- (Public Value) UCANR: Safeguarding abundant and healthy food for all Californians
UPDATED: Viticultural area is Kelsey Bench, not Kelseyville Bench.
UC Cooperative Extension study shows smoke damage to grapes not uniform across vineyards
By the time the Mendocino Complex Fires were officially contained on Oct. 4, 2018, five weeks after igniting, they had burned approximately 450,000 acres in Colusa, Lake, Glenn and Mendocino counties, making it the largest wildfire in California history, according to CalFire.
The fire not only destroyed 280 homes and other buildings, its smoke destroyed the market for wine grapes grown in vineyards near burned areas.
Fearing grapes near the fire would impart smoke flavors to the wine, some wineries rejected all fruit from nearby regions of Lake County and Potter Valley, leaving grape growers to hastily find new destinations for their 2018 crop.
“It can be difficult to determine if fruit has been compromised in quality when exposed to wildfire smoke, and whether or not smoke flavors will result in wine when fermented,” said Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Mendocino County.
A new UC Cooperative Extension study shows wind direction and speed, temperature and a vineyard's proximity to an active fire are factors that can help growers and winemakers predict smoke damage to fruit.
“Fruit in my own vineyard, 60 feet across the street from where the fire started, had no smoke damage because the wind was blowing away from it,” McGourty said.
Due to the Mendocino Complex Fires, an estimated $41 million worth of winegrapes, which would have been sold at full price, were impacted – some were sold at a discount, some were sold to other customers, some were custom crushed, while some were left hanging in the vineyard, according to the Lake County Winegrape Commission and Mendocino County Farm Bureau.
The wine industry needed a scientific method of determining whether grapes could be made into a wine untainted by smoke. With funding from the Lake County Winegrape Commission, McGourty formed a workgroup of local growers and winemakers with Anita Olberholster, UC Cooperative Extension enology specialist in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis, to research when fruit quality has been compromised.
“The need for industry standards regarding the impact of wildland smoke on winegrapes and the resulting wines has become even more pressing over the past few years,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission.
Science showed the intensity, duration and timing of the exposure to wildfire smoke affects the grape's uptake. Generally, the closer to harvest, the greater risk to the fruit.
“Both the fruit and wine samples in our study showed a wide range of volatile phenol and glycocide concentrations, indicating that smoke damage to fruit was not uniform across the vineyards sampled,” McGourty said.
Volatile phenols and glycosides create off-flavors
Fresh smoke contains volatile phenols and glycosides that can affect fruit, but these chemicals tend to dissipate in the atmosphere in 1 to 2 hours. Vineyards close to actively burning fires and in the path of fresh smoke are most likely to be affected by smoke taint. Smoke that travels long distances is less likely to affect grapes and the wine made from the fruit.
The combination of volatile phenols and glycosides create “smoke taint” – both aromatic and tactile in the mouth. Wine drinkers may smell smoke or other off flavors and experience a drying of their mouth when high concentrations of the chemicals are present in wine.
“At lower concentrations, smoke taint reminds you of brett-affected wines,” Oberholster explained, referring to the yeast brettanomyces. “There is a shortness of fruit, a kind of dryness in the mouth that you know isn't normal. There may be barely perceptible aromas that aren't normal as well.”
Following wildfire smoke exposure, the researchers sampled fruit from 14 cabernet sauvignon vineyards around the viticultural areas of Lake County, including Upper Lake, High Valley, Big Valley, Kelsey Bench, Red Hills, Lower Lake and Guenoc Valley. As a control, fruit was also sampled from a Napa Valley vineyard that was not exposed to wildfire smoke.
“The volatile phenols guaiacol and 4-methyl guaiacol are detected in the fruit by gas chromatography, so it is possible to sample fruit before harvest to make picking decisions,” McGourty said. “Based on our study, berry sampling and guaiacol/ 4-methyl guaiacol analysis are useful for a quick evaluation of whether or not fruit from a particular vineyard may have the presence of volatile phenols that can potentially result in smoke-affected wine.”
Testing the fruit for volatile phenols and glycosides is both expensive and not completely predictive as standards are not well defined for damage based on smoke chemical concentration, he cautioned.
These two compounds aren't the only ones that cause smoke flavors. More than 70 other compounds in forest fire smoke can also produce undesirable flavors and odors described as “like licking an ash tray, burnt garbage, a burnt potato, a campfire that has been drenched with water.”
