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Farm Credit: Water for Food is Critical

Cultivate California Educates Residents About Farms’ Need For Water

Exceptional drought conditions mean Farm Credit’s support is crucial, as reminding people about link between water and their food is more important than ever

California is in the middle of one of its worst droughts on record. The federal government reports that showed that nearly half of the state – including the entire Central Valley – is in an exceptional drought as of mid-October. Overall, 2021 has been the ninth driest year in California since accurate records began being kept 127 years ago. Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is at 23% of capacity and Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir, is at 22% of capacity.

No one knows how long these dry conditions will last, but the most recent drought lasted for 376 weeks, from December 2011 to March 2019. And the National Weather Service currently forecasts that drought conditions are likely to continue in California as a weak La Niña effect will likely see storms diverted to the Pacific Northwest this winter. And all of that is bad news for California agriculture.

Which is why Cultivate California’s program aimed at educating Californians about the connection between consumers, the food they love and the water needed to grow it is so important as its messaging reaches 16 million people a year.

Mike Wade, the program’s executive director, said getting out early this year with messaging about water was essential to counter messaging from other groups.

“Californians continue to get inundated with negative messages about farming,” Wade said. “The Cultivate California program was designed to help bolster the natural support people have for agriculture and farms and to continue providing them with facts and information about the connection between their food and the water supply.”

The need to counter misinformation about farmers’ use of water is why Farm Credit has been one of the program’s largest donors since 2018, said Curt Hudnutt, president and CEO of American AgCredit.

American AgCredit, along with CoBank, Colusa-Glenn Farm Credit, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and Yosemite Farm Credit, collectively contribute $100,000 a year to help Cultivate California inform Californians. The organizations are part of the nationwide Farm Credit System – the largest provider of credit to U.S. agriculture.

“This year, many California farms had just 5% of their water supply this year to grow our food,” Hudnutt said. “Cultivate California is one of the most successful groups we have to educate people about the impacts the drought has on our food supply, and the need to improve our water storage to protect all of us in future droughts, and we are proud to help support them in their efforts.”

Wade said one important message this year is that farmers and irrigation districts need to have flexibility to transfer water supplies to areas in greater need without burdensome red tape. And he said improving the state’s water supply system is crucial.

“We need to look long-term, which we should have done after the last drought,” he said. “Eighteen trillion gallons of water fell in February 2019 when the last drought ended, but we didn’t have the facilities to capture it and recharge our groundwater so we would have more supply available now. Hopefully our leaders will act so next time a drought occurs we will be better prepared.”

Rob Faris, President and CEO, Golden State Farm Credit, said it’s essential that more Californians are exposed to one of Cultivate California’s key messages – that the state’s farmers are producing more food but using much less water.

“The value of the state’s farm production increased by 38% between 1980 and 2015 while our farmers used 14% less water,” Faris said. “Farmers continually invest in irrigation technology, such as new drip and micro-irrigation systems, soil moisture monitoring, remote sensing, and computerized irrigation controls. Today, nearly half of our 8.4 million acres of irrigated farmland use drip, micro or subsurface irrigation, and more savings are on the way. Farm Credit is committed to help our members finance these improvements.”

Wade said Farm Credit’s support has been invaluable.

“The support we get from Farm Credit is amazing and critically important,” he said. “It has helped attract other supporters as well, and the support and leadership we get from Farm Credit has been instrumental in helping this program succeed.”

2021-11-09T17:50:30-08:00November 9th, 2021|

Mario Santoyo: We Need Strong Water Leaders

A Conversation with Mario Santoyo

Mario Santoyo is the executive director of the Latino Water Coalition. He is also a civil engineer and serves as VP of Clean Water and Jobs for California, a Non-Profit representing primary water, business, environmental and Ag stakeholders. And since 1986, he has served as the Assistant General Manager of Friant Water Authority.

 

Patrick Cavanaugh: Looking back on Prop 1, which the voters passed in 2014? Thinking about the fact that we passed that, how much money was allocated? How many billions of dollars for storage?

Mario Santoyo: It was about $3 billion for storage.

Cavanaugh: And, of course, that money was used to get some storage going, right?

Santoyo:  Yes. Right.

