,” Tompkins said. “While we see these periodic droughts and these periodic tree mortality events, some of this is driven because we’ve normalized these very dense forests.”
The Census of Agriculture: what it's for, why it matters
(Marketplace) Savannah Maher, Feb. 6
“It is the basic source for information about agriculture as an industry,” said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis.
The government uses ag census data to target resources, and just about everyone else connected to the farm economy uses it to make business decisions, he said.
“If you’re thinking about where you’re gonna put your wheat-processing plant, you’re going to go to the Census of Agriculture.”
Will egg prices drop in California? Is there such thing as ‘eggflation?’ We asked the experts
(Modesto Bee) David Lightman, Feb. 6
WHY ARE CALIFORNIA EGG PRICES SO HIGH?
Answer: California prices tend to be higher in general, and “we ban the sale of conventional eggs and require at least cage-free eggs. These are generally much more expensive,” said Daniel Sumner, a professor with the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
Agriculture Dept. proposes limits on sugar and salt in school meals
(New York Times) Linda Qiu, Feb. 3
Lauren Au, a professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, commended the proposal for phasing in changes even if they do not immediately meet all dietary guidelines.
"This proposed standard is keeping into consideration the feasibility of carrying out something that is so big," she said. "But from a nutrition standpoint, the added sugars and sodium are some of the biggest concerns within school meals."
Is there a chicken coop in your future as egg costs rise?
(Fox News) Shiv Sudhakar, Jan. 27
"Backyard poultry can be a reservoir for many diseases, which can spread diseases to poultry and/or humans," added Maurice Pitesky, a cooperative extension specialist with University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis, California.
"It is our responsibility to raise the birds in such a manner as to reduce the potential for disease transmission," he added.
Southwest alfalfa growers face new insect pests
(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, Jan. 27
..The Alfalfa Leaftier (Dichomeris acuminatus) and dot lined angle (Psamatodes abydata) were discovered in low desert alfalfa in 2021 and 2022, respectively, according to Michael Rethwisch, entomologist with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Blythe.
… “The possibility that this could be a year-round pest does exist,” Rethwisch said. “That didn’t seem to be the case in 2021 and going into 2022.”
Popular Clovis strawberry patch hit hard by severe flooding
(ABC 30) Dale Yurong, Jan 25
…UC Cooperative Extension Small Farm Advisor Michael Yang says the farm looked like a lake.
"The damage as you see, the plants are completely dead. Where high ground you see plants still green but as you see here, all those plants are dead," said Small Farm Advisor Michael Yang.
California Lurches From One Climate Extreme to Another
(Voice of America) Steve Baragona, Jan. 25
Helen Dahlke, UC Davis hydrology professor: "Dry air that is warmer will try to suck out more moisture from the ground, and that means you know our precipitation we get in California may not reach as far as it used to. So it takes more precipitation to wet up the soils again, to wet up the vegetation."
Will Southern California embrace logging of its 'sky island forests?
(Union Tribune) Joshua Emerson Smith, Jan. 22
“Sky islands are pretty unique,” said Max Moritz, a cooperative extension specialist in wildfire at UC Santa Barbara. “They’re relic habitats from when times were cooler, and forests got pushed up to higher and higher elevations.”
Learn to Protect Your Home from Wildfire – The Time to Take Preventive Measures is Now
(Sierra Wave) Jan. 20
With wildfires posing an ever-present threat throughout California, taking pre-emptive actions to protect your home and property is more important than ever. In an effort to arm residents with the knowledge and tools necessary to take preventive measures, the California Native
Plant Society-Bristlecone Chapter, County of Inyo, and UC Cooperative Extension are hosting a free two-day Wildfire Resilience Workshop next week in Bishop.
“White Gold”: California farmers react to storms
(AccuWeather) Jillian Angeline, Jan. 16
…“In a year when they have to do a lot of pumping, then it’s expensive. This year we’ll have plenty of what we call surface water. That is water running down the rivers, in the lakes, running down the canals. And farmers will mostly use surface water,” said Daniel Sumner, agricultural & economics professor, UC Davis.
California’s Lost Trees
(NY Magazine) Alissa Walker, Jan. 13
…Yet the storms’ destruction isn’t just about losing a beautifully leafy landscape. Urban forestry is a crucial front against an increasingly hotter climate, according to a forthcoming paper published by the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension. “While all plants cool the surrounding environment through transpiration, trees play a particularly important role in mitigating climate change by shading urban heat islands,” Janet Hartin and Rob Bennaton write. This is in addition to removing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that contributes to greenhouse-gas emissions in the first place. So when the hyper-saturated soil combines with 70 mph winds, it sends the city’s best tools of resilience smashing into sedans parked on side streets. This is the challenge to come in the wake of the current crisis: After the storms quiet and rebuilding begins, how do cities replace critical urban infrastructure that took up to 100 years to grow?
Planada Enters Third Day of Evacuations As More Storms Loom Ahead
(KQED) Danielle Venton, Jan. 12
…Even in the midst of all this rain, wine makers and grape growers are worried about what wildfire smoke from next fire season will do to their wine. UC Vineyard advisor Chris Chen says the best time to think about preventing fires is when they’re still months away.
Experts in tree fruit farming share their knowledge with local backyard growers
(Bakersfield Californian) Steven Mayer, Jan. 12
…Knowing how to properly prune your fruit trees is key to getting plenty of tasty and beautiful fruit out of them, Mohammad Yaghmour, an orchard systems advisor with the Cooperative Extension, told the gathering.
…"If you mess up on your pruning, don't freak out," he said.
California Chill Report: Storm Impacts on How Trees Experience Chill
(AgNetWest) Jan. 11
Most of California has been experiencing a substantial amount of rain since the end of 2022 and that can have an impact on how trees are experiencing chill. UC Cooperative Extension Orchard Systems Advisor for Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento counties, Kat Jarvis-Shean said that the weather can be measured as “anywhere from neutral to good” as it relates to chill accumulation. The impact on winter chill has less to do with overall temperatures and more to do with sun exposure.
“When we have these overcast days or these stormy, cloudy days during the daytime, the suns not getting through to the buds. So, they’re sort of shrouded from the sunshine and the energy and the heat that that sunshine gives,” Jarvis-Shean explained. “When we have low chill winters, it often coincides with dry, drought winters, because we have clear sunny days, and those flower buds and vegetative buds are just cooking out there in the sunshine.”
It could be awhile before egg prices fall. Here are some egg substitutes, according to nutritionists
(KTNV) Chloe Nordquis, Jan. 10
…“The best projections right now from USDA is that egg prices will be down by 50 percent or 75 percent at the wholesale level early this year, this spring or summer,” said Daniel Sumner, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of California Davis.
Ongoing egg scarcity has Long Beach restaurants considering price increases
(Long Beach Post) Alicia Robinson, Jan. 9
…The last major U.S avian flu outbreaks were in 2014 and 2015, and they also sent egg prices soaring, but there are some important differences, said Maurice Pitesky, an associate professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Cooperative Extension.
About seven times more counties around the country have been affected this time around, so “the scope of the outbreak that we’re dealing with right now is basically much larger geographically,” he said.
Also, five or six years ago, the number of infections died down during the warm summer months and didn’t flare back up the following winter, Pitesky said, but the current wave didn’t go away in the spring and summer.
South LA school teaches students to cultivate green thumbs
(LA Times Today/Spectrum News 1) Jan. 6
Getting children to eat vegetables is a challenge as old as time. Research has shown that one strategy to entice kids to eat more greens is by cultivating their green thumbs with a school garden.
Islah Academy is a small community school in South LA that’s taking their young learners out of the classroom and putting their hands into the soil.
"We provide gardening assistance to all of the schools and organizations throughout Los Angeles County," said UC Master Gardener Sum-Sum Chan. "We're here to beautify this school."
What this series of atmospheric rivers says about California’s drought and water future
(Capital Public Radio) Manola Secaira, Jan. 6
While large rivers like the Sacramento have not flooded over during this storm, other smaller rivers have seen some flooding, like the Cosumnes River near Elk Grove. This river, like many others in the state, has levees built around it to keep back flooding.
But as this storm has raged on, some of these levees have broken and failed to prevent overflow.
“Some of them have been built decades ago,” said Helen Dahlke, an associate professor in Integrated Hydrologic Sciences at UC Davis. “And we haven't really invested that much funding into upkeeping, just even checking the status of these levees, so there is definitely some aging infrastructure that could potentially become an issue.”
Elite Napa estates are releasing wines from a fire-ravaged year. Do they taste smoky?
(SF Chronicle) Esther Mobley, Jan. 1
… Smoke taint is a frustratingly opaque topic, still poorly understood by scientists. Basically, when smoke is in the air, certain compounds can make their way into grape skins. But what’s hard to grasp “is that it’s not a linear relationship,” said Anita Oberholster, a UC Davis scientist. “Just because somebody has smoke at their vineyard doesn’t mean they will have smoke taint.” Various factors like the land’s topography, the wind direction and the freshness of the smoke can determine the ultimate effect.
Confusingly, “proximity to fire is actually not a good indicator,” said Oberholster.
How the marijuana ‘green rush’ fell apart
(Washington Post) Rachel Lerman, Dec. 30
…“Cannabis is right now in a situation where almost nobody’s making money and people are, in fact, losing enough every day that they’re very concerned that they may not be able to last until [the market] comes back,” said Dan Sumner, an agricultural economist at the University of California at Davis, who with Goldstein co-wrote the book, “Can Legal Weed Win?: The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics.”
What if Indigenous women ran controlled burns?
(High Country News) B. ‘Toastie’ Oaster, Dec. 30
… The events spread the theory and practice of prescribed burning. But they are also a way to change mainstream fire culture, which has long been “very exclusive, very militaristic, very socially and culturally homogenous,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.
...Fire management is predominantly white and around 90% male, Quinn-Davidson said. So, to counterbalance the militaristic, hyper-masculine firefighting culture, she has hosted five women’s training exchanges since 2016. These aim to be 90% women, and participation demand is high.
What to expect from the 2023 Farm Bill
(Marketplace) Savannah Maher, Dec. 28
…“And in the very old days, it used to be a farm bill — that is, it was about farming and agriculture and the like,” said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis.
The farm bill still props up American agriculture with crop subsidies that have become a legislative fixture, he said. But now, “about 90% of the spending and the interest in the so-called farm bill is food subsidies, things like food stamps.”
‘The War on Drugs Part II’: California taxes, rules are killing small legal weed farms
(LA Times) Kevin Rector, Dec. 29
…In a book published this year titled, “Can Legal Weed Win? The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics,” UC Davis economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner outlined a number of headwinds faced by small legal cannabis farmers in places like Humboldt County.
Among the largest, they found, were the array of taxes and regulations that states like California have put in place for legal growers — despite knowing it would give their illegal competitors an advantage.
“Getting legally compliant means lots of fees; unknown, and almost always longer-than-expected, waiting periods; complex testing, tracking, packaging, and labeling requirements; and steep cannabis taxes,” Goldstein and Sumner wrote. “Illegal weed businesses do not face any of these costs or taxes, so they can run leaner, lower-cost operations and sell comparable products for lower prices than legal businesses can.”
10 years later, California’s promise of a human right to water remains unfulfilled
(CalMatters) Jenny Rempel, Kristin Dobbin
Ten years ago, Californians impacted by unsafe and unaffordable water secured legal recognition of the human right to water. Since then, activists have leveraged California’s vital water law to promote safe, affordable and accessible water for all. But we are still far from achieving its intended purpose.
California Chill Report: Researchers Look at Solutions to Dormancy Issues
(AgNetWest) Dec. 21
Mild winters in recent years have been creating some dormancy issues in orchards that become apparent later in the season. Researchers have been evaluating different options that might assist walnut growers to overcome some of those challenges. UC Cooperative Extension Orchard Systems Advisor for Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento counties, Kat Jarvis-Shean said they have been looking at a couple of different products in a multi-year study.
“With funding from the California Walnut Board for the first couple of years and now we just started getting funding from CDFA, we’ve been looking at dormancy breaking treatments that get applied in about a month before anticipated bud break,” said Jarvis-Shean. “To help wake the trees up so that we don’t see these weird behaviors that you usually get with low chill.”
Making a salad might be getting more expensive. Could climate change be to blame?
(LA Times) Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and Hayley Smith, Dec. 21
It was the two (INSV and Pythium wilt) in tandem that wiped out Salinas crops this fall, said Richard Smith, a researcher with the University of California’s Cooperative Extension program, which places agricultural advisers and researchers in local communities. While both have presented challenges to farmers in the past, something changed in the last few years to worsen the impact on lettuce crops.
“There had been these heat spells that we think have triggered the soil-borne disease,” Smith said. He wondered whether climate change may be a factor.
“That’s a question we have,” Smith said. “All you can do is kind of infer that possibly that’s part of the problem. But one thing is true. Those heat spells were unprecedented. Is that global warming? Who knows? Could be.”
Why California’s 2022 Wildfire Season Was Unexpectedly Quiet
(New York Times) Elena Shao, Dec. 20
…“It’s really just that we got lucky,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
… “A lot of times we get focused on the acreage and the fewer acres burned,” Ms. Quinn-Davidson said, adding that it was important not to lose sight of the several deadly and severe fires that did happen earlier in the year. “We still saw a level of severity that is outside of the historical range of variability,” she said.
Siskiyou County gets $1.5M to prepare for climate change
(Redding Record Searchlight) Damon Arthur, Dec. 18
…The Siskiyou Climate Collaborative includes six separate agencies: the Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District, the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension, the Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance, Siskiyou County SMART Workforce Center, and the Siskiyou Economic Development Council. The Karuk Tribe intends to join following project kick-off.
$11 for a head of California lettuce? Here’s what’s behind the shortage causing ‘outrageous’ prices
(Mercury News) Ethan Varian, Dec. 16
Richard Smith, a vegetable researcher with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Monterey County, said INSV has been known since around 2006 and may have originated with flowering plants in greenhouses.
The reason it’s pummeling the Salinas Valley now, Smith said, is in large part because the region is already dealing with another crop disease called Pythium wilt, caused by fungi-like pathogens. The dual outbreaks came to a head this fall after spreading rapidly for most of the growing season, which just recently ended.
Website developed by UC Merced helping growers protect crops
(ABC 30) Dale Yurong, Dec. 13
The CalAgroClimate website developed at UC Merced is designed to help growers avoid frost or heat damage.
Farmers can pinpoint their growing location.
"We are using Google Maps and so, you can select a particular location or address, count, specific location," said UC Merced professor, Tapan Pathak.
MyAgLife in Citrus
(MyAgLife) Vicky Boyd, Dec. 13
…”First thing it is important to get the terminology right because otherwise people can get alarmed. We’re not looking at HLB positivity rates. HLB is the disease in the trees. What we’re looking at is the positivity rate for the pathogen, which we use the acronym CLAS for, in the psyllid.
Citrus Psyllids Bribe Ants with Strings of Candy Poop
(KQED) Josh Cassidy, Dec. 13
…By studying the ants’ behavior, researchers at the University of California, Riverside, found a weakness they could exploit.
Learn how Hoddle Lab at University of California, Riverside studies ways to protect citrus orchards from Asia citrus psyllids and citrus greening.
More information about Asian citrus psyllids from the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program
Attacks on Pacific north-west power stations raise fears for US electric grid
(The Guardian) Dani Anguiano, Dec. 10
Experts and intelligence analysts have long warned of both the vulnerability of the US power grid and talk among extremists about attacking the crucial infrastructure.
“It’s very vulnerable,” said Keith Taylor, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who has worked with energy utilities. “[These attacks] are a real threat.”
Fight to curb food waste increasingly turns to science
(Associated Press) Dee-Ann Durbin, Dec. 9
…“This has suddenly become a big interest,” said Elizabeth Mitchum, director of the Postharvest Technology Center at the University of California, Davis, who has worked in the field for three decades. “Even companies that have been around for a while are now talking about what they do through that lens.”
California’s drought disaster is turning into an economic disaster: ‘It’s unprecedented’
(FOX) Jiovanni Lieggi, Dec. 6
…"Everything from the milk industry around to almonds has been effected," UC Davis Agricultural Economics Professor Daniel Sumner said. Sumner helped prepare the report for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He says consumers could soon see the prices rise in stores for certain products, like the rice Doherty grows.
The rice crop in California was only about half of a normal harvest season. Two hundred and seventy thousand acres were harvested compared to the usual 550 thousand.
"That has effects on the rest of the economy as well, it’s not just the farmers or the farm workers. It’s the grocery stores, all the way to the economy," Sumner said.
UCCE: Enjoying the fall colors
(Ukiah Daily Journal) Hannah Bird, Dec. 4
Since 2013, the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) has certified over 200 California Naturalists through the UC California Naturalist program. Dr. Jennifer Riddell is an amazingly knowledgeable instructor for this 40-hour adult training program that introduces participants to the wonders of their local ecology. Starting from the rocks up through to wildlife and climate, the class opens a window into expresses what makes Mendocino such a special habitat for so many species. Many of the participants may not have initially identified as a “naturalist,” but after the class they hold the title with pride.
Preparing Your Vineyard for Future Heat Waves
(American Vineyard Magazine) Matthew Malcolm, Dec. 1
In addition to frost damage in the spring, San Joaquin Valley vineyards also experienced severe heat stress as well that took a toll on the crop. Watch this brief interview with UCCE Viticulture Farm Advisor George Zhuang as he shares how growers can better prepare their vineyards for future heat waves — as discussed at the recent Grape, Nut & Tree Fruit Expo in Fresno.
'We're in the biotech era': Learn how UC Davis is looking to make cattle and dairy production more sustainable
(ABC 10 Sacramento) Van Tieu, Nov. 30
…This has been Professor Alison Van Eenennaam’s work for more than 20 years.
“Genetics is a huge component of sustainability," said Van Eenennaam. "So, if we can have disease resistance, adaptable animals that are able to withstand heat, then we could actually produce more product with less animals and that's really what breeders have been striving towards, for whatever ever since animal breeding began.”
Bird flu: What is it and what's behind the outbreak?
(BBC News) Helen Briggs & Jeremy Howell, Nov. 30
…"There are strict export controls when a country decides to vaccinate," says Dr Maurice Pitesky of the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.
New study says California's farmland is shrinking due to years-long severe drought
(CBS Sacramento) Madisen Keavy, Nov. 28
…The last three years have been the driest in the instrumental record and the multi-year deficits in precipitation have been compounded by "increased crop evaporative demands" according to the report. Researchers on the report — which included authors from UC Merced, UC Davis, and the Public Policy Institute of California — found that the state's irrigated farmland shrunk by nearly 10% which totals 752,000 acres of farmland.
… "Agriculture employs lots of people directly, and indirectly, I talk about the farm worker, but I could just as well talk about the people in the processing plant. There are tomato processing plants that just aren't going to employ people long into the year because it was a short crop," said Daniel Sumner, one of the report's authors and a professor of Agriculture Economics at UC Davis.
The burn scars of the Sierra foothills tell a story – and offer lessons
(KQED) Danielle Venton, Nov. 28
Brandon Collins stands in front of what was recently a hillside of young trees, now burnt to blackened crisps by a wildfire. When these trees were alive, the trunks were barely the diameter of an arm or a calf. They now look like a crowd of knobby, emaciated skeletons. They are of no economic value and, unless replanted, risk becoming a field of brush rather than regrowing as a forest.
“I think about, if we go back in time, what could we have done differently to change the outcome?” asks Rob York, co-director of Berkeley Forests, which manages the study site. This area was clear-cut a few decades ago and left alone ever since. “It’s tricky, right? They’re vulnerable because they’re short trees. It doesn’t take a lot of fire intensity to cause a high-severity fire.”
Science communication is key to public acceptance, innovation
(KPVI) Claire Sanders, Nov. 26
…“What if we had not been able to make these improvements because the public was not in favor of genetic selection?” said Alison Van Eenennaam, professor of cooperative extension at the University of California, Davis, the guest speaker for the 2022 D.W. Brooks Lecture held Nov. 8.
UC ANR On Where Do Fall Colors Come From?
(Sierra Sun Times) Janet Hartin, Nov. 26
Did you ever wonder why trees "turn" color in the fall? The short answer: It's primarily a function of long, cool fall nights and short, sunny days.
Why America's food-security crisis is a water-security crisis, too
(Food & Environment Reporting Network, FERN) Lela Nargi, Nov. 20
Christina Hecht, a senior policy adviser at the University of California’s Nutrition Policy Institute, helped found the National Drinking Water Alliance in 2015, with a mission to improve access to potable water and educate people on the importance of drinking water instead of sugary drinks. “We discussed whether we needed to prioritize making sure that tap water was safe, but in 2015, we really didn’t think that that was a big issue,” she says. “Then Flint happened.”
'We got really lucky': Why California escaped another destructive fire season in 2022
(LA Times) Hayley Smith, Nov. 19
...Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley, said he gives Cal Fire and other state agencies credit for some of their programs.
“Some of the wildfires that started this year ran into some of their fuel treated areas, and they were able to make a stand in some of those areas more effectively,” he said. “That wasn’t the majority of fires by any means, but some ... actually reached these areas, and the proactive work I think is paying off in those regards.”
However, Stephens also noted that the state did not see any major dry lightning events this year, such as those that helped fuel hundreds of simultaneous fires in 2020 and 2021, and benefited from some rain. He said it’s important to stay vigilant, even in the face of improvements.
Cheaper cuts of beef: It's what's for dinner, Tyson Foods reports
(Marketplace) Justin Ho, Nov. 14
“Chicken is generally cheaper than beef and pork for the consumer,” said Dan Sumner, an agriculture economist at the University of California, Davis.
Tyson Foods reported it’s charging more for chicken.
Sumner said chicken producers are likely to ramp up production next year.
“It’s a little easier to fine-tune that in six months. As opposed to if you want another steer, I’m sorry, you made that decision three years ago.”
Why California wildfires burned far less this year
(Politico) Anne C. Mulkern, Nov. 14
… “If California doesn’t see much rain or snow over the next few months, it will continue to be at risk for wildfires even as the temperature gets colder, said Max Moritz, wildfire specialist with University of California Cooperative Extension.
The plants themselves are still under pretty extreme water stress, and they’re still potentially quite flammable, even if it’s cold,” Moritz said. “If we see again no rain until really late in the season, we could have winter fires and have some real problems.”
Urban Farms Are Stepping Up Their Roles in Communities Nationwide
(Civil Eats) Rachel Surls, Nov. 10
“As I’ve chatted with farmers and walked through their fields, three themes have emerged. First, many, if not most, urban farms operate as nonprofit organizations, often on a shoestring budget, led by farmers who are powerfully committed to their communities. Second, urban farmers are deeply involved with provisioning food-insecure communities—and most have made significant pivots to offer free and low-cost food during the COVID-19 pandemic. And third, urban farms promote community building that goes far beyond feeding people. They have offered a place to gather and be in the company of others during what has often been a lonely, isolating time, as well as a spark of hope for the future. The farms below illustrate these themes in three very different cities.”
Salinas Valley farmers hit by lettuce virus
(AgAlert) Caleb Hampton, Nov. 9
…Over the past couple years, growers and researchers have met frequently to assess the damage and find solutions. “There’s a lot of people looking at this,” said Richard Smith, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Monterey County.
Wildfire weapon: California aims to ignite 400,000 acres a year
(The Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Nov. 7
“It is a start,” said forest ecologist Rob York of UC Berkeley. “But we still have a very long way to go before we can say that it is being used enough to make a difference at the ecosystem scale.”
First FIRA USA Ag Robotics Forum attracts people from around the world
(Hortidaily) Nov. 7
This California startup says it can predict where wildfires might start—it’s using that power in a surprising way
(CNBC) Annika Kim Constantino, Nov. 7
…Manning says wildfires are only the start, and that Kettle hopes to eventually model other environmental catastrophes worsened by climate change, like floods and wind from hurricanes.
That could be a challenge, says Max Moritz, an adjunct professor of wildfire dynamics at UC Santa Barbara. Natural disasters often act very differently from each other, and predicting them can depend a lot on the specific nature of local geographies.
Put simply, what works in California might not work anywhere else. “It’s not a given that the performance will be that great,” Moritz says.
Supervisors approve emergency resolution on tree mortality across Mendocino County
(The Mendocino Voice) Kate Fishman, Nov. 4
The resolution focuses primarily on decline related to heightened bark beetle activity in several North Coast conifer species — but as detailed in a study from the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), larger outbreaks can occur because of combined factors including wildfire, drought, fire suppression, and poor forest management practices.
Supervisor John Haschak spearheaded work on this resolution, collaborating with UCCE, various stakeholders, and supervisors from Lake and Napa counties. Both those counties have also declared tree mortality emergencies....
...Haschak explained that here in Mendocino County, increased aridity and movement from wildfires has put inland ponderosa pines at more risk; on the coast, bishop pine forests have also seen significant decline from a multitude of possible factors including encroachment of pathogens and insects. UCCE Forest Supervisor Michael Jones said he has also seen stress on local redwood forests, Haschak relayed.
Researchers share what they’ve learned in the aftermath of the Mosquito Fire
(Cap Radio News) Manola Secaira, Nov. 3
Spotted owls have nested in parts of Blodgett Forest for years, and there’s one in particular that researchers grew fond of.
Rob York, co-director of Berkeley Forests, said he never called the owl by a particular name but researchers in the forest would generally refer to him as “the old, crusty guy” in the area.
“I’ve been here at Blodgett for 20 years, and that owl has been at Blodgett for 20 years,” York said. “It’s like it became this friend of mine.”
The Mosquito Fire burned through a part of Blodgett that included the owl’s nest. Since then, no one has seen him.
Commentary: How farmer-researcher ties help agriculture thrive
(AgAlert) Donald Bransford, Nov. 2
As California’s economy is poised to overtake Germany’s as the fourth largest in the world, I am reminded that research and innovation drive progress.
In California, we are fortunate to enjoy an abundance of healthy food and other agricultural products, even as new complications arise in the business of farming. It’s no coincidence that California is the nation’s top agricultural producer with more than 400 commodities. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and the state’s farmers and ranchers have been working together for more than a century to innovate, and our research needs continue to grow to adapt to drought, wildfire, invasive pests and diseases, and other challenges.
Nutrition Policy Institute’s work underpins conference
(Farm Press) Mike Hsu, Nov. 1
“Science is the work of many – and no one study answers all the questions – but we have a tremendous body of work that has contributed to this conference, building from all the programs and changes that were made from the last conference,” said NPI director Lorrene Ritchie.
He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show
(New York Times) Hiroko Tabuchi, Oct. 31
…According to internal University of California documents reviewed by The New York Times, Dr. [Frank] Mitloehner’s [the head of an agricultural research center at UC Davis] academic group, the Clear Center at UC Davis, receives almost all its funding from industry donations and coordinates with a major livestock lobby group on messaging campaigns.
…The Clear Center said in a statement that it discloses funding in line with University of California policy. The university deferred questions to the Clear Center.
…In written responses to detailed questions, Dr. Mitloehner said the livestock industry’s financial and other ties to his research center were instrumental to the center’s mission. “I cannot help the livestock sector reduce its environmental impact without working directly with its members,” he said.
Alison Van Eenennaam’s rebuttal: https://biobeef.faculty.ucdavis.edu/2022/11/01/new-york-times-reporting-on-agriculture
Frank Mitloehner's response:
Why Legal Weed Is Losing
(City Journal) Charles Fain Lehman, Oct. 31
…Can Legal Weed Win?, the new book by UC–Davis agricultural economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner, tries to answer that question. The pair have carefully watched the marijuana market since before legalization, and they provide an economic perspective accessible to the lay reader. While Can Legal Weed Win? is a useful corrective to optimism about the marijuana market, however, its commitment to certain tropes about the evils of drug enforcement blinds it to the basic problem of the pot market: nobody is stopping illegal businesses from operating.
How To Stop Dogs from Marking Their Territory in Your Yard
(Family Handyman) Janelle Leeson, Oct. 31
…“I have two female dogs, so I have firsthand experience [with burnt grass],” says Jim Baird, Ph.D., a turfgrass specialist at the University of California, Riverside.
Theoretically, he says, opting for a grass species that utilizes rhizomes (underground stems) and stolons (above-ground runners or lateral stems) should allow for quicker recovery from urine spraying. But if you’re like Baird, whose pups mark the same spot again and again, we have some tips.
