Congressman David G. Valadao and 10 of his colleagues co-sponsored Representative Tracey Mann’s legislation, the Truckers Responding At National Shipping Ports Overcoming Retail Turmoil (TRANSPORT) Act. This legislation would require the Secretary of Transportation to relieve congested ports during either a national state of emergency or when ports are congested by 50 percent or more.
“Our nation is facing horrific supply chain challenges, and it is vital that Congress acts. Billions of dollars worth of goods are currently sitting off the coast of California, yet the administration has put forward no serious solutions to resolve this crisis,” said Congressman Valadao. “That is why I am proud to co-sponsor the Truckers Responding At National Shipping Ports Overcoming Retail Turmoil Act. Through this legislation, we will alleviate our supply chain challenges and help our nations’ businesses to return to normal operations.”
The TRANSPORT Act would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue federal grants from unused relief dollars to motor carriers to transport goods from a port of entry to a destination point. It would also temporarily waive operating standards should those standards be more stringent than the federal standard, allowing U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant trucks and drivers from other states to relieve ports and transport goods across the country.
“I’ve heard from Kansas farmers and truck drivers who are prepared to drive to California and collect goods because they understand the looming catastrophic results of congestion continuing at our ports,” said Congressman Mann. “If we have truckers who are willing and able to drive across the country to secure and distribute goods that are backed up at ports in other states, the government should remove any red tape standing in the way of that solution. Implementing the TRANSPORT Act is a step towards solving the supply chain crisis, giving Americans the ability to help themselves and their neighbors, and making America’s economy strong again.”
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.
California Farm Labor Contractor Association’s 11th Annual Ag Labor Forum (Virtual) Coming on November 17 & 18
The California Farm Labor Contractor Association (CFLCA) is hosting its 11th Annual Ag Labor Forum in a virtual format on November 17th & 18th.
Farm labor contractors, supervisors, growers, agriculture human resources professionals, safety managers, and affiliated ag labor industry representatives are invited to attend. Attendees will gain knowledge and tools to be successful, compliant, and lucrative in the ag labor industry. Sessions are available in both English and Spanish.
Over 30 educational classes taught by top-notch instructors highlight key information, strategies, and solutions. The keynote speakers include Curt Covington, the senior director of institutional lending at AgAmerica, forecasting California’s ag future and Craig Regelbrugge, the senior vice president of AmericanHort, discussing if good ag labor policy is good for politics. Other session topics include Cal/OSHA updates, preparing for 2022 laws and regulations, federal and state licensing issues, and operations management solutions.
“Our Ag Labor Forum is a great opportunity to expand the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the farm labor contractor industry. Compliance and licensing are the core of our existence, and this event provides critical information needed to ensure your business stays afloat,” said the president of CFLCA, Oscar Ramos. “The virtual format enables us to serve a large and diverse population and we are thrilled to be able to provide this information to so many business leaders,” he added.
Additional information including registration and sponsorship options can be located by visiting the CFLCA website at www.calflca.org or by calling 916-389-1246.
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.
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.”
Seeds For Bees Program Creates Healthier Colonies
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
Project Apis M is a non-profit with the mission of funding and directing research that enhances the health and vitality of honey bees while improving crop production, these are often used in almond orchards and many other crops.
Billy Synk manages the Seeds for Bees Program for Project Apis M. He noted that having cover crops that bloom to attract honey bees is good for the almond orchard.
“For growers of crops that are very early blooming in the year, like almonds, having your cover crop bloom before, during and after, with that emphasis on before, is especially helpful to the bees pollinating that year’s crop. When bees have more access to more diverse and abundant sources of forage,” noted Synk
And Synk says the entire colony is more healthier. “The colony itself is more populous, each individual bee weighs more, and is more fit, more vigorous, they are even communicating better and finding those almond blossoms; they’re finding them better when they’re communicating more.,” Synk explained. “They also are more able to defend themselves against pathogens and hives when reared in pollen abundant environments, have a much higher rate of winter survival as compared to colonies that exist and reared in pollen limited environments,” he said.
Contact Project Apis M regarding the Seeds for Bees Program.
Congressman David G. Valadao Leads Letter to President Biden and Governor Newsom Requesting Fed and State Emergency Declarations for Recent Storms
This week, Congressman David G. Valadao, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Ken Calvert, Congressman Mike Garcia, Congressman Darrell Issa, Congresswoman Young Kim, Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Congressman Tom McClintock, Congressman Devin Nunes, and Congresswoman Michelle Steel sent a letter to President Biden and Governor Newsom requesting federal and state emergency declarations related to the drought and recent storms in California to maximize pumping of stormwater and unregulated flows in the Delta. The letter states:
“The recent Category 5 Atmospheric River event drenched northern California, with rainfall totals exceeding ten inches in some areas of the state and setting single-day records in most. Moreover, atmospheric models indicate that California faces an elevated likelihood of additional atmospheric river activity in the coming weeks. The ground is now saturated from the last storm, meaning additional rain will manifest almost entirely as runoff through the Delta.
