ANR in the news August 1-15

Sep 1, 2019

A great climate comes from happy soil. Could happy soil come from California?

(Popular Science) Ula Chrobak, Aug. 15

…Agencies, especially the Natural Resources Conservation Service, have promoted healthy soil practices for decades, but these actions have only recently become valued for their climate benefit. One that Allison Rowe, climate smart community education specialist at Ventura County's UC cooperative extension offices, is especially excited about is cover cropping. “Cover cropping is one of my favorite topics of all time,” she says. “What I love about cover crops is that they utilize the most ancient, tried-and-true carbon capture and storage technology out there, which is photosynthesis.”

‘Radical' tree trimming: Critics say PG&E's rush to stop fires may hurt California forests – SFChronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Aug. 15

…Bill Stewart, a forestry specialist at UC Berkeley, said the aggressive tactics are generally a smart way to reduce fire danger, even if they ruffle some communities.

“PG&E was probably too lax over the past few decades when homeowners wanted less clearance,” he said. “The contractors (now) are often having to make up for decades of branch infringement.”

Prune Harvest Around The Corner, Considerations from UCCE

(AgNetWest) Aug. 15

Prune harvest could start as early as this weekend. University of California Cooperative Extension Advisors Katherine Jarvis-Shean and Emily Symmes put together a checklist of pre and post-harvest considerations for growers to be prepared.

New program offers basics for beginning farmers

(Morning Ag Clips) Aug. 14

…“We wanted to be sure that students of the course could benefit from the latest scientific knowledge relevant to organic farming, so we include resources from researchers around California. Also, the content of every module is closely reviewed by a team of scientists and extension experts from across the state,” says Sonja Brodt, who oversees the course's content creation at UC SAREP.

Homeowners Are Increasingly Relying on Last-Resort Fire Insurance Plan

(Voice of San Diego) Ry Rivard, Aug. 14

…Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California's cooperative extension, has another idea. Make sure that the FAIR Plan isn't providing any sort of backstop to new developments that are too risky for other insurance companies to cover.

“There is no reason why the FAIR Plan should cover a new home,” he said.

Rainy winter, spring affects coastal vegetable harvest

(AgAlert) Kevin Hecteman, Aug. 14

… Although the Salinas Valley started late due to the wet winter, "we've had a pretty nice stretch of weather," said Richard Smith, a University of California Cooperative Extension vegetable crops advisor in Monterey County.

Smith said he's seen some of the usual disease issues, such as downy mildew.

"We have abilities to handle those problems," he said. "The things that are a little more scary are the soilborne diseases, Verticillium and Fusarium. Those are big concerns that the growers have, because if you get those issues in your field, they're there forever."

Hull split underway as harvest season begins

(Farm Press) Logan Hawke, Aug. 14

…David Haviland, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm advisor and entomologist, warned earlier this year that 2019 could be another heavy year for navel orangeworm.

“As a result of winter weather, navel orangeworm sanitation was not as good as it generally should be,” Haviland said in a telephone interview in the early spring season.

4-H member crushes goal and donates over 300 backpacks and supplies to foster kids

(KRCR) Colton Chavez, Aug 13

…The 15-year-old Antelope 4-H member living in Tehama County teamed up with Robin Freisheim, from Children First Foster Family Agency. Once the duo gained momentum there was no stopping. 

Their goal was to reach 200 before the first day of school. On Tuesday, Makaylie reported that her grand total was over 300 backpacks with school supplies for each of them.

High elevation climate favors alfalfa quality

(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, Aug. 13

…Tom Getts, a farm advisor with the University of California, says the high elevation climate with its cooler nights tends to slow the growth of alfalfa in the region, giving it a higher leave-to-stem ratio. This produces lower lignin hay, which is coveted by dairy farmers for its digestibility.

Strawberry growers seek a sustainable path forward without go-to fungicides

(Science) Emily Monosson, Aug. 13

In her new book, Wilted, Julie Guthman explores the strawberry industry, from its origins in the mid-1800s to our kitchen tables today. But her focus is not limited to the berries themselves. She also examines the influence of pathogens and chemicals on the human shippers, growers, and workers that underlies the berry industry, all while revealing how planting, tending, and harvesting berries in California can cost a grower more than $60,000 per acre (1).

1. M. P. Bolda et al., Sample Costs to Produce and Harvest Strawberries (University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Issue Center, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2016).

