A New WOTUS Rule?

US EPA and Army Propose New WOTUS Rule

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (the agencies) announced a proposed rule to re-establish the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) which had been in place for decades, updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions.

This action advances the agencies’ goal of establishing a durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries that depend on clean water.

This proposed rule would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, Tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the implementation of WOTUS and future regulatory actions.

According to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, “Through our engagement with stakeholders across the country, we’ve heard overwhelming calls for a durable definition of WOTUS that protects the environment and that is grounded in the experience of those who steward our waters. Today’s action advances our process toward a stronger rule that achieves our shared priorities.”

EPA claims that recent court decisions have reinforced the need for a stable and certain definition of WOTUS. The U.S. District Courts for both Arizona and New Mexico have vacated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.  Considering the court actions, the agencies have been implementing the pre-2015 regulatory regime nationwide since early September 2021.

EPA claims that the proposed rule would solidify the rules of the road for a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with stakeholders to refine the definition of WOTUS in both implementation and future regulatory actions.   EPA further states the proposed rule would maintain the longstanding exclusions of the pre-2015 regulations as well as the exemptions and exclusions in the Clean Water Act on which the agricultural community has come to rely.

The agencies are taking comment on this proposed rule for 60 days beginning on the date it is published in the Federal Register.  The Association is currently reviewing the proposed rule in preparation of making comments.

2021-11-24T11:07:29-08:00November 24th, 2021|

UC Davis Student Danielle Rutkowski Wins Top Honors At ESA Meeting

Danielle Rutkowski, UC Davis doctoral student, is framed by the award she won at the Entomological Society of America meeting. (Photo by the Entomological Society of America,

UC Davis Doctoral Candidate Wins High Honors at ESA Meeting

Doctoral student Danielle Rutkowski of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology received the  President’s Prize in her category for her research presentation at the recent Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Denver.Rutkowski delivered her 10-minute presentation on “Fungicide Impacts on Bumble Bees are Mediated via Effects on Bee-Associated Fungi” in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Ecology 3.” She studies with community ecologist Rachel Vannette, associate professor, and is also advised by community ecologist and professor Rick Karban.

At the ESA’s annual meetings, students are offered the opportunity to present their research and win prizes. They can compete in 10-minute papers (oral), posters, or infographics. First-place winners receive a one-year free membership in ESA, a $75 cash prize, and a certificate. Second-winners score a one-year free membership in ESA and a certificate.

Rutkowski’s abstract:

“Native bees including bumble bees are important pollinators but face threats from multiple sources, including agrochemical application. Declining bumble bee populations have been linked to fungicide application, which could directly affect the fungi often found in the stored food and GI tract of healthy bumble bees. Here, we test the hypothesis that fungicides impact bee health by disrupting bumble bee -fungi interactions.

Using two species, Bombus vosnesenskii and B. impatiens, we test the interactive effect of the fungicide propiconazole and fungal supplementation on the survival, reproduction, and microbiome composition of microcolonies (queenless colonies). We found that both bee species benefitted from fungi, but were differentially affected by fungicides.

In B. vosnesenskii, fungicide exposure decreased survival while fungal supplementation mitigated fungicide effects. For B. impatiens, fungicide application had no effect, but fungal supplementation improved survival and offspring production. Fungicides altered fungal microbiome composition in both species, and reduced fungal abundance in B. vosnesenskii microcolonies, but not in B. impatiens, where instead fungal addition actually decreased fungal abundance.

Our results highlight species-specific differences in both response to fungicides and the nature of fungal associations with bees, and caution the use of results obtained using one species to predict the responses of other species. These results suggest that fungicides can alter bee- fungi interactions with consequences for bee survival and reproduction, and suggest that exploring the mechanisms of such interactions, including interactions within bee-associated fungal communities, may offer insights into bumble bee biology and bumble bee conservation strategies. (Paper co-authors are associate professor Rachel Vannette, Eliza Litsey and Isabelle Maalouf)

Rutkowski completed her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, where she studied how the relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and their host plants impacts insect herbivores. She currently studies  “how bumble bees interact with the microbes, particularly fungi, in their environment, and how these relationships impact bee health.”

Two other UC Davis graduate students won second-place honors in their respective categories.