The taste test
To assess the levels of the compounds that produce the off-flavors, Oberholster convened a panel of 14 wine industry professionals to taste the sample wines. The wine tasters detected stronger off-flavors in the wines made from riper fruit, which also contained higher concentration of smoke compounds. Less than 6 micrograms per liter of the smoke compounds were difficult for the tasters to detect, leading the researchers to conclude they will have a minimal effect on wine quality.
Smoke from a distant fire
The scientists also looked at the influence of distance from the fire and elevation on smoke taint. They found some vineyards close to the edge of fires and immediately downwind were heavily affected, with the grapes containing high concentrations of the smoke flavor-causing compounds. But they determined elevation was not a factor in smoke flavors in wines.
Wind direction and speed, temperature and vineyard proximity to active fires are highly likely affect whether there will be smoke damage to the fruit, their research showed.
“Smoke generated in the first one or two hours from a wildfire is most damaging to nearby vineyards,” McGourty said. “Even though a vineyard may be enveloped in smoke, if the source of the smoke is from a distant fire, it will probably won't seriously damage the fruit quality because most of the volatile gases are gone.”
Lake County Winegrape Commission's Sommerfield said, “Today, the results of this study are already proving to be useful in deepening our understanding of smoke and the risks it poses to grapes and wine, in enabling grape growers and winery buyers to engage in fruitful discussions and make informed decisions, and, in turn, in helping to propel the development of industry standards and protocols.”
To read more about the study by McGourty, Michael I. Jones, Oberholster and Ryan Keiffer, see the January 2020 edition of Wine Business Monthly at https://www.winebusiness.com/wbm.
“This is a great little study, the first one that I know of that takes a systems approach to evaluating the effects of wildfire smoke,” said McGourty.
Glenn McGourty, UCCE viticulture advisor for Mendocino County, describes for Hannah Bird the UC project to analyze the effect of wildfire smoke on winegrapes.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Expanding its expertise in water, soil, pest management, forestry and small farms, five new academics and a county director have joined the ranks of UC Cooperative Extension.
Forest stewardship education academic coordinator
UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra - Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
In November 2019, Kim Ingram was named the academic coordinator for forest stewardship education in UC Cooperative Extension's Central Sierra office, which includes Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties.
Previously, Ingram was an academic human resources business partner in UC ANR's Human Resources, leading academic recruitments, analyzing data and managing the academic merit and promotion process. Ingram also served as a community education specialist for the UC Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project and Sierra Nevada Watershed Ecosystem Enhancement Project. In that role, she planned, managed and implemented collaborations between UC, agencies, local communities and stakeholders, developed training curriculum and facilitated meetings, workshops and events related to forestry and fire issues in the Sierra Nevada. She is an instructor of record for the UC California Naturalist Program and published a “Natural History of the Sierra Nevada” for use in California Naturalist Program trainings.
Ingram earned a master's degree in education, adult education and training from Colorado State University. She also holds a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in environmental ethics from Humboldt State University.
Ingram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UC Cooperative Extension water and watershed sciences specialist
Based at UC Merced
Safeeq Khan joined UC ANR in October 2019 as a UC Cooperative Extension assistant water and watershed sciences specialist. His research focuses on understanding the interaction between climate and ecosystems to inform land and water management. He uses data-driven numerical models as a research tool to aid in the understanding of watershed systems. As a CE specialist, Khan will develop and carry out collaborative, multifaceted research and extension related to mountain hydrology and their linkage with downstream water uses statewide, with special attention to the Sierra Nevada-Central Valley watersheds.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Khan was a professional researcher and adjunct professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Merced for five years. Khan brings more than 10 years of research, education and extension experience. He has published more than 35 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, successfully secured several externally funded projects, and presented his work to a diverse range of audiences through digital and print media, workshops and conferences.
Khan has worked very closely with state and federal agencies, local landowners and nonprofit organizations, both in California and elsewhere. He has led several projects related to watershed management, from investigating the impact of non-native tree species and groundwater overdraft on streamflow in Hawaii to mapping hydrological vulnerabilities to climate change in the Pacific Northwest. More recently, his research has been focused on evaluating climate change and watershed restoration impacts on water and forest health and developing stakeholder-driven adaptive decision support tools. He serves as an associate editor for the journal Hydrological Processes. Khan is also a co-director of UC Merced's first Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) grant that addresses connected wildland-storage-cropland subsystems in California.
