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UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News

The World of Praying Mantids: A Question Posed, A Question Answered

Mating pair of Stagmomantis limbata, a common mantis in Vacaville, Calif. The male did not lose his head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Last summer you may have happened upon praying mantids mating. Hopefully, the male didn't lose his head. Which begs a question asked by a reader: How long after mating does the female lay or produce her egg case (ootheca)? "Usually it takes a week or two for temperate species, but tropical...

Videos show hikers how to avoid Black Friday stampedes on park trails

In a new series of videos, a cow puppet provides advice for hikers from UC Cooperative Extension on sharing open space with livestock.

While Americans traditionally beat a path to the malls the day after Thanksgiving, many opt out of shopping on Black Friday to enjoy the outdoors. In regional parks and other open spaces, hikers may encounter crowds of a different sort – cattle grazing with their calves. A 1,200-pound cow blocking the path can be daunting.

With a little patience and understanding, people who hike, bike and horseback ride can coexist peacefully with the cattle, according to Sheila Barry, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor in Santa Clara County.

For happier trails, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has produced a series of videos that show hikers how they can amicably share open space with their beefy neighbors. In a two-minute video, a black cow puppet with a furry white face describes how to politely coax cows to moo-ove aside without spurring a Black Friday stampede.

“We wanted to produce videos that are entertaining as well as informative,” Barry said. 

The cow pun-filled video also describes the ecosystem services cattle provide by consuming nearly their body weight in plants. By grazing, cows manage the vegetation, reducing wildfire fuel, increasing water capture and promoting the diversity of native grasses and wildflowers.

In “Sharing open spaces with livestock,” the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources livestock experts give four simple tips for safely sharing open space with cows on the trail: 

  1. Keep moo-ving and speak in a normal tone. Sudden movements and loud noises may surprise cows.
  2. Approach cows from the side or front. They find it udderly unnerving to have someone sneak up from behind, the bovine blind spot.
  3. Steer clear of getting between a protective mother and her calf.
  4. If you need to move a cow, step slowly into its flight zone. Invading the animal's “personal space” will motivate it to mosey aside.

A second video, “Sharing open spaces with livestock when you have a dog,” gives advice for dog owners to keep their best friends safe around cows.

In a third video, “A year in the life of a cow,” the UC Cooperative Extension spokespuppet describes a typical year for a beef cow.

“The videos are a fun way to educate the public about grazing on rangelands,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and rangeland advisor in Sonoma County.

The videos are based on the UC ANR publication “Understanding Working Rangelands,” authored by Barry and Larson, at http://ucanr.edu/shareopenspace.

Watch all three videos on UC ANR's YouTube channel:

Sharing open spaces with livestock https://youtu.be/Qd8LEGLDhaM

Sharing open spaces with livestock when you have a dog https://youtu.be/zzdGnfFwmcA

A year in the life of a cow https://youtu.be/znJbWknVXVg

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 8:48 AM
Tags: cattle (29), livestock (21), Sheila Barry (5), Stephanie Larson (11), Thanksgiving (15)

Matan Shelomi: Each Answer to a Question Creates New Questions

World traveler and scientist Matan Shelomi, wearing a Bohart Museum of Entomology shirt at  at the Reichstag in Berlin.

Think about this: You don't know until you try. You miss every opportunity you do not take. Each answer to a question creates new questions. So began UC Davis alumnus Matan Shelomi when he returned to the UC Davis campus Wednesday, Nov. 15 to present a seminar on his stick insect research:...

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM

A Rare Opportunity for Aerial Seeding of Rangeland in Mendocino County

We have a rare opportunity for aerial seeding of rangeland as the window for planting is closing in about 30 days. After about December 15th our soil temps become too cold for good germination. Diane Curry, Interim Agricultural Commissioner, was contacted by Gibson Oster a crop duster pilot from the Fresno area. Gibson has family in Redwood Valley and he will be coming to the area to fly on seed to rangeland affected by the fire. Currently, he has been contacted by several growers and will be seeding 2400 acres.  If anyone else wants to have reseeding done they should contact Gibson at 707-489-3434. 

The current cost is $9/acre for 10 pounds/acre seeding rate and $10/acre for 20 pounds/acre seeding rate. If more landowners participate with more acres the price may go down. Gibson plans on being here on the Sunday after Thanksgiving which is November 26, 2017. Diane, Devon (Farm Bureau), Katie Delbar (FSA) and I are working together to get the word out not just the ranchers who have been affected by the fire, but also any rancher who would like to take advantage of the plane being in the area to get some seeding done. Diane was told that Gibson said that he would help to source seed. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think might want to be involved.

Usually the goal for a cattle, sheep or goat livestock operation is to maximize high quality forage production. Typically on the North Coast, a 50:50 mix of annual grasses and legumes are recommended and seeded at 20 to 25 lbs per acre. The grasses are usually annual ryegrass, brome and fescue. The annual legume is subterranean clover. In areas of less steep topography and good soils, Berber orchardgrass, a perennial, may be substituted for part of the grass mixture. Perennials extend the green season providing better forage and enhance carbon storage. Many, however, don't compete well with annuals and have difficulty surviving our hot dry summers. A recent paper in California Agriculture was just published on some other promising forage perennials. The study was done in the Sierra foothills and a few of those mentioned have been tested here. The link to the current issue is http://ucanr.edu/repository/fileAccessPublic.cfm?calag=fullissues/CAv071n04.pdf&url_attachment=N. The range seeding paper starts on page 239.

