Posts Tagged: Chris Greer
Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, noted in the story that 2013 was the first time in recent years that UC hired more Cooperative Extension faculty than had retired. In December, she approved hiring of another 29 advisors and 16 specialists for the 2015-16 cycle.
"So we turned the corner for the first time in this long downward spiral," she said. "My goal is to continue to rebuild the footprint of Cooperative Extension."
Lee also interviewed UCCE vice provost Chris Greer, who said he expects ANR to end 2015 with a net gain of academics.
"It's not huge leaps and bounds; it's a small gain, but we're hoping as we continue this process of filling these positions, that we'll start gaining some ground," he said.
Rather than automatically refilling vacant positions, Greer said much thought is put into revamping job descriptions or creating new positions to better fit the evolving needs of agricultural business. To help prioritize which positions should be hired first, UC sought public input, receiving more than 900 individual comments last year, including from agricultural organizations.
Jim Sullins, the UCCE director for Tulare County who is planning to retire in mid-2015, said more advisors are covering multiple counties and must travel longer distances to make farm visits, so they are turning to new communications strategies in their work, such as email, social media, and other web technology. But traditional farm calls are still a mainstay service.
Katherine Pope, the new UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor in Yolo County, was also featured in the AgAlert story. She talked about the importance of having enough staff to enable advisors to call on farmers personally. Pope said going out to the farm gives her a fuller picture of what she's dealing with that she can't get over the phone or with photos via email. Sometimes she may notice other issues unrelated to the original problem, or the visit may prompt other questions from the farmer.
"My job is to spread information and knowledge, and doing that in person is absolutely the best way to do that," she said.
Despite early worries about water supplies, Cass Mutters, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Butte County, said 25 to 30 percent of rice acreage is planted; statewide about 10 to 15 percent of acreage has been planted. According to the article, rain in March delivered enough water to Lake Oroville for full water contracts to be honored.
Things could have turned out a lot worse, said Chris Greer, UCCE adviser in Sutter, Yuba, Sacramento and Placer counties.
A month ago it looked like 200,000 acres statewide would go without being planted, of a total of about 550,000 acres of rice land.
Greer told the reporter that farmers are still deeply concerned about the California water situation.
"It still worries you thinking about this winter," Greer said. "We're eking by as we can this year, but if we have another dry winter, I'm not sure we're going to be able to meet what we are delivering this year. That would be difficult."
Most rice is planted by airplane, but some farmers are experimenting with drill seeding. Drill seeding requires more labor, but results in more precise placement of seed and fertilizer in the fields.
Fitchette opened his story with the plight of ag research at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center near Five Points. Many of the farmers in the area will receive no surface water allocation this year; neither will the research center.
The facility can pull water from a deep well, but it is not enough nor is the water quality adequate for all the farming operations, said Bob Hutmacher, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and center director. He said scientists at the station must cut back their water use this year by 25 percent.
“I can speak for myself: I have about a half dozen cotton projects and a sorghum project, along with a sesame project and a couple of other things I'm working on,” he said. “I'm downsizing most of them to the greatest degree I can and I'm going to cancel one of them.”
One trial that will not go forward at West Side is an almond variety trial. However, UC Cooperative Extension advisors in other areas are working with the Almond Board to keep the research underway. UCCE advisors Joe Connell will oversee the Chico State almond variety trial, Roger Duncan the Salida trial, and Gurreet Brar the Madera County trial.
The Western Farm Press Story included drought-related ag research news from myriad UCCE academics:
- Duncan said his work with fruit and nut crops has not been negatively impacted by the drought.
- David Doll, UCCE advisor in Merced County, said the increased reliance on groundwater has ruined several orchard nitrogen trials because the groundwater in northern Merced has high rates of nitrate nitrogen, which acts as a nitrogen fertilizer.
- Dan Munk, UCCE advisor in Fresno County, said he will continue putting off alfalfa trials at the WSREC “indefinitely until a more secure water supply is available.”
- Scott Stoddard, UCCE advisor in Merced County, reports positive and negative impacts from the drought. He won't do tomato research at West Side REC, but will continue work in sweet potatoes to determine how little water they need to produce a reasonable crop.
- Chris Greer, UCCE advisor in Sutter, Yuba, Colusa and Glenn counties, said some rangeland trials were impacted by the lack of rain.
