UC Davis Entomology Major Known Internationally as ‘Gwentomologist’

UC Davis entomology major Gwen Edosh with a whip scorpion she collected in Tucson. The 21-year-old undergraduate researcher has 21,999 followers on her Instagram account.

By Kathy Keatley Garvey

If you follow “Gwentomologist” on Instagram, you’ll see fascinating images, videos and data on scores of insects, including bees, butterflies and beetles, and such curious critters as wasp-mimicking beetles (genus Clytus) and “burying beetles” or  Nicrophorus beetles (genus Nicrophorus). 

And you’ll see arthropods such as jumping spiders (family Salticidae) and scorpions (superfamily Scorpionoidea).
Who is Gwentomologist? 

She’s 21-year-old Gwendolyn “Gwen” Erdosh, a UC Davis entomology major and undergraduate researcher with 21,900 followers on Instagram, where she shares her fascination, passion and growing scientific knowledge of entomology with the intensity of a moth heading for light. 

Erdosh, president of the UC Davis Entomology Club, a scholar in the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), the recipient of a Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship (PUF) research award,  and a volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, brims with enthusiasm.  

In a recent post, she related how she “raised this gorgeous female Hemileuca eglanterina (sheep moth) from a tiny caterpillar!! First time successfully rearing these species. I got a male and female, and I was hoping they’d mate but it never happened. Guess they didn’t like each other. I have some eggs overwintering, and I hope they make it ‘til the spring!”

“I’m in awe with this species of silkmoth,” Gwen continued. “They are one of the few northern California native silkmoths (Saturniidae) and feed on Ceanothus and choke cherry leaves. The adults are day-flying and can fly incredible fast in a zig-zag motion, making catching them extremely hard. The males can be seen flying high in the Sierra mountains in July. Females are much harder to spot, as they are slower and hide out in the foliage, emitting pheromones to attract the males towards them. 

“The best way to see the adult is to rear caterpillars,” Gwen noted. “In the past, I attempted to rear the caterpillars and ran out of host plant. With no method of transportation to the high sierras, I had to give them rose leaves, which worked…until it didn’t. They all got a disease and died. This time, I had tons of host plant, and was able to return to the mountains in my car to get more (they eat way more than you’d expect). I’m really happy that I was able to raise this species successfully, and hope to do it again next spring! The insect season is coming to a close, but certain species only come out around this time, so I’ll be on the lookout.” 

Gwen launched her Instagram account in 2013 to share her passion for moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera).  “Back then, it was one of only a few accounts that focused on such a niche interest,” she said. “It quickly grew in popularity and a community of insect-obsessed teenager formed, all with similar goals. Through social media, we were able to make amazing connections, which I still have today. Eventually, my passion expanded from just Lepidoptera to a fascination with every type of arthropod on the planet!” 

 “On my page, I mainly post my own macro-photographs with detailed captions about the featured insect,” Gwen explained. “My goal is to not only teach others, but also learn a lot myself. I also post fun and engaging videos to encourage others to pursue entomology. Many times, people have told me that my page helped them decide that they wanted to pursue entomology as a career! I love being able to spread the love of insects to others, and will continue to be active on my page.” Additionally, she maintains a YouTube account as “gwentomologist.” 

A 2018 graduate of Los Gatos High School, Santa Clara County, and a UC Davis student since 2019, she anticipates receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2023. In February 2020, she applied for—and was accepted—into the highly competitive RSPIB program, which aims to provide undergraduates with closely mentored research experiences in biology. She studies with community ecologist and professor Louie Yang, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, one of the three RSPIB founders.   

“I actually first met Gwen when she was still in high school,” said Professor Yang. “She was doing a research project with monarch butterflies and emailed me with a few questions. Even then, I was impressed with her knowledge, focus and determination, and was glad to hear when she came to UC Davis. She applied to the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology early on, and was a stand-out student in my ENT 105 Insect Ecology class in 2020. It has been great to have Gwen in our lab, and to see her continuing to develop as a scientist.” 

Gwen’s interest in entomology began with caterpillars. 

“Ever since I can remember, I have always loved caterpillars,” Gwen said. “As a little kid, I would collect any caterpillar I saw and raise it to adulthood.” Amazed that a caterpillar could “magically change” into a moth or butterfly, she decided “to make a book matching every caterpillar to its adult. I did my own research online and in books I had, and soon was quite knowledgeable about Lepidoptera. The summer before 9th grade, I attended Bio Boot camp, the summer camp for kids led by the Bohart Museum, and Tabatha Yang (education and outreach coordinator). “This was the experience that led me to choose entomology as a career. During this camp, I learned everything about entomology and had a chance to meet real entomologists at UC Davis, and do field work. I fell in love with it and kept coming back each summer for the camp.” 

