UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News
Open House - Do you know what University of California Cooperative Extension Placer & Nevada Counties Agriculture Programs do?
That is a long name for a little job right? Nope! The UCCE Placer & Nevada Counties serves a growing number of small farmers and ranchers in these two counties. Over 75% of commercial farms and ranches are small scale(less than 50 acres). While the acreage of land in farms may be declining, the number of small farms is increasing. Over 500 local small-scale farmers and ranchers participate in our workshops and field meetings each year!
Why is UCCE Placer & Nevada Counties' work so important?
Increasing land values and development pressures make it difficult to start or expand a farm. The average age of our producers is over 50 years old. That means we need to train and mentor new farmers. It costs small farms and ranches more to produce a product than large-scale operations, so quality and marketing are critical. UCCE partners with farmers and ranchers for education and community-building activities. Training and mentorship in production, marketing, risk management, and business management are particularly important.
Where can I find out more about the agricultural programs available to me?
You are invited to an Open House for farmers and ranchers at the Auburn UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE)/Farm Advisor Office on December 13 from 4 to 7 PM. You can also find out more by visiting our Foothill Farming website and liking our Facebook page.
Open House information – https://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/?calitem=433612&g=22527
Foothill Farming website – https://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/
Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/FoothillFarming
With all the increasing--and alarming--global concern about declining pollinators, it's great to see some good news: pollination ecologist Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is one of the Highly Cited Researchers in the 2018 list just released by Clarivate...
A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii, heading toward a California golden poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Neal Williams working on his native bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What flavors do you detect in a sip of lemon water? Are there notes of sweetness, sour, off flavors or fresh citrus taste? Scientists at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the USDA want to know every subtle taste sensation for a research project continuing over the next 18 months.
Participants will taste the major types of citrus to confirm that treatments used to eliminate pests in overseas shipments don't have an impact on fruit enjoyment. Lemon tasting will be followed by mandarins, navel and Valencia oranges, and grapefruit.
“This work is critical for the citrus industry,” said Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in subtropical fruit. “A huge amount of California citrus is exported, but if there are quarantined pests in the shipment, that triggers treatments with a fumigant.”
In the past, importers treated citrus with methyl bromide. However, the pesticide has been phased out because it depletes the ozone layer. An alternative fumigant, phosphine, kills the insects, but scientists don't yet know what impact the chemical will have on the fruit.
“We're hoping there's no taste difference,” Arpaia said. “But we don't know. That's why we're doing the testing.”
USDA plant physiologist David Obenland, based at the USDA office across the street from Kearney in Parlier, is working with Arpaia to conduct the study at Kearney's sensory laboratory. The 1,100-square-foot laboratory features neutral white paint and broad-spectrum lighting; the ventilation system minimizes distracting odors. Six tasting booths each have small windows that open to the kitchen area, where samples are prepared.
“Previous research has resolved residue issues and determined phosphine is effective in killing the pests,” Obenland said. “But they didn't fully determine whether the process would hurt the fruit.”
The current project compares fruit treated with methyl bromide, phosphine and a cold temperature protocol in which the fruit is held just above freezing for three weeks. In addition to tasting the fruit, volunteers evaluate the fruit's appearance.
“People buy with their eyes,” Arpaia said. “We're asking our participants to compare the fruit visually to see if they detect any differences.”
The research is funded by the California Citrus Quality Council through a grant from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
"Drones are male bees that contribute only in the perm production for the queen." So wrote an undergraduate student in one of Lynn Kimsey's entomology classes at the University of California, Davis. The student meant "sperm." But it came out "perm." That's just one of the sentences that...
A UC Davis student wrote: "Drones are male bees that contribute only in the perm production for the queen." That inspired Karissa Merritt to create this for the newly published Bohart Museum of Entomology calendar, now available for purchase.
“The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings," a UC Davis student wrote about mayflies. The result: this illustration by Karissa Merritt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology's innovative calendar.
"The infected fleas can harbor rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally, even house cats," wrote a UC Davis student. The result: this illustration by Karissa Merritt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology calendar.
Displaying the innovative Bohart Museum calendars are museum associates and the director. From left are UC Davis entomology student Abram Estrada; intern Sophia Lonchar of The Met High School, Sacramento; Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey; UC Davis entomology student Wade Spencer, and Bohart scientist Brennen Dyer, a recent entomology graduate. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Attached is a presentation on the economics of controlling invasive aquatic weeds in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This was presented by Karen Jetter at the Delta Region Areawide Aquatic Weeds Program (DRAAWP) stakeholders meeting in October 2018.
Harvesting water hyacinth