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|

Jim Costa for Ag Committed Supported

U.S. Citrus Industries Support Congressman Jim Costa for Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee


 In a letter dated November 11, 2020, to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Citrus Mutual (CCM), Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), and Texas Citrus Mutual (TCM) formally asked that Congressman Jim Costa, D – Fresno, be appointed as the new chair of the House Agriculture Committee.


As a farmer himself, Congressman Costa understands the industry’s issues, such as pest and disease, trade, water, and immigration. Notably, Congressman Costa was instrumental in securing federal funding to support research to find a cure for the devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing.


Congressman Costa’s track record of support for the citrus industry and specialty crops is indisputable. He has led countless bipartisan efforts on behalf of agriculture and rural America.


“The House Agriculture Committee needs a leader who understands its importance not only for our farmers, but for underserved communities, and national security,” says CCM President/CEO Casey Creamer. “Congressman Jim Costa is that leader, and we are proud to offer our strong support.”


“U.S. agriculture, especially fruit and vegetable growers, are at a crossroad. Increasing production costs coupled with unregulated imports, place the U.S. grower in a desperate situation. I am confident that if appointed Chair, Congressman Jim Costa will be a leader for agriculture in addressing these and other critical issues that affect growers and rural communities across the country,” said  Michael W. Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.


“The agricultural industry within Congressman Jim Costa’s district is very similar to specialty crops, including citrus within Texas, making him well versed in many of the issues that affect our growers,” says Dale Murden, President of Texas Mutual. “Citrus Greening is a major concern for the Texas citrus industry, and we know Congressman Costa understands the issue well, and we are proud to support him.”


We trust that Congressman Costa will lead the committee with his years of experience and dedication to agriculture in California and the United States.

2020-11-19T13:45:29-08:00November 19th, 2020|

Ron Fisher, A Veteran in the California Almond Industry

Starting a Major Almond Industry Processing Company

By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Infomation Network

Ron Fisher is the founder and CEO and president of Fisher Nut Company based in the Modesto area. He’s been a veteran of the California almond industry since 1980. Here’s his story.

“I started in 1980, working for a company and agriculture was having a tough time all through the eighties. And I saw an opportunity for an independent packer to come into the business that would offer faster cash flow and competitive prices because in the late eighties, the growers were really hurting with high-interest rates,” explained Fisher

Commodity prices were low as well.

“I launched out on my own and opened up an almond processing company that accommodated what the growers needed. And we were able to utilize some of the faster-paying markets to get some cash-flow to the growers that were hurting, to get them through that tough period,” noted Fisher

“And so at that time, we started growing through the benefit of all that. And we were able to offer the growers a slightly different service than was available at that time,” he noted.

“I believe, at the time, there were about 35 handlers in the business. And from there, we were able to grow from our success of accommodating that. And as the industry changed and morphed into a better economic situation where prices were going up and people were planting, more almonds, where water and labor were available. The almond industry within the Central Valley boomed and with that, our company did as well,” he said.



2020-09-09T09:12:31-07:00September 9th, 2020|

Help for for Growers and Climate Change Risk

Helping Growers Manage Risk

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

Scientists project climate change will significantly alter the way our food is produced, but what can farmers do about this today? Especially when making decisions such as planting perennial crops that will be in place for decades?

Tapan Pathak is a UCANR Cooperative Extension Specialist based at UC Merced. He is working to develop a tool to translate weather and climate data into management insights for growers.

“It’s a huge effort because we want to be really crop-specific in terms of what type of decisions for we can provide to growers. And so, we’re just getting started on developing this crop-specifically, region-specific tools and the website is going to be Cal Agro Climate,” Pathak noted.

Pathak says they are currently finalizing a prototype in order to share with growers for feedback.

“Since we want to make it a very grower friendly, our next planning is to involve some of the growers and advisory committee to provide some feedback and kind of incorporate their changes. So we are hoping to get those tools up and running by next year or so,” said Pathak.

Once completed, the Cal Agro Climate tool will be able to help farmers reduce weather and climate related risk on their farms.

2020-08-13T10:46:35-07:00August 13th, 2020|

For Many Dairy Families, California is Home


Not All California Dairies Want to Move Out of State


By Tim Hammerich with the

Some California dairies have decided to pick up and move their operations out of state due to heavy regulations and high costs of production. But others, like Tony Lopes in Gustine, remain committed to finding a way to profitably sustain their dairy in the state they call home.

“California is home. That’s where my great grandparents immigrated from the Azores Islands, they found a home in this valley, and they were able to raise their family and their businesses here,” said Lopes. “Now, when they were growing their businesses, regulatory environment, the way people viewed agribusiness versus today is very different. But for our family, and myself personally, I look to that almost as the challenge. Of saying, I want to be a dairy farmer in California. So I’m going to figure out how I can sculpt my business into what is necessary in order to be competitive and successful within California.”