2022’s Best Cities for Pumpkin Lovers
(Lawnstarter) Jordan Ardoin, Oct. 31
Tom Turini answers questions about growing pumpkins
Mimi Enright answers questions about growing pumpkins
One third of Sierra Nevada forest wiped out by drought and fires
(Earth.com) Andrei Ionescu, Oct. 30
…Fortunately, state and federal government agencies are currently starting to rethink old practices and invest in wildfire resilience and forest health, with over $1,000 million dedicated to safeguard these historical forests. However, according to J. Keith Gilless, the chair of the state board of forestry and fire protection, the task of reverting forests to what they used to be will need long-term planning and dedication.
“We need to be clear to the policymakers that this isn’t something you go into with a one-shot infusion of money and it’s solved. It’s something where you’ve committed to moving to a different kind of landscape level management, that lets us truly deal with the natural hazard of wildfires,” he concluded.
Greener grass with less water? New batch of water-saving grasses showing great promise
(ABC7) Phillip Palmer, Oct. 28
…For many people, it's not financially possible to replace the grass they have with more drought-resistant strains, but thanks to the research at UCR, [Jim] Baird [the director of UC Riverside's Turfgrass & Extension program] says there are other ways to keep your grass healthy with less water.
"One of the essential recommendations I can make is just, feeding your lawn. Not overfeeding it, I mean, sufficient fertilization is essential for just a healthier greener lawn with less water," he said.
Tech event hypes robotics to boost yields
(AgAlert) Lisa McEwen, Oct. 26
… The Fresno event was the result of a partnership of GOFAR, the Global Organization for Agricultural Robotics, which for six years has hosted a similar event in Toulouse, France. Other partners were Western Growers and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
UC seminars focus on dairy & livestock education at World Ag Expo
(Morning Ag Clips) Oct. 26
World Ag Expo® seminars are included with the price of admission and feature experts in global agriculture. In 2023, four sessions from the University of California will focus on Dairy and Livestock with speakers coming from the Extension system and the CLEAR Center at UC Davis.
“The World Ag Expo provides a prime opportunity for UC Cooperative Extension’s Dairy and Forage Team to present research findings ?and recommendations that address the ?most pertinent needs of California dairy producers ?and farmers, as well as producers across the U.S. and world,” said Jennifer Heguy, Dairy Farm Advisor & Stanislaus County Director for University of California Cooperative Extension. “It is a one-stop-shop for all things agriculture, and that includes the latest updates from UC research happening right here on California dairy farms.”
UC-Davis gets $6.2 million for strawberry breeding research
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, Oct. 26
Against a backdrop of climate change and possible future restrictions on chemical use, UC-Davis leaders say this research is critically important.
"We need to have the technology so that we can deal with the challenges strawberries face around the world," said Steve Knapp, director of the Strawberry Breeding Center and professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. "Can we use genetic knowledge to change the DNA in a specific way to get the resistance we need?"
One priority within the research grant is to identify whether changing DNA molecules can improve disease resistance — and if so, what technologies would be needed to accomplish that.
Are Wildfires Offsetting Progress in Carbon Reduction?
(Governing) Carl Smith, Oct. 24
…This isn’t the first time equivalences between fire emissions and those caused by humans have been put forward, says Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist for the University of California’s Cooperative Extension based at U.C. Santa Barbara. In 2008, for example, California’s U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy claimed that fires produce more emissions than cars.
For those who study fire, this kind of talk lands as vilification of an essential natural process (if not timber industry messaging), Moritz says. He doesn’t deny the basic notion that more carbon in the atmosphere is not desirable but cautions that equating wildfires to fossil fuel emissions brushes over the nuances of forest ecosystems.
US Forest Service employee arrested in Oregon over spread of prescribed burn
(Guardian) Gabrielle Canon, Oct. 21
…The arrest sparked alarm among fire scientists and prescribed fire advocates who have been working to shift public and agency sentiment. “This seems like a result of weird anti-government local politics, especially given where it is,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with UC cooperative extension in Humboldt county, California, and the director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, in a post on Twitter. “Super upsetting but hopefully not trajectory setting,” she added.
UC helps avocado growers manage water costs
(Farm Press) Saoimanu Sope, Oct. 20
Avocado growers recently gathered at the San Diego County Farm Bureau offices for an Avocado Irrigation Workshop facilitated by Ali Montazar, University of California Cooperative Extension irrigation and water management adviser for Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties.
“All of our information being developed right now is focused on [irrigation] efficiency. Growers want to know how much water they need and what tools they should use to be more efficient,” explained Montazar.
Ag Robotics and Technology Conference Highlights Challenges and Potential
(AgNet West) Brian German, October 20
An ag robotics and technology forum taking place in Fresno this week has brought together a wide array of those interested in seeing the sector continue to develop. The inaugural three-day event, FIRA USA 2022, has been made possible through a partnership with multiple groups and organizations. Western Growers, the Global Organization for Agricultural Organization (GOFAR), UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation coalition, and multiple universities all helped bring the event together.
UC ANR Chief Innovation Officer, Gabe Youtsey said that they received an “overwhelming response” in the first year of the forum. “We’ve had 1,000 attendees from all over the world. Corporates, startups, farmworkers, scientists, and engineers have come from all over the place to participate in this,” Youtsey noted.
Ag robotics conference tackles California’s labor and water woes
(Agri-Pulse) Brad Hooker, Oct. 19
…In its first year, FIRA has drawn more than 800 attendees, with about 40% representing startups and corporations, 20% farmers, 25% researchers and 10% students, according to UC ANR Chief Innovation Officer Gabe Youtsey.
“We want to bring together scientists and engineers, startups, corporates, farmers and farmworkers, students and product developers together to accelerate the development of ag robotics and automation solutions that are solving pressing challenges in agriculture,” said Youtsey in opening the conference on Tuesday. “But also to ensure that our farmers and farmworkers are working together with technologists and that we engage and capture the imagination of our students who are the future workforce of ag tech.”
4-H thanks Barceloux Tibesaart Foundation for support
(Appeal Democrat) Oct. 19
A recent donation by the Barceloux Tibesaart Foundation has provided all new 4-H Water Wizards curriculum, a hands-on watershed model, and supplies to deliver to the different schools in Glenn County for youth in school enrichment programs, reports 4-H Community Education Specialist, Christine Kampmann. This includes groups or classrooms of youth receiving a sequence of learning experiences in cooperation with school officials during school hours to support the school curriculum. Direct teaching is done by UCCE 4-H YDP staff, trained 4-H adult volunteers, teen leaders, classroom teachers or other school personnel using 4-H YDP curriculum or other educational materials.
Emmanuel the emu’s owner should keep a safe distance, bird flu experts warn
(NBC News) Aria Bendix and Angela Yang, Oct. 17
… "It’s spilling over in all kinds of different species, including mammals, which gives me a little pause for humans," said Maurice Pitesky, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. "Once an avian virus can move to mammals, now we’re in the realm of 'Yeah, we better be careful.'"
This one fact will completely change how you think about California wildfires
(San Francisco Chronicle) Claire Hao, Oct. 15
...Before the 1800s, when Europeans flooding into California outlawed fires set by Native Americans, at least 4.5 million acres — and sometimes up to 12 million acres — burned in California every year, according to UC Berkeley researchers.
That figure has only one modern equivalent: 2020. That year, California wildfires burned over 4.3 million acres — more than double the state’s previous record. One astonishing day in September, the sun never rose in the Bay Area’s skies, which instead glowed an eerie orange from smoke.
“2020 really shocked me because it was the first year ever that we actually approached 4 million acres; in fact, we reached it,” said UC Berkeley forest ecology expert Scott Stephens, the study’s author.
Horse Manure as Fertilizer? Wildfire Landscaping Tips
(Garden Basics) Farmer Fred, Oct. 14
Wildfires are a fact of life throughout rural and not so rural areas of many states. 1 in 6 Americans lives in an area that could face a wildfire. How can you protect your property to slow down the chance of damage from flying, burning embers? We talk with a University of California wildfire specialist [Luca Carmignani ]on easy steps you can take to protect your home and modify your landscape to ease the wildfire threat.
Logjam: The Supply Chain Problem That’s Keeping California From Preventing Catastrophic Wildfires on Private Land
(Bay Nature) Jane Braxton Little, Oct 11
After the federal Northwest Forest Plan was at last finalized in 1994 and as court-ordered policies took effect, federal timber harvest volumes began plummeting. By 2009 the total was 60 million board feet—3 percent of the peak of two billion board feet in 1988. Saws went silent across the West. “It was like turning off the spigot,” says Ryan Tompkins, a forester and natural resources adviser for UC Cooperative Extension in Plumas County.
…Federal policy not only had halted the use of the beneficial fires that cleanse forests of fuels; it was also contributing to their accumulation. Combined with a steadily warming climate, western forests were becoming a tinderbox. And with fewer mills to process these forest fuels, forest owners across the landscape were hamstrung. There was no room at the mill for their logs. Don’t blame the timber industry, says Tompkins: “Public land management policy created the framework that has resulted in our current conundrum.”
...It is recent catastrophic wildfires that have motivated many private forest owners to actively manage their forests, says Susie Kocher, a forester with UC’s Cooperative Extension in the central Sierra. She has spent years trying to convince people to do thinning. “I barely have to do that anymore. People get it,” she says. Still, without the infrastructure to process the trees they remove, it’s tough going. Few places are available for owners to take the woody materials they are removing. Most end up burning them in open piles, wasting potential end products and contributing to carbon emissions. “They’ve won the lottery if they can sell to a sawmill,” Kocher says.
California migration of millions of birds brings ‘unprecedented’ avian flu threat
(Guardian) Katharine Gammon, Oct. 10
…“The prediction is we’re going to be hammered in the next several months,” said Maurice Pitesky, who monitors and forecasts bird viruses at the University of California, Davis.
There are 144 known types of bird viruses, most of them mild. Just as human viruses do, they swirl around the world and pop up in different places.
This year’s flu, known as H5N1, came from Europe, scientists say. Since its first detection in the US in January, in a wild duck in North Carolina, the high-pathogenic virus has spread rapidly across the country. In California, the strain was first recognized in geese and pelicans in the Central Valley in July of this year. Since then, more than 10 counties in the state have documented cases.
“Geographically speaking, we’re dealing with something unprecedented,” Pitesky said. “It’s only going to speed up over the next couple of months.”
Deadly avian flu reaches California
(China Daily) Yinmeng Liu, Oct. 7
…The virus has been detected in 41 of 50 states in the United States. It has led to the depopulation or euthanasia of more than 47 million birds, said Maurice Pitesky, an associate professor in the poultry health and food safety epidemiology department at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
"The current outbreak is about seven times the size geographically of that previous outbreak, and we're just about to enter fall migration when literally millions of birds will start moving into North America, into the United States, and a lot of them are likely to be carriers of that virus," he told China Daily.
New Ukiah 4-H project will teach forestry, facilitate natural resource education for young people
(Mendo Voice) Kate Fishman, Oct. 7
A new 4-H Youth Development project from the University of California will educate youth about forestry and wildlife ecosystems. The program is open to ages 8 to 18.
“We welcome young people who like to be outside learning about trees, animals and birds to join this exciting new project,” Extension Center Community Educator Hannah Bird said in a news release. “We’ll consider our local forest ecosystems, the wildlife that live in forests and management of these natural resources. It doesn’t matter if participants don’t know the term ‘forestry.’ All will be explained and we’ll enjoy exploring all the ways in which trees support us with habitat, cultural connections and materials. We’ll also discuss how we can better support healthy forests.”
Farm Robotics Market Map: 250 startups automating crop production indoors and outdoors
(Ag Funder News) Louisa Burwood-Taylor, Oct. 5
…Inspired by the report’s takeaways and a growing number of farm robotics startups working to meet these challenges, The Mixing Bowl and Better Food Ventures have put together a market map detailing nearly 250 farm robotics startups automating various crop farming activities both indoors and outdoors. The map was a collaboration with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and The Vine.
(Ag Alert) Jeffrey Mitchell, Oct. 5
For many years, a large billboard displayed along Interstate 5 near Tracy in San Joaquin County proclaimed that no-till “farmers do their share to clean the air.”
Whenever I drove by, I marveled at the visibility and positive message the sign may have had for farmers in the region, even though there were likely no more than a handful of no-till farmers within a 100-mile radius of the sign.
California wells run dry as drought depletes groundwater
(Associated Press) Terry Chea, Oct. 5
California’s groundwater troubles come as local agencies seek to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2014 to prevent groundwater overpumping during the last drought. The law requires regional agencies to manage their aquifers sustainably by 2042.
Water experts believe the law will lead to more sustainable groundwater supplies over the next two decades, but the road will be bumpy. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that about 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of agricultural land, about 10% of the current total, will have to come out of production over the next two decades.
“These communities are going to be impacted from drinking water supplies and loss of jobs,” said Isaya Kisekka, a groundwater expert at the University of California, Davis. “There’s a lot of migration of farmworkers as this land gets fallowed.”
Wildfires are getting worse. Can scientists save California’s forests from going up in smoke?
(LA Times) Alex Wigglesworth, Oct. 4
This patch of woodland in the northern Sierra Nevada looks idyllic. Dappled sunlight filters through the lush branches of towering pines. Spaces between their slender trunks are thick with saplings.
But forest ecologist Robert York sees danger lurking in this portion of the UC Berkeley research forest.
The control plot has grown unmolested since the 1930s, when a timber company turned the land over to the university. It is now teeming with young cedars and firs — conifer species that tolerate crowded and shady conditions, but are more vulnerable to fire and drought.
Pockets of dead pines are forming as trees compete for water, weakening their resistance to pathogens and bark beetles.
“We have different metrics for describing why the fire hazard is high here,” York said. “But basically the gist is: There’s a lot of fuel on the ground and there’s a lot of trees here.”
Most of California’s forests — especially the 57% managed by the federal government — look somewhat like this, said Berkeley Forests co-director Scott Stephens.
California drought pits farmers vs. cities. But neither is the biggest water victim
(LA Times) Hayley Smith, Oct. 3
The consumptive nature of agriculture is the same reason why outdoor watering is among the first cuts to be made in urban areas, where an estimated 44% of water goes toward irrigating lawns and other uses outside the home. In Southern California, for example, officials this summer limited millions of residents to one- or two-day-a-week outdoor watering and saw a significant reduction in demand as a result.
But the total volume of water is only one metric for considering agriculture’s share, according to Isaya Kisekka, a professor of agricultural water management at UC Davis. Instead, he said, the best way of looking at water use is to look at nutritional water productivity, or how much protein, nutrients and calories are produced by a unit of water.
Farmers also consider economic water productivity — or how much economic value is produced by that unit of water — which “has been increasing in the state for a few years now,” he said. “That’s when crops like almonds, pistachios, grapes come into play, and that’s why you’ve seen a lot of growers shift to these crops, because they have very high economic water productivity.”
Adding up the Cost of Growing Organic Strawberries
(Growing Produce) David Eddy, Oct. 3
…“This revise of the last cost-of-production study incorporates the newest in labor costs along with updates on cultural techniques,” says study co-author?Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension Strawberries and Caneberries Advisor in Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties. https://www.growingproduce.com/production/organic/adding-up-the-cost-of-growing-organic-strawberries
Bird flu spreads to Southern California, infecting chickens, wild birds and other animals
(LA Times) Susanne Rust, Oct. 3
“Unfortunately, we’re really just at the beginning” of this highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, said Dr. Maurice Pitesky, an expert in poultry health and food safety epidemiology at UC Davis. He noted that millions of birds are just beginning their southward migration from summer feeding grounds in the Arctic — a place where they’ve been mingling and communing with species from across the globe.
“Some disease models show that we are going to get hammered this fall,” Pitesky said, noting it could add stresses to the food supply, which is already being clobbered by high corn and soy prices — the food required to keep the millions of chickens and turkeys in poultry farms alive.
Escondido incubator could revive North County’s ag industry. UC could be partner
(San Diego Union-Tribune) Joe Tash, Oct. 2
Potential partners in the incubator project include the University of California. Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, wrote to the city that her agency is “quite interested in pursuing a collaboration with the city to conduct agricultural research at this facility,” and she is optimistic a formal agreement can be reached.
Oli Bachie, county director of UC Cooperative Extension for San Diego and Imperial counties, which conducts research and advises the local agriculture community on a range of issues, from pest management to irrigation and nutrition, said the proposed incubator would offer a much-needed facility to conduct basic research and house the program’s equipment.
Gabe Verduzco: A microscopic tour of California’s beetles and botanicals
(Kinfolk) Stephanie d'Arc Taylor, Issue 45 (September)
SDT: Tell me about your day job.
GV: My full-time job is with the University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources division. We work with invasive tree pests, specifically the invasive shot hole borer beetle, gold spotted oak borer beetle and Asian citrus psyllid. I’m also a part-time park ranger at Dana Point Nature Reserve and I manage the social media account for the Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society. And I try to surf at least once a day!
Wine Country is reeling from ‘mass attacks’ on trees. Here’s what is going on
(SF Chronicle) Kate Galbraith, Sept. 25
…Lake County made a similar proclamation in May, and other counties — such as Mendocino and Sonoma — may also want to consider emergency declarations, according to Michael Jones, a forestry adviser with UC Cooperative Extension.
“Fire and insects do not observe boundaries,” Jones said.
Is Natural Wine Actually Better for You?
(New York Times) Jesse Hirsch, Sept. 23
…“There’s a wide perception that when you’re drinking something cleaner, you’re drinking something healthier,” said Anita Oberholster, a grape and wine industry expert at the University of California, Davis. But, she said, “there’s no clear proof of that.”
…“There wouldn’t be any significant difference in microbial content whether it was so-called natural wine or not,” said Dr. [David] Mills [a molecular biologist and distinguished professor in the food science & technology and viticulture & enology departments at UC Davis], who was skeptical of significant gut health benefits from drinking any type of wine. “The alcohol is going to kill most beneficial bacteria anyway, so it’s not like wine is ever going to have anywhere near the level of kimchi or yogurt.”
Coyote Interactions Remain A Huge Problem For Southern California. Why And What Can We Do About It?
(KPCC) Larry Mantle, Sept. 21
Coyote human interactions have long been an issue in Southern California and tensions over how to manage it only seem to be growing. Attacks on pet dogs, missing cats, and an attack of a 2-year-old near the Huntington Beach pier in May, are just some examples of why residents are saying enough is enough. Some cities, like Torrance and San Dimas, have turned to trapping and euthanizing coyotes as their management plan. Others encourage co-existing and hazing, which are behaviors to deter the animal away from the area. And some experts say we really don’t know the best way to manage urban coyotes. Joining to discuss why that is and how we should move forward is Niamh Quinn, human wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California’s division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
U.S. Farms Waste A Lot Of Water — But This Tech Could Help
Isayya Kisekka, UC Davis professor: “California is the largest agricultural state in the U.S. It produces foods that we cannot shift to other parts of the country or the world because of the unique Mediterranean climate.”
Ali Pourezza, UC Cooperative Extension specialist: “The focus of this lab is to provide decision-support tools.”
Inside the war against Southern California’s urban coyotes. ‘Horrific’ or misunderstood?
(LA Times) Louis Sahagún, Sept. 20
“If you have green spaces in your city, you have coyotes,” said Niamh Quinn, one of a small number of researchers who track and study urban coyotes. “In fact, you could probably find coyotes making nighttime visits at almost every schoolyard in L.A. County.”
Despite their ubiquity, the size of the coyote population in L.A. County remains unknown. (The state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that there are 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes statewide.)
Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension’s human-wildlife interactions advisor, has learned a lot about urban coyotes by following the GPS pings of collared animals.
“Urban coyotes really are different than coyotes in wilderness areas,” she said. “I doubt an urban coyote would survive very long in the wilds.”
Some Kids Play Sports. These Kids Train Wild Horses.
(New York Times) Jill Cowan, Sept. 17
Laura Snell, the director of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Modoc County, said that she started the Devil’s Garden Colt Challenge three years ago as a way to find more homes for wild horses, whose numbers have ebbed and flowed over the decades since the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971.
California Today: California’s Largest 2022 Wildfire Puts U.C. Research to the Test
(New York Times) Raymond Zhong, Sept. 16
…This spring, I traveled to Blodgett Forest Research Station, which is owned by University of California, Berkeley, to watch scientists conduct a prescribed burn. These controlled, low-intensity fires rob wildfires of the small trees, dead vegetation and other fuels that can turn them into catastrophic infernos. And as I wrote in The New York Times last week, researchers are using high-tech tools to figure out how we can burn more safely and effectively as climate change makes prescribed burning trickier.
So when the Mosquito fire entered Blodgett last Friday, Robert York, a Berkeley forest ecologist, saw it as a test of the methods for controlling fire behavior that he and other scientists have been studying for decades.
“I’ve worked for the last 20 years for this moment,” York told me by phone from Garden Valley in El Dorado County, where he is staying with friends after evacuating from his home in Georgetown, a short drive from Blodgett. “Here’s an actual real-life test. It’s not just computer models.”
Small farmers bear an extra burden as California agricultural policies respond to a changing climate
(& The West, Stanford University) Zack Boyd, Sept. 15
Dr. Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, the Small Farms and Specialty Crop Advisor with the University of California Small Farms Extension, works with many different immigrant farmers.
She focuses on small communities of farmers, including Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese refugees who fled conflict in their home countries in the decades after the Vietnam War and carved out a market selling culturally relevant foods, such as bok choy and lemongrass, to other immigrants living in the area.
Dahlquist-Willard also works with Latino and African-American farmers. Many of the Latino farmers in particular are attempting to make the same transition that the Masumoto family made: from farmworker to farm owner.
Gran reto logístico implica los alimentos gratis en las escuelas. ¿Cómo resolverlo?
(LA Times) Norma De la Vega, Sept. 15, In English at //ucanr.edu/files/372729.docx
“Va a ser un desafío para las escuelas el tener un aumento tan grande de estudiantes que estarán participando en el programa” sostiene Mónica Daniela Zuercher, experta de nutrición de NPI, la unidad de investigación la División de Agricultura y Recursos Naturales de la Universidad de California.
Battling BRD: Cattle bred for disease resistance
(Farm Press) Heather Smith Thomas, Sept. 15
…Alison Van Eenennaam, PhD, Animal Genomics and Biotechnology, University of California, Davis, says their trials utilized large populations of animals that got sick with BRD, and control groups that had the same exposure and did not get sick.
“We genotyped all those animals, looking at DNA markers in the genomes of those two groups,” says Van Eenennaam.
Forest Service resumes prescribed fire program, but some fear new rules will delay projects
(LA Times) Alex Wigglesworth, Sept. 13
…Although it seems counterintuitive, the escape actually demonstrated the need for agencies and partners to put more fire on the landscape, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
“It’s not just about how that fire started but the condition of the landscape it was burning in, the fact it had no fire history in the last 100 years or so,” she said. “It was this very homogenous forest that didn’t have patchy patterns of recent fire like we would want to see.”
The Forest Service says its prescribed fire program has a 99.84% success rate. Of the 0.16% of burns that do escape control, even fewer cause damage, said Quinn-Davidson, who is also the director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.
“Why are we spending so much time focused on the things that go wrong when almost 100% of the time it goes right?” she said.
Opportunities for Northstate women in the fire industry
(KRCR) Anna Montemor, Sept. 13
...Northern California Prescribed Fire Council Director Lenya Quinn-Davidson says firefighting is a lot like the military, where women hold a very small portion of the fire workforce.
The low numbers of women in the firefighting industry is a result of many things—one being a toxic work environment. Quinn-Davidson says a lot of sexual harassment and discrimination has taken place within the fire industry.
She added, this can be discouraging for women and minorities who have thought about pursuing the career before. So much so, they don't try at all.
How climate change is tweaking the taste of wine
(BBC) Ula Chrobak and Katarina Zimmer, Sept. 11
Soon after the devastating Glass Fire sparked in California's Napa Valley in September 2020, wine chemist Anita Oberholster's inbox was brimming with hundreds of emails from panicked viticulturists. They wanted to know if they could harvest their grapes without a dreaded effect on their wine: the odious ashtray flavour known as smoke taint.?
Oberholster, of the University of California, Davis, could only tell them: "Maybe."
… One sunny and warm day in November 2021, UC Davis viticulture researcher Kaan Kurtural leads us to a plot of vines at the Oakville Experimental Vineyard in Napa Valley, nestled between the forest-coated hills near other, commercial vineyards. Since 2016, Kurtural and colleagues have been monitoring 16 unique combinations of rootstocks and Cabernet Sauvignon clones to learn which combinations are most resilient under stressful conditions like heat waves and drought while still producing high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.?
The rice capital of California is ‘now just a wasteland.’ Satellite images show how bad it is
(SF Chronicle) Yoohyun Jung, Sept. 10
…The dramatic reduction in rice acreage will translate to lost revenue of an estimated $500 million, about 40% of which will be covered by federal crop insurance, according to UC Davis agricultural economist Aaron Smith.
… “The difference is the source of water,” said Luis Espino, a farm advisor at UC ANR’s cooperative extension in Butte. Eastside farmers depend on Lake Oroville, which was able to capture more water than Shasta Lake, where the current storage is less than half of the average storage for this time of year.
… “Rice will likely rebound again once this drought ends, but this year’s massive reduction feels like a harbinger of tough times ahead for California rice,” Smith, the UC Davis agricultural economist wrote in his August analysis.
What damage has the drought and heat had on the vineyards?
(KTXL) Sept. 9
Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist, discusses how the heat and water conditions will effect the grape harvest and vineyards.
Column: Has a UC Riverside researcher created the Holy Grail of drought-tolerant lawns?
(LA Times) Gustavo Arellano, Sept. 9
The cheerleader for Public Enemy No. 1 greeted me at the gates to UC Riverside’s Agricultural Experiment Station with a smile and some choice words.
“Every time there’s a serious drought, I’m in the L.A. Times,” Jim Baird said, only half-jokingly. “Why is it always a knee-jerk reaction? When it’s not a drought, I don’t hear from you guys. I don’t hear from the water agencies. Then we go through our wasteful ways. ‘Lawns, you’re the bad guys,’ everyone then says.”
The tall, skinny, loquacious Baird is the head of UC Riverside’s Turfgrass Research & Extension program, devoted to the study of growing and maintaining lawns. He’s the only such faculty member in the University of California system, which makes him the state’s Mark Twain of turf. Our LeBron of lawns. The Ira Glass … of grass.
Biopesticides to manage Pierce's disease trialed at UC Davis
(Wine Business) Ted Rieger, Sept. 8
A field day held September 6 at the University of California Davis (UCD) provided preliminary findings from the first year of a three-year research field trial funded by the California Department of Food & Agriculture Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board to evaluate four biopesticides to manage Pierce's Disease (PD) in grapevines.
Biopesticides, naturally occurring microbial organisms able to combat and control harmful pathogens in plants, are a focus of research by UC Cooperative Extension plant pathologist Akif Eskalen and his lab in the UCD Department of Plant Pathology. Eskalen has conducted field trials for several years to evaluate potential biopesticides for use as pruning wound protectants to prevent and manage grapevine trunk diseases.
California’s week of heat and wildfires foretell a punishing autumn
(The Guardian) Gabrielle Canon, Sept. 7
It was an explosive Labor Day across California, as an intense, days-long heatwave smashed temperature records, spurred the spread of deadly and destructive wildfires, and bathed cities in a stifling heat even long after the sun went down.
The events mark a grueling start of what traditionally make up the highest fire-risk months in the west, with experts bracing for a higher potential of a punishing autumn even after a milder-than-expected summer.
“Having this heatwave in California and the extreme temperatures we are facing across the west right now – the conditions are just so primed for fire activity,” said Lenya N Quinn-Davidson, an area fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Industry needs will guide UC Organic Agriculture Institute efforts
(AgNet West) Brian German, Sept. 7
Back in 2020, the University of California announced the establishment of a UC Organic Agriculture Institute. The purpose of the institute is to develop a resource specifically for the organic sector. Director of the Institute, Houston Wilson said that much of the work thus far has been garnering a better understanding of the current organic landscape in the state.
“One of the starting points was to develop a proposal for a needs assessment at the state level. This was something that we put to the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, and it was successfully funded,” Wilson explained.
Effects of drought, freeze on the minds of Colusa Co. farmers
(Appeal-Democrat, via Yahoo) Lynzie Lowe, Sept. 7
Franz Niederholzer, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties and UCCE County director for Colusa County, said the record cold experienced in the region on Feb. 24 and surrounding days caused potentially widespread damage to area almond crops, also severely affecting crop production within Colusa County.
