Center for Land-Based Learning Increases Growth

Center for Land-Based Learning announces Unprecedented Organizational Growth

As the need for new farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards continues to increase, the Center for Land-Based Learning is announcing its unprecedented organizational growth in response to this need.

The Center, which started offering its FARMS program in 1993, has remained committed to inspiring, educating, and cultivating future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards in California over the long haul.

In 2017, the Center set forth a multi-year strategy plan to, among other goals, “build a new home in a new place.”

In May 2020, the Center moved to Woodland, after a successful capital campaign. The Center for Land-Based Learning’s Headquarters at Maples Farm is a 30-acre campus that houses their new offices, the Best Classroom where they will hold in-person classes when it is again safe to do so, and productive farmland and associated infrastructure. Beginning farmers in the Center’s California Farm Academy Farm Business Incubator Program can lease plots of farmland on Maples Farm or in West Sacramento, to grow their nascent agricultural ventures.

“We have been overwhelmed by the incredible support and the ability to propel innovative new programs and services at our new facility”, says Jeana Hultquist, Chair of the Center’s Board. “This also meant aligning our leadership with comparable forward-looking non-profit organizations.”

In the fall of 2020, the Board promoted Mary Kimball from Executive Director to CEO. Mary was the first employee hired to work with the Center back in 1998 and has served at its helm since 2003. Under Kimball’s leadership, the move to Maples Farm positions the Center for growing success for another 25 years.

The Center has also created several new positions in recent months. These include their new Director of Operations, filled by Jesus Zavala since December, their West Sacramento Urban Farm Program Coordinator, filled by Heather Lyon since April, and their Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Apprentice, filled by Erin Morris since April.

California Farm Academy Director, Dr. Sridharan (Sri) Sethuratnam, added, “At the Maples Farm, we have access to quadruple the amount of land, and dramatically improved infrastructure and equipment. The land and infrastructure provide us with the capacity to better support the beginning farmers in the region and will eventually contribute to growing the next generation of farmers that our country needs.”

To learn more about the Center for Land-Based Learning, or to give to their mission, please visit


The mission of the Center for Land-Based Learning is to inspire, educate, and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders and natural resource stewards.

2021-06-18T08:37:57-07:00June 17th, 2021|

Almond Shipments Set New Record

Increased Demand Helps Almonds Overcome Port Issues, Tariffs, and COVID-19 Limitations


California almond shipments to consumer markets in the U.S. and across the globe hit a new record this year, despite port and trade issues and COVID-19 complications.


The May 2021 Position Report from the Almond Board of California (ABC) shows that the California industry shipped 219 million pounds in May – a record for the month – bringing the total this crop year to 2.45 billion pounds, setting a new record in just 10 months. The crop year for almonds runs from Aug. 1 to July 31.

“This shows continuing high demand for California almonds among consumers around the world,” said ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott. “People love almonds because they’re a remarkably sustainable plant protein, they’re versatile in a range of cuisines, they have outstanding health and beauty benefits, and they’re delicious.”


Record shipments across the globe


California almonds ship to more than 100 countries, and export growth has been impressive with a 30% overall increase over last year to date and record shipments in a number of markets.


tradeA month ago, India made history for California almonds. For the first time ever, a single market exceeded 300 million pounds of imports in one crop year. The current May report shows that India has now received 322 million pounds and is up 54% over the previous year to date.


The entire Asia-Pacific region continues its strong growth with a 46% increase overall. In that region, the China/Hong Kong market is up 72% year-to-year despite tariffs, South Korea increased by 42% and Vietnam is up an astounding 132% from last year.


Almost all European markets, east and west, continued their impressive growth in response to the high demand. Germany and Spain posted strong gains as did the Netherlands and Italy. Overall, European imports are up 18% from 2019-20.


The Middle East and North Africa are also regions with strong growing markets. Countries of note include the United Arab Emirates, which grew 31%, Egypt with 20% growth, and Morocco, which has a year-to-date increase of 148% over last year.


Growth in the U.S. continues to be strong, especially considering that the domestic market is large and well established. The year-to-year increase stands at 4% for the crop year.


“The world-wide appetite for almonds and our range of products continues to grow,” Waycott said. “Almonds outpaced all other nuts in new product introductions ranging from dairy alternatives and snacks to confectionery, bakery and bars. Our industry members have done a terrific job of moving the current crop and meeting the demand from consumers here in the U.S. and around the world.”

