Posts Tagged: Max Moritz
Many climate change projections point to impacts that will be felt 50 or 100 years from now. But there are indications the earth is already experiencing rising sea levels, intensifying storms, increasing wildfires and droughts, and warmer oceans and atmosphere, reported Mary Caperton Morton in Science News.
For information about wildfire in California, Morton spoke to Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara.
“Warming temperatures are melting snow sooner and drying out vegetation so that we're already seeing longer fire seasons and more available fuel," Moritz said.
In 2017 and 2018, California wildfires killed 147 people, burned 3.5 million acres and destroyed over 34,000 structures in two of the worst fire seasons on record. Wildfires are expected to become more severe across the West.
Governor Newsom is responding to the threat by including in his proposed 2020-2021 state budget $86 million for CALFIRE to boost its firefighting response and $127 million for the Department of Emergency Services to address such disasters, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. The proposed budget will also fund the creation of a new 106-person wildfire safety division to oversee Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and other utilities.
CALFIRE recommends establishing defensible space around homes and building to code with fire-safe materials. For older homes, CALFIRE suggests low-cost retrofitting strategies, including sealing gaps with caulk, weather stripping or fine metal mesh screens; removing dead or dry vegetation from around the house and regularly cleaning leaves and other flammable material from gutters and under decks.
Moritz pointed out that the houses themselves are fuel for wildfire. Community-level fire safety approaches will be needed, he said.
"You've probably seen aftermath photos where a fire has swept through a town and all the homes have burned, but there are still trees standing and green vegetation,” Moritz said. “That's what happens when the homes themselves are the fuel. It's not a land management problem where you should have cleared more shrubland. You can't thin the fuels because the homes were the fuel.”
In a report published in April by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Moritz and colleagues also recommend burying power lines, creating water storage facilities for fighting fires, hardening emergency facilities and creating community refuges where people can take shelter.
"A whole suite of risk-reduction measures can be applied at the community scale,” he said. “We need to pay attention to how we lay out communities, with buffer zones between houses and between the community and the surrounding landscape.”
“Building to Coexist with Fire: Risk Reduction Measures for New Development” can be downloaded free at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8680.
The Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise and other wildfires that have devastated communities in recent years have convinced wildfire experts that Californians need to take more than one approach to coexist with fire.
To better protect new houses against wildfire, California has building codes, but where residential communities are built on the landscape and how they are designed are also very important to limit wildfire-related losses, according to University of California Cooperative Extension specialists Max Moritz and Van Butsic.
“Defensible space and vegetation management is important, but in the long term, where and how we build new developments will be equally important for keeping Californians safe,” said Butsic, who studies land use.
To develop their recommendations for reducing wildfire risk for future community development, Moritz, who specializes in wildfire, and Butsic reviewed fire studies and consulted firefighters and community planners.
Their new publication, “Building to Coexist with Fire: Risk Reduction Measures for New Development,” is designed for city planners, fire districts and communities to incorporate community-scale risk reduction measures when building or rebuilding in fire-prone areas.
“There is currently little codified guidance for where and how to build our communities in California, aside from building codes for individual structures and a few requirements for road access and water supplies,” said Moritz, who is based at UC Santa Barbara.
Wildfire consultant and architect David Shew, who retired as a CAL FIRE chief after 31 years, said, “I can state without hesitation that the land use planning principles and design recommendations identified in this study are necessary steps to help increase wildfire resiliency to existing and future communities. Being a first-hand witness to the increasingly destructive nature of wildfires, I can attest to the value and necessity for these improvements to be integrated into our built environment. This should become a much-used reference for every planning and fire official who face wildfire impacts.”
To reduce fire vulnerability of communities, Moritz and coauthor Butsic, who is based at UC Berkeley, recommend including fire professionals and biological resource experts early in the community planning process. They also recommend considering the placement of communities on the landscape, such as near bodies of water and agricultural land, and how they are laid out to minimize exposure to wildfire. Key considerations include defensibility, risk of ignition and ease of evacuating residents.
“This report provides both a robust justification for integrating resilience practices into land use planning and community design, and a toolbox for doing so,” Sarah G.Newkirk, director of disaster resilience with The Nature Conservancy in California. “The risk reduction measures described can be put to use immediately – ideally in combination with each other – both in ongoing wildfire recovery planning, and in local hazard mitigation planning. Furthermore, the report should be a wake-up call to FEMA to think broadly about how best to support wildfire mitigation in California.”
To more efficiently reduce fuel in new communities, Moritz and Butsic write, “The design, maintenance and use of defensible space for fire protection is easier when neighborhoods are developed more densely and are built to stringent fire-resistant building codes.”
