- Author: Tim Tesconi, Sonoma-Marin Farm News
- Author: Pam Kan-Rice
Rhonda Smith, who has been heralded as the “heroine of the vineyards” for her groundbreaking work in helping combat the parade of problems that have plagued Sonoma County grapevines – and alarmed growers, plans to retire July 1.
During her nearly 34 years as a UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor, Smith steadily emerged as Sonoma County's expert on all things wine grape. Over the decades, her scientific know-how, meticulous research methodology and incredible work ethic advanced wine grape production in Sonoma County.
She cultivated working relationships with growers and vineyard managers, setting up field trials and collecting data in vineyards. As the years rolled by, she earned the respect and admiration of grape growers who wonder what they will do without her.
“Rhonda Smith became a true icon in Sonoma County viticulture for her timely research and her effective way of communicating valuable information to the wine grape industry,” said Santa Rosa grower Bob Dempel.
Tito and Janet Sasaki, who farm wine grapes in the Sonoma Valley, have benefited from Smith's dedication to the wine grape industry.
Janet Sasaki said, “Rhonda is the hardest working person I know. My friends and I have been working with her since 1989. No vineyard is too small for her to take an interest in the problem. She is very respected by everyone in the wine grape industry.”
While earning a B.S. in plant science with an emphasis in plant pathology, and an M.S. in horticulture with an emphasis in viticulture, both at UC Davis, Smith was inspired by former UC Davis plant pathologist Mary Ann Sall and Cooperative Extension farm advisors who collaborated on research to combat diseases that were costing farmers money.
“My goal has always been to assist the industry in successfully navigating the delicate balance between grape quality and economically acceptable crop yields – the essential combination to prosper as a premium grower of wine grapes,” she said.
When Smith arrived in Sonoma County in 1986, phylloxera was fast becoming the largest challenge to grape growers. The aphid-like insect feeds on grapevine roots, stunting vine growth and reducing yields. Eventually thousands of acres in the North Coast needed to be replanted. “Growers had no idea how phylloxera-resistant rootstocks would perform,” she said. Over the years, Smith and UC Davis scientists launched 10 trials to inform growers of the suitability of specific rootstocks in sites with heavy, cracking clay, wet soil conditions and high nematode populations.
Introduced insect pests – particularly vine mealybug – have been a challenge for growers, who must control them and take steps to prevent transporting the pest to other vineyards. Smith and now-emeritus UC IPM advisor Lucia Varela conducted trials to evaluate the survival of vine mealybug in unfermented winery waste.
“We learned that not only could the insects survive the press, but they could walk off uncovered piles of stems,” Smith said. Their research changed how wineries and growers handle fresh winery waste.
Smith also collaborated with other UCCE specialists, UC faculty and USDA researchers to investigate the cause of physiological disorders such as berry shrivel, Syrah disorder and pinot leaf curl, the latter causing severely stunted shoots, and partial shoot dieback in different cultivars of Pinot.
“Many growers believed the abnormal growth was due to fungal infections,” she said, “but we were able to associate pinot leaf curl to a temporary nitrogen-related disorder, which meant that applying a fungicide would not prevent the problem.”
“It's been fun and rewarding to be part of the Sonoma County wine industry for so many years,” Smith said.
Read Tim Tesconi's full story in the July edition of Sonoma-Marin Farm News: https://sonomafb.org/farm-news-archives.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Emma Fete joined UCCE as an area 4-H youth development advisor for San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties on Dec. 4, 2017.
For five years prior to joining UCCE, Fete taught and developed various courses including online and hybrid variants as an instructor for the School of Communication at The Ohio State University. As a part of an interdepartmental team, she evaluated general education requirements for undergraduates. Fete also served on the Diversity Committee, analyzing and recommending departmental policies, hiring and recruiting strategies, and implementing training programs to best represent and serve diverse populations. From 2010 to 2012, she worked as an assistant language teacher for the Hiroshima Board of Education in Japan, where she taught and developed coursework in three prefectural high schools and a special needs school. From 2007 to 2010, Fete worked at WOSU Public Media, where she helped manage WOSU radio programming, fundraising and development efforts, and the station's community activities. She also has experience in local and state government as well as child-focused local non-profits. Fete is a dedicated horsewoman who was an enthusiastic 4-Her in her youth and continues to coach 4-H participants today.
Fete earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in communication at The Ohio State University and a B.A. in broadcasting from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.
Fete is based in Stockton and can be reached at (209) 953-6118 and email@example.com.
Katherine “Kate” Wilkin joined UCCE on Sept. 18, 2017, as an area forestry/fire science and natural resources advisor in Sutter, Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Wilkin was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley where she developed techniques for the California Air Resources Board to better estimate wildfire emissions and collaborated on an ecosystem services project, including water and carbon, of restored fire regimes. From 2011 to 2016, she was a graduate student researcher at UC Berkeley, and at Cal Poly from 2007 to 2009. Wilkin also worked at Yosemite National Park, National Park Service's Inventory and Monitoring Program, California State Parks, and The Nature Conservancy on complex environmental issues including forest health, wetland restoration, fire management, visitor-use, and mine reclamation. She has been a member of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council since 2011.