Cavanaugh: And very little of that’s been used, I guess. Maybe Sites Reservoir is getting some funding, right?

 

temperance flat dam

Mario Santoyo

Santoyo: Well, Sites theoretically were to get a little bit, but they are having significant difficulty getting environmental permits to do anything. So, if it’s not one thing, it’s another that keeps big surface water projects from moving forward. There’s way too much influence in what I would call the administrations because the governor, whether they admit it or not, has a whole lot of pull in terms of how their agencies work. So, if the messaging is such that these big projects are not a very high priority because of the environmental issues, they do not move forward.

Cavanaugh:  We live, and that is the state where our rain and snow events are feast or famine. We have dry and wet years, and this has always been the narrative of why we must have the infrastructure on the wet years to get through the famine years. And yet, we are just coming out of the severe year of low water allocations because of the lack of rain and snow and empty reservoirs at the beginning of this season. However, the massive cyclone storm that battered California in late October brought in record rain and snow. So it’s another reminder that we need more storage for more rain and snow that may still come.

 Santoyo: The unfortunate fact is that the environmental community has made it a priority for there not to be any new dams or water storage in general, particularly here in California. And they have had a tremendous amount of influence with the legislature, so it keeps them from facilitating any actual funding and or process to build dams. But what’s exceedingly sad is that I think we’re losing the leadership skills in our water agencies.

The leaders that existed during my day were such that they were willing to take the hard road to try to make new surface storage projects even though any time they would do that, they would be hit and criticized because of many things, including the cost of the dam and so forth. But it didn’t stop those folks that made those critical decisions when they pushed for building Shasta, San Luis, Oroville, Friant, and others… They had the same issues then, but they had the willingness and the guts to move forward.

Cavanaugh: Yes, They had real grit back then.

Santoyo: Today, we have guys that want to take the easy road where they shoot for things that are easier to attain but have no long-term benefit, not significant benefit, and that’s what I see happening in these more recent times. And so, in a way, I’m kind of glad that I no longer am in the key water agency role because I don’t think I could stomach it anymore.

I was always very proud that we were doing our best for the farmers because the farmers depend on leadership by those who represent them. But, unfortunately, I don’t see that anymore. I see just everybody throwing their hands up, waving the white flag, and saying: groundwater, that’s the way we’re going to put our focus. Well, no, that’s where the environmentalists have always pushed because that’s the way that you can justify not building surface storage.

But these years, when we have an excessive amount of water, I can guarantee you that most of it is going to the ocean, and it’s not going to groundwater. And so it’s a sad situation. So, I wish things would change. But, I’m not sure how that’s going to happen, other than for the general public to rise up and say, “Hey, we need it, and we don’t care what people say. It’s common sense, and we need to do something for our future generations.”

Cavanaugh: Well, Mario, how much outrage does the public need to change something?

Santoyo: Well, I’m entirely frustrated because I started focusing on building Temperance Flat around. 2001.

Cavanaugh:  20 years ago?

Santoyo: In 2001 and there were many things we did in terms of funding for studies and getting things lined up so that when the opportunity came about, it did. In 2006 and 2007, the opportunity came about when both Senator Cogdill and Governor Schwarzenegger decided that they were going to push for surface storage. We took full advantage of that and helped facilitate the legislation passed in 2009 and eventually became the Water Bond in 2014, and there was funding. It took a long time, And it took a whole lot of effort, but that’s what it takes. There’s no shortcut to it, but unfortunately, there’s no willingness by existing water agency leaders anymore to take the that hard road. They’re very focused on what the environmentalists want, the easy road, but that easy road doesn’t get you what you need.

Cavanaugh: What about our congressmen?

Santoyo: The unfortunate situation is that Republicans haven’t had leadership roles because they haven’t been in the majority most of the time. And so, when they did have an opportunity to advance something through the Trump administration, they didn’t take full advantage of it.

It got sidelined with other controversial issues, and building surface storage did not rise to a priority, and so then the Trump years came and went. And now we’re back to administrations that don’t see storage as a big priority.

Cavanaugh: And that is even added frustration. Mario, with all this in mind and the political nature of California, SGMA, no additional storage for the wet years. What do you think the long-term is for California agriculture?