In the 31-page publication, they present risk reduction measures for four design contexts:
- landscape setting – engage in strategic planning much earlier, use hazard maps and use major landscape features
- separation from wildfire source—use nonflammable amenities in design, employ safe setbacks on slopes and concentrate on inner side of roadways
- density management – cluster with other homes
- protective infrastructure – harden public facilities and refuges, locate power lines underground and augment water requirements.
They provide examples for each risk reduction measure, along with some discussion of challenges associated with each measure.
“Our hope is that this guidance will be helpful for agency personnel involved in evaluating and approving future development in California,” Moritz said. “Because there is a pressing need for additional housing in California, communities must be built with design principles that make them safer to inhabit and less vulnerable to inevitable wildfires.”
The publication “Building to Coexist with Fire: Risk Reduction Measures for New Development” can be downloaded for free at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8680.
Pandemic And Wildfire: California Is Preparing For A Crisis Within A Crisis
(CapRadio) Ezra David Romero, April 15
…To protect human health, prescribed burns are not allowed for the time being on Forest Service land. But Ryan Tompkins, a forest advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension for Plumas, Sierra, and Lassen counties, says it's still early enough to prepare for wildfire with other tools like thinning and in some cases burning.
“It is really difficult because of the concerns about smoke and COVID, but sort of now is our chance to be prepared,” said Tompkins.
…“We know the agencies are going to have maybe limited capacity, limited resources, they're going to have other strains on their organizations while dealing with this crisis,” Tompkins said. “So, I think it emphasizes in a silver lining way that we all have a piece to play or a role to play.”
Susie Kocher, a forest adviser for the Lake Tahoe region with the UC Cooperative Extension, is concerned about a triple threat of COVID-19, wildfires, and power shutoffs.
“These two potential situations just could stack on top of the uncertainty of what people need to do,” she said.
Pandemic Crisis Got You Planting a Garden? Join the Club. (18:23)
(BYU Radio) April 14
Guest: Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD, Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, Emeritus Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the University of California, Author of "Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of WWI"
The pandemic has sparked a moment of “crisis gardening” among Americans. It's not much different from the Victory Gardens that sprung up in yards around the country during World War I, and then again in World War II.
New fungicide approved for Calif. tree nuts
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 14
… University of California, Riverside plant pathologist Jim Adaskaveg helped develop data to validate the efficacy of ManKocide for California tree nuts and says the product has advantages, including ease of use.
It is also highly effective against copper-resistant bacteria in California, Adaskaveg said in an email.
“The product has efficacy against the walnut blight and bacterial spot of almond pathogens and suppresses fire blight on pome fruit and bacterial blast on almond,” he said.
Adaskaveg said he is unaware of other products that have this combination as a premixture,
People are rushing to plant 'pandemic gardens' and seed companies say they can't keep up with the surge in demand
(Business Insider) Michelle Mark, April 14, 2020
…It's not the first time economic crises have led Americans to grow their own food. One food historian told HuffPost that the trend began during WWI and WWII.
"Crisis-gardening is not new," Rose Hayden-Smith, the author of "Sowing the Seeds of Victory," told the outlet.
4-H searches for locals to serve on sponsoring committee
(San Benito Link) Devii Rao, April 14
We are looking for a few local people to serve on a sponsoring committee to keep 4-H active and strong in San Benito County. The sponsoring committee will organize events such as letter writing campaigns, barn dances, dinners, silent and live auctions, fireworks booths, having 4-H youth sell treats at the fair, or your other creative ideas! Sponsoring committee members are not required to have any affiliation with 4-H. We are looking for business leaders and other people who are well connected in the community and who are motivated to provide educational and leadership opportunities to our youth.
California dairies dump milk, crops may be left to wither as coronavirus pandemic disrupts food system
(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, April 12
…“Everybody's scrambling. The whole food system is scrambling,” said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis. “I don't see a big supply-side issue for agriculture. It's really an issue with the food (delivery) system.”
Widespread shutdown order slams California dairy farmers, ‘You can't turn off the cows'
(Sacramento Bee) Michael Finch II, April 10
…“Like every part of the food system, there are complications. The issue for milk is you can't turn off the cows,” said Daniel A. Sumner, an agricultural economist and professor at UC Davis. “What's becoming more of a problem is the slightly longer-term outlook where we have a massive recession (coming).”
Dairy prices are regulated by the federal government and fluctuate on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. So the price of large quantities of milk, cheese, whey and milk powder is set based on data from the prior month, Sumner said.
In January, milk traded at nearly 18 cents per pound and by March the amount fell nearly five cents. Sumner said this suggests there is a price shock to come in the summer.
