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Posts Tagged: Matthew Fidelibus

June 2018 news clips

Agricultural advances draw opposition that blunts innovation

(Science) Anne Q. Hoy, June 29

Scientists are using technology to expand global food production and ease its environmental impact, but advances are being challenged by claims that lack scientific evidence and raise public distrust and concern, a leading agricultural scientist told an American Association for the Advancement of Science audience.

Alison Van Eenennaam traced the advent of campaigns against agricultural innovations related to areas from cattle and chicken production systems to plant biotechnology. The impact such efforts are having on agricultural advances was the focus of the ninth annual AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture on 5 June at the AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6396/1413.full

UC Davis Experts Help Farmers, Ranchers Profit in Growing Trend

(Cal Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, June 29

Many farmers could benefit from agritourism and the added value it brings, but developing successful agritourism operations can be tricky. Experts at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis are helping farmers and others in the agricultural community understand the regulations, permits, insurance, marketing and other considerations needed to succeed.

“Agritourism operations are more successful when they're part of a supportive community of tourism professionals, county regulators, agriculture regulations and others,” says Gail Feenstra, ASI's food, and society coordinator.

Feenstra and her team recently received a $73,000 grant from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, to develop training, resources and peer support for farmers and ranchers considering agritourism. Feenstra is working with Penny Leff, ASI's statewide agritourism coordinator and team project manager.

https://californiaagtoday.com/agritourism-california/

Green thumbs at the Marin County Fair

Wendy Irving, June 29

…UC Marin master gardeners is a group of more than 300 trained volunteers who work as non-paid staff members of the University of California Cooperative Extension. There are master gardener programs in 50 counties across California; our Marin group is one of the largest and most active.

http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20180629/FEATURES/180629808 

Answer to how urban coyotes thrive is not for weak-stomached

(Texarkana Gazette) From the LA Times, June 29

This scientific study is a coyote postmortem on an unprecedented scale—it has so far documented the contents of 104 stomachs and intends to examine 300 by the end of the year. The team, led by Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension's human-wildlife interactions advisor, is already generating a wealth of data to better understand how these omnivorous canids sample everything from pocket gophers to hiking boots while managing to survive in a land of 20 million people.

http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/features/story/2018/jun/29/answer-how-urban-coyotes-thrive-not-weak-stomached/732607/

Mechanized vineyard saves labor, boosts quality

(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 27

Kaan Kurtural started working on a fully mechanized vineyard to help growers save on labor costs, but then he noticed it also produced grapes with superior quality.

“We made wine from these last year and compared it to our traditionally-farmed vineyards,” says Kurtural, a specialist in the University of California-Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “Until we tell people what it is, they can't distinguish the quality of the fruit or the wine.”

He demonstrated the 40-acre experimental vineyard during a recent field day at the UC-Davis Oakville Station north of Napa. About 200 winegrape growers, vineyard consultants, and other industry representatives attended.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/mechanized-vineyard-saves-labor-boosts-quality

Several methods available to control vineyard weeds
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 27

As most fumigants in California are being phased out, growers are having to find other ways to control weeds in young vineyards.

And while weeding by hand has been done, increased costs and a shrinking labor force have made this task impractical, says John Roncoroni, University of California Cooperative Extension Weed Science Farm Advisor in Napa County.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/several-methods-available-control-vineyard-weeds

New podcast offers advice to California farmers

(Capital Press) Padma Naggapan, June 26

Two enterprising farm advisors with the University of California's cooperative extension have begun a podcast that will focus on tree crops and other produce grown in the Central Valley.

Called “Growing the Valley,” the podcast will have a new episode every two weeks, with each episode focused on news growers can use, such as managing specific pests, irrigation techniques, alerts about what to watch out for, and what tasks to take care of at particular times of the year.

http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20180626/new-podcast-offers-advice-to-california-farmers

Proactive Pawnee Fire response in Lake County seeks to avoid another catastrophe

(SF Chronicle) Lizzie Johnson, June 25

 “I've never seen so much focused attention in Sacramento on the issue,” said Keith Gilless, a professor of forest economics and dean of the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley.

“Last year, 2017, got everybody's attention,” said Gilless, chair of the California State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. “Last year was just terrible. Everybody involved is doing their best to be as prepared as we can. Any area might burn now, including those with much higher structure densities than they did 20 or 50 years ago.