Santoyo: This is what I predict.  Right now, these water agency leaders who are pushing groundwater projects in lieu of service storage projects will end up getting in trouble when the farmers start realizing that their wells are going to be cut off because they have no surface water to replace the groundwater they’re taking, because we don’t have adequate surface storage.

Cavanaugh: Exactly.

Santoyo: That’s when the reality hits, and that’s what we’ve always argued, is that it’s not a matter of whether you need surface water or groundwater, you need both, but you need both of them to make each other work. And so that’s the part of the equation the environmentalists have always left off is that you don’t need surface storage for groundwater. Well, that’s completely wrong. SGMA will make that clear, but by the time it gets clear, it’ll be too late. The farmers will be cut off on their water, and then there’s not much to do.

Cavanaugh: It’s tough for many growers to rely only on groundwater. I mean, I’ve constantly been pushing out that the only solution to SGMA is surface water.

Santoyo: Absolutely, it’s not a complicated formula. But again, it all comes back down to that water leaders have to have some guts to go down the hard road and be open to criticism and keep pushing. But, unfortunately, right now, we don’t have those kinds of leaders anymore.

And that’s a sad statement. Because in my years in the water agencies, I was fortunate to be exposed to many strong leaders in the water agency business. Those days are over. We don’t have that anymore.

Cavanaugh: We used to have farmer-friendly board members on the California Water Board.

Santoyo: Absolutely, there’s no question about it. And this is now changing, and it’s driven by environmentalists that have found the magic ways of getting everybody to re-prioritize what should be done. Including, unfortunately, these water agency leaders. When I hear these guys talk about, “Oh, we have the perfect plan. It’s going to be groundwater projects,” I’m just shaking my head thinking, it’s unbelievable….

Cavanaugh: These groundwater projects. The water leaders are focused on that?

Santoyo: That’s right, and that’s the sad part of it, is that the farmers are depending on the leadership of these water agency leaders. And that’s a sad statement for me to be making because I was a water agency guy for such a long time, but that’s also is why I can say it because I was there when we had leadership.

I don’t know what you call these new generation guys. I guess they’re expecting somebody to give them the easy road. And you can never get anything worthwhile by going down an easy road.

 

 

 

2021-11-08T09:35:21-08:00November 8th, 2021|

Supply Chain Help Needed Now!

Congressman David G. Valadao Calls on Secretary Buttigieg to Help Alleviate Supply Chain Congestion

 

Congressman David G. Valadao and 10 of his colleagues co-sponsored Representative Tracey Mann’s legislation, the Truckers Responding At National Shipping Ports Overcoming Retail Turmoil (TRANSPORT) Act. This legislation would require the Secretary of Transportation to relieve congested ports during either a national state of emergency or when ports are congested by 50 percent or more.

“Our nation is facing horrific supply chain challenges, and it is vital that Congress acts. Billions of dollars worth of goods are currently sitting off the coast of California, yet the administration has put forward no serious solutions to resolve this crisis,” said Congressman Valadao. “That is why I am proud to co-sponsor the Truckers Responding At National Shipping Ports Overcoming Retail Turmoil Act. Through this legislation, we will alleviate our supply chain challenges and help our nations’ businesses to return to normal operations.”

The TRANSPORT Act would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue federal grants from unused relief dollars to motor carriers to transport goods from a port of entry to a destination point. It would also temporarily waive operating standards should those standards be more stringent than the federal standard, allowing U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant trucks and drivers from other states to relieve ports and transport goods across the country.

“I’ve heard from Kansas farmers and truck drivers who are prepared to drive to California and collect goods because they understand the looming catastrophic results of congestion continuing at our ports,” said Congressman Mann. “If we have truckers who are willing and able to drive across the country to secure and distribute goods that are backed up at ports in other states, the government should remove any red tape standing in the way of that solution. Implementing the TRANSPORT Act is a step towards solving the supply chain crisis, giving Americans the ability to help themselves and their neighbors, and making America’s economy strong again.”