Grocers Serving Low-Income Neighborhoods Pinched by Shortages, Rising Prices
(KQED) Farida Jhabvala Romero, April 10
…“This hoarding behavior is unfortunate,” said Richard Sexton, a professor of agriculture and resource economics at UC Davis. “We can understand why people do it, but it is what's causing these disruptions.”
… The current shortages could deepen disadvantages for family-owned neighborhood stores, said Sexton, the UC Davis economist.
“The little guys, the small chains of just a few stores, could get the short end of the stick in this situation because food manufacturers and distributors are going to probably prioritize their biggest and best customers,” he said.
Private Grant Will Support New UC California Organic Institute
(Organic Farmer) Marni Katz, April 10
A $1 million endowment will establish the University of California's first institute for organic research and education within the UC's Agriculture and Natural Resources division (UC ANR), expanding the UC Cooperative Extension's research and outreach capacity to target organic growers in California.
UCANR points to help for Californians amid crisis
(Farm Press) Mark Bell, April 10
…In response to these pressing needs, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, like many other universities and extension organizations across the country, are moving quickly to get more information online. While I haven't seen the actual numbers, we know millions of students (both high school and university) are quickly transitioning to online classes.
Scientists Worry Agency Plan to Prevent Fires Could Do Opposite
(Bloomberg) Bobby Magill, April 9
…Controlling wildfire in the region depends on how many firefighters the federal government has on the ground—and they'd have to be in the right place at the right time for the fuels reduction plan to work, said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying how wildfire affects broad landscapes.
As the climate changes, the effectiveness of fuels reductions projects and fuel breaks begins to fade, he said.
“Climate change seems to be priming the landscape for fires to ignite more easily, spread more easily, to burn hotter and larger—so all of these aspects of climate change would make one suspect that fuel breaks have a harder and harder time doing their job,” Moritz said.
The wildfire program is an “expensive large-scale experiment,” he said.
The real reason we're seeing more wildlife during the pandemic
(Pop Sci) Ula Chrobak, April 9
…In those cases, additional sightings might be due to simple behavior changes. But a less charismatic creature may be also on the rise due to an increased human presence at home. Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California, thinks that rat populations may be increasing in New Orleans and elsewhere. That's because people are cooking, storing, and disposing of at home, drawing rats away from closed restaurants and toward residences.
…Quinn agrees. Late last year, she radio-collared five coyotes in Los Angeles for a research project. She says that her coyotes haven't changed their routines since the shelter-in-place order went into effect, staying in their respective territories, which include areas near a shopping mall and golf course. Quinn adds that while the number of coyotes reported in San Francisco on the Coyote Cacher website isn't unusual, they could be moving about during the day more. “People are just at home noticing more things,” she says. “Especially in California, we're not all spending five hours a day on the freeway [now], you know?”
HLB spreads slowly, confined to residential citrus
(Capital Press) Padma Naggapan, April 9
…”It's slower than we expected, compared to Texas and Florida,” said Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell. “In the Central Valley, homeowners and growers have been able to eradicate the pest, although it's been much more challenging in Southern California. But growers are doing an outstanding job of controlling the psyllids.”
Almond Update: Maximizing Yields and Sustainability from Start to Finish
(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, April 9, 2020
Setting an orchard up for maximum yield and sustainability is a long game for producers. There are lots of variables, and some are unpredictable such as mother nature. But UC Cooperative Extension Tree Crop Advisor Franz Niederholzer said growers can do several things in the life of an orchard to stay in the game. He believes the most sustainable plan in every aspect of growing is to not focus on hitting home runs but instead have constant attention on management to help them avoid making outs.
Soil health practices show benefits
(Morning Ag Clips) Jeannette Warnert, April 9, 2020
A group of California organic farmers is sharing information about their efforts to combine reduced tillage with the use of cover crops, which they have been planting on their vegetable farms for decades to protect soil while adding carbon and diversity to their production systems.
“Every one of the pioneering farmers has seen tremendous benefits from the practices,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist. “These are the very growing practices that we have demonstrated over two decades of research to benefit soil health, environmental conservation and the bottom line on plots near Five Points in Fresno County.”
Why are eggs getting so expensive? Blame coronavirus demand
(LA Times) Samantha Masunaga, April 8
…“Eggs are naturally, very often, one of the most price variable products in the supermarket,” said Daniel Sumner, UC Davis professor of agricultural economics and director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center.
…Egg prices could remain elevated for at least a few months, Sumner said. And the demand for eggs has been historically strong during tougher economic stretches. Eggs are a relatively cheap source of protein and aren't seen as a luxury food item.
“It may take longer to get back to normal for the egg business,” he said. “We can build supply, but it takes a few months.”