Maureen Page with the lab of pollinator ecologist Neal Williams, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology  and Nematology, scored second place for her presentation, “Optimizing Pollinator-friendly Plant Mixes to Simultaneously Support Wild and Managed Bees.” She competed in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Pollinators.

Kyle Lewald, with the College of Biological Sciences and the Integrated Genomics and Genetics Graduate Group, but a member of the lab of molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won second in his category, Systems, Evolution and Biodiversity: Genetics and Molecular Biology, with his speech on “Assembly of Highly Contiguous Diploid Genome for the Agricultural Pest, Tuta absoluta.” 

ESA, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Annapolis, Md., is the world’s largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and others in related disciplines. Its 7000 members are in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. 

2021-11-22T02:48:33-08:00November 22nd, 2021|

Pistachios Crop Is Big for and Off Year

Pistachios Off-Year Crop Comes in Big this Season

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

  Pistachios are alternate bearing, meaning one year a heavy crop, the next year a lighter crop. But this year, an off-year came in very strong, according to Richard Matoian,  President of American Pistachio Growers. “It came as a surprise to everyone that this crop for 2021 is as large as it is. We certainly don’t have the final numbers in, but everyone is expecting it to end up somewhere between 1.15 to 1.2 billion pounds, which would be larger than the record crop we had in 2020, which was just over a billion pounds,” noted Matoian.

Matoian said they’ll have a better picture of this new crop in the next few weeks. And we asked Matoian what the theory is, what could cause this off-year crop to be such an on-year volume of crop? “So, what we saw in 2021 is that the individual nut size is smaller, and that has to do with the warm spring that we had and in some of the hot weather conditions, probably the lack of water in many of the growing areas as well. But despite the smaller-sized nuts, the trees produced at a pretty high level,” explained Matoian.

Matoian said he’s been talking to growers about it. “Growers in the on-year in 2020, didn’t have as large an on-year crop, and so that’s why we think that the trees just had enough capacity to produce at pretty high levels this year,” he noted. And of course, adding to the increased production was thousands a new acres of pistachio crop coming into production this year.

2021-11-17T06:25:27-08:00November 17th, 2021|

Albert Keck is New Western Growers Chairman

From Western Growers

Albert Keck is Elected New Western Growers Chairman of the Board

Albert P. Keck II, President of Hadley Date Gardens, Inc., will serve as the Western Growers Chairman of the Board of Directors for a one-year term.

Keck, a third-generation Californian and farmer, is a lifelong native of the Coachella Valley. He is Chairman of the California Date Administrative Committee and the California Date Commission. He was elected to the Western Growers board in 2015, and previously served as Senior Vice Chairman.

“Our industry is grappling with issues and challenges more daunting than ever, and it seems the perfect time for a happy warrior to step into the role of Chairman of the Western Growers Board of Directors,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. “Albert Keck is indeed a happy warrior, always looking to get after the toughest industry issues with a limitless supply of creative energy and imagination. I look forward to working with him to press forward against, or around, the obstacles confronting our members.”

Outgoing Western Growers Chairman Ryan Talley passed the gavel to Keck during the Western Growers 2021 Annual Meeting in San Diego. “I have been fortunate beyond words to serve my first two years in this position alongside Ryan Talley, who led us as Chairman through a historic pandemic with calm confidence and wise counsel,” Puglia said. “As the only person to serve two years as WG’s Chairman, Ryan has given far more time and effort for the greater good than could be anticipated. We are enormously grateful to him and to his family.”

Keck sat down for a Q&A to explain what he sees as the biggest issues he will face under his Chairmanship.

Where does the agriculture industry stand amid this difficult pandemic transition period?

We’ve been in this surreal spin cycle for going on two years. It’s nice to think we’re coming out of this malaise that we’re in. That’s our hope, but we’ve had these false starts plenty this past year, right? I refuse to accept this new normal as the new reality – no, it’s not. It’s still surreal and dystopic. It’s not our new normal. It’s messed up, and we are desperately needing to get out of it. That being said, the challenges we face are no less than what they’ve always been.

And what do you see as the top challenges?

Labor and water are neverending. They’ve always been there. It’s bad because it seems like they are becoming white noise. It’s like, what’s new in the last 20 years? Labor and water are always going to be some of the most important issues that we’re grappling with. But coming out of this COVID time in our country, what we’re really starting to see is real threats to our supply and distribution channels. We’re starting to realize how vulnerable we all are in our industry and our individual businesses.