Colusa County officials said this freeze ultimately resulted in a 74% loss of local almond crops, with an estimated direct financial loss to growers of nearly $210 million.
Point Reyes water quality tests find high bacteria levels
(Marin Independent Journal) Will Houston, Sept. 5
David Lewis, director of Marin County’s University of California Cooperative Extension, has been working on watershed management issues, including conducting studies in Point Reyes. Lewis said he does not question the Lovell study’s methodology or results, but stated that bacteria levels can be highly variable in watersheds regardless of whether they are near agricultural operations.
Lewis said the monitoring work by Lovell is akin to the monitoring work the park service is now performing, which also includes collaborating with county and state agencies to inspect ranches
Napa County's famed Wine Country prepares for climate change
(KPIX) Elizabeth Cook, Aug. 31
…"We are forward thinkers the researchers and industry working together, and we're thinking of ways to control the environment as much as we can," said Dr. Anita Oberholster, an expert in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis.
…Layers of leaves as well as artificial shades canopy the fruit in an attempt to keep clusters cooler. The canopies can drop the temperatures dramatically and provide relief to the fruit.
"What it also provides is that it lessens the amount being evaporated from the soil and from the vineyard," explained Dr. Kaan Kurtural, who also specializes in viticulture and enology at UC Davis.
Organic strawberries: $15 a tray to break even
(Farm Press) Todd Fitchett, Aug. 29
…Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension strawberry advisor in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties, and one of four authors of the report, noted the higher costs organic growers pay for activities like weeding and harvest, when compared to conventional growers.
“Their cultural costs are much higher,” he said.
Electric Tractors Reduce Carbon Emissions at UC ANR Research and Extension Centers
(Sierra Sun Times) Pam Kan-Rice, Aug. 28
The University of California, a national leader in sustainability, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025. To reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has replaced several of its diesel-powered tractors with electric tractors at its research and extension centers.
Citrus risks unclear from virus ID'd in Tulare
(Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, Aug. 28
The hope is it's not as worrisome as citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing, or HLB, a devastating bacterial infection for which no commercial treatment exists. Its winged vector, the Asian citrus psyllid, has been found in the Central Valley but the disease itself has not been detected north of the Grapevine.
"I don't think it's going to be as bad" as HLB, said Greg Douhan, a citrus adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension program in Tulare County. He noted growers in the area use pesticides that seem to control the virus' vectors.
California’s extreme wildfires taking lethal toll on elderly who can’t escape flames
(LA Times) Alex Wigglesworth, Aug. 26
“Whenever there’s a thunderstorm around an existing fire, it’s very dangerous, because you get these updrafts and downdrafts from the thunderstorm itself, and you can generate really, really sporadic high-velocity winds,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why, unfortunately, four people got caught.”
And there were other factors, he said, including the combination of extreme drought conditions and overgrown vegetation that can make it easy for embers to ignite and spread. A history of logging and fire-suppression policies has also resulted in stands of unnaturally young, dense timber that is more susceptible to fast-moving crown fires, according to experts.
“The legacy of both removing Indigenous burning and also fire suppression have really set these forests up for catastrophic change,” Stephens said.
Most Californians view state’s water shortage as extremely serious, poll finds
(LA Times) Ian James, Aug. 25
…The results indicate that people in farming areas have been feeling the effects of shortages more than those in other parts of the state, said Faith Kearns, a scientist with the California Institute for Water Resources.
“My sense is probably that in urban areas, people are largely buffered, even though in some regions, people have been asked to reduce their landscaping water and things like that,” Kearns said. “But I think for most people, when they go to turn on the tap, the water still comes out. And so they aren’t as deeply affected by it, if you’re not in an area where you’re seeing the effects of water shortage every day.”
Avian flu outbreak in Sonoma, Solano, Mendocino counties worries poultry industry
(North Bay Business Journal) Susan Wood, Aug. 25
…“If one is detected, they have to euthanize the entire barn,” said Maurice Pitesky, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension associate professor in the Poultry Health and Food Safety Epidemiology department in the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Grapevines resistant to Pierce’s disease gain acceptance
(Agri-Pulse) Brad Hooker, Aug. 24
…A UC researcher developed the five varieties in 2020 and has been holding demonstration days at the Ojai vineyard that served as a test plot. Crossbreeding the grapes led to a new wine varietal along with new challenges in gaining consumer acceptance, according to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The grapes were bred using varieties in northern Mexico that are naturally resistant to Pierce's disease and have relatively neutral flavor characteristics.
California’s timber industry is calling on the military to help control fires
(The Washington Post) Anna Phillips, Aug. 23
Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, said she sympathizes with the industry, but she doesn’t think bringing in more people will save the state’s forests. Fast-moving wildfires like the recent McKinney Fire and last summer’s Dixie Fire can’t be fought, she said, but prescribed burns and thinning might make them less severe.
“There’s this notion that if we just had more people, we could get a handle on putting the fires out,” Quinn-Davidson said. “But the conditions out on the landscape are beyond our ability to control them. The answer is really in the proactive work in the offseason.”
Why grasshoppers are the newest problem plaguing California farmers
(KXTV) Brody Adams, Aug. 23
...Grasshoppers can consume up to 250% of their body weight daily and 30 pounds of the insects consume the same forage as a 600-pound steer, according to farm advisor Tom Getts of the University of California Cooperative Extension.
..."Once they have wings, they've been shown to move, you know, 10 to 20 miles to search for food. And they really have had a devastating impact, where people have had the water to grow hay, because there hasn't been much on the range lands for them to eat," Getts said.
To fight wildfire, California gets a surprising solution: A new sawmill
(Bloomberg, via Yahoo) Laura Bliss, Aug. 22
The silencing of chainsaws was the sound of victory for environmental activists and forest ecologists, even a few years ago. And no one wants to see the type of clear-cutting that destroyed old-growth forests for much of the 20th century. But now scientific consensus is shifting towards acceptance — and even encouragement — of a certain amount of logging.
“There's just such abundant evidence that if we do nothing, we’re going to lose it all,” said John Battles, a professor of forest ecology at the University of California at Berkeley. “The forests will suffer such severe losses that we’re no longer protecting the species. We’re putting them at risk.”
California drought: Why more than 530,000 acres of farmlands are now left barren
(SF Chronicle) Yoohyun Jung, Aug. 22
The years-long drought and dwindling water supply are estimated to have left more than 531,000 acres of California farmlands unplanted without harvest this year — a 36% increase since August of last year.
The new estimates on acres farmed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reflect the struggles of some California farmers to procure water to irrigate their crops as major government water projects supplying their water remain thirsty as drought continues for a third year.
“It’s true that things are not great now,” Aaron Smith, professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis, said. The crops that are likely most affected by water shortages are water-intensive field crops, such as rice and cotton, which have been declining in the state.
Avian bird flu in Butte County called local health emergency after 1,500 birds exposed
(CBS Sacramento) Brady Halbleib, Aug. 19
Avian Flu usually stems from wild birds like ducks and geese. However, the disease can transmit quickly through shared environments.
"Right now, which is unique, we have a pathogenic strain that seems to be circulating in waterfowl and other wild birds," professor of Poultry Health and Food Safety, Dr. Maurice Pitesky said. "It's really important to do the best you can to prevent that virus from moving into your flock, infecting your flock, and then potentially spreading to another flock."
Are indoor vertical farms really ‘future-proofing agriculture’?
(The Guardian) Victoria Namkung, Aug. 18
...Gail Taylor, the department chair of plant sciences at the University of California, Davis, said that while vertical farming is energy intensive in its current form, so is traditional outdoor farming.
“Sometimes we forget all the consequential effects like how many times you drive a tractor over a field or how many trucks you use to bring lettuce from the west coast to the east coast and fly food all around the world,” Taylor said.
...And while some farmers and scientists are critical about the influx of capital into the vertical and greenhouse farming space, saying indoor-grown food isn’t necessarily better for people or the environment, Taylor said it doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition.
“[Indoor farms] are never going to replace outdoor agriculture,” she said, “they’re only going to enhance it and make food supply systems better for the world.”
Customers mourn after Fresno County produce stand shuts down for good
(KFSN) Alyssa Flores, Aug. 15
The family that runs the stand tells Action News that not having the lease renewed for their farm and stand was only part of the reason they were forced to shut down.
Lilian Thaoxaochay is familiar with the challenges the Saeterns and other strawberry growers face. She's a small farms community educator through the UC Cooperative extension.
"Fresno strawberry growers don't grow for commercial production, it stays completely local and they pick daily," Thaoxaochay says.
..."When we only get our food at the grocery store, I think what we lose is the connection between the people who eat the food and the people who grow the food," says Ruth Dahlquist-Willard with the UC Cooperative Extension.
Turkestan cockroaches, invading California, already ‘all over the Bay Area’
(San Francisco Chronicle) Michael Cabanatuan, Aug. 13
...(Chris) Grinter and Lynn Kimsey, an entomology professor and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, agree that the spread of the Turkestan roach is no cause for alarm. They aren’t a danger to humans, plants or animals, and prefer to live outdoors.
“People need to not panic,” she said. “They’re absolutely harmless.”
...Turkestan cockroaches are flat, long insects with antennae and wings. Females are about an inch long and dark brown to black with cream-colored markings along the edges behind the head and wings, according to the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program. Males are slightly smaller with yellowish-tan wings and cream-colored stripes along the edges.
UC Davis plant research could save farmers billions of dollars while fighting climate change
(KCRA) Heather Waldman, Aug. 12
Despite the steep cost, fertilizer is a necessary expense for farmers in order to ensure that their crops produce enough food to feed growing demand. But nitrogen fertilizers also pose significant environmental threats.
"The problem is more than half of whatever we are putting on the soil leaches out and goes to our water sources," Eduardo Blumwald, a distinguished professor of plant science at UC Davis, said.
That can lead to contaminated drinking water, excessive plant and algae growth and even increased greenhouse gases.
Research Efforts to Provide Better Picture of Watergrass Issues in Rice
(AgNet West) Brian German, Aug. 11
Research efforts are beginning to provide a better picture of watergrass issues in rice fields. Rice Farm Advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, and Sacramento Counties Whitney Brim-Deforest conducted a survey of watergrass in the area. “We screened them in the greenhouse, and we were able to come up with a bit of a breakdown of what each type is susceptible to and a bit of an idea as to where they’re located throughout the valley; the different types.”
Blount County Schools found lead in +10% of drinking water sources
(The Daily Times, Blount County, Tennessee) Amy Beth Miller, Aug. 9
The BCS testing this year was funded by a federal Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act grant through the Tennessee Department of Health.
In 2019 researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California reported that in a dozen states with school drinking water testing programs, 44% of schools had at least one water sample with lead at or above the level the state required action, and 12% of all test samples were above their state action level.
Tips to reduce landscape water use during an extreme drought
(Stockton Record) Kathy Grant, Aug. 4
… Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Publication 8553: “Keeping Plants Alive under Drought or Water Restrictions” was written in 2015 and is still a good resource to review for ideas on reducing landscape and garden water use: https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8553
Local master gardeners host huge gathering dedicated to gardening knowhow
(Sacramento News & Review) Debbie Arrington, Aug. 4
…See for yourself Saturday, Aug. 6, during Harvest Day, the Sacramento region’s celebration of gardening know-how.
Hosted by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Sacramento County, this free event is annually Sacramento’s biggest free garden party. But due to COVID restrictions, this will be the first in-person Harvest Day since 2019. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
Benefield: Bird lovers instituting safety measures in face of avian flu
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat) Kerry Benefield, Aug. 3
“Everything is pointing to another huge outbreak,” said Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.
The last major outbreak was in 2014 when more than 40 million birds were lost.
...Pitesky recommends backyard chicken coops be covered with impermeable materials, bird baths emptied and feeders put away.
The idea is to make property less attractive for migrating birds to stop. Or poop.
LA Explained: How to swap out your thirsty lawn with drought-friendly plants
(LAist/KPCC) Caitlin Hernández, Aug. 2
Janet Hartin is an environmental horticulture advisor at the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resource. For comparison, she says some cool-season turf can need about 30% more water than Bermuda grass.
“I will say that our warm-season grasses — it’s not that they're not drought efficient,” Hartin says. “It’s the method of watering in which we have water running down our streets and sidewalks.”
That’s why many rebate programs that pay you to take out your turf require a more water-efficient system instead of sprinklers, like drip irrigation.
Food Hub Pilot Program to Enhance Access to Local Produce, Build Better Connections Between Farmers and Buyers
(Lost Coast Outpost) Isabella Vanderheiden, Aug. 2
… “At the onset of the pandemic, the Humboldt Food Policy Council and UC Cooperative Extension had many phone conversations with local agencies and tribes that feed our community,” Dorina Espinoza, an advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension for Humboldt and Del Norte counties, told the Outpost. “What we learned added energy to what many people in our community have known for some time, we need a food hub to help fill a gap in and strengthen our food system here on the North Coast.”
Supervisors approve proposed countywide water resource team, with caveats
(Mendocino Voice) Kate Fishman, Aug. 2
With two supervisors dissenting, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors approved further work on developing a countywide water resource team in collaboration with the University of California Cooperative Extension on Tuesday morning.
…First district Supervisor and Vice-Chair Glenn McGourty drafted a plan which the board approved in a “conceptual” capacity, with caveats. He proposed a collaborative effort between existing county staff across departments to “provide expertise, write grants and administer programs”; and a Water Resource Specialist to work from the UCCE offices, organize the in-house team across multiple county departments, liaise with an outlined list of UCCE experts, maintain a database of Mendocino County water needs, and find resources to address them. The county would hire for that position — and that person would also serve as the staff point person for the Drought Emergency Ad Hoc Committee and the contact person for State Water Resource Agencies, he outlined in his presentation.
Op-ed: Why forest managers need to team up with Indigenous fire practitioners
(LA Times) Don Hankins, Scott Stephens and Sara A. Clark, July 31
Indigenous practitioners have long known that these place-based fire and land stewardship practices encourage the growth of food and useful plants and offer community protection. More recently, scientists from across the West have realized the effectiveness and necessity of using these practices to build resiliency, even as the climate changes. Public agencies such as the Forest Service and Park Service now manage some wildfires similarly, but only when fires are away from infrastructure and private lands. Consensus is emerging that these practices (cultural burns, prescribed fire and managed wildfire) are critical tools to address wildfire risk and forest health across the West.
We have recently convened a partnership of scientists and Indigenous leaders from across the Western states to advocate for the kinds of policy solutions necessary to build beneficial relations between people and the land and to restore resilience to our ecosystems. We call for change by federal and state policymakers, land managers and fire agencies in four main areas.
Cooperative Extension expanding Solano staff, programs
(Solano County Daily Republic) Todd R. Hansen, July 31
Nearly 470 youth participated in various 4-H programs during the past year.
“One of the cornerstones of our work in Solano County is the 4-H Youth Development Program,” Susan Ellsworth, director of the Capitol Corridor Office of the UC Cooperative Extension, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The program involved 467 youth – 198 from military clubs – working in four general areas: civic engagement, leadership, healthy living and STEM. There were 107 adult volunteers. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.
Eco-tip: Comparing ways to cut landscape watering
(Ventura County Star) David Goldstein, July 31
Compost is better for adding nutrients and improving soil structure if mixed into the soil during planting. Shredded woody material is better if your garden is already in place and you want a top dressing. It conserves water by shading the ground, cutting soil temperatures, reducing evaporation and suppressing weeds.
Spreading compost on the surface can easily invite weeds that rob water from desired plantings, said Ben Faber, a University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor in Ventura....
Turf: Zoysia plugs or Miniclover?
Retailers of these grass varieties tout their ability to stay greener longer while using less water and requiring less mowing than other lawns. In these ways, both grasses beat tall fescue, which the Cooperative Extension's Jim Downer says has long been standard for Ventura County lawns.
But Miniclover wins over Zoysia, partly because planting Zoysia is a lifetime commitment....
Vineyards that escaped California wildfires find grapes permeated by smoke
(KCRW) Evan Kleiman, July 29
…Dr. Anita Oberholster is a researcher in UC Davis's famed Viticulture and Enology department. She and her colleagues are working on several diagnostic and preventative tools to help winemakers preserve their grapes and prevent their wine from tasting like the bottom of an ashtray.
Tech Thursday, Growing Coffee in SoCal
(My Ag Life) Vicky Boyd, July 28
On this week’s Tech Thursday episode, Tomra Food’s Head of Engineering, Maciek Wasowski, describes the research and development process behind tree nut processing and sorting equipment. Additionally, Vicky Boyd reports on the feasibility of growing coffee in Southern California. [She interviews Ramiro Lobo, UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisor in San Diego County, about coffee.]
Climate change exposes growing gap between weather we've planned for – and what's coming
(USA Today) Elizabeth Weise, July 27
Using most current numbers — especially when they are so often dire — isn’t always the first choice of policymakers and state and federal agencies, said Kurt Schwabe, professor of environmental economics.
At Yosemite, a Preservation Plan That Calls for Chain Saws
(New York Times) Thomas Fuller and Livia Albeck-Ripka, July 27
…“Most of us are absolutely convinced that this is not only a good thing to do, but is absolutely necessary,” said John Battles, a professor of forest ecology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a science adviser to the California Wildfire & Forest Resilience Task Force.
Drip-irrigation study sees 37 percent reduction in water use and five percent increase in yield
(Planting Seeds blog, CDFA) Mike Hsu, July 27
Munk, 'pivotal in cotton success,' retires
(Farm Press) Pam Kan-Rice, July 27
California’s strawberry fields may not be forever. Could robots help?
(LA Times) Sam Dean, July 26
Mark Bolda, the director of the University of California’s Santa Cruz County Cooperative Extension and a berry specialist, agrees that California strawberries face a number of challenges — but is skeptical that the economics for tabletop farms picked by robots add up, or that the state’s industry is going anywhere.
Tabletop adoption so far has been limited, Bolda said, though he has seen experimentation. With the new fumigant regime, he said, “it’s getting iffy and we’re starting to see a lot more disease, so larger companies are trying to grow their competence in tabletops, but not at scale.”
California wildfires are in better shape than this time last year, but that may not last
(KTVU) Tom Vacar, July 26
Wildfire seasons are 40 to 80 days longer today on average, than back in the early 1990s. "Thirty years, we've also seen forest conditions deteriorate," said internationally renowned Dr. Scott Stephens, Director of the UC Berkeley Wildfire Lab.
What’s happening? "Forest conditions have also gotten worse because of no fire, no respiration thinning and cumulative impacts," said Dr. Stephens. No doubt, jumping on all fires ASAP in the short-term abates wildfire. "I think Cal Fire, to their credit, is trying to do this as best they can," said Stephens.
Deploying sheep in the vineyard
(WineBusiness.com) Ted Rieger, July 26
...The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and UC Davis presented a webinar July 18th, "The Art and Science of Vineyard Grazing," featuring vineyard managers, grazing specialists, livestock service providers, and researchers who study the environmental and soil impacts and benefits of grazing in vineyards....
...Morgan Doran, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Napa, Solano, Yolo and Sacramento Counties provided advice on what vineyard owners should know before grazing a vineyard. Generally, sheep are most often grazed in vineyards from winter to early spring/budbreak to "mow" cover crops and native ground vegetation....
U.S. takes emergency action to save sequoias from wildfires
(Associated Press) Brian Melley, July 22
Rob York, a professor and cooperative extension specialist at forests operated by the University of California, Berkeley, said the forest service’s plan could be helpful but would require extensive followup.
“To me it represents a triage approach to deal with the urgent threat to giant sequoias,” York said in an email. “The treatments will need to be followed up with frequent prescribed fires in order to truly restore and protect the groves long-term.”
New orchard advisor brings research background
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, July 21
…Cameron Zuber, a UCCE staff researcher in Merced County since 2016, has been named the orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties.
PRESCRIBED FIRE–Imagining a balanced future
(International Association of Wildland Fire) Lenya Quinn-Davidson, July 20
Imagine this: it’s 2050. Fire regimes are intact and flourishing across the United States. Coastal prairies and mountain meadows are teeming with grasses and flowers, and forests are open and healthy, with scattered clusters of old and young trees. Stream flows have increased, even during extreme drought, because frequent fire has released so much water from the clutches of dense, fire suppressed vegetation. The rivers are full of fish, the oak woodlands humming with birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
Addressing California Red Scale in the San Joaquin Valley
(AgNet West) Brian German, July 19
Citrus producers are working to address California red scale populations, as second-generation crawlers have emerged in the San Joaquin Valley. Cooperative Extension Area Citrus IPM Advisor, Sandipa Gautam said their tool for tracking degree days in Kern, Tulare, Fresno, and Madera counties can be a helpful resource for growers. Gautam explained that the hot and dry conditions are exceptionally conducive for red scale populations and that it is everywhere at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center.
“In the last weeks, we have had enough degree days accumulated for the crawlers to complete development and hatch,” said Gautam. “We have crawlers and whitecaps right now and because they are at the most susceptible life stage to insecticide applications, this is the perfect timing to make a spray application if you have red scale in your block.”
Yosemite’s giant sequoias were saved by forest-thinning. Here’s why some want it stopped
(Sac Bee) Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, July 17
…Last summer, in a series of articles in the journal Ecological Applications, fire scientists Crystal Kolden of UC Merced and Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley, along with other co-authors, blasted Hanson’s scientific methods and conclusions.
… The lawsuit over the Yosemite forestry work, like others filed by Hanson and his allies, is counterproductive to what is needed to get the woods back into ecological balance, said Brandon Collins, an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley and U.S. Forest Service scientist who’s published research on wildfire issues in academic journals. “We need to really scale up how we’re dealing with these forests,” Collins said.
California is desperate to stop mega-fires. But controversy rages over tree thinning
(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, July 16
…“We’ve gotten to a point where the planning process has all these layers of restrictions,” said Brandon Collins, an adjunct professor of fire science at UC Berkeley who supports forest treatments. “We implement only a small percentage of what is planned because of these difficulties."
How three California women are working to change the way the state responds to wildfires
(CapRadio) Megan Manata, Vicki Gonzales, July 16
… Susie Kocher, a forestry advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in South Lake Tahoe, instructs private landowners in her region on how to do controlled burns.
She said that over the past four years they offered training in the Sierra Nevada and had about 33 workshop days with a total of 1,000 people that have attended. Kocher said that previously there’s really been no place for people to learn these skills before her group started workshops.
“If you’re an individual, you can’t really go to an agency burning class,” Kocher said. “So really, these events need to be structured around landowners' needs and locations where they can take part.”
Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, explained that fire is a really important process in the natural habitat of the state.
“Most California exosystems are either fire adapted … or they’re fire dependent, meaning that they actually require fire in some way to persist on the landscape,” Quinn-Davidson said. “So when we look around anywhere you are in California, that landscape is going to have a fire story to tell, and it’s up to us to figure out what that is.”
California’s Idle Crop Land May Double as Water Crisis Deepens
(Bloomberg) Kim Chipman, July 15
…The size of fields intended for almonds, rice, wine grapes and other crops left unworked could be around 800,000 acres, double the size of last year and the most in at least several decades, said Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor at University of California Merced.
Yosemite’s Washburn Fire won't be the last time wildfires threaten California’s giant sequoias
(CapRadio) Manolo Secaira, July 14
…Brandon Collins, lead scientist for UC Berkeley’s research forests, says that the century of fire suppression has allowed for growth in the park that would have been unlikely under natural conditions. He uses the California incense-cedar as one example of a tree that’s been allowed to grow larger than usual due to fire suppression. In some cases, he says these trees have grown up to 30 inches in diameter, making them difficult to cull during prescribed burning.
“Yet that tree, under wildfire conditions, can be a vector to spread fire from the surface up into the crowns of the really large sequoias,” he says.
Collins says that he sees a future where the cutting of trees, like these large California incense-cedars, might be necessary.
“I'm afraid that if it's just … through prescribed fire alone, we're not going to get that type of reduction of density that we need as quickly as we need,” he says.
Spain hosts 10th ICUP conference
(PMP) Ellen Wagner, July 14
…The University of California (UC) was well represented, with presentations from UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Dr. Andrew Sutherland UC – Riverside’s (UCR’s) Dr. Chow-Yang Lee, BCE, on cockroaches and bed bug resistance, and UCR’s Dr. Michael Rust on cockroaches and yellowjackets. Dr. Rust, too, is a PMP Hall of Famer (Class of 2007).
Can we hack DNA in plants to help fight climate change?
(National Geographic) Madeleine Stone, July 13
To boost carbon sequestration in croplands...some of that extra carbon needs to get below ground. In parallel research led by crop geneticist Pamela Ronald at the University of California, Davis, researchers will screen a library of 3,200 mutant strains of rice housed at the IGI for varieties with beneficial root traits....Once Ronald and her colleagues have identified rice strains with interesting root traits, they hope to use CRISPR genome editing to further optimize those traits....
...On the biology side, UC Berkeley microbial ecologist Jill Banfield and her colleagues will use genomic sequencing tools to investigate the specific microbes and carbon cycling traits in the soil surrounding CRISPR-edited crops. Banfield says she’s particularly interested in looking for microbial species that, like plants, use carbon dioxide directly to create their own food, and ones that produce extracellular polysaccharides—sticky, sugary substances that act like glue, enhancing the formation of carbon-trapping soil aggregates.
A case for retreat in the age of fire
(The Conversation) Emily Schlickman, Brett Milligan & Stephen Wheeler, July 13
...It has been nearly four years since the Camp Fire, but the population of Paradise is now less than 30% of what it once was. This makes Paradise one of the first documented cases of voluntary retreat in the face of wildfire risk. And while the notion of wildfire retreat is controversial, politically fraught and not yet endorsed by the general public, as experts in urban planning and environmental design, we believe the necessity for retreat will become increasingly unavoidable....
Mapping a State's Secret Water
(Sierra) Isobel Whitcomb, July 13
… This tale of extremes is California’s new normal, says Graham Fogg, a hydrogeologist at the University of California, Davis. To survive this climate-changed future, the state needs to capture those torrents—and the tools to do so are right beneath our feet. In California, hidden under the ground are aquifers that have the capacity to store an estimated 1.3 billion acre-feet of water—26 times all of the state’s reservoirs combined. All California needs to do is guide the floods caused by torrential rainfall into the ground, instead of out to sea. “If we just capture the upper 5 to 10 percent of flood flows, that is enough water to compensate for the loss of water due to climate change,” says Fogg.
Napa County facing conifer die-offs
(Napa Valley Register) Barry Eberling, July 12
…Thousands of trees are dying in Napa County, said Michael Jones, a forest adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. The numbers will reach the tens of thousands before the infestation runs its course.
… Jones had suggestions for the short term. He recommended removing declining trees to reduce the beetle population, removing and destroying beetle-infested materials and removing dead trees that could help fuel wildfires.
Women in fire restoration
(Capitol Radio Insight) Vicki Gonzalez, July 11
As wildfire season ramps up in California, there is a growing push to change the decades-long mindset of fire suppression which has led to dense areas of vegetation. That, coupled with climate change and drought, has contributed to extreme fire risk across the state. The conversation and funding are shifting to change the way we live with fire, which includes reintroducing a long-overdue relationship with prescribed burns to manage forests and reduce mega-record wildfires in recent years. Joining Insight are leading experts in forestry management from the Bay Area to the North Coast and central Sierra. All women in a field that historically has been overwhelmingly male and white. Dr. Sasha Berleman is the director of the Fire Forward Program at the non-profit Audubon Canyon Ranch based in the Bay Area and is the first graduate of the state’s “burn boss” program. Lenya Quinn-Davidson is a Fire Advisor with the “University of California Cooperative Extension” in Humboldt County. Susie Kocher is a Forestry Advisor also with the University of California Cooperative Extension based in South Lake Tahoe.
Foothill farm advisor to retire after 22 years
(Placerville Mountain-Democrat) Mike Hsu, July 11
Serving Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties, UC Cooperative Extension advisor Lynn Wunderlich was formally assigned to focus on viticulture and integrated pest management in the region. But her innate curiosity – as well as her dedication to meeting the wide-ranging needs of local communities – led her to develop expertise in a remarkable array of topics.
“That was both the challenge and the opportunity of being a foothill farm advisor – lots of small farms, lots of diverse agriculture, so I got to do some cool things,” said Wunderlich, who is set to retire on July 1. “To serve the needs of the clientele up here was very gratifying and interesting.”