“You are going to need a lot of resources that you might not have needed before,” he said. “The state is being very aggressive in its suppression efforts.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Proactive-Pawnee-Fire-response-in-Lake-County-13025296.php

UC's Humiston welcomes visiting Chinese ag scientists

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 25

Chinese agricultural scientists explore a potato research field at UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources vice president Glenda Humiston recently welcomed a delegation of Chinese agricultural scientists to UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake, reported Danielle Jester in the Siskiyou Daily News

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/extension/ucs-humiston-welcomes-visiting-chinese-ag-students

With vineyard labor scarce, Napa growers warm up to machines

(Napa Valley Register) Henry Lutz, June 24

On a recent morning at the UC Davis Oakville Experimental Station, extension specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural walked along the edge of an especially tall block of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Planted in 2016, the block hosts 1,340 vines and produces roughly 15 to 18 pounds of fruit per vine. “So it'll be yielding quite nice,” Kurtural said as he walked down the 62-inch tall rows.

Far more notable than the vineyard's fruit, however, is how it gets farmed.

“There are no hand practices out here,” said Kurtural. “Everything is done by machine.”

https://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/with-vineyard-labor-scarce-napa-growers-warm-up-to-machines/article_19f7f5c5-995f-5f21-ba6c-66af1fe6ce11.html   

Early Detection Key to Managing Ceratocystis Canker in Almonds

(Growing Produce) Dianne Munson, June 22

...Based on a statewide survey out of the Department of Pathology at University of California, Davis, canker diseases are the primary cause of tree death in almond orchards, and Ceratocystis canker is one of the most prevailing canker diseases found in California. This canker disease is aggressive, but it doesn't have to mean disaster.

“If you know what to look for, the disease is manageable,” says Florent Trouillas, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis.

http://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/ceratocystis-canker-caused-by-the-fungal-pathogen-ceratocystis-fimbriata-is-one-disease-among-a-complex-of-fungal-canker-diseases-that-infect-almond-trees/ 

California has 27M more dead trees than in 2016, but numbers may be easing in some areas

(Ventura County Star) Cheri Carlson, June 22

“Trees aren't getting moisture that they need to be healthy and they're stressed,” said Susan Kocher, a natural resources adviser for UC Cooperative Extension. “We had a huge insect outbreak because of the drought.”

Kocher, based in South Lake Tahoe, focuses on the Central Sierra, where stands of ponderosa pines were hit hard by beetle attacks.

…The highest risk of fire is when trees still have their needles – the so-called “red and dead” phase, Kocher said. Green needles turn red, and those dried-out needles are a particularly flashy fuel, like tinder in a campfire. Once the needles fall off, the risk drops a bit.

https://www.vcstar.com/story/news/special-reports/outdoors/2018/06/22/survey-california-drought-millions-more-trees-dead/716277002/

Chinese scientists visit Tulelake

 (Siskiyou Daily News) Danielle Jester, June 20

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake hosted a group of scientists from Chinese universities on Sunday; the scientists are on a tour of agriculture in northern California through June 22.

University of California Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston explained the purpose of the tour, noting, “The Chinese face many of the same issues that we do here in the U.S. The Chinese universities want to improve rural economic development to lift up the quality of life for people in rural communities.

“They are also responding to global climate change, drought and pests while trying to improve food security and water use efficiency. They see UC Cooperative Extension as an effective research model; we hope that scientific collaborations will accelerate solutions and help maintain relations for California agriculture with China.”

http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/20180620/chinese-scientists-visit-tulelake

It's summer. Here's how to preserve those fresh fruits and veggies

(San Luis Obispo Tribune) Rosemary Orr, June 20

June in San Luis Obispo County is a wonderful time to start preserving our summer bounty of fruits and vegetables.

The UCCE Master Food Preservers will teach the basic principles of food preservation and canning in its Introduction to Canning class on Saturday.

https://www.sanluisobispo.com/living/home-garden/article212766254.html 

With wildfire season at hand, California on slightly safer footing this year

(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, June 17

… But as significant, and plentiful, as the new fire-protection measures are, they merely nip at the edge of an underlying issue: that fire is a constant in California, and as long as people choose to live in and around the state's wildlands, experts say, the threat remains.