2021-06-14T13:53:28-07:00June 14th, 2021|

Warning on Trespassers Gaining Pesticide Data

Urgent Advisory – Be on the Lookout for Trespassers During Pesticide Applications

This is an urgent advisory to be on the lookout for people trespassing on to farms in the towns of Raisin City, Cantua Creek and Caruthers during or immediately after pesticide applications.

According to the Western Ag Processor’s Association, participants of a study by the Central California Environmental Justice Network are being paid to carry backpacks with air monitoring equipment in these locations from May through August.  We are concerned these activists may attempt to enter a field or orchard during a pesticide application or immediately thereafter in order to make sure they get a “detect” on their air monitoring equipment.

This effort is led by the Central California Environmental Justice Network.  For years, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) has been conducting community air monitoring and there been very few detections of pesticides, and none that exceeded any risk levels of actual concern.   Frustrated with the lack of evidence, the environmental justice community is resorting to using unproven and unapproved methods and equipment to attempt to demonstrate pesticides are impacting residents in these communities.

Considering these activists are getting paid to prove detections, we are concerned with just how far these activists will go to attempt to prove pesticide exposures.  Should you see anyone in or around the edge of your field or orchard, we urge you to immediately contact the County Sherriff’s office and the county ag commissioner.  We have already warned the Sherriff and the Ag Commissioner of this potential threat.   

2021-06-11T18:26:30-07:00June 3rd, 2021|

Register For The 2021 Citrus Webinars

2021 Citrus Webinar Series Coming Up

The Citrus Research Board (CRB), in coordination with the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), is rolling out a new CRB Webinar Series geared toward citrus growers and industry professionals.

The series will kick-off on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, with Dr. Greg Douhan, Area Citrus Advisor for Cooperative Extension Tulare County, providing an update to the industry. He will be followed by Mandy Zito, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer for Fresno County Department of Agriculture, who will cover laws and regulations pertaining to pesticides, pest control operations, and worker safety that have gone into effect since 2017.

This webinar is currently pending approval for 1-hour of “Laws and Regulations” continuing education units from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, Sonia Rios, Area Subtropical Horticulture Advisor for Cooperative Extension Riverside County, will provide an update to the industry. She will be followed by Monique Rivera, Extension Specialist from UC Riverside, who will cover various topics in citrus IPM. She will cover basic California red scale biology and information about selecting insecticides for organic and conventional treatment for Asian citrus psyllid as well as ants and thrips.

This webinar is currently pending approval for 1-hour of “Other” continuing education units from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

To qualify for continuing education units, please use the following list of instructions:

  1. Register and login separately with your own email address
  2. Participate in the entire hour webinar session
  3. Respond to the polls/knowledge checks as they come up
    (If the polls do not work properly on your device, use chat to submit your answers.)
  4. Respond to the final survey at the end of the webinar session – please include your name, license number and email address
2021-05-27T18:59:47-07:00May 27th, 2021|

Winegrape Crush Waste Studied

Upcycling Winegrape Waste


By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 

Somewhere in the neighborhood of ⅓ of the food we produce gets wasted. Wine is no different. One-third of the grapes used to make wine are not utilized for human consumption after crush. Researchers at the University of California, Davis are trying to change this by studying how to take bioactive compounds from that waste like oligosaccharides and phenolics, and turn them into food ingredients.

“Some products are already on the market for this grape marc. Some small companies have grape marc extracts, which are mostly touted for the phenolic properties and not for the oligosaccharides,” said Amanda Sinrod a graduate student researcher and master’s candidate.

“A company branched off of Sonomaceuticals, who we work with called Vine to Bar, actually has a chocolate line where they incorporate this marc into the chocolate,” she said. “And without changing the texture, or really significantly the chocolate flavor, they’re not only able to increase things like the fiber of the chocolate and the phenolics to make it healthier, but they’re also adding these oligosaccharides just by naturally incorporating the grape marc,” Sinrod noted. “Because of the natural sugars in the grape marc, they’re actually able to add less sugar to the bar, making it healthier. So it’s just beginning. Hopefully, this will take off soon,” she said.

Sinrod said more research is needed in this area, but she is hopeful that this waste stream can be utilized for both health and sustainability.

