Tomato Roots Studied for Drought Resilient

Drought-Resilient Tomatoes – Part One

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

The key to drought resilience in crops like tomatoes most likely lies in the roots, which are hard to study because they are of course underground. Siobhan Brady and a team of researchers at UC Davis have been working on creating a molecular atlas of tomato roots, where plants first detect the effects of drought and other environmental threats.

“We wanted to be able to first try to understand what is happening in the individual cells within those roots underground. And then to use that as a platform to try to understand similarities and differences in other root cells of other species,” said Brady.

Among many discoveries in this research, Brady and his team have been able to better understand how the exodermis helps make plants more drought resilient.

“It hadn’t really been molecularly characterized before, but it produces this barrier. And that barrier is thought to be really important for protecting the root when there isn’t enough water. In the ground. So it kind of forms a barrier to keep that water in. And so now we have the genes that we think are controlling that, and so we can study that process more and hopefully be able to breed more drought-resilient tomatoes,” noted Brady.


2021-06-28T18:33:53-07:00June 28th, 2021|

Managing Wildland Weeds

UC Launches WeedCUT,  To Manage Invasive Weeds in Wildlands 

California has abundant wildlands — forests, rangeland, open areas, wildlife refuges and national, state, and local parks — that need protection from invasive plants. Invasive plants affect all Californians by increasing wildfire potential; reducing water resources; accelerating erosion and flooding; threatening wildlife; degrading range, crop and timberland; and diminishing outdoor recreation opportunities. According to the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC), more than 200 identified plant species harm California’s wildlands.

Cal-IPC and the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), with funding from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Alliance Grants Program, developed two resources that provide land managers access to the latest information on non-herbicide practices for managing weeds in wildlands. Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control is a free downloadable manual. The same information has been incorporated into an interactive online tool called WeedCUT (Weed Control User Tool:

“We anticipate WeedCUT will increase the use of more mechanical, physical, or biological practices, and potentially result in the reduction of herbicides used to manage wildland invasive weeds,” said area IPM advisor emeritus Cheryl Wilen. “Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control and WeedCUT were developed so land managers can become more knowledgeable and skilled in the use of non-herbicide methods as part of an IPM program.”

Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control provides comprehensive descriptions of 21 commonly used non-herbicide weed control techniques and biological control agents for 18 invasive plants. Each chapter is the synthesis of research and on-the-ground knowledge from practitioners about non-herbicide methods. The chapters describe how a technique is best applied, the types of invasive plants and environmental conditions where it is most effective, and what its shortfalls might be. Environmental, cultural, and human safety risks are highlighted to help support the safe and effective use of these methods.

Wildland Weeds Harm Cattle

WeedCUT is the online version and can be used to learn about the different non-herbicide management methods, including the section on biological control. To filter through the database and learn which management practice to consider for a particular site and invasive plant type, a simple interface allows users to pick characteristics that describe their site and invasive plant problem. The tool then filters through the database to display the practices ranked by efficacy (excellent, good, fair, poor or ineffective). As in the manual, use of the technique and potential hazards are covered.

Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control and WeedCUT are designed to be the go-to resources for practitioners that complement their conventional weed management work with non-herbicide techniques or are restricted in their use of herbicides. Both resources will help practitioners manage weeds more effectively.

“Many experts in the field have contributed to create the manual and WeedCUT. It has been exciting to see these techniques described and reviewed so carefully. We’re looking forward to seeing land managers, as well as all folks fighting weeds, incorporating the information from the manual and WeedCUT into their work,” said Jutta Burger, science program director and project lead with Cal-IPC.

While the manual and tool focus on non-herbicide methods, the hope is future funding can be found to continue the work and integrate herbicide options online.

“Land managers typically use both herbicide and non-herbicide methods, alone and in combination, to manage invasive plants in wildlands,” said UC Cooperative Extension advisor and UC IPM-affiliated advisor Tom Getts. “A tool that combined both herbicide and non-herbicide methods would guide land managers to determine the most effective overall management program for their particular site.”

2021-06-25T19:08:48-07:00June 25th, 2021|

Slowing Development Over Farmland

California Farmland Trust to Host Event to Slow Pace of Farmland Loss to Development


 California Farmland Trust (CFT) will be hosting the inaugural Race to Slow the Pace run at Bokisch Vineyards on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. This live (virtual optional) 5K fundraiser aims to connect people with nature, the environment and the family farms that feed them. The run will foster a connection to the land and the importance of slowing the pace of development to protect valuable farmland.