Lopes is trying to build a model dairy by using data analytics, improving his employee retention and satisfaction, focusing on genetics, and diversifying. He hopes this will not only keep him ahead of constantly changing regulations, but also that customers will start voting for the types of local agribusinesses they want at the supermarket.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 7th, 2020|

Vine Mealybug

Grape Pest Transmits Grapevine Leaf-roll Virus

By Tim Hammerich with the AgInformation Network 

Vine Mealybug is a pest that transmits the grapevine leaf-roll associated viruses. The University of California Ag and Natural Resources are trying to find better management techniques for vine mealybug. Statewide IPM Program Director Dr. Jim Farrar explains why.

“Vine mealybug is an invasive from the Mediterranean area and it’s more efficient at transmitting the virus,” said Farrar.  “And I think that we sort of didn’t recognize the great potential for damage when this new mealybug came in and was a more prolific vector of the virus. And so now we’re recognizing how important the virus is in impacting grape quality and yield.

“Associated with that, a heightened importance of this new new mealybug in transmitting the virus. And so now we’re starting to play catch up in developing much more robust management plans for vine mealybug and the leafroll virus,” Farrar said.

Grapevine leafroll virus can reduce yields, delay fruit ripening, and reduce soluble solids in the grapes.

For more information on the control of Vine Mealbug, go to the UC IPM website.

2020-08-05T12:39:51-07:00August 5th, 2020|

Water Wins—Thanks to Congressman Harder

Harder Again Scores Millions in Federal Support for Local Water Storage Projects in House Funding Bill

 House Water Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for Del Puerto Canyon, Sites, Los Vaqueros


 After securing substantial support in last year’s funding package, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) announced that this year’s water development funding bill also includes millions in funding for water storage projects which benefit the Central Valley. The bill passed the House today on a vote of 217-197. Once the bill is signed into law, three projects will each receive over $1 million in funding this year – including Del Puerto Canyon, Sites, and Los Vaqueros Reservoirs. These projects are all specifically listed in Rep. Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act and each received funding in last year’s package.

“Water is priority one for jobs and local farmers. Everyone around here knows that. For years, we were forgotten as federal funding dried up and Sacramento put more and more pressure on our water users,” said Rep. Harder. “That’s changed. Over the last two years, we’ve gotten over $20 million for local projects – including millions for the first new project in my district in 50 years.”

Josh Harder

Congressman Harder

Each of the storage projects listed below received the same amount of federal funding in last year’s appropriations bill. Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir will again receive over $1 million to complete feasibility studies and engage with the public on the project. Last year’s investment for Del Puerto Canyon was the first federal funding for a new water storage project in Rep. Harder’s Central Valley district in 50 years.


Storage Projects


Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir – Del Puerto Water District will receive another $1.5 million for the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir. The project will expand off-stream water storage up to 85,000 acre-feet for DPWD, which is based in Patterson, CA, in Rep. Harder’s district. The funding will be used to complete feasibility studies.

Sites Reservoir – Four million dollars in new funding will go to the Sites Reservoir project thanks to Rep. Harder’s advocacy. Sites is an innovative and modern off-stream water storage project, helping the Valley better prepare for droughts while preserving the environment. This project will add over 1.8 million acre-feet of storage to the Northern Central Valley, on average, supplying water to over 1 million homes.

Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion – Rep. Harder worked to secure $7.84 million for this project, which currently stores up to 160,000 acre-feet of water. The expansion will add another 115,000 acre-feet of capacity. The project also provides water to wildlife areas south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


Airborne Snow Observatory Program


The Bureau of Reclamation has historically provided support for aerial assessments of snowpack across the West to provide accurate, real-time assessments of snowpack to plan for the coming year.

In December 2019, NASA concluded management of the Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) program and transferred it to the private sector, reducing the certainty for federal support of a program with significant public benefits, including improved water conservation, supply and delivery forecasts across the West.

Given the broad bipartisan support of this program and the tremendous water benefits to Western states, Rep. Harder ensured the Bureau of Reclamation would continue supporting the program.

Last year’s House and final funding bills included additional support for the North Valley Regional Recycled Water program. Although it is not included in this year’s House version of the bill, Rep. Harder plans to fight to ensure it’s included in the final bill which will be signed into law.


2020-07-31T13:42:07-07:00July 31st, 2020|

Frieda Caplan Family Scholarship Application Open

Program Enables Family Business Representatives to Engage in the Industry’s Premier Policy Event

The United Fresh Produce Association is pleased to announce that the application period for the 2020 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship is now open.