2021-06-08T17:13:22-07:00May 21st, 2021|

United Fresh Outlines New Gathering Program

United Fresh to Launch Remagine Connections with Regional In-Person Gathering and Online Content

With California’s continued limitation on conventions and expos of our size, United Fresh is launching Reimagine Connections, a new program bringing members together in-person at smaller regional events, and online for education, networking and innovation events.  Reimagine Connections will deliver:

  • A series of smaller in-person regional events where members can gather and build those relationships we all so value;
  • An online education and networking portfolio that truly serves the business needs of our industry; and,
  • A new opportunity for companies to host their own Innovation Spotlight Broadcasts to connect with clients and colleagues about new products, business solutions and services.

“We’re very disappointed California requirements will not allow us to host our trade show in Los Angeles this June. We had looked forward to partnering this year with the Fresh Produce and Floral Council, and appreciate their collaboration and hard work in building what might have been our largest show ever,” said United Fresh Chairman Michael Muzyk, President of Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc.

“But once again United Fresh is re-inventing the member experience to connect in new ways. Combining a new portfolio of top education, networking, and innovation sessions with a series of in-person regional events allows us to Reimagine Connections across our industry,” he said.

In-Person Regional Events

As local conditions permit, United Fresh will host safe education and networking events in several cities this summer. “We know that members are anxious to see each other, so we’re bringing that opportunity to them,” said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. A schedule of dates and locations for United Fresh regional events will be forthcoming, together with information about how to register and/or sponsor these events.

Online Education/Networking

Registration will open May 1 for a series of online education and networking sessions that complement the in-person events. Online education and networking will take a deep dive into five unique tracks throughout the spring and summer, including:


  • Produce 101 – Orientation to the Fresh Produce Supply Chain
  • Key Issues in Produce Safety
  • BrandStorm™ Continued – Marketing as Key to Increasing Sales
  • Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges to Profitability
  • Top-to-Top Retail-Foodservice Dialogues for Success

Each track will have a minimum of five individual one-hour sessions, for a total of 25 sessions.  Registration will be available for each track for $400. Access to all five tracks is $1,500, a $500 savings.  Companies can receive three full packages for members of their team for $4,000, an additional $500 savings. And for those companies who want to make this a total team event, a $10,000 package enables a company to have unlimited staff access to these programs.

Looking at the content, associates just starting out in the industry will find great value in our “Orientation” track, learning about each stage of the supply chain and getting to know their peers. Staff working in food safety, marketing or supply chain will gain advanced knowledge and skills in those disciplines. And, C-Suite executives will enjoy exclusive access in top-to-top retail and foodservice strategy sessions on what lies ahead for our industry.

Innovation Spotlight Broadcasts

“We know that everyone is tired of virtual expos, where “exhibitors” have to wait patiently for someone to visit their “booth,” said John Toner, United Fresh’s Vice President of Convention & Industry Collaboration. “But we also know that new product development and innovation are the lifeline to the future – and buyers want to see what’s new! So, we’re offering companies the opportunity to host their own live, interactive presentations online.”

The Innovation Spotlight Broadcasts are a more creative way for companies to connect personally with buyers who want to see new produce items, what’s new in packaging, or even future technologies to streamline operations. A limited number of Innovation Spotlight Broadcasts will be available at a cost of $4,000 for a 45-minute session.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare to individuals and families around the world. And, it has disrupted businesses and challenged employees throughout the produce industry,” Stenzel said. “While we’re disappointed that we can’t have thousands of people at our trade show this June, we can still connect our industry to learn together, to build relationships with our colleagues, and to grow our businesses through new products and innovations. That’s an essential job of a trade association, and we’re excited to bring these new opportunities to our members.”


2021-05-04T16:36:24-07:00May 4th, 2021|

Organic Alfalfa Cost Study Available

Organic Alfalfa Hay Cost Study Released

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


A new study that outlines costs and returns of establishing and producing organic alfalfa hay has been released by UC Cooperative Extension, the UC Agricultural Issues Center, and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

High-quality organic alfalfa hay is an important ingredient in milk-cow feed rations for organic dairies. Organic dairy farms are required to use organic feed and allow cows to graze for part of their forage. Organic alfalfa hay comprises a major source of forage for the industry.

In 2019, organic dairy farms in California produced about 900 million pounds of milk — just over 2% of California milk output production, according to co-author Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and professor in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

“Demand for organic alfalfa production has grown, including demand from dairy, horse, sheep, goat, and beef producers, but is still a small share of total alfalfa production,” said Daniel Putnam, UC Cooperative Extension forage specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and co-author of the study. “However, understanding organic production methods and costs is very important for California’s organic hay farmers.”

