Coating Crops For Protection

Crop Enhancement Developing Crop Camouflage


By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 


With increased consumer and regulatory pressure on crop protection products, many companies are looking to develop alternatives to legacy chemicals. Crop Enhancement is one such San Jose-based company that’s taking a novel approach to protection from insect pests.

“Our approach at Crop Enhancement has been to focus on the plant surface and we wanted to make that surface harder to attack. We’ve created non-toxic plant-based coatings that protect crops from pests and diseases. We supply them as a concentrate that gets diluted in a spray tank and applied just like other crop protectants,” said Company CEO Damian Hajduk.

Hajduk likens the product to camouflage, so that certain pests don’t recognize the plant as food.

“You know, we thought we were creating a shield on the plant surface that would block insects from reaching the fruit or the plant. But when we look closely, we saw something different. We were actually creating camouflage for plants. So when we place insects on a treated plant, they wander aimlessly over the surface. They don’t recognize it as something they want to eat or reproduce on. So they rarely stop to feed. They become malnourished and they gradually starve,” Hajduk said.

Learn more about the product, which is still in the development phase, at their website

2021-09-14T19:37:21-07:00September 14th, 2021|

Elaine Trevino is Tapped as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States

Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino Nominated as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator 

Almond Alliance of California President Elaine Trevino has been nominated by President Biden as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States Trade Representative. The position is responsible for conducting and overseeing international negotiations related to trade of the nation’s agricultural products – including California almonds.

Almond Alliance Chairman Mike Curry commented, “Although we will miss Elaine’s leadership and energy, we are excited for the almond industry, the Central Valley (where she grew up) and California agriculture to have such a passionate and committed person serving in the Chief Agricultural Negotiator role. We are thrilled to see Elaine nominated for this position and know that her experience with us at the Almond Alliance will carry over into her new role – working for farmers and ranchers, their families and the workers and businesses in the rural communities where we live.”

Curry noted that Elaine’s nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation. “We assure our members that the Board of Directors of the Almond Alliance will lead a smooth transition in partnership with Elaine to identify and hire her successor. While we’re transitioning, the Board, Elaine and the Almond Alliance team will not skip a beat in our advocacy work on behalf of California almonds, both on the state and federal levels.”

As President of the Almond Alliance of California (AAC), Elaine leads a member-based trade association that advocates on regulatory and legislative issues in areas of international trade, food safety, water quality and availability, crop protection, air quality, worker safety, supply chain and feed quality.

Elaine has worked on advocating for funding for COVID-19 relief, addressing retaliatory tariffs, climate smart farming, public private partnerships for opening new markets and strengthening existing markets and addressing technical sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. Elaine works at the local and federal levels on addressing port congestions and supply chain disruptions and excessive costs.

Elaine served as a Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis.  She was responsible for the oversight of the international export and trade programs, specialty crop block grant funding, division of marketing services, plant health and pest prevention and the statewide county fair network. Elaine serves on USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC).  Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, Elaine has a long history of community service and has a great respect for agriculture and the value of the industry to California’s economy. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

2021-09-14T17:05:19-07:00September 14th, 2021|

South of Delta Water Deliveries Not Hopeful


More Conveyance Needed for Ag Water


By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network


What’s the future look like in terms of water deliveries from the Delta for farmers? David Orth is a principal at New Current Water and Land based in Fresno, a consulting firm helping growers navigate SGMA.


“I believe that the long-term solution for the San Joaquin Valley is that we restore some of the surface water from Delta exports that we developed a lot of our property around to levels that pull us away from and allow us to sustainably use ground water.


“Again, having fought the battle of Delta exports for a couple of decades, I’m not optimistic that we’re going to solve that problem,” said Orth. “There are these little issues relative to the Endangered Species Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Water Quality Acts that really impact our ability to export surface water back into the valley. And so we can talk about creating recharge basins, we can talk about in creating conveyance where there’s really high flow storm sewers and keeping more of that water here as opposed to flowing out of the Delta,” Orth said.

And Orth said, if something doesn’t seriously happen fast, it doesn’t look real good for the future.

There’s not 2 million-acre feet of water that can be developed under those strategies. There’s a fraction of that 2 million, so the reality is we’re going to see a shrinking of production land. There’s just, in my view, no way to get around it.

2021-09-09T20:27:50-07:00September 9th, 2021|

Trade Offs for Sustainability

Sustainability is All About Trade Offs

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

There is often misunderstanding and disagreement on what is truly sustainable when it comes to food and agriculture. Food futurist and author Jack Bobo said a lot of this difference in perspective comes from how localized your point of view is coming from. He says it’s a continuum that involves trade offs along the way.

