Each year, about 9,000 kids visit the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay for hands-on educational experiences in urban horticulture, nutrition, food safety, pest management, livestock management and food preservation, reported Sara Hayden in April 2018 issue of Half Moon Bay Magazine (the article begins on p. 16).
Hayden visited the ranch with photographer Jaime Soja when a group of preschoolers descended to explore the garden and meet the farm animals.
"They can taste and touch and smell things - feel the wool of a sheep or an egg, know where their food is from, where the clothing fiber comes from," said Kathi Baxter, UC Cooperative Extension environmental science educator at Elkus Ranch. "Ideally, kids would get the idea that space is necessary to grow food. We're hoping to plant that seed of stewardship here."
The Elkus family donated the 125-acre ranch in the 1970s as a gift for youth. The ranch's operating budget depends heavily on grants and donations.
For more, visit the Elkus Ranch website at http://ucanr.edu/sites/elkus_ranch.
China imports quite a bit of wine, however, very little comes from the United States. At the same time, per capita consumption of wine in China remains very low. So why are California winemakers anxious about tariffs newly imposed by China on U.S. wine? Because China's wine consumption habits are expected to change, reported UC ANR experts in an article posted on The Conversation and NPR websites.
"China is the world's fastest-growing wine market and is expected to soon become the second largest (wine market), after the U.S.," wrote UC Davis wine economist Julian M. Alsten, director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center Daniel Sumner, and post-doctoral scholar Olena Sambucci.
Economists who have studied these markets project further significant growth in China's demand for wine, including premium wine imports, the article said.
"This would make getting pushed out of China especially troubling at a time when global per capita wine consumption has been declining, especially in Europe," the authors wrote.
April News Clips
County program to cull dead trees continues
(The Union Democrat) Alex Maclean, April 5
Scientists doing field-based research saw a decline in the death rate of ponderosa pines from western bark beetle infestation last year, but Tuolumne County isn't slowing down its effort to help landowners affected by the drought-induced epidemic.
… Jodi Axelson, a Cooperative Extension specialist in forest health at University of California, Berkeley, said the slowing of mortality seen over the past year should give counties like Tuolumne an opportunity to catch up on removing dead trees from private property.
Axelson is part of a team of scientists collecting data on tree mortality that also includes John Battles, a forest ecology professor at UC Berkeley, and Susie Kocher, a natural resources advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, Central Sierra.
Land suitable for certain California crops expected to shrink
(Agri-Pulse) Steve Davies, April 5
California growers should start to look seriously at how to adapt to a changing climate, which could shrink the land available for many of the state's most popular crops, a new study has found.
“Reduced numbers of chill hours, increased pest pressure, increased water demand and water-induced stress, as well as variable and unreliable water supply, are examples of factors that are projected to adversely impact the yield and quality of various crops grown in California,” says the paper, published in the journal Agronomy. Chill hours are traditionally defined as those periods where the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Understanding climate change and how it is impacting agriculture can help us develop relevant adaptation strategies and enhance agricultural resilience to climate risks," said lead author Tapan Pathak, a cooperative extension specialist at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Search for wine ‘smoke taint' solutions intensifies after Northern California wildfires
(North Bay Business Journal) Jeff Quackenbush, April 4
The international pursuit of ways to predict how much smoke from a wildfire will end up in finished wine and what to do about it got a boost when the dark clouds of particles pumped out by the massive North Bay fires in October descended on the University of California, Davis, experimental vineyard in Napa Valley.
“The moment the smoke started, my phone started ringing off the hook,” said Anita Olberholster, Ph.D., a specialist in the science of winemaking for University of California Cooperative Extension. When the fires erupted Oct. 8, most of the North Coast winegrape crop had been picked, but some late-ripening fruit, particularly cabernet sauvignon was still on the vine, in the home stretch of the 2017 harvest. “It quickly realized how thin the data is I need to base recommendations on.”
For these Central Coast students, spring break is a chance to hone their culinary skills
KSBY, April 4
Some local fifth and sixth graders are spending their spring break in the kitchen.
The students are part of the 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council clubs at five schools in Santa Maria and Oceano.
During the third annual "Culinary Academy," they're learning food safety habits, how to safely handle knives, baking techniques, and stovetop skills. Specifically, they're cooking up healthy blueberry muffins, sushi, and an egg omelet.