California Walnuts: Managing Mold
(Ag Fax) Clarissa Reyes, Luke Milliron, and Themis Michailides, University of California Cooperative Extension Specialists, July 10
Growers and processors have reported elevated mold levels in harvested walnuts to farm advisors, which has resulted in pathology sample submissions to Dr. Themis Michailides, UC Davis Plant Pathologist. Although Botryosphaeria and Phomopsis (BOT) can cause walnut mold, most walnut mold develops from Fusarium and Alternaria species.
Sacramento Valley farmers struggle with water cuts
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, July 7
His first year, (Josh) Davy had all the water he needed. Last year, he got a 75% allocation. This year, for the first time ever, Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District won't deliver any water to Davy or its approximately 800 other customers.
"It's scary in a lot of ways," said Davy, who is concerned about the farmers, livestock, crops, wildlife and native plants that rely on the water.
Davy, who when he's not ranching is a farm adviser with the University of California Extension, said he would never have bought the land had he known he wouldn't receive water.
Grower Assessment Rate for 2022 Harvest
(Wine Industry Advisor) July 7
…Since 2019, the PD/GWSS Board has committed more than $11 million to research that benefits vineyard health. Below are a few examples of the outcomes of that research:
- Discovery of potential biological control of PD using Paraburkholderia phytofirmans by Steven Lindow at UC Berkeley. The Board funded a new project this year at UC Davis to assess efficacy and compare with other biological control PD control tools, with the goal to produce data that would help directly lead to commercialization.
- The recent successful laboratory use and publication of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic technology in GWSSthrough work at UC Riverside, which has the potential to revolutionize PD vector control by making GWSS unable to vector PD.
- Improved understanding of the effects of grapevine red blotch on vine physiology and wine composition through recent work at UC Davis.
- Improved understanding and communication of research-based control measures for Pierce’s disease as well as Board-designated viral diseases(red blotch, leafroll and fan leaf) through work at UC Cooperative Extension, Cornell University, and UC Berkeley.
…A recent study led at UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County, found that Program-led efforts in area wide management of GWSS in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been a success and a good model for disease control.
STEAM: Insect neuroscientist Anandasankar Ray
(CBS) Olga Ospina, July 6
Olga Ospina highlights [UC Riverside] Professor Anandasankar Ray, a insect neuroscientist who studies how insects can detect smells in their environment using different scents that react with their brain.
Ecologists say federal wildfire plans are dangerously out of step with climate change
(NPR) Eric Westervelt, July 3
"We all know federal agency agencies turn at the speed of an aircraft carrier, they're just incredibly slow," fire expert Barbara Satink-Wolfson says. "Yes, we have to be patient. But at the same time, we're all impatient because we know that we really need to make this change quickly."
...In an open letter to Chief Moore, dozens of forest experts with the Association for Fire Ecology recently urged him to reverse course and not make intentional burn pause nationwide. Doing so, they argued, will only make fire conditions worse in places that are not too dry to burn.
"There's basically a small window in which they can conduct the prescribed burn," says Satink-Wolfson, one of the letter signers and a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension on the Central Coast. "I think other places in the country could have continued. And we definitely missed opportunities."
Eco-tip: Not all lawns will survive under local watering limits
(Ventura County Star) David Goldstein, July 3
Consequently, one local drought response measure will likely be widespread browning or replacement of lawns.
Indeed, some lawns in Ventura County will not just go dormant; they will die, according to Jim Downer, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Ventura who specializes in turf grass.
Downer, like most scientists, provided several caveats. As detailed in his blog, The Garden Professors, some types of turf grass can endure water deprivation better than others. Warm-season grasses, including bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and kikuyu grass can survive conditions that would kill cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and tall fescue.
CSU Monterey Bay hosts annual DroneCamp
(Monterey Herald) Tess Kenny, June 29
...“There’s a lot of AgTech interest in this area, and there’s also CSUMB’s Drone, Automation and Robotics Technology program that partnered with us the last time we came here,” explained Sean Hogan, a member of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ statewide Information and GIS program. Hogan established the roots for DroneCamp six years ago.
“Because it was so successful here, and we have all these collaborators in the same area, (CSUMB) is just a natural place to hold something like this,” Hogan continued.
Episode 365: Mulching young citrus orchards, new UCCE entomologist
(My AgLife Daily News Report) Vicky Boyd, June 28
On this MyAgLife in Citrus episode, UCCE Subtropical Horticulture Advisor Sonia Rios discusses mulching young citrus orchards for weed control and correct application methods to avoid disease. Additionally, Vicky Boyd reports on UCCE’s newest entomologist Eric Middleton, also known as the “Bug Ninja” from television’s American Ninja Warrior.
Farmers without a farm
(palabra.) Rich Tenorio, June 23
A Latino presence is sprouting in community gardens across the country, according to Rachel Surls, the sustainable food systems advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.
“I feel comfortable saying that with the surveys from the National Gardening Association, they indicate there is an upward trend,” Surls said, adding, “There are some suggestions that urban farms – let’s extend that to community gardens – may be more diverse than traditional farms.”
Episode 362: Drip in Sweet Corn, WRCCA of the Year Award
(MyAgLife Daily News Report) Vicky Boyd, June 23
In this episode, Vicky Boyd interviews UCCE irrigation and water management advisor Ali Montazar (at 7:50 mark) on his study showing large water and fertilizer savings when using drip irrigation in sweet corn.
Cal Fire teams up with landowners to reduce threat of wildfire
(Union Democrat) Shelly Thorene, June 21
…Vegetation management and combating noxious star thistle was a secondary goal of this prescribed burn. According to the Cal Fire Incident Commander Matt Harrison, the PAWS parcel was observed by Central Sierra Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Scott Oneto of UC Davis, who communicated his findings regarding weed abatement to the property owner.
Harrison said the entire field off of Pool Station Road was star thistle three years ago.
Cal Fire fumbles key responsibilities to prevent catastrophic wildfires despite historic budget
(KQED/The California Newsroom) Scott Rodd and Danielle Venton, June 21
...currently, Cal Fire does not have a way to track work completed by many private landowners.
"It highlights something pretty basic, which is we need an accounting system that works," said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with University of California Cooperative Extension.
He notes that tabulating total fire mitigation acres is a limited method of measuring risk reduction. He and other experts advocate for a system that takes into consideration factors like proximity to vulnerable communities and topography. But quantifying total acres of completed work is a basic step toward a more sophisticated assessment system, according to Moritz.
...In a legislative oversight hearing last December, Lenya Quinn-Davidson — a fire adviser with the University of California who helped write the legislation and the curriculum and who hosted the first course — told lawmakers:
"We've missed a ton of opportunities for project implementation. There is a huge need for qualified burn bosses to plan and implement projects and to partner with the state and to partner with landowners. But without the state certification and the protections that it can provide, many of those folks are not willing to go out and do that work."
Quinn-Davidson wrote a blog post in mid-January about the delays in the certification process. Soon after it published, Cal Fire issued task books to almost all participants, according to a blog update. Will Harling confirmed receiving his.
"We need to see this work happen more quickly," Quinn-Davidson told The California Newsroom.
California has a drought and 4 million acres of lawns. Should state ban grass to save water?
(Sac Bee) Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, June 19
Jim Baird, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist in turfgrass management, listed a litany of reasons to keep lawns. He cited their benefits to “property values, mental health, erosion control, groundwater recharge and surface water quality, organic chemical decomposition, carbon sequestration, and environmental cooling.”
“Irrigating lawns is not rocket science,” Baird said in an email. “We need to educate Californians on the proper (grass) species to use, as well as irrigation technology and practices. Turfgrasses don’t waste water. People and faulty irrigation systems waste water.”
Project diverting exhaust into orchard looks to improve farming efficiencies
(The Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, June 18
Another scientist consulting with (Brian) Kolodji on the work, Brian Marsh, a local farm adviser and Kern County director of the University of California Cooperative Extension office, expressed hope the work will point to a cost-effective alternative to what is otherwise the expensive process of capturing carbon dioxide and burying it deep underground, as has been proposed by several local oil producers.
Marsh acknowledged challenges ahead, from negotiating with industry emitters of CO2 for a steady supply of the gas from their smokestacks, to establishing a cost-efficient way of distributing it throughout sprawling orchards.
Two Central Coast girls raise wild mustangs as part of a rare program
(KSBW) Brisa Colón, June 17
Both girls put a lot of work into their horses. They are the first and only people who raised them, making their bond unmatched.
“There are a lot of ups and downs to it. You have your good days, and you have your bad days. But you just have to push through it because, in the end, you are going to have a lifelong best friend,” Morgan said.
The program collaborates with the UC Cooperative Extension, the California 4-H, and Future Farmers of America.
Mites were ‘right on schedule’ this spring
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, June 16
…Mites, small arachnids or 8-legged arthropods, are found in thousands of different species, according to acarologists — scientists who study them — and David Haviland, Farm Advisor at UC Davis is one of those scientists.
…“Some felt there were too many mites compared to the numbers of beneficials who preyed on them, so they sprayed and things are great,” Haviland says. “We’re in that period when mites have gone away and growers may wait to spray again until hull split or a little after that when mites start showing up again to make their late season appearance.”
Imperial Valley Farm to School conference provides expertise in nutrition and agriculture to local communities
(KYMA) Vanessa Gongora, June 15
…Stacey Amparano, Farm Smart Program Manager, spoke about the two year grant they received in 2021 for over $200,000 and funding from the Imperial Irrigation District. She says this is where Farm to School comes in.
"So we actually worked on getting this grant when we saw the need for increasing agriculture education in the schools, giving the teachers the resources for that agriculture education in schools, but also that need for getting local food to students as far as cafeteria's, food services and food banks being able to procure local food in their food service," says Amparano.
Lompoc Library partners with CalFresh to provide food education for kids
(Santa Maria Sun) Taylor O'Connor, June 15
CalFresh Garden Sustainability Community Education Specialist Abbi Marrs said this program is important because it also teaches kids about healthy eating and gives them easy, affordable recipes to make later at home.
“At CalFresh, we offer nutrition education, physical activity, and garden education to low-income community members within the county. It’s hugely important just because of so many problems with obesity, not enough physical activity, and not a lot of [nutrition] education,” Marrs said.
A ‘perfect testing ground’ for shothole borer
(Farm Press) Randall Oliver, June 15
Families stretch food dollars with Extension tips
(Farm Press) Conor McCabe, June 14
Will electric trucks work on the farm?
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 9
Sarah Light, a University of California Cooperative Extension agronomy field advisor, says she has talked to growers about electric tractors but not trucks. She says she’s “pro-EV,” but understands it can be hard to charge the vehicles in rural areas. Charging can be fast – about 45 minutes – but you must find a charging station, and many are on main highways, she said in an email.
“Are growers and PCA’s (pest control advisors) driving on the highway or doing long miles on rural roads from field to field? Are there EV stations in those rural communities or only ones on (Interstate) 5? In the busy season, is a grower going to drive 30 minutes out of their way to get to a station, charge for 45 minutes, and drive 30 minutes to get back to their day? That’s a lot of time,” she said.
California’s sheepherders at the center of an overtime battle
(Civil Eats) Caroline Tracey, June 8
Recently, California sheep producers have found a new market: ecosystem services. Supported by landowners and grants from agencies like the California Department of Forestry and Fire, targeted grazing helps achieve environmental goals such as invasive weed control, wildfire mitigation, and soil health.
“It isn’t the classic model of livestock production, where you have the same herd and feed resources year over year and change is bad,” says Lee Hazeltine, whose business, Integrazing, brings sheep and goats to graze subdivisions and open space preserves. According to Dan Macon of University of California Cooperative Extension, the number of sheep in the state has remained about the same in recent years, but there has been an uptick in operations.
Goats may help prevent wildfires in California as drought worsens
(National Geographic) Chris Iovenko, June 8
“Grazing is the most widespread vegetation management we have in California,” says Lynn Huntsinger, professor of rangeland ecology and management at the University of California, Berkeley.
“We really need to think about how to use it better and more strategically. We have this tool and we would be crazy not to use it as much as we can.”
Study: Regional approach to wildfires beneficial
(Farm Press) Mike Hsu, June 7
Will water restrictions bring more destructive SoCal brush fires? Some demand more water
(LA Times) Brittny Mejia, Alex Wigglesworth, June 3
…While defensible space recommendations typically call for a lean, clean and green landscape — which generally requires some amount of irrigation, depending on the type of vegetation — it's just as important for homeowners to make wise choices of what to plant and where, said Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in the Central Sierra Nevada.
"I don't care if you do irrigate, I always recommend you don’t put vegetation within five feet of your house or under windows, where if a shrub catches on fire, the heat can break a window,” she said.
Climate change is coming for your pizza sauce
(National Geographic) Alejandra Borunda, June 2
…“California is pretty unique in terms of its climate,” explains Tapan Pathak, an agriculture and climate expert at University of California, Davis. Long, sun-drenched summers with little or no rain is a “pretty perfect environment for tomatoes to grow,” he says. (Tomatoes don’t like getting their leaves wet).
…But that, says Cassandra Swett, a tomato-focused researcher at UC Davis, is often how climate change makes itself felt—not just through catastrophic fires or hurricanes, but in slower ways. The effects of a single heat wave, or an ongoing drought, ripple outward from farm to processor, processor to commercial sellers, commercial sellers to your local pizza makers—and then to the consumer.
“But the overall implication is, tomato health is being affected not just by direct impact of climate change like heat, but also by indirect effects like drought and disease,” she says.
…It’s getting harder and harder to find solutions. UC Davis’s Swett and Tom Turini are working constantly to help growers stay ahead of climate- and disease-related problems.
One promising idea was “deficit irrigation.” Turini tested how much water growers could save by shorting the plants a bit on their ideal water amounts during their last few months of growth, when they’re strong and well-established. His initial tests, run about a decade ago, looked promising: It seemed like growers could give them as little as half of what they wanted and keep the overall yield almost the same.
Drip irrigation shows promise in desert sweet corn study
(Imperial Valley Press) Joyce Lobeck, June 2
Drip irrigation can be considered as an effective and promising on-farm water conservation tool in desert sweet corn, according to a recent study conducted in several fields in Imperial County.
The findings of the study demonstrated that drip irrigation clearly has the potential to enhance the efficiency of water, Ali Montazar, irrigation and water management advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Imperial, Riverside and San Diego Counties, concluded. The study also demonstrated more efficient use of fertilizer, reduced labor costs and increased yields.
Legal and illegal cannabis: A cause for growing environmental concern
(Mongabay) Sean Mowbray, June 2
…In the Western United States, for example, cannabis production has come in for much criticism as the latest threat to this precious commodity, perhaps unfairly. In California, agriculture accounts for as much as 80% of freshwater use, but “the demand represented by [legal] cannabis is a fraction of 1%,” says Ted Grantham, co-director of the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “The reason for that is that the actual footprint, the area that cannabis occupies, is [currently] very small.”
(Blog Talk Radio) Belle Star & The Cannabis Kid, June 1
According to [UC Davis] economists Dr. Robin Goldstein and Professor Daniel Sumner, legal weed presents an economic conundrum—while nearly 40% of Americans can walk into a store today to purchase weed legally, why do many still buy it illegally?
Santa Cruz County weekend fires underscore dry season dangers
(Santa Cruz Sentinel) Jessica A. York, May 31
…The holiday weekend fires came just ahead of the Sempervirens Fund’s public webinar series Tuesday afternoon, with its latest episode exploring the at-times controversial idea of prescribed fire. The land trust agency touted prescribed fire as “one of the best tools to promote ecological and community resilience in California,” noting the presence of ongoing legislative barriers to the practice’s widespread use statewide. Featured guest speaker Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, took a wider perspective on the benefits of controlled burns and said the practice will require a grassroots push by property owners.
“When we work on prescribed fire issues, we’re not just working to prevent future wildfire, we’re really working to restore fire as a process, as a cultural tradition and to preserve a lot of the biodiversity that we have on our landscape which is a direct result of the fires,” Quinn-Davidson said.
California almond harvest may shrink despite record bearing acreage
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, May 31
University of California Cooperative Extension specialists Franz Niederholzer, Katherine Jarvis-Shean, Luke Milliron and Curt Pierce echoed concerns about the freeze-damaged crop in a recent publication.
"Record low temperatures on Feb. 24 severely reduced nut set and limited almond yield across thousands of acres of orchards in the Sacramento Valley," the researchers wrote.
Have we reached ‘peak almond’?
(Politico) Debra Kahn and Hannah Farrow, May 31
…"If every three years you're going to pay $1,000 per acre-foot for water, it doesn't take a supercomputer to figure out that's not going to pay," said Dan Sumner, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis.
‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Drought drops rice production to historic low
(Chico Enterprise-Record) Michael Weber, May 28
With less water allocated to farmers along the Sacramento and Feather rivers, many fields will be left bare, according to Luis Espino, rice farming systems adviser and director at the University of California Butte County Cooperative Extension.
Espino said he expects the acres of rice planted in Butte County should be about 60% to 80% of normal. But in Glenn and Colusa counties, Espino estimates only about 10% of normal will be planted.
“We expect lower acreage in 2022. We already had lower acreage in 2021,” Espino said.
City of Lompoc gifts tree to Hapgood School Garden Sustainability Program
(Santa Barbara News-Press) Marilyn McMahon, May 28
… Abbi Marrs, community education specialist with CalFresh and the UC Cooperative at UCSB, oversees the program locally. The garden promotes food security by distributing more than 1,800 pounds of produce to local families and food pantries and supports the school meal program by providing fruits and vegetables for district meals.
Illegal Immigration Is Down, Changing the Face of California Farms
New York Times (Eduardo Porter), May 28
…“In the United States we have an aging and settled illegal work force,” said Philip Martin, an expert on farm labor and migration at the University of California, Davis. “The fresh blood are the H-2As.”
SoCal needs to keep vital trees alive despite unprecedented watering restrictions
(LA Times) Jaimie Ding, May 24
According to a study that examined previous water restrictions in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2010, there was not a major effect on vegetation even as outdoor water use decreased, said Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann, an urban forestry advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension.
The study examined aerial imagery to estimate vegetation “greenness” and found it remained relatively stable over the 10-year period. Though there was tree mortality in some areas, there was not a huge change overall.
“The trees are maybe going to be OK,” Nobua-Behrmann said.
‘Everyone loses’: Sacramento Valley struggles to survive unprecedented water cuts
(CalMatters) Rachel Becker, May 23
(Josh) Davy, who grew up roping and running cattle, supports his career as a full-time rancher with his other full-time job as a farm advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, specializing in livestock, rangelands and natural resources.
Three years ago, he sold his home in Cottonwood, on the Shasta-Tehama county line, for a fixer-upper nearby with holes in the floor, a shoddy electrical system and windows that wouldn’t close. This fixer-upper had two inarguable selling points: a view of Mount Shasta and water from the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District, a settlement contractor.
This year, without rain, the grass where his cows forage through the winter crunches underfoot.
Fighting fire with fire: Controlled burns remain essential as US wildfires intensify
(USA Today) Elizabeth Weise, May 23
…It’s the wrong message at the wrong time, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.
"We in the West are in the midst of a fire crisis. Every year we lose more of what we care about: our communities, our forests, the ecosystem services that we depend on," she said. "The only thing that will get us out of this mess is more good fire, and every day we waste, the potential for serious losses grows."
UC's little garden leaves a big impression
(Farm Press) Mike Hsu, May 23
Worm composting, a climate-friendly alternative to the landfill
Yale Climate Connections, May 23
…Jennifer Roberts of the University of California Cooperative Extension says this method of composting is called vermicomposting, and it can work well for people with limited space.
“An average family of four … can compost all their food scraps with one worm bin that’s about one-and-a-half feet by one-and-a-half feet,” Roberts says.
When and where do rattlesnakes lurk? How to spot the common California reptile
(Sac Bee) Noor Adatia, May 20
(Rattlesnakes) aren’t generally aggressive unless provoked. Give them enough space, the department wrote, and they’ll likely retreat.
Rattlesnakes are also found on hiking trails and will usually be hidden in rock crevices, under logs or in heavy brush, according to the University of California, Integrated Pest Management Program. They can also be found on roads and paths in the open.
Orange Co. Farm Bureau gift elevates UC programs that inspire youth in ag
(Morning Ag Clips) Mike Hsu, May 16
(Farm Press) May 19
Why Laguna Niguel fire was so destructive: Flying hot embers, huge homes, dry brush
(LA Times) Tony Briscoe, Alex Wigglesworth, Hannah Fry, Paul Duginski, May 13
"...once flames reached those homes, the fire began to spread from structure to structure....
“It actually creates a condition where the homes themselves become the fuel,” said Max Moritz, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in wildfire at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School. Similar patterns could be seen when the Tubbs fire swept through the Santa Rosa subdivision of Coffey Park in 2017 and when the Camp fire destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018, he said."
‘Chaos On The Horizon’: Concern Grows Over Potential Summer Power Outages In California
(CBS Sacramento) Laura Hefeli, May 6
…“Whenever there is a heat event, that’s when the grid is being taxed the most,” said Keith Taylor, a UC Davis professor of community economic development. Taylor said increased energy uses like blasting air conditioning or refrigeration could lead to issues.
“When you have 40 million people doing it at a time, that’s a lot of stress on the system,” he said. Taylor said the state’s lack of energy options like solar and wind, and the inability to borrow power from other states, make for a perfect storm.
“These other states are also going to be dealing with their own power shortage issue,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a limited amount of chaos on the horizon.”
A drought so bad it exposed a long-ago homicide. Getting the water back will be harder than ever
(LA Times) Corinne Purtill, May 6
…“When it starts to feel really bad is when all of those types of drought are essentially happening at the same time. And that’s kind of where we’re at right now,” said Faith Kearns, a scientist with the California Institute for Water Resources in Oakland.
Why climate change makes it harder to fight fire with fire
(New York Times) Raymond Zhong, May 5
In California, the winter rainy season is getting shorter but more intense, scientists say. This gives grass and brush more time to dry out and turn flammable in the fall, while still providing them ample water to grow the following spring — a double whammy for wildfire risk.
“I don’t think people realize that we’re actually at a point where, some of these fires, we cannot put them out,” said Lenya N. Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. “We really need to be thinking in different ways about how we do things.”
Polluters are using forests as ‘carbon offsets.’ Climate change has other plans.
(NatGeo) Craig Welch, May 5
…The CarbonPlan research was published as a pre-print; it has not yet been peer-reviewed. But several experts reviewed the work for National Geographic. Daniel Sanchez, who runs the carbon removal laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, calls it “a robust analysis that answers an important question.”
Whereas the study’s assessment of fire risk was based on a tally of actual events, the projection of disease risk is a projection, says Matteo Garbelotto, director of the University of California, Berkeley’s forest pathology lab. “But the take-home message from the research is for-sure correct,” he says. “Within 100 years, it is more likely than not that most of those areas will see the arrival of sudden oak death. And in five, or at maximum 10 years, 80 percent of the tanoak will be dead.”
Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, says it’s not clear how representative the last few intense fire seasons will be of the future. But “even if the authors have very large uncertainties around their estimates,” Moritz says, “the lack of what is needed for 100 years of ‘permanence’ appears to be a serious challenge.”
Master Gardeners go digital, cultivate community online
(Imperial Valley Press) Madison Sankovitz, May 5
… The perfect group to aid in this mission was the UC Master Gardeners, a program that has focused on sharing research-based information about gardening and pest management with the public since 1980. At the start of the pandemic, Master Gardeners were suddenly bombarded with a higher volume of calls and emails seeking gardening advice. This public service and outreach program under the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is usually administered in person by participating UC Cooperative Extension county offices, but COVID forced Master Gardeners to rethink their strategy for disseminating critical horticulture resources. Volunteers across the state showed continued to extend information by using new digital platforms and technology, efforts that have helped the program stay connected to California communities.
Dallas toddler hospitalized after being mauled by coyote in 'exceedingly rare' attack
(AP) Terry Wallace, May 4
The lack of fear of humans can be disastrous for the coyote, said Robert M. Timm, a retired wildlife biologist with the University of California's Hopland Research & Extension Center who has long studied the history of human contact with coyotes.
A report Timm co-authored for the Fall 2017 edition of the journal Human-Wildlife Interactions cited a 2009 study that tabulated 142 reported coyote attacks on humans in the United States and Canada over almost a half-century from 1960 to 2006. A 2011 study recorded 26 coyote attacks on humans in Canada between 1995-2010.
“This is a difficult problem to manage, given the diversity of public attitudes toward coyotes, especially in suburban areas,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “It quickly becomes a political nightmare for cities, counties, and public agencies, as many people oppose any lethal control of wildlife, which at times is the only solution when some individual coyotes become habituated to living in suburbia to the extent that they attack pets and humans.”
As peak wildfire season looms, SB County Fire Safe Council looks to educate and prepare
(KCBX) Beth Thornton, May 4
Max Moritz is participating in the weekend activities. He is a state wildfire specialist and UCSB adjunct professor. He said educating the public is important since the Central Coast is prone to wildfires due to its chaparral landscape and sundowner winds.
“Often [fire] events are happening in what we call extreme weather conditions — so hot, dry, strong wind conditions,” he said.
Moritz said as we head into fire season, residents play a key role in reducing risks and making the community safer.
“Make sure you have defensible space around your home, so that firefighters have a place to work, and clean out the rain gutters so there’s not ignitable materials there,” he said.
One way around California’s water restrictions: Recycle water from your laundry
(LA Times) Jon Healey, May 4
To get a good idea, you can use an index of plants and their needs developed by the UC Cooperative Extension and the companion How Much Water? app developed by irrigation designer Lori Palmquist. And for some ideas about what native plants to use in your yard, the California Native Plant Society offers a list online that’s specific to your address.
UCANR adding extension specialists across California
(Agri-Pulse) Philip Brasher, May 4
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is recruiting 16 new extension specialists over the coming year with expertise in issues ranging from agricultural toxicology to the economics of food supply chains.
Some 106 expansion specialist and adviser positions have been released since spring 2021, using increased 2021-22 state funding.
California's new drought rules: will they be enough to halt the 'alarming challenges' ahead?
(The Guardian) Gabrielle Canon, May 3
Experts have called for stronger limits, as the climate crisis rapidly unfolds in the state and normal cycles of drought become longer and much more frequent.
“The water we have now is 40% lower than the worst-case scenario in the models ever predicted,” says Dr Kurt Schwabe, a professor of environmental economics and policy at the University of California Riverside. Schwabe added that he thinks the state is being too cautious about pushing agencies to do more. “We are in a new climate reality and we have to adjust more quickly than we had in the past.”
How to climate-proof your garden
(Sierra Magazine) Krystal Vasquez, April 25
Climate change “has had a huge impact on gardening,” said Missy Gable, director of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources program. “My own personal experience with gardening and climate change has seriously revolved around drought.”
...Of course, this would all be easier if we could just control the weather. Sadly, gardeners don’t have that power … or do they? “We can control microclimates somewhat by where we place plants,” says Karrie Reid, an environmental horticulture adviser at the UC Cooperative Extension of San Joaquin County.
UC expert: Protect poultry from migrating birds
(Farm Press) Pam Kan-Rice, April 25
Teaching Gardening To Grow Incarcerated Youths’ Mental And Physical Health
(Mother Lode News) Tracey Petersen, April 23
…UC Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Advisor for Tuolumne County, JoLynn Miller, and volunteers began visiting the facility weekly in 2017 to help the detained youth develop a garden. Miller detailed, “When I first started, it was to really give these youth an opportunity to connect to anything that gives them a spark that they can put their mind and their focus on. So, they have a passion that they can pursue to keep them occupied and keep them out of trouble.”
California Invests $3.75M to Fund Safer, More-Sustainable Pest Management
(Perishable News) April 22
- …Assessing a biocontrol system for the management of tadpole shrimp in rice. Tadpole shrimp usefully eat some early season weeds but can cause damage to rice later in their lifecycle. To preserve their role in controlling weeds but diminish the shrimp’s later impact on the rice harvest, predator mosquito fish will be introduced mid-season to control the shrimp’s population when necessary. This research will be led by Dr. Ian Grettenberger at UC Davis.
- Testing two emerging IPM technologies for agricultural use, the automatic release of biocontrol organisms using flying drones, and precision spray application technology, which uses much less pesticide than applying pesticide sprays using current techniques. This research will be led by Dr. Ian Grettenberger at UC Davis.
