Associations, Organizations, Educational and Research Institutions

California Citrus Breeding Program Expanding with Congressional Support

Earlier this week, presidents of California Citrus Mutual (CCM) and Citrus Research Board (CRB) issued statements applauding Congressional leaders for recently approving additional funds for the new citrus breeding program in Parlier, California. Congress is allocating an additional $500,000 in federal funding on top of the $1 million granted last year to expand the program into California. The program will now receive $1.5 million in federal funds on an annual basis along with the $500,000 that CRB provides the program with annually.

“CRB was instrumental in developing the concept for the California based program and was also involved in efforts to establish the nationwide program while CCM advocated to secure funding,” said CRB President Marcy Martin. “Our two organizations working together on behalf of the industry has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground.”

“On behalf of the industry, I would like to thank our congressional leaders and the Committee for their continued support of this program, which will help us find solutions to issues specific to our growers located in California,” said CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer. “I would like to specifically extend our gratitude to Congressmen Costa and Valadao and Senator Padilla for championing the need for this program in D.C.”

The California citrus breeding program will focus on fresh market citrus. Funding will go towards research and development of high-quality, superior citrus selections well suited to California growing regions, changing climatic pressures, consumer taste preferences, and resistance to pest and diseases, such as Huanglongbing (HLB).

The California program is an expansion of the existing national USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) citrus breeding program located in Fort Pierce, Florida, which is focused primarily on varieties that are optimized for Florida growing conditions. Work done through the Florida program has resulted in new varieties with higher yields, increased disease resistance, improved color, and a longer shelf life.

The Florida and California breeding programs along with the continued support from the University of California citrus breeding program at UC Riverside will work together to deliver results for California based growers.

The California citrus breeding program is located at the USDA ARS field station in Parlier. Thanks to funds that have already come in, forward progress continues to be made with the addition of a dedicated scientist, developing plans for construction of a greenhouse and laboratory, and securing additional ground for the program.

To view the original press release, please visit CCM’s website or CRB’s websiteand stay tuned to their channels for further updates and related news.–

Patrick Cavanaugh


2024-04-15T08:10:17-07:00April 15th, 2024|

Water risks to agriculture: Too little and too much

Courtesy of  UCANR

Report recommends policies, programs and tools for farm resilience

Water is among the most precious resources on the planet. Some areas don’t get enough; some get too much. And climate change is driving both of those circumstances to ever-growing extremes.

Two UC Merced experts in civil and environmental engineering took part in a recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund examining the issue and potential solutions. Associate Professor of Extension Tapan Pathak and Professor Josué Medellín-Azuara co-authored the report, “Scarcity and Excess: Tackling Water-Related Risks to Agriculture in the United States,” and wrote the section pertaining to California.

In addition to climate change, disruptive human interventions such as groundwater over-extraction, sprawling drainage networks and misaligned governance are driving up water-related agricultural costs, particularly in midwestern and western states, the researchers found.

The problem is magnified in California, which hosts the largest and the most diverse agricultural landscape in the U.S., Pathak and Medellín-Azuara wrote, with gross revenues from farms and ranches exceeding $50 billion.

“Due to the favorable Mediterranean climate, unique regional microclimate zones, a highly engineered and developed water supply system, and a close connection between producers and research and cooperative extension institutions, California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities, some of which are produced nowhere else in the nation,” the UC Merced researchers wrote.

But the state’s varying climate and water needs pose a challenge. Though most of the precipitation falls in the northern part of California, the southern two-thirds of the state account for 85% of its water demand. And all of those crops must be watered in the summer, when there is little, if any, rainfall.

Some of the water comes from snowpack developed through winter storms and stored in reservoirs as it melts. Much of it comes from the Colorado River.

“Substantially less water is captured and stored during periods of drought, imperiling California’s water supply and putting agricultural water needs at risk,” Pathak and Medellín-Azuara wrote.

Climate change, with increasing periods of drought between excessively wet winters, magnifies that risk.

“Further, the rate of increases in the minimum temperatures in the Sierra Nevada is almost three-fold faster than maximum temperatures, resulting in potential decrease in the snowpack, earlier snowmelt, and more water in liquid form as opposed to snow,” the researchers wrote. “According to the California Department of Water Resources, by 2100, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is projected to experience a 48% to 65% decline from the historical average.”

Climate change is also expected to affect the availability of water from the Colorado River.

Climate extremes such as heat waves, drought and flooding – giving rises to increased weeds, pests and disease – are already significantly impacting agriculture and the broader economy, Pathak and Medellín-Azuara wrote.

The state’s drought from 2012 to 2016 led to about 540,000 acres of fallow farmland in 2015, costing the state’s economy $2.7 billion in gross revenue and 21,000 jobs. With the lack of precipitation, farmers increasingly pumped groundwater to irrigate crops, depleting those resources.

The report goes on to recommend policies, programs and tools be developed for agricultural resilience, including:

  • Changing land use and crop management practices to support a transition to an agriculture footprint that can be sustained by the available water supplies.
  • Increasing farmer and water manager access to important data and innovative technological tools to support their efforts.
  • Reimagining built infrastructure and better using natural infrastructure so regions are better equipped to handle weather extremes.
  • Developing policy and funding mechanisms to support mitigation and adaptation to water-related risks, avoid maladaptation and ensure food and water security.

“California’s innovative agriculture needs to rapidly adapt to more volatile water availability, climate-driven higher water demands, and regulation protecting groundwater reserves, communities and ecosystems,” Medellín-Azuara said. “The early adoption of more sustainable practices in agriculture will likely pay off dividends both in the short and long terms.”

Added Pathak, “California faces significant challenges related to climate change, but it also presents opportunities for innovations, collaborations and sustained growth. To make agriculture resilient to climate risks, we need to engage in holistic solutions that integrates environmental, social, economic and policy considerations.”

2024-03-19T10:25:04-07:00March 19th, 2024|

California Citrus Mutual to Host 2024 Citrus Showcase Thursday, March 14

Courtesy of California Citrus Mutual 

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) will host the 2024 Citrus Showcase on Thursday, March 14, at the Visalia Convention Center in Visalia, CA. The event will feature informational workshops and continuing education (CE) unit-approved courses, a tradeshow, and an industry luncheon with keynote speaker California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.

“We are extremely pleased to have a speaker of Secretary Ross’ caliber for this year’s Citrus Showcase,” says CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer. “Ross will provide a unique perspective on the state of California agriculture and its perception in Sacramento.”

Citrus Showcase will also offer a number of continuing education courses including:

  • Perspectives on California Citrus IPM
  • The Superiority of Bacillic Acid Materials
  • What we Know about Lemon Pitting
  • Regulatory Perspective on HLB and Fruit Fly
  • Pest Management Updates from the CRB Core IPM Program
  • Personal Protection Equipment Update

Other speakers and presentations of note include a Citrus Market Analysis with Rabobank Vice President and Senior Analyst David Magana, a Conversation with CCM leadership, including Chairman Jared Plumlee and several committee chairs, and a presentation on Management vs. Leadership with Abby Taylor-Silva, Executive Vice President of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

CCM is hosting Citrus Showcase in partnership with JCS Marketing Inc. This partnership allows CCM to give the industry a higher level of content and deliver an expanded agenda to educate the citrus industry on critical topics that will help growers make informed business decisions.

The Citrus Showcase is open to the public and free to attend other than the industry luncheon, which requires advance registration. CCM invites growers and allied agricultural industry members to join them in a day of education, networking, and industry comradery. For more information and to register, go to

2024-02-26T08:48:34-08:00February 26th, 2024|

What Are Atmospheric Rivers and How Can I Capitalize On All This Rainfall?

Courtesy of UCANR

The 2024 rainy season in Southern California has intensified, with recent storms causing significant damage and life-threatening flooding. Daniel Swain, a dedicated UCLA researcher specializing in the analysis of evolving weather patterns influenced by climate change, warned of “bomb cyclone” conditions driven by air current anomalies off the West Coast. His detailed insights, outlined in a February 3rd blog post on Weather West, sheds light on recent weather events.

Despite the apprehension surrounding these storms, it’s crucial to acknowledge the vital role atmospheric rivers play in replenishing water supplies in western states. The current situation marks a stark contrast for Californians, who only a few years ago grappled with historic drought conditions. Are you curious how much rain fell in your area? You can track rainfall totals through the Ventura County Watershed Protection District rainfall map. Click on the boxes and see how much rain fell in the last day, week or season.

Those residing in low-lying areas or flood-prone regions can acquire free sandbags to safeguard their properties during future rain events. On a positive note, excess rainfall presents an opportune time to invest in rain barrels and rain-harvesting systems. Rainwater harvesting, a time-tested practice dating back to ancient times, is experiencing a resurgence. On a large scale, the Freeman Diversion redirects water from the Santa Clara River during storms to spreading basins for groundwater recharge.

For the homeowner, installing rain barrels is a straightforward process, with ample online resources such as books and videos. “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond,” by Brad Lancaster, stands out as a go-to guide. Additionally, the creation of rain gardens can facilitate the capture of water in the soil. This natural process allows plants and microorganisms to break down organic compounds and filter out pollutants commonly found in urban stormwater runoff.

Explore discounted rain barrels and other water conservation devices offered by local municipalities.

2024-02-13T09:21:53-08:00February 13th, 2024|

Almond Board Announces Exceptional 2024 Almond Leadership Class

Courtesy of the Almond Board of California 

The outstanding 15th class of professionals begins a year-long immersion to become the next great leaders of the California almond industry

The Almond Board of California is proud to announce the Almond Leadership Program class of 2024, a group of 18 exceptional professionals expected to help lead the industry into the future.

Bayer Crop Science has sponsored the Almond Leadership Program (ALP) for a number of years and is again the sponsor of this 2024 class of next-generation leaders who were chosen from more than 50 highly qualified applicants. They come from diverse backgrounds across the full range of the industry and include growers and processors, sales representatives, sustainability specialists, company executives, pest control advisors and more.

ALP began in 2009 and has graduated 226 industry members. Dozens now serve on ABC workgroups, committees and even the Board of Directors.

“We have had so many great participants through the years, and this 2024 class is simply outstanding,” said Rebecca Bailey, the ABC senior specialist who oversees ALP. “This program helps great people become great leaders and our industry continues to see the enormous benefits from 15 years of ALP. We have no doubt these 18 people will continue to be great assets and advocates for the almond industry.”

Members of this 15th class – while still working at their jobs – will be immersed in every aspect of the industry, including ABC activities in global marketing, production, nutrition research, food safety and more. They’ll sharpen their communication skills and build lasting relationships with industry leaders, ABC staff and each other.

“It’s crucial to be connected to people in all areas of the almond supply chain,” said Erik Stanek, a class member and sustainability specialist with Blue Diamond Growers. “Industry challenges are not solved in a silo. For me, ALP offers an opportunity to build meaningful relationships that can lead to actionable solutions. The program helps lift the entire industry.”

Class members are guided by volunteer mentors – many of them ALP graduates – who will help them develop the skills, knowledge and perspective to improve their industry and their communities.

“As a mentor, I have an opportunity to share what I’ve learned in the last 25 years as a farmer and a conservation biologist,” said mentor Christine Gemperle, a grower and member of ABC’s Board of Directors. “It’s my hope that the next generation of industry leaders can take that knowledge and grow an even better future for California almonds.”

The leadership program will also offer class members thorough looks at the impacts on the industry of social, economic, environmental and regulatory issues. In addition,

participants will take on a yearlong, self-directed project focused on improving the California almond industry. Some past projects have led to important breakthroughs for the industry.

Leadership class members kicked off their training with a two-day orientation at the ABC offices in Modesto, which included one-on-one talks with their mentors and hearing from Board of Directors Chair Alexi Rodriguez and ABC CEO Clarice Turner.

“The leadership program has been incredibly enriching so far. I’ve been introduced to so many fascinating topics beyond my usual scope of work,” said Ziv Attia, part of the 2024 class and head of agronomy at Phytech. “Besides that, the staff and program members are amazing, and I look forward to getting to know them better, gaining further insights and building lasting connections that will contribute to the almond industry’s growth.”

Once again, class members will raise money for California FFA, pledging to raise more than $25,000 in scholarships for high school students interested in pursuing agriculture in college. Through the years, ALP has raised more than $320,000 for FFA.

The 2024 Almond Leadership class members are Ziv Attia of Bakersfield and Phytech; Andy Barahate of Kerman and Central California Almond Growers Association; Gurajan Brar of Madera and Brar & Son Farms; Matthew Brocato of Fresno and Phytech; Mark Cavallero of Madera and Sierra Valley Almonds; Zachary Days of Patterson and Cal Coast Almond Processing Inc.; Mallory Dodds of Fresno and Gowan USA; Ryan Hackett of Modesto and Gold Leaf Farming; Brandon Heinrich of Modesto and B&M Orchards; Amanda Hernandez of Hollister and TriCal Inc.; Victoria Lee of Sacramento and Blue Diamond Growers; Sutter Long of Corning and Bayer Crop Science; Antonio Lopez of Woodland and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation; Ryan McCoon of Escalon and Cultiva; Edgar Perez of Modesto and American AgCredit; Jeevan Sandhu of Yuba City and Wilbur Ellis; Erik Stanek of Sacramento and Blue Diamond Growers; and Delaney Woolwine of Fresno and Harris Woolf California Almonds.

2024-02-07T09:18:31-08:00February 7th, 2024|

Clarice Turner: Almond Growers Dig In to Find What the Best Practices Are

There is a Halo that Surrounds Almonds

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Radio Network

Clarice Turner, a ninth-generation California farming family will take the reins of the Almond Board of California at the end of this month, after Richard Waycott steps down after 21 years.

Turner comments on how she prepared for this job, traveling throughout the state in listening sessions with growers and others in the industry. “It’s interesting as I talk to people outside the industry, you realize the halo that almonds have, and how we are so revered as being the leading edge in so many things. And talking to growers you hear that reinforced from people who want to be 100 percent organic to biodynamic,” said Turner.

“Growers told me that they have been farming the same ground for four generations and we have been taking care of the soil, and it is not certified to do any of that, but we know what we know because we have generations to protect. We want to hand this down to our families that will come beyond us,” noted Turner. “So, their care and stewardship are there and they want to dig in to find out what the best practices are.”

And Turner credited almond growers with something very special regarding bees. “This was astounding to me when you think about bees, 86 percent of the bee-friendly certified farms are almond orchards. It’s incredible, all the things that are already happening because it’s the right thing,” she said.

2023-12-19T08:55:26-08:00December 19th, 2023|

California Table Grape Industry Applauds Pause to Chilean Systems Approach, Encourages Permanent Abandonment of Risky Scheme

Courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission

Applauding the recent decision by USDA to pause regulatory work on the table grape systems approach proposed by Chile, Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said the industry is encouraging USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to permanently abandon the risky proposal.

According to comments submitted in the Federal Register by the California Table Grape Commission, the implementation of the proposed systems approach would end the current empirically effective requirement that all table grapes from Chile be fumigated before distribution in the United States. The published comments note that the current fumigation is highly effective at killing pests that pose serious risk to the California table grape industry.

“The Chilean proposal abandons an empirically successful treatment regime in favor of an ill-defined systems approach through which many invasive pests could travel. The change would introduce a significant risk of potentially devastating infestations to the wine, juice, raisin, and
table grape crops across the country,” said Nave.

Noting a recent and very public push by Chilean importers that urged USDA to publish the proposed systems approach in the Federal Register as a final rule in time for the upcoming Chilean season, Nave said that Chile has perfectly adequate access to the U.S. marketplace. “Chilean table grape growers have been shipping under the fumigation requirement for decades,” Nave said. “The latest three-year average volume of table grapes from Chile to the U.S. is forty million 18-pound boxes so the idea that Chilean growers won’t be able to supply the U.S. market without this new untried system is simply not true. ”

Nave said that U.S. producers do not want this system put in place and the fact that Chilean
importers do, should carry no weight with USDA.

2023-11-17T09:26:16-08:00November 17th, 2023|


Courtesy of the California Fresh Fruit Association

Today, Wayde Kirschenman, the Chairman of the California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) Board of Directors announced that Daniel Hartwig has been selected to serve as the Association’s new president. Hartwig will succeed Ian LeMay, who has held the position since 2019 and will depart CFFA to assume the role
of President/CEO of the California Table Grape Commission.

Chairman Kirschenman stated, “We are excited to welcome Daniel to the CFFA team and look forward to him continuing the long legacy of strong leadership on behalf of the California fresh fruit industry.” He continued, “Our Board engaged in a thorough search process to fill this important role and we are confident that Daniel’s experience in both association management and within the private agriculture sector have prepared him to serve our membership well. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Ian for his leadership and the positive impact he has made over the nine years as a CFFA team member. Ian’s service is greatly appreciated by our entire membership, and we are glad to know that he will remain within the fresh fruit family while he serves at the

Hartwig has extensive experience in both the private sector and within agriculture associations. Since 2014, Hartwig has been employed by Woolf Enterprises, first as a Procurement Manager and most recently as their Director of Sustainability. From 2008 to 2014, Hartwig served as the Vice President of Grower Relations for the Nisei Farmers League. Beyond work, he has also served on the Board of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, most recently as the organization’s Board President from 2020-2022. Additionally, Hartwig is a recent graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 49).

“I could not be more thrilled to join the great team at CFFA,” said Hartwig. “I have always had a deep admiration for the work done by the Association’s staff and the leadership of the board. I also look forward to working with our partners in the industry to continue to protect agriculture from the many threats before us.”

Hartwig will begin his tenure as CFFA President on December 4. Daniel and his wife Jennifer reside in Fresno with their two children, Brooke, and Colby.

2023-11-08T09:48:59-08:00November 8th, 2023|

Grape Consumption Benefits Eye Health in Human Study of Older Adults

Courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission

Grape intake improved macular pigment accumulation and downregulated harmful biomarkers

In a recent randomized, controlled human study, consuming grapes for 16 weeks improved key markers of eye health in older adults. The study, published in the scientific journal Food & Function looked at the impact of regular consumption of grapes on macular pigment accumulation and other biomarkers of eye health.
This is the first human study on this subject, and the results reinforce earlier, preliminary studies where consuming grapes was found to protect retinal structure and function.

Science has shown that an aging population has a higher risk of eye disease and vision problems. Key risk factors for eye disease include 1) oxidative stress and 2) high levels of ocular advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs may contribute to many eye diseases by damaging the vascular components of the retina, impairing cellular function, and causing oxidative stress. Dietary antioxidants can decrease oxidative stress and inhibit the formation of AGEs, with possible beneficial effects on the retina, such as an improvement in Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD). Grapes are a natural source of antioxidants and other

In this new study, 34 human subjects consumed either grapes (equivalent to 1 ½ cups of grapes per day) or a placebo for 16 weeks. The grape eaters showed a significant increase in MPOD, plasma antioxidant capacity, and total phenolic content compared to those on placebo. Those who didn’t consume grapes saw a significant increase in harmful AGEs, as measured in the skin. “Our study is the first to show that grape consumption beneficially impacts eye health in humans which is very exciting, especially with a growing aging population,” said Dr. Jung Eun Kim. “Grapes are an easy, accessible fruit that studies have shown can have a beneficial impact in normal amounts of just 1 ½ cups per day.”

2023-10-05T16:09:57-07:00October 5th, 2023|

Citrus Thrips Decreasing California Citrus Estimates

Courtesy of California Citrus Mutual

California citrus growers faced significant pest challenges this season due to the unprecedented rainfall from atmospheric rivers. The unusual weather pattern disrupted typical citrus thrips timing in orchards and led to uncontrollable conditions in the field.  

 Reports from the California Citrus Mutual (CCM) Pest and Disease Task Force indicate that some growers have experienced exterior fruit scarring on as much as 80% of the fruit on individual blocks, primarily affecting navels but with varying impacts to mandarins, lemons, and other citrus varieties.   

 “It’s been an extremely challenging pest season for citrus growers,” says CCM President Casey Creamer. “The industry did its absolute best in trying to control this unprecedented thrips season. Growers bear that cost while also facing the reality that the pest pressure will result in decreased returns in the marketplace.”

 The CCM Marketing Committee estimates that 30% of the navel crop has thrips scarring and the utilized volume will be 8% to 15% under the previous season’s production due to thrips. The Committee also estimates that the mandarin and lemon crops will also be down 5% compared to the previous season’s utilized production.

 Visual effects from thrips have no effect on the interior fruit quality, taste or texture.  Consumers can still expect the same exceptional eating experience they are used to with California citrus with higher volumes of choice fruit. Fancy fruit, with minimal external scarring or damage, will be a premium commodity this season. 

“Despite these challenges, our growers remain optimistic about the fruit quality on the tree this season.  The overabundance of water has reservoirs full and has reinvigorated the groves after three years of extreme drought conditions,” says Creamer.


2023-09-28T14:27:58-07:00September 28th, 2023|
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