U.S. EPA Proposed Changes to Rodenticide Labels for Agricultural Use: Opportunity for Public Comment

By Roger A. Baldwin, Professor of Cooperative Extension, UC Davis and Niamh Quinn, Cooperative Extension Advisor, UC South Coast Research and Extension Center

Rodents cause substantial damage and health risks in agricultural productions systems through direct consumption of fruit, nuts, and vegetative material; damage to the plant (e.g., girdling of stems and trunks); by providing a food safety hazard from contamination; damage to irrigation infrastructure; damage to farm equipment; burrow systems posing a hazard to farm laborers; posing a health risk through potential disease transmission; and increased soil erosion by water channeling down burrow systems, among other potential damage outcomes. They also cause substantial damage and food contamination risks in livestock holding facilities, food processing facilities, barns, and other agricultural-related structures. As such, effective management is needed to minimize these risks. The use of rodenticides is often considered the most efficacious and cost-effective tool for managing rodent pests, and as such, it is often included in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs designed to mitigate rodent damage and health risks. Given the significance of rodenticides in managing rodent pests, it is important to know that the U.S. EPA has recently released a list of Proposed Interim Decisions (PIDs) for public comment that, if approved, will substantially alter if and how rodenticides may be used to manage rodent pests in the near future. As such, we felt it was important to inform California’s agricultural producers as to the extent of these proposed changes, and if you are so inclined, we have provided a link for you to provide public comment on the PIDs, as well as links to contact your Senate and Congressional representatives to ensure your opinion is heard.

All rodenticides are currently under review. These include first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs; chlorophacinone, diphacinone, and warfarin), second-generation anticoagulants (SGARs; brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, and difenacoum), zinc phosphide, strychnine, bromethalin, and cholecalciferol. Of these, only FGARs, zinc phosphide, and strychnine have labels for use against field rodents (e.g., ground squirrels, pocket gophers, voles, rats, and mice found in agricultural fields), but not all of these active ingredients can be used for all rodent species. As always, it is imperative to fully read a rodenticide’s label before determining if it is appropriate for use against a particular species and in a specific situation. That said, the following are some significant changes that have been proposed that you should be aware of. Other potential changes have been proposed as well, so please check out the PIDs for additional details (linked at the end of this document).

1. All rodenticides for field applications will become restricted-use products. This means that applicators will need to be certified to use restricted-use products in these settings. They will also have increased reporting requirements for their use.
2. Above ground applications would be eliminated in rangeland, pastureland, and fallow land. This is a substantial deviation, as many/most applications in these areas have traditionally been through broadcast applications or spot treatments. This change would leave only bait stations for ground squirrels and voles.
3. Within-burrow applications of FGARs will generally not be allowed in croplands during the growing season. This would eliminate FGAR application for pocket gophers for much of the year, and would eliminate it for all uses in some crops (e.g., citrus and alfalfa in certain areas of the state).
4. Carcass searches will be required every day or every two days (starting 3-4 days after the initial application), depending on the product used and where applied, for at least two weeks after the last application of the rodenticide. When carcasses are found, they must be disposed of properly. Any non-target mortalities must be reported to the U.S. EPA. Collectively, this will require a major increase in labor, potentially making rodenticide applications impractical in many settings.
5. Extensive endangered species designations are anticipated that will limit or eliminate the potential to apply rodenticides. This could have large-scale impacts, although the full extent is not known at this time.
6. New labels will require the use of a PF10 respirator and chemical resistant gloves during application. This is a substantial change for some rodenticide labels, requiring fit testing for all applicators, with the requirement of respirators ultimately making rodenticide application more physically challenging.

Additional details on these proposed changes can be found at the following websites:

1. Anticoagulant PID: https://www.regulations.gov/document/EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0778-0094
2. Zinc phosphide PID: https://www.regulations.gov/document/EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0140-0031
3. Strychnine PID: https://www.regulations.gov/document/EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0754-0025
4. Bromethalin and cholecalciferol PID: https://www.regulations.gov/document/EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0077-0024

As mentioned previously, these proposed changes are likely to have a substantial impact on the use of rodenticides in agricultural settings. However, these changes are currently open for public comment. If you would like to comment on these proposed changes, the required links and useful guidance can be found at the following website: https://responsiblerodenticides.org/.

You may also comment on these proposed changes to your Senate and Congressional representatives. If you are unsure who they are or how to contact them, check out: https://www.congress.gov/contact-us.

The deadline for making comments to the U.S. EPA is unfortunately short, with a final deadline of February 13, 2023. Therefore, you will need to provide your comments in short order.

2023-02-09T11:05:06-08:00February 9th, 2023|

New UCCE Advisors Bring Fresh Ideas to Protect Lettuce From INSV, Pythium Wilt

By Mike Hsu, UCANR

Salinas Valley lettuce growers lost about $150 million in 2022 due to diseases

A stormy winter could portend another devastating year for the lettuce industry in the Salinas Valley, which saw approximately $150 million in lost gross revenue in 2022 due to INSV (impatiens necrotic spot virus) and associated diseases. Recent drenching rains might mean more weeds – overwintering “reservoirs” for the tiny insect, the Western flower thrips, that carries INSV.

Or the extreme precipitation could benefit growers, as thrips in the soil – during their intermediate stage of development – might be drowned in the waterlogged fields.

As with so many aspects of the INSV crisis, the ultimate effects of flooded fields on thrips populations remain unknown.

“We don’t know if thrips are just so persistent and so stable in that pupal stage that maybe they will emerge unaffected,” said Kirsten Pearsons, University of California Cooperative Extension integrated pest management farm advisor for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. “There’s just so much about their biology and ecology in the Salinas Valley that we just don’t know.”

The mystery of thrips, INSV and soilborne diseases (namely Pythium wilt) is why UC Agriculture and Natural Resources assigned Pearsons to the area last November and hired Yu-Chen Wang in October as UCCE plant pathology advisor for the three counties.

“They’re stepping in at a critical moment,” said Richard Smith, the region’s UCCE vegetable crop production and weed science advisor who retired in January after a 37-year career. “They’ve gotten grants funded already – and that’s just incredible. They’re hitting the ground running.”

Experienced in disease diagnosis and collaboration with growers and industry partners, Wang said her pathology background – paired with Pearsons’ entomology expertise – will be crucial in addressing INSV and other diseases.

“It is important for Kirsten and me to work together and provide different insights for the vector and the pathogen, respectively,” Wang said.

‘It’s going to take everything to get a crop’

One priority is untangling the dynamics of INSV and Pythium wilt co-occurrence – the subject of ongoing research by JP Dundore-Arias, a plant pathologist at California State University, Monterey Bay. While the vegetables may tolerate one disease or the other, their one-two punch often deals the lethal blow. 