 "I would not be surprised if we have another big fire," said Bill Stewart, forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. "I just don't think we're where we need to be."

… “We really haven't put together the pieces of a resilient fire strategy in local areas,” Stewart said.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/With-wildfire-season-at-hand-state-on-slightly-13000782.php

Reducing food waste to combat world hunger

(Morning Ag Clips) June 17

One-third of the world's food is spoiled or tossed rather than eaten, a fact that is tragic when nearly one billion people go hungry. The injustice of food waste is worsened by the fact that food decomposing in landfills emits greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

UC Cooperative Extension is working closely with the cities and county of Santa Clara in a far-reaching program to divert organic matter – food and green waste – from landfills by composting and using the product to enrich soil in the home garden.

https://www.morningagclips.com/reducing-food-waste-to-combat-world-hunger/

From dendrometers to drones, devices drive ag-tech boom

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 16

Agriculture across the country is going high-tech, and California is leading the way as the tree nut and other industries are looking for ways to save water.

Agriculture across the country is going high-tech, as the ag and food sectors invested $10.1 billion in digital technologies in 2017, according to a University of California study. That's up from $3.2 billion in 2016, reports the UC's Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics.

In California, which was the leading state last year with $2.2 billion spent to adopt new technologies in ag and food production, UC Cooperative Extension researchers are researching or developing lots of new, innovative ideas. And growers are putting them to work in their fields and orchards.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/technology/dendrometers-drones-devices-drive-ag-tech-boom

Santa Barbara County Avocado Farmer Struggles to Find Workers Amid Immigration Crackdown

(CNN Money/KTLA) Kristen Holmes, June 15

…“The crops that are most affected are the ones that use hired labor,” explains Daniel Sumner, director of the University of California, Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, pointing to avocados, berries and tree fruits. “It's really now through the rest of the summer that we're going to hear more and more farmers and farm workers rushing to get a harvest in with really not enough labor force to do it. And that's a real challenge. It may mean that we have crops rotting in the fields.”

http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/15/news/economy/california-farmer-workers-immigration/index.html
http://ktla.com/2018/06/15/santa-barbara-county-avocado-farmer-struggles-to-find-workers-amid-immigration-crackdown/amp

Research Nets Going Over Citrus Trees To Prevent Huanglongbing Disease

(Cal Ag Today) Jessica Theisman, June 15

Beth Grafton-Cardwell is the director of the Lindcove Research Extension Center in Tulare County and research entomologist based out of the University of California, Riverside. She recently told California Ag Today that there is work being done on installing a net structure to protect trees from Asian Citrus Psyllids, which spread the deadly Huanglongbing disease. Texas A&M researchers are installing net structures on the edge of groves to block psyllids from coming into an orchard.

https://californiaagtoday.com/research-nets-going-citrus-trees-prevent-huanglongbing-disease/

Overburdened growers fuel an ag-tech investment boom

(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, June 14

…While ag was slower than some other industries at adopting digital technologies, farm and food sector investments in these technologies zoomed to $10.1 billion nationwide last year, up from $3.2 billion in 2016, according to a new University of California report.

California was the leading state for ag-tech investments with $2.2 billion in 2017, or 22 percent of the total, and ag and food producers in the Golden State spent $5.1 billion on new technologies between 2012 and 2017, reports the UC Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/technology/overburdened-growers-fuel-ag-tech-investment-boom

UCD Oakville Field Day Highlights: Trellis Trials, Red Blotch Vector Update, Mechanization Tools

(Wine Business) Ted Rieger, June 12

The University of California, Davis (UCD) hosted its annual Grape Day at the Oakville Station experimental vineyard in Napa Valley June 6 with talks and presentations by UC Cooperative Extension specialists, and presentations and equipment demos from vineyard industry suppliers.

