Grape Experts Give Workshops on Drought Preparedness, Red Blotch


Grapevine Drought Preparedness Workshop

Grape growers and other industry members interested in grape production and water management in vineyards are invited to UC Cooperative Extension’s Grapevine Drought Preparedness Workshops.

The workshops will be held in person on Friday, March 4, in San Luis Obispo and Friday, April 1, in Hopland.

Registration is $50 and includes a full day of live instruction from UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and grapevine experts. Lunch will be provided.

For more information and to register, visit

UC Davis Grapevine Red Blotch Disease Symposium

On Wednesday, March 16, UC Cooperative Extension and the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology will host a Grapevine Red Blotch Disease Symposium 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Red blotch disease in grapevines, which can dramatically reduce the value of winegrapes, harms plants by inhibiting photosynthesis in the leaves. Infected vines are unable to conduct water effectively, leaving sugar that is created by photosynthesis stuck in the leaves instead of in the berries.

This event will be presented both in person at the UC Davis Conference Center and livestreamed for those unable to attend in person.

Presentations will cover the role of treehoppers, treatments, mitigation strategies, the impact of the disease on the composition of wine, and more.

Registration is $250 for the in-person symposium at UC Davis and $150 for the livestream. An application for 3.5 CCE units has been submitted to California Department of Pesticide Regulation and is pending approval.

To see the agenda and to register, visit

2022-02-24T09:14:03-08:00February 24th, 2022|

Supermarket Dietitian Program Features California Grapes

By the California Table Grape Commission

For the last three months of 2021, retail dietitians shared tempting ideas for incorporating California grapes into meals with their clients in four states.

Nine registered dietitians and licensed food nutritionists from a large grocery chain highlighted California grapes from October through December in 168 stores in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and Delaware. Dietitians held in-person and online classes designed to inspire their customer clientele with creative ways to use California grapes, including building a better charcuterie board. Among other things, the team of dietitians used blog posts and podcasts, social media, and an “Ask the Expert” column in Savory magazine to tempt consumers with grape usage and recipe ideas.

“The outreach the dietitians conducted was broad and deep,” said Karen Hearn, vice president of domestic marketing for the California Table Grape Commission.

“It was also beautifully done, full of enticing ideas and mouthwatering photos. The work was tied to retail promotions and we know it helped motivate consumers to purchase. The program will serve as a model for future work.”

Hearn noted that the timing of the promotion was important because over 45 percent of the California grape crop shipped October through December.

2022-01-28T14:28:12-08:00January 28th, 2022|

New Book Shows Grapes a Top Food for Immunity and Brain Health

By California Table Grape Commission

Grapes are a top food for immunity and brain health, according to a new book soon to be released by dietitian and author Patricia Bannan.

The book is titled “From Burnout to Balance: 60+ Healing Recipes & Simple Strategies to Boost Mood, Immunity, Focus & Sleep.” The book lists top foods in several categories, among them brain and immune health, with grapes on the list for both.

In addition to the recipes, Bannan includes grapes in her “Nearly No-Cook Meal Ideas” section of the book.

“Grapes are my go-to ingredient for color, hydration, and nutrition. As a snack or recipe ingredient, grapes are an easy, healthy choice for wellness. Studies show that grapes are linked to benefits in multiple areas of health, including support for brain and immune health,” said Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, author of “From Burnout to Balance.” “Three of my favorite recipes with grapes in ‘From Burnout to Balance’ are my Simple Salmon Burgers with Grape Salsa, Lemony Farro and Lentil Bowls with Shrimp and Grapes, and my Kale, Sweet Potato & Grape Salad with Walnuts. Not only are these recipes delicious, they are packed with nutrients to support both brain and immune health.”

Bannan will promote her new book throughout the upcoming California table grape season.

2022-01-20T08:13:24-08:00January 20th, 2022|

Suppliers, Retailers Warn California Grape Growers of Herbicide Shortages

Supply-chain Crisis Forces Some to Pivot to Mechanical, Biocontrol Measures

By Mike Hsu, UCANR Senior Public Information Representative

Driving through her vineyards on a chilly morning in December, Hortencia Alvarado is taking comfort – for now – that the weeds she sees are all yellow. But there remains a nagging worry that, like the pesky plants, is merely lying dormant for the season.

When March rolls around, and the first signs of new green growth appear on the vines, Alvarado and other vineyard managers will again have to confront the ongoing shockwaves of the global supply-chain crisis.

Growers of grapes – the third-highest valued agricultural commodity in California at $4.48 billion in 2020 – likely won’t be able to access the herbicides that they usually apply.

“I definitely need to start thinking and considering it because I don’t want to be in that situation where I don’t have [the herbicide] when I need it,” said Alvarado, a vineyard manager in the San Joaquin Valley.