“The challenge is – which is why it’s great to have Yu-Chen and Kirsten – is that we have so many problems now, whether it’s Fusarium (wilt), or Verticillium (wilt), or Pythium, or INSV,” said Mark Mason, pest control adviser for Nature’s Reward, which primarily grows lettuces on 5,000 acres across the Salinas Valley.

Mason said that co-infections on his crops (sometimes with three or four diagnosed diseases) make it difficult to assign monetary damages to a specific pathogen, but he noted he has seen fields with “100% loss.” According to the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, about 11,500 acres were deemed not harvestable in 2022, representing 12% of lettuce industry acreage.

Given the gravity and complexity of the disease dilemma, Pearsons said she has been fielding calls from growers seeking new and better solutions – ways to improve existing tools, techniques borrowed from other crop systems, and additional biological or chemical means of control.

And although there are a couple of pesticides that manage the disease-carrying thrips reasonably well, growers and researchers are worried about their diminishing efficacy due to overuse. Plus, they only constitute a short-term fix.

“Managing the thrips will only reduce the amount of INSV that can get transmitted,” Pearsons explained. “You can kill 99.9% of the thrips, but you get one thrips that has INSV that enters a field, and now you have an infected lettuce plant. All of the thrips are going to come and they can spread it from there; pesticide slows things down, but it’s not going to eliminate it.”

Finding disease-tolerant lettuce cultivars is a more sustainable approach. Trials conducted last year by Smith, Wang and others identified several varieties that appeared to hold up well to Pythium and INSV. While additional research could maximize their potential benefit, Wang said even the hardier cultivars will lose their resistance over time, and a multi-layered INSV strategy with “integrated management tools” is crucial.

“We realized, when this thing started happening, that we cannot spray our way out of this problem,” Mason said. “We need varieties; we need management practices; we need pesticides…it just seems like it’s going to take everything to get a crop.”

Weeds key to disease control

An all-hands-on-deck approach helped control thrips-harboring weeds last winter. With fields drying out from January storms, Smith said communities must get back to weed management – with a focus on prominent weed hosts for INSV and neglected areas adjacent to farms. Hotspots of infection last year were traced to industrial lots that were overlooked during the weeding process.

“People can’t lose sight of the fact that we still need to be controlling the weeds in key areas, because that’s the reservoir of the virus during the winter,” Smith said. “We have to stay on task with that.”

Yet despite the diligent weed abatement, crop damage from INSV and Pythium was widespread in 2022, and Smith said it’s “very possible” that high heat during the summer was a contributing factor to especially prevalent disease in fall. Thrips populations tend to thrive in warmer weather, Smith said, but much more research needs to be done to understand the basic biology of the insect, including how they acquire the virus and how they spread it.

High hopes for future

Pearsons cited the work of Daniel Hasegawa, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who leads teams in monitoring thrips populations in several locations across the Salinas Valley. Currently the counting of thrips on sticky card traps is done manually, but Pearsons and Mason mentioned the possibility of using AI and machine learning to expedite that process.

Mason said that the grower community is excited about the new technologies and ideas that Pearsons and Wang are bringing to the region. As a participant in the search for candidates to fill the advisor positions, Mason said “they were, in my opinion, by far the best fit for what we were looking for.”

“I hope they stay here for 30 years,” he added.

The new advisors both noted the palpable energy and cooperative spirit in the Salinas Valley to proactively meet the challenge.

“Looking to the past, there have been other outbreaks and diseases that they’ve managed to overcome,” Pearsons said. “These farmers are resilient and creative and I fully believe that lettuce will still be growing here for years to come – it might look a little different, and it might take a little bit of a painful period to get to that point, but I think that we’re going to be able to come up with some solutions.”

And while there are concerns that some lettuce growers might decide to leave the region, Wang said she also believes in the industry’s strong roots and rich history.

“Salinas Valley has had a beautiful climate for lettuce for so many years; there are some undeniable advantages here,” she said. “This is still the best place in the United States – and maybe the world – to grow lettuce.”

2023-02-03T16:01:34-08:00February 3rd, 2023|

UC ANR Expands Expertise for Climate Change, Economic Development With New Hires

By Pam Kan-Rice and Mike Hsu, UCANR

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources continued bringing scientists and their practical knowledge to counties across the state throughout the fall and winter. With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, UC ANR recently hired UC Cooperative Extension advisors, specialists and academic coordinators who bring expertise in drought, wildfire, food systems, urban and small-scale farms, livestock, 4-H youth development, pest management, wildlife, nutrition and environmental horticulture.

In addition to providing research and extension in traditional subjects, the new hires include scientists who will address water justice policy, climate-smart agriculture, food safety, organic crop production, waste management and economic development for urban and rural communities.

UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with community members to apply research-based information to improve the lives and livelihoods of Californians.

To see a list of UC Cooperative Extension advisors who have joined in the past few months, visit https://ucanr.edu/About/DirectorySearch/Recent_Hires. The most recently hired advisors are introduced below. 

Audoin joins Central Sierra as UCCE livestock advisor

Flavie Audoin (pronounced Flah-vee Oh-dwan) joined UCCE Central Sierra on Jan. 17 as a livestock and natural resources area advisor serving Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties. 

For the last six years, Audoin has been studying the seasonal grazing behavior, diet selection, and meat characteristics of range-fed Raramuri Criollo cattle in southeastern Arizona. Audoin worked directly with Deb and Dennis Moroney, who introduced Criollo cattle in southeastern Arizona about 10 years ago. This experience in the United States provided Audoin with knowledge and skills in rangelands, livestock production (cattle and sheep), direct marketing and science communication. In addition to working on her research, she has also been able to improve her skills as a ranch hand – branding, gathering cattle horseback in rough country, using low-stress livestock handling methods, sheep shearing, fixing fences and water lines, and marketing meat directly to consumers. 

Before starting her Ph.D., Audoin was an advisor to beef producers in France and worked for nine years at France’s leading brand of packaged meats and meat products while studying. 

Born and raised in France, Audoin earned a bachelor’s degree in life sciences at Notre Dame de Bonnes Nouvelles, Beaupréau, and technical degree in agronomy with a major in crop and animal production at IUT Angers-Cholet, Angers, then completed an engineering degree in agronomy (equivalent to a masters’ degree in the U.S.) with a major in breeding and systems of production at VetAgro Sup, Clermont-Ferrand. She completed a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Arizona, where her research focused on ecology, management and restoration of rangelands, with a minor in animal science. She also received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of Arizona.