UCD viticulture extension specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural showed a trial planted in 2016 with six different trellis systems designed for mechanical harvest in a 1-acre block at the experimental vineyard using Cabernet Sauvignon 08 on 3309 rootstock. The six trellis types include: a traditional vertical-shoot- positioned (VSP) trellis as a control; a single high-wire system designed for mechanized management; a high-quad system; a cane-pruned system with 12-inch cross arms for a sprawl-type canopy; and two versions of a relaxed VSP, one with a T-top post for a wider canopy.

https://www.winebusiness.com/news/?go=getArticle&dataId=199959

Local groups offer water measurement course

(Siskiyou Daily News) June 12

The Siskiyou County Cattlemen, Siskiyou County Farm Bureau and University of California, Cooperative Extension will sponsor a Water Measurement and Reporting Course in order to comply with Senate Bill 88.

http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/20180612/local-groups-offer-water-measurement-course

New Potato Varieties Displayed at Field Day in Kern County

(AgNet West) Brian German, June 11

Dozens of industry professionals took part in the annual Kern County Potato Variety Field Day where attendees got an opportunity to view new potato varieties and see the progress of ongoing growing trials.

“The potato field day in Kern County has a long history, it's been going on for generations essentially,” said Farm Advisor Emeritus with Kern County Cooperative Extension Joe Nunez.  “It's an opportunity for the growers to see all the new varieties that are being developed throughout the country and see how they perform here in Kern County because our growing conditions here are a little bit different than where most of the potato varieties are being developed.”

http://agnetwest.com/new-potato-varieties-field-day-kern-county/

Debating California Tillage

(Farm Equipment) Alan Stenum, June 9

Despite differing opinions, Alan Wilcox, of Wilcox Agri-Products and Jeff Mitchell, no-till advocate at University of California–Davis, sat down during World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., to discuss the challenges and the opportunities for conservation tillage practices to take hold in California's Central Valley.
https://www.farm-equipment.com/articles/15683-debating-california-tillage

Letter: Residents get primer on fire preparedness

 (Chico Enterprise-Record) Calli-Jane DeAnda, June 8

May was wildfire awareness month and the community participated in the wildfire safety fair at Lake Oroville Visitor Center on Saturday, May 19. At this fantastic event community members were able to get information about how to sign up for emergency notifications, access the evacuation preparedness plan, get wildfire recovery information and get tips for protecting homes from wildfire.

Kate Wilkin, UC Cooperative Extension, provided two presentations on prescribed fire and ways to protect homes from wildfire. Local fire-safe councils were there to answer the question: What does a fire-safe council do?

https://www.chicoer.com/2018/06/07/letter-residents-get-primer-on-fire-preparedness/

Why a Decline in Insects Should Bug You

(Wall Street Journal) Jo Craven McGinty, June 8

Entomologists want to put a bug in your ear: Insects are necessary for the survival of mankind.

“It's the classic third-grade food chain,” said Richard Redak, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, and co-author of the book “Bugs Rule!” “If you pull insects out, you've got a problem.”

…“Any organic product in a human's life probably has a beneficial insect and a pesty insect,” Dr. Redak said. “The pesty ones are an incredibly small fraction of the total. Those that are not a problem are critical to the ecosystem.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-a-decline-in-insects-should-bug-you-1528467502 

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Officially Deemed Pest of California Almonds

(Growing Produce) David Eddy, June 7

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is certainly not new to California growers, but in the wake of some more troubling finds, it is now officially a pest of almonds.

Almonds are now listed as a preferred host on the Stop BMSB website, which was created by a team of researchers from all over the country dedicated to finding a way to stop the pest from damaging a wide range of crops.

One of those researchers is Jhalendra Rijal, University of California Cooperative Extension Area IPM Advisor for San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, who said the first such damage was just two years ago, when they were found in peaches. The actual first finding in the state was three years before that, in Sacramento, but despite being a very large find, they never appeared to spread, adding to the mystery of BMSB movement.

http://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/brown-marmorated-stink-bug-officially-deemed-pest-california-almonds/

Visible smoke coming from UC field station burn

(The Union) June 7

Nevada County residents wondering why there is smoke in the air coming from our neighbors to the west today may be seeing smoke from a live fire training held by the University of California Cooperative and Extension at a field station in Browns Valley, according to Cal Fire spokesperson Mary Eldridge.

https://www.theunion.com/news/visible-smoke-coming-from-uc-field-station-burn/

UCCE advisors launch 'Growing the Valley' podcast

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, June 5

A new UC Cooperative Extension podcast that focuses on growing orchard crops in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys is now available free at http://growingthevalleypodcast.comApple iTunes and Google Play Music.