UC advisors create Calif.'s first Prescribed Burn Association

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, Aug. 12

…Two UC Cooperative Extension advisors in Humboldt County believe the best way to bring back natural equilibrium on the land is by bringing back fire, and they believe it can be done in a way that is safe, effective, affordable and even fun.

Book Club of California to Consider "From Cows to Concrete" in Los Angeles County

(Pasadena Now) Andy Vitalicio, Aug. 12

...Authors Rachel Surls, a sustainable food systems advisor for UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Judith Gerber, a farm and garden authority, will discuss their book, “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles,” and sign copies of their tome.

Rosé Berries Have Arrived

(The New Yorker) Dana Goodyear, Aug. 11

…At the University of California, Davis, the public source for new strawberry varieties, the mandate is to fight for the crop's survival. Breeders there are selecting for disease-resistance and testing their plants on hotter, hillier inland farms, off the coastal plain. “I personally believe that the climactic changes we're experiencing right now are real, and the world's heading in that direction,” Steve Knapp, a plant geneticist who runs the Davis program, told me. “We're out breeding in these environments, and, whatever's changing in those environments, we're adapting to.” The names of some of the varieties that Davis is releasing to farmers this fall suggest an industry girded for battle with the elements: Victor, Valiant, Warrior.

‘Devastator' plaguing Butte County ranchers

(Oroville Mercury-Register) Brody Fernandez, Aug. 9

…Could they travel to Butte County?

Experts say it's very possible, as this type of grasshopper is resilient and moves fast to eat. These pests can be “very problematic”, said UC Cooperative Extension Livestock and Natural Resources adviser Tracy Schohr.

“We recently just got back from the area and did some tests, along with taking live samples of the specimen in order to determine which species of grasshoppers was responsible for causing this devastation up there. The culprit was confirmed to be the clear-winged grasshopper.”

These grasshoppers can grow exponentially and have major population bursts if warm weather conditions permit, Schohr said.

Dairy farms have more problems than the trade war

(NPR Marketplace) Justin Ho, Aug. 9

…Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis, said farms should be designed to withstand price swings.

“Farm prices go up and down,” he said. “That's part of the business.”

What's unusual this time, Sumner said, is how long prices have been low. It's not just dairy — prices for a lot of agricultural commodities have been down for several years. By now, he says, they should have recovered.

OPINION: Farmers Don't Need to Read the Science. We Are Living It.

(New York Times) Alan Sano, Aug. 9

…We and other farmers here are constantly experimenting with new approaches to keep soils healthy. We're part of a work group at the University of California, Davis, Cooperative Extension, where we learn about the science and share successes and failures with other farmers. Research and education like this are essential for farmers who are too busy growing food to keep up with the latest science and technologies.

Ranchers dispute UN report that links cows to climate change

(CBS News) Adriana Diaz, Aug. 8

…“Forty percent of all food produced in this country goes to waste and you know who the main culprit is? You and I,” UC Cooperative Extension animal science specialist Frank Mitloehner said. “So if you're really concerned about your personal environmental footprint around food, well, waste less.”

UC Cooperative Extension celebrating 101 years in Mendocino County

(Ukiah Daily Journal) Curtis Driscoll, Aug. 8

Members of the UC Cooperative Extension of Mendocino County recently celebrated 101 years of service in Mendocino County, and on Tuesday provided the Board of Supervisors with updates on various programs and what they plan to do in the county in the future.

A World Without Water (start at 30 min mark)

(1A) Kathryn Fink, Aug. 8

What would happen if we ran out of water?

… Guests

Betsy Otto Director, Global Water Program, World Resources Institute

Veena Srinivasan Fellow, Water, Land and Society Program, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology; @veenas_water

Doug Parker Director, California Institute for Water Resources, University of California - Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Climate Change May Shrink Northern California Oyster Habitat

(KQED Forum) Michael Krasny, Aug. 8

A UC Davis study published this week found that human-caused climate change will likely shrink the habitats of oysters in Northern California. Focusing on native Olympia oysters and commercially grown Pacific oysters, the study monitored the growth and health of the bivalves and their habitats. We'll talk with the study's lead author about what this means for the future of oysters in Tomales Bay, Humboldt Bay and other Pacific estuarine and bayland habitats.