Audoin is based in Calaveras and can be reached at faudoin@ucanr.edu and (209) 454-8472.

Ikendi named academic coordinator for climate-smart agriculture

Samuel Ikendi joined UC ANR on Dec. 12 as an academic coordinator for climate-smart agriculture. 

As an academic coordinator, Ikendi will work with farmers and ranchers, state and federal agencies, campus-based academics and Cooperative Extension academics across the state to implement climate-smart agriculture education through workshops and training. He will develop outreach materials such as curricula and fact sheets.

Before joining UC ANR, Ikendi worked at Iowa State University as a postdoctoral research associate on a project to establish core concepts to improve graduate plant-breeding education, curriculum development, and monitoring. He also worked for the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and Iowa State University’s Uganda Program in Uganda, where he developed performance tracking indicators, conducted the annual evaluation, and developed privacy data protection documents. As an intern with ISU Extension and Outreach, he assisted the county outreach coordinators with delivering research-based educational programming to promote positive youth development.  

Ikendi earned a Ph.D. in agricultural extension education and dual master’s degrees in community and regional planning and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management from Makerere University, Kampala in Uganda. 

Ikendi is based at UC Merced and can be reached at sikendi@ucanr.edu

Reidy named statewide postfire academic coordinator

Katie Reidy joined UC ANR on Dec. 5 as the statewide postfire academic coordinator. She will be overseeing a postfire forest resilience education program for private forest landowners. Reidy will coordinate weekly educational workshops held on Zoom with lessons catered to specific ecosystems, and collaboration with local agencies to promote post-fire education. The goal is to help fire-affected communities begin the process of reversing the ecological, economic and environmental impacts of fire. 

Reidy grew up in Chicago and received an undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina, Asheville. In 2016, she became an environmental educator at Yosemite National Park. In 2020, she moved to Plumas County and worked for the Feather River Resource Conservation District and began to understand the complexities of natural resource management and the implications of fire on the local landscapes. This compelled her to earn a master’s degree in environmental studies with a certificate in science communications and environmental education at the University of Idaho.

After personal experience with catastrophic fire, she is eager and ready to connect and assist communities as the postfire academic coordinator, to combine her passion for ecology and forestry management with outreach and education. 

Reidy is based at the UCCE Central Sierra office in Placerville and can be reached at kkreidy@ucanr.edu

Hartmann named UCCE community health and nutrition advisor

Janessa Hartmann joined UC ANR on Nov. 1 as the UCCE community health and nutrition advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties to promote education and advance policy, systems and environmental changes that benefit local communities. 

Having lived and worked in Shasta County for over a decade, Hartmann is committed to improving the region’s health and wellness. She will be developing an integrated and equitable health and nutrition program, applying the latest research and data to address needs identified by the community – especially those of vulnerable populations such as older foster youth. 

In addition to focusing on positive youth development, Hartmann also aims to improve food security by expanding access to affordable and healthy food. 

“I hope to support community partners in health and nutrition across our region, and amplify existing effective programs,” she said. “I also look forward to working alongside the awesome CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California nutrition education program.”

Although Hartmann began her career in the environmental remediation field, she later worked on food sovereignty and security issues in central Mexico as a Peace Corps volunteer. In 2016, she became the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program supervisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties. Subsequently, Hartmann joined Shasta County Public Health, where, during the height of the pandemic, she served as director of the COVID-19 Child Care, School and Higher Education Unit. 

Hartmann earned her B.S. in environmental science from Georgia College and State University, an M.S. in environmental science and engineering from Colorado School of Mines and another M.S. in nutritional science from California State University, Chico. 

Based at the UCCE Shasta County office in Redding, Hartmann can be reached at jlhartmann@ucanr.edu.

Jha joins UC ANR to address climate adaption

Prakash Kumar Jha joined UC ANR as an assistant project scientist on Nov. 1 and is responsible for developing decision support tools that help growers understand and minimize climate risks, specifically CalAgroClimate.

Prior to coming to California, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow for over five years in Italy, Spain and Colombia. Jha is eager to understand what California’s climate will look like in the next five to 10 years. Currently, he is working with climate prediction systems to determine future weather conditions, which growers can use to prepare for situations like low versus high chill hours, shortage of irrigation water and high temperature stress in plants.

Jha recognizes that areas currently used for agriculture might not be suitable for some crops a couple of years from now. For example, Jha is identifying which geographical areas growers should invest in while considering factors such as regulations limiting water use. His work will help growers consider the long-term implications of the decisions they make today.   

Before earning a Ph.D. in science management of climate change from the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, Italy, he completed two master’s degrees – one in climate change adaptation from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and another in sociology from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. 

Originally from Nepal, Jha is excited about the diversity of crops the California offers. “I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge, especially in tomatoes, cottons, almonds and pistachios,” he said.

Jha is based at the UC Merced-Sierra Nevada Research Institute and can be reached at prajha@ucanr.edu.

Khodadadi named UCCE plant pathology specialist

Fatemeh Khodadadi joined UC Riverside in October as an assistant professor of extension in the Department of Plant Pathology. She brings expertise in fungal and bacterial diseases of fruit and nut trees and an increasing interest in subtropical plant diseases caused by a variety of plant pathogens. 

Khodadadi’s research focuses on plant pathogens and disease management strategies for subtropical trees, especially citrus and avocado. She studies identification, characterization and development of molecular methods to detect fungal, bacterial and viral diseases affecting citrus and avocado, including but not limited to avocado branch canker and dieback caused by Botryosphaeria species, phytophthora root rot, sweet orange scab caused by Elsinöe australis, avocado sunblotch viroid and other problematic pathogens on citrus and avocado in California. She also studies the citrus and avocado defense responses to pathogens and the efficacy of fungicides and bactericides.

Before joining UC Cooperative Extension, she held postdoctoral fellowships at Cornell University and Virginia Tech conducting research in bacteriology, mycology, genomics, plant pathology and plant disease management focusing on Colletotrichum species (bitter rot of apple), Erwinia amylovora (fire blight), and Diplocarpon coronaria (apple leaf and fruit blotch). 

She identified, described and characterized for the first time a new Colletotrichum species that causes apple bitter rot and belongs to the C. gloeosporioides species complex. Her team named it C. noveboracense.

Khodadadi earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran. For her M.S., she studied aflatoxin-producing fungi contaminating pistachio. In her Ph.D. research, partly conducted at UC Davis, she studied the interaction between walnut and bacterial blight disease caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (Xaj). 

Khodadadi is based in the UC Riverside Department of Microbiology & Plant Pathology and can be reached at fatemeh.khodadadi@ucr.edu. She will be posting about her research at https://subtropicalplantpathology.com/category/blog-posts/.