2021-11-05T17:42:23-07:00November 5th, 2021|

Wheat Growers Get Help with Fertilizer

New ‘Big Data’ Tools Help California Wheat Farmers Reduce Fertilizer Guesswork

Growers in California grapple with plenty of climate uncertainty – but a new set of tools can help wheat farmers make crucial fertilizer decisions with more precision and confidence.

An interactive website integrates these tools – developed or adapted by researchers at the University of California, Davis and University of California Cooperative Extension – that provide farmers with recommendations for applying nitrogen fertilizers, specific to their own sites and conditions.

“The system is made for being flexible, for being reactive – and not having a cookie-cutter approach, year-in and year-out, because the weather is not cookie-cutter, year-in and year-out,” said Mark Lundy, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences.

While factoring in those weather variables, the management tool also draws data from two indicators of nitrogen sufficiency or deficiency: the results of a soil nitrate quick test (a simple test previously used in vegetable crop systems along the coast), and comparisons of plant health in the broader field to that in a “nitrogen-rich reference zone” (a practice originally developed in the Midwest).

Using them in tandem, in the context of California wheat growing, is a novel approach. In a Nov. 4 webinar, Lundy will introduce the use of the nitrogen-rich reference zone, a small area in a field where extra fertilizer is added at the beginning of the season.

“This project is a unique example of digital agriculture at work in an applied setting,” he explained. “We are integrating ‘big data’ sources like site-specific soil and weather data, as well as satellite, drone and other sensor measurements into an interactive web interface. This allows users to receive straightforward yet highly customized recommendations from somewhat complex agronomic models.”

Since 2019, agronomists from UC Davis and UCCE have been testing these tools in real-world conditions, with support from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program and a Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant. The team conducted 11 on-farm demonstrations in fields representing a wide range of agroecosystems, including the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Delta region, and Tulelake Basin.

Fritz Durst, a western Yolo County-based grower who participated in one of the case studies, said that the process of gathering the data was “actually pretty simple” and the tool “eliminates much of the guesswork” for managing nitrogen fertilizers.

“This tool is extremely helpful for me to make decisions about the most efficient and cost-effective method for applying nitrogen to my wheat,” Durst said.

In addition to potentially increasing crop productivity and farmer net-income, the tool can benefit the environment by reducing the amount of nitrate leaching from fertilizer applications, according to Lundy.

“It’s not only trying to say how much fertilizer to put down, sometimes it’s trying to confirm you don’t really need any fertilizer,” he said.

More resources and events related to the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Tool for California Wheat – including demonstration activities – will appear on the UC Small Grains blog.

2021-11-05T16:08:55-07:00November 5th, 2021|

CFLCA Annual Meeting Nov. 17 and 18

California Farm Labor Contractor Association’s 11th Annual Ag Labor Forum (Virtual) Coming on November 17 & 18

 

The California Farm Labor Contractor Association (CFLCA) is hosting its 11th Annual Ag Labor Forum in a virtual format on November 17th & 18th.

 

Farm labor contractors, supervisors, growers, agriculture human resources professionals, safety managers, and affiliated ag labor industry representatives are invited to attend. Attendees will gain knowledge and tools to be successful, compliant, and lucrative in the ag labor industry. Sessions are available in both English and Spanish.

 

Over 30 educational classes taught by top-notch instructors highlight key information, strategies, and solutions. The keynote speakers include Curt Covington, the senior director of institutional lending at AgAmerica, forecasting California’s ag future and Craig Regelbrugge, the senior vice president of AmericanHort, discussing if good ag labor policy is good for politics. Other session topics include Cal/OSHA updates, preparing for 2022 laws and regulations, federal and state licensing issues, and operations management solutions.

 

“Our Ag Labor Forum is a great opportunity to expand the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the farm labor contractor industry. Compliance and licensing are the core of our existence, and this event provides critical information needed to ensure your business stays afloat,” said the president of CFLCA, Oscar Ramos. “The virtual format enables us to serve a large and diverse population and we are thrilled to be able to provide this information to so many business leaders,” he added.

 

Additional information including registration and sponsorship options can be located by visiting the CFLCA website at www.calflca.org or by calling 916-389-1246.