The hosts are Phoebe Gordon, UCCE orchard systems advisor in Madera and Merced counties, and Luke Milliron, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Butte, Tehama and Glenn counties. The pair conduct research and extension programs that cover tree crops, with a focus on almonds, pistachios, walnuts, prunes, figs and cling peaches.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/extension/ucce-advisors-launch-growing-valley-podcast

7 Highlights from the 2018 World Meat Congress

(Pork) U.S. Meat Export Federation, June 4

The 2018 World Meat Congress concluded Friday with sessions focused on consumer trends and education, as well as an in-depth look at cutting-edge technologies reshaping meat production around the world. The 22nd World Meat Congress was held in Dallas May 31 and June 1. Hosted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), the event drew about 700 participants from more than 40 countries.

…The panel featured Gary Rodrigue, blockchain food trust leader for the IBM Corporation; Dr. Martin Wiedmann, Gellert family professor in food safety at Cornell University; and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative extension specialist for animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California-Davis.

… Van Eenennaam, whose program at UC-Davis focuses on research and education around the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems, explained the value of gene editing. For example, research is underway to utilize gene editing to prevent such diseases as African swine fever in hogs and tuberculosis in cattle.

“What better way to approach dealing with disease than through genetic improvement?” she noted.

https://www.porkbusiness.com/article/7-highlights-2018-world-meat-congress

Use of gene editing to introduce the polled trait into elite germplasm

(Progressive Dairyman) Alison L. Van Eenennaam and Maci L. Mueller, June 4

Physical dehorning of dairy cattle is a standard practice to protect both human dairy workers and other animals from injury. However, it is not only costly for producers, but also painful and stressful for the animals. As a result, dehorning is currently facing increased public scrutiny as an animal welfare issue. Despite these factors, 94 percent of U.S. dairy cattle producers report routine dehorning.

https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/a-i-breeding/use-of-gene-editing-to-introduce-the-polled-trait-into-elite-germplasm

Early Ripening Grapes Could Revolutionize Raisin Production

(Growing Produce) Matthew Fidelibus, June 2, 2018

The USDA-ARS raisin grape breeding program has long focused on the development of early ripening varieties. Early ripening allows drying to begin sooner, thus helping to avoid inclement weather and enable production of dry-on-vine (DOV) raisins. ‘Fiesta' and ‘Selma Pete' are examples of early ripening raisin grapes from the USDA that have helped change the way California raisins are made.

http://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/grapes/early-ripening-grapes-revolutionize-raisin-production

New labor laws factored into UC cost studies for table grape production

Flame Seedless
To help table grape growers make decisions on which varieties to grow, the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center has released four new studies on the costs and returns of table grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The studies on different table grape varieties are each based on a 500-acre farm with vineyard establishment on 40 acres.

The studies focus on four table grape varieties. There are two early maturing varieties, Flame Seedless and Sheegene-21, that begin harvest in July, one mid-season maturing, Scarlet Royal, and one late maturing, Autumn King, which begins harvest in October. The studies estimate the cost of establishing a table grape vineyard and producing fresh market table grapes.

“Labor costs are expected to rise with reduced labor availability, increases in minimum wage rates and new overtime rules that went into effect in 2018,” said Ashraf El-kereamy, UCCE viticulture advisor in Kern County and co-author of the cost studies.

“We included detailed costs for specialized hand labor of certain cultural and harvest operations.”

Sheegene-21
The sample costs for labor, materials, equipment and custom services are based on January 2018 figures. A blank column, titled “Your Cost,” is provided in Tables 2 and 3 for growers to enter their own estimated costs.

“The new California minimum wage law will gradually decrease the number of hours employees can work on a daily and weekly basis before overtime wages are required. There are additional stipulations for overtime wages and scheduling of work that are part of the new law,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center. 

Input and reviews were provided by UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisors, specialists, grower cooperators, California Table Grape Commission and other agricultural associates. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for table grape establishment and production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

Scarlet Royal
The new studies are:

  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Flame Seedless, Early Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Sheegene-21 (Ivory™), Early Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Scarlet Royal, Mid-season Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Autumn King, Late Maturing”

All four table grape studies can be downloaded from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available at the website.

Autumn King
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Donald Stewart at the Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or destewart@ucdavis.edu.