Rock Front Ranch permanently conserved for wildlife, grazing by Rangeland Trust
(Santa Maria Times) April 7
“To have this ranch be up against and abut to tens of thousands of acres of public lands is an indispensable connection to have in perpetuity,” said Matthew Shapero, livestock and range adviser in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Nutrition experts fear 'dirty dozen' produce list will put off consumers
(UPI) Jessie Higgins, April 7
…"Our typical exposure to pesticides is far lower than levels of health concern," Carl Winter, an emeritus cooperative extension specialist in food and science technology at the University of California-Davis, said in an email.
"A graduate student and I published a paper in 2011 relating dietary exposure to toxicity for the 10 most frequently detected pesticides found on the EWG's 2010 Dirty Dozen list," he said. "Estimated exposures were far below levels of toxicological concern. Recommending consumers reduce their consumption of conventional fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list is unwarranted."
How to grow a vegetable garden, according to legendary chef Alice Waters
(Fast Company) Aimee Rawlins, April 7
… It's natural to want to go big and plant everything. But it's important to be realistic and start small, and not just because the productivity trap can be debilitating at a time like this.
“Right now we have enough on our plate. Start modestly and in a way that you can manage it,” says Missy Gable, director of the University of California's Master Gardener Program. “If you've never done this before, don't transform a quarter acre.”
… Because soil quality and composition varies depending on region and location, Gable recommends looking up your local master gardener extension program. These programs, which exist in all 50 states, offer classes and resources for home gardeners as well as knowledgable volunteers who are plugged in to local climate and soil particulars. Right now, some master gardener programs, like the one at Oregon State University, are also offering virtual classes. (OSU waived its fee for April and already has more than 17,000 participants.)
Pistachio Rootstock Options Today: Seedlings and Clones
(Pacific Nut Producer) Matthew Malcolm, April 6
Pistachio growers have more options today when it comes to varieties and rootstocks to plant with. Watch this brief interview with UCCE Farm Advisor Elizabeth Fichtner as she shares some of the characteristics of rootstocks currently available to growers and some of the pros and cons to planting on a seedling vs. clone. Read more in Pacific Nut Producer Magazine.
UC urges cattle producers to take precautions
(Farm Press) Larry Forero, Sheila Barry, Josh Davy, Gabrielle Maier, April 6
The COVID-19 pandemic has much of the California population staying home in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. Across the state, many grocery stores have had shelves emptied of food and other day-to-day necessities as people have stockpiled these essentials.
Coronavirus hit California's cut-flower industry at the worst time
((LA Times) Geoffrey Mohan, April 4
…Cut flowers are a $1.3-billion industry nationwide, though most of that revenue comes from the sale of imported flowers, predominantly from Colombia, according to the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center. Domestic growers account for about 27% of national sales, down from 37% roughly a decade ago. California-grown flowers account for three-quarters of the national domestic sales, according to the UC Davis researchers.
How The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Led To A Boom In Crisis Gardening
(Huff Post) Jodi Helmer, April 3
… Even though food supplies may be currently secure, said Rose Hayden-Smith, a food historian and author of “Sowing the Seeds of Victory,” understocked supermarket shelves are forcing shoppers to think about the source of their food, especially fruits and vegetables, often for the first time. And their fears have led them straight to the garden center.
“It's helpful to be productive and connect with nature and it's something that's within our control in a situation that feels entirely out of control,” she said.
Gardening during a pandemic
(Appeal Democrat) Chris Kaufman, April 3
Since the toilet paper panic-buying subsided, another item quietly flew off the shelves: garden seeds.
Springtime weather combined with shelter-in-place orders and empty shelves at stores has spurred a spike in seed sales, according to some gardening experts.
“I've seen an increase in seed sales because I've been looking around to see what people are doing and anticipating what kind of questions we will get once we open up again,” said Jan Kendel, a master gardener with the Sutter-Yuba University of California Cooperative Extension. “We've had some calls and emails from people wanting to know if it's a good time to plant tomatoes.”
Spotted Lanternfly is an Invasive Pest
(AgInfo) Tim Hammerich, April 2
The spotted lanternfly is a colorful insect pest that has been infesting vineyards and orchards in the eastern U.S. So far, we have been effective in our efforts to keep the pest away from California's multi-billion-dollar ag industry. But we must remain diligent in these efforts, says Dr. Surendra Dara, Entomology and Biologicals Advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.
“Spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest because of the reason we don't have any natural enemies that can suppress their populations in a natural way in a new environment," said Dara. "And it can actually infest grapes and several other hosts in California of commercial importance. So it is important for us to be aware of the potential impact and do the need to prevent the damage."