“This year’s catastrophic man-made drought has crushed California families and farms, and with supply chain disruptions further hamstringing our agricultural producers, we have a moral obligation to provide Californians any relief that is within our control. Government regulations should not and must not deny our constituents critical water from these storms. While we cannot make it rain, we must take advantage of opportunities to store water when it does.
“We urge your administrations to issue emergency declarations and direct relevant federal and state agencies to temporarily waive all impediments that limit operations of the Delta pumps to ensure none of these storm flows go to waste. Time is of the essence.”
Is Tillage a Problem for Organic Agriculture?
By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network
Certified organic farmers often have to incorporate tillage to make up for the chemical tools that they’re not allowed to use. So does this mean organic agriculture is not compatible with building soil health?
“There are other preventative means that organic farmers use: diverse crop rotations, cover crops. And a lot of the strategies that we now know are fundamental to building soil health more generally,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison Assistant Professor Erin Silva. “So when we look at the bigger picture, we’re also adopting a lot of strategies that we know build soil health. So when we look at the five soil health principles, organic is really hitting most, if not all of those, depending on the system and the strategies that the farmers are adopting,” noted Silva, adding. “Organic agriculture was built on soil health principles and is helping farmers find ways to decrease soil disturbance where possible.”
“In organic production the use of herbicides is quite limited. There are some organically approved herbicides, but because of their effectiveness and costs, they’re very rarely used. So, one of the strategies to manage weeds in organic systems is through tillage. Either primary tillage prior to planting or cultivation, which also is disturbing the soil,” said Silva.
Silva said a lot of organic farmers also incorporate livestock for weed control and soil health.
Growers Urged to Keep Soil Moist to Lessen Freeze Damage
By Rachel Elkins, Pomology Farm Advisor in Lake and Mendocino Counties and Master Gardener Advisor in Lake County – Emeritus
It is mid-October and in addition to harvest starting it is time to consider potential cold weather. It is still dry and though rain is expected (In Northern California) over the next 10-14 days it is anticipated to be under 1” (I hope I am wrong!). As detailed in my June newsletter (https://ucanr.edu/sites/uclakecounty/files/359649.pdf), dry conditions render walnut trees vulnerable to freeze damage, as can be seen throughout the county. Irrigated trees fare much better than dry trees, although fruitwood and buds are certainly damaged, as reflected in subsequent low cropping.
In June I suggested growers consider applying enough water to moisten the upper 1-2 feet of soil after terminal bud set in order to fill soil pores to supply warmth and reduce chances of freeze damage, and this is echoed by colleagues throughout the state. With harvest moving into full swing timing will of course depend on 1) harvest logistics, and 2) rainfall amounts over the next month. Many older orchards lack sufficient crop to harvest and growers must decide how much to invest in trees that failed to recover after the 2020 freeze.
Statewide UC walnut advisors have combined to offer resources to address fall (winter) freeze issues. We have listed the following resources prominently on the front page of our website (http://celake.ucanr.edu/):
1) 2020 WALNUT FREEZE DAMAGE SURVEY (https://ucanr.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8q4drAbdgNJ4Nls). You are invited to participate in this survey provided by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) regarding freeze damage in walnuts. The survey will help us gain greater understanding of freeze damage in walnuts. “Freeze damage” is defined as damage observed in spring yet incurred during the previous fall from cold temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Participation in this survey is voluntary and individual answers will be kept confidential. The survey should require two minutes or less to complete. Address questions or comments to main author Kari Arnold, Orchard and Vineyard Systems Advisor for Stanislaus County (firstname.lastname@example.org 209-525-6821) or to me via the contact information below.
2) NEWSLETTER ARTICLES written by Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley advisors, as well as my June 2021 newsletter. Links to these can be found on our website (see above).
3) UC WALNUT FREEZE WEBINAR to be held NOVEMBER 4, 2021, 4:00 – 5:30 PM. A panel of UC experts and walnut growers will discuss best practices for freeze mitigation and recovery. Event details and registration will be posted at sacvalleyorchards.com/events as well as on the Lake County website. Meeting information will also be emailed out to electronic walnut newsletter recipients. PLEASE COMPLETE THE FREEZE SURVEY IN ORDER TO ENHANCE OUR WEBINAR!