Wilkin completed a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley, an M.S. in biology from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, and a B.S. with a double major in biology and interdisciplinary studies (environmental science) from The College of William and Mary.
Wilkin is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-7515 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tayo Oguns has joined Resource Planning and Management Office as a financial analyst.
He serves a critical role in strategic planning for future UC ANR staffing and personnel initiatives.
Prior to joining ANR, Oguns was a financial analyst at UC Berkeley.
He earned a bachelor's degree in finance at University of Massachusetts – Amherst and an MS in business analytics at Saint Mary's College of California.
Oguns is based at UCOP and can be reached at (510) 987-9028 and Tayo.Oguns@ucop.edu.
Three of the twelve awards announced for the upcoming International IPM Symposium will be given to UC Integrated Pest Management Program members.
Peter Goodell, UC IPM advisor emeritus, and Frank Zalom, professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and former Statewide IPM Program director, were selected for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The European Grapevine Moth Team was selected for an IPM Team Award for achieving the eradication of European grapevine moth only six years after its discovery in 2009. Team members helped growers in infested counties to monitor the pest and apply control measures on a timely basis. The team's research and extension efforts helped growers avoid losses to the pest every year until it was finally eradicated in 2016.
Zalom, extension entomologist at UC Davis, also has an impressive record of furthering IPM. Zalom began in 1980 as the IPM Coordinator in California. Although he was responsible for advancing IPM in the state, Zalom championed the idea of promoting IPM on a regional and even national level. For 16 years, he co-chaired the American Public Land-grant University National IPM Committee, leading to the development of the Regional IPM Centers. Zalom believes that the science and implementation of IPM will reduce the impact of pests and pest management on agriculture and the environment.
One of Zalom's most successful projects was IPM implementation in almonds. Because of his research on navel armyworm, damage from the pest fell from 8.8 percent in 1978 to less than 1.5 percent in 1990, with a 40 percent reduction in insecticides.
The winners will receive their awards and recognition at the 9th International IPM Symposium March 19-22, 2018, in Baltimore, Md.
Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UCCE fire advisor in Humboldt County, has been selected to receive a CAL FIRE Partnership Award.
“As one of the team members helping work towards the statewide goals for using prescribed fire, your work with CAL FIRE, local cooperators and other stakeholders has created invaluable partnerships and expanded the training opportunities that many agencies were previously unable to access,” Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director, wrote to Quinn-Davidson. “It is important to CAL FIRE to work collaboratively with our partners to achieve our common goals. In this instance, your cooperative approach produced results which exceeded the normal expectations. I thank you for your efforts to further the mission of CAL FIRE.”
Yana Valachovic, UCCE director and forest advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, said, “This is an incredible achievement for someone early in their career and it is strong evidence of her leadership skills and all around excellence!”
Quinn-Davidson will receive the award on Jan. 8 at a ceremony at the California Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento.
Awards were given in five categories:
- Outstanding Research – Diane Barrett, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science & Technology at UC Davis, whose research program benefits both the California food processing industry as well as consumers of processed fruits and vegetables.
- Outstanding Extension – Adina Merenlender, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, who designed and developed the California Naturalist Program to bring an awareness of land use issues to Californians.
- Outstanding New Academic – Brad Hanson, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, whose research and extension program for weed management in woody perennial crops has gained recognition on state, national and international levels.
- Outstanding Team – the European Grapevine Moth Team:
o Walter Bentley – UC Integrated Pest Management entomologist emeritus
o Larry Bettiga, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County
o Monica Cooper, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Napa County
o Kent Daane, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley
o Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County
o Joyce Strand, IPM academic coordinator emeritus
o Robert Van Steenwyk, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley
o Lucia Varela, UC Cooperative Extension area IPM advisor in the North Coast
o Frank Zalom, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis
The team is an excellent example of UC ANR working with government and industry partners under the Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases Strategic Initiative.
- Outstanding Leader – Peter Goodell, UC Cooperative Extension IPM advisor, Kearney Research and Agricultural Extension Center, whose leadership throughout his 35-year career has contributed to the success of the Statewide IPM Program. He has led the IPM advisors, first as IPM advisor coordinator for 12 years, and more recently as associate director for Agricultural IPM. As interim director 2006 to 2009, Goodell provided consistency during a time of budgetary challenges and leadership vacuum, and was a leader in the Western Region IPM coordinators group, where he promoted greater state collaboration in IPM research and extension. He has been a thought leader in the application of techniques from the social sciences to the extension challenge of changing people's actions.
The DSA nominations were reviewed by the Academic Assembly Council Program Committee, which sent its recommendations to the vice president. The committee was chaired by Becky Westerdahl and included Keith Nathaniel, Susie Kocher and Jennifer Heguy.