"It's really an opportunity for the kids to learn some basic food skills along with nutrition and some fun thrown in there, too," said Janelle Hansen, 4-H program supervisor for Santa Barbara County.
Culinary Academy teaches Santa Maria spring breakers how to cook
Santa Maria Times, April 4
Fifth and sixth grade youth leaders from five school-based 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council clubs (SNAC) worked to develop their culinary skills over Spring Break.
Over 20 SNAC Youth leaders participated in the 3rd annual Culinary Academy, at Liberty Elementary School in Santa Maria. This year youth worked on recipes to enhance their knife and stove top skills, food safety habits, and baking techniques.
UC Climate Video Questioned by UC Researchers
(UCD Aggie) David Madey, April 4
According to a video called “The diet that helps fight climate change” released by the Office of the UC President, everyone — including the 238,000 students across the UC system — can help combat climate change on their own. But not everyone is celebrating.
… “[The video] recommended for the global population a diet that only the top one percent can afford,” said Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor and air quality specialist at UC Davis. “We could not even satisfy a Mediterranean diet for the entire United States population today.”
… Dr. Glenda Humiston, the vice president for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, wrote in a public letter to UC colleagues, “[The video] states that if the world was to reduce its meat consumption, that decision alone could offset the emissions from a billion cars on the road by 2050. For the U.S., however, this contention is misleading, as the impact would be considerably smaller.”
Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, an expert featured in “Food Evolution” from UC Davis, also claims that the Climate Lab video is misleading. With a combined 2.1 million views on YouTube and Facebook to date, Van Eenennaam expressed concern that the public is led to believe that diet is twice as important as transportation effects –– which is not true at all, she said.
“It's not simple, and that video made it simple,” Van Eenennaam said.
Future Of Farming Blossoming At UC Davis
Researchers are looking for ways to make farming a little smarter with robots and drones that could one day revolutionize the way our food is grown.
Engineers at UC Davis are trying to be on the forefront of future farming technology.
“Smart technologies are going to allow us to be more efficient,” said professor David Slaughter.
They're inventing things like a high-tech hoe that uses ultraviolet lights and cameras along with specially treated plants to trim away weeds. Computer-controlled red cutting blades open up just in time to let plant stems pass by unharmed.
Drought put UC's water-saving strategies into practice
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden
The historic drought from 2012 to 2016 forced almond growers to put into practice water-conservation strategies they'd been taught by University of California Cooperative Extension crop advisors — so say a farmer and an advisor in a newly released video on water management.
Raj Meena of the Gustine, Calif.-based Meena Farms, says tools such as the pressure chamber, which measures water stress in trees, and soil moisture monitoring helped the operation survive drastic cutbacks in water. “I would say our water management improved considerably because it had to,” he says in the video, part of series on drought tips from the UC California Institute for Water Resources. “If we hadn't done that, we wouldn't still be farming. When you're so regulated in the water that you have, you have to allocate it very carefully.”
UC program aids in citrus disease fight
(AgAlert) Christine Souza
At war with the Asian citrus psyllid since it was found in San Diego County in 2008, California citrus growers and packers have had unprecedented success in slowing the spread of the tree-killing bacteria the psyllid can carry. People in the citrus business say part of that success relates to the testing and distribution of clean citrus plant material through the University of California, Riverside.
The Citrus Clonal Protection Program at UC Riverside tests clonal material to ensure that citrus varieties introduced into California remain free of pathogens.
Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, said he believes work such as that done by the program has helped defend California citrus from the tree-killing bacterial disease huanglongbing or HLB, also called citrus greening.
California fights costly battle against invasive species
(Agri-Pulse) Tyler Ash
Every year, California acquires on average nine new invasive species, including exotic insects, spiders, mollusks and even South American mammals. Three of those invaders usually try and settle down, start a large family and stake a claim on some of the Golden State's endless buffet of agricultural crops, becoming the bane of farmers and researchers.
“There are lots of species that get here and don't become established, it's just a few that do,” said Jim Farrar, director of the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
According to the UC-Riverside's Center for Invasive Species Research, invasive pests cost the state an estimated $3 billion a year. Intrusive plants alone cost California at least $82 million annually for control, monitoring and outreach, not including crop loss, as reported by the California Invasive Plant Council.