Dompka to help spark economy in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties

Alec Dompka began with UC ANR on Oct. 20 as a rural communities economic development advisor. He will serve as technical support for economic development projects in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties.

Dompka said he aims to help local communities by working with government entities and private businesses to coordinate and facilitate beneficial projects.

“In this position, I hope to engage with people in the counties to tie them more closely with planning their economic development,” Dompka said. “I hope to show that economic development in rural communities can be locally led and directed, inclusive and effective.”

By applying technical knowledge and science-based expertise to these projects, Dompka said he also hopes to “generate research that pushes forward our understanding of what economic development looks like for rural communities.”

Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dompka earned a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State, double-majoring in political science and economics. He also holds an M.A. in agricultural and natural resources economics from NC State. 

Dompka is based at the Del Norte County UC Cooperative Extension office in Crescent City and can be reached at (707) 464-4711 or addompka@ucanr.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Alec_rural_dev.

Pearsons named IPM advisor for Monterey County

Kirsten Pearsons began working as a UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management entomology advisor for Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties on Nov. 7. This is a new role for Pearsons, who joined UC ANR in March as a small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo County.

Pearsons focuses on insect-related concerns on the Central Coast, such as impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV), a disease transmitted to lettuce by thrips, and identifying possible solutions. In collaboration with USDA scientists and her UC colleagues, Pearsons is researching the biology and ecology of the thrips populations that vector INSV to identify existing tools and new strategies that can help growers manage thrips and INSV.

Though her research focuses on lettuce and cole crops, Pearsons also supports berry growers and other specialty crop producers in the region with large-scale producers and agricultural pest control advisers as current clients. 

Pearsons earned a bachelor’s in environmental toxicology from UC Davis and a Ph.D. in entomology from Pennsylvania State University, studying how pest management strategies adopted in field crop systems affect non-target soil invertebrates.

During her undergraduate studies at UC Davis, Pearsons was curious to know what alternatives existed for broad-spectrum pesticides.

“Funny enough, I took my first entomology class just to get a basic idea of insect biology, because a lot of what I was learning in my toxicology courses had to do with insecticides,” she said. “The staff and the other students in the entomology department were so awesome that it didn’t take much for me to completely fall for the subject.”

Prior to UC ANR, Pearsons worked for the Rodale Institute, an organic research institute in Pennsylvania.

Pearsons is based out of the UCCE Monterey Bay County office and can be reached at kapearsons@ucanr.edu

Nguyen named UCCE food safety and organic production advisor

Cuong “Jimmy” Nguyen joined UC Cooperative Extension on Nov. 1 as an assistant food safety and organic production area advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties.

“Organic produce has a shorter shelf life and is more susceptible to outbreaks, recalls and foodborne illness due to the lack of chemical sanitizers and fungicides,” Nguyen said. “Therefore, my future research agenda will continue the focus on improving the quality and safety of organic produce commodities by developing alternatives to chemical fumigations/fungicides, as well as organic pest management without the use of chemical sanitizer or pesticide.”

While earning his Ph.D. in food science at UC Davis, Nguyen developed two novel sanitizing platforms for surface decontamination and liquid systems disinfection. The two systems involve the newly discovered synergistic disinfection effect between natural antimicrobials and UV-A light treatment or ultrasound treatment. 

“I am also interested in rapid detection methods using bacteriophage targeting foodborne microbes, and microscopic detection of bacterial microcolonies for early screening and prevention of foodborne outbreaks,” he said.

Nguyen earned a master’s degree at Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan, where he studied sensory and food safety quality of meat, and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Nong Lam University in Vietnam, where he studied postharvest technologies for food and vegetable commodities. He is fluent in English, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Nguyen is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and
cgnguyen@ucanr.edu.

Wang named UCCE plant pathology advisor

Yu-Chen Wang joined UC Cooperative Extension Oct. 3 as a plant pathology advisor for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.

“Vegetable and berry are the major crops I work on currently,” said Wang, who will be working with a wide range of crops and different cropping systems on the Central Coast. “So far, I have been contacted by a wide range of growers – including (those who grow) lettuce, broccoli, pepper, celery, bean, apple, strawberry and blackberry – about their disease problems. I am passionate about providing insight to help the community on their disease problems.”

“The lettuce industry here is suffering from impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) vectored by Western flower thrip along with soilborne diseases,” she said. Lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley lost an estimated $50 million to $100 million last year and a lettuce supply shortage occurred. Working alongside fellow advisors, UC specialists and industry partners, Wang will be seeking long-term solutions for the industry. 

Prior to becoming a UCCE advisor, Wang worked at AVRDC-World Vegetable Center, for a vegetable seed company, and at UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center on research and development.

Wang, a native of Taipei, Taiwan, earned her B.S. and M.S. in horticultural and crop science at National Taiwan University. She earned a second M.S. in plant protection from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

“The idea of farmers feeding the world and awareness of crop loss by pests motivated me to pursue a career in agriculture and plant protection,” she said. “During my M.S. at Cal Poly, I worked closely with the California strawberry growers on industry-oriented research. I look forward to extending my study to vegetable and berry crops and serving the farming community.”   

Wang is based in Watsonville and can be reached at yckwang@ucanr.edu and (831) 201-9689.

Hooper named UCCE urban community resiliency advisor

Ashley Hooper joined UC ANR on Sept. 1 as the UC Cooperative Extension urban community resiliency advisor in Los Angeles County, a brand-new position. In her role, Hooper is tasked with working with communities who have historically been disadvantaged due to inequitable systems and/or policies.

In collaboration with the community, Hooper will lead efforts focused on building resilience and adaptive capacity. This could look like increasing the community’s access to capital, green space, transportation, nutritious food or education.

She already has leveraged data, collected by different organizations, to conduct a content analysis of needs assessments across dimensions of community resilience, such as access to parks and healthcare. Then, as next steps, she will prioritize interviews and field observations.

During her master’s program, Hooper worked as a research assistant for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, where she led interviews with community members facing or trying to counter various inequities like limited access to broadband, housing and health care. For her Ph.D. dissertation, she focused on identifying barriers to and opportunities for resilient food systems in Los Angeles County.

After attending the California Economic Summit in October, Hooper shared her excitement for the prospect of using the arts in building community resilience.

“I went to a creative-economy working group session, and I was reminded of how much the arts and cultural community has to offer in the process of building adaptive capacity in communities,” she said.

Hooper earned a Ph.D. in urban and environmental planning and policy from UC Irvine. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in water resources with a concentration in policy and management from the University of New Mexico.

