- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Researchers studying cover crops near almond orchards
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Oct. 31
University of California Cooperative Extension researchers have started field trials to analyze the benefits and trade-off of planting cover crops near or within almond production systems.
Trials in Tehama, Merced, and Kern counties are replicating conditions in almond orchards with micro-irrigation systems, according to a UC newsletter. The scientists are watching the performance of two cover crop mixes, different termination dates, weed population shifts, beneficial and plant parasitic nematodes, frost risk, water usage, and other factors.
Labor Challenges in Sweet Potatoes
(Cal Ag Today) Mikenzi Meyers, Oct. 31
Harvest for sweet potatoes is in full swing, which means long hours and high labor expenses for producers. Scott Stoddard, of the UC Cooperative Extension in Merced County, knows the difficult task at hand in managing time and money.
With new overtime laws in place, the extended work days during harvest can be costly to farmers. With insight into several operations, Stoddard explained, “Everybody is crunched and trying to get as much as they possibly can get done in a day.”
Region's Innovation Ecosystem Showcased to International Leaders
(Valley Vision) Tammy Cronin, Oct. 31
The tenth Americas Competitiveness Exchange arrived in Sacramento on Thursday, following five days of exploring sites across Northern California representing a broad swathe of the Megaregion's robust innovation ecosystem.
Before arriving in Sacramento, the delegation of 50 high-level decision makers representing 23 different countries across the Western Hemisphere and beyond, visited multiple sites in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Salinas, Los Banos and Fresno. The purpose of the ACE program is for participants to make connections with the local community and explore opportunities for ongoing partnerships in research, trade, economic development, and more. Valley Vision‘s strong connections to federal partners through AgPlus and other initiatives were key to Northern California being the location of the exchange, with Valley Vision and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources serving as organizers and hosts (see the Capital Region Program Brief for a snapshot of the action-packed program).
How agtech is changing farming in California
Technology holds tremendous promise for the California agricultural industry, however there are challenges that must be better understood and managed, wrote Damon Kitney in an article distributed to participants in an invitation-only Global Food Forum hosted by the Wall Street Journal in San Francisco on Oct. 2. Glenda Humiston, Mark Bolda and Laura Tourte are quoted in the article.
This Northern California mountain lion is a serial killer — of horses
(Los Angeles Times) Jaclyn Cosgrove, Oct. 29
…Local ranchers who believe this part of rural Modoc County has too many wild horses for the local ecology must, grudgingly, tip their hats to the mountain lion. They wish more of the area's cougars had a gift for mowing down horses.
…“It's just one mountain lion that we know of, and they say it is eating about one horse a week,” said Laura Snell, Modoc County director at UC Cooperative Extension. “But even at those numbers, we're not even making a dent really at all in the population.”
Climate-Smart Agriculture Endorsed by CDFA and UC ANR in New Partnership
(AgNet West) Oct. 29
A new partnership to advance climate-smart agriculture was made official in Sacramento after UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Vice President Glenda Humiston and California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross signed a memorandum of understanding. The partnership will make funding available to bring on additional personnel to assist with the implementation of more sustainable farming and ranching practices.
Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate
(The Conversation) Frank M. Mitloehner, Oct. 25
As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.
A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.
CRB and UC create $1 million endowment for US citrus research
(Morning Ag Clips) Oct. 24
The Citrus Research Board and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources have established a $1 million endowment to fund the Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center. The endowed researcher will provide a UC Cooperative Extension scientist a dedicated source of funds to support scholarly activities focused on the long-term sustainability of the citrus industry.
“I wish to thank the Citrus Research Board for establishing the Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection at LREC endowment,” said UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston. “This gift, coupled with the $500,000 match from the UC Office of the President, will help to ensure the long-term success of exemplary research focused on the California citrus industry.”
Projects evaluate recharge on cropland
(Ag Alert) Christine Souza, Oct. 24
… In Northern California, professors from UC Davis are working on a small-scale study with the Scott Valley Irrigation District to recharge groundwater during winter months, in order to support added streamflow and fisheries, such as chinook salmon, during the summer.
… UC Davis professor Thomas Harter said the Scott Valley project examines storing winter runoff underground in order to support late-summer streamflow.
Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate
(The Conversation) Alison Van Eenennaam, Oct. 24
A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins?
Then there is the polarizing “fake” versus “clean” meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous “natural.” And modeled after “clean” energy, “clean” meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be “dirty” meat.
California Votes on More Space for Farm Animals ... Again.
(KQED) Lesley McClurg, Oct. 23
“People spend 50 to 100 dollars a year on eggs,” says UC Davis economist Dan Sumner. “It'll go up to $100 to $150.”
Though another factor could also be at play in egg prices: an uncertain future.
“The concern for the people investing in these new standards is that it's not at all clear that they're going to last very long,” says Sumner.
Fuel Matters: Why Wildfire Behavior Depends on What's Burning
(KQED) Allie Weill, Oct. 23
... In the Bay Area and coastal Southern California, shrublands, grasslands, and forests come together in a patchwork of fuel types. Managing these lands for wildfire hazard, ecology, and resource value can be a challenge. When it comes to managing fire in the coast ranges, “there's no one-size-fits-all,” said UC Berkeley fire scientist Scott Stephens at a symposium in May.
Proposition 12: Cage-free eggs, more room for farm animals on ballot
(Mercury News) Paul Rogers, Oct. 22
…But Proposition 2 didn't provide specific square-feet limits. After it passed, farmers argued that they could still keep chickens in cages. A UC Davis study concluded that it would wipe out California's egg industry because it only applied to farmers based in California and farmers from other states would flood California stores with eggs produced more cheaply. So state lawmakers passed a new law in 2010 requiring that it apply to all eggs, veal and pork sold in California, even if it came from other states.
…Some of the decline would have happened anyway, said economist Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Davis Agricultural Issue Center.
“The egg industry has been declining for decades in California,” Sumner said. “Raising eggs is about converting corn and soybeans to eggs. It's expensive to haul corn and soybeans around. And we don't grow corn and soybeans in California.”
But Sumner predicted if Prop 12 passes, it will raise the price of some types of eggs, perhaps by as much as 50 percent, and the price of veal and pork by about 20 percent.
Tickets for agri-business tour available
(Chico Enterprise-Record) Laura Urseny, Oct. 21
Tickets for the Agri-Business Bus Tour that is part of the annual Farm City Celebration are on sale, but the tour usually sells out quickly.
Hosted by the Butte County Farm Bureau and University of California Cooperative Extension, the Nov. 7 bus tour will take guests to four businesses and a government office that make up Butte County's agricultural economy.
Thousands attend Dairyville Orchard Festival
(Red Bluff Daily News) Julie Zeeb, Oct. 21
Music filled the air and the sun was shining Saturday for the 21st annual Dairyville Orchard Festival with thousands expected to peruse the various items available at booths spread throughout the field behind Lassen View School.
Rick Buchner, retired as the Tehama County UC Cooperative Extension director, was one of many volunteers helping at the event. Wearing a name tag with Friend of the Festival listed as his title, he has been involved in it since the beginning.
…Joni Samay, a community education specialist with UC CalFresh, was at the event to offer information and sunflower seeds as a healthy snack option.
Why farm-worker migration is booming
(The Economist) Oct. 20
Foreign workers are self-regulating, points out Philip Martin, who studies migrant labour at the University of California, Davis, "Because there are usually more willing migrants than farm jobs, and because workers tend to be hired in groups, they have a strong incentive to behave impeccably and ensure that others do, too."
Trump orders fewer ‘regulatory burdens' for diverting water to CA farms
(SF Chronicle) Melody Gutierrez, Oct. 19
The timing of Friday's announcement was not lost on Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources, a University of California research organization.
“This has a lot to do with the upcoming elections and helping their base,” Parker said. “It's a feel-good move.”
However, he said, it's unlikely to accomplish much.
“Major changes to move water for agriculture will be caught up in courts, so this won't likely lead to any action,” Parker said.
Ranchers, vineyards reeling from summer wildfires
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Oct. 19
…University of California scientists have said they don't expect a significant economic impact on Northern California wine regions because only a small percentage of wines may have been affected by fires and smoke. Horiuchi agrees, noting that while the situation is tough on individual growers, Lake County vineyards represent only about 1 percent of California's industry.