 

2021-11-04T23:18:41-07:00November 4th, 2021|

Specialty Crops Funding Gets $54.5 Million

California Agriculture Leads the Nation in Funding for Specialty Crops

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced funding for the 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). California received $54.5 million, including $31.6 million in stimulus funding to address impacts of COVID-19 and promote economic recovery, out of approximately $169.9 million awarded nationwide.

The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will fund approximately 100 projects, awarding grants ranging from $50,000 to $5 million to non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities. Abstracts of the funded projects are available here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Specialty_Crop_Competitiveness_Grants/pdfs/2021_SCBGP_Abstracts_FarmBill.pdf

These projects focus on increasing sales of specialty crops by leveraging the unique qualities of specialty crops grown in California; increasing consumption by expanding the specialty crop consumer market, improving availability, and providing nutritional education for consumers; training growers to equip them for current and future challenges; investing in training for growers/producers/operators to address current and future challenges, including impacts and adaption to COVID-19; and conducting research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.

Additionally, CDFA focused on first-time recipients with technical assistance and grants to organizations that support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, including urban farmers, and/or promote increased access or nutrition education in underserved communities throughout California.

CDFA continues its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety in the evaluation and recommendation of food safety related projects. These projects represent an ongoing effort to address food safety practices and minimize outbreaks of foodborne illness with proactive

2021-11-04T23:21:14-07:00November 2nd, 2021|

AB 1346 Seen As Stepping Stone

 

Small Engine Ban Puts Cart Before the Horse

 

By Mike Stephens with the Ag Information Network

 

California will ban “small off-road engines” (SORE) primarily used in gas-powered lawn equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawnmowers, in a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

The bill, AB 1346, directs California’s Air Resources Board to draw up regulations that will go into place by 2024. It bans the sale of new SOREs, but does not seem to ban their operation.

The law will apply not only to gas-powered lawn equipment, but also to generators and emergency response equipment and other assorted categories. The bill does give regulators some leeway with the regulations based on what is found to be “technologically feasible,” so some portions of the regulation may be pushed back beyond 2024.

However, the California small engine ban law seems to be getting the cart before the horse.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau explains how alternatives are not in place to switch from small engines and discusses the frustrations

“We understand the target of the bill. But on the flip side, not having readily available alternatives in place is probably the most or is the most concerning part of this bill. This is not the first time California has done something like this, and it’s just a frustration from us on the user end because here we’re left holding the bag of trying to find alternatives that may not come to fruition by that point.

“And again, this is worth noting for this particular issue. In California agriculture, with the exception of SGMA, there’s none of these laws and regulations individually are going to undo our farm operations, but it’s death by a thousand cuts and this is another one of those cuts,” said Jacobsen.

This could be a stepping stone to regulate other large equipment utilized on farms and ranches.

“Well, we’re already there,” said Jacobsen. We’re already in the process of working on that as well. This is one of those stepping stones you know you’re going to see eventually down the road.  Regulators are going after bigger engines, as well as other types of gas operated gas powered types of equipment,” explained Jacobsen.

 

 

2021-11-02T09:48:42-07:00November 2nd, 2021|

Bohart Museum of Entomology Celebrates 75 years!

Photo: Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis, addresses the crowd at its 75th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart Museum, Founded in 1946, Celebrates 75th Anniversary

With spider decorations dangling from trees and entomologists representing everything from a horse fly to a tortoise beetle to a lamp, the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology recently celebrated its 75th anniversary at an outdoor Halloween party hosted by the Bohart Museum Society.

Rain dampened the Crocker Lane event but not the enthusiasm as the crowd toasted the work of the Bohart Museum and its director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. She has administered the Bohart Museum since 1990.

The UC Davis museum traces its origins back in 1946 to two Schmitt boxes filled with insect specimens collected by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), UC Davis professor of entomology and museum founder. Named the Bohart Museum in 1982, it is now the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, collected worldwide.

“We should take a moment to not only express our appreciation of the Bohart Museum and the legacy that Dr. Richard Bohart left, but to all the work Lynn has done to make events like this possible and to continue the important work,” emcee Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair and professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, told the crowd.

Bond, who on Oct. 25 was named Associate Dean for Research and Outreach for Agricultural Sciences, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,  drew attention to the “remarkable planet that we live on and the diversity of animals and plants we share” and museum collections.