“We believe in connecting people with the land that feeds our families and the Race to Slow the Pace is a fun, healthy opportunity to take in the climate resilient environment that farmland provides,” shared Charlotte Mitchell, executive director at California Farmland Trust. “When we were brainstorming locations, Bokisch Vineyards was an obvious fit. Markus and Liz have a true appreciation for the land and have championed our mission. Not to mention, the course offers breath-taking views and opportunities to learn what makes Bokisch Vineyards unique.”

California Winegrape Vineyard

California Winegrape Vineyard

Race to Slow the Pace runners will weave through the scenic Bokisch Vineyards, kicking-off where the winery meets the vineyard, continuing through the property on a maintained terrain, taking in the vines and the habitat, and eventually crossing the finish line at Bokisch’s infamous oak tree picnic area. Runners and registered guests will be served a paella lunch and celebrate with awards and Bokisch wine.

“We’re honored to host the inaugural Race to Slow the Pace benefitting California Farmland Trust,” shared Markus and Liz Bokisch. “It’s been our mission to leave the land better than we found it, for our children and our children’s children, while also teaching and inspiring others towards that cause. We look forward to having trained runners, casual joggers, wine enthusiasts, and those that simply love the land, visit our vineyard.”


For event information visit To learn more about Bokisch Vineyards visit

2021-06-24T21:35:08-07:00June 24th, 2021|

Climate Change Affecting Water Availability

Climate Impact on Water Management

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

Unfortunately, California has had a lot of experience in dealing with drought. While that is not new to the state, what has changed are temperatures, which have a big impact on how we manage our water resources. Dr. Safeeq Khan is a water and watershed sciences extension specialist with the University of California Ag and Natural Resources.

“With a warmer climate, what is happening is actually the precipitation phase itself is shifting from snow to rain. So we’re getting a lot more rain. All the precipitation is falling as rain. So what is happening is, you know, all the water is actually hitting the creek and the stream and, you know, flowing down the stream. So it’s not being held, um, in any type of storage. So that’s one thing that has changed, right? So our capacity to store water has shifted drastically,” said Khan.

Dr. Khan adds that not only do these changing temperatures affect how much water we can capture, but it also increases the amount of water that we lose even if it is captured due to evaporation.

Khan… “Because of the warmer temperature of the atmosphere itself, you know, it’s warmer, right? So the hot air can boil a lot more water. So, the natural vegetation and evaporation from the water surfaces, be it a lake, or reservoirs, whatever. All of those things are increasing.”

2021-06-22T21:16:01-07:00June 22nd, 2021|

Mask Rule Dropped for Ag Employees

Cal/OSHA Votes To Drop Workplace Mask Rule For Fully Vaccinated Workers

On Thursday, June 17th, California regulators approved revised worksite pandemic rules that allow fully vaccinated employees the same freedoms as when they are off the job. The revised regulations adopted come after weeks of confusion. They conform with general state guidelines by ending most mask rules for people who are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order enabling the revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day approval period by the state Office of Administrative Law. See the COVID Prevention Emergency Readoption Standard here.

The key change in the revisions is abandoning a controversial provision where all employees would have had to wear masks indoors if there were unvaccinated employees in the workplace. Physical distancing and barriers are removed from the ETS, regardless of vaccination status. Physical distancing rules in employer-provided housing and transportation also are eliminated, if all employees are vaccinated.

Watch for additional details of the revised standard in Monday’s edition of the Update and register for the “Impacts of New COVID Rules on Ag Labor” webinar (see below).

2021-06-18T08:28:35-07:00June 18th, 2021|

Prop 12 Problems

Prop 12 a ‘Tough Situation’ for the Pork Industry

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Proposition 12 was passed by referendum back in 2018 and is scheduled to come into effect in 2022. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how the law, which establishes new standards for confinement of specified farm animals, will be executed. Christine McCracken is executive director and protein analyst at Rabobank.

“The industry is kind of put into, you know, this difficult position of being faced with a rule that will make a lot of the pork that we raise here in the U.S. ineligible for sale in California without some pretty major legal consequences and financial consequences,” said McCracken.

The controversy is surrounding the fact that the law requiring certain growing conditions applies to all pork sold in California, regardless of where it is raised.

“It’s a tough position to be in for everyone: the retailer obviously, and not knowing whether or not they’ll have a lot of pork to sell. It’s tough for the processor, you know, with the potential of not having the visibility to encourage those changes and not knowing whether or not they’ll have enough pigs to process for California,” said McCracken.

“And for the producer, you know, they obviously have the added risk of not having markets for their pigs. So it’s, it’s a tough kind of industry situation at the moment,” noted McCracken.