…In Mendocino County, properties in the path of the River Fire included the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center. On July 27 and 28, the fire burned about 3,000 acres of the facility's 5,358 acres, and destroyed three research structures, two storage sheds, and spring boxes that capture water for wildlife and water storage tanks, says Pamela Kan-Rice, spokeswoman for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Sheep at the facility were moved to safety before the fire.
Automakers Sell Performance, but Consumers Want Fuel Economy and Safety
(Consumer Reports) Jeff Plungis, Oct. 19
The industry is six times as likely to make emotional appeals—such as emphasizing the macho nature of a pickup truck or the wilderness-stomping abilities of an SUV—over promoting good fuel economy or safety, according to an analysis by [Gwen Arnold] researchers at the University of California, Davis commissioned by Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
Landscapes that work for biodiversity and people
(Science) Claire Kremen, Adina Merenlender, Oct. 19
As the human population has grown, we have taken and modified more and more land, leaving less and less for nonhuman species. This is clearly unsustainable, and the amount of land we protect for nature needs to be increased and preserved. However, this still leaves vast regions of the world unprotected and modified. Such landscapes do not have to be a lost cause. Kremen and Merenlender review how biodiversity-based techniques can be used to manage most human-modified lands as “working landscapes.” These can provide for human needs and maintain biodiversity not just for ecosystem services but also for maintenance and persistence of nonhuman species.
How do wildfires affect wine? UC Davis begins study
(KCRA) Vicki Gonzalez. Oct. 18
…KCRA's Vicki Gonzalez talked with UC Davis extension enologist Anita Oberholster about the study and what it could mean:
Q: What's the difference between smoke and smoke taint?
Oberholster: Having a smoky character in wine is not anything new. It's something some people actually go for. But, too much of a good thing is not a good thing anymore. And then, you can get this smoky, ashy aftertaste, and that's usually what's the most unpleasant thing for people.
Imperial County Farm Bureau celebrates more than a century of service
(Imperial Valley Press) Brea Mohamed, Oct. 18
This year, Imperial County Farm Bureau is celebrating more than 100 years of its dedication to Imperial County agriculture.
By March of the following year, all of the plans were finalized and the organization that has grown to play such a huge role for agriculture in the Imperial Valley was up and running. The Farm Bureau played a unique role in the agricultural community; it acted as a rural chamber of commerce, a social gathering place, and an educational organization where one could learn about agricultural experiments from the USDA and UC Cooperative Extension.
Have bedbugs taken flight in Boston?
(Boston Globe) Christopher Muther, Oct. 18
…“During the flight I did see a very small insect on my shoulder, it looked like a tiny roach,” said Kelleher, who lives in Cambridge and flew from Boston to Paris on American Airlines. “I flicked it off. What I should have done was call the flight attendant. But later when I looked up bedbugs online, the pictures matched the bug on my shoulder.”
…Entomologist Dong-Hwan Choe of the Department of Entomology at the University of California said although bedbugs can be found in areas where people tend to spend extended periods of time sleeping, resting, or sitting, such as airplanes, he agreed that photos alone would not be enough to tell if the bites came from the blood-feeding pests.
How do you build a safer city after California's worst wildfire? Santa Rosa officials say the answer may have to wait
(Los Angeles Times) Laura Newberry, Oct. 18
…But fire safety experts say that mere encouragement isn't enough. The county should consider enforcing strengthened building and landscaping regulations, especially in neighborhoods that aren't flagged as fire hazard zones but could ultimately succumb to an unpredictable weather event like the Tubbs firestorm, said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara.
Take, for example, Coffey Park, which lost more than 1,300 homes in the blaze, but is not in the wildland-urban interface.
“As a researcher, I see lots of strong evidence supporting the idea that we should have more science-based regulatory constraints on how we build,” Moritz said. “Yet we shy away from that.”
Researcher who introduced a variety of new wine grapes to Lodi among inductees into Ag Hall of Fame
(Stockton Record) Bob Highfill, Oct. 17
The Lodi American Viticultural Area boasts close to 100 wine grape varieties currently in production.
Lodi likely wouldn't have the diversity it enjoys today were it not for Richard “Rip” Ripken and his desire to learn and experiment.
Among his numerous accomplishments, Ripken helped introduce Lodi to a host of new wine grapes through his own research and with the University of California Cooperative Extension.