“We need to think of sustainability, not in terms of good or bad or right or wrong, but in terms of choices and consequences. Consumers think of sustainability in terms of local sustainability,” Bobo said. “If I use less water, less fertilizer, less insecticides, that’s good. But agribusinesses think in terms of global sustainability. The more intensively I farm, the lower the impact in other places. And so it’s a continuum from local sustainability to global sustainability, and there will always be trade offs between the two.

“Organic has a lower local environmental footprint often, but it has a bigger global footprint because you just need more acres. Consumers though, are working with food companies and asking for regenerative because it has that local environmental benefit, but we need them to also understand the global consequences of that,” explained Bobo.

Bobo recently released a new book titled “Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices”.

2021-09-08T21:07:09-07:00September 8th, 2021|

Ag-Tech Needs to Collaborate

Agtech Companies Need to Integrate and Collaborate

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 

As technology for the farm has developed, new problems have emerged. Two big ones for autonomous farming, said Carbon Robotics CEO Paul Mikesell, are too many separate applications that don’t integrate, and no way for companies to interact with each other on the farm level.

“We have this sort of field readiness for autonomy problem that I think we’re going to have to work together to overcome so that we can have a cooperative environment. Airplanes do this with a system called ADS-B where they talk to each other. We need to have some way for these different companies to work together so that they don’t bump into each other, and so that they can schedule around each other. And it’s not even just the autonomous stuff, but it’s things like where are the center pivots and what direction are they going? And things like that,” said Mikesell.

Mikesell noted at an even more fundamental level, all of ag-tech needs better ways to integrate with each other so that farmers don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they want to add a new tool.

“What I think would be bad for everybody is if all of these companies went out and had their own independent walled garden platform. And then as a farmer, you don’t have any, the ability to jump from one to the other or aggregate the data together.” explained Mikesell. “As a farmer, you want to be able to see all that stuff together, and if everybody’s doing this separate and there’s not an open platform, we’re going to wind up in a spot that just makes things worse. You know, like why do you have so many apps on your phone, right? It’s because well everything tries to keep itself separate.”

Carbon Robotics is one ag-tech company seeking collaboration in these areas.


2021-09-07T20:56:15-07:00September 7th, 2021|

Meat Costs Increase

USDA Forecast: Higher Prices For All Meat Categories


By David Sparks with the Ag Information Network


USDA is forecasting higher prices for all meat categories. “We increased our steer price by 50 cents a hundred weight, increased our hog price forecast by three dollars a hundred weight, which is a pretty big increase for one month, just reflecting strong demand. And that’s mostly domestic demand for pork,” said World AG Outlook Board Chair Mark Jekanowski.

Jekanowski said poultry price estimates also increased. “Broilers by one cent a pound and turkeys by 1.8 cents a pound. And those higher prices forecast into 2021 just reflect the expectations of tighter supplies, given the higher feed costs that that industry is going to be facing.”

Meanwhile, one notable change in the meat trade forecast: “We pulled back our pork export forecast and that is also just reflecting softer demand by several of our key markets, including China, where China is rebuilding their herd,” Jekanowski said.

Jekanowski noted USDA made mostly minor changes on its meat supply. “Looking forward into 2021 with the tighter supplies, especially of corn and soybeans and much higher prices that are expected to follow from that, we expect that that will show up in some reduced expectations for meat production,” he said. “As a result, we pulled back our forecasts for both broiler and turkey production. We also pulled back our forecast for beef production, and that reflects, in part lighter carcass weights.

He said the only increase expected for 2021 is in pork production. “That reflects the data that we got last month in the Hogs and Pigs report and also the slaughter data that we’ve been observing, suggesting that pork supplies are likely to increase. But even there, the increase in port production forecast is relatively small,” noted Jekanowski

2021-09-02T21:01:10-07:00September 2nd, 2021|

Field Bindweed And Tomatoes

Field Bindweed Yield Impacts on Processing Tomatoes May be Less Than Expected

By Scott Stoddard,  County Director and UCANR Farm Advisor, Merced County

Field bindweed (Convolvulsus arvensis) is considered by many tomato growers to be the most problematic of all weeds in California production areas. Indeed, field bindweed and the closely related morningglory weeds were ranked the 8th most troublesome weeds in North America in a recent survey by the Weed Science Society of America (Van Wychen, 2019).

The rapid adoption of drip irrigation and the economic necessity of maintaining the beds and replanting with only minimal tillage for multiple seasons in processing tomatoes has created a system where field bindweed has become more prevalent. Field bindweed is extremely difficult to control because it propagates from seed and vegetatively from buds formed in the roots. Seedlings can be controlled with tillage when very young, but they become perennial very rapidly. Chemical control of seedlings is possible, but established plants are much more difficult to control.

Established plants often have a large root system relative to the amount of top growth, and thus are extremely tolerant of post emergence herbicides such as carfentrazone (Shark), glufosinate (Rely), and glyphosate (Roundup).