Edwin Grosholz, professor, department of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis; lead author, "Effects of seasonal upwelling and runoff on water chemistry and growth and survival of native and commercial oysters"

Study Suggests New Climate Threats to California's Oysters

(KQED) Kevin Stark, Aug.8

…For years, scientists have warned that ocean acidification threaten oysters, but new research from UC Davis suggests that climate change ravages the creatures in a multitude of ways.

Ted Grosholz, a marine biologist at the university, studies California's oyster habitats in this pastoral part of West Marin County. He led a team of researchers who found changes to salinity and dissolved oxygen levels could have an even greater impact on California's oyster growth than acidic water. The team published their findings this week in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.

We're eating this planet to death

(Wired) Matt Simon, Aug. 8

…But the promise of a lab-grown meat that replaces livestock in a significant manner is still far off. No one has a fully operational facility churning out the stuff. That means there also isn't much data to show how, exactly, it stacks up against factory farming. “If you're growing cells, you have to provide them with oxygen and heat and food and clean their waste and all the rest of it,” says Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal geneticist at the UC Davis. “That won't come free. A cow is keeping its body temperature and doing its own waste removal.”

… Robots, if deployed widely, could help fill in labor gaps and grow fruits and vegetables more efficiently, for example using machine vision to determine optimal ripeness. All great ideas that are still very young.

“The products are coming out faster than the science,” says Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer of the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division. “But there's definitely a lot of promise there.”

New IPCC report shows how our abuse of land drives climate change

(Wired) Matt Simon, Aug. 8

…Alternative protein options, such as lab-grown meat or plant-based meat, might help wean the developed world off livestock, at least partially. Even a relatively simple fix, like feeding cattle seaweed to cut down on their methane emissions (nearly half of humanity's global methane output comes from agriculture and other land use), might help. “The more we can optimize feed for the health of the cow and milk production and methane emissions, that's the golden trifecta on the animal side,” says Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer of the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division.

Newsom, Humiston to appear at economic summit

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert (news release), Aug. 12

Vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Glenda Humiston, is part of the summit steering committee and the team lead for the event's Ecosystem Vitality and Working Landscapes section.

“The San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada are ground zero for developing resilient strategies to make our regions prosperous, equitable, and sustainable," Humiston said. "The summit is the forum for aligning and advancing triple-bottom-line policies that work.”

OC's Urban, Suburban Youths Are Down With the Farm

(Voice of OC) Amy Depaul, Aug. 8

…In 2015, the University of California's 4-H Youth Development Program, which oversees statewide 4-H, launched a push to boost enrollment in ethnic communities in seven counties, including Orange. The results were dramatic.

Enrollment of Latinos in Orange County 4-H, largely in the afterschool programs, grew from 302 in the 2014-15 school year to 1269 the next, peaking at 2177 in 2017-18.

California Pot Researchers' Hands Tied By Feds 

(East Bay Express) Dan Mitchell, Aug. 7

When cannabis researcher Van Butsic meets with a pot grower, it usually happens at a neutral location, like a restaurant or a coffeeshop. That's because Butsic, co-director of the UC Berkeley Cannabis Research Center, doesn't want the feds coming after him.

"I talk to a ton of growers, but usually not in their fields," Butsic said. He talks to them about their water usage, minimizing pests, and other environmental issues. But he's careful not to get near any actual cannabis plants. "I have to be cautious about that kind of interaction," he said.

Power outages could cut off livestock water

(AgAlert) Ching Lee, Aug. 7

...In her region, Theresa Becchetti, a University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resource advisor for Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, said many ranchers rely on surface water from creeks or stock ponds, but those with irrigated pasture need pumps to supply drinking water for livestock and for irrigating pastures.

"My guess is there are many more horse people who would be affected than large ranchers," Becchetti said.

Sprayer answered: new tech makes applications easier

(Farm Press) Les Allen, Aug. 7

From the church of the California vineyard comes the request — “Let us spray”.

…Supported by a Pest Management Alliance grant from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisers Lynn Wunderlich and Franz Niederholzer are making growers aware of available tools and aspects like ground speed and air volume as assessment of coverage accuracy.

“With all our rain, growers are working with full canopies this year and that means a lot of leaf area to cover,” Wunderlich told Grape Line.  “Because we're further ahead than usual, its veraison time and growers are either into or just out of powdery mildew spraying or combatting spider mites, and either way, they need good coverage on the underside of the leaves.