Khan earned a Ph.D. in natural resources and environmental management from University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also holds a master's degree in agricultural systems and management from Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, and a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from CSA University of Agriculture and Technology Kanpur, India. In addition to English, he is fluent in Hindi and Urdu.
Khan is based at UC Merced and can be reached at (209) 386-3623 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @safeeqkhan.
Area integrated pest management advisor
UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties
Cindy Kron joined UC Cooperative Extension as area-wide IPM advisor for Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties in September 2019.
Before joining UCCE, Kron studied the three-cornered alfalfa hopper as a research entomologist for USDA in their Crop Disease, Pests and Genetics research unit. She tested cover crop species as feeding and reproductive hosts of the three-cornered alfalfa hopper in addition to testing commercially available biocontrol agents against the different life stages of the treehopper. She collaborated with a UC Davis colleague to create a degree day model that predicts the ideal timing to implement cultural control measures with the greatest impact on treehopper populations.
Kron has conducted research on a variety of insects including a two-year vineyard study on the population dynamics of Virginia creeper leafhopper, western grape leafhopper and variegated leafhopper. For her dissertation, she investigated the biology and behavior of the three-cornered alfalfa hopper and their relationship with vineyards. She also studied the effects of temperature on the developmental rate of the invasive European grapevine moth and reared brown marmorated stink bugs for USDA fumigation studies.
“My experiences have motivated me to help growers, stakeholders and the industry solve agricultural pest management problems through applied research by identifying IPM strategies and tactics that are economically feasible and implementable while having the lowest environmental impact,” Kron said.
Kron earned her bachelor's degree in viticulture and enology, with a minor in agricultural pest management, and her doctorate in entomology at UC Davis.
She is based in Santa Rosa and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UC Cooperative Extension specialist in soil-plant-water relations
Based at UC Davis
Mallika Nocco joined UC ANR in September 2019 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in soil-plant-water relations, based at UC Davis. She earned her bachelor's degree in cultural studies/comparative literature and philosophy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. After five years in the corporate world, Nocco decided to pursue her interest in soil, plants, and the conundrum of sustainable agriculture. She completed a master's degree in soil science and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Nelson Institute's Environment and Resources Program.
Nocco is based at UC Davis and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mallika_nocco.
Director of UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties
Karmjot Randhawa joined UC ANR in September 2019 as the UC Cooperative Extension director for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties.
In this newly created position, Randhawa is responsible for the coordination and overall operations of Cooperative Extension programs these Central Valley counties. Unlike traditional county director positions, Randhawa doesn't have academic research responsibilities, so she can focus on overseeing the educational and applied research programs and providing direction and leadership to the academic and support staff within the county extension programs.
Prior to joining ANR, the Central Valley native was the research translation operations manager at George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication.
“I look forward to increasing the visibility of UCCE by communicating the positive impacts realized by the people who live in the San Joaquin Valley and benefit from the research activities and contributions of these units,” Randhawa said.
Randhawa received her bachelor's and master's degrees in research psychology at California State University, Fresno, and received her MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently completing the Climate Change and Health Certification Program at Yale University.
Randhawa is based in Fresno and can be reached at (559) 241-7514 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
UC Cooperative Extension assistant specialist for small farms in Santa Clara County
Qi Zhou joined UC ANR in September 2019 as a UCCE assistant specialist for small farms in Santa Clara County. She will work closely with project directors at UCCE Santa Clara to lead research and extension work related to food safety practices on small farms, beginning farmer education and Asian vegetable production.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Zhou conducted research on peach fruit production at Clemson University. At Huazhong Agricultural University, Zhou designed and conducted an experiment that identified the differences between flood-tolerant and flood-susceptible poplar seedlings. Zhou has published several scientific manuscripts and abstracts and given extension presentations.
Zhou earned a Ph.D. in plant and environmental sciences with a minor in statistics from Clemson University, South Carolina, a master's degree in horticulture and forestry from Huazhong Agricultural University, China, and a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Hunan Agricultural University, China. In addition to English, Zhou is fluent in Mandarin.
Zhou is based in San Jose and can be reached at (408) 282-3109 and email@example.com.