UC Davis researchers on a hunt for backyard chicken eggs around the Thomas Fire burn scar
(Ventura County Star) Cheri Carlson, April 3
Veterinarians at UC Davis have put out a call for eggs from California's backyard chicken owners, particularly those living near the Thomas Fire and other recent blazes.
They want to test the eggs for free in an effort to understand how they might be affected by wildfires, lead and other environmental factors.
It's called the Backyard Chicken Egg Study. And, they need help from backyard chicken enthusiasts, said Maurice Pitesky, a faculty member at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine-UC Cooperative Extension.
“We're trying to understand the connection between the environment and our backyard chickens,” said Pitesky, who teamed up with colleague Birgit Puschner to test the eggs.
Backyard Chicken Owners Can Have Eggs Tested For Free By UC Researchers
(SF Gate) Bay City News Service, April 3, 2018
Bay Area residents who raise chickens outdoors can take their eggs to a University of California office in Santa Rosa to see if they contain contaminants, UC officials said.
The free egg testing by the UC Cooperative Extension is to determine if harmful substances eaten by eggs [sic] gets passed along in the eggs they eat.
Bay Area Chicken Owners: UC Testing Eggs For Free
(Bay City News Service)
With the value of wine riding on a delicate balance of aroma and flavor, the impact of winegrapes' exposure to smoke from a wildfire could have significant economic consequences. Last fall's Northern California wildfires sent smoke wafting over an experimental vineyard in Napa Valley, giving scientists the opportunity to study the interplay of smoke and wine quality, reported Jeff Quackenbush in the North Bay Business Journal.
"The moment the smoke started, my phone started ringing off the hook," said Anita Olberholster, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and enology specialist. “I quickly realized how thin the data is I need to base recommendations on.”
The fires near the UC Davis vineyard provided the perfect experimental platform. Olberholster and her research team sprang into action to start a research project on the fly. Remaining grapes on smoke-exposed vines were picked, loads of commercially grown grapes deemed too questionable for commercial wineries were accepted. Over the past five months, small batches of wine were made from the grapes.
“They all have different levels of smoky character,” Olberholster said. “Some on the nose are actually quite pleasant and not smoky, but the aftertaste is the problem. All of them, even if in small amounts, had that ‘old smoke,' ‘ashtray,' ‘new smoke' aftertaste. It all depends on how sensitive you're going to be at it.”
The scientists are now looking for a process that will remove the smoky compounds, as little as possible of anything else.
Because periodic droughts will always be a part of life in California, the UC California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR) produced a series of videos to maintain drought awareness and planning, even in years when water is more abundant.
The final video of the three-part series, which focuses on drought strategies for citrus, was launched April 6 on the UCTV Sustainable California channel. The first episode, which centered on alfalfa production, premiered Feb. 2 on the UCTV Sustainable California channel. The second video, on almonds, was launched March 2 on Sustainable California. A trailer with clips from all three episodes is here.
The videos are inspired by a collection of 19 drought tips produced by CIWR in collaboration with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers during the drought of 2010-16. The tips cover a broad spectrum of California crops, from alfalfa to walnuts. Topics also include salt management, use of graywater in urban landscapes, and the use of shallow groundwater for crop production.
The drought tips collection and the drought tip videos were sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources. Following are links to each of the videos:
The CIWR drought tip series opens with Cannon Michael of Bowles Farming in Los Banos. The alfalfa grower works with UCCE specialist Dan Putnam. “There's a lot of misunderstanding about alfalfa as a crop,” Michael said. “It does take water to grow it, as with anything, but you get multiple harvests of it every year.”
The second episode features almond producer Raj of Meena farms. He works with David Doll, UCCE advisor in Merced County. “One positive of this drought,” Meena said, “is that it has forced us all to be more efficient in how we use our water.”
The series finale features Lisa Brenneis of Churchill-Brenneis Orchard in the Ojai Valley of Ventura County. She worked with UCCE advisor Ben Faber to install a new water-efficient irrigation system. “Irrigation is the only job we really have to do,” Brenneis said, “and we have to get it as right as we can.”
For a complete list of drought tips, see http://ucanr.edu/drought-tips.