- Developing an IPM software decision-making tool for pistachio growers that helps reduce pesticide use by guiding more precise pesticide applications when chemical use is necessary. This IPM tool leverages smart technology to help growers transition from routine preventative spraying to more limited threshold-based chemical use. This research will be led by Dr. Themis Michailides at UC Davis.
Research projects funded for urban and agriculture pest management:
- Studying the use of a reduced-risk ”attract-and-kill” approach as an effective alternative to urban and agricultural pesticide spray programs for managing South American palm weevils, a pest that damages date palms in urban and agricultural environments. “Attract-and-kill” strategies use pheromones that attract the target pest to a small amount of pesticide that kills the insect, as opposed to spraying a large quantity of pesticide over an area to control pest populations. This research will be led by Dr. Mark Hoddle at UC Riverside.
- Studying the impact and potential of using insect growth regulators that target Argentine ants for pest control in urban and agricultural environments. Insect growth regulators are new, safer pest management tools that pose a much lower risk of causing unintended damage to beneficial insects when compared to many traditional insecticides. This research will be led by Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe at UC Riverside.
Research projects funded for urban and nonagricultural pest management:
- Testing non-chemical entrapment methods for trapping, monitoring and eliminating bedbugs, a significant public health pest that disproportionately affects low-income Californians. This research will be led by Dr.Catherine Loudon at UC Irvine.
- Creating a new set of guidelines for effectively identifying and managing biting mites, a common, but poorly understood indoor pest that is often misidentified and incorrectly managed. This research will be led Dr. Andrew Sutherland at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR).
- Assessing a baiting system for detecting western drywood termites to reduce the number of unnecessary fumigation treatments in California homes, especially in Southern California where termites represent a significant pest problem. This system would indicate when active termite infestations have returned and if preventative treatment is needed, greatly decreasing the amount of high-risk pesticide use in homes. This research will be led by Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe at UC Riverside.
Central Valley Farmer's Bold Water Experiment Setting Example for California
(NBC Bay Area) Joe Rosato Jr., April 22
… "His farm is often used as a demonstration site of how all this could be done," said Dr. Helen Dahlke, a hydrology science professor at U.C. Davis who has worked with Cameron. "I think a lot of farmers are now following his example and are in the process of implementing their own recharge projects."
Ricky Satomi Hired as Forestry Advisor with UCCE Sutter-Yuba
(Yuba Net) April 21
Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15, 2022, as an Area Forestry and Natural Resources Advisor in the Western Sierra Region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada, Placer counties). He specializes in forest management with a focus on new technologies and wood product utilization.
Cattle health webinars now online
(Farm Press) April 21
University of California Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Veterinary Medicine are sharing recordings of their March 2022 cattle health webinar series for California cattle ranchers.
What Attracts Navel Orangeworms to Pistachios
(Ag Info Net) Patrick Cavanaugh
Louise Ferguson is with the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis as well as a UCANR Cooperative Extension Specialist. She noted that research continues on what is attracting Navel Orangeworm to the pistachio nut.
UCD Provides Sensory Tasting Guidelines for Evaluating Grape Smoke Exposure Effects
(Wine Business) Ted Rieger, April 18
The University of California, Davis (UCD) Viticulture & Enology Department presented an extension seminar April 8th, "Evaluating Impact of Grape Smoke Exposure: Best Practices," with guidance to evaluate smoke sensory impacts on grapes and wines and how to train staff and tasting panels to recognize and rate smoke impacts. UC Cooperative Extension enology specialist Dr. Anita Oberholster moderated the meeting and provided basic science about smoke exposure based on current knowledge. "Grapes can have smoke exposure without having smoke taint," Oberholster said. She noted that smoke taint is not a single attribute, it can be described as smoky, burnt, tar, campfire, ashy, medicinal or earthy. For assessing smoke taint, the focus is on tasting for "ashy aftertaste" or a "lingering retro-nasal ashy character" on the palate.
Facing labor challenges, a new ag robotics forum aims to connect growers and startups
(Agri-Pulse) Brad Hooker, April 13
International ag robotics forum coming to Fresno (CBS 47 / NBC 24, April 12)
International Ag Robotics Forum to be hosted in Fresno and on campus (ABC 30, April 12)
Robot tractors and farm equipment on display at Fresno State (Fox 26, April 12)
Robotics solving water, fertilizer, labor challenges
Drip irrigation in arid regions can cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality
(Morning Ag Clips) Mike Hsu, April 12
In the valley, 'heat islands' of asphalt and fake lawn reach 170 degrees. What you can do
(Desert Sun) Janet Hartin, April 9
As a resident of the Coachella Valley for 32 years and a University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources academic specializing in horticulture, I’m asking for your help.
Please rethink the use of asphalt, black (dyed) mulch, and synthetic lawns in our desert communities. They are superheating what already are extreme urban heat islands. An abundance of living plants interspersed with light-colored organic and inorganic mulches that reduce soil evaporation between plants are better choices.
Bay Area ranchers concerned as unseasonable heat impacts livestock, sales
(NBC Bay Area) Stephanie Magallon, April 7
Adding it all up, that means consumers will need to pay more and expect to get less at the grocery store.
“There’s a lag for short in what’s happening here in the market and then what the prices are in the market,” said Sheila Barry, a livestock and natural resources advisor for the University of California’s Cooperative Extension. “As input prices go up, that includes the cost of fuel, the cost of hay, which is now also difficult to grow when you have a lack of water. So, all those costs go up, which raises the cost of production.”
CA cannabis is in sticky situation despite high hopes of Prop 64
(KCRW) Mary Carreon, April 7
… “When you go back and look at what the advocates of Prop. 64 said would happen and you look at their policy proposals, they clearly over-promised, they clearly chose not to follow best business practices and fundamentals in these promises,” says Dr. Keith Taylor, a professor of extension at UC Davis who researches the efficacy of Prop. 64.
He predicts that the next two years will be dire for small cannabis businesses unless the state reforms the legal framework ASAP. “The clock is ticking,” Taylor says. “I'm not saying that to over exaggerate. It absolutely is.”
https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/greater-la/weed-mlb-lgbtq-bar/ca-cannabis-legal-tax-regulation-prop-64Episode 306: Tree Nut Commodity Outlook, Farm Advisor Hirings
(MyAgLife Daily News Report) Taylor Chalstrom, April 6
In this 7-minute podcast segment (starting at 21:36), Taylor Chalstrom has a report with UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston, who discusses the importance of new farm advisor hirings.
"What makes California really different is these Cooperative Extension advisors who are out in the field, who are full academics," Humiston said. "They are required to have a robust research program, along with their extension, and what that does is that actually puts scientists working hand-in-glove with farmers and engineers and local planners and communities and school districts...."
Forecasters expect California’s drought to soon deepen, with rangelands already dry
(Agri-Pulse West) Brad Hooker, April 6
"In many parts of the state, conditions are actually quite a bit worse than they were a year ago at this time," said Leslie Roche, a UC Davis associate professor of rangeland management, during a federal drought outlook webinar last week.
For the past two years, rangeland forage production for winter – and especially spring grazing – has peaked much earlier than average and with lower productivity levels, according to Roche.
Northern California could face dire wildfire danger in 2022. How high is the risk?
(Sacramento Bee) Michael McGough, April 3
Drought is one of the big concerns, but it’s not the only factor in the state’s extraordinary wildfire risk. “The vulnerability of our forests is really catastrophic,” said Scott Stephens, a wildfire science professor and head of the Stephens Lab at UC Berkeley....
...The Biden administration earlier this year unveiled a wildfire prevention plan that includes not only planned burns and thinning, but seeks to have some of the most at-risk communities build protective boundaries. It’s a vast, 10-year plan.
Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension whose input is included in the plan, said the acre targets in state and federal plans are “almost arbitrary.” “The acres will come if we put all the right pieces in place,” Quinn-Davidson said in an interview.
State to review Point Reyes water contamination strategy
(Marin Independent Journal) Will Houston, April 2
David Lewis, the director of Marin County’s University of California Cooperative Extension, has been working on watershed management issues, including conducting studies in Point Reyes.
Lewis said the park’s management plan was “rigorously prepared and gives the park service and ranchers the tools to achieve the goals that everybody wants in terms of good water quality, cultural and natural resources goals for the Point Reyes National Seashore.”
Updates to the Pesticide Safety Manual for Private Applicators
(MyAgLife) Taylor Chalstrom, April 1
Taylor Chalstrom sits down with Shannah Whithaus, senior editor for pesticide safety education with UC ANR, and Lisa Blecker, pesticide safety educator at Colorado State University, to discuss the newly expanded and updated Pesticide Safety Manual for Private Applicators.
Hiring Many New Agricultural Extension Advisors, California Bucks National Trend
(Growing Produce) David Eddy, March 29
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has ramped up its hiring of scientists and staff, bringing expertise in nutrition, crop production, water management, agricultural land acquisition, and community development.
Worker Strikes Across California | State of California Wildfires | Oscars Highlights with Mark S. Allen
(CapRadio Insight) Vicki Gonzalez, March 29
…A discussion of the state of California wildfires with Scott Stephens, a professor of Wildland Fire Science at UC Berkeley, Craig Thomas with the non-profit Fire Restoration Group, and Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. (Lenya starts at 22 min mark)
Communities are embracing ‘controlled burns’ to protect themselves
(PBS NewsHour) Christopher Booker, March 27
… Lenya Quinn-Davidson: I refer to it as a movement. You know, there's almost like an uprising around prescribed fire that's happening in California right now, and we're shaking things up and communities are tired of waiting around for someone else to solve the problem for them.
Lenya Quinn-Davidson is a fire advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County. She's helped spread the concept of community prescribed burn associations like PUC around the state.
What are the PRLR-SLICK cattle?
(Successful Farming) Madelyn Ostendorf, March 26
…PRLR-SLICK beef cattle have been gene-edited to have short hair, a trait associated with high heat tolerance and resistance. Alison Van Eenennaam, Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics at the University of California, says developers can introduce a targeted double stranded break in the DNA helix to create a desired trait.
“Editing allows you to go to a targeted location in the genome, to a particular gene that you want to modify and introduce a double stranded break in the DNA,” says Van Eenennaam. “When the cell repairs, as cells do, and they see a double stranded break, you get a repair that’s not the same as what it was before. It was cut with genome editing reagents, and that can lead to an inactivation of the gene, basically knocking out that gene.”
Bill Pramuk, Trees and People: The Sudden Oak Death Blitz
(Napa Valley Register) Bill Pramuk, March 25
Sudden Oak Death showed an increase in Napa County following rainy winters and a decrease in drought years. Blitz leader, Dr. Matteo Garbelotto [UC Cooperative Extension specialist] stated recently, "Napa County was well-sampled in 2021 but had no positive finds of SOD.”
… Prof. Garbelotto and his UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab lead the project, perform lab analysis of samples, conduct research and maintain the mapping of the disease.
For stress relief, food access, people turned to gardening during pandemic
(Imperial Valley Press) Emily Dooley, March 24
… “People found new connections in the garden,” said Lucy Diekmann, a UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture and food systems advisor who helped write the report. “It became a shared hobby as opposed to an individual one.”
Orchard recycling pioneer inspires almond farmers
(Ag Alert) Edgar Sanchez, March 23
… Brent Holtz, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor who spent much of his youth on that farm, is credited with introducing whole-orchard recycling there as a clean alternative to agricultural burning.
West Coast winegrowers move toward 'no-touch' mechanized vineyards
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, March 22
… Kaan Kurtural, associate cooperative extension viticulture specialist at the University of California-Davis, said harvest has long been mechanized in California, but the “final hurdle” was automated pruning.
Free Trees for the IE with California Climate Action Corps
(Grand Terrace City News) Crystal Valenzuela, March 22
“Our first step was to reach out to Janet Hartin, UCANR’s Area Environmental Horticulture Advisor for Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties,” said Mandy Parkes, IERCD’s District Manager. “We’ve collaborated extensively with her over the years, and we knew Janet had been developing a regionally-scaled concept for connecting community members to climate-appropriate trees, alongside access to technical assistance from regional UCCE Master Gardeners to ensure long-term tree health and survival. Following discussions, the project concept solidified and we were matched with amazing Fellows able to help facilitate this work throughout target communities in the Inland Empire.”
CRISPR cattle cleared for the first time by FDA
(Freethink) Kristin Houser, March 15
…“Let’s face it, bull semen goes all over the world,” Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal geneticist at UC Davis, who has worked with Recombinetics, told AP News.
Study: Cover Crops Offset Water Use with Improved Soil Moisture Retention
(No-till Farmer) March 14
…From 2016 through 2019, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and their collaborators amassed very large data sets from almond orchard and tomato field sites located between Chico in Butte County and Arvin in Kern County. They used the data to quantify changes in soil water storage and evapotranspiration that occur under cover-cropped and bare fallow conditions during the winter cover crop growing period – about November to March.
An Interview with Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Part Two: Biomass, logging, and SB-322
(Fire) Stacy Selby, March 14
Lenya: I called that project Silent Straws. If you imagine how many extra trees are growing throughout the landscape, the amount of groundwater they’re using is mind-blowing. Simultaneously we have climate change and drought. I think the answers to all these questions are so interwoven. We don't hear about that a lot. You talked to Frank (Lake) so that's great, because he talks about that part.
Is it time for Congress to tackle cannabis?
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, March 10
Another disadvantage for legal producers is that since marijuana is still federally illegal, many banks still deny services to them, a recent University of California study showed. “Marginalized cannabis communities are missing out on capital,” co-author Keith Taylor said.
Gleaners Hit Holtville Fields for Fresh Produce
(Holtville Tribune) Marcie Landero, March 8
“It helps community members of all ages just take a moment to remember where their food come from. It’s not from the grocery store, it’s from our ground and that’s especially important here in Imperial County, since it’s from our ground in our area,” Farm Smart manager Stacy Amparano said.
Why Is Olive Oil So Extra? with Professor Selina Wang
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, March 7
This episode’s dedicated to our main squeeze: olive oil. Professor Selina Wang joins Jonathan to discuss olive oil varieties, processing, and fraud—yes, fraud! Plus, Jonathan gets clarity on why they can’t bear to eat an olive but can’t get enough of olive oil.
Prof. Selina Wang is an Associate Professor of Cooperative Extension at the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. Her mission-oriented research and teaching focuses are food quality and purity; fruit and vegetable processing; and food sustainability.
Ask Well: Will one moldy berry ruin the rest?
(New York Times) Alice Callahan, March 7
The good news for berry eaters is that the molds commonly found on them “are actually not known to produce toxins, like some fungi do, and so there’s less risk,” said Elizabeth Mitcham, a professor and director of the Postharvest Technology Center at the University of California, Davis. Foods that have been found to grow these more dangerous molds include nuts, grains and apples, she said.
Gene-edited beef cattle get regulatory clearance in US
(Associated Press) Candice Choi, March 7
Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal geneticist at University of California, Davis who has worked with Recombinetics, said requiring all companies to go through the lengthy approval process could end the possibility of commercializing gene-edited animals in the U.S.
For the gene-edited cattle cleared by the FDA, she said it could take about two years for beef from the offspring to reach the market.
Sixth graders nurture wheelbarrow garden, grow community connections
(Morning Ag Clips) Mike Hsu, March 6
Also in Farm Progress: https://www.farmprogress.com/extension/sixth-graders-nurture-wheelbarrow-garden
Urban farmers find a niche with local, state support
(AgAlert) Hannah Getahun, March 2
… "Urban farmers can bridge gaps between their more peri-urban and rural counterparts and inner-city food supply needs, serve as community food systems leaders and support healthy retail opportunities at the micro and small scale," said Rob Bennaton, an urban agriculture advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, which includes the sustainable agriculture program.
… "I think there was a feeling of safety in the local food supply chain, and in particular in (community-supported agriculture) because the relationship with your farmers is so much more close," said Julia Van Soelen Kim, North Bay food systems advisor for UCCE.
Researchers See ‘Future of an Entire Species’ in Ultrasound Technique
(New York Times) Wudan Yan, Feb. 28
…The idea of using ultrasound on these snails first came about in 2019. Jackson Gross, an aquaculture specialist at the University of California, Davis, had used ultrasound on fin fish, such as sturgeon, to study their reproductive habits.
IPCC report shows closing window of opportunity for making lasting changes against climate change
(KCRA) Heather Waldman, Feb. 28
…According to Daniel Sumner, a UC Davis agriculture economist, the impacts of climate change aren't substantially affecting California's farming economy just yet but some adjustments are required as annual water supplies become less consistent. He says that the local farming economy is also very dependent on global conditions.
"The economy is global and climate change is global," Sumner said. "And that means climate change somewhere else may be just as important as climate change here."
Drought, fires and beetles — California’s forests are dying. Is it too late to save them?
(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Feb. 27
…“The forest is in such a high density and is facilitating mortality because the trees can’t live when they’re competing with their neighbors,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science and ecologist at UC Berkeley. “They’re just not able to weather episodes of difficulty anymore.”
California agriculture takes $1.2-billion hit during drought, losing 8,700 farm jobs, researchers find
(Los Angeles Times) Ian James, Feb. 25
…“These farmworkers belong to the lowest-income group in the state, particularly in the Central Valley,” said Josué Medellín-Azuara, a water resources economist and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Merced. “So when climate hits, these communities are hit harder.”
Medellín-Azuara and colleagues from UC Merced, UC Davis and the Public Policy Institute of California estimated changes in the acreage of irrigated farmlands last year as compared to 2018. They surveyed irrigation districts, analyzed water data and reviewed satellite data to track changes in croplands.
Wildfires are getting worse across the globe. How does California compare?
(LA Times) Hayley Smith, Feb. 24
…“We hear that people in D.C. think of fire as a Western issue, or a Californian issue, but it really isn’t — it’s a global issue,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Santa Barbara who contributed to the report. “It affects all of us.”
How to protect your trees from invasive beetles killing SoCal’s urban forests
(LA Times) Jeanette Marantos, Feb. 23
…“They’ve killed hundreds of thousands of trees” since these invasive beetles were discovered in Southern California nearly 20 years ago, said Beatriz Nobua-Behrmann, urban forestry and natural resources advisor for UC Cooperative Extension for Los Angeles and Orange counties. “They basically wiped out all the native willows in [San Diego County’s] Tijuana River Valley in just a year. We need people to be vigilant.”
Our urban forests are in peril. 'Garden Bro' to the rescue!
(LA Times) Jeanette Marantos, Feb. 23
With his tousled black hair and heart-melting smile, Gabe Verduzco certainly has the looks of an influencer, but instead of sharing dance moves or crazy pranks he's making his mark on social media by posting pictures of insects and native flowers, or himself in an orange workman's vest climbing a massive oak tree in search of tiny beetles threatening our urban trees.
Our urban forests are in peril. 'Garden Bro' to the rescue!
Forest Management, Drought Causing More Intense Fires
NBC Bay Area Feb. 22
…Scott Stephens, UC Berkeley professor of Forest Science says, "Climate change is making things more challenging. We’re getting more unpredictable weather. We have a drought that’s amplified by climate change. Of course we’ve had droughts in the place we call California for thousands of years. But the challenge is we’re bringing forth a poor structure that is so vulnerable.
Beekeepers turn to anti-theft technology as hive thefts rise
(Associated Press) Daisy Nguyen, Feb. 22
…“What that means is that beekeepers are coming from as far as New York and Florida, and to get them to come all that way, pollinator fees have to rise,” said Brittney Goodrich, an agriculture economist at the University of California at Davis.
Online ordering for fast food inconsistent with healthy beverage law, study finds
(Morning Ag Clips) Mike Hsu, Feb. 21
‘Really incredible burn window’: Prescribed fire spreads across Humboldt County
(Eureka Times-Standard) Sonia Waraich, Feb. 19
Over the past several weeks, the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association and cultural fire practitioners across the county have been hard at work restoring fire to a landscape thirsting for flames. An unprecedented dry period this winter has created a unique opportunity to do that at a scale that Lenya Quinn-Davidson, the University of California Cooperative Extension’s fire adviser for the area, says hasn’t been seen before.
New vineyard adviser appointed for UC Extension programs for North Bay counties
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat) Bill Swindell, Feb. 19
Christopher Chen has been appointed as the vineyard systems adviser for the UC Cooperative Extension program working with farmers in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.
Avocado growers to get irrigation tools, strategies from UC ANR’s Montazar
(Morning Ag Clips) Mike Hsu, Feb. 16
Megadrought in Southwest North America worst in 1,200 years –
(Washington Post) Diana Leonard, Feb. 15
…According to Faith Kearns, a scientist at the California Institute of Water Resources, the current period is driving home the fact that climate change must be integrated into water planning efforts, work that many water agencies have yet to take on.
“Water infrastructure in California and much of the western U.S. was developed during a wetter time that was assumed by many to be largely stable,” she wrote in an email. “I worry about this from an equity perspective and feel that we need to be supporting water operations in integrating climate change into all planning efforts across all water systems, in the western U.S. in particular.”
Five questions with food safety expert, new AAAS Fellow Linda Harris
(Morning Ag Clips) Mike Hsu, Feb. 13
In Clampdown on U.S. Methane Emissions, Belching Cattle Get a Pass
(Wall Street Journal) Katy Stech Ferek, Feb. 12
…“I’m optimistic, but I’m also cautioning the farming community not to wait for a silver bullet,” said Frank Mitloehner, a University of California, Davis researcher who has tested natural ingredients such as garlic as feed additives to reduce methane from cows.
How dairy farmers are cashing in on California's push for cleaner fuel
(NPR) Dan Charles, Feb. 10
…Aaron Smith, an economist at the University of California, Davis, decided to examine the impact of emission credits on such dairy farms. "I had heard people saying this was kind of a big deal, and I sort of put off looking into it for a while, because I was thinking, 'How big of a deal could it really be?'" he says.
…The value of these pollution-cutting credits could amount to a 50% boost in revenue over just selling the cows' milk. Smith published the result as a blog post titled "What's more valuable: A cow's milk or its poop?" It quickly became the second-most read article on his website, only trailing a taste-test of fast-food chicken sandwiches that Smith and his daughter carried out.
UC Davis to lead $15M research into climate-change resistant wheat
(Morning Ag Clips) Emily C. Dooley, Feb. 10
The University of California, Davis, is leading a five-year, $15 million research project to accelerate wheat breeding to meet those new climate realities, as well as to train a new generation of plant breeders.
“Everything is less stable,” said Jorge Dubcovsky, a plant sciences distinguished professor who is leading the grant research. “Everything is changing so you need to be fast. You need to be able to adapt fast.”
California conservationists and farmers unite to protect salmon
(Reuters) Daniel Trotta and Nathan Frandino, Feb. 8
Now, for the cost and inconvenience of flooding their fields, rice farmers are earning goodwill and betting that a healthy salmon population will avoid new regulations to protect wildlife and keep adequate water flowing.
In recent years, biologists discovered that as rice straw decomposes in flooded fields it creates a broth rich in fish food. They call it "zoop soup."
"The zooplankton are so big and they're so juicy, it's like filet mignon," said Andrew Rypel, a professor of fish ecology at the University of California Davis and lead investigator on the project.
Special-education students cultivate farm skills
(Western Farm Press) Mike Hsu, Feb. 7
Also in Morning Ag Clips:
UC ANR offers seminars, citrus tour at World Ag Expo
(Morning Ag Clips) Pam Kan-Rice, Feb. 7
To save Western U.S. forests, cut them way back, study suggests
(Bloomberg) Laura Bliss, Feb. 3
The lack of competition in the sparser forests of the past allowed for individual trees to survive and grow, the scientists believe. Those bigger, healthier trees were then able to persist through recurring fires, acute dry spells, insects and disease. Modern-day forest managers should take note, the study suggests.
“There’s a lot of disturbance that one individual has to tolerate before they make it to that size,” said co-author Ryan E. Tompkins, a UC Cooperative Extension forest and natural resources advisor. “We need to start managing for a competition-free environment if we want to maintain these large trees.”
Fog, fruit and an unclear future
(Good Fruit Grower) Ross Courtney and T.J. Mullinax, Feb. 3
California pear growers have a track record of innovation, said Rachel Elkins, a semiretired pomology farm advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Lake County. They have developed areawide, voluntary integrated pest management programs, hosted high-density rootstock trials on trellis systems that could make orchards platform-friendly and tinkered for decades with new varieties, she said. Meanwhile, the extension office is in the process of hiring a regional diversified agricultural area advisor. That person won’t be a direct replacement for Elkins, though pomology will be among the duties.
Cooperative Effort: Researchers and growers step up to Valley’s challenges
(Imperial-San Diego Currents) Darren Simon, Feb. 3
… For Dr. Oli Bachie, director of the Cooperative Extension, it is a non-stop challenge to apply research to such key issues as pest control, food safety and water management to address the unique needs of Imperial Valley agriculture.
UC Davis Study Says Wine Country at Risk
(The Independent serving Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and Sunol) David Jen, Feb. 2
…The study, titled “Realizing the Heritage” and authored by James Lapsley and Daniel Sumner, detailed how the SLVAP’s development incentives during the 1990s created a sort of grape boom, and how that, coupled with the roughly 30-year useful life of a commercial vine, has led to the present situation where “approximately 1,900 of Livermore’s current 2,800 vineyard acres are at least 20 years old and will either be removed or replaced by 2030.”
Smoke Taint with Anita Oberholster, Prepare Your Vineyard for Future Threats
(American Vineyard) Matthew Malcolm, Feb. 1
Smoke taint is unfortunately an annual concern now for wine grape growers, and this was a topic of interest at the recent Sonoma Grape Expo. Watch this brief video with UCCE Specialist Anita Oberholster as she shares what’s been learned so far about the issue and how growers can prepare their operations as they head into another dry wildfire threatening season.
Almonds Are Consumed in Many Ways
(Ag Info Net) Patrick Cavanaugh, Feb. 1
Daniel Sumner is distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Resource Economics, UC Davis. He noted that almonds are a modern crop, and there is a limit for many consuming them.
UC Farm Smart inspires future farmers
(The Desert Review) Kayla Kirby, Jan. 30
Bubbles freely emanated from a machine, entertaining delighted children as they waited for instructions to walk an outlined path to a small, 1-acre field. The sectioned off U-Pick Vegetable Garden for the toddlers and young children enabled them to harvest their own veggies at the University of California Farm Smart Program’s 4th Annual Farm to Preschool Festival Saturday, Jan. 29.
Local roots: Bakersfield farm adviser helped innovate leading pistachio breed
(The Bakersfield Californian) John Cox, Jan. 29
In 2019, [Joseph] Maranto shared the American Society for Horticultural Science's Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award with two men he'd worked with to develop the breed, fellow University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser Craig Kallsen and UC Davis pomologist Dan Parfitt. The trio's work had led 13 years earlier to a patent held by the University of California.
UC researcher in Merced to lead $1.5 million grant to develop climate-smart ag
(KVPR NPR of Central California) Kerry Klein, Jan. 28
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new round of grants to support climate-smart agricultural practices, and $1.5 million is headed for Merced.
The team, led by Tapan Pathak, a research specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension and UC Merced, is one of six public entities to split $9 million in awards from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative within the USDA’s National institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The goal of the investment is to bolster climate research and build connections with the agricultural community.
…“This kind of grant is super critical in expanding our reach and addressing issues faced by farmers and ranchers across the state,” said Pathak. “Our hope is to develop tools that can help growers make strategic decisions to minimize some of the risks."
Illegal marijuana's devastating impacts on agriculture
(Capital Press) Sierra Dawn McClain, Jan. 27
In a study of the impact of illegal marijuana production on rural land prices in Humboldt County, Calif., agricultural economist Benjamin Schwab and land use researcher Van Butsic found that when the median marijuana density in a watershed is doubled, farmland values increase 3% to 4%.
New 4-H pub helps youth evaluate ‘pathways’
(Western Farm Press) Mike Hsu, Jan. 27
Free weekly organic agriculture seminars for growers
(Imperial Valley Press) Pam Kan-Rice, Jan. 26
Growers are invited to attend free organic agriculture seminars hosted by UC Cooperative Extension. Lunchtime seminars will be offered on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. through March 8.
https://www.ivpressonline.com/open/free-weekly-organic-agriculture-seminars-for-growers/article_0a8941a2-7ef3-11ec-ba9c-7797789ea015.htmlov Crops in Sacramento Valley March 3
Think your home value is soaring? Talk to a farmer
(Associated Press) Scott McFetridge, Jan. 21
Dan Sumner, an agricultural economist at the University of California-Davis, credits some of the rising value in switching to higher-value crops, such as replacing alfalfa with nut trees.