Gwen started her own insect collection, inspired by Jeff Smith (curator of the Bohart Museum’s Lepidoptera collection). “Since then, I have never doubted my decision to be an entomologist, not even once. My passion only grew once I entered college, and I consider entomology a lifelong journey of discovering everything about these beautiful, intricate, and fascinating creatures.” 

“Gwen is one of those students who instantly shows you her enthusiasm and enjoyment of entomology,” Smith said, “and it is just this kind of person who we hope will continue in this important field of science. For those of us looking ahead at the oncoming ‘golden years’ we need to ensure that there will be competent young scientists who will continue the research and who will discover so many more fascinating things about the world of ‘bugs.’ Gwen clearly will be one of these, and I am proud to be associated with her.” 

Gwen said she is most interested in four insect orders: Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Coleoptera and Hemiptera. “I also really like Mygalomorphs. I am really fascinated by parasitoids, and hope to do research with parasitoids (wasps, flies, etc.) in the future.” 

Following her UC Davis graduation, she plans “to work abroad for a year in South America doing research. I then want to apply for graduate school in the United States. I may decide to get my masters first in systematics, and then decide if I want to get my PhD in insect ecology or insect systematics. I cannot decide between the two. However, I definitely want to pursue a career as a professor and researcher.”

Some of her role models include Louie Yang, Lynn Kimsey (director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor), Greg Kareofelas (Bohart associate), Jason Bond (UC Davis spider specialist, professor and associate dean), and Jason Dombroskie (manager of the Cornell University Insect Collection and coordinator of the Insect Diagnostic Lab.) 

“It is always great to see someone be able to pursue their passion and be successful,” Kareofelas said, adding that Gwen sometimes accompanies him on his many field trips and “she is always welcome.  Her enthusiasm, knowledge and energy make these trips a memorable and learning event for both of us! Her photographic skills enable her to record the insects ‘in nature’ and as a curated specimen. Her curated specimens are an example of how a collection should be made and how it should look.” 

As a 15-year-old high school student, Gwen traveled to the Bohart Museum in 2016 for its annual Moth Night and conferred with many of the scientists. 

At age 16, she served an entomology internship at Cornell University, where her work included identifying microlepidoptra in the family Tortricidae; sampling monarch butterflies for Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) spores; catching and tagging the gray petaltail dragonfly (Petalurid) at a local state park; and collecting, identifying and presenting moths for a Moth Night program at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. 

“It was incredible!” Gwen said. “That was my first exposure to insect systematics and I fell in love with it. We also did a lot of ecology projects in the field. The best part about it was that for the first time, I was taken seriously and treated like any other scientist–even though I was only 16. I was able to get out of my comfort zone, and grow from it. It was my first time living away from my family for an extended period of time, and it was my first experience in a professional environment. I learned how to dissect tiny moth genitalia, how to differentiate species, how new species are given names and how the process works, how to do public outreach events, how to conduct field research, and how to stay accountable. Jason Dombroskie was an amazing mentor and I seriously cannot thank him enough for his kindness, support, and encouragement.” 

That was not her first internship.  Gwen gained experience at a five-week internship in the summer of 2018 at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens in Costa Rica, where she studied insects, conducted tours, and cared for the arthropods in the insectarium.

At age 12, while attending Bio Boot Camp, Gwen learned about the UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “It had always been my dream to be president one day. From the moment I entered UC Davis, I immersed myself in the club, and became extremely active in it.”  She attends all the meetings and field trips; the members now include some of her closest friends.  Before advancing to president this year, she served as vice president in 2020 and social media coordinator in 2019. 

 “I’m super passionate about the club,” Gwen acknowledged. “In fact, it’s my favorite time of the week during the quarter. The people in the club are absolutely incredible, and we all inspire each other in so many different ways. I feel so grateful that this organization exists at UC Davis, and I’m glad I have a team of officers that really put in the work to make it an inclusive, fun, and educational environment for anyone who wants to join.” 

In addition, Gwen is vice president of the UC Davis STEM Careers Club, booking speakers, and inspiring students to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She has also worked as a youth steward for Grassroots Ecology of Central California (removing invasive plants, planting native grasses and trees, and surveying mammals and birds using a motion-activated camera); and as a volunteer counselor at the Walden West Summer Camp, a nature summer camp for elementary-school age youths.   