Industry groups have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

2021-06-14T18:07:00-07:00June 14th, 2021|

Newsom Gets Letter Regarding Drought

David G. Valadao and  State Senator Melissa Hurtado Contact Governor Newsom

This week, Congressman David G. Valadao and California State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) sent Governor Newsom a letter to ensure that Fresno, Kings, Kern, and Tulare counties, whose jobs depend directly on farms, are given full consideration when contemplating actions to mitigate the negative impacts of a second year of a critically severe and dangerous drought. President Biden’s Interagency Working Group was copied on the letter.

“Central Valley farmers are doing everything they can to mitigate this crisis, and we need you to do everything you can to help them,” said Congressman Valadao. “Senator Hurtado and I understand the challenges both state and federal officials currently face in allocating extremely limited water supplies to meet all the demands of the state. There is no doubt that the agriculture industry can, should, and currently is playing a role in reducing water use during these difficult times. Not only have many farmers in our districts implemented more modern technology and irrigation practices to efficiently use water, but farmers across our districts have already fallowed fields and prematurely ripped out permanent crops in an effort to reduce water use further. We strongly urge you to think about our Central Valley farmers when making critical decisions on drought mitigation.”

“California is one state of many, including countries around the world, that is experiencing a drought unlike any other,” said Senator Hurtado. “Farmers of the Central Valley are world leaders and have been at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Support for our farmers equals support for our food—we may not be able to avoid this water crisis, but we can work to avoid a food crisis. There is no room for partisan politics in addressing this enormous challenge. Congressman Valadao, myself, and the Valley Delegation have been working tirelessly to address the needs of our constituents, farmers and farmworkers. We will continue to do so.”

2021-06-17T10:44:30-07:00June 14th, 2021|

CFLCA To Host Feeding the Future June 26

California Farm Labor Contractor Association Event Will Support Scholars While Celebrating 33 Years of Service

The California Farm Labor Contractor Association (CFLCA) will host, “Feeding the Future: Supporting Scholars & Celebrating 33 Years of Service,” at the California Agriculture Museum in Woodland on Saturday, June 26.

The event combines fundraising activities for CFLCA’s Farm Worker Scholarship fund along with an opportunity to bid a fond farewell to CFLCA’s Executive Director and organization co-founder Guadalupe (Lupe) Sandoval, who is retiring from the non-profit FLC association.

When incorporated in 2009, Lupe’s vision for CFLCA was to help farm labor contractors provide safe, respectful, and compliant places of work for essential workers. He leaves a legacy of progressive influence in the agricultural arena. According to CFLCA’s president, Blanca Wright, “Lupe has dedicated over 33 years to consulting with and educating farmworkers, supervisors, their employers, and others on safety, management, and compliance issues. We will certainly miss his tenacity on behalf of the farm labor contractor and farmworker communities. The CFLCA Board of Directors is committed to building on Lupe’s vision which includes the development of programs to promote gender equity and best practices along with growing participation by our members in the legislative arena.”

The CFLCA scholarship fund was established in 2016 and has provided over $200,000 in financial assistance to the children of FLC-employed farmworkers since that time. “Feeding the Future: Supporting Scholars & Celebrating 33 Years of Service,” includes dinner and drinks, a silent auction to fund scholarships, admission to the museum, and an opportunity to visit with old and new industry colleagues. 

Limited tickets are available for $60. For admission information or to learn about CFLCA’s scholarships and fundraising efforts, visit or call 916-389-1246. Scholarship applications must be submitted by June 12th


Established in 2009, California Farm Labor Contractor Association (CFLCA) represents members who employ over 250,000 farm workers engaged in agricultural production throughout California. For over a decade, CFLCA has served a vital role in helping members to navigate complex labor laws. We promote educational opportunities and best management practices to help our members provide safe, respectful, and compliant work environments benefiting employees and grower clients.

2021-06-14T15:11:28-07:00June 14th, 2021|

Almond Shipments Set New Record

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


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


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

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


Record shipments across the globe


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

This Growing Season Could Be Similar to 2015

Low Water Allocations Remind Growers of 2015


By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

The year 2015 is not a year most farmers remember fondly. The severe drought-affected California agriculture in profound ways and alarmingly 2021 is looking very similar.

Mike Wade is the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, which is a non-profit educational organization to help inform the public about agricultural water use.

“We’ve got quite a situation in California this year, similar to what we saw in 2015. And if we use that as kind of an example of what we might expect this year, we had over 540,000 acres of fallowed farmland back in 2015,” said Wade.

“And we’re expecting probably as much, or maybe more this year. Most of the state in agriculture has had significant water supply cuts. Probably one in four acres is facing a 5% water allocation this year. And huge other swaths have had 25% cuts – or they’re getting about 75%. But it’s affecting every corner of California agriculture and in a way that we’re starting to see impacts on our food supply this summer and into the fall through acreage reductions,” noted Wade.


2021-06-13T20:47:16-07:00June 13th, 2021|
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