The Moment for Food Sovereignty is Now
(Civil Eats) Katie Brimm, April 2
… “People are thinking, ‘If I can't get toilet paper, am I going to be able to get food?'” said Rose Hayden-Smith, a longtime community gardener and a Victory Garden historian, who recently retired from the University of California.
… Hayden-Smith notes that, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic came on much more suddenly than either World War, individuals and communities are once again turning to gardening to create food security.
California's truffle industry could be poised for growth if top hunter helps find path
(Sac Bee) Becky Grunewald, April 1
… Her dining companion is a tall scientist with a gentle demeanor, Scott Oneto. Although he didn't command the attention of this room, his work could be key to whether truffle cultivation becomes big business in local farming, or just a flash in the (frying) pan.
Oneto, a sixth generation California farmer with a background in weed science, had to be coaxed into the project, according to O'Toole. Oneto said after a few years of requests, it took a much-needed sabbatical, at which he could “really dive into research” to catch him at the perfect point to start their (hopefully) fruitful collaboration.
An Aggie through-and-through, Oneto got both his bachelor's and master's degrees at UC Davis, and works for Agriculture and Natural Resources. ANR is an unsung arm of the University of California, with the mission to bring the latest in agricultural science to the California community. Oneto not only bridges the gap to farmers by translating academic science research into in-person workshops and handouts, he also tailors research to local needs.
“When I have a farmer or rancher who is presented with problems, whether it be a new pest, weed, pathogen, or the effects of climate change, we help them solve those problems so they can continue to be successful in agriculture,” Oneto said.
Humboldt Using Satellite Tech Against Illicit Cannabis
(TechWire) Carl Smith, April 1
…“Local zoning, permitting and enforcement is probably more important than state-level initiatives, although collaboration across units of government is also key,” said Van Butsic, co-director of the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
In fact, every available strategy is needed as California works to implement the “robust standards” that it envisions for cannabis cultivation. For one thing, growers who are willing to play by the rules still face competition from illicit operations. In 2019, sales of illegal cannabis products in California were expected to hit $8.7 billion, more than twice the total for legal sales.
“Larger producers have been able to navigate the system,” said Butsic. “Many smaller growers are going out of business or staying illegal.” Costs are also part of the equation. “The illegal market is competitive because legal marijuana is so expensive to produce under Prop. 64,” Dale Gieringer, director of Cal NORML, told The Los Angeles Times.
GMOs Are an Ally in a Changing Climate
(Wired) Emma Marris, April 1, 2020
In Davis, California, 190 miles from Terranova, I met up with Pamela Ronald, a plant geneticist at UC Davis who has worked to solve this problem. Climate change is making floods worse in parts of South Asia, and in 2006, Ronald helped create a kind of rice that can survive submersion in water. By 2017, some 6 million farmers in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India were growing this rice. We talked in her cozy office, where a painting hangs on the wall of a man under a deluge of rain struggling to plow a field.
College farms still functioning amid shutdowns
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 1, 2020
…Most employees for the UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources are working remotely during their normal business hours and visiting sites in person for essential duties such as feeding animals, officials said. All the UC Cooperative Extension's in-person seminars and workshops scheduled for April were cancelled.
At the research centers, UC leaders are considering which projects should continue and which ones could be postponed, said Mark Lagrimini, UCANR's vice provost of research and extension.
“With the research that can go forward, we're making sure that protection is provided for the workers and students,”Lagrimini said. “We do have staff out there working right now. We have over 500 projects going on. We're in the process of going through 500 projects and making sure they are all able to be conducted safely. It's a big job.
Public records show that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), has not kept up with its fire inspection goals in many wildfire-prone areas of California, reported Lauren Sommer on KQED radio, the National Public Radio affiliate in San Francisco.
In one CAL FIRE region in the Sierra Nevada, just 6% of properties were inspected in 2018. In the Bay Area, CAL FIRE inspected 12% of properties. Southern California coastal counties have recorded inspections at higher rates, with some looking at 100% of properties.
"We should be doing more, doing better," said Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist. "We need to have more people aware they are living on a fire-prone landscape and taking action."
The article said the agency's goal of inspecting 33% of homes each year is impeded by a lack of inspectors and resources. Lawmakers in Sacramento are now considering a bill, AB 1516, that mandates CAL FIRE inspect properties once every three years, beginning in 2021.
"There are not too many other ways people will learn about the vulnerability of their own home, other than having an inspector or firefighter at their property," Moritz said.
How One Entomologist Found His Calling as an IPM Facilitator
(Entomology Today) Lina Bernaola, April 18
Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia, Ph.D., is currently an IPM entomology advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension. He serves the vegetable industry in the Central Coast region of California by conducting applied research on pest management and implementing an extension program for stakeholders.