For information about local table grape production, contact UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Matthew Fidelibus at mwfidelibus@ucanr.edu, UCCE viticulture advisor Ashraf El-kereamy in Kern County at aelkereamy@ucanr.edu, UCCE entomology advisor David Haviland in Kern County at dhaviland@ucdavis.edu, UCCE weed advisor Kurt Hembree in Fresno County at kjhembree@ucanr.edu, or UCCE viticulture advisor George Zhuang in Fresno County at gzhuang@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 8:40 AM

Sunpreme raisins a hit at the UC Kearney Grape Day 2017

Excitement over the new Sunpreme raisins was evident at UC Kearney Grape Day Aug. 8, 2017. As soon as the tram stopped, dozens of farmers and other industry professionals rushed over to the vineyard to take a close look and sample the fruit. Raisins pulled from the vine were meaty with very little residual seed. The flavor was a deep, sweet floral with a muscat note.

Sunpreme raisins, bred by now-retired USDA breeder David Ramming, promise a nearly labor-free raisin production system. Traditionally, raisins are picked and placed on paper trays on the vineyard floor to dry. The development of dried-on-the-vine varieties opened the door to greater mechanization. Workers would cut the stems above clusters of grapes, which then dry out in the canopy and are harvested mechanically. The new wrinkle with Sunpreme is that grapes ripen and then start to dry on their own - no cane cutting needed.

Sunpreme raisins drying on their own in a Kearney vineyard.

UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Matthew Fidelibus and UCCE viticulture advisor George Zhuang are now studying the performance of Sunpreme grapes on different rootstocks and trellis systems at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

"We didn't know a lot about this variety," Fidelibus said. "We've found it to be very vigorous."

Fidelibus said the raisins take about a month to dry, and one challenge is the tendency for dried raisins to drop off the vine.

"We want to keep the self drying and stop self dropping," he said.

UCCE specialist Matt Fidelibus is conducting rootstock and trellis system experiments on Sunpreme raisins.

Ramming discovered the Sunpreme variety in a Thompson seedless table grape variety trial in the mid-1990s. He was going down the row, saw clusters of raisins and screeched to a stop. He had discovered Sunpreme. The variety is not yet available for commercial production. 

UCCE viticulture advisor emeritus George Levitt, left, chats with retired USDA breeder David Ramming at Grape Day 2017.

Fighting nematodes with new solutions

UCCE nematology specialist Andreas Westphal in front of a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard where nematode treatments are under study. UCCE farm advisor George Zhuang is holding the chart.

Also during Grape Day 2017, UC Cooperative Extension nemotology specialist Andreas Westphal outlined research underway to keep nematodes at bay.

"There's no methyl bromide in commercial planting," Westphal said. The very effective fumigant was banned because of it's tendency to deplete ozone in the atmosphere and the risk to human health because of its toxicity. Many farmers have turned to Telone as an alternative, however it is expensive and its use is limited by a township cap.

Westphal is comparing alternative treatments for clearing the soil of the tiny worms that feed on vine roots and inhibit vineyard productivity. 

"Some companies are coming up with new chemistry," Westphal said. "Our challenge in the perennial world is that the roots go so deep."

UCCE specialist Andrea Westphal addresses the crowd.

Seven new products and Telon were drenched in different replicated research plots. Some areas were left alone to serve as control. Three times the number of Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in the plots compared to a typical vineyard so researchers could take out plants twice and examine the roots for evidence of pests.

"We are excited to see significant growth differences among the treatments," Westphal said, pointing out a row that was visibly shorter and less vigorous. "It amazed me. Three years after treatment, and it never grew back out of it."

Work is still ongoing, but Westphal said he believes some chemical treatment could be available in the future to help reduce nematode pressure.

To deal with nematode populations, Westphal encouraged growers to sample soil and communicate with the diagnostic laboratory to determine what pest nematodes are in their vineyards, and then use that information for root stock selection.

"Growers should not forget the value of nematode-resistant rootstocks," he said. "Plant material needs to be chosen very carefully when different species of nematodes are present."

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 11:38 AM

Social networks are an important source of agricultural knowledge

UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor Paul Verdegaal (right) discussing trellising systems with Lodi winegrape grower Joseph Spano.
Farmers rely on personal interactions with their peers, field crews, agricultural professionals and UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors for new knowledge more strongly than the information picked up through formal pathways, such as workshops, meetings and publications, according to research published in the current issue of California Agriculture journal.