Overall, though, Sumner said farmers are feeling good about their future.
“It reflects confidence in the economics of agriculture,” he said.
K&J Orchard’s Cult-Favorite Asian Pears Are Getting Their Own Restaurant in Oakland
(SF Eater) Maria C. Hunt, Jan. 21
…The restaurant name finds its origins in the Latin word pometum, which means a fruit tree grove. Pomet (pronounced POM-et) is the Romanian word for orchard; it’s a tribute to her mother Kalayada Ammatya and father James Beutel who started K & J Orchards in 1982. Beutel, who died in 2016, was a noted fruit researcher, lecturer, and Cooperative Extension agent with University of California, Davis for 35 years. He was also the pioneering pomologist who introduced fragrant Asian pears and kiwifruit to California and worked on making the pear and peach tree varieties in California more hardy, according to the UC Davis website.
Farmers Invited to Tour Cover Crops in Sacramento Valley March 3
(Cal Ag Today)
Farmers and ranchers are invited on a tour to learn how to use cover crops to build soil health. A full-day tour of several cover crop sites in orchards and annual crop fields in the Sacramento Valley is being offered on March 3 by the Western Cover Crop Council’s Southwest Region Committee.
“The goal of this tour is to demonstrate ways to use cover crops effectively in annual crops and orchards in the Sacramento Valley,” said tour organizer Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor.
Experts Weigh In On Biden Administration’s $50B Wildfire Crisis Plan
(CBS13) Madison Keavy, Jan. 20
…“It’s just reality that it is expensive to do this work,” said Robert York, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist and Adjunct Associate Professor of Forestry at UC Berkeley.
…“It could’ve cost $2,000 an acre to do that initial treatment, now, to do a prescribed fire because we’ve managed it in the past, it’s much more affordable,” said York.
He uses the Blodgett Forest Research Station as an example of what it takes to get land “back on track” when it comes to management. Now, he said, it costs around $200 to do the same work, with regular maintenance.
California marijuana growers can’t take much to the bank
(Morning Ag Clips) Emily Caldwell, Jan. 20
…“Licensed cannabis businesses need to bank their cash and take out loans to build their businesses, but many banks worry that by doing business with the cannabis industry, they’ll be flouting federal laws,” said co-author Keith Taylor, University of California Cooperative Extension community development specialist. “Banks that won’t accept legal cannabis cash deposits and don’t provide loans, aren’t monetizing their deposits. Marginalized cannabis communities are missing out on capital.”
Legal pot growers can’t take much to the bank
Western Farm Press
Closing Broadband Gaps Remains Critical, WIth Or Without A Pandemic
(CA FWD) John Guenther, Jan. 19
Glenda Humiston: COVID has been a real game-changer in so many ways. We had to turn on a dime. People had to work remotely, work from home, have their kids at home, telemedicine. We discovered just how critically important access to the internet is. And good access to the internet, which is broadband. It’s not just rural California, we’ve got big chunks of urban area that have very poor coverage.
What is a healthy forest in California? These scientists are experimenting west of Lake Tahoe.
(CapRadio) Manola Secaira, Jan. 19
What does a healthy forest look like?
There are dozens of ways you could find an answer, but Rob York [UC Cooperative Extension specialist] has his own simple litmus test. It starts with his own question:
“Can you run through it?”
…And now researchers say that managing California’s forests means a balancing act.
“It’s really a societal question on what mix you’re able to have,” said John Battles, a professor of forest ecology at UC Berkeley who’s conducted studies in the forest. “And then that becomes, ‘How do you balance those?’”
In familiar refrain, United Farm Workers grapples with how to grow
(CalMatters) Melissa Montalvo and Nigel Duara, Jan. 18
...Today, UFW focuses its efforts on political advocacy, hoping for better election outcomes by making accommodations such as at-home voting. Even if the measure passes, it’s unclear whether that will lead to more members.
“It’s not easy to organize workers,” said Philip Martin, a leading farm labor researcher at UC Davis. “Period.”
Devastating virus challenges lettuce growers
(California Ag Today) Mike Hsu, Jan. 17
Heat waves were a major driver of the INSV disaster of 2020. Although researchers have established a link between warmer temperatures and population increases of thrips, science still has a lot to learn about those disease vectors.
“Thrips are something we’re trying to understand as much as we can, but it’s pretty tough because they’re a little mysterious in the way they get around and where they overwinter,” said Richard Smith, a University of California Cooperative Extension vegetable crops and weed science farm advisor for the Central Coast region.
Also in Morning Ag Clips:
Del Norte Board of Supervisors Still Question New Fire Safe Regs' Impacts on Development, Sends Second Letter to California Board of Forestry
(Wild Rivers/Lost Coast Outpost) Jessica Cejnar Andrews, Jan. 13
…The letter hasn’t been drafted yet, Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal told supervisors. She said she’s working with representatives at Rural County Representatives of California as well as Yana Valachovic, the U.C. Cooperative Extension’s Humboldt-Del Norte County director.
According to Valachovic, who worked with county supervisors to draft a comment letter on the same regulations in April 2021, the state’s fire safe regulations focus on access to a parcel of land. This includes mandating road widths, length of driveways, weights that bridges can carry, water availability for fire suppression and if there’s an alternate way to get through an electronic gate should the power fail.
Too much red tape in gene editing, says expert
(Alberta Farm Express) Matt McIntosh, Jan. 12
…“I predict there’s going to be a targeted activist campaign against gene editing in food production for a number of reasons,” Alison Van Eenennaam of the University of California, Davis said during an online conference hosted by Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan earlier this winter.
Alfalfa suits a water-challenged future
(Hay and Forage Grower) Mike Rankin, Jan. 11
The current drought in the West has likely had no greater impact on other agricultural entities than on alfalfa, according to Dan Putnam, the longtime extension forage agronomist with the University of California in Davis.
“Drought is nothing new,” Putnam asserted while speaking at the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium in Reno, Nev., last November. “It’s something we’ve seen in the West for many years. But drought isn’t necessarily our biggest challenge; it’s more the variation in water supplies as we can go from drought to periods of flooding in a short period of time.” Regulatory curtailments of water supplies are also a major concern.
2021’s biggest climate and weather disasters cost the U.S. $145 billion – here’s what climate science says about them in 5 essential reads
(The Conversation) Stacy Morford, Jan. 10
… As rising global temperatures dry out vegetation, forest managers are dealing with increasing wildfire risks and costs. Fighting huge wildfires, like the Dixie and Caldor fires in California that destroyed much of Greenville and Grizzly Flats in 2021, depletes funds needed for fire prevention efforts, such as forest thinning and prescribed burns, University of California forest and fire experts Susan Kocher and Ryan Tompkins wrote.
“To manage fires in an era of climate change, where drier, hotter weather creates ideal conditions for burning, experts estimate that the area treated for fuels reduction needs to increase by at least an order of magnitude,” they said.
University of California master gardeners host free pruning class for Valley residents
(ABC30) Jan. 10
University of California master gardeners are helping Valley residents learn how to prune.
Dozens came to east central Fresno on Saturday to take part in the free class to learn how, when, and why to prune trees during the winter.
Enjoy free lesson in pruning fruit trees
(Bakersfield Californian) Jan. 6
All are invited to the annual fruit tree pruning demonstrations on Wednesday at the UC Cooperative Extension office.
Ag adviser and "all around nice guy" Mohammad Yaghmour will lead the free demonstration that will cover apricot, cherry and peach trees as well as tips on how to prune grapevines.
Is a State Program to Foster Sustainable Farming Leaving Out Small-Scale Growers and Farmers of Color?
(Inside Climate News) Anne Marshall-Chalmers, Jan. 4
… “It’s the law,” said Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, a small farms advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Fresno.
… Dahlquist-Willard recently analyzed where small, diversified farms owned by Southeast Asian immigrants were located in Fresno County. She found that nearly 63 percent were outside the boundaries of disadvantaged communities. In areas near the central California coast, up to 94 percent of small scale Asian and Latino operated farms were outside of those designated priority areas.
California’s massive Dixie Fire ignited after tree fell on PG&E electrical lines, officials say
(NBC News) Tim Stelloh, Jan. 4
Matteo Garbelotto, a forest pathologist at the University of California, Berkeley, told [NBC Bay Area] that such rot is becoming increasingly common in the state’s overgrown forests as a drought worsened by climate change pushes dense trees to compete with one another for water.
The added stress makes trees less resistant to rot, Garbelotto said.
Capturing the Flood in California’s Ancient Underground Waterways
(Bay Nature) Erica Gies, Jan. 4
…These events repeated themselves over the last million or so years, as glaciers crept down from the north, then retreated. Four of these events have left imprints of their icy ebb and flow below the valley floor. Called paleo valleys, these buried historic riverbeds are still the paths water wants to travel underground, like slow-motion rivers. Their extreme permeability means they can absorb about 60 times more water than the surrounding clay. Aquifers, which are better known, also hold water in coarse soils. But the paleo valleys born of the most recent glaciations are truly special, according to UC Davis professor emeritus of hydrogeology Graham Fogg—the most significant feature underlying the Central Valley. They have super powers for moving water underground because they are exceptionally large, have unusually coarse gravel, and are relatively shallow—perhaps just a meter or two below the surface. Fogg says that every significant stream coming out of the Sierra today should have paleo valleys buried in the plateau. But only three have been discovered so far in California.
Arizona wants to use more inmates as wildland firefighters — but at what cost to the prisoners?
(Arizona Republic/KJZZ) Ron Dungan, Jan. 2
California has used inmate fire crews for decades. Fire adviser Lenya Quinn-Davidson says the program does not always translate to jobs for inmates.
“But one of the roadblocks historically had been that you can’t get a job in fire if you have this criminal background,” Quinn-Davidson said.
Inmates make up a large percentage of California’s fire crews, “and they really have become a critical piece of the puzzle,” she said.
Study highlights rancher responses to CA drought
(Western Livestock Journal) Charles Wallace, Dec. 30
…Grace Woodmansee, UCCE livestock and natural resources adviser in Siskiyou County, told WLJ the 2011 survey was a starting point to see what ranchers experienced and how they adapted during the 2012-16 drought.
“We were interested in seeing if the (2012-16 drought) changed the way ranchers thought about drought management planning and if there were any opportunities, from a support agency perspective, to adapt the way we do our extension work or influence the way policy is developed and meet people after managing through such a severe event,” said Woodmansee.
Conservationists create a vast home on the eco-range for wildfire north of L.A.
(Los Angeles Times) Louis Sahagún, Dec. 24
Moderate levels of cattle grazing around ephemeral ponds that form seasonally, under certain conditions, lead to a greater number and greater variety of native plants, according to a recent study led by researchers at UC Davis and UC Agricultural and Natural Resources.
“Livestock grazing can be used as a conservation tool, provided you have a plan,” said Ken Tate, co-author of the study. “It’s on the shoulders of the land managers to set goals and objectives and then meet them.”
UC expert: Grape growers experiencing shortage of herbicides
(The Press Democrat) Bill Swindell, Dec. 22
Grape growers in the state are experiencing a shortage of herbicides and other chemical supplies to place on their vineyards, according to an adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
George Zhuang, a viticulture farm adviser with the cooperative extension in Fresno County, said he has received many calls from grape growers facing difficulties in obtaining chemicals to protect their farms because of supply chain issues, including products such as fertilizers.
'Fuel for the next fire': Why California can't unload the trees that worsen its wildfires
(Sacramento Bee) Dale Kasler, Dec. 19
There’s no obvious quick fix for “this deficit of capacity,” as Robards called it. The facilities have been in decline for decades — lumber mills have been disappearing since the early 1990s, largely because of environmental restrictions, and the biomass industry has been battered by competition from cheaper energy sources.
“We had this robust infrastructure,” said Mike De Lasaux, a retired forester with UC Cooperative Extension. “Now we see these humongous piles of treetops and small trees that have no place to go.”
Educational Videos on Cover Crops
(AgNet West) Dec. 16
…In partnership with the Contra Costa County Resource Conservation District, two University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisors collaborated to support farmers’ cover cropping efforts. Kamyar Aram, UCCE specialty crops advisor for Contra Costa and Alameda counties, and Rob Bennaton, UCCE Bay Area urban agriculture and food systems advisor, developed a free online educational series on cover cropping. The videos describe in detail how to grow non-cash crops to add beneficial biomass to soils.
Invasives or allies?
(Calaveras Enterprise) Sean Kriletich, Dec. 15
… Scotch broom was brought to the Americas by European immigrants, who used it both as an ornamental and to fix nitrogen in the soil so “beneficial” crops could thrive. More recently, Caltrans used broom to stabilize slopes along highways. The University of California Green Blog (UCGB) says that brooms “have become aggressive invaders threatening native plants and increasing fire hazards.” Additionally, throughout the region UC Agriculture and Natural Resource agents spend large amounts of time and resources on the removal of broom.
California Economic Summit Forges A Path To Water Resiliency
(California Forward) Judy Corbett, Dec. 14
The health of California’s economy depends on an adequate supply of clean water. Fortunately, the ideas of innovative water leaders across the state are making their way into state action plans.
In recognition of the threat to water supplies from increasing droughts and floods, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Vice President Glenda Humiston – a California Economic Summit work group leader and a member of the California Stewardship Network – invited 25 of the State’s most innovative local elected officials and land use planners and 25 progressive leaders from local water districts to a symposium on land use and groundwater recharge. The year was 2016. Most of the participants were already locally implementing cutting edge policies connecting land use and the recharge of groundwater aquifers. Also participating at Symposium were university researchers and top-level members of the Brown Administration.
New study sheds light on how deer cope with wildfires
(Field & Stream) Ken Perrotte, Dec. 13
A study reported in the journal Ecology and Evolution in late October reveals insights into how blacktail deer responded following the catastrophic 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire in California. Somewhat surprisingly, the deer demonstrated a powerful loyalty to their small home ranges, returning soon after the fire and living on the scorched ground, even though high-quality, unburned habitat was available about a mile away.
The research, led by Samantha E.S. Kreling and Kaitlyn M. Gaynor, involved 18 radio-collared deer at the University of California’s 5,358-acre Hopland Research and Extension Center. The center is the principal field research facility for agriculture and natural resources in the state’s North Coast region.
The Bay Is Rising. Newark Residents Wonder Why The City Plans to Develop Its Shoreline
(KQED) Ezra David Romero, Dec. 13
Sanctuary West could help fill in the gap for much-needed housing in the Bay Area, but scientists like Mark Lubell, who studies sea level rise and governance at UC Davis, say the proposed site “is a terrible place to put a development.”
“I think we should definitely be looking at alternative locations for regional economic development that are not in hazard areas, wetland areas or watersheds,” he said.
Controlling Psyllids in Organic Citrus Production
(Citrus Industry) Len Wilcox, Dec. 13
At the recent California Citrus Conference held in Visalia, Monique Rivera, assistant cooperative Extension specialist at University of California Riverside, presented information about management of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) in organic citrus grown in the San Joaquin Valley.
“There is consumer demand that needs to be met for organic citrus,” Rivera said. “So there is a quick transition in the valley to organic management systems.”
Will new bacon law begin? California grocers seek delay
(Associated Press) Scott McFetridge, Dec. 12
…If there is a disruption, it “would be significantly smoothed,” said Daniel Sumner, a professor at the University of California-Davis, who teamed with colleagues to study the price and supply implications of Proposition 12.
UC Berkeley Research Forest Tests Strategies for Wildfire Prevention
(NBC San Francisco Bay Area) Joe Rosato Jr. Dec. 10
…For decades, researchers [at the Blodgett Forest Research Station] have worked in relative obscurity on the land, staging scientific experiments to gauge the effectiveness of different land management strategies. But as massive fires chip away at the state's forests, the work at Blodgett is now getting far more attention.
"I have been on this forest for 20 years, and 15, 20 years ago I couldn’t get a reporter to come here and talk about my research," said Blodgett researcher Rob York. "But now it’s very much front and center."
First Gotham Greens greenhouse opens in Davis
(ABC10) Monica Woods Dec. 10
…Gotham Greens, a pioneer in urban agriculture, is partnering with the University of California Davis and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) to find new farming methods in the face of water and land shortages, weather extremes and climate change.
California goes to war with food waste: Composting is its next climate crusade
(Los Angeles Times) James Rainey, Dec. 9
Scientists have found that this kind of reconditioning of biological matter produces far less Earth-warming methane and carbon dioxide than landfilling. The atmospheric benefit is compounded when farmers put the compost onto their fields, often to feed “cover crops” such as mustard that help sink carbon back into the Earth.
“It’s like a no-brainer,” said Kate M. Scow, a soil scientist at UC Davis, who has measured how compost helps remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. “You can’t build carbon in the soil unless you feed carbon in. ... It’s a way of closing the loop.”
Tehama County Agriculture Producers Day well attended
(Corning Observer) Julie R. Johnson, Dec. 9
Hosted by the University of California Cooperative Extension and Tehama County Farm Bureau and Department of Agriculture, the event started with a welcome by Tehama County Agricultural Commissioner Doni Rulofson, followed by a presentation on restricted materials permits, CEQA requirements and pesticide/bee notification by Heather Kelly and Ryan Knight of the county ag department.
Josh Davey and Larry Forero, both UCCE advisors, had everyone on their toes with a Weed Identification and Control Jeopardy game.
Citrus threat target of $7M multistate research project
(Western Farm Press) Olga Kuchment & Mike Hsu, Dec. 6
“It is likely only a matter of time when the disease will spread to commercial fields, so our strategy in California is to try to eradicate the insect vector of the disease, Asian citrus psyllid,” said Greg Douhan, University of California Cooperative Extension citrus advisor for Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties.
Now, a public-private collaborative effort across Texas, California, Florida and Indiana will draw on prior successes in research and innovation to advance new, environmentally friendly and commercially viable control strategies for huanglongbing.
Led by scientists from Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the team includes three UC Agriculture and Natural Resources experts: Douhan; Sonia Rios, UCCE subtropical horticulture advisor for Riverside and San Diego counties; and Ben Faber, UCCE advisor for Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
A teaching garden is taking root in Salinas through the Monterey Bay Master Gardeners
(Monterey County Weekly) Pam Marino, Dec. 2
There are over 20,000 master gardeners in California, trained through the University of California Master Gardener program, administered through UC Cooperative Extension. Volunteer gardeners go through extensive training in order to offer free advice about pest management, sustainable landscaping and related topics. The Monterey Bay Master Gardeners have about 60 volunteer gardeners in Monterey County, says Master Gardener Jan Fedor of Monterey.
Drought curbs spread of sudden oak death in California
(Press Democrat) Guy Kovner, Nov. 29
Below average rainfall was the primary reason for the overall low infection rate this year, [UC Cooperative Extension specialist Matteo] Garbelotto said.
The pathogen that causes sudden oak death — a fungus-like water mold — rides on droplets blown during warm spring rain from the leaves of bay laurel trees, a host species, to susceptible oak and tanoak trees.
"The disease comes in waves every time it rains a lot," he said.
How the infrastructure bill will help the West manage wildfires
(Mother Jones/High Country News) Kylie Mohr, Nov. 28
Large-scale funding is long overdue, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County and the director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. “It’s time to radically increase the scale of the work we’re doing,” she said. “We’ve never seen the investments we need to get ahead. It’s important for us to dump huge amounts of funding on this work and build the workforce to do it.”
Buying a real Christmas tree this year? Here are some fire prevention tips to help keep you safe
(USA Today) Jordan Mendoza, Nov. 27
Yana Valachovic, University of California cooperative extension forest advisor, said before placing the tree at home, it should be given a fresh cut at the bottom so the tree can absorb water. The NFPS recommends cutting at least two inches from the base of the trunk.
Conservation ethic allows Monterey Bay farmers to thrive during drought
(Monterey Herald) Jude Coleman and Brian Phan, Nov. 21
“One thing many people aren’t aware of is that we have no imports of water here. Our supply is here on the coast,” said Michael Cahn, an irrigation and water resource adviser at the Monterey County office of the University of California Cooperative Extension. “So it takes careful management so that we don’t overpump” and allow more seawater to invade Salinas Valley wells.
Organic Ag Institute begins forming knowledge network, assessing needs
(IV Press) Mike Hsu, Nov. 19
“This network will be a sustainability partnership that enables learning, innovation and cooperation among organic agriculture stakeholders,” said Houston Wilson, director of the Organic Agriculture Institute, which was established in January 2020. “As facilitator of the Cal OAK Network, the Organic Ag Institute will serve as an intermediary that fosters communication among stakeholder groups, organizes discourse, forges new collaborations, and generally enhances coordination of stakeholder activities.”
UC Educates Public on Cattle Production Cycles
(Cal Ag Today) Mike Hsu, Nov. 18
…Those encounters with animals (or their manure) represent a prime opportunity for members of the public to learn about agriculture and the ecological benefits of rangelands, according to Larry Forero, a UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor.
How to deal with bugs, mites and other common houseplant pests
(Washington Post) Helen Carefoot, Nov. 17
“[Kristen Natoli, chief nursery specialist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers] recommends that houseplant parents consult the University of California ... Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, which has detailed information and treatment techniques on numerous pests that can be found in homes, nature and agricultural settings, plus a Plant Problem Diagnostic Tool.”
Drought conditions persist in Humboldt County despite recent rains
(The Times-Standard) Isabella Vanderheiden, Nov. 17
Yana Valachovic, forest advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, agreed that “trends are going in the right direction” but warned that “current conditions aren’t necessarily a prediction of future conditions.”
“We really lucked out by getting that early season rain,” she said. “… We often get a prolonged dry period in December, January, and February, so things could reverse pretty quickly too. We’re hopeful that they go in the right direction, but just keep in mind that we can have fire activity or fire behavior during that winter dry period or if the season shortens up pretty quickly like it did last year when we didn’t get precipitation after March.”
New “climate stewards” course will begin at HREC in 2022 — registration open now
(Mendo Voice) Kate B. Maxwell, Nov. 15
Beginning in January, the University of California Hopland Research and Extension (HREC) will be launching a new “climate stewards” program, helping residents learn “how climate is changing natural and social systems, and what they can do to improve ecosystem and community resilience,” according to the announcement. The program is a combination of online and in-person classes and field trips, and will focus on “fire, water and stewardship,” with guest speakers and activities to identify methods of building community resilience. The University of California Climate Stewards course is similar to the naturalist program previously held at HREC and around the state.
For agriculture, a changing climate brings challenges—but also opportunities
(KVPR) Kerry Klein, Nov. 12
… In this interview, KVPR’s Kerry Klein spoke about those challenges and opportunities with Tapan Pathak, a professor and climate adaptation specialist with UC Merced and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
ABC News (Will Ganss)
…“There was a frost in Europe and followed that with the floods. So, I don’t know what would be next? Maybe locusts? said Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis.”
Hopland Research and Extension Center adds hedgerow
(Ukiah Daily Journal) Karen Rifkin, Nov. 12
…HREC’s director, John Bailey, who oversees the site and its many operations, explains that back in 1951 the site was purchased as a sheep center when there were about 10 times as many sheep as there are now in California.
“Over time, the center has evolved, along with the needs in the area, and today we do more work in wildlife ecology, diverse aspects of climate change, whether it’s soils or plants or wildlife interactions, fire ecology and fire science,” he says.
Prescribed burns are key to reducing wildfire risk, but federal agencies are lagging
(Los Angeles Times) Alex Wigglesworth, Nov. 8
...Another 5,000 acres were treated with broadcast burning, which in combination with thinning has shown to be most effective.
“That’s just depressing,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. “That’s so little, given how much land the Forest Service manages in California. It is just a drop in the bucket.
“I think it speaks to the need for such drastic change around prescribed fire.”
Family farms struggling as California drought worsens: 'We haven't faced anything like this'
(Central Valley News Collaborative) Nadia Lopez, Nov. 5
...Water scarcity, combined with these other challenges, could lead to thousands of families losing their businesses and no longer supplying specialty fruits and vegetables to markets and businesses across the state, resulting in the “increase towards more consolidation into larger farms that are going to be less diverse,” according to Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, a small farms advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
“There’s a lot at stake,” said Dahlquist-Willard, who helps connect diverse and socially-disadvantaged farmers to resources. “The viability of smaller farms might be affected and our landscape will continue to change to maybe a few more high value crops versus a bigger diversity of a lot of different kinds of crops.”
'Perfect storm' for wineries: Bottle shortage, other issues leave winemakers scrambling
(USA TODAY) Christine Fernando, Nov. 2
…Kaan Kurtural, professor of viticulture – or the study of the cultivation of grapes for winemaking – at the University of California, Davis, said “glass shortages are probably the least of winemakers’ worries.” Instead, he pointed to low grape yields due to drought as a greater concern.
… Kurtural said “one of the worst droughts in recorded history” would affect the wine industry for at least two more years. Add supply chain issues and increasing energy and fertilizer prices and "it's a perfect storm," he added.
ESA launches IPM certificate program
(Pest Management Pro) Ellen Wagner, Nov. 2
…“The new CIT credential gives pest management professionals who are relatively new to the field a way to get a leg up in their career and gain a competitive edge,” said Dr. Andrew Sutherland, Ph.D., BCE, urban IPM advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the ESA Certification Corporation’s Certification Board. “By showcasing their IPM know-how, CIT holders can boost their clients’ confidence in their professional ability to address pest management challenges.”
Why fire experts are hopeful
(High Country News) Kylie Mohr, Nov. 1
So, if we know what works, why isn’t it happening? “That’s the million-dollar question,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County and the director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. “The holdup is so multifaceted.” Hurdles include getting vast numbers of private landowners to work together and understand what they need to do, dealing with federal and state regulatory barriers, permitting red tape, an insufficient federal workforce, a lack of funding, the risks stemming from liability and insurance policies, and a deeply ingrained fire suppression mentality.
California drought persists, even with recent rain. Conserve water now with these tips
(Sac Bee) Hanh Truong, Nov. 1
…You should also turn off faucets when you’re not using them and only run dishwashers when they are full, said Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources at the University of California.
These charts show how California's top crops are changing
(SF Chronicle) Yoohyun Jung, Oct. 28
…Drought pushes farmers to shift their scarce water resources to crops with higher payoffs, such as nuts and vegetables, said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economics professor at the UC Agricultural Issues Center — a trend particularly noticeable this year with its uniquely severe drought.
Historic rain and snow begin to refresh California lakes and mountains
(Washington Post) Kasha Patel and Zach Levitt, Oct. 27
"It is great that we received this much rain early in the season, which helped with wildfires and air quality,” wrote Helen Dahlke, associate professor in Integrated Hydrologic Sciences at the University of California at Davis, in an email. “The more these precipitation events are spread out over the rainy season the more chance the rain has to infiltrate and replenish soil moisture storage.”
Storm took a big toll on Bay Area trees. Did the drought make them more vulnerable?
(San Francisco Chronicle) Kellie Hwang, Oct. 26
Of course, big storms always claim trees as casualties.
“A powerful storm will inevitably result in some damage to trees, whether from falling branches or even uprooted trees,” Igor Lacan, urban forestry adviser for the UC Cooperative Extension, wrote in an email.
However, California’s historic drought is “certainly not helping,” he said. “A drought will have weakened some trees and even killed some,” priming them to topple in a storm.
Current approaches to wildfires risks lives and wastes money, say experts
(The Guardian) Sarah Johnson, Oct. 24
As Cop26 approaches and is expected to shine a light on the importance of protecting ecosystems and building defences to avoid loss of homes and lives, experts say a lack of foresight and funding worldwide means harmful wildfires will continue to rage, putting communities and firefighters in danger.
Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser at the University of California, said: “We’re seeing our historical approach to fighting fires is no longer working. We saw this summer in California that going out, attacking fires and putting them out was totally ineffective.”
Thirty years after the Tunnel Fire: In many ways, Oakland Hills are more vulnerable today
(SFbay.ca) Nik Wojcik, Ian Sumner, Oct. 21
…Matteo Garbelotto, University of California, Berkeley professor and one of the state’s leading tree pathologists, was contacted this year by the U.S Forest Service and the San Francisco Public Utility Commission and asked to conduct an investigation. He was basically told:
“You got to stop everything you’re doing and you’ve got to work on this.”
The agencies were urgently concerned with a surge of tree death in the Bay Area. While eucalyptus trees were being impacted, Garbelotto found a “much greater mortality” in acacias.