- Bruce Lampinen, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, has seen his orchard trials in Arbuckle severely impacted by the drought.
The Redding Appeal Democrat reported in December that the ranks of U.S. farmers is dwindling. Said Sutter County almond grower Mat Conant, "Pretty soon we'll be such a small minority nobody will listen to us."
Fewer farmers means there are fewer lawmakers with first-hand knowledge of agricultural production.
"You can go to Washington, D.C., and talk about agriculture, but it doesn't have the same impact if you practically experience it," said Christopher Greer, UC Cooperative Extension director for Yuba and Sutter counties.
Lawmakers, like the people they represent, can be lulled into believing that America will always benefit from food costs significantly lower than in Europe, Greer added.
"Everyone gets a little complacent," Greer said. "We expect food to be available at a fairly reasonable price."
Historical Society presents a 'Centennial Celebration'
(Eureka and North Coast) Times-Standard
A meeting at the historical society on Jan. 5 began a year-long celebration of three Humboldt County agricultural organizations that are celebrating 100 years of service in the community: the University of California Cooperative Extension, Humboldt County 4-H Clubs and the Humboldt County Farm Bureau.
Speakers at the event, including Yana Valachovic, UCCE director in Humboldt County, were slated to highlight the roles of each of these organizations in working with youth, commodity producers and the community over the last 100 years. Many events and presentations throughout 2013 will celebrate the local agricultural community.
Far West High Cotton winner committed to finding better ways
Harry Cline, Western Farm Press
Third-generation Merced County farmer Chad Crivelli received this year's Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award for the Western States.
Pete Goodell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in integrated pest management, was quoted in the Western Farm Press article announcing Crivelli's award.
"Chad meets with people during field trips to share the story about sustainable cotton," Goodell said. "He is a great spokesperson for urban folks who don’t understand what’s going on in cotton industry. He represents the cotton industry incredibly well, and the High Cotton Award is a well-deserved honor for Chad."
Crop issues test Coachella Valley vegetable producers
Cary Blake, Western Farm Press
Jose Aguiar, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Riverside County, recounted a surprising problem with Coachella Valley peppers in 2012 at the recent Desert Crops Workshop in El Centro.
“This problem threw us for a loop,” Aguiar said. “The bell pepper had a silvering appearance on the fruit exterior. It was not found inside the fruit. It was strictly a cosmetic issue.”
Riverside County is the largest bell pepper producer in California. The Coachella Valley has about 5,000 acres of bell peppers with a farm gate value of about $90 million.
UCCE advisor Richard Smith of Monterey County has found a similar problem in red pepper fields in the Salinas Valley. After testing, Smith’s first guess is the problem could be caused by the fruit rubbing against a branch. There are no holes in the fruit which eliminates the idea of insect damage.
Victor Gibeault, UC Cooperative Extension specialist emeritist in the UC Riverside Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, received the 2013 USGA Green Section Award in recognition for distinguished service to golf through his work with turfgrass.
"I am both pleased and honored to have been selected to receive the USGA Green Section Award," said Dr. Gibeault. "Now retired, I have been fortunate to spend my career as a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist, and in that role, I have worked on turfgrass research issues and educational projects and programs. My activities with the golf course industry have been enjoyable, fruitful, and have given me a sense of personal accomplishment, for which I am grateful."
Gibeault holds the U.S. patents for two zoysiagrass cultivars, De Anza and Victoria, and one buffalograss cultivar, UC Verde. Additionally he co-edited the 1985 book, "Turfgrass Water Conservation."/span>
A significant number of articles publicized UCCE activities during the winter break.
"It looks like it's going to be an OK harvest," said Butte County rice farmer Michael Arens.
Yields should be "somewhat average," the article quoted Chris Greer, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Yuba, Sutter, Placer and Sacramento counties.
A hot spell in August limited flowering in some cases, but the warm weather also helped control the fungal plant disease rice blast.
"In a year like this, unless we start getting heavy rains, (harvest) is probably going to turn out fairly good," Greer said.
A Chico farmer reported a problem with weeds this year. Luis Espino, UCCE advisor for Glenn, Colusa and Yolo counties, said UC researchers confirmed last year that smallflower umbrella sedge has become resistant to one of the main herbicides that growers use to control it.
"We'll probably see more of (the resistant weed) as time goes by," Espino said.