Alejandro was born and raised in Lima, Peru, where he earned his bachelor's degree in agronomy from La Molina National Agrarian University. Then, he went to Washington State University, where he obtained his master's degree in entomology working on integrated pest management (IPM) in irrigated hybrid poplars. In 2016, he obtained his Ph.D. in entomology at North Carolina State University (NCSU). During his doctoral studies, he worked on proposing management practices for the kudzu bug, an invasive pest of soybeans.
America's leading animal geneticist wants to talk to you about GMOs
(Pacific Standard) Emily Moon, April 18
At 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning, Alison Van Eenennaam is sitting in a harshly lit lab room, surrounded by her graduate students, talking about cattle sex—sex that, unfortunately, has not gotten anything pregnant. With the gene-editing techniques she's using, there could be many factors to blame: the location in the DNA strand of the edit, the biopsy performed to check the results of the edit, the freezing and the thawing of the embryo, the embryo's journey from lab to farm in a thermos. Now, Van Eenennaam floats another idea. "No foreplay, the poor guy," she says, a cheeky grin on her face. "The candle and the lighting wasn't right."
UCCE Marin Creates Online 'Story Map' Annual Report
(Patch) Susan C. Schena, April 16
The University of California Cooperative Extension team in Novato has created an online "story map" that capsulizes in an interactive way its ongoing programs and key 2018 accomplishments, instead of a written annual report.
An Inviting Summary of UCCE Marin's Exploits
Why bees swarm and what you should – or shouldn't – do about them
(San Jose Mercury News) Rebecca Jepsen, April 16
…Last year was a particularly bad year for honey bees. Some bee keepers reported up to a 90 percent loss in their hives in 2018. Causes for this include varroa mite infestations, increased pathogens due to the warm weather, increased use of pesticides and a decrease in diversity of food sources.
So, what can we do about a swarm? “If you leave the bees alone, they will leave you alone.,” said Dr. Elina L. Niño, honey bee expert at UC Davis. “It only takes a few hours or at most a day or two for them to find and settle into their new home.”
Santa Maria expects big strawberry crop
(The Packer) Carol Lawrence, April 16
…Two of the three top-yielding varieties in production yield studies conducted in Watsonville by the University of California, Davis, include the monterey variety, producing 10,554 cartons per acre, and the san andreas variety, which yielded 10,414 cartons per acre. O'Donnell said the commission has noticed those varieties as well as some proprietary ones from growers.
“We're seeing more fruit per acre from when these fruits are planted,” she said.
A newer variety, the cabrillo, was reported as producing 11,605 cartons per acre in recent tests.
These California communities could be the next Paradise. Is yours one of them?
(Sacramento Bee) Ryan Sabalow, Phillip Reese and Dale Kasler, April 11
…“There's a lot of Paradises out there,” said Max Moritz, a fire specialist at UC Santa Barbara.
California's state-of-the-art building codes help protect homes from wildfire in the most vulnerable areas, experts say. But the codes only apply to new construction. A bill introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood would provide cash to help Californians retrofit older homes.
“This will go a long way toward these different municipalities (in showing) that they deserve funding,” Moritz said.
U.C. Davis Animal Science Professor Discusses Agriculture's Contribution to Climate Change
(Cornell Sun) Stacey Blansky, April 11
On Monday afternoon, Prof. Frank Mitloehner, animal science and Air Quality Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis, discussed the latest research surrounding animal agriculture and its “surprisingly modest” contribution to global greenhouse emissions. Mitloehner pointed at food waste as the largest contributor to environmental damage.
Scientists studying smoke taint as next fire season approaches
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, April 10
…A Los Angeles Times report on the subject put it this way - “Smoke taint rears its head when grapes, kissed by environmental smoke as they're growing, eventually yield a wine with unexpected smoldering flavors…, ‘like drinking from a well-used ashtray,'” using the words of University of California-Davis enology specialist Anita Oberholster. The story noted: “It's a vintner's worst horror movie nightmare - the smoke is coming from inside the grapes.”
Says Oberholster: “Compounds that are responsible for smoke taint are naturally present in grapes at low levels, they add complexity to the wine. Research into the subject is a slow process and to date, I can say there is very little you can do to prevent extracting smoke taint compound from grapes. We are currently in the process of evaluating different amelioration techniques from finished wines and there is some promise there, but research is still on-going, and I have no data yet.”
The farmer that saw his budding California tea farm go up in smoke
(San Francisco Chronicle) Jonathan Kauffman, April 8
…What Mike Fritts didn't know in 2010 — what almost everyone had forgotten, in fact — was that the UC Extension Service planted California's first modern test plot of Camellia sinensis in Fresno in the 1960s, when it partnered with Lipton.
