UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News
When Newsday's Erica Marcus had a burning question about ripening fruit, she turned to UC Davis post harvest experts. Marcus writes a weekly column for the magazine's Web site that answers "burning questions" about food.
In the past, she's helped readers who want to avoid soggy stirfry, identify whole grains, and know exactly when to cover or uncover a pot cooking on the stove. This week, she answered for readers: "Which fruits ripen after they are picked - and why?"
"For the lowdown on ripening," she wrote, "I called the postharvest information center at the University of California, Davis, and the California Tree Fruit Agreement."
The next 300 words of her column give details about a complex process involving starch, sugar, and cell walls of pineapples, cherries, grapes, citrus fruits, berries, watermelon peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots, cantaloupe and honeydew.
The St. Helena Star reported today on a sad coincidence for the Napa County viticulture industry. Within the last year, the three men who have held the position of Napa County UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor since 1952 passed away.
Jim Lider, farm advisor from 1952 to 1972, died Nov. 19, 2007
Keith Bowers, farm advisor from 1972 to 1987, died May 21, 2008
Ed Weber, farm advisor from 1988 to 2007, died December 31, 2007.
The story focused on the most recent passing, that of Bowers last month. The article noted that Bowers was chosen Farm Advisor of the Year in 1984, when he also was named president of the California Association of Farm Advisors. He co-authored the “Outstanding Paper of the Year” in viticulture for the American Society of Enologists in 1978, with Lider and N. Ferrari.
The Sacramento Bee ran a brief story in today's paper about new research that is being shared with the ag industry at a Sacramento symposium ending today. The research compared the rate of growth in public funding for agricultural research and the rate of growth in agricultural productivity. Both are dipping.
Reporter Jim Downing wrote in his article that governments around the world invested heavily in ag research from the 1950s through the 1970s, and farm productivity soared. Since the 1980s, though, research spending and productivity growth slowed.
The research Downing reported on, led by UC Davis ag economist Julian Alston, showed that ag productivity grew an average of 1.82 percent per year from 1949 to 2002. However, from 1990 to 2002, productivity grew at an average annual rate of 1.08 percent.
News is being made at a well-attended agricultural research and extension symposium being held this afternoon and tomorrow morning in Sacramento. The event is sponsored by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the California Commodity Commission.
Agriculture professionals and policymakers in attendance are getting a first look at new research that shows the rate of growth of public funding for agricultural research and extension has declined and the rate of growth in agricultural productivity is also slowing. The media are also taking notice.
Sacramento Bee reporter Jim Downing interviewed ANR vice president Dan Dooley about the topic this afternoon and USA Today reporter Sue Kirchhoff spoke to ANR associate vice president Rick Standiford about his presentation, titled "Trends in public investment – where does funding come from, where does it go; start-up costs; how has it changed over time – trends in FTEs; different kinds of extra-mural grants."
In addition to Dooley and Standiford, many other ANR, government, agriculture industry and university dignitaries are making presentations.
See the news release for more on the symposium and watch this blog for news coverage.
The slide with this post, from Standiford's presentation, shows normalized real funding for Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1994 to 2007.
The United States' poor housing market has had a silver lining for farmers, but is causing hardship for Hispanic workers, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Many Hispanic immigrants who lost construction jobs are returning to the fields in search of work.
Not too long ago, farmers were expressing concerns about labor shortages. Now, Fresno farmer Pat Ricchiuti Jr. said "there is plenty of help," according to the story.
Wall Street Journal reporter Miriam Jordon spoke to UC Davis agricultural economist Phil Martin for his take on the issue.
"During the construction boom, people were leaving the fields to get paid on an hourly basis rather than on a piece-rate basis," Martin was quoted. "Now, construction is not adding workers, and the gap between construction and farm wages has narrowed."
The article said both field work and construction jobs now pay about $10 per hour. The story noted that a Pew Hispanic Center analysis released last week found that foreign-born Hispanics have been disproportionately affected the construction downturn, but have moved into other occupations rather than return to their countries of origin.