For those interested in using California native grasses and forbs check out the following publication at http://ucanr.edu/sites/BayAreaRangeland/files/267610.pdf. Be aware that seed sources for natives will often cost more than 10 times the typical forage species. Also some are toxic to livestock or are not great forage species.  

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 4:59 PM
Tags: Cattel (1), Fire (18), goats (15), Range Management (1), Range Seeding (1), Rangeland (43), sheep (40), Wildfire (117)

Thanksgiving persimmons are autumn joy

When the weather cools in the fall and the holidays draw near, orange orbs ripen on persimmon trees in California to offer a fresh autumn sweetness in time for Thanksgiving recipes and holiday décor.

At the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center (SCREC) in Irvine, a collection of 53 persimmon varieties are at their peak in November when the public is invited for tasting and harvesting at the annual persimmon field day.

“We want to raise awareness about persimmons,” said Tammy Majcherek, SCREC community educator. “It's a beautiful tree and a great addition to any landscape. Persimmon trees provide shade in the summer, healthy fruit in the fall, then drop their leaves and allow the sun's warmth to come through in the winter. It's a win-win situation as far as landscape trees go.”

Visitors are briefed before entering the persimmon variety block to taste and harvest persimmons.

The persimmon collection came to the research center in the 1960s, when the late UCLA subtropical horticulture professor Art Schroeder arranged to move his collection of persimmon varieties to another venue because the pressure of urban development at the Westwood campus became too great.

Persimmons are native in two parts of the world, China and the United States. The Chinese persimmon made its way to Japan, where its popularity soared. The American persimmon comes from the Southeastern United States, however, most California persimmons trace their lineage to Asia.

California leads the nation in persimmon production, according to the California Department of Agriculture Crop Report, but with a value of about $21 million in 2012, it represents just a small fraction of the state's $19 billion 2012 tree fruit and nut value.

A display of fuyu-type and hachiya-type persimmons helped participants distinguish which fruits are ready to eat.

Nevertheless, to the visitors who came out to tour UC's collection at SCREC, persimmon is a choice fruit. Participants on the early-morning VIP tour received a large shopping bag to fill with various varieties of fuyu and hachiya persimmons. Fuyu are flat, yellow-orange fruit that can be eaten right off the tree like apples or allowed to mature to a super-sweet soft pulp. Hachiya are redder, heart-shaped and astringent when not fully ripened. “If you bite it, it will bite your mouth right back,” said one participant.

However, after ripening to a jelly soft pulp or dried, the hachiya is equally delicious.

Shirley Salado, supervisor of the UC Cooperative Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in San Diego County, attended the persimmon field day to collect persimmons and information about the healthful fruit.

Shirley Salado, the UC Cooperative Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program supervisor in San Diego County, attended the persimmon tasting to gather fruit and information for her education program.

“The fuyu is great to eat,” Salado said. “When they ripen and become very soft, you can put the pulp in a blender and then freeze in zipper bags to add to healthy smoothies.”

Salado collected two large bags of persimmons to share with her nutrition education staff.

“Not everybody knows about these,” Salado said. “This gives them a chance to look at the fruit. This is what we promote.”

Jean Suan, right, plans to dry her persimmons using the traditional Japanese hoshigaki method, in which the whole fruit is peeled, as shown on the left, then hung on a string outdoors. For several weeks, the fruit is massaged every few days, until the sugars form a frost-like dust on the surface. The result is fruit with date-like texture and strong persimmon flavor.

Following the tour, coordinator of the UC Master Food Preserver program at SCREC Cinda Webb demonstrated safe consumption by making cinnamon persimmon jam, dried persimmon chips, and a gourmet persimmon, basil, beet and rice salad.

UC Master Food Preserver coordinator in Orange County Cinda Webb, right, and Master Food Preserver Mabel Alazard, make persimmon jam.
 
Cinda Webb adds persimmons to the salad. (Recipe below.)

Wild or brown rice persimmon salad

4 cups wild or brown rice, cooked
2 Fuyu persimmons, chopped
1 cup cooked, chopped beets
1 cup basic, chopped
8 oz feta cheese
½ cup orange cumin vinaigrette

Vinaigrette (makes about 1 cup)

½ cup orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1½ tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Whisk together vinaigrette dressing ingredients
  2. Stir basil, beets, persimmons and feta into rice and toss with ½ cup vinaigrette.
  3. Top with persimmon slices and extra chopped basil for presentation.
A member of the Rare Fruit Growers Association, Dewey Savage, showed a fuyu persimmon with browned flesh. The browning is caused by alcohol released by the seeds inside the fruit. The alcohol neutralizes tannins that make the persimmon astringent. The natural chemical reaction results in sweeter fruit.
 
UC Master Gardener volunteers prepared persimmons for the variety tasting.
 
 
Participants evaluated persimmon varieties based on attractiveness, astringency, sugar, flavor and overall performance.

 

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 8:02 AM

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