The new study estimates the costs and returns of establishing and producing organic alfalfa using flood irrigation in the Sacramento Valley, north and south San Joaquin Valley, and the Intermountain Region. The 100 acres of organic alfalfa is rented for $345 per acre annually and the alfalfa stand life is four years after the establishment year.

Input and reviews were provided by UCCE farm advisors and specialists and growers. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for organic alfalfa establishment and production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead and a ranging analysis table, which shows profits over a range of prices and yields.

“This cost study provides information on how to grow alfalfa hay organically,” said Rachael Long, study co-author and UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Yolo County. “The research that went into developing these practices represents a significant investment by UCCE farm advisors and specialists and California alfalfa farmer collaborators. We are pleased to team up with economics and cost study experts to provide this study, which indicates potential profits in growing this crop for the organic dairy market.”

The new study, “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Organic Alfalfa Hay, California – 2020” can be downloaded for free from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website: Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available on the websites.

For an explanation of calculations used in the study, refer to the section titled Assumptions. For more information, contact Jeremy Murdock, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Agricultural Issues Center, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, at (530) 752-4651 or To discuss this study with a local extension advisor, contact the UC Cooperative Extension office in your county:

2021-05-03T17:50:21-07:00May 3rd, 2021|

Preharvest Testing Can Prevent Food Born Illneses

California LGMA Endorses Pre-Harvest Testing to Reduce Outbreaks


Recently, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) Board endorsed new Pre-Harvest Testing guidance in an effort to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks associated with leafy greens. The guidance calls for pre-harvest testing of leafy greens products when risk assessments deem it necessary, specifically when grown in proximity to animals.

Farmers Acting Quickly to Protect Public Health

“We are endorsing pre-harvest testing in direct response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent report on outbreaks associated with lettuce in 2020, which identified the recurring E. coli strain implicated to be a reasonably foreseeable hazard,” said Dan Sutton, Chairman of the California LGMA.  “We want to send a clear message to FDA that our industry is, in fact, taking additional measures to prevent outbreaks.”

Focused on Risk and Adjacent Lands

In addition to the Pre-Harvest Testing Guidance document, the LGMA Board endorsed several other updates to the food safety standards currently being developed by the LGMA Technical Committee and expected to become requirements in the coming months.  Projects currently under development include:

  • Adjacent land risk assessment tool
  • Root cause analysis requirement for high-risk food safety incidents
  • Major revision to existing standards for soil amendments and crop inputs

“These important tools and revisions have been in development for several months and they represent input from food safety experts and researchers throughout the industry,” said Sutton.

“None of this could have happened without the tremendous work done by the LGMA’s Technical Committee to rapidly develop guidance for pre-harvesting testing and all efforts currently underway,” he continued.  “Nor could this be accomplished without the commitment of LGMA members and farmers to produce safe food by implementing the LGMA food safety standards.”

The Produce Buyers Role

“The LGMA provides a unique system to enforce food safety practices on farms in California and Arizona that produce over 90 percent of the leafy greens consumed in the U.S.,” said California LGMA CEO Tim York. “When produce buyers require LGMA certification of their suppliers they reinforce best practices on leafy greens farms. Simply put, when buyers support the LGMA, they support a system that offers the fastest and best means to reduce incidents of foodborne illness.”

2021-04-23T18:36:41-07:00April 23rd, 2021|

Almond Acreage Continues to Increase

California Almond Acreage Increases in 2020


The Almond Board of California (ABC) is releasing two California almond industry acreage reports: USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) 2020 California Almond Acreage Report including the 2021 preliminary bearing acreage, and Land IQ’s 2021 Standing Acreage Initial Estimate (bearing acres, only). These reports are being issued side by side to improve industry reporting methods and provide a more robust picture of California’s almond acreage.

USDA-NASS reports a continued increase in California’s almond acreage in 2020. Bearing acres, or orchards that have matured enough to produce a crop, are estimated at 1.25 million acres, up 5.9 percent from 2019. Total almond acreage, including non-bearing trees, is estimated at 1.6 million, up 5.3 percent from the previous year. Nonpareil continued to be the leading variety, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre.

Land IQ’s initial estimate for total bearing acreage in 2021 – which reflects standing acreage that will be productive during the 2021/2022 harvest – is 1,323,722 acres.  This estimate takes into account both young orchards coming into production and orchards removed or estimated to be removed.