Hooper is based out of the UCCE office in Los Angeles County and can be reached at asmhoope@ucanr.edu.

Solins joins UC ANR as new environmental horticulture advisor

Joanna Solins joined UC ANR on Oct. 3 as a UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties.

Solins will focus on research and outreach related to urban plants, landscaping and climate change, while building relationships with county and municipal governments, nonprofits, landscape and tree care professionals, nursery growers and utilities, among others. She also will support the UC Master Gardener coordinators in her assigned counties, collaborating to extend knowledge and resources to community members. 

“My core goals are to improve the climate suitability and ecological performance of urban landscaping and promote the equitable distribution of benefits from urban plants,” Solins said.

After attaining a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at Vassar College, Solins began her career leading outreach education programs for the New England Aquarium and writing for educational publishers. She also worked in communications at the Coral Reef Alliance in San Francisco before starting graduate school at UC Davis, which culminated in a master’s in geography and Ph.D. in ecology.

Solins’ research at UC Davis combined field studies and geographic information system analysis to investigate plant communities, tree canopy and soils along urban creeks in the Sacramento area. She also carried out postdoctoral research on green stormwater infrastructure, urban forest composition, and the water demand of urban vegetation across California, and contributed to projects examining residential landscaping and urban heat in Sacramento.

Solins is based in Sacramento and can be reached at jsolins@ucanr.edu or (916) 875-2409.

Mar named UCCE organic materials management advisor

Stephanie Mar joined UC Cooperative Extension on Oct. 3 as the assistant organic materials management advisor serving Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Mar is responsible for investigating ways to divert organic wastes from landfills to alternative end markets, such as circular food economies, composting and wastewater reclamation.

“To me, waste doesn’t have an end life, just a next life,” said Mar. “A lot of people don’t know what happens to their waste after the garbage truck comes or they flush a toilet, so a part of my job is to understand what we are wasting and what happens to it.”

Mar attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a master’s degree in public health focused on environmental science and engineering, and a master’s degree in city and regional planning focused on land use and environmental planning. She also has a bachelor’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. 

Much of Mar’s professional experience, like her time working for the City of Berkeley, is centered on community outreach and policy development, two strengths that she believes will serve her well in this new role. 

Previously, Mar worked as a public health analyst for UC San Francisco and as a social research analyst with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services too. Both of which strengthened her understanding of policy and program development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

“Research gives us a lot of information, but then there’s a need for translation from what we know to what it actually means,” she said. “There are a lot of people doing different things [to manage their waste], so there’s a need for coordination and dispersal of information.”

Mar’s background in policy development is something she’ll rely on to operationalize the research being done by herself and her colleagues. 

Behavioral change is one of Mar’s anticipated challenges in this role. Even if research and policy efforts yield successful results, encouraging the community to adapt can be an uphill battle.

“Sorting trash, for example, is more of a mental burden than a physical one,” she explained. “We know what the research says and what we need to do, it’s just about developing the market to make it happen.” 

Mar is based out of Irvine at the South Coast Research and Extension Center and can be reached at samar@ucanr.edu

Dobbin named UCCE water justice policy and planning specialist 

Kristin Dobbin has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on water justice policy and planning.

Originally from Utah, Dobbin comes to Rausser College from UC Los Angeles’ Luskin Center for Innovation, where she was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Dobbin pairs her love for rural communities, community natural resource management and environmental justice organizing with a strong belief that research can and should play an important role in advancing policy. She hopes to leverage her new position, the first of its kind for UC, to uplift community water managers and impacted residents as leaders and experts in conversations surrounding water management and access. 

“It’s a dream and a responsibility to be assuming a role that so perfectly weds research and impact,” Dobbin tweeted about her new UC Cooperative Extension water justice policy and planning specialist role. 

Dobbin earned her Ph.D. in ecology with an emphasis in environmental policy and human ecology from UC Davis and B.A. in environmental analysis from Pitzer College in Claremont. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the Community Water Center – a grassroots environmental justice organization that advances community-driven solutions for water justice in the Central Valley. 

Dobbin is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at kbdobbin@berkeley.edu and on Twitter @kbdobbin. 

Shive named UCCE forest and fuels management specialist

Kristen Shive has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on forest and fuels management. 

Bringing more than 20 years of experience in conservation, forest and fire management, and ecology, her work broadly focuses on restoring fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, prioritizing areas for restoration, and understanding shifting fire regimes. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shive led the forest program science team for The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter and was the director of science for Save the Redwoods League. She also has worked for the National Park Service in Alaska, California, and Wyoming, most recently as the fire ecologist for Yosemite National Park.

She earned her master’s degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. in ecosystem science from UC Berkeley. 

Shive is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at kshive@berkeley.edu and (630) 917-5170 and on Twitter @klshive. 

Rodriguez joins 4-H as advisor in Northern California

Matt Rodriguez joined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 5 as a 4-H youth development advisor for Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Yuba counties. As a 4-H advisor, Rodriguez implements extension education and applied research programs grounded in positive youth development theory. He also provides expertise to enhance volunteer engagement in 4-H youth development programs.

Rodriguez earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health in the Department of Family Science. His dissertation, “Influence of Latinx Fathers’ Behaviors, Cognitions, Affect, and Family Congruence on Youth Energy Balance-Related Health Outcomes,” investigated Latinx father involvement in the context of youth energy balance-related behaviors. During his doctoral training, Rodriguez also supported several USDA-funded research initiatives involving Latinx fathers and youth. His recent publication, “Predictors Associated with Fathers’ Successful Completion of the FOCUS Program,” investigated a sample of fathers in Texas who participated in a child welfare parenting intervention.

Rodriguez currently co-chairs the Men in Families focus group at the National Council on Family Relations. He was also recently elected as Section Counselor for the American Public Health Association’s Health Informatics Information Technology section.

Prior to his doctoral studies, Rodriguez was a professional web developer for several large nonprofits in the Midwest. Growing up in a multicultural family with ancestry deriving from Puerto Rico, Japan, Nigeria and England, he embraces the importance of cultural diversity and competency in his family science research.

Rodriguez is based in Auburn and can be reached at (530) 889-7391 and mrro@ucanr.edu and on social media @MattR_Rodriguez.

2023-02-03T09:11:33-08:00February 3rd, 2023|

Virtual Course on Nitrogen Management in Organic Production Offered by UCCE

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

Growers of organic vegetables and strawberries across California are invited to attend an online training to learn how to manage nitrogen fertilization. UC Cooperative Extension is offering the three-part Nitrogen Planning and Management in Organic Production of Annual Crops Workshop on Nov. 29, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12.
Growers, certified crop advisers, pest control advisers and other agricultural professionals who are interested in learning about nitrogen management in organically farmed crops are encouraged to enroll.