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was founded in 2001 by sisters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in honor of their mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan. The program provides the opportunity for representatives from family-owned, United Fresh member companies to attend the United Fresh Washington Conference.

“Our family is pleased to continue to support leadership opportunities for employees of family businesses,” said Jackie Caplan Wiggins, Vice President & COO of Frieda’s Inc. “My mother, Frieda Caplan, was passionate about giving individuals the opportunity for professional development, particularly in the area of advocacy. With the challenges faced by our industry this year, it is critically important for companies to learn about how to advocate and educate for their business at the federal level.”

This year, scholarship recipients will receive complimentary registration to participate in the conference, September 21-25, hosted virtually on the United Fresh LIVE! 365 platform. The highly renowned event will once again include Congressional visits, keynote sessions, workshops, networking receptions and volunteer leadership meetings, all through LIVE! 365. The event also will include an “election night” party culminating in a vote by all attendees to forecast November’s election results.

Applications must be received by August 21, 2020. Each year, the scholarship committee reviews applicants for the program using several criteria, including each candidate’s interest in advocacy work and commitment to the produce industry.

“Thanks to the very generous support of the Caplan family, family businesses throughout the industry benefit from this exceptional leadership opportunity,” said Miriam Wolk, United Fresh’s Vice President of Member Services. “This year’s recipients will take part in all facets of the United Fresh Washington Conference, and acquire the skills they need to be effective advocates on the issues that impact their businesses and the fresh produce industry.”

The United Fresh Washington Conference brings together hundreds of produce leaders from all sectors of the industry for education on critical industry issues and meetings with members of Congress, their staff and top regulatory officials. Scholarship recipients will have an opportunity to network with produce industry executives from across the country, as well as gain an understanding of the political process and how to advocate for their priority issues.

To submit your application for the 2020 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, visit or contact Mary Alameda, Industry Relations Manager, United Fresh at or 202-303- 3413.


2020-07-31T10:53:14-07:00July 31st, 2020|

UCCE advisor’s Breadth of Experience and Education Support Ranchers’ Economic Viability

By Jeannette Warnert, UCANR Communications Specialist

Livestock and natural resources advisor Dan Macon came to UC Cooperative Extension three years ago with much more than a formal education in integrated resource management and agricultural and managerial economics.

He had years of hands-on experience running a successful foothill sheep operation, toiling long days and often into the night tending animals, irrigating pastures, training livestock guardian dogs and managing forage.

“I came to this position mid-career,” said Macon, who also accumulated skills working for a family auction company and in various capacities for the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Rangeland Trust and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The love of a rural lifestyle prompted his family to purchase a small ranch in Auburn to raise sheep 15 years ago. Natural communication skills led Macon to become respected local blogger at Foothill Agrarian and, eventually, a social media influencer with nearly 2,000 followers on Instagram @flyingmule.

When Macon bought his ranch, he needed help dealing with invasive Himalayan blackberries. He called Roger Ingram, the UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Placer and Nevada counties from 1997 to 2017.

“Roger helped me take care of the problem,” Macon said. “Following his recommendation, I bought goats and they grazed the blackberries into submission. Now the grass can out-compete the invasive plants. We’ve turned the area into grassland.”

Macon began volunteering for UC Cooperative Extension by teaching fellow ranchers about his experiences raising sheep, managing rangeland and raising and training livestock guardian dogs. Macon was a presenter at Ingram’s annual California Multi-Species Browsing Academy.

“I finally recognized that the parts of my earlier jobs that I most enjoyed involved things I’d be doing on a daily basis as a farm advisor – teaching and research,” Macon said. He earned a master’s degree from Colorado State University and applied to succeed Ingram after his retirement. Macon also took on the role in Sutter and Yuba counties, succeeding Glenn Nader.

Livestock production in the Sierra Nevada foothills ranks among the top five agricultural commodities. Economic viability is a major issue. Macon’s research and extension program is focused on ranch economics and business management, drought resilience, predator-livestock coexistence and irrigated pasture management.

At the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley, Macon is conducting research that will help ranchers make decisions about maintaining a cattle herd when faced with impending drought. Even when the weather forecast is dry and forage isn’t growing at a sufficient pace, ranchers can be reluctant to sell off their cattle.

“Science tells us you shouldn’t try to feed your way out of a drought,” Macon said. “Ranchers want everything to stay the same. They want to maintain their genetic potential and keep cows that are familiar with the area.”

The research will compare cows weaned on a traditional weaning schedule with others that are weaned early.

“The cattle will be out on the range from March to early September under different parameters,” Macon said. “We’re also tying in economics, the value of genetic potential and the value of having cows who know the landscape.”

Macon is securing funding to conduct research on livestock guardian dogs in different production settings. Using low-cost GPS technology developed at New Mexico State University, Macon plans to study the relationship between dogs, predators and livestock in terms of space and time.