How can we translate this problem to a wider audience?

I think we have a good story to tell, and I think people are becoming much more aware of the essentials in their lives. I think we’re supplying them with an essential need in food, and I think there is a huge opportunity there that is going to elevate our message that we matter. We are a key part of everyone’s lives, and there are a lot of vulnerabilities in the supply chain that can affect everyone here in our country. There’s going to be some interesting things that come from that, and that may be a shifting of our awareness as a society and as a culture. I think Western Growers is in a good position to capitalize on that.

Besides Keck, the other newly-installed members of the 2022 Western Growers Executive Committee are: Western Growers CEO and President Dave Puglia; Senior Vice Chairman Stuart Woolf, President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing; Vice Chairman Rob Yraceburu, President of Wonderful Orchards; Treasurer Neill Callis, General Manager of Turlock Fruit Company; Executive Secretary Don Cameron, Vice President of Terranova Ranch; Talley, in his role as Past Chairman, and Ron Ratto, President of Ratto Bros. in his role as Past Past Chairman.

2021-11-12T08:57:07-08:00November 12th, 2021|

California Dairies Get Big Award!

California Receives $1.8 Million Dairy Business Innovation Initiative Award from U.S. Department of Agriculture for “Pacific Coast Coalition”

 The California State University, Fresno Foundation, in partnership with the California Dairy Innovation Center (CDIC), today announced the receipt of a $1.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service to create a “Pacific Coast Coalition” to support dairy businesses in California, Oregon and Washington in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products. Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives provide direct technical assistance, educational support, and grants to dairy businesses.

The Pacific Coast Coalition will be led by host California State University, Fresno and will implement programs in partnership with CDIC and collaboration with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the University of California, Davis, Humboldt State University and Oregon State University. The CDIC, and its steering committee, will serve as an advisory board to the Coalition, bringing a comprehensive business perspective, and assisting with a sub-awards program which will make $300,000 in grant funding available to regional dairy businesses for innovation-related investments annually for three years.

Through this program, Fresno State and collaborating institutions will deliver hands-on technical assistance to dairy businesses, providing access to laboratory space and equipment to facilitate development and innovation. The Coalition has a strong focus on education as well and will offer learning opportunities on technical topics and related areas of interest such as supply chain innovation, distribution, packaging, marketing, and branding strategies.

Developing the regional workforce by offering online and bilingual programs will be key to offering opportunities for growth to the region’s diverse population while meeting the dairy industry’s needs. Recognizing the necessity of collaboratively addressing the significant issues facing the Pacific Coast region’s dairy industry, Fresno State will leverage its technical expertise and research capabilities in value-added dairy innovation with a remarkable set of academic and business partners.

John Talbot, CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) said, “This collaboration is why the CDIC was created, to support collaboration and attract investment in California’s dairy industry. We’re pleased to join the group of existing coalitions in Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee, in to advance our industry nationwide.”

California leads the nation in milk production and milk is the number one agricultural commodity in the state. California also is a leading exporter of dairy products. The Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of dairy businesses that are well-positioned to serve the needs of growing markets in Asia and Latin America.

“The Pacific Coast Coalition will contribute to our competitive advantage in global markets and directly benefit our regional businesses. It will be instrumental to stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthening the development of our workforce pipeline, and ultimately leading to the increased use of our milk in value-added products,” added Talbot.

The USDA Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiative supports dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. DBI Initiatives provide direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses, including niche dairy products, such as specialty cheese, or dairy products derived from the milk of a dairy animal, including cow, sheep, and goat milk.

2021-11-22T02:46:12-08:00November 11th, 2021|

Wheat Growers Get Help with Fertilizer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specialty Crops Funding Gets $54.5 Million

California Agriculture Leads the Nation in Funding for Specialty Crops

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AB 1346 Seen As Stepping Stone

 

Small Engine Ban Puts Cart Before the Horse

 

By Mike Stephens with the Ag Information Network

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Bohart Museum of Entomology Celebrates 75 years!

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

Bohart Museum, Founded in 1946, Celebrates 75th Anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

John Pehrson Honored As Citrus Expert

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

Citrus Industry Honors Longtime UCCE Citrus Expert John Pehrson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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