What he observed across the state were two already identified native, or naturalized, fungi that grew rampant as a result of the abnormally wet 2017 winter. The “opportunistic organisms” have infected non-native, invasive acacias, which are already stressed by drought and high propagation rates..He believes the infection may be spreading to eucalyptus as well.
But Garbelotto discovered a third fungus unique to the Leona Heights neighborhood in the Oakland Hills, which compounds morality in that area.
New Farm Advisor shares plans with BOS
(Lake County Record-Bee) Bernadette Hefflefinger, Oct. 21
The new County Director for Mendocino and Lake Counties’ UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) program made a meet-and-greet Zoom appearance to share information with the Lake County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting. Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor John Harper told the BOS he’s no stranger to the ‘county director’ role tasked with administering and supervising the fiscal, policy and personnel responsibilities of the UCCE’s program in the two counties. He held a similar position some 15 years ago and has stepped into the role again following the subsequent retirements of Rachel Elkins and Glenn McGourty from their respective roles as Pomology Advisor and Viticulture and Enology Advisor, and the departure of Car Mun Kok as the 4-H Youth Advisor.
A biblical plague or a winged love story? The truth about California's annual termite swarms
(Redwood City Pulse) Leah Worthington, Oct. 21
…So, are the rains really triggering an early autumn termite explosion?
"Absolutely," said Andrew Sutherland, the urban integrated pest management adviser for the Bay Area at the University of California Agriculture and Resources. "Most likely what's being observed are swarms of western subterranean termites."
What does California’s drought mean for the rest of the country
(Marketplace) Samantha Fields, Oct. 20
… So far, Munch said, American consumers haven’t really been feeling the effects of the drought in California. The longer the drought goes on, the more likely that is to change, according to Tapan Pathak, an agricultural climate scientist at the University of California, Merced.
“We could potentially see reduction in the availability of the fruits and vegetables that’s consumed by people every day,” Pathak said — things like lettuce, lemons, avocados and all sorts of nuts.
“At the same time, we could potentially see higher food prices,” Pathak added.
UC Berkeley students clean eucalyptus debris to prepare for fire season
(Daily Cal) Lance Roberts, Oct. 20
…Eucalyptus trees are quite a problem for California — according to campus professor of environmental science, policy and management Matteo Garbelotto, eucalyptus oils are easily ignited. When they are set ablaze, Garbelotto says that the gases formed from the oil cause something similar to an “explosive combustion.”
What’s worse, a pathogen is making eucalyptus trees even more flammable. The pathogen, called Pseudosydowia eucalypti, is a major reason why so many eucalyptus trees are drying out and posing a threat, Garbelotto said.
“In some of these strands (of eucalyptus trees), a hundred percent of the trees are infected by this fungus,” Garbelotto said. “Basically it’s like firewood ready to be burned.”
Gene Editing in Today’s Beef Industry and the Future
(Drovers) Oct. 20
“The United States produces 18% of the world’s beef with 6% of the world’s cattle. That’s why genetics are important,” said Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Professor of Cooperative Extension in Animal Genomics and Biotechnology at the University of California, Davis. Van Eenennaam gave her presentation titled “Gene Editing Today and in the Future” during the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Symposium June 24 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Citrus Cost Study Outlines Production in the San Joaquin Valley
(AgNet West) Brian German, Oct. 18
…“If you’re a new grower you kind of want to know what it’s going to cost to grow the oranges and it really does do a pretty good job of that. We really look into the cost in some detail. It’s not only to produce oranges, but also to plant them. It covers a whole range,” said co-author Craig Kallsen, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Kern County. “For new growers, it gives them an idea of what they need to do. It’s almost like a production manual because it tells them when to do it as well because the costs are associated with doing various things at various times during the year.”
Pork is already super expensive. This new animal-welfare law could push prices higher
(CNN) Alicia Wallace, Oct. 17
…A trio of economists at the University of California Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences estimate the annual costs to consumers in California will be about $320 million annually, or about $8 more per person. They also project consumers in the state will buy about 6.3% less pork.
…"There may be a brief period of disruption [when the regulations start Jan. 1], but nothing like the apocalyptic predictions of significant long-term shortages or drastically higher prices," Richard J. Sexton, report co-author and distinguished professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, told CNN Business.
A new approach to fire: Harden the homes, and don't try to stop the blazes
(Mercury News) Jim Hinch, Oct. 15
…“One of the biggest disconnects I see out there, whether by a journalist or a legislative staffer or my neighbor, is this conflation of the problems and the solutions,” said Max Moritz, a professor of fire ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
…“If the desired outcome is to reduce home losses, you spend money on hardening homes,” Moritz said.
Wildfire scientists push back against CA environmentalists (Sacramento Bee) Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, Oct. 14
…“When you just see what’s happening out the window right now, with the number of fires we’re experiencing … there’s a real political movement to (act) on some of this decisively,” said Scott Stephens, a UC Berkeley wildfire scientist and one of Hanson’s critics.
How a California state forest became a battleground for logging redwoods on public land
(SFGate) Ashley Harrell, Oct. 14
“The research that comes from Jackson [Demonstration State Forest] helps landowners and forest managers make better decisions to help steward California’s forests,” says Yana Valachovic, an extension agent with the University of California Cooperative Extension program. “Those landowners provide numerous resources that benefit everyone, including things like clean water, clean air, pollination and wildlife habitat. … Without places for research and innovation, guidance on forest management would stagnate.”
Moving beyond America’s war on wildfire: 4 ways to avoid future megafires
(The Conversation) Susan Kocher and Ryan Tompkins, Oct. 13
…The main lesson we gather from how these fires have burned is that forest fuels reduction projects are our best tools for mitigating wildfire impacts under a changing climate, and not nearly enough of them are being done.
Drought conditions force California wineries to change how they grow grapes
(NPR Morning Edition) Ezra David Romero, Oct. 11
KAAN KURTURAL: Drought is not coming for wine. Quality has steadily increased as the climate warmed.
ROMERO: That's UC Davis viticulture specialist Kaan Kurtural. He released a study this summer and found that since the 1980s, the climate has steadily warmed. But he says this has not been bad for the industry. A warmer climate actually helped establish the state as a premier wine growing region globally.
Wildfire Fuel Mapper helps landowners manage vegetation
(Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice, Oct. 11
On the four-year anniversary of the devastating Tubbs and Nuns fires in Sonoma County, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and Pepperwood Preserve are launching the Wildfire Fuel Mapper, a comprehensive toolkit to assist landowners in managing vegetation that may fuel wildfires.
UC ANR: Can Homes Be Designed to Withstand Wildfire?
(Sierra Sun Times) Pamela Kan-Rice, Oct. 10
…“Our team found a reason for hope and information that can help Californians, building contractors and policymakers better prepare for future fires,” said co-author Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension forest advisor.
Free Summit: Making Our Community Fire Safe
(My Motherlode) Mark Truppner, Oct. 6
…Speakers for the summit include: Congressman Tom McClintock, District 4; Randy Moore, Chief of the Forest Service (remote feed-confirmed); Jennifer Eberlien. Region 5 Forester USFS (remote feed); Ken Pimlott, (ret.) CALFIRE Chief; Patrick Wright, Director with California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan; Adam Frese,CAL-FIRE; Susie Kocher, Forestry Advisor UCNR; Dore Bietz, Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services; Glenn Gottschall, Hwy 108 Fire Safe Council; and Sherri Brennan, Lodestone Consulting.
Why did some homes in the Northern California town of Paradise survive the 2018 Camp Fire while so many others did not?
(KQED) Danielle Venton, Oct. 6
… Yana Valachovic is a forest advisor with the University of California and coauthor of the study.
“We’re only as strong as our weakest neighbor. We’re really all in this together. When we tend to see loss, it’s usually when a neighboring building is lost to wildfire and then you get significant radiant heat.”
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/new-details-released-on-ruptured-pipeline-involved/id79681292?i=1000537739845 [At 8 min mark]
Wildfire Torched the Sierra All Summer, Evading Containment. Here’s How Tahoe Protected Itself
(KQED) Ezra David Romero, Danielle Venton, Emily Zentner, and Raquel Maria Dillon, Oct. 5
Susie Kocher watched with increasing dread as the Caldor Fire roared across the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, churning toward her home near the base of Echo Summit.
From high along the granite ridge nearby, the view of Lake Tahoe is normally pristine — a cerulean ocean in the sky, dotted with boats and casinos lining the pine forest along the South Shore. But for two weeks at the end of August, smoke as brown as car exhaust clouded the basin’s air.
As Kocher well knows, having worked tirelessly for more than a decade to prepare this community for a wildfire as a UC Cooperative Extension forestry adviser, under almost every tree near South Lake Tahoe is a house.
Water is scarce in California. But farmers have found ways to store it underground
(NPR) Dan Charles, Oct. 5
…Flooding more land probably will flush those agricultural pollutants into aquifers, says Helen Dahlke, a hydrologist at the University of California, Davis. "We often see a spike in nitrate, for example, at the groundwater table below a recharge site," she says.
In the long run, though, she thinks it will be good for water quality. "Most of the water that we use for recharge is very clean, because it comes from rainfall or snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains," she says. "Eventually there will be a pulse of clean water also coming into the aquifer, which can dilute many of the pollutants that have moved into the groundwater over the last couple of decades."
The Controversial Quest to Make Cow Burps Less Noxious
(Wired) Matt Simon, Oct. 1
Animal scientist Frank Mitloehner leads me to another kind of feeder, one that could easily be mistaken for a miniature wood chipper. He grabs a handful of the alfalfa pellets that the machine dispenses when it detects that a cow has poked its head in. “This is like candy to them,” Mitloehner says. I stick my head into the machine as Mitloehner points out a small metal tube within: “This probe measures the methane they exhale, and that happens every three hours for all the animals in this study.”
Facing Drought, Wildfires, Scorching Heat, Bay Area Wineries Are Changing How They Grow Grapes
(KQED) Ezra David Romero, Sept. 30
…A study released this summer by Kaan Kurtural, a UC Davis viticulture specialist, found that California's wine industry is "not at a tipping point" because of climate change or its effects — although heat waves and fires can have an immediate impact on winemaking.
"I tell the growers your grapevines are not going to die," he said. "They might not be economical to grow for one or two years, but they always come back. There are very resilient plants. So we're able to adapt."
He also found that the climate has warmed steadily in California since the 1980s. But he says this has not been bad for the wine industry in the Golden State — a warmer climate helped establish the state as a premier wine growing region globally.
"As it became warmer we started harvesting sweeter grapes, and with sweeter grapes, the wine ratings have steadily increased," he said.
How to protect your home from wildfires
(Washington Post) Aaron Steckelberg and Tik Root, Sept. 30
…Embers can also find their way into your home through vents, such as those in the attic or in the roof’s overhang. Yana Valachovic, a forest adviser affiliated with the University of California, notes there have been technological developments in this area. For instance, there are vents designed to swell when exposed to heat as a way of sealing off a house.
…Outside your home, the goal is to remove as much potential fuel for the wildfire as possible. The first five feet are particularly crucial, experts say. “By doing that first five feet, you basically interrupt the pathway of the flames to the house,” said Valachovic.
Is your National Coffee Day cup filled with US-grown coffee? Not likely, but that could change
(USA TODAY) Mike Snider, Sept. 29
…But in 2000, coffee percolated onto his radar. A friend, Mark Gaskell, an adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, was returning from a trip seeing coffee growers in the Kona region of Hawaii. Flying into Santa Barbara, Gaskell told Ruskey that he "looked around the foothills and said, 'This looked exactly like (the) Kona (region in Hawaii). Maybe we should try coffee.'"
La agricultura urbana un brote de esperanza entre cinturones de asfalto
(San Diego Union-Tribune) Norma De la Vega, Sept. 29
…UC ANR promoviendo sus principios comunitarios, ha estado presentando, vía zoom a través del Programa de Investigación y Educación en Agricultura Sustentable SAREP, una serie de 6 talleres en apoyo a los agricultores pequeños que han sido históricamente marginados de las oportunidades de entrenamiento y financiamiento.
California vineyards can still make great wine even with limited water supply and droughts
(SF Chronicle) Tara Duggan, Sept. 29
…“If you take the 20,000-foot view of this, people are saying agriculture will have to contract,” said Kaan Kurtural, a co-author of the studies and a viticulture and enology specialist at UC Davis, referring to the potential effects of mega-droughts on the state. “I can’t think of a better crop than wine grapes to grow in California now with the restriction of water or the lack of water.”
Community food guides connect more farmers with buyers
(Ag Clips) Liana Wolfe, Sept. 29
To create a more connected and sustainable environment for local farms and markets, it has become crucial to understand the network of growers and identify critical gaps and central hubs in regional food systems, according to University of California Center for Regional Change Director Catherine Brinkley.
Scientists Are Racing To Save Sequoias
(NPR Short Wave) Maddie Sofia, Sept 28
… Without fires, the Forest got a lot denser. The trees are closer together. The undergrowth has built up, and that's what's helping fuel these really extreme fires, the kind that sequoias, it turns out, just can't survive. That's what was striking to Scott Stephens. He's a UC Berkeley fire scientist who was out with the field crew that day. They were there to catalog the mortality but also to study the forest density around the sequoias.
SCOTT STEPHENS: You know, they've been here 1,500 years. You know, and each tree maybe survived 60, 70, 80 fires. You know, that's incredible. And then one fire comes in 2020. And all of a sudden, they're gone. That is a travesty.
Governor signs Jim Wood’s wildfire prevention bill
(Times-Standard) Mario Cortez, Sept. 28
“The bill also preserves and makes permanent the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program and benefits Humboldt County by providing flexible block grants for regional planning and work done by organizations like the North Coast Resource Partnership, UC Cooperative Extension and the local Fire Safe Council,” he said ahead of the bill’s signing.
How Two Wineries are Dealing With Climate Change
(KQED) Ezra David Romero, Sept. 27
…It's true that climate change and drought are affecting the wine country. But when I talk to a wine expert named Kaan Kurtural, he's a UC Davis viticulture wine specialist that works in the Napa Valley area and then UC Davis, he basically told me that, yes, all that's happening, but it's not affecting the wine world enough for them to stop making wine.
Kaan Kurtural: [00:15:47] Drought is not coming for a wine. But, yes, they should be worried about climate change for for grapes. There are quite resilient, growers are able to adapt to this quite well.
New study confirms less water usage in vineyard can result in better grapes
Press Democrat (Bill Swindell) Sept. 25
…“It is a significant finding,” said Kaan Kurtural, a UC Davis professor of viticulture and enology who led the study. “We don’t necessarily have to increase the amount of water supplied to grapevines.”
Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association awarded Cal Fire grant
(Santa Cruz Sentinel) Hannah Hagemann, Sept 24
…The funds, will help the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association reach and work with more landowners interested in using fire to manage their land, said Devii Rao, livestock and natural resource adviser with the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“We’re seeing a lot of wildfires that are impacting a lot of people … homes are being destroyed, people are breathing horrible air for weeks at a time and the more prescribed burning we can do in a careful, planned way, the fewer of these extreme fire events we’re going to have,” Rao said. “Prescribed burn associations are one of the tools we can use to have a safer community.”
Drought, high labor costs challenging California farmers as fall harvest begins
(ABC10) Luke Cleary, Sept 22
…"Farmers look at their bottom line and say, 'I don't see how this pencils out with high costs of labor," said UC Davis professor and agricultural economist Daniel Sumner.
Sumner said farmers across the state are not just struggling to pay increasing wages, but to find workers in the first place.
"You really need people who know what they're doing out in the fields, and it's hard to find folks, particularly at a wage that farmers feel like they can afford to pay," Sumner said.
California Today: Even California Has A Mosquito Problem
(New York Times) Marie Tae McDermott, Sept 22
…Alec Gerry, a professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, said it was not necessarily that the mosquito population had increased in size but rather that the habits of this invasive species were far more noticeable.
‘Torture Orchard’ At UC Davis Stresses Trees To Find Which Ones Are Drought Tolerant
(CBS 13 Sacramento) Rachel Wulff, Sept. 21
It’s come to be known as a “torture orchard” – researchers stressing trees to determine which are drought tolerant and design varieties for commercial food production.
…“What you’re doing is you’re having to watch the tree; it’s in stress now, we need to irrigate. Versus, well, it’s Monday. We irrigate on Mondays, trees don’t know Mondays,” said [UC Davis professor Ken] Shackel.
Extension programs get financial boost
(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, Sept 21
…The approved budget increased funding for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division – home to Cooperative Extension and other programs – by more than $32 million in a move UCANR Vice President Glenda Humiston says was much needed. After years of declining budgets and dwindling farm advisor positions, California's land-grant university is looking to rebuild, thanks to a significant financial boost from the state budget.
The approved budget increased funding for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division – home to Cooperative Extension and other programs – by more than $32 million in a move UCANR Vice President Glenda Humiston says was much needed.
"We have half the Cooperative Extension personnel we had 20 years ago," she said.
California’s Water Crisis is Real. What Are the Solutions?
(Capital and Main) Steve Appleford, Sept 20
…“Next time it will be all the way to the Midwest,” says Samuel Sandoval Solis, an expert in water resources planning and management at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. “Would more investment help? Yes, it will help. But the investment is not the solution. We have to cut it back.”
Raging Debate Over Burned Trees Could Leave Residents Vulnerable to Disastrous Fires
(NBC Bay Area) Bigad Shaban and Robert Campos, Sept 20
…“That is entirely bogus,” said Dr. Brandon Collins, a forest research scientist. "There's nothing in the scientific literature to support that." Collins works with the U.S. Forest Service, but only spoke to the Investigative Unit in his capacity as a Fire Science professor at U.C. Berkeley. He calls Hanson’s study “flawed” and maintains leaving burned logs in the forest will not slow down future fires.
“In fact, it's actually quite the opposite. The Creek Fire, actually, was a great example of that,” said Collins. “We believe that most of what fueled that growth was the dead trees that were killed during the drought that preceded that fire by four or five years.”
A Hotter Climate Means Falling Trees — And More Power Outages
(NPR) Julia Simon, Sept 20
SIMON: [Igor] Lacan says a fungus is killing these trees. California's climate-change-fueled drought left them vulnerable. Lacan works at University of California Cooperative Extension. He says dying trees like this can topple onto power lines and cause fires or outages. He works with utilities to spot sick trees before that happens. He points up at a branch.
Monterey County agriculture industry aims to address production issues
(Salinas Californian) Jocelyn Ortega, Sept 20
…“UC Cooperative Extension has always had a number of farm advisors here in Monterey County, which would be critical in a situation like this but they have been unable to fill those positions due to lack of funding and other priorities to some extent,” she said.
On Monday, Assembly Agriculture Chair Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) met with Zischke, ag researchers, and growers in Salinas to address issues the industry faces.
A Single Fire Killed Thousands Of Sequoias. Scientists Are Racing To Save The Rest
NPR (Lauren Sommer) Sept. 17
…"This is unprecedented to see so many of these large old-growth trees dead, and I think it's a travesty," says Scott Stephens, fire scientist at UC Berkeley, as he surveys the damage. "This is pure disaster."
Maps: How Prescribed Burns And Other Treatments Helped Curb Caldor’s Growth
(SF Chronicle) Yoohyun Jung and Paula Friedrich, Sept. 17
The effects of the treatments are best after the first few years, said William Stewart, a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management who specializes in forest policy. A good treatment's effects can last 10 years or more, though with each passing year, they are reduced. “It’s kind of a linear relationship. Every year, new stuff grows and then falls over,” he said.
Harvest Solutions Farm
KTLA (Gayle Anderson), Sept 16
…Two weeks ago, we opened Harvest Solutions Farm at the South Coast Research and Extension Center about a quarter of a mile from here and in partnership with Solutions for Urban Agriculture. This partnership with the University of California and AG Kawamura, our farming partner, has the potential to grow 45 acres of food right here in Irvine. We planted 2 acres of cabbage, 26,000 heads of cabbage will be ready just in time for Thanksgiving for our families.
Third video at this link: https://ktla.com/morning-news/september-is-hunger-action-month-part-two-second-harvest-food-bank-of-orange-county/
Wildfire smoke impacts crops, workers
(Colusa County Sun Herald.com) David Wilson, Sept. 15
Wildfire smoke doesn’t just affect local air quality, the region’s agriculture industry also is impacted by smoke-filled skies.
Whitney Brim-DeForest is the county director of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) for Yuba and Sutter counties. She’s also a rice advisor for UCCE in Sutter, Yuba, Placer and Sacramento counties.
‘Ashes, twisted metal’: California residents reel amid wildfires
(Aljazeera) Hilary Beaumont, Sept. 14
Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire adviser at the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, is optimistic that people can bring wildfires back into balance with nature.
Californians are bolstering climate resilience
(Western Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice, Sept. 13
Wildfires that generate their own weather, drought, record-breaking heatwaves, and frequent flooding are compelling more people to try to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
A new book co-authored by Adina Merenlender, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, shows how Californians are working together across diverse communities and landscapes to improve resilience and address climate justice.
Torture orchard: Can science transform California crops to cope with drought?
(East Bay Times) Julie Cart, Sept 13
…“This is different from the last drought. What’s changed is how fast things are happening,” said Sam Sandoval Solis, an associate professor at UC Davis and a cooperative extension specialist who advises farmers on efficient water management.
…One test for tree crops, developed at UC Davis, works something like a blood-pressure cuff. Now an industry standard with different versions available to growers, the so-called pressure bomb device essentially monitors the moisture levels in a tree’s miniature plumbing system, said Ken Shackel, a professor of plant sciences at the university.
…Pat J. Brown, a UC Davis associate professor who is a nut crop breeder, selects varieties for low-water requirements and indifference to saline soils. At the Torture Orchard, Brown and his colleagues fed pistachio trees increasing amounts of salty water. Scientists were delighted that their work did not kill a single tree, suggesting that growers someday may be able to use briny water, not just scarce fresh water, to irrigate orchards.
…The gnarled trees produce a small, blonde nut, the favorite of Tom Gradziel, a Davis professor of plant science and an almond breeder. Gradziel walks through the orchards the way farmers do, reaching out to pluck fruits and nuts, checking them and absently snacking as he goes.
Sacramento’s wine scene touches Lodi, Clarksburg & Amador CA
(Sacramento Bee) Benjy Egel, Sept 12
… But as with grapes grown around Clarksburg, Plymouth and the Capay Valley, some stick around and end up producing exceptional small-batch wines right in Sacramento’s backyard. Area micro-producers keep their region’s grapes local and turn out world-class wine, UC Davis viticulture and enology department chair David Block said.
“Some of these places are making wine that rivals Napa and Sonoma and places in Northern California that are maybe more known for their wine,” Block said. “Are they the same as wines in Napa? They aren’t the same because they’re made in a different place. Are they as good? I think some of them are probably as good, if not better.”
Newsom’s call now: California Legislature passes these top 2021 bills
(Lake County Record Bee) Laurel Rosenhall, Sept. 11
A prescribed burn in 2019. Photo courtesy of Lenya Quinn-Davidson, University of California Cooperative Extension/Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association.
‘Explosive’ Dixie Fire Could Become Biggest in CA History
(Scientific American) Anne Mulkern, Sept. 10
Eight of the 10 largest blazes in state history have occurred in the last five years, a fiery rampage seen by many scientists as a clear sign of climate change.
“It’s widely agreed that anthropogenic climate change is the cause of increased temperatures, on average, and more extreme heat waves,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Get excited for the Kern County Fair with Chevron’s Fair Animal Contest
(KGET) llyana Capellan, Sept 10
Studio 17’s Ilyana Capellan meets two students from local [UC] 4H programs and several adorable goats that will be featured at the Kern County Fair.
Hunger an Issue, Even as the Economy Improves
(The Orange County Register) Theresa Walker, Sept. 8
A.G. Kawamura, chairman of Solutions for Urban Ag and the former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture helps Gavin Slavik, 5, plant cabbage at the University of California Cooperative Extension in Irvine on Aug. 31.
How Lake Tahoe was spared devastation from the Caldor fire
(Yahoo News) Alex Wigglesworth, Sept. 4
Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension, agreed.
“If you look at any of the fire maps, there’s a big gap between Kirkwood and Tahoe,” said Kocher, who was forced to evacuate her Meyers, Calif., home Monday. “That's Caples.”
The Caldor Fire blew past every barrier firefighters put up. This is how they finally tamed it
(San Francisco Chronical) Julie Johnson and Kevin Fagan, Sept. 4
Before the 2017 Wine Country fires ushered in a new era of mega-fires each year, a wildfire could be expected to hurl embers a mile or two ahead, said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley.
“But 8 miles?” he said. “That’s one for the record books.”
What to Do at Home During a Red Flag Alert
(Press Democrat) Sept. 4
University of California Cooperative Extension Forester Michael Jones suspects redwood decline and dieback are caused by many health issues that can occur when redwoods are planted outside of their natural coastline range.
CA’s Dixie Fire puts Ag Pass program to test
(Western Livestock Journal) Charles Wallace, Sept. 3
…According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), as of Aug. 4, the Dixie Fire was 274,139 acres and 35 percent contained. Tracy Kay Schohr, University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension (UCCE) livestock and natural resources adviser for Butte, Plymouth and Sierra counties, told WLJ some livestock producers are in the mandatory evacuation area, particularly in the burn area of Greenville/Indian Valley of Plumas County.
“The concept of it is completely working,” Schohr said. “Before the fire became a major incident and was being managed by just the Butte County CAL FIRE, I got a phone call from a CAL FIRE captain who asked me, ‘Hey, I know there are cattle in this area, can you figure out whose cattle they were in Plumas County? The fire is headed that way. They probably have two days to get their cattle out.’ And so the relationships that we had built, working with CAL FIRE to develop the Ag Pass program really facilitated that communication back to me.”
… Dan Macon, UCCE Livestock and natural resources adviser, told WLJ the livestock access program for Placer/Nevada/Yuba counties was developed based on examples from other counties in the state.
Wildfires in the West are inevitable, but this strategy can help control them
(Nat Geo) Alejandra Borundra, Sept. 3
…“The average fuel load right now is probably something like 50 tons per acre. Under the old fire regime,” when Native people managed the land, “it was probably more like 7 tons per acre—an order of magnitude less than what it is now across large areas,” says Rob York, a forestry expert with the University of California, Berkeley.
Fire is heading your way. What can you do fast to protect your property?
Press Democrat) Master Gardeners, Sept 3
… Seal vents in your attic and foundation with plywood or heavy foil. Old cookie sheets are great for foundation vents. As UC Cooperative Extension Forest Adviser Yana Valachovic said, “Temporarily sealing up vents can help prevent embers or small bits of burning vegetation from being blown inside the home.”
Water Drought: How a lack of water is impacting growing food in California
(ABC10) Monica Woods, Sept. 2
…”A cow producing milk would need to drink 30 to 50 gallons of water per day,” said Betsy Karle, UC Cooperative Extension dairy advisor…”We’ll see a drop of water on a dairy farm recycled and used up to four times before it actually leaves the dairy center and gets used as irrigation water for the farm’s crops.”
…”A lot of us, we think of the water that we use specifically – showers, washing the dishes, brushing our teeth – 80 to 90 percent of the water that we use, it’s in your plate.” Samuel Sandoval is a water resources specialist at the University of California, Davis.
How wildfires, climate change endanger Lake Tahoe’s future
(Sacramento Bee) Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, Jason Pohl, Sept 2
… It’s been an admirable effort, the experts agree. The woods of the Tahoe basin are “more thinned out for a forest than any other place I’ve seen,” said Susie Kocher, a forestry specialist at UC Cooperative Extension. “A lot of the south shore looks pretty good.”
Kocher had plenty of time to discuss Tahoe’s fire safety Monday afternoon. She was stuck in traffic for hours on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, along with a freaked-out cat, as she and 22,000 other people evacuated the basin.
Lake Tahoe wildfire seemed controllable, then it wasn’t
Associated Press (Don Thompson) Sept 2
…“I do think the Dixie and the way that it’s burned and its magnitude did impact the early response to the Caldor,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of wildland fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. “It really drew resources down so much that the Caldor got very few for the first couple days.”
…“They’re trying to predict winds at a mountain pass. That is the most complex topography we have,” [John] Battles [a UC Berkeley professor of forest ecology] said. “That’s why you have this feeling like they didn’t know what they’re doing.”
Coastal grape growers can use less water during drought
(Sonoma County Gazette) Emily Dooley, Sept. 2
… It sheds new light on how vineyards can mitigate drought effects at a time when California is experiencing a severe water shortage and facing more extreme weather brought on by climate change, according to lead author Kaan Kurtural, professor of viticulture and enology and an extension specialist at UC Davis.