“Collections have a tremendous educational value,” Bond said, “and they also have amazing research value as well. Discoveries of new species don’t actually happen in the field, they happen in the museum collections. New species on the average spend about 25 years on the shelf before a graduate student, undergraduate student or a researcher pulls them off shelf and describes or discovers them.”

The specimens are an amazing resource, Bond told the crowd. “They not only record the diversity of insects in the past but sometimes we can use them as a key to solving problems associated with human diseases and agricultural pests and the like.”

He offered a toast to Kimsey, who in turn praised the thousands of collectors “who have their names” on the specimens. “We’ve been doing this for a long time. Eventually we’ll be able to serve the public again like we should. Otherwise it would just be a dead collection in a building somewhere.”

Kimsey interviewed “Doc” Bohart, then 82, in 1996 as part of the Aggie Videos collection. (See https://bit.ly/2Zv8rvO.) Bohart, who began his UC Davis career in 1946, chaired the Department of Entomology from 1963 to 1967.

Kimsey, an alumnus of UC Davis, received her undergraduate degree in 1975 and doctorate in 1979. She joined the UC Davis faculty in 1989. A two-term president of the International Hymenopterists, and a recognized global authority on the systematics, biogeography and biology of the wasp families, Tiphiidae and Chrysididae, she won the 2020 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest award given by the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, for “her 31 years of outstanding accomplishments in research, teaching, education, outreach and public service.”

A colorful 75th anniversary banner greeted the attendees. The work of entomologist Christine Melvin, who received her bachelor’s degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2017, it features a hover fly, sphecid wasp, snake fly, bumble bee, aphid, twisted wing parasite and a tardigrade (water bear). The Bohart Museum’s tardigrade collection includes some 25,000 slide-mounted specimens. A  2,112-pound tardigrade sculpture, crafted by artist Solomon Bassoff of Nevada County and considered the largest in the world,  graces the front of the Bohart Museum

Bond urged the crowd to help support the outreach mission of the museum. Bohart Museum scientists are seeking donations for their traveling insect specimen displays. They aim to raise $5000 by 11:59 p.m., Oct. 31 for their UC Davis CrowdFund project to purchase traveling display boxes for their specimens, which include bees, butterflies and beetles, Students will compile the boxes, which are  portable glass-topped display boxes that travel throughout Northern California to school classrooms, youth group meetings, festivals, events, museums, hospitals–and more–to help people learn about the exciting world of insect science.

“Now that UC Davis is open again to students we have all these bright, students on campus with fresh and diverse perspectives,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum’s education and outreach coordinator. “We want to support their talent, so the funds we are raising will go to students for the creation of new traveling displays

Donors can do so in memory of someone, a place, or a favorite insect. Bond donated $500 in honor of Lynn Kimsey, and Lynn Kimsey donated $500 in memory of the founder, Richard M. Bohart. The donation page and map are at https://bit.ly/3v4MoaJ

The Bohart Museum, currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. In addition to its insect collection, which is the seventh largest in North America, the museum houses a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas, and a gift shop (now online), stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, hoodies, jewelry, books, posters and other items. Further information is on the website at https://bohart.ucdavis.edu.

 

2021-11-01T10:46:04-07:00November 1st, 2021|

John Pehrson Honored As Citrus Expert

Photo shows John Pehrson’s grandchildren who joined him to celebrate the naming of building to honor his contributions to the citrus industry. From left, Jillian Pehrson, Pedro Preciat, Jessica Pehrson-Preciat, John E. Pehrson, Erik Pehrson and Dylan Pehrson.

Citrus Industry Honors Longtime UCCE Citrus Expert John Pehrson

By Pam Kan-Rice UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Service

It’s been 30 years since John Pehrson retired as a University of California Cooperative Extension citrus specialist, but he left such a lasting impression on the citrus industry that his work is still revered today. Regarded as a model Cooperative Extension advisor, Pehrson was gifted at translating UC research and offering practical solutions to help growers better manage their resources and improve citrus yields during his 38-year UC career.