Although sometimes mistaken for a teenager–“I look young for my age and I’m 5′ 1”–Gwen doesn’t let that stop her. “I now have accepted who I am and I do not let what others think of me affect me or my goals. I am glad that I am unique!” 

Gwen’s hobbies and interests closely align with her career plans. They include collecting, photographing, and pinning insects; exploring and observing wildlife; traveling; creating art;  producing music on FL Studio (digital audio workstation); and spending time with her friends—two-legged friends (people), six-legged friends (insects) and eight-legged friends (arachnids). 

2021-12-22T14:42:03-08:00December 22nd, 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|

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|

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|

Congressional Leaders Learn About Almond Pollination

Almond Board Briefs Congressional Caucus About Pollinator Coalition


Chief Scientific Officer Josette Lewis highlights coordinated efforts of state’s farm and conservation communities.

 

Lewis was one of four speakers, and the only representative from agriculture, at the virtual congressional briefing on the status of pollinators convened by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) during National Pollinator Week. They are co-chairs of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus.

“This hearing, and this week, were extremely valuable because they helped raise awareness about the need to protect all pollinators and their habitats,” Lewis said. “For the California almond industry, every week is pollinator week. This is something we work hard at every day.”

During the briefing, Lewis detailed the steps being taken by the California Pollinator Coalition and why its brand of collaborative conservation is a strong model to both bolster the health of pollinators and to set an example for a range of effective environmental alliances among independent groups.

The pollinator coalition includes more than 20 California organizations and was spearheaded by the Almond Board of California (ABC) along with the Pollinator Partnership and the state Department of Food and Agriculture. It represents the large majority of agricultural acreage in the state and its goal is to expand pollinator health and habitats on working ag lands.

bee protection

Bees pollenating almonds.

“The representatives heard how the coalition represents agriculture putting its best foot forward,” Lewis said. “Given the crucial importance of pollinators to food production and to ecosystems, it’s essential that agriculture be part of the solution. That’s one reason ABC partnered with the Pollinator Partnership to help build this coalition. We know the almond industry and the ag community can continue to help.”

A key subject the congressional leaders wanted Lewis to address was the value of collaborations like the Pollinator Coalition, how they can be built and how they can help in areas ranging from research to shared incentive programs.

One incentive example is ABC’s Bee+ Scholarship program, which pays up to $2,000 of the cost of seeds for pollinator-friendly cover crops and has added 15,000 acres of pollinator habitat in almond orchards in its first year. It will also cover the fees to register as a Bee Friendly Farm.

“The goal is to reduce the risks to growers to try new practices that can benefit pollinators and growers alike. One size does not fit all growers, so this offers a chance to try something new,” Lewis said. “Collaborations are effective because everyone has a stake in healthy ecosystems and healthy food, and together we can help each other take actions and make a difference.”

 

2021-06-30T12:52:43-07:00June 30th, 2021|

Patrick Cavanaugh Retires as Long-Time Print Editor

Cavanaugh Will Continue as Editor of CaliforniaAgToday.com and Broadcast Radio Reports

 

Following more than 36 years at the editor’s desk, Patrick Cavanaugh decided to end his month-to-month deadlines for Pacific Nut Producer (PNP) and Vegetables West magazines. Since his first stories in 1985, where he felt like an undergrad in a Ph.D. class until the April 2021 editions, Cavanaugh has written more than 2000 feature stories and edited both magazines.

“My career has been a rewarding journey of discovery, an appreciation of the movers and shakers in this innovative industry that feeds the world, and an opportunity to convey the challenges, complexities, and forward-thinking leadership that have shaped this essential industry,” noted Cavanaugh,

“When I first began my agriculture journalism work in California, it was for another publishing company no longer in business. In 1995 I left that company to launch PNP, which I co-owned with Dan Malcolm, Malcolm Media,” said Cavanaugh.  “After the first issues were published, the other publishing company, who published Nut Grower magazine, went out of business. It was time for PNP to take off, and it did.”

Tree nut nurseries were providing new and better varieties, and growers were planting them.  It was great seeing the dynamic industry become the dominant business that it is.

Looking back on those early days of covering the industries, there is a vast difference now. “For example, I remember the early Almond Board Annual meeting that consisted of a long table on a riser with elected handlers and growers sitting in particular seats. It was a half-day meeting. Today, the annual Almond Board Meeting has been expanded to nearly three days with scores of educational talks and a massive trade show,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh in his Tucson office.