Jacquelyn Gervay Hague, a chemist at UC Davis who conducts studies of tea-growing in Taiwan and is active in the university's Global Tea Initiative, said she learned about the plots just a few years ago when the director of UC Extension's Fresno office gave her a call.
“It blew my mind,” Hague says. She pored over the records, which covered 1963 to the early 1980s, when Lipton pulled out of the study. “It was concluded that we could grow tea very well,” she said.
Goats are the latest weapons in the war against wildfire
(CNN) Sarah Lazarus, April 8
… Lynn Huntsinger, professor of range ecology and management at the University of California, Berkeley, says that California has seen an increase in "fuel" -- the term fire experts use to describe "dead plants."
Huntsinger, who used to keep goats in the backyard of her Bay Area home, says the fire problem has its roots in history.
In the past, Native Americans lit fires to control the vegetation, she says. These deliberate burns created a landscape of open grasslands, so wildfires were smaller and less frequent.
That changed with the arrival of colonial settlers. They did not understand how "using fire prevented fire," and banned deliberate burns from around the turn of the 20th century, says Huntsinger.
The Age of Robot Farmers
(The New Yorker) John Seabrook, April 8
…To get an idea of what might be possible, I arranged to visit Professor David Slaughter in his office at the University of California at Davis. Slaughter leads the university's Smart Farm Initiative, which explores how future farmers might employ emerging technologies. Drones, for example, can automate the inspection of fields for pest or weed outbreaks, and can use high-resolution cameras and algorithmic processing of the images to pick up incipient problems before a farmer or a hired hand might spot them. Another possible application is plant breeding. Breeders currently rely on humans to evaluate seedlings produced by new combinations of already existing varieties.
…If the future of fruit-and-vegetable farming is automation, farmers will not only need the machines, and the funds to afford them, they will also require a new class of skilled farm workers who can debug the harvesters when something goes wrong. Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, a colleague of David Slaughter's at the University of California at Davis, is trying to ensure that domestic farmworkers' children have the STEM skills to compete for those jobs. De Leon Siantz is the daughter of Mexican immigrants; she has a Ph.D. in human development and focusses on migrant health in her research. She hopes to use existing Head Start and 4-H programs to teach math and engineering.
Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning
(Red Bluff Daily News) Julie Zeeb, April 5
Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino.
The event was a collaboration between the Tehama County UC Cooperative Extension and Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation.
Allan Fulton, a Tehama County farm advisor, served as moderator.
“We're four years into Sustainable Groundwater Management Act that went into affect Jan. 1, 2015,” Fulton said. “There's been a lot of organizing (of groundwater management agencies). Now the governance structure and planning is underway. This venue is perfect for people to learn about the act and what is going on locally. It's a chance to see, as landowners and water operators, how to engage in the process and give feedback on what they think about it.”
The worst fire in California history illuminates fire preparation needs
(Yuba Net) April 5, 2019
Four months have passed since the Camp Fire, the worst wildfire in California history, ravaged bucolic communities in the Butte County foothills, including Paradise, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon, Cherokee, Yankee Hill and Magalia. Eighty-five people died, many of them elderly and unable to safely evacuate from an area where a wind-driven fire raced from home to home.
The unspeakable loss of human life and the serious challenges being faced by survivors has dominated the Camp Fire conversation. Now, UC Cooperative Extension is beginning a dialog with many agencies involved to understand how such tragedies can be prevented in the future.
UC course helps landowners track water use
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 5
On a recent morning, Jim Edwards and about 70 of his fellow farmers and ranchers from Northern California went back to school. Each was handed a binder full of worksheets as they embarked on a three-hour course to learn how to measure and report their own water diversions – a state requirement now for landowners with rights to draw water from a river or stream.
There were lectures by University of California Cooperative Extension advisors and were even quizzes at the end of each unit so the landowners could demonstrate what they'd learned about open-ditch flow readings, measuring weirs, in-pipe flow meters, the calibration and accuracy of measuring devices, and measuring reservoir diversion quantities.
“I think it's great,” said Edwards, who takes water from Antelope Creek near Red Bluff to raise cattle, orchards and hay.
… “I think this is a good crash course to get people to understand flow measurements and what is required of them to report,” says Khaled Bali, a UCCE irrigation specialist who helps lead a course unit on device accuracy.
DIY with classes at the UC Cooperative Extension in gardening and food preservation
(New Times SLO) Camillia Lanham, April 4
A soft-hued planter full of pale gray-greens and purple flowers waits just through the gate of the Garden of the Seven Sisters off Sierra Way. Those winter colors will soon be replaced by flora made just for spring. This "curbside garden" is the first of 15 demonstration plots manned by Master Gardener Program volunteers at the UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo.