These research results have broad implications for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), which employs academic professionals in Cooperative Extension offices in all California counties to share science-based agricultural production information with farmers. The study suggests that education strategies that focus on farmers' social learning preferences may result in greater application of new, often more environmentally sound, production methods.

“Agriculture is a knowledge-intensive industry,” said Matthew Hoffman, the lead author of the new study. “But in the UC Cooperative Extension system, a bottleneck in the knowledge sharing network exists because of the limited number of advisors. UC Cooperative Extension is nevertheless in a great position to nurture social learning strategies and alleviate the bottleneck.”

Hoffman, who holds a doctorate from UC Davis in geography, is the grower program coordinator for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, a winegrape marketing, research and grower outreach association in San Joaquin County. Hoffman conducted the research with Mark Lubell, professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis, and Vicken Hillis, a postdoctoral researcher in Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis.

The study's lead author Matthew Hoffman, agextensionist@gmail.com.
To understand farmers' most-valued information resources, the researchers surveyed three groups of California winegrape growers – growers in Napa Valley, Lodi and the Central Coast. They asked the farmers to rate the usefulness of 21 information resources for learning about vineyard management. The list of information resources included everything from their own personal observations to advice from UCCE farm advisors, pest control advisers, trade journals, newspapers and the Internet. Each of the 21 information resources was organized into one of three learning pathways: “social” (such as peers and family, pest control adviser, and UCCE advisor); “experiential” (such as personal observations in the field, trial and error, and observations of other vineyards); and “formal” (university publications, viticulture texts, and trade journals.)

The researchers found that the 11 highest-ranked information resources were social and experiential sources. No formal learning resource was on any region's top 10 list.

“Across all regions, respondents reported that observations of their own vineyard was the most useful learning resource,” the article said. “PCAs, vineyard field crew and other winegrape growers (not family) – all social learning resources – were the second, third and fourth most useful learning resources, respectively, across the regions.”

These results indicate that grower learning is grounded largely in personal experience and knowledge-sharing relationships. Hoffman coined the term “network-smart extension” for the extension strategies that take advantage of farmers' social learning preferences. The approach, he said, capitalizes on the social process of knowledge sharing that naturally takes place among a community of growers.

“Folks are going to share information with one another regardless, the trick is knowing how to accelerate this process by leveraging the network so that those with questions can get in touch with those who have solutions,” Hoffman said. “Network-smart extension can also be defined by its underlying principles. For example, one of the principles is that growers must know what others know. Before people can start asking around for advice about a particular agricultural problem they have, it helps to know who has the expertise they are seeking.”

(The California Agriculture journal article contains a detailed description of network-smart extension.)

In collaboration with Rodrigo Gallardo from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the UC ANR Cooperative Extension poultry specialist at UC Davis, Maurice Pitesky, recently consulted with Hoffman to use network-smart extension to share poultry health information. Raising backyard chickens has become increasingly popular. Since the birds are susceptible to poultry diseases, such as avian flu, Exotic Newcastle disease and Salmonella, which can threaten the health of people and of commercial poultry, it is imperative they have sources of accurate chicken health information. But with no ANR poultry advisors in California counties and over 100,000 backyard poultry premises in California, the information must be sent through other channels.

A barred rock chicken in a backyard coop.
With a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Pitesky and Gallardo organized 2-day “train the trainer” sessions in northern and southern California in 2015 for 4-H advisors, UCCE advisors, agricultural commissioners, feed store managers, veterinarians and others. As part of the grant, Pitesky and Gallardo are working with Hoffman to learn social network analysis, the same method used to collect the knowledge-sharing network data from winegrape growers, to identify the network of collaborations among backyard poultry professionals in California. This network data will help identify those positioned to spread science-based backyard poultry information.        

“The goal is to create a network of people who have some knowledge of poultry, who can then connect with their social networks and disseminate the latest information about nutrition, food safety, welfare, poultry health and biosecurity,” Piteskysaid.

Pitesky also created a poultry website to help backyard poultry producers find connections.

“There is a flow diagram, so if you have a food safety question, or a question about ectoparasites, you know who to contact,” Pitesky said. “It's hard to find veterinarians who treat backyard poultry. Our site has a list of 12 veterinarians in six California counties that treat poultry. The goal is to list vets in every county who can treat those birds.”