“From my vantage point, I have witnessed the incredible growth of this dynamic industry. In 1985, Almonds were on 400,000 acres, Pistachios were on 51,000 acres, and walnuts on about 134,000 acres. Tree nut nurseries have been providing new and better varieties, an increasing number of growers were planting these permanent crops, and tree nut acreage has more than doubled,” he said.

“Among the most important stories I’ve covered for Vegetables West was in 2007.  Following a tragic outbreak of E. coli linked to fresh spinach that sickened more than 200 people,” said Cavanaugh. “California farmers made an unprecedented commitment to protecting public health by creating the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA). The program’s goal is to assure safe leafy greens and confidence in our food safety programs,” he noted.

Cavanaugh grew up in Florida and became very interested in agriculture. He studied agricultural production at the University of Florida. Upon graduating, he moved to Tucson to escape the humidity of the south.

Farmed Jojoba and Table Grapes in Arizona

While in Tucson, he worked for an Ag Management company producing 500 acres of jojoba that we pressed the oil from and sold the oil to cosmetic companies. The farm was near Casa Grande, about an hour north of Tucson. Cavanaugh was the ranch manager, and the company eventually converted the jojoba ranch into table grapes. Once we had Arizona’s Finest crop in cold storage, it would be sold and distributed to grocery stores in Phoenix and Tucson, as well as surrounding areas.

While at the ranch, Cavanaugh began writing freelance articles for the original company.  Eventually, Harry Cline, the company’s editor, made an offer to come to Fresno and work for the company. “That’s what I did.  And Harry became a valuable mentor,” he said.

While his magazine writing career is ending, he will still oversee CaliforniaAgToday.com and broadcast a daily Tree Nut Report for the Ag Information Network. That report is broadcasted throughout the state.

“Two years ago, my wife Laurie and I moved back to Tucson. We love the Southwest and wanted to return,” noted Cavanaugh.

“Lastly, I want to say that I am in awe of farmers, and I am grateful for their work to provide food for all of us. It has been a true joy to know so many growers and being on your farms,” he said.

2021-06-21T15:37:25-07:00June 21st, 2021|

Ben Maddox Named Ag and Wine Executive with B of A

Bank of America Names Ben Maddox Western Food, Agriculture and Wine Executive

Bank of America is pleased to announce that Ben Maddox has been named Western Food, Agriculture, and Wine Executive.

Based in Fresno, Maddox and his team will continue to work with local growers, processors, wholesalers, and marketers to provide financing solutions to crop and dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, and feedlots, farm product processors (meat/dairy/produce), grain merchandisers, packaged foods, poultry, pork, and vintners.

Bank of America is one of the largest providers of financial services to the food and agribusiness sectors, with its industry-leading agribusiness group delivering end-to-end banking and finance solutions to agriculture producers and related businesses.

“Ben’s extensive experience providing credit to food and agriculture producers and processers and thorough understanding of the industry dynamics and cycles will position him to lead this critical multi-billion dollar western portfolio ranging from small family farms to global brands into the next decade,” said Kathie Sowa, global banking and markets executive, Central Valley.

Maddox will also continue in his role as Global Commercial Banking Market Manager for the Central Valley, serving companies with annual revenues of $50 million to $2 billion, providing a variety of financial solutions, including treasury, credit, investment banking, risk management, international and wealth management.

With more than 20 years of commercial banking experience, primarily in the Central Valley, Maddox joined Bank of America in 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an option in Finance and a minor in Economics from California State University, Fresno, as well as Series 7, 63, and 24 certifications. Previously, Maddox served for 5 years in the U.S. Navy.  An active member of the community, Maddox currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Central Valley Chapter and coaches youth softball and soccer.

2021-01-20T18:02:10-08:00January 20th, 2021|

Jeff Dahlberg Retires from KARE

Director of the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center retires

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Dahlberg, also the director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) in Parlier, invoked his 35 years of sorghum expertise to increasing interest in growing the crop in California and to better understanding plants’ ability to tolerate drought. Dahlberg retires Jan. 8.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger in the early 1980s, Dahlberg was intrigued by sorghum, a staple food being cultivated by the country’s vast population of subsistence farmers.

“I was impressed with the fact that sorghum was so drought tolerant,” Dahlberg said. “Nigerien farmers relied solely on rain for their sorghum and millet crops.”