Veraison on the horizon for grape growers

(Farm Press) Les Allen, Aug. 7

There's the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, the return of swallows to California's Mission San Juan Capistrano, and the yearly turning of the colors in Golden Gate state vineyards — the latter event, a benchmark in the grape growing season — now underway depending on where your vines are located and how cooperative Mother Nature has been.

“The transformation happens anywhere from July through August, depending on your region,” says Mark Battany, University of California Cooperative Extension for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

New System More Accurately Estimates Vineyard Crop Yields

(Wine Business) Kerana Todorov, Aug. 6

…Kaan Kurtural, the assistant cooperative extension specialist in viticulture at UC Davis, has designed the 1-acre fully-mechanized vineyard in Oakville, where Strong has tested the Terroir AI unit. The block includes 1,349 vines that are spaced 1.5 meters by 2 meters - or about 5 feet by 6.5 feet.
Kurtural collaborated with Strong and his team to improve Terroir AI's computer vision system, including figuring out a way to deal with occlusion from leaves, a common problem found in other automated crop yield systems. Terroir AI's technology resolved the occlusion issue in part by positioning cameras inside the enclosed unit to shoot the vines from different directions.

Certified seed now required for California rice growers

(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, Aug. 6

… Since its discovery in a northern California rice field in 2003 the University of California has surveyed 14,000 acres of rice checks that have some level of weedy rice infestation.

“It's how we count the fields,” said Whitney Brim-DeForest, Cooperative Extension rice advisor for the counties of Sutter, Yuba, Placer, Butte and Sacramento.

For instance, a 40-acre check identified with several weedy rice plants will be counted as 40 acres, even though there may be a small patch of red rice in the field.

Weedy rice is the same genus and species as cultivate rice, according to Luis Espino, Cooperative Extension rice advisor in the counties of Yolo, Glenn and Colusa. This creates several challenges related to identification, rice quality at milling, and control. Current herbicides used in rice cannot control it. Hand rogueing is the only effective method to control its spread as seed can lay dormant in the soil for years, Espino said.

HSU president, K-12 teachers explore sustainable forestry at Scotia Mill

(Times Standard) Aug. 4

Humboldt State University President Tom Jackson, Jr. recently joined kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from across the state to tour a lumber mill in Scotia.

The visit was part of the Forestry Institute for Teachers professional program, which is designed to provide K-12 teachers with the knowledge and skills to teach their students about forest ecology and sustainable forest management practices.

The program is organized by Yana Valachovic, who is the county director and forest adviser of UC Cooperative Extension and an HSU faculty member. She also brings together dozens of resource professionals and HSU faculty who help put on the program.

Central Valley Radio Station Stands In As A Cultural ‘Town Hall' For Local Hmong And Punjabi-Speaking Communities

(CapRadio) Julia Mitric, Aug. 1

As host of the Hmong Agriculture Show, Michael Yang provides farming advice for roughly a thousand Hmong farmers in the Fresno County area who took up agriculture after coming to the Fresno area as refugees from Laos and Vietnam.

…Yang, 50, grew farming alongside his parents. He says the radio show is his way of passing on skills, guidance and encouragement to a younger generation of Hmong farmers. The program, which he's hosted for 20 years, is intertwined with his day job as Hmong Agricultural Assistant with the University of California Cooperative Extension

Prepare For The Robot Invasion

(Cotton Farming) Vicky Boyd, Aug. 1

…About a half dozen manufacturers gave a glimpse of the future at the University of California's third annual Drone/Ag Tech Field Day held recently at Bowles Farming in Los Banos, California.

…Steve Fennimore, a University of California Cooperative Extension weed specialist in Salinas, California, has conducted extensive studies with the Robovator from Danish manufacturer F. Poulsen Engineering. A number of large California vegetable growers on California's Central Coast are now using the rig, which is towed behind a tractor.

Worst fire in state's history illuminates preparation needs

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert (news release), Aug. 1

…Because of the Camp Fire tragedy, the partner agencies learned many lessons that can inform future maintenance and treatments to improve fire resilience in Butte County and other wildland areas. Kate Wilkin, the UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Butte, and Nevada counties, is able to point to projects implemented in the Camp Fire zone that saved lives and structures.

Wildfire risk fuels growing acceptance of 'pyrosilviculture'

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert (news release), Aug. 1

...The event also raised awareness of “pyrosilviculture,” a new forest management term coined by UC fire scientist Rob York to emphasize the importance of fire in silviculture, the management of forests for wood.


By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach