Associations, Organizations, Educational and Research Institutions

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|

Almond Board of California Directors Announce Clarice Turner as Next CEO

Courtesy of Rick Kushman

The Almond Board of California Board of Directors selected Clarice Turner, an experienced global leader in consumer goods, food service and wine and spirits, as the next president and CEO.

Turner is joining the Almond Board of California (ABC) after most recently serving as president of iconic Napa Valley winery Joseph Phelps Vineyards. She has also held CEO and senior executive positions at Boudin Bakery, Starbucks Coffee Company, YUM! Brands, Papa Murphy’s International and PepsiCo.

“The ABC Board is excited to welcome Clarice to the California almond industry,” said board chair Alexi Rodriguez. “A tremendous amount of thought and effort went into the search process and we couldn’t be more pleased with the result. Clarice brings extensive knowledge and experience that we believe will be a great benefit to the organization and the industry.”

Turner is a ninth generation Californian and has a long history of serving on corporate and non-profit boards including the Culinary Institute of America, Delicato Family Wines, the National Restaurant Association, Washington State University School of Business and San Francisco State University Lam School of Business.

Along with her former global executive positions, Turner was also an international business major at Fudan University in China and understands the role different nationalities play in trade, business and culture.

“I am honored to lead the Almond Board of California,” Turner said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to combine my California heritage, roots in generational farming and executive experience to build on the strong foundation established in 1950. I look forward to working collaboratively with the staff, board, growers, handlers and industry stakeholders in the coming years.”

Rodriguez said that in September, Turner will begin working closely with the board, current President and CEO Richard Waycott and the ABC executive team to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months.

“We are thankful for Richard, not just for his commitment to the industry over the last 21 years, but also for his support during this transition period to make certain Clarice and the organization are set up for success moving forward,” Rodriguez said.

Waycott informed the board of directors in November 2022 that he planned to step away from his ABC responsibilities at the end of 2023 to pursue other interests.

2023-07-18T11:56:11-07:00July 18th, 2023|

California Strawberry Commission Fills Two Key Positions

Courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission

By Jeff Cardinale

New VP of Research and Director of Communications join the Commission 

The California Strawberry Commission (CSC) is announcing two key hires to advance the industry through research and communications. 


Dr. William “Bill” Turechek joins the CSC as the new Vice President of Research. Bill joins the CSC after serving since 2006 as a Research Plant Pathologist at the USDA-ARS Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida, where he worked on epidemiology and management of strawberry and vegetable diseases.   


Dr. Turechek has over 100 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters, has raised tens of millions of dollars in extramural funding, and has served as senior editor for the journals Plant Disease and Phytopathology. His areas of expertise include plant disease epidemiology, disease management, and statistics, with an emphasis on diseases that occur in strawberry and annual vegetable production.     


“We are excited to have Dr. Turechek join the California Strawberry Commission and utilize his expertise to aid the 400+ family-owned strawberry farming operations in California,” said Rick Tomlinson, California Strawberry Commission President.  


“I am honored to join the California Strawberry Commission and I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know the many growers, shippers, and processors in the California strawberry industry. As the Vice President of Research, one of my primary goals is to work closely with the industry to identify key research needs, and then make it happen. In leading the Commission’s research efforts, I hope to empower California strawberry growers with the latest research and data to help them make the informed decisions that will advance strawberry farming in California” said Dr. William Turechek, California Strawberry Commission Vice President of Research. 


The California Strawberry Commission also recently named Jeff Cardinale as the new Director of Communications. 


Among his duties, Cardinale will lead positive marketing message campaigns highlighting the importance of the California strawberries and the industry itself to the local communities where strawberries are grown as well as to local, state, and national stakeholders. Cardinale will also handle media relations and crisis communications. Cardinale led the commission’s response to the January and March flooding events.


“On behalf of the 400+ California strawberry growers, shippers, and processors, I am excited to join the California Strawberry Commission. There are incredible stories to tell about the California strawberry industry, from the remarkable opportunities for field workers becoming farm owners, to the fact that 97 cents of every California strawberry dollar goes right back into the community. These are just a few of the many great things happening in the California strawberry industry and I look forward to showcasing those stories,” said Jeff Cardinale, California Strawberry Commission Director of Communications.  

“We are delighted to have Jeff on board. He brings nearly 10 years of agriculture communications experience as well as extensive work in proactive and crisis communications. The commission is confident Jeff will serve the industry well,” said Rick Tomlinson, California Strawberry Commission President. 


Prior to his work in agricultural communications, Cardinale served as the Public Information Officer for the Fresno Police Department. Cardinale also has more than 15 years experience in television news management where he won six Emmy Awards for Best Newscast. 


As part of the marketing and media relations campaigns, Cardinale plans to introduce new ways of reaching the media, as well as the local strawberry farming communities to stay engaged with the industry. 


Jeff Cardinale joins the CSC as Director of Communications








Dr. Bill Turechek joins the CSC as Vice President, Research

2023-06-23T08:59:47-07:00June 23rd, 2023|

Congress Moves to Boost Citrus Breeding Efforts

By Abby Peltzer

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) welcomes Congressional support for critical federal citrus programs including the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP), the HLB Multi-Agency Coordination (HLB MAC), and an additional $1 million in federal funding for the new citrus breeding program.


The House Appropriations Committee has included additional funding for citrus breeding research to develop and evaluate high-quality, superior citrus selections for use in citrus-producing regions and to evaluate rootstock and scion materials where citrus is commercially grown for the fresh fruit market. 


The California program is an expansion of the existing national USDA ARS citrus breeding program located in Florida, which is focused primarily on varieties that are optimized for growing conditions in Florida. 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 efforts of the University of California citrus breeding program at UC Riverside will work together to deliver the best results for California citrus growers in the nearer future.


“On behalf of the industry, we are appreciative of the Committee and our Congressional leaders for their commitment to fully developing this program and look forward to finding solutions to the issues California citrus growers are faced with every day,” said CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer.


This additional funding comes after Congress provided $1 million during the current fiscal year to establish the citrus breeding program at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) field station in Parlier. The new California citrus breeding program will identify new citrus varieties that are best suited for changing climatic pressures such as drought, consumer taste preferences, and resistant to pests and diseases such as HLB. 

2023-06-16T09:36:24-07:00June 16th, 2023|

UC Ag Experts Talk About Upcoming Webinars

May 31, 2023 (3:00 to 4:00 pm) – Flatheaded Borer Concerns in California Walnuts

In this webinar, Dr. Jhalendra Rijal, UCCE Area IPM Advisor in Merced and San Joaquin Counties, will discuss flatheaded borer and how it is an old pest but has become a new problem in California walnuts. This presentation will cover various aspects of flatheaded borer IPM management including the behavior and biology of the borer, adult emergence timing, monitoring tools, and cultural and insecticidal control methods.

1.0 CEU (other) from DPR, 1.0 CEU (IPM) from CCA, and 1.0 CEU Certified Arborists, 0.5 CEU Board Certified Arborists from WC-ISA are approved.

Register Now

May 30, 2023 (1:00 to 3:00 pm) – Science for Citrus Health: Research Update on Asian Citrus Psyllid Development

The Science for Citrus Health Webinar will focus on recent research on the survival and development of Asian citrus psyllid under California conditions and research from the University of Florida on biological control of Asian citrus psyllid.

2.0 CEU (other) from DPR and 2.0 CEU (IPM) from CCA are approved.

Register Now

June 5 to 9, 2023 (12:00 to 1:00 pm each day) – Invasive Species Action Week Lunchtime Talks

Invasive species are arriving in California with increasing frequency. The best time to stop them is before they arrive, and federal, state, and local agencies are keeping their eyes out for new arrivals and threats on the horizon. When they do arrive, Early Detection and Rapid Response are critical to their management. Many detections are made by individuals not associated with any agency or university, and through community/participatory science programs, almost anyone can help to spot the next invasive.

Webinars are free, but registration is required for each day. Visit the California Invasive Species Action Week Lunchtime Talks website for more information and registration.

There are NO CEUs offered for these webinars. Please contact Randall Oliver ( with any questions.

  • Monday, June 5 – Rapid Response and Eradication of Caulerpa in California: Lessons Learned by Rachel Woodfield
  • Tuesday, June 6 – Participatory Science as a Tool to Monitor Invasive Tree Pests by Dr. Beatriz Nobua-Behmann
  • Wednesday, June 7 – Proactive Biological Control of Invasive Pests by Dr. Ricky Lara
  • Thursday, June 8 – Early Detection and Rapid Response for Invasive Plants in California by Dr. Chris McDonald
  • Friday, June 9 – Rapid Spread of Invasive Aquatic Plants in the Changing San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary by Dr. Brenda Grewell

Register Now

2023-05-25T08:34:10-07:00May 25th, 2023|

Key Climate Data Added to Enhance Grower Decision-Support Tool

By Pam Kan-Rice UCANR

Free CalAgroClimate tool helps growers protect crops from frost and extreme heat

California farmers can see how climatic conditions that may affect agriculture are changing in their regions by using CalAgroClimate so they can make strategic changes. Nine new agriculturally important climate indicators have been added to the decision-support tool created by UC Cooperative Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists.

These new tools use a high-resolution climate dataset called PRISM to provide location-specific or county-aggregated long-term trends in agroclimatic indicators from 1980 to last year. These new agroclimate indicators include Frost Days, Last Spring Freeze, First Fall Freeze, Freeze-Free Season, Tropical Nights, Hot Days, Extreme Heat Days, Heatwaves and Diurnal Temperature Range (see definitions below). These indicators were derived from a study published in the journal Agronomy.

All of the new tools are free and available on CalAgroClimate for anyone to access.

“Frost-related tools such as Frost Days, Last Spring Freeze, First Fall Freeze, and Freeze-Free Season can help farmers and agricultural clientele make informed long-term choices,” said Tapan B. Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in climate adaptation in agriculture based at UC Merced, who is leading the CalAgroClimate project.

“For instance, if you are planning to invest in a frost sensitive crop in your region, these indicators can provide valuable information on whether frost risk has changed over time and whether it is less risky to make such an investment,” he said. “Wine grapes, for instance, are very sensitive to frost. Although not all frost events are damaging, understanding long-term trends in frost can help in making long-term strategic decisions such as whether to invest in frost protections.”

Another set of new agroclimatic indicators, on CalAgroClimate – Tropical Nights, Hot Days, Extreme Heat Days, Heatwaves and Diurnal Temperature Range – are based on higher maximum and minimum temperatures. Tropical Nights, for instance, calculates total number of nights when overnight temperatures exceed 68 F. More frequent tropical nights can increase crop respiration rates and can be detrimental for fruit quality and quantity, increase the risk of damage from pathogens, and potentially impact fruit set and yield.

Knowing how trends are evolving over time can assist growers in managing their crops to reduce risks. Similarly, growers can easily look at trends related to heat – hot days, extreme heat and heatwaves – on CalAgroClimate to assess their options on what they need to do to be adaptive. In the short term, growers may put up shade or for longer term, choose varieties that are more heat-tolerant.

“In recently published work, one of the farmers in the Central Valley told us, ‘When you really see so much difference in a short amount of time in your immediate area…we would have to look at that and say, well, we’re going to have to adapt varieties because this is a 20- or 25-year planting and we’re going to have to find crops or varieties that will adapt to that,’” Pathak said.

Another farmer told us, “Knowing what’s going to happen or at least having a good idea, if you know something’s going to be become or won’t be viable, then obviously you’re going to try to phase that out, and phase in something that’s better suited.”

Pathak added, “The new agroclimatic indicators on CalAgroClimate provide a reality check on how conditions are changing in short and long-term, what it means for farmers and to assist them on deciding what they need to do to be adaptive. These tools will greatly benefit farmers and agricultural clientele in assessing risks and making informed decisions.”

Other collaborators include Steven Ostoja and Lauren Parker of the USDA California Climate Hub, Prakash Kumar Jha of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Robert Johnson and Shane Feirer of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Informatics and Geographic Information Systems.

Definitions of AgroClimatic Indicators:

Frost Days are days in a year with minimum temperature below or equal to 32F.

Last Spring Freeze is the latest day in spring when minimum temperature is below or equal to 32F.

First Fall Freeze is the earliest day in fall when minimum temperature falls to 32F or below.

Freeze-Free Season is the time between the last spring and first fall freeze, represented by the number of consecutive days in a year without freezing temperatures.

Tropical Nights are number of nights when temperatures exceed 68F.

Hot Days are the days per year with maximum temperature exceeding 100 °F.

Extreme Heat Days are the number of days per year with maximum temperatures warmer than the 98th percentile of historical summer maximum temperature for the selected location.

Heatwaves are events that occur when extreme heat lasts for at least three consecutive days.

Diurnal Temperature Range is the difference between daily maximum and minimum temperatures.

2023-05-12T12:40:25-07:00May 12th, 2023|

Fresno State Helps Lead USDA Efforts to Strengthen California Food Industry

By Geoff Thurner, Fresno State Jordan College

Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology will receive $2.2 million from the United States Department of Agriculture to take on a leadership role in the new Southwest USDA Regional Food Business Center that will help small- and medium-sized farmers and food producers integrate with larger, regional food supply chains.


The regional center is part of a $35 million cooperative agreement led by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources that will offer added assistance in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colonias communities with inadequate infrastructure along the rural, U.S.-Mexican border. The Jordan College joins 16 organizations and 38 collaborators from four states, coming together to enhance and expand business support services to food and farm businesses.


“Food security is national security,” said Dr. Rolston St. Hilaire, dean of the Jordan College. “I am pleased that, through our team’s participation in the Southwest Regional Food Business Center, we will be able to address regional food insecurity challenges and provide insights on the economic viability of food and farm businesses across the supply chain.”


The Department of Agricultural Business at Fresno State will work to expand connections with underrepresented minority growers, service providers and businesses to leverage resources and expand opportunities for growth and economic stability. Dr. Srinivasa Konduru, chair of the department, said faculty will share their expertise to help food producers and other food businesses improve their business plans, especially to optimize strategies for supply chain integration. 


The Department of Industrial Technology at Fresno State will help small and medium food businesses leverage technology to improve efficiencies, develop new products and packaging, increase traceability and ensure customer satisfaction. 


“All of these areas are vital for today’s regional and global supply chains and Central Valley economy,” said Dr. Arun Nambiar, chair of the Department of Industrial Technology. “It is imperative to provide them with every possible assistance to ensure that they can thrive in today’s world of stiff competition. We will consult with them to help them select, implement and use appropriate technology so that they can access wider markets.”


Dr. Erin Stafford Dormendy, chair of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Fresno State, will share her expertise in making the food supply chain as safe as possible by controlling food-borne pathogens and improving food contact safety. She will work with small- and mid-sized food businesses on best practices for food safety, quality control and sustainability that businesses can follow to meet the regulatory requirements of larger buyers. She will help train a team of graduate students and a team of undergraduate students to become the next generation of leaders in the food processing industry.


The Southwest USDA Regional Food Business Center will add expertise from the university’s Water, Energy, and Technology (WET) Center, which provides vital resources and support to local food entrepreneurs, farmers and innovators, driving economic growth and sustainability in the region


I am thrilled the award will support our food accelerator program that can contribute to the transformation of the food system of California’s Central Valley,” said Helle Peterson, director of the WET Center. “We will empower the next generation of food leaders to bring food products and innovations to communities throughout California and beyond.” 


Finally, the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will provide a team of two MBA students per semester to consult on in-depth projects that will focus on opportunity assessment, feasibility assessment, business planning, marketing strategies and HR issues tailored to the food producers’ needs. 


The Southwest USDA Regional Food Center is one of 12 centers recently unveiled by the USDA as part of a $420 million initiative to help the economy avoid an overreliance on national-scale businesses across the nation. Encouraging smaller, regional food suppliers could help to alleviate food distribution vulnerabilities that were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when certain companies shut down temporarily.


“From the second I spotted this opportunity, I knew the Jordan College could be a leader for California,” said Gil Harootunian, executive director of University Initiatives and the Office of the Provost. “The Jordan College houses the experts who can be the backbone of this work to create more resilient, diverse and connected food supply chains.”

2023-05-12T11:56:40-07:00May 12th, 2023|
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