Six University of California Cooperative Extension advisor positions have been released for recruitment by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, is thrilled to resume strengthening the UC ANR network to address California's current and emerging needs. Due to UC ANR's budget constraints, recruitment for positions identified in the 2018 Position Call had been on hold since July.
The new positions include:
- production horticulture advisor, San Diego County
- agronomy area advisor, Merced County
- livestock and natural resources advisor, Siskiyou County
- nutrition, family and consumer sciences area advisor, San Mateo-San Francisco counties
- vegetable crops and small farms advisor, Riverside County
- pomology and water/soils area advisor, Kings County
“These were difficult decisions to make because while we need the above positions, there are many more needs for both UC Cooperative Extension specialist and advisor positions that continue to wait for additional funding,” Humiston said. “Additionally, while we have grown the UCCE specialist numbers over the last several years, the number of UCCE advisors in the field has steadily declined. For this reason, we are focusing on recruitment of UCCE advisors at this time.”
The farming community lauded adding more county-based UCCE advisors to conduct research and work with farms of all sizes to improve water efficiency, soil health and many other issues.
“Farm advisors represent a vital link from University of California research sites to the state's fields and pastures,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said, “and filling these positions will help address a statewide shortage of advisors.
“Knowledge shared by farm advisors through the decades has helped California reach and retain its position as the nation's top producer of high-quality food and agricultural products, and we need to keep that resource alive.”
In January, UC ANR's Human Resources unit will begin recruitment planning for the newly released UCCE advisor positions, which will be posted at https://ucanr.edu/About/Jobs.
Currently they are working on recruitment for the following positions from previous calls:
- viticulture advisor for Kern County
- climate & agriculture project scientist
- human-wildlife conflict advisor for the San Mateo/San Francisco Bay Area
- 4-H STEM academic coordinator
- small farms and specialty crops assistant specialist for Fresno County
“I hope to release five or six more UCCE positions in the spring/summer,” Humiston said. “This is possible, in part, due to the advance notice provided by individuals planning to retire June 2020. In addition, we will complete recruitment of other academic positions currently advertised, including those that are funded through partnerships.”
After nearly 38 years of working for University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Janine Hasey, retired on July 1 as the UC Cooperative Extension orchard and environmental horticulture advisor for Sutter and Yuba counties.
Hasey has worked mainly with walnuts, kiwifruit, cling peaches and almonds. Over the course of her career, walnut acreage in Sutter and Yuba counties has grown from 17,000 acres to 47,000 acres.
Collaborating with local farmers, Hasey conducted research on tree pruning, pest management, walnut rootstocks and varieties, water quality, cover crops, and irrigation management.
“Janine has been a tremendous asset to our entire agriculture industry during her 38-year tenure with UC Cooperative Extension,” said Sandra Gilbert, Rio Oso walnut grower.
Gilbert, who farms with family members, said, “Working side-by-side as Janine conducted research on our ranches, often with other scientists from the UC system, has been a pleasure. She has provided important information that has dramatically changed the methods we employ to produce walnuts.”
Hasey has been the “go-to person” for the California kiwifruit industry, said Tom Schultz, past chairman of the California Kiwifruit Commission and current chairman of the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee.
“It would be hard for me to list all the kiwifruit research projects that Janine has tirelessly worked on for the benefit of our California kiwifruit industry,” Schultz said. “She has always been the first person that we would contact in our UC Cooperative Extension system when a kiwifruit research project was needed. If it was an insect problem, fungus, canker, you name it, Janine was always there to help us either solve the problem or name the best researchers to contact for help.”
To show other walnut growers the results of experiments, Hasey held field days at the Gilberts' ranch.
“It's rewarding to see other growers demonstrate their high regard for Janine when they flock to the on-site meetings to witness results of her test plots,” Gilbert said. “We have a number of test plots where the on-site grower meetings really bulge. Growers, buyers and nurseries are eager to examine growth patterns, production, nut quality and crack outs of new varieties. Janine has provided quality information that is paving the way for advanced tree vigor, more timely harvest schedules, quality nuts and higher production.”
A recent change in walnut training management, at first met with skepticism, was the no-pruning, no-heading practice introduced by UC Cooperative Extension orchard management specialist Bruce Lampinen and Hasey. “We had a paradigm shift when we realized that lateral bearing walnuts do not have to be headed to grow during the training stage,” Hasey said.