The workshop is also available in Spanish.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 1-3 p.m. – Part 1: Understanding nitrogen: the nutrient, the role of microbes and the relevance of soil organic matter. Daniel Geisseler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in nutrient management at UC Davis; Radomir Schmidt, program manager for the Working Lands Innovation Center at the UC Davis Institute of the Environment; and Margaret Lloyd, UCCE small farms advisor will give an overview of the sources, transformations and fates of nitrogen in soil. They also will discuss the role and dynamics of microbes in nitrogen management, and how nitrogen fixation impacts management decisions.

Monday, Dec. 5, 1-3 p.m. – Part 2: Estimating nitrogen release from organic amendments and contributions from cover crops. Patricia Lazicki, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Lloyd will discuss estimating nitrogen release from compost, organic fertilizers, cover crops and crop residue and irrigation water.

Monday Dec. 12, 1-3 p.m. – Part 3: Putting it all together: Completing a nitrogen budget, synchronizing nitrogen release with nitrogen demand, and using soil tests. Joji Muramoto, UC Cooperative Extension organic production specialist; Richard Smith, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops advisor; and Lloyd will address nuances of organic soil fertility management in vegetables. Discussions will include crop nitrogen demand and strategies to supply demand, as well as using and interpreting soil testing. Specific references will be made to strategies for complying with forthcoming regulations. The session will conclude with a discussion on new frontiers in organic nitrogen management.

Registration for the virtual event is $25 and includes all three classes. A single registration can be shared by members of the same farm. Space is limited to 75 participants. To register, visit https://ucanr.edu/organiccrops22.

Participants may earn six hours of CDFA-INMTP continuing education credits (formerly CURES CE Credits) or six hours of CCA credits.

For more information, contact Margaret Lloyd at (530) 564-8642 or mglloyd@ucanr.edu.

2022-11-16T11:03:40-08:00November 16th, 2022|

Pitahaya/dragon fruit growers gather to learn from UCCE research and each other

By Saoimanu Sope, UCANR

Once you know what a dragon fruit looks like, you will never forget it. The bright red, sometimes yellow or purple, scaly skin makes for a dramatic appearance. One that will surely leave an impression. The flesh ranges from white to a deep pink and the flavor is often described as having hints of kiwi, watermelon, or pear.

Since 2007, the Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit Production Tour, has united dragon fruit growers of all levels and backgrounds. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, registration for the 2022 tour filled up in less than 24 hours.

A group of 60 participants gathered Sept. 8 at the Wallace Ranch Dragon Fruit Farm in Bonsall to learn the latest research on growing the drought-tolerant specialty crop. Ramiro Lobo, a small farms and agricultural economics advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, introduced dragon fruit growers and other UC scientists.

“I can’t remember a year where this event was not sold out. So, the need and demand is there,” said Eyal Givon, a long-time participant and dragon fruit grower.

The tour not only demonstrates how to grow the fruit, but it also grants participants access to plant material for varieties that are unavailable elsewhere.

“We have given out about 50,000 cuttings through our festival and some varieties were unique to us because we introduced them to the U.S.,” said Lobo.

During their time at Wallace Ranch, participants heard from the farm’s owner, Neva Day, regarding the growing practices that have shaped her success today. Day has been growing organic dragon fruit since 2013 and has well over 5,000 plants on the ground and more than 20 varieties.

Eric Middleton, UCCE integrated pest management area advisor for San Diego County, talked about managing insects and pests that growers are likely to encounter such as Argentine ants.

According to Middleton, Pecan Sandies are a balanced source of fat, protein, and sugar, making them excellent bait for the sugar-loving insects.

Participants eventually made their way to Dragon Delights Farm located in Ramona. Kevin Brixey, the farm’s owner, has been growing organic dragon fruit for six years.

Although Brixey was hosting this year’s tour participants, he used to be one of them.

“I attended the Pitahaya Festival in 2014 and that’s where I realized dragon fruit was something I could grow. There was a lot of good information being shared and a connection to other growers, so it was a major steppingstone for me,” he says.

Unlike traditional dragon fruit growers, Brixey uses shade to grow his dragon fruit after learning about the method from another grower.

“I was impressed. I liked how the fruit performed under shade and now I use it as a management tool,” Brixey explained. In Inland Valleys, shade can shield fruit from intense sunlight and protect them from unwanted guests that eat the fruit, such as birds.

At the Farm Bureau of San Diego County offices, participants learned about the history of dragon fruit growing in California, food safety, pest management, best production practices and much more.

The presenters included experts like Paul Erickson from Rare Dragon Fruit, Lobo, Middleton, Johanna del Castillo from UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology and Ariana Reyes, a community education specialist from UCCE San Diego.

When reflecting on his time participating in the production tour, Givon, who has been growing dragon fruit for about 20 years and manages a 20-acre farm in Moorpark, said he enjoys reconnecting with other growers the most.

“What others are doing, might be better than what I’m doing,” Givon said. “Or what I’m doing, could be better than what someone else is doing. This time together is good for us to learn from each other.”

Lobo agreed with Givon and added, “I hope that these tours become self-sustained, and that we go back to a research field day at Southcoast REC with regional tours in San Diego and Ventura as we did before, or any other counties.”

The Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit Production Tour is an annual event hosted by UCCE San Diego. To learn more about UCCE San Diego events, visit https://cesandiego.ucanr.edu

2022-10-25T08:08:03-07:00October 25th, 2022|

New Orchard Advisor Brings Research Background

By Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

The central San Joaquin Valley has a new University of California Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor who once took part in research into the way people pronounce the word “almond.”

Cameron Zuber, a UCCE staff researcher in Merced County since 2016, has been named the orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties.

He will cover a variety of crops in Merced County, including walnuts, almonds and pistachios as well as figs and stone fruit, and will work with walnut growers in Madera County, according to the university.

Among his contributions to UCCE has been to keep alive a project on how Californians pronounce the word “almond” and mapping where they live, color-coding whether they pronounce the “l.”

The website https://ucanr.edu/sites/sayalmond was started by a marketing and social media expert who left the UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources a few years ago, spokeswoman Pamela Kan-Rice said.

Zuber earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master’s in environmental systems from UC Merced before joining the university as a researcher.

For orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices related to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling, according to the university.

He also has experience in water management, having studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and soil, water and air interactions.

A growing team

Zuber began his new position June 6, joining a growing team of Extension advisors and specialists as UCANR has received increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature.

He was one of seven new advisors recently announced by the university, with others bringing expertise in wildfire, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.