Pehrson is an “encyclopedia of practical and scientific knowledge about citrus,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension citrus specialist and a former colleague of Pehrson. “He developed expertise not only in soils, but also rootstocks, citrus fertility, irrigation and entomology.”

To honor Pehrson’s contributions to the citrus industry, growers and associated industry members gathered at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center on Oct. 16 to dedicate the center’s administration building as “John E. Pehrson Hall.”

The 94-year-old Pehrson, who attended the event with his proud family, said he was always eager to go to work as a UCCE citrus advisor and specialist, “and I want you all to know that I appreciated the help I had in both the University community and with the industry, and with you growers that are here tonight to recognize me.”

Pehrson joined UC Cooperative Extension as a farm advisor in 1953 for Orange County, moved to UCCE in Tulare County as a citrus advisor in 1966, then became a UCCE subtropical horticultural specialist at Kearney Research and Extension Center in 1980, and transferred in 1982 to Lindcove REC, where he worked until his retirement in 1991.

“I think of Lindcove and ag extension, and all of us who are lucky enough to be in this industry for all these years, you have to think of John Pehrson, because he was such a big part of our success as growers,” said citrus grower Tom Dungan. “When you walked the orchard with John, and I did often, I had all kinds of problems…by the time you were finished walking the orchard, you not only had the original problem that you were trying to solve, but you had about seven others and he wasn’t afraid to tell you how to solve them. And sometimes you didn’t want to hear that.”

“He loved to come out and help you with your problems, talk about a dedicated guy, I’ve never known anyone in the industry that was as dedicated as John Pehrson,” Dungan said.

In 1994, the California Citrus Quality Council presented Pehrson with the industry’s most prestigious prize, the Albert G. Salter Memorial Award.

“John was an excellent farm advisor and horticultural specialist because he would study the groves, study the literature, run experiments in the San Joaquin Valley and collaborate with other researchers,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “But he also highly respected the practical knowledge of the growers and worked with early adapters of new technologies, helping to advance them.”

In addition to growers, Pehrson’s UC colleagues also benefited from his knowledge and concern for the industry, Grafton-Cardwell said. “I was one of them, as I came on board in 1990 a year before John retired. John saw that I was new to citrus and took me under his wing and said, ‘Let’s conduct a field experiment.’”

When Lindcove Research and Extension Center started a fundraising campaign, several donors identified the building dedication as an opportunity to support research while also paying tribute to Pehrson, said Grafton-Cardwell, a past director of the center.

“I am honored to have my work recognized in this fashion,” said Pehrson, who currently resides in Claremont in Southern California. “I wish to say that I enjoyed my life as a farm advisor, I really did. I would call it a life of purpose.”

Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, thanked guests for raising over $100,000 to name the building “John E. Pehrson Hall,” saying, “By honoring John and recognizing his accomplishments, you have also invested in supporting the next generation of researchers, allowing us to continue to explore, experiment and develop practical solutions through applied research.”

2021-11-04T23:16:27-07:00October 29th, 2021|

Almond Pollination Increases with Seeds For Bees Program

Seeds For Bees Program Creates Healthier Colonies

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Project Apis M is a non-profit with the mission of funding and directing research that enhances the health and vitality of honey bees while improving crop production, these are often used in almond orchards and many other crops.

Billy Synk manages the Seeds for Bees Program for Project Apis M. He noted that having cover crops that bloom to attract honey bees is good for the almond orchard.

“For growers of crops that are very early blooming in the year, like almonds, having your cover crop bloom before, during and after, with that emphasis on before, is especially helpful to the bees pollinating that year’s crop. When bees have more access to more diverse and abundant sources of forage,” noted Synk

 

And Synk says the entire colony is more healthier. “The colony itself is more populous, each individual bee weighs more, and is more fit,  more vigorous, they are even communicating better and finding those almond blossoms; they’re finding them better when they’re communicating more.,” Synk explained.  “They also are more able to defend themselves against pathogens and hives when reared in pollen abundant environments, have a much higher rate of winter survival as compared to colonies that exist and reared in pollen limited environments,” he said.

Contact Project Apis M regarding the Seeds for Bees Program.

2021-11-04T23:35:59-07:00October 29th, 2021|
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