“California almond bearing and non-bearing acreage continues to increase indicating almond production will also rise in coming years. Demand has consistently been very strong during this crop year with global shipments YTD (August 2020 – March 2021) up 17.7%, as production crossed the 3 billion pound threshold for the first time,” said Richard Waycott, president, and CEO of the Almond Board.

All export regions of the world have reported strong numbers, with shipments to China/Hong Kong up 59% year to date (YTD), South Korea up 45% YTD, India up 51% YTD, and Western Europe up 12% YTD, as compared to a year ago.

USDA-NASS’s acreage report is the first of three annual reports, including the Subjective Estimate released in May and Objective Report in July. These reports are commissioned by the Almond Board to provide statistical transparency to industry stakeholders around the world.


Each USDA-NASS California Almond Acreage Report includes estimates on bearing, non-bearing and total acreage, in addition to data organized by variety, year planted and county. A major source of data for this survey is almond growers’ voluntary responses to mailed questionnaires distributed by USDA-NASS, with consecutive telephone and field follow-up. To arrive at the estimated almond acreage, USDA-NASS compares its almond acreage database with the 2017 Census of Agriculture, pesticide application data maintained by County Agricultural Commissioners and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, in addition to data collected on the 2020 Almond Nursery Sales Report, which this year USDA-NASS released in conjunction with the California Almond Acreage Report, and Land IQ assessment.


In 2018, ABC first commissioned Land IQ, a Sacramento-based agricultural and environmental scientific research and consulting firm, to develop a comprehensive, living map of California almonds. The map is the result of nearly a decade of research, and because Land IQ’s approach does not rely on surveys or extrapolation, it has an accuracy of 98% or greater.iv Beginning in 2019, ABC began a mapping process with Land IQ in which two acreage estimates will be released annually: the initial estimate of bearing acreage in the spring and the final estimate, with both bearing and non-bearing acreage for the same production year, delivered in the fall. In addition to the acreage estimates, Land IQ will annually produce an estimate of removed acreage.

This year, Land IQ’s spatial analysis shows that between September 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, 44,303 acres were removed and estimates that an additional 3,500 acres will be removed from April 1 to August 31, 2021, for a total estimate of 47,803 acres removed.

Starting in 2020, Land IQ annually provided its initial estimate to USDA-NASS to fine-tune the official California Almond Acreage Report and other forecasts. The USDA-NASS reports and estimates remain the official Almond Board statistics provided for the California almond industry.

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, USDA-NASS will release the 2021 Subjective Estimate, which provides an initial forecast of the upcoming crop. Data within the Subjective Estimate is based on opinions obtained from almond growers in a survey sent by USDA-NASS. Almond growers will soon receive the USDA-NASS survey and are encouraged to participate. On Monday, July 12, 2021, USDA-NASS will release the 2021 Objective Report. This report collects data later in the growing season, closer to harvest, and is based on an actual count of nuts on the trees.


2021-04-22T15:25:19-07:00April 22nd, 2021|

Timing Required In Vegetable Cover Crops

Cover Crops in Vegetables

(2nd of Two Parts)


By Tim Hammerich, with The Ag Information Network

There can be benefits of incorporating cover crops into vegetable cropping systems. However, it can’t be overlooked that executing a cover crop strategy is not always easy. USDA ARS research horticulturist Eric Brennan says it’s a lot like juggling.

“Growers in this area know that cover crops are helpful. We’ve known this for decades. The challenge is that growing cover crops makes your management more challenging because you’ve got to time things better. And so for example, probably the most common analogy that I use with this is juggling,” said Brennan “So I like to juggle. And if you can think of juggling three balls, that’s kind of like having two crops in a system, you know, those would be two balls and then you add the third ball and that’s the cover crop. It’s far more challenging to manage three different crops.”

And Brennan would know. He has been studying the impacts of cover crops on vegetables for 18 years.

“For the first eight years, we had some systems where we cover cropped every single winter. You’ve really gotta have the timing down correctly for it to work. Over time I got better at it. So a lot of this is practice, learning from others, trying new methods. So I’m optimistic, but I’m also aware that it’s challenging,” said Brennan.

Brennan’s research focuses on lettuce and broccoli specifically.

2021-04-13T16:19:52-07:00April 13th, 2021|
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