Among other advisors working with growers, Joy Hollingsworth began as the new table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16; Kirsten Pearsons started as small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on March 1; and Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Nevada region.

2022-07-28T14:58:19-07:00July 28th, 2022|

Munk, ‘pivotal’ in cotton success, retires after 36 years in Fresno County

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

Daniel Munk, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, retired from a 36-year career with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources on July 1. 

“Dan has played a pivotal role in the success of cotton that has been grown in California, especially his work on drought-related growing conditions and how best for cotton to overcome those conditions and thrive,” said Roger Isom, president and CEO of California Cotton Ginner & Growers Association and Western Agricultural Processors Association in Fresno.

“And while I know he has been involved most recently in reduced tillage research, it is his irrigation work that he will be remembered for,” Isom said. “Dan put on numerous irrigation workshops and grower meetings over the years, and he was the cotton industry’s ‘go to guy’ on deficit irrigation and related topics.” 

As a youngster, the Bay Area native was interested in the natural sciences so he earned a B.S. in soil and water science and an M.S. in soil science from UC Davis. 

“I never had an idea of becoming a farm advisor until I worked with Donald Grimes,” Munk said. In 1986, Munk took a job assisting the now UC emeritus water scientist with research on water penetration problems. It was while working with Grimes at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center south of Fresno, Munk said, “I got an understanding of the importance of agriculture.” 

In 1990, he became a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Fresno County.

“Dan has been helpful,” said John Diener, a Five Points farmer who began working with Munk in the 1990s. “If I needed anything, he was helpful, bringing information like for lygus bug or diseases or new varieties.” 

To solve a salinity problem, Diener consulted Munk. “Dan was an irrigation guy and worked with USDA ARS and NRCS. This was bigger than what a local farmer can do,” Diener said, adding that Munk brought UC technical knowledge and resources from USDA Agricultural Research Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to the West Side of Fresno County to build a tile system for managing the salinity in drainage water. “It took a whole group of people to make it happen,” Diener said.

When Munk joined UC Cooperative Extension, California was growing over 1 million acres of cotton, mostly Acala varieties. During the state’s six years of drought spanning the 1980s and 1990s, growers began planting the higher priced extra-long staple Pima cotton varieties instead of Upland cotton types.

In response, Munk began studying ways to improve irrigation management for Pima cotton. He and colleagues also studied plant growth regulators and found that by treating vigorously growing Pima cotton plants with plant growth regulators following first bloom, cotton yields improved by 60 to 120 pounds per acre, which translated to a $50 to $100 per-acre increase in crop value, with higher cotton quality and fewer problems with defoliation. 

As water became increasingly limited in California, the state’s cotton acreage plummeted and Munk turned his research to producing crops with less water using reduced tillage systems. In one study, he and his research collaborators found that they could improve water use efficiency by 37% by growing cotton in wheat residue versus conventional tillage. In other research, Munk and colleagues showed that reduced till cotton systems could reduce fuel use by more than 70%, increase soil carbon by more than 20%, and reduce dust emissions by more than 60%, relative to conventional till approaches. Another of Munk’s projects suggests that garbanzos and sorghum can be grown under no-till practices in the San Joaquin Valley without loss of yield.

“He has also been helpful in issues related to nitrogen uptake and air and water quality,” Isom said.

Because of Munk’s expertise in nutrient and water management practices, he was asked to serve on the state’s Agricultural Expert Panel in 2014 to assess agricultural nitrate control programs. They developed recommendations for the State Water Resources Control Board to protect groundwater.

One of the recommendations was to develop a comprehensive and sustained educational and outreach program. As a result, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and UC California Institute for Water Resources created the Irrigation and Nitrogen Management Training Program, for which Munk helped develop curriculum and train growers and farm consultants on best farm practices for nitrogen and water management. Leading the program’s southern San Joaquin Valley courses, he helped certify more than 300 growers, consultants and farm advisors in protecting groundwater.

“I hope these more recent programs will have lasting impacts on farm economic viability and improved groundwater quality,” Munk said.

The farm advisor also extended his irrigation knowledge beyond farms. Working with fellow UCCE advisors and specialists, Munk conducted hands-on training for school landscape staff in 2012-2013. The staff learned how to measure irrigation output, sample soil and manage water to avoid runoff and improve water quality. 

“He has had a huge impact, and his work will remain instrumental in the cotton industry’s survival in California as we deal with ongoing drought issues,” Isom said. “His departure will leave an empty spot in the cotton world today without a doubt!”

2022-07-20T11:51:59-07:00July 20th, 2022|

UC ANR Adds More Farm, Fire and Forestry Expertise to More Communities

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is continuing to hire scientists and staff to better serve California communities. The most recent people hired for UC Cooperative Extension bring expertise in wildfire, orchard crops, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.

Satink Wolfson hired as newest fire advisor

Barb Satink Wolfson began in her role as UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on June 30.

Her primary responsibilities include wildland fire-related research and outreach for the Central Coast region, while building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities.

Satink Wolfson earned her B.S. and M.S. in forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings to UC ANR more than 20 years of fire-research and outreach experience in Arizona. Her favorite job, though, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park during her undergraduate years.

In her new role, Satink Wolfson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in a variety of ecosystems (such as coastal prairies and oak woodlands), and help all Central Coast communities build resilience to wildland fire so residents can live safely within fire-adapted landscapes.

Satink Wolfson, who will be based at the UCCE office in Hollister starting Aug. 1, can be reached at bsatinkwolfson@ucanr.edu.

Zuber named UCCE orchard crops advisor

Cameron Zuber has been named UC Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties. For Merced County, he will cover orchard crops such as stone fruit, walnuts and almonds, not including pistachios and figs. For Madera County, he will work with walnuts.

Zuber joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016 as a staff researcher in Merced County. In his education and professional career, he has worked in understanding environmental and agricultural systems and their interactions with people, society and governance. Specifically with orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices relating to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling. He has also studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and water management and soil, water and air interactions.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master’s degree in environmental systems from UC Merced.

Zuber is based in the UC Cooperative Extension office located at 2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced, CA 95348 and can be reached at cazuber@ucanr.edu and (209) 385-7403.

Hollingsworth named UCCE table grape advisor

Joy Hollingsworth began working as the new UCCE table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16.

Prior to becoming a table grape advisor, Hollingsworth served for three years as the UCCE nutrient management/soil quality advisor for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. In that position she worked on research and extension projects in a variety of agricultural systems, including work on dairy manure, cover crops and biostimulants in raisin grapes.

Previously, Hollingsworth spent six years working as a research associate for the University of California on agronomic cropping systems, including sugar beets, canola and sorghum.
She earned a master’s degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor’s degree in communication from UC Davis.