Gilbert agreed: “Watching over the plot for the past 6 years, we were all taken aback by the superior growth and early production this method provided. After adding in the significant labor savings for pruning labor and brush removal costs, savvy growers quickly put this method into action on their own ranches.”
The farm advisor's research also helped walnut growers estimate plant water needs. “Watermark soil sensors and leaf-pressure chambers proved invaluable in determining optimum water needs for orchards leading to significant advancements in tree health with the added benefit of often saving large quantities of water,” Gilbert said. “The use of the pressure chambers is a regular part of our employee training now.”
After earning an M.S. in plant pathology, Hasey was selected by UC ANR for an intern program in 1981. She trained with mentors on tree crops in Sutter and Yuba counties and weeds, environmental horticulture and wine grapes in Napa County.
“I was drawn to the flexibility of the position, responding to problems and challenges as they arose, solving those problems through applied research and collaborative work with colleagues, conducting extension meetings and field days, and the opportunity to work with so many growers, PCAs and Master Gardeners,” Hasey said.
In 1983, she returned to Sutter-Yuba counties as a UCCE farm advisor working mainly with walnuts, kiwifruit and almonds, later adding cling peaches. In 2011, she began serving walnut growers in Colusa County. In 2014, she added UCCE director for Sutter-Yuba counties to her responsibilities.
“She has been a foremost resource and promoter of agriculture and is responsible for keeping our industry in front of the pack,” Gilbert said. “On behalf of the entire Gilbert family, we have enjoyed and learned from every encounter and hope that Janine doesn't entirely kick her work shoes off to the side.”
In retirement, Hasey, who has received emeritus status from UC ANR, plans to continue some research projects, contribute to the Sacramento Valley Walnut Newsletter and remain involved in the local agriculture industry. “I am looking forward to traveling more, but I'm not planning to ride into the sunset for a while.”
“I can't think of a better career than working with so many fine individuals in orchards and vineyards throughout these counties, diagnosing problems and researching methods to increase production, reduce labor costs and manage pests and diseases with products safer to humans and the environment,” Hasey said. “We've persevered through droughts and floods, good times and bad.”
- Author: Liz Sizensky
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
He has been called the “Elvis of E. coli” and the “Sinatra of Salmonella,” and now Carl Winter, a UC Cooperative Extension food toxicologist for 32 years, will rock and roll his way into retirement on July 1, 2019.
Based at UC Davis, Winter researches the detection of pesticides and naturally occurring toxins in foods, how to assess their risks and how to use science in the regulatory decision-making process.
His most recent work includes investigating the relationship between allowable levels and safety levels for pesticide residues on food crops. Author of numerous journal articles, books and book chapters, he has testified before the U.S. Congress on four occasions and has given nearly 1,000 scientific presentations and more than 1,000 media interviews over the course of his career.
The internationally respected food-safety expert is equally known for using humor and music to communicate important messages about food and agriculture.
“Dr. Winter has been a strong and reassuring voice for consumers about the safety of produce and a positive influence on fruit and vegetable consumption,” said Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming. “He has been an invaluable resource for media, consumers, his students and the produce industry because of his ability to make complex issues understandable. He has set such a high standard and his voice will be missed.”
Winter, who is an accomplished musician, also studies how to improve educational activities by incorporating music into food safety curricula. His humorous musical parodies about food safety aim to educate through entertainment. Accompanying himself on keyboard and guitar, Winter covers Will Smith's “Gettin' Jiggy Wit It,” as “Don't Get Sicky Wit It,” and The Beatles' “I Want to Hold Your Hand” becomes “You'd Better Wash Your Hands.”
The food safety musician has performed songs at nearly 300 scientific conferences and meetings in 37 states with his own lyrics, such as “Hey, Salmonella, did you think I'd lay down and die?” for Gloria Gaynor's “I Will Survive.” He has distributed 30,000 audio CDs and animated DVDs and his YouTube page has received more than 1 million views. Winter's food safety videos can also be seen at http://foodsafe.ucdavis.edu/html/video.html.
Winter, who was vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology for the past six years, also served as a member of UC Agriculture and Natural Resource's Program Council from 2015 through 2019.
In retirement, he plans to continue playing keyboard and guitar for the Northern California bands Petty Jack Flash, Keep on Truckin', and Elvis and the Experience, as well as travel throughout the world with his wife, Robin.