…Ripken, along with wine grape grower and vintner Stephen Borra, agriculture advocate and educator Laura Wheeler Tower, former San Joaquin County Viticulture Farm Advisor Paul Verdegaal and former Pomology Farm Advisor Donald Rough (posthumous) will be inducted at the 34th annual San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame Awards banquet presented by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Robert J. Cabral Ag Center in Stockton.
When Does Smoke Actually Result In Tainted Wine Grapes? It's Complicated. (AUDIO)
(Capital Public Radio) Julia Mitric, Oct. 17
Certain foods are prized for their smokiness: think of Gouda cheese or paprika. But when California winemakers talk about smoke taint, they're not talking about wines with smoky notes.
“[Wine] is only tainted when you get that really negative, cold campfire, old ashtray aftertaste,” says Anita Oberholster, an enologist with the UC Davis Extension.
She says no serious winemaker would ever consider releasing a wine with these flaws. But lately, the enologist fields a lot of calls from vintners who want her to taste their wines and weigh in on whether she detects even the slightest trace of taint from smoke exposure.
Researchers offer ways to curb shot hole borer damage
(AgAlert) Padma Nagappan, Oct 17
…Akif Eskalen is a plant pathologist with UCANR in Riverside and one of the experts on this pervasive beetle species.
"We've identified the species now, and agricultural crops have shown they can resist it better than natural vegetation," he said, delivering good news.
..."The Fusarium is very damaging, but it didn't hurt avocados as much. We haven't seen any avocado trees die, although there has been branch dieback," Eskalen said. "Once growers cut off the branches, then the tree survives."
The Family Niche
(Comstock's magazine) Laurie Lauletta-Boshart, Oct. 16
… To become better versed in raising and breeding lambs, Polis and Ethan took a class on lamb management and reproduction through the University of California Cooperative Extension, a free program that serves as a bridge between the university and farmers, offering a combination of research, extension and outreach. Polis and his son got direct training from the UCCE instructors on banding sheep testicles and docking tails. They also witnessed an ewe giving birth to a breech baby.
The Cost Of Your Favorite Beer Could Double Due To Climate Change, Study Suggests
(Capital Public Radio) Ezra David Romero, Oct. 16
…Konrad Mathesius is a farm advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension in Yolo County. He says if climate climate change prevents barley from being grown in wet climates California farmers could once again give it a try.
"It's never really fetched a great price, and that's why all of a sudden climate change is threatening it, but if it's grown on irrigated land as part of a rotation then, yeah, it's a strong contender,” Mathesius said.
Mathesius is working on a project to see how barley grows under different conditions in California. The barley is being malted in Oregon and he says Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. will brew it.
“They're all going to be blonde ales,” Mathesius said, adding that he, brewers and the public will evaluate the beers.
Sudden oak death diminishes after dry winter, but infection remains rampant
(The Press Democrat) Guy Kovner, Oct. 16
...Since the mid-1990s, sudden oak death has killed up to 50 million trees from Big Sur to southwest Oregon and is entrenched in the woodlands, spreading rapidly after wet winters and slower during dry years.
…“We know there's a lot of disease out there,” said Matteo Garbelotto, director of the forest pathology and mycology laboratory at UC Berkeley, which has organized annual sudden oak death surveys, known as the SOD Blitz, since 2008.
… Steven Swain, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, said he surveyed the Sonoma Coast region from Jenner to the Mendocino County line in May and found a significant outbreak in an area where sudden oak death has been present for years.
“There's a lot more of it than there was five or six years ago,” he said.
Sudden oak death was first detected in Sonoma County at Fairfield Osborn Preserve on Sonoma Mountain in the early 2000s, said Kerry Wininger, UC Coop Extension staffer in Santa Rosa.
The disease is a “neighborhood issue” in the county, she said.
Fighting fire with fire: forestry experts call for more controlled burning in B.C.
(Global News) Doris Maria Bregolisse, Oct. 16
…Lowering the wildfire risk with controlled burns requires patience, according to University of California Berkeley fire science Prof. Scott Stephens.
Forests build wildfire resiliency after three controlled burns completed over 20 years, he said.
“Not surprisingly, in the first fire, we killed a lot of trees,” Stephens said.