“It is a significant finding,” Kurtural said. “We don’t necessarily have to increase the amount of water supplied to grape vines.”
Why The South Is Decades Ahead Of The West In Wildfire Prevention
(GPB News) Lauren Sommer, Sept. 2
Lenya Quinn-Davidson is a fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. So far this year, Florida has done controlled burns on 45 times more land than California - mostly private land. In California, Quinn-Davidson says private landowners get little support.
Tahoe's Fire Vulnerable Forests
(Marin Independent Journal) Paul Rogers, Sept. 2
"We are in an emergency crisis throughout the Sierra," said Susie Krocher, a forestry and natural resources advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in South Lake Tahoe.
Why Lake Tahoe's Forests Face so Much Fire Danger
(San Gabriel Valley Tribune) Paul Rogers, Sept. 1
"We are in an emergency crisis throughout the Sierra," said Susie Krocher, a forestry and natural resource advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in South Lake Tahoe.
How Wildfires and Climate Change Endanger Lake Tahoe's Future
(Sacramento Bee) Sept. 1
The woods of the Tahoe basin are “more thinned out for a forest than any other place I’ve seen,” said Susie Kocher, a forestry specialist at UC Cooperative Extension. “A lot of the south shore looks pretty good.”
Wildfires are Burning in the Same Places Over and Over
(Siskyou Daily News) Damon Arthur, Sept. 1
Where the wildfires burn hottest, the tend to kill the large trees and convert from forest to chaparral brushland, said Lenya N. Quinn-Davidson, area fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Practices and Policies Led to Dangerous Fire Situation
(East Bay Times) Paul Rogers, Sept. 1
"We are in an emergency crisis throughout the Sierra," said Susie Krocher, a forestry and natural resources advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in South Lake Tahoe.
Caldor Fire: Why Lake Tahoe’s forests face so much fire danger
(Giving Marin Community Partnership) Paul Rogers, Sept. 1
“We are in an emergency crisis throughout the Sierra,” said Susie Kocher, a forestry and natural resources adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in South Lake Tahoe.
Kocher, her husband, dog and cat evacuated their home in nearby Meyers on Monday to stay with relatives near Sacramento. Before she moved to the Tahoe area 15 years ago, she lived in Greenville, a small town in Plumas County. Nearly all of Greenville burned to the ground last month when the Dixie Fire raged through the northern Sierra Nevada’s forests.
The Financial Case for Organic
(Southern Beverage Journal) Pam Strayer, Sept. 1
"No one wants to get caught using Roundup these days," says John Roncoroni, a top weed control expert in Napa and farm advisor emeritus at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Obesity among children ages 5 to 11 rises during the pandemic
(Washington Post) Laura Reiley, Aug. 31
…The news is bad, but perhaps not shocking. Before the coronavirus, studies showed that students tended to gain weight during the summer when away from school, said Lorrene Ritchie, a nutrition policy specialist in Berkeley, Calif.
“They tend to gain weight at an accelerated rate, then during the school year their body mass index goes down, but not as much, so over time kids are getting more and more overweight and obese,” Ritchie said.
Live Updates: Caldor Fire reaches basin, jumps Highway 89 as South Lake Tahoe evacuates,
(Sacramento Bee) Michael McGough, Sam Staton, Dale Kasler, and Jason Pohl, Aug. 31
“It’s very orderly. It’s going slow but there’s plenty of police presence,” said Susan Kocher, a UC Cooperative Extension forestry expert who was leaving her home in Meyers, just south of the heavily congested Highway 89 intersection. “People are behaving nicely. ... I’m fine. The cat in the carrier is the one complaining.”
Kocher said local agencies had done an admirable job in recent years of managing the forests in the immediate vicinity of South Lake Tahoe, eliminating some of the vegetation. But she was worried about the prospect of spot fires “that could go block to block” and burn up people’s homes.
To Stop Extreme Wildfires, California Is Learning From ... Florida?
(WKMS) Lauren Sommer, Aug. 31
Now, several Western states are moving to adopt the fire policies pioneered by Florida and other Southern states as a hedge against the future. They include training problems for burn leaders and providing liability protection for them. The bigger challenge is changing the culture around fire, so that residents know that tolerating a little smoke from good fires can help stop the destructive blazes that cloud the air for weeks.
"We have this generational gap in fire knowledge in the Western U.S. that we're trying to rebuild now," says Lenya Quinn-Davison, a fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. "But Florida and the Southeast still have it."
NASA watches water to help growers grow
(Horti Daily) Aug. 30
Mason supervises fertilizer and irrigation for the farm's 5,000 acres along California's Central Coast, which is nicknamed "America's Salad Bowl" and is one of the most productive and diverse agricultural regions in the world. Those soil test results are key inputs for one of his newest tools: CropManage, which is operated by the University of California Cooperative Extension and uses data from NASA and other sources to create customized irrigation and fertilizer recommendations. In addition to satellite measurements of crop development, it gauges local weather, soil characteristics, and irrigation system efficiency.
No Prop 12 delay as state's pork prices set to rise
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 30
…The hearing came as University of California, Davis economists estimated on Aug. 27 that California pork consumers will lose $320 million per year (roughly $8 per person) from the market impacts of Prop. 12. California consumers will pay about 8% more for pork regulated under Prop. 12 and will consume around 6% less of that pork per year, according to the study.
“The roughly 9% of North American sows affected will each get about 20% more housing space," noted coauthor Richard Sexton, a UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics. "But, the additional space will be for those sows that already have more space, not those confined in small individual stalls.”
‘It's All About the Weather’: Tahoe Basin Residents Brace for Fast Approaching Caldor Fire
(KQED) Ezra David Romero, Aug. 27
Those embers are what worry Susie Kocher, a Tahoe region fire advisor with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources. She says homes can easily burn if hit by embers if they don't have covered vents or if they're surrounded by dry brush.
“If there are huge gaps and the embers just flow right in, how does a fire engine out front of a house actually help?” she said.
How a drought disaster declaration could help ranchers
(NPR Marketplace) Samantha Fields, Aug. 26
…In 30 years of ranching in the Sierra foothills in California, Dan Macon said he’s never seen it this dry.
“As a consequence, we have a lot higher expenses in terms of feed purchases and hauling water to livestock and those types of things,” Macon said.
Many of the ranchers Macon works with through the University of California Cooperative Extension are selling cattle and sheep, because it didn’t rain or snow much this winter and now there’s not enough grass for them to eat or water for them to drink.
Landscaping with wildfires in mind can help homes
(Western Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice, Aug. 26
What can Californians do to improve the chances that their homes will survive a wildfire? Simple actions taken around the home can substantially improve the odds that a home will survive wildfire, according to UC Cooperative Extension advisors.
During wildfire, structures are threatened not only by the flaming front of the fire, but also by flaming embers that are lofted ahead of the fire front and land on fuels such as vegetation or mulch next to the house, igniting new fires. Traditional defensible space tactics are designed to mitigate threats from the flaming front of the fire but do little to address vulnerabilities to embers on or beside a structure.
Wine Country Wildfire Impacts
(CapRadio) Aug. 25
…Director of Hospitality and Marketing at Skinner Vineyards, Stephanie Singer, checks in on how the winery is managing amid the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County. Cooperative Extension Specialist in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, Anita Oberholster, explains the ways the state’s wine crop is affected by wildfire smoke and ash
Dixie Fire shuts down fair, but not livestock auction
(AgAlert) Kevin Hecterman, Aug. 25
… "They followed through," Neer said of the 4-H students. "They showed up at the sale over there in a tent and some new white shirts that they bought at Walmart, and just showed what people do and how we can still move on and live. It was really special."
The auction grossed about $519,000—and led to more support for a Dixie Fire relief fund. Neer said Five Marys Farms out of Fort Jones in Siskiyou County came to the auction with the intention of supporting Indian Valley students who lost homes and animals to the fire. Five Marys resold its auction purchases and donated the funds to Dixie Fire relief efforts.
Other donations were made to the Clayton Floyd Neer 4-H Steer, Swine, Sheep and Goat Loan fund, Neer said.
UC ANR provides support for SoCal Greenprint mapping tool
(Morning Ag Clips) Aug. 25
As SCAG works to coordinate transportation, watershed management, and land-use planning across the region, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is contributing the most recent scientific data to develop the SoCal Greenprint, with technical support from UC ANR’s Informatics and Geographical Information Systems Program.
Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension natural resources extension advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has been working with Elizabeth Hiroyasu of The Nature Conservancy as a member of the Science and Strategic Advisory Committee.
The Financial Case for Organic
(Beverage Media Group) Pam Strayer, Aug. 24
Opting for organic materials is also attractive to consumers, who have changed the way they feel about the popular herbicide Roundup after recent, widely publicized trials that found it caused cancer.
“No one wants to get caught using Roundup these days,” says John Roncoroni, a top weed control expert in Napa and farm advisor emeritus at University of California Cooperative Extension.
Chicken owners invited to take disease survey
(Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice, Aug. 24
Myrna Cadena, a Ph.D. student working with Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is leading a study with the Backyard Chickens and Game Fowl survey: https://bit.ly/3rWYpOa.
Local prescribed burn association established amid devastating wildfire season
(Calaveras Enterprise) Davis Harper, Aug 24
…The meeting was hosted by Susie Kocher, a forester for the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in the Central Sierra, and Tom Hofstra, a forestry and natural resources instructor at Columbia College. Hofstra has integrated prescribed burning projects on campus into curriculum with his students over the past five years and was taking the cohort of landowners on a field trip to present the work.
… “It’s opened up a whole new world,” [UCCE fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson said. “The interest is outrageous.”
Those fuzzy little white things flying around are actually sap-sucking insects
(KSAT) Mary Claire Patton, Aug. 23
According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, woolly aphids are sap-sucking insects and they produce a sticky substance known as honeydew.
Despite the sticky substance being a bit of a nuisance - there’s been no known damage to plants from woolly aphids in the long term, UCANR reported.
A plant expert on how he is reaching the public and policy makers with his research
(Springer Nature) Aug. 22
Matteo Garbelotto, UC Cooperative Extension specialist:
I am interested in understanding the emergence of novel plant diseases and their effect on plant survival and on biodiversity. Humans depend on plants for survival and the globe needs plants to maintain functional ecological processes. Emergent diseases can wipe out entire plant communities with cascading effects on human well being and our planet resiliency. Until recently our main target was represented by the study of exotic plant diseases mostly introduced by trade, but we also focusing now on diseases that are becoming increasingly emergent because of climate change. These diseases represent an even more formidable foe.
Colorado River cutbacks set stage for decade of drought politics
(The Hill) Reid Wilson, Aug. 20
…“The Colorado Basin has been seeing a long-term trend there with the reservoirs dropping to historic lows,” said Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources. “This year was a stronger drought year than we normally get for drought years. In California and the other basins in the West, we’ve tried to build systems to get through three to five years of drought, with the idea that it will rain sometime in that period.”
California's animal welfare law caused hysteria on both sides — here are the real impacts
(The Hill) By Richard Sexton, Ph.D., and Daniel Sumner, Ph.D., Aug. 20
Proposition 12, California’s animal welfare proposition, passed in 2018 is set to be fully implemented on January 1, 2022, and it is causing an uproar. Opponents of California’s Prop 12 predict meat counters devoid of pork products and skyrocketing pork prices that will hit the poor and minorities hardest. Five Republican senators have proposed the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act to halt implementation of Prop 12.
Ag adviser using masks printed with insect pest to raise public awareness
(Santa Yuez Valley News) Mike Hodgson, Aug. 20
An agricultural pest adviser is hoping some uniquely decorated COVID-19 masks will help raise the general public’s awareness of an invasive pest that could wreak hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to one of the state’s most abundant crops.
Surendra K. Dara, an entomology and biologicals adviser for UC Cooperative Extension in the San Luis Obispo office, has distributed about 140 of the masks that bear the image of a spotted lanternfly.
NASA Watches Water To Help Grow Our Groceries
(Techcode) Jessica Irvine, Aug. 20
Every day—up to thirty times a day, in fact—one of Mark Mason’s employees at Nature’s Reward Farms in Monterey County, California brings him the results of a soil test for discussion.
Mason supervises fertilizer and irrigation for the farm’s 5,000 acres along California’s Central Coast, which is nicknamed “America’s Salad Bowl” and is one of the most productive and diverse agricultural regions in the world. Those soil test results are key inputs for one of his newest tools: CropManage, which is operated by the University of California Cooperative Extension and uses data from NASA and other sources to create customized irrigation and fertilizer recommendations. In addition to satellite measurements of crop development, it gauges local weather, soil characteristics, and irrigation system efficiency.
Caldor Fire's 'Explosive Growth' Following Dixie Fire's Playbook
(CapRadio) Kris Hooks, Manola Secaira, Aug 19
Rob York, an extension specialist with UC Berkeley focusing on forest ecology and management, said this excess is the result of a history of fire suppression in the area. Before suppression tactics were used, fires burned more frequently, leaving less debris on the forest floor.
“The trees growing in the forest are in this type of environment that they haven't experienced before,” York said. “The ultimate challenge is to try to figure out how to reduce it.”
Extension programs scramble to save Afghan partners
(Farm Progress) Tim Hearden, Aug. 19
…The universities – which also include Texas A&M, Purdue University, Michigan State University and the University of Maryland – are preparing thousands of names of prospective evacuees to submit to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The people, about 20% of whom are women, are mostly Afghan citizens who’ve worked for or with the universities and are now in hiding, said Jim Hill, a retired associate dean of international programs for UC Davis.
“Anyone who had in their background any employment with a U.S. organization is at risk,” Hill told Farm Progress. “We’re actually in touch with some of them through email. They’re hunkered down at friends’ houses right now, and they’re very much afraid.”
Evacuation map as Dixie Fire moves toward California town & Candor burns
(UK News Today) Aug. 19
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.”
And while heat is largely the cause, there have also been many reports of some of the newest wildfires breaking out because of lightning strikes and wild tornadoes.
Meet the People Burning California to Save It
(Newsletterze) Aug. 18
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.
They are also getting more intense, killing a greater number of trees and eliminating entire patches of forest.
“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.
Coyote bounty earns reproach for Berkeley man whose cat got eaten
(Berkeleyside) Kate Darby Rauch, Aug. 17
…According to the University of California’s integrated pest management program, some coyotes that have acclimated to the suburbs appear to lose fear of humans.
“In some localities, this has resulted in the development of local coyote populations that seemingly ignore people, while a few coyotes have become increasingly aggressive toward humans,” reads the program’s website.
…Sightings reported on University of California Cooperative Extension’s “coyote catcher” mapping tool are used for state data analysis (so far used mostly in Southern California).
Interactive map flags locations of tap water contamination
(Western Farm Press) Pamela Kan-Rice, Aug. 17
The National Drinking Water Alliance map has recently been updated to add over 235 new points linking to news reports of tap water contamination, with nearly half of the incidents emerging since 2019.
Sorghum Industry Partners with University of California to Advance Sorghum
(Seed Today) Aug. 16
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), the University of California, Merced, and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources today announced a five-year partnership to promote drought resilience in sorghum and increase demand for the cereal crop in biofuel and bioproduct markets.
Efforts for the partnership will primarily be conducted at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center located south of Fresno, California. However, the partnership includes faculty and researchers at UC Merced, and the results will benefit sorghum producers throughout the country.
California can either make fire part of its cultural identity, or it can watch its heritage go up in smoke
(SF Chronicle) Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Aug. 14
… In my work, I focus on bringing fire back. As a fire adviser, 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, restoring biodiversity, eradicating invasive species and restoring landscape and community resilience. One of my biggest priorities is to foster innovation and inclusivity in fire management — to bring new perspectives and ideas to these wicked problems. Diversity begets creativity. Much of my work in this arena is through the Women-in-Fire Training Exchange.
When Will the Dixie Fire Be Contained? Wildfire Could Burn Until Winter Rain Arrives
(MSN) Alexandra Hutzler, Aug. 14
The Dixie Fire erupted on July 14 above the Cresta Dam in the densely forested northern Sierra Nevada. It's since spread over Plumas, Butte, Lassen and Tehama counties, burning more than 515,000 acres—or more than 17 times the size of San Francisco.
"We're dealing with unprecedented dryness, and so things are just ready to burn," said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
California Almonds: Hull Tights Caused by Water Stress
(Ag Fax) Clarissa Reyes and Luke Milliron, Aug. 13
Deficit irrigation research conducted by Prichard, Romero, Goldhamer, and others has shown a delayed rate of hull split and an increased occurrence of hull tights in water-stressed trees. Any harvest delay leaves nuts more vulnerable to hull rot and navel orangeworm.
Groups partnering to promote sorghum
(WorldGrain.com) Arvin Donley, Aug. 13
LUBBOCK, TEXAS, US — The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), the University of California, Merced, and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources announced on Aug. 12 a five-year partnership to promote drought resilience in sorghum and increase demand for the cereal crop in biofuel and bioproduct markets.
Efforts for the partnership will primarily be conducted at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center located south of Fresno, California., US. However, the partnership includes faculty and researchers at UC Merced, and the results will benefit sorghum producers throughout the country.
California's Forests Are at a Turning Point. Why Aren't We Committing to 'Good Fire'?
(KQED) Danielle Venton, Aug. 13
"There are many places around the country where managed wildfire and prescribed fire could be beneficial right now, and every year that we keep fire out of those fire-adapted landscapes, the problem worsens," wrote fire scientist Lenya Quinn-Davidson in an email to KQED.
Community Green: Going forward together
(Plumas News) Pamela Noel, Aug. 12
…Building To Coexist With Fire: Risk Reduction Measures For New Development, a 32 page publication by UC Extension Specialists Max Moritz and Van Butsic, talks about many of the concepts that could be part of any rebuilding of a fire devastated community. These two, who specialize in wildfire rebuilding and mitigation, have designed their publication for use by city planners, fire districts and communities to incorporate “community scale risk reduction measures when rebuilding in fire prone areas.” David Shew, retired 31-year CAL FIRE chief, and now wildfire consultant and architect states, “that the land use planning principals and design recommendations identified in this study are necessary steps to help increase resiliency to existing and future communities.” He further states that “this should become a much used reference for every planning and fire official who face wildfire impacts.”
Raisin-drying secrets for success
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, Aug. 12
…“We’ve been getting a lot of questions from growers regarding fire effects on raisin drying and how to reduce future risks,” noted speaker Matthew Fidelibus of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.
Exploding California Wildfires Rekindle Debate Over Whether to Snuff Out Blazes in Wilderness Areas or Let Them Burn – Inside Climate News
(US News Mail) Aug. 11
Before Euro-American settlement, an estimated 4.5 million acres or more would burn in California every year. Last year’s historic fire season charred a little more than 4 million California acres, and nearly 10 million acres throughout the West, the second most acreage burned since 1960.
“This was a fire adapted ecosystem. The higher up you went in the mountains, the more there was an influence from lightning,” said Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. “But lower down and on the coast, it was mostly Native burning.”
Wildfires Highlight What’s ‘Gone Wrong’ in Pollution Mitigation
(Bloomberg Law) Jennifer Hijazi, Aug. 11
“Prescribed fire is choosing the time and the ground on which you fight the war, fight the battle, wildfire is letting the enemy choose,” Wara said. “In our country, our air regulations are biased toward letting the enemy choose.”
That challenge is another disincentive to accomplish fire mitigation work through managed burning, according to Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Exploding California Wildfires Rekindle Debate Over Whether to Snuff Out Blazes in Wilderness Areas or Let Them Burn
(Autobala) Anne Marshall-Chalmers, Aug. 10
Before Euro-American settlement, an estimated 4.5 million acres or more would burn in California every year. Last year’s historic fire season charred a little more than 4 million California acres, and nearly 10 million acres throughout the West, the second most acreage burned since 1960.
“This was a fire adapted ecosystem. The higher up you went in the mountains, the more there was an influence from lightning,” said Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension. “But lower down and on the coast, it was mostly Native burning.”
Who Should Foot the Bill for Protection Against Bay Area Sea Level Rise?
(KQED) Alexis Madrigal, Aug. 9
Scientists project that Bay Area sea levels are likely to rise as much as seven feet by the end of this century, directly affecting the millions of people in homes and commercial spaces along the water. In response, cities across the region are grappling with how to afford the cost of defending their shorelines. As Facebook and Google’s tech campuses expand even further into these vulnerable areas, calls are growing for the tech industry to provide more funding for building defenses. We discuss who should pay to protect Bay Area land from rising seas.
Lauren Sommer, climate change correspondent, NPR
Mark Lubell, professor, department of environmental science and policy; director, center for environmental policy and behavior, University of California, Davis
‘Where do I go?’: Thousands flee as Dixie Fire morphs into third-largest blaze in California’s history
(Washington Post) Aaron Williams, Marisa Lati, and Maria Luisa Paul, Aug. 8
The Dixie Fire covers more than 432,000 acres in Butte and Plumas counties, rapidly expanding from about 362,000 acres Thursday evening and fueled by hot, arid and windy conditions. The wildfire was 35 percent contained by Friday, pushing toward firefighters’ control lines. Fire officials expressed hope Friday that higher humidity would help them counter the blaze.
“It’s kind of the perfect storm,” Yana Valachovic, forest adviser and county director at the University of California Cooperative Extension, said of the Dixie Fire. “We saw all this. The potential was high this year for these kinds of conditions, and once you get an ignition, especially in areas that are a little bit difficult to access and with new communities all around there, it stresses the system.”
Let it burn? Forest Service's new all-out fire suppression policy a dangerous move, critics say
(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Aug. 7
…“I wish there was an easy way we could get out of this dilemma we’ve gotten into,” said Scott Stephens, professor of fire science at UC Berkeley.
Like other experts, Stephens says achieving the right balance between safety today and safety tomorrow comes only by continuing to burn proactively, when appropriate. Even before the ban, he noted that the Forest Service was very cautious about proceeding with controlled fire, making sure the burns were safe and didn’t take resources away from fighting fires.
Dixie Fire explodes to largest blaze in U.S., third largest in California history
(NBC News) Wilson Wong, Aug. 6
…Scott Stephens, a professor of wildfire science at the University of California-Berkeley, said the explosion of wildfires in the past decade has been fueled by the culmination of drought conditions, hotter temperatures and flammable forest debris, like downed trees. These conditions, he said, are exacerbated by climate change.
CalFresh Can Be Used at California Farmers Markets, But Many Recipients Unaware, UC ANR Reports
(Sierra Sun Times) Liana Wolfe, Aug. 6
…A recent study conducted by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), found that CalFresh benefits distributed in Sonoma County in 2020 increased 64% and dollar for dollar Market Match incentives distributed increased 52% from the prior year. These promising trends are holding steady for 2021, year-to-date. However, many barriers remain for CalFresh users to shop at farmers markets.
California Walnuts: Aug. Orchard Management Considerations
(AgFax) Evie Smith, Franz Niederholzer, Katherine Jarvis-Shean, and Luke Milliron, University of California Cooperative Extension Specialists, Aug. 5, 2021
Navel Orangeworm: Begin monitoring for NOW in your orchard. Healthy walnuts are only susceptible to NOW at and after hull split. Consider preharvest intervals and duration of residual activity when considering treatment options. See the above article on IPM on a Budget for NOW control considerations in a lean price year.
Indigenous wildfire ecologists say ‘cultural burning’ can ease fire danger
(The Press Democrat) Alana Minkler, Aug. 5
Larson directed interested residents to University of California Cooperative Extension, Pepperwood and Tukman Geospatial’s Wildfire Fuel Mapper, which provides landowners with maps and resources to understand their land, reduce fuels and protect the community from wildfires.
California Almonds: Aug. Orchard Management Considerations
(AgFax) Evie Smith, Franz Niederholzer, Katherine Jarvis-Shean, and Luke Milliron, University of California Cooperative Extension Specialists, Aug. 5, 2021
Please note that the following are general recommendations intended to help you keep track of regular practices in a busy time; the optimal timing for management practices may vary based on specific location and conditions.
NOW Management in pollinizers: After Nonpareil harvest you may want to spray pollinizer varieties for NOW management. The decision of whether to spray or not should be based on the amount of NOW damage observed in your Nonpareil almonds, progression of the third NOW generation, and when the fourth generation egg laying will start. If you do choose to spray, plan your application timing based on when you expect to harvest your pollinizers, remembering that pre-harvest intervals are based on the date that you shake, not the date that you pick up the almonds from the orchard floor.
Crop Report Plus: Imperial County Saw $4.4B in Ag Impact in 2019
(Holtville Tribune) Marcie Landeros, Aug. 4
…The Crop Report Plus is not just a valuable tool for Imperial County government officials, it’s also necessary information for the local ag researchers, according to Dr. Oli Bachie, agronomy adviser and county director of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Imperial County Cooperative Extension.
“The Crop Report and the Crop Report Plus is very, very important. It is one of the main resources that we at the Imperial County Cooperative Extension use for looking at production,” Bachie said after the afternoon presentation. “We can’t work without it. It’s very valuable and heavily used at the cooperative.”
Report: U.S. walnut production could remain in check
(Western Farm Press) Lee Allen, Aug 4
One of the major flies in the optimistic ointment comes from the California Farm Bureau Food and Farm News showing that wild temperature swings last fall are believed to have caused widespread freeze damage in some walnut groves. Temperatures dropped from 80 degrees to below freezing in several areas, with the most pronounced swing happening in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties, according to the Farm Bureau.
University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisors, including Luke Milliron, reported the ‘winter kill’ was severe enough to affect both young and old walnut trees, some of which “were wiped out with minimal spring leaf-out,” he said.
Researchers study wildfire's impacts a year later
(Western Farmer Stockman) Aug 4
The fire burned through an area of more than 208,000 acres in Larimer and Jackson counties and Rocky Mountain National Park, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor Tracy Schohr tests water quality in a stream below Paradise, Calif., in 2019 after the 2018 Camp Fire. Colorado State University is conducting similar research after the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire.
As drought worsens, regulators impose unprecedented water restrictions on California farms
(LA Times) Julia Wick, Aug. 3
…“It’s kind of the topic of conversation everywhere, whether you’re in the feed store or the grocery store or when I’m at work as a [UC Cooperative Extension] livestock advisor,” said Josh Davy, a small-scale cattle producer in Shasta County.
The perceived comfort of his local irrigation district’s pre-1914 water rights was a key component of Davy’s decision to purchase his ranch two years ago. He’s currently planning to sell his calves early at a loss and fears having to subdivide his property to pay his mortgage. Davy said that without water to irrigate his ranch, the pastures his cows graze on will quickly dry up and the current price of alfalfa negates buying hay as a sustainable option.
“Most of us that went this route, investing in property with these water rights within these districts all did it for very similar reasons in that there was security in that,” Davy said. “And now seeing that security gone, we’re really scared.”
Grasshoppers Causing Problems in Northern California
(Cal Ag Today) Tim Hammerich, Aug. 2
…Lile… “Definitely an outlier year. I think this is probably the worst year we've had in the last eight or ten years.”
That’s David Lile, county director for Lassen, Plumas, and Sierra Counties for UC Cooperative Extension. He says the warm and dry spring allowed the grasshoppers to thrive.
Research Grant of $10 Million Will Support Dairy Industry’s Net Zero Initiative
(AgNet West) Brian German, Aug. 2
…“Part of what we’re looking at is the macronutrient content. We’re particularly interested in that because of the potential for some of these materials to be utilized off-farm or integrated into some downstream processing like advanced solid separation and nutrient recovery,” [Agronomy and Nutrient Management Farm Advisor Nick] Clark explained. “So, a great deal of it is exploratory. But the goal is to learn more about what the economic nutrient value is of these materials and what their physical composition is and how that might be a fit or a hinderance to certain technologies.”
UC wildfire symposium focuses on wildland-urban interface
(Daily Cal) Nida Yar-Khan, Aug 2
Closing out the symposium, the final panel discussed WUI solutions, moderated by Wendy Powers, UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources associate vice president. One of the solutions, brought up by the division’s area fire adviser Lenya Quinn-Davidson, was controlled burning.
“We have to start doing things differently and rethinking our approaches,” Quinn-Davidson said during the panel. “It’s time for us to be provocative around prescribed fire and innovative, and really to check our assumptions and our approach both to fire and prescribed fire.”
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
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.
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.
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."
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  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.”