The scope of Pitesky and Gallardo's network-smart extension is much larger than the scope of a typical farm advisor nurturing connections between PCAs, farmers, consultants and allied industries. Hoffman offers some suggestions of how those connections can be encouraged.

One simple practice is regularly providing nametags for participants at extension field days and meetings.

“The principle is that you have to reduce the barriers to social interactions,” Hoffman said. “I'm less inclined to introduce myself if I don't know their name or I'm embarrassed because I talked to them before, but don't remember their name. Nametags grease the skids for social interaction.”

Another approach Hoffman has used in the Lodi Winegrape Commission's blog called the “Coffee Shop.”

“I have been very intentional about introducing the authors in our blog and newsletters in a way that's as personal as possible, including a photo of the author and contact information,” Hoffman said. “Even though it's not a face-to-face interaction, readers will know the name and face of the person and can contact that person if they have questions.”

A third simple approach is providing meeting flyers with a duplicate copy for a neighbor.

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Matthew Fidelibus uses Facebook to connect with growers.
“The same people tend to come to every single meeting,” Hoffman said. “I'm trying to tap into the network by using people who already trust us to encourage others to come to meetings.”

UC ANR Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Matthew Fidelibus uses Facebook and Twitter to enhance the social network. He recently posted a picture of a withered grape cluster at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center on the San Joaquin Valley Viticulture Facebook page, which has 757 followers.

“Seems like I am seeing more bird damage than normal at Kearney this year,” he commented. “Anyone else noticing this?”

Among the responses, “Starlings and blackbirds will take whole berries. If you see broken berries and skins left, could be finches.”

Fidelibus advertised his upcoming grape field day on his Twitter feed, which has 1,474 followers.

Generally, Hoffman said, engaging in network-smart extension isn't about individual specific practices, but an overriding principle of the program that emphasizes building relationships among practitioners and encourages their engagement within their agricultural community.

“There may be no single or best way to accelerate the natural process of social learning, but extension programs must be adaptive, creative, experimental and flexible in design and execution,” the article said. “Extensionists should be willing to step outside of conventional thinking about how programs can be designed.”

 

Posted on Monday, July 20, 2015 at 8:38 AM

Raisins are the focus of the 2014 San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium

Adult raisin moth.
Over the last 10 years, Fresno County farmers have reported increasing raisin moth populations in organic raisin vineyards. Addressing this concern, Kent Daane, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, will update growers on the pest’s biology, management and damage at the San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium Jan. 8 in Easton.

Daane and his research associates followed moth populations in organic and conventional fields to document this observed change and determine if there were any specific causes for increases in raisin moth densities. In a 2013 season study, UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center entomologists found that spring to early summer pheromone trap catches of raisin moths were prevalent across numerous vineyards, regardless of management practices. However, overall seasonal damage in 2013 was low.

“The primary difference between vineyard sites with or without raisin moth damage appeared to be well-timed and effective insecticide sprays,” Daane said. “One problem for organic sites may be the availability of insecticide materials that have long enough residual activity to control the larvae of adult moths entering the vineyard, and once the larvae are deep inside the grape cluster they are difficult to control.”

In addition to Daane’s report, the San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium includes the following research updates:

  • Rootstocks for raisin production by Sonet Von Zyl, Fresno State University

  • Raisin production canopy management by Matthew Fidelibus, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, based at the UC Kearney Ag REC in Parlier

  • Raisin grape breeding program by Craig Ledbetter, USDA Agricultural Research Service, based in Parlier

  • Economics of producing raisins, by Annette Levi, Fresno State University

  • Grapevine trunk diseases and grower survey

The symposium begins with registration at 7 a.m. and concludes following lunch at 1 p.m. at the C.P.D.E.S. Hall, 172 W. Jefferson Ave., Easton, Calif.

Registration is $15 in advance and includes lunch. Registration at the door is $20. To preregister, send the names of attendees and a check payable to UC Regents for $15 each to San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium, 550 E. Shaw Ave., Suite 210-B, Fresno, CA 93710. To register with a credit card, fill out the online registration form at http://ucanr.edu/sjv2014.

Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 8:57 AM

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