“One unknown is whether they displace predators or disrupt predatory behavior,” Macon said.

Macon uses livestock guardian dogs on his ranch and will be able to draw on his own experiences in designing the study. He recently wrote a fact sheet on guardian dog selection with UCCE human-wildlife interaction advisor Carolyn Whitesell.

“We’ve had great success with our guardian dogs,” he said. “But not everyone has that level of success. Using scientific tools like remote sensing and GPS technology will give us more details about wildlife-guardian dog-livestock interactions.”

During this year’s shelter-in-place, Macon has become more creative in reaching out with scientific ranching information. He and large-scale sheep producer Ryan Mahoney of Rio Vista created a weekly podcast, “Sheep Stuff Ewe Should Know.” Early episodes cover such topics as risk management, the effects of COVID-19 on the sheep industry and livestock guardian dogs. The podcast is available on Spotify and other mobile podcast apps.

Macon developed a new bi-weekly webinar series, “Working Rangeland Wednesday,” with UCCE specialist Leslie Roche and UC Davis graduate student Grace Woodmansee. Recordings are posted on YouTube.

Traditional, one-on-one farm calls are also a part of Macon’s extension program. He conducts five or six a month. Even so, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Macon to begin remote advising. Soon after Gov. Newsom’s shelter-in-place order was issued, Macon got a call from a woman whose ewes had recently given birth.

“She thought the lambs weren’t doing well and wondered what she could do,” Macon said. “We both had Facetime, so I asked her to show me what the sheep looked like. I was able to assure her that things were normal and suggested bottle feeding. I talked to her several times over the next couple of days, and she was able to save the lambs.”

Most queries from local ranchers center on pasture or grass management, species composition, fencing, paddock design and animal husbandry. Last year, ranchers called with blue oaks suddenly and inexplicably dying on their land.

“The trees had no visible injuries. Ranchers were wondering if it was a lingering effect of drought or due to habitat fragmentation,” Macon said.

Macon contacted UC Cooperative Extension plant pathology specialist Matteo Garbelotto, a UC Berkeley-based tree disease expert. The scientists collected scorched leaves, wood samples and soil near the trunks of the dead or dying trees. They found evidence of fungi Botryosphaeria corticola and B. dothidea in wood chips collected at breast height. However, blue oak is not an official host for the two pathogens in the USDA fungus-host database.

The researchers believe that recent droughts and climate change may be causing an increased and widespread susceptibility of blue oaks or that an unknown pathogen may be increasing the susceptibility of blue oak to the canker disease. The progress made in solving these mysterious blue oak deaths was published in the most recent California Agriculture journal and will be the subject of continuing investigations in the future by Macon and his colleagues.


2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00July 30th, 2020|

Markie Hageman Is New Co-Owner of


Hageman is a Native of Tulare County with a Great Passion for California Agriculture is pleased to announce that Markie Hageman, a Tulare, California, native with a passion for agriculture, is now a co-owner of the award-winning website and will collaborate with Patrick Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh, along with his wife Laurie Greene, launched the website in 2013. Greene served as the website’s founding editor and has won multiple awards for her coverage of the industry.

The communications coordinator for the Sacramento-based California Rangeland Trust, Hageman has prior experience as a Crop Insurance Adjuster. Hageman has authored articles for AGDAILY, and My Job Depends on Ag Magazine, with features in BEEF Magazine and The Almond Board of California- How We Grow publication.

Hageman had ties to agriculture starting from a young age. She lived on the Vanderwal dairy in Tulare County for a short time, and on a small citrus grove her grandparents owned.

Most of her agricultural experiences came from the horse ranch her mother owned in Fresno County. She showed lambs and hogs and rode horses throughout middle school and into college and was the Miss Woodlake Lions Rodeo Queen in 2014. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.

Hageman spent a couple years on her family’s small commercial cow-calf operation in Auburn, Alabama, where she fell in love with the beef industry. Since her time in the South, Hageman has been active in the agricultural industry through her work with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Alabama’s Farmer Federation, and multiple Cattlemen organizations. She also recently started her own cow-calf herd with three Hereford heifers.

Outside of agriculture, Markie loves crafts, cooking, kayaking, making wine, hiking, and spending time with her family and two dogs.

“We are thrilled to have Markie on our team—covering California’s $50 Billion production agriculture business,” said Cavanaugh. “She’s passionate about the farm and ranching industries in the state, and we welcome her into the fold of the thriving website.”

“I am excited to continue to make successful on a daily basis,” said Hageman. “I love to write and have always admired the website as being the first site to cover California production agriculture with original reporting.”

2020-07-28T10:20:38-07:00July 28th, 2020|
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