Imperfect alternatives

She first noticed the effects of the shortages this past August, during the application following the harvest of early varietals. Alvarado’s agricultural pest control adviser had recommended a different product, instead of their usual standby, Rely – because none of the handful of suppliers in California could find it. Then Alvarado’s foreman started reporting that the substitute wasn’t controlling the weeds.

“We were using some other stuff that wasn’t as good, so basically we were wasting money on stuff that wasn’t doing what we wanted it to do,” Alvarado explained.

They quickly pivoted to their mechanical weeder to chop up the weeds, but that’s been an imperfect solution. They only have one machine and it would take three or four machines to adequately weed the nearly 3,000 acres that Alvarado manages.

The need for more machines or labor is just one result of the herbicide shortage, said George Zhuang, University of California Cooperative Extension viticulture farm advisor in Fresno County. Zhuang has received “a lot” of calls from growers about the chemical supply issues, which are also affecting fertilizers. He’s been urging them to move away from traditional herbicides to mechanical means or biocontrol such as sheep or fowl – even though they might be more expensive.

Zhuang estimates that while a weed program comprises 5% to 10% of total production costs in a normal year with the usual herbicides, the use of nonchemical alternatives could hike that percentage up to 10% to 20%. In addition to their impact on the bottom line, effective herbicides are especially crucial to grape growers because vines – unlike tree crops – cannot naturally shade out weeds with expansive canopies.

“Right now, people can still scramble around and find some limited chemicals to make sure the crop is successful for the harvest, but if the situation goes for another year, I think there’s going to be a panic in farming communities,” Zhuang said.

Herbicide challenges expected to linger

Unfortunately, the availability of certain products is likely going to be “challenged” into at least the middle of 2022, according to Andy Biancardi, a Salinas-based sales manager at Wilbur-Ellis, an international marketer and distributor of agricultural products and chemicals. Biancardi said that the suppliers he talks to are advising people to make preparations.

The supply of glyphosate, the key component in products such as RoundUp (used by many Midwestern farmers), appears to be most affected, Biancardi said. As a result, that shortage has put the squeeze on alternatives such as glufosinate, used in products like Rely – the herbicide favored by many California grape growers.
“The cost of glufosinate has definitely gone up because there just isn’t enough, so everyone is obviously marking it up,” said Biancardi, who estimates that prices for both glyphosate and glufosinate are up 25% to 30% for growers.

“And that’s if you can get it,” he added.

Alvarado said that while large commercial operations are able to pay the premium prices or shift to other weed control measures, some smaller growers have essentially given up the fight – simply letting the weeds take over.
“They’re just letting it go wild until the dormant season,” she said. “They’re hoping that – by when they do start to spray [around March] – they’ll hopefully have that Rely.”

Silver lining to supply crisis?

Large-scale growers and retailers are buying up those scarcer products when they can, in anticipation of future shortages during critical times. Biancardi said that while his company traditionally runs inventories down at the end of the season, they are instead stocking up on herbicides that customers will demand.
“Careful planning and forecasting is going to be more important than ever, that’s really the key,” he said. “At this point we can’t guarantee ‘business as usual,’ based on what we’re hearing.”

Shaking off old habits might actually bring some benefits to business, according to Alvarado, as a forced shift away from chemicals could prove to be a selling point for customers, from a sustainability and marketing standpoint.

“Out of this shortage, there might be some good, some wins,” she said, “but at the same time, we’re going to need some answers – I think it’s going to be a bumpy road.”

Calling the confluence of drought, record heat and a shortage of chemicals a “perfect storm,” Zhuang said that consumers could start feeling those jolts as well.

“Eventually, somebody is going to eat the costs – either the farming community or the consumer is going to eat the cost, I hate to say it,” he said.

2021-12-20T15:42:14-08:00December 20th, 2021|

Timorex Act BioFungicide Expands Label

Timorex Act OMRI-Certified Biofungicide now Registered Throughout Mexico

Also approved by California and Florida through distributor Summit Agro

 STK bio-ag technologies, Israel’s innovative leader in botanical – based organic and hybrid solutions for sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, announces that Timorex Act organic biofungicide is now registered throughout Mexico, with Syngenta as the exclusive distributor.

Timorex® Act is based on a botanical extract of the tea tree plant. A purely organic formulation, certified by OMRI and Ecocert, Timorex® Act is highly effective against a broad spectrum of plant diseases in a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, including anthracnose, powdery mildew, early blight, botrytis, cencicilla, et al. Timorex® Act is also friendly to pollinators, such as bees, and has been endorsed by the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation in its latest report.  Moreover, Timorex® Act has no chemical residues whatsoever.

Timorex® Act’s mode of action is to find and rupture disease cells. This botanical-based biofungicide is in Frac Group 46. “TIMOREX ACT has a unique activity against fungal plant pathogens”, explained Marco Tulio, STK Country Manager in Mexico. “This activity is a huge benefit to organic growers since there are not many products available