Bindweed is a headache not only for its persistent and pernicious growth habit and ability to reduce tomato yields, but also because it can physically stop a processing tomato harvester in the field. Vigorously growing vines can become entangled around the shaker and conveyor belts, requiring the equipment operator to shut down and manually clear out the foliage.

Several years ago, myself and other UC researchers conducted herbicide trials evaluating field bindweed control — with marginal success. In a given year and location, most of the registered herbicides in tomatoes gave only temporary suppression – about 40 – 80% bindweed control at 8 weeks after transplanting. Best results were observed where herbicides were stacked: trifluralin (Treflan) pre-plant incorporated followed by rimsulfuron (Matrix) post. Glyphosate helped in situations where the bindweed emerged early and could be applied before transplanting.

2021-09-01T21:02:16-07:00September 1st, 2021|

Drought Causes Cattle Sell 0ff

Drought Forces Ranchers to Make Tough Decisions about Selling Cattle


By Russell Nemetz with the Ag Information Network


As the drought continues across the West, ranchers are having to make tough herd management decisions because of the lack of water and pasture for their livestock.

“What they’re telling me is that they’re spending time at the kitchen table trying to decide how much feed they’re able to gather up so how many cows they’re going to be able to hang onto,” said Larry Schnell, owner of Stockman’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, ND and Livestock Marketing Association president. “Plus, when they’re going to sell calves. They’re also deciding if they are going to try and background their calves or sell them right off the cow a month or two early. A lot of important decisions to be made right now.”

He says for those having to sell their cattle, at least the market remains in pretty good shape.

“There’s no question about it,” said Schnell. “The calves and yearlings especially are looking like a really good market. Hopefully, we don’t get a mass selling over the course of a month. If we can spread that marketing out, I think this market can stay very strong. It might even just continue to get stronger. We all know that due to this drought and the size of it, in the next couple of years this market is going to be strong.”

CattleFax analysts agree. In fact, they’re forecasting all classes of cattle to be higher in 2022.

“Feeder cattle and calf prices, another $20/cwt higher,” said Randy Blach, CattleFax CEO. “I think that will be a good estimate for those markets. I think there’s a very good chance we’ll see feeder cattle prices trade up closer to a $1.80 next summer going into the fall. And calf prices could easily trade well above two dollars as we get into the peak next year. So, it’s long overdue. Again, this was delayed. And everybody needs to remember this.”

Consumer beef demand is also expected to remain solid in 2022 with expected export growth fueling high prices for ranchers and their cattle.

2021-08-20T18:18:44-07:00August 20th, 2021|

California Plums Granted Access Into Japan


Japan Grants Market Access to California Plums


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Japan has granted market access for California plums. Eliminating the phytosanitary barriers keeping California plums out of the Japanese market required multiple rounds of technical negotiations that were somewhat hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) would like to extend its appreciation to the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Research Service’s negotiators and experts, as well as the Fresno County and Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner offices for their invaluable contributions to this process.

Ian LeMay

There will be strict packing and fumigation protocols in place but given the success of the existing California nectarine program for Japan, California stone fruit exporters have already demonstrated a commitment to meeting Japan’s requirements.

“Trade barriers threaten the health and viability of the industry. This represents a significant opportunity for California plums, as Japanese consumers value premium fruit and recognize California fruit’s superior quality. As the global economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding market access will continue to be critical to the industry’s success,” said Ian LeMay, CFFA President.

2021-08-20T12:23:32-07:00August 20th, 2021|

Benefits of Gene Editing in Produce

Gene Editing in Produce Could Help Solve Food Shortages

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 


Throughout the GMO revolution of many row crops, the technology was largely not applied to the fresh produce industry. Gene editing, however, is different. It allows breeders to edit the genome of these crops in the same way that could happen in nature, speeding up the process and opening new doors to solve problems in the food supply. Here’s Produce Marketing Association vp of technology Vonnie Estes.


“There’s a number of things like, non-browning is a trait that’s pretty easy to do on a lot of different crops,” said Estes.  “And so that really allows for a lot less food waste. And so let’s focus on that. How can we make, you know, fruit and vegetables, more convenient so that people, especially children eat more of them? And so looking at the convenience factor is important. So I think we’re at this really great point right now of we have these tools, you know, how do we move this along so that it’s best for the consumer?”

Estes sees big benefits to gene editing technology for consumers, the planet, and for farmers.

“You know, these technologies are really going to help as we start having the effects of climate change more, where you don’t have as much water as you used to. And so you have to grow a different variety because you don’t have as much water, or it’s too hot. Really being able to use gene editing to help around climate change and where people are growing crops is going to make a big difference,” explained Estes.


The key, says Estes, will be communicating about this technology to consumers.

2021-08-18T17:26:30-07:00August 18th, 2021|
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