In memoriam: Steve Orloff
“Over the 33 years that Steve has been a member of the UC ANR family, I'm sure that many of you have worked with this kind and affable man, whether it be at county director meetings, on alfalfa research or Program Council or other projects. We'll all miss Steve's good nature, willingness to help others and his expertise,” VP Glenda Humiston wrote in an email message to ANR employees.
Orloff, who grew up in Lancaster, earned his B.A. in geography at San Diego State University in 1978. From 1979 through 1981, he served in the Peace Corps, helping Central American farmers, primarily in El Salvador, and met his wife-to-be in Honduras. After graduating with his M.S. in general agricultural science from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in 1983, he joined UC ANR in 1984 as a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Los Angeles County, based in Lancaster.
After a few years working in the Southern California desert, Orloff moved north to become a farm advisor in Siskiyou County in 1992. He conducted research at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake.
When the California Alfalfa & Forage Association named Orloff as the 2011 recipient of its Jim Kuhn Leadership Award, it noted that he “conducted careful studies of the control of dodder, a major weed in alfalfa production in California, and his studies during the 1980s became the gold standard for management strategies for this difficult parasitic weed.”
In a tribute to their longtime colleague, UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist Dan Putnam and IREC director Rob Wilson wrote in the Alfalfa and Forages News blog:
Steve Orloff was a true agronomist with broad knowledge and in-depth expertise related to most fields of agriculture science. He published hundreds of articles reporting on his original research related to pest management, irrigation, harvest management fertilization and variety selection. Steve worked with many crops, including alfalfa, grass hays, small grains, onions, and several specialty crops. His accomplishments played a vital role in progressing California agriculture and helping solve many regional problems related to pests, water conservation, and economic stability. The publications “Intermountain Alfalfa Management,'" which he led in the 1990s, and “Irrigated Alfalfa Management for Desert and Mediterranean Zones” (2008), to which he made significant contributions, are considered the leading nationwide references to management of alfalfa.
Orloff's family held a “Celebration of Life.” UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist Brad Hanson attended the event and later wrote in a UC Weed Science blog post, “Many of his family and friends celebrated Steve's life at a remembrance on Oct. 14 on a farm overlooking the alfalfa fields of the Scott Valley near Fort Jones, Calif. In my mind, the memorial was very fitting and much like Steve - there was some seriousness, plenty of humor and inside jokes, and real personal connections among Steve's family, friends, and colleagues.”
Orloff is survived by his wife, Islia; their three sons, Michael, Danny and Rob; his mother, Carol; and sisters Lisa and Diane.
[11/7/2017 Updated to include the years Orloff served in the Peace Corps and the year he transferred to Siskiyou County.]