Hollingsworth is now based in Tulare and can be reached at (559) 684-3313 or joyhollingsworth@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @ucce_joy.

Carmignani joins UCCE as fire advisor

Luca Carmignani joined UCCE as a fire advisor for Orange and Los Angeles counties May 2. His research interests include image analysis, computer programming and scientific outreach.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Carmignani was a postdoctoral researcher in the Berkeley Fire Research Lab at UC Berkeley. His research has focused on fire and combustion applications, from wildland fires to material flammability.

He earned his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the joint doctoral program between UC San Diego and San Diego State University after obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa in Italy.

Carmignani is based at South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at carmignani@ucanr.edu and (949) 237-2956. Follow him on Twitter @l_carmignani.

Pearsons joins UCCE as small farm advisor

Kirsten Pearsons joined UC Cooperative Extension on March 1 as a small farm advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. She is developing research and extension programs focused on integrating soil health practices and pest management strategies for small-scale farmers and specialty crops.

Prior to joining UC ANR, Pearsons was a postdoctoral researcher at the nonprofit Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where she focused on studying and promoting organic and regenerative agriculture. She worked on Rodale’s long-term Farming Systems Trial, studying how organic and reduced-till field crop production affects long-term farm economics, soil health and water quality compared to conventional practices.

She earned a Ph.D. in entomology at Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. in environmental toxicology at UC Davis.

Pearsons is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at kapearsons@ucanr.edu and (805) 788-9486. She will be posting event information and resources for small-scale farms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Instagram @ucceslosmallfarms.

Satomi moves to UCCE Sutter-Yuba

Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties). He specializes in forest management with a focus on new technologies and wood products.

Prior to moving to UCCE Sutter-Yuba, Satomi served as a UCCE area forest advisor working on forestry and youth education issues for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.

Satomi earned a Master of Forestry looking at the cost efficiency of forest mastication treatments, and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment, both from UC Berkeley. He has also worked as a field forester working on various inventory and timber management programs throughout California.

In the coming year, he hopes to offer workshops for forest landowners and professionals around novel GIS tools, climate-smart silvicultural practices, reforestation best practices, and workforce development opportunities.

Satomi is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-6213 or rpsatomi@ucanr.edu.

Armstrong joins 4-H in Tuolumne County

Erika Armstrong has joined the UCCE Central Sierra team as 4-H Youth Development Program representative for Tuolumne County.

Armstrong, who has spent her career working with nonprofit agencies and managing volunteer programs, worked with United Way Monterey County and the Alliance on Aging. She also was a campaign manager for a candidate for the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County. Her most recent job was stay-at-home mother for her daughters.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in collaborative health and human communication from California State University Monterey Bay.

Armstrong is based at the Tuolumne office and can be reached at (209) 533-6990 and elarmstrong@ucanr.edu.

2022-07-14T09:12:55-07:00July 14th, 2022|

Organic Farmers to get Technical Assistance From CDFA and UC ANR

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is awarding $1.85 million to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources to increase technical assistance for California’s organic farmers.

CDFA’s State Organic Program is executing $850,000 in contracts with UC ANR to run through September 2024, while CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation is awarding a $1 million grant to run from July 2022 to June 2025.

“California farmers provide 36% of all organic production in the United States,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This funding expands technical assistance to growers transitioning to certified organic agriculture and supports our strong California community of organic farmers and consumers by conducting field trials and demonstration projects with farmers to improve organic practices.”

California organically farms just over 2 million acres, which is about 8% of the total agricultural acreage in the state, and will likely continue to expand over time as long as consumer demand continues to rise, according to Houston Wilson, director of UC ANR’s Organic Agriculture Institute.

“Demand for organic agriculture has consistently grown every year for the past two decades,” Wilson said. “Organic currently accounts for 5.8% of domestic food sales.”

“We are excited to see CDFA increasing support for organic agriculture as part of a broader climate-smart agriculture strategy,” said Wilson. “As demand for organic continues to rise, California growers need increasingly targeted technical assistance in all areas of organic production and marketing.”

The CDFA funds will allow UC ANR to hire two academic coordinators, which are currently being recruited.

“The academic coordinators will work directly with growers, as well as develop research and extension projects that will involve existing UC Cooperative Extension personnel,” Wilson said. “One of the coordinators will specifically focus on connecting our efforts with small-scale and historically underserved growers through our partnership with the UC Small Farms Program.”

The organic practices can be used by conventional farms as well as organic farms.

“Just as organic farmers benefit from UC ANR’s pest management, irrigation and crop production research, the new knowledge developed on organic practices by the UC Organic Agriculture Institute will be useful for all California farmers,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

Some of the key UC ANR project objectives include:

  • Conduct research on soil health management, carbon sequestration and crop rotations in organic systems
  • Create new extension and training opportunities for organic growers across California
  • Provide technical assistance to both certified and transitioning organic growers
  • Review and summarize organic acreage and practices in California
  • Develop economic analysis of organic production and markets

The 2022-2023 state budget signed last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom includes $5 million in funds for CDFA to assist farmers with transitioning to organic operations, and the USDA recently announced an investment of up to $300 million for the same purpose.

2022-07-08T10:24:12-07:00July 8th, 2022|

Advances in Pistachio Water Management Workshop July 7

Join UC Nut Crops Advisor Catherine Mae Culumber, Irrigation Specialists Daniele Zaccaria and Khaled Bali, Irrigation Advisor Blake Sanden, Professional Researcher Elia Scudiero, and other University of California experts in this in-person Water Management Workshop on July 7, 2022 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, CA to learn about the latest research and advances in Pistachio Water Management and Irrigation. CEU credits for Soil & Water Management have been approved for this workshop. 

This workshop will be held at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, CA on July 7, 2022.

Registration includes participation fee, coffee breaks, lunch, and access to workshop presentations.

Topics Include: Pistachio soil-plant-water relations, stress physiology, evapotranspiration and crop coefficients, soil-water budgeting, soil characterization and salinity mapping, tree water status, irrigation scheduling, and strategies for Pistachio irrigation management under limited and impaired water supplies. A set of irrigation-related methods, technologies, and products to help growers schedule and manage irrigation will also be presented during the Workshop. 

Who Should Attend: Pistachio growers and farm managers, representatives from the pistachio production industry, irrigation consultants and practitioners, CCAs, CPAs, water resource managers, water conservation districts’ personnel, irrigation districts’ managers, extension specialists and advisors, professional researchers, university students, and representatives from state agencies. 

To register, click here.

2022-06-22T09:55:46-07:00June 22nd, 2022|
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