If you're a newbie like I am—or an oldie looking for some new tricks—the UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo County has got something just for you. Whether you're trying to figure out what to do with all of that extra produce on your kitchen counter or trying to decide exactly what to plant and when, there's probably a class for that either through the extension's Master Gardener Program or Master Food Preserver Program. You can become certified as a master and volunteer for either program or both programs, or you can dabble with a class here or there.
Backyard chickens hit hard by a long-gone, extremely contagious disease
(New Food Economy) Tove Danovich, April 4
In California, backyard birds are in lockdown. County fairs are canceling their poultry shows. Veterinary hospitals aren't accepting chicken appointments. Local 4-H leaders are telling chicken owners to keep their birds sequestered. Some poultry breeders are even worried their birds will need to be euthanized.
… There are approximately 100,000 backyard flocks in California according to Maurice Pitesky, Cooperative Extension poultry specialist with the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. “They don't focus so much on biosecurity, which is just a fancy word for disease prevention,” he says. Backyard poultry owners regularly mock the CDC's advice to avoid snuggling or kissing their chickens, but that's not the worst of it: 25 percent of urban poultry owners reported not even washing hands after handling their birds.
(Napa Valley Register) April 4
Dr. Monica Cooper, farm adviser of UC Cooperative Extension, Napa Valley, is the recipient of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture's (ASEV) Extension Distinction Award for 2019.
Cooper will receive the award at the 70th ASEV National Conference on June 19 in Napa, where she will be presenting, “Building Effective Extension Networks to Support Data-Driven Decision Making.”
It Wasn't Just the Soda Tax That Dropped Berkeley Soda Sales by 52 Percent
(The Inverse) Emma Betuel, April 3
University of California, Berkeley professor Sofia Villas-Boas, Ph.D., and Ph.D. candidate Scott Kaplan show in the new paper that soda purchases fell between 10 and 20 percent on Berkeley's campus directly after the soda tax was passed but before the prices officially increased in 2015. They also used Nielsen data to show a similar pattern: soda purchases at local stores decreased by 10.8 percent even before the higher prices went into effect.
“The election outcome caused a 10-20% reduction in sales of regular soda beverages before consumers faced higher prices anywhere, on campus or in stores off-campus,” Kaplan tells Inverse, “This suggests that you might not witness these types of effects if a sugar-sweetened beverage (or soda) tax was implemented without a preceding campaign and public vote.”
UC IGIS to host DroneCamp 2019 in Monterey
(Santa Cruz Tech Beat) Sara Isenberg, April 2
The Informatics and GIS Program (IGIS) of University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is pleased to host the second offering of DroneCamp. This three-day intensive workshop covers everything you need to know to use drones for mapping, research, and land management, including…
Tiny whiteflies seem to be bugging people across the Central Coast, but why are there so many this year?
(KSBY) Megan Healy, April 1
A master gardener from the SLO University of California Cooperative Extension says dozens of people from south SLO County called asking why there are so many.
“It's probably a reflection of the increasing temperatures coming on top of all that nice water we have had, so we have had a flush of vegetation and the flies that came from eggs originally have just all hopped out,” said Cathryn Howarth, a master gardener a the SLO County UC Cooperative Extension.
According to the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, signs of whitefly manifestation include…
Inside the race to build the burger of the future
(Politico) Michael Grunwald, April 1
…Conglomerates like Walmart, McDonald's and General Mills have been setting emissions reduction targets for their suppliers, which will ratchet up pressure on farmers and ranchers to green their operations. But at a time when they're already getting squeezed by a handful of giant agribusinesses that process their animals, as well as the economic fallout from President Donald Trump's trade wars, they're hoping for government incentives to reduce their emissions. Frank Mitloehner, a professor of animal agriculture at the University of California-Davis, believes farmers and ranchers deserve to be paid for their ecological services—and recently said so to an Ocasio-Cortez staffer. For example, California is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help them manage their manure in cleaner ways, which makes more sense to Mitloehner than demonizing them for the messes they make while putting food on people's tables. Many of them are conservative Republicans who deny climate science, but they're also pragmatic businesspeople—Mitloehner says they could store tremendous amounts of carbon on their lands if the price and the politics were right.
“Politically, farmers tend toward the Trump camp, and when they hear all this finger-pointing about farting cows, they just shut down,” Mitloehner says. “It troubles me, because I know how urgent this climate discussion is.”
… “There's such an enormous opportunity to reduce emissions in meat production, if you didn't hear all this counterproductive talk about how everything about it is terrible,” says Mitloehner, the Cal-Davis agricultural scientist. “Let's not alienate the people we need the most on our quest for a climate solution.”