Upon returning to the U.S., he earned a master’s degree at the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M, where his research focused on sorghum. He worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Puerto Rico for 7 years and then spent the next 10 years as research director with the National Sorghum Producers in Lubbock, Texas.

When Dahlberg took the helm of the 330-acre UC agricultural research center in 2010, he and colleagues at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center and at UC Davis began conducting sorghum forage variety trials. Sorghum wasn’t new to California. In the past, it had mainly been used for animal feed. But Dahlberg believed the crop’s adaptability – excellent for forage, biofuels and gluten-free human food – offered the grain a rosy future in the Golden State.

“With our research, we have provided California farmers who are thinking about growing sorghum access to locally generated, research-based information to help them make the decision,” Dahlberg said.

In 2015, Dahlberg and UC Berkeley specialist Peggy Lemaux launched a sweeping drought research project at KARE. The five-year study, funded with a $12.3 million grant from the Department of Energy, researched the genetics of drought tolerance in sorghum and how soil microbial communities interacted with sorghum roots to battle drought stress.

A journal article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018 presented the first detailed look at the role of drought in restructuring the root microbiome. The plant switches some genes on and some genes off when it detects water scarcity and access to water.

“That has implications for feeding the world, particularly considering the changing climate and weather patterns,” Dahlberg said.

In recent years, Dahlberg helped reestablish tea research at Kearney, initiated nearly 60 years ago in a study funded by Thomas J. Lipton, Inc. At the time, Lipton was seeking to grow tea for the instant tea market. When the Kearney tea research program was scrapped in 1981, a researcher had a handful of the best tea clones planted in the landscape around buildings at Kearney.

Those shrubs became the basis for a new tea research trial planted at Kearney in 2017 with UC Davis professor Jackie Gervay Hague to determine whether drought stress impacts the production of phenolics and tannins in the tea.

“We know we can grow good tea here and we can grow high tonnage,” Dahlberg said. “We want to determine if we can do that on a consistent basis and whether we can improve tea quality through irrigation management.”

In retirement, Dahlberg plans to relocate to Lake Ann, Mich., to be close to family. UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali will serve as interim director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

2020-12-28T18:21:37-08:00December 28th, 2020|

Blue Diamond Growers Love Cooperative

Growers are Loyal to Blue Diamond Growers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

Blue Diamond Growers, is the only cooperative in the almond industry, and it has loyal growers. Charles Crivelli is a Walnut and almond grower in the Stanislaus County area. He’s a member of Blue Diamond Growers and he loves being part of that Cooperative.

“Blue Diamond is the only cooperative and bit is the largest almond processor in the world. It’s been a real leader in the industry working along with the Almond Board of California and a dynamic organization— constantly developing new product lines, and they spend a lot of time on promotion marketing, truly been a leader in the industry,” said Crevelli.

“There’s about a 110- plus independent processors. And then there’s the Blue Diamond Co-op, with 3,000 members give or take. It’s a dynamic organization, and an organization that I have really enjoyed being a part of,” Crevelli said. “And the CEO Mark Jansen has done a fantastic job. Just doing a phenomenal job and leading the organization in the industry.”

And Jansen’s been heading up the co-op for more than 10 years.

 

Blue diamond Growers was founded in 1910, which means the Co-op is 110 years old this year.

2020-12-16T18:19:47-08:00December 16th, 2020|

Jose Dias A New UCANR Agronomy/Weed Advisor

 

Jose Dias Named UCANR Agronomy and Weed Management Advisor

José Luiz Carvalho de Souza Dias joined UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) on Nov. 2, 2020, as an area agronomy and weed management advisor in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties.

Jose Dias

Prior to joining UCCE, Dias was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he worked with Mark Renz and John Grabber on projects focused on identification of management practices and environmental factors to ensure successful establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn silage; sustainable management of waterhemp in established alfalfa for dairy systems; and weed control, clover selectivity and resulting yield of grass-clover mixed swards treated with florpyrauxifen-benzyl + 2,4-D in Wisconsin.

Dias earned a Ph.D. in agronomy with focus in weed science from the University of Florida and an M.S. in crop protection and B.S. in agronomy from São Paulo State University in Brazil. He is fluent in Portugese.

His Ph.D. research focused on developing and implementing integrated management practices to reduce giant smutgrass populations in bahiagrass pastures. His M.S. research focused on investigating the selectivity of several residual herbicides applied preplanting of prebudded seedlings of different sugarcane cultivars.

2020-12-03T09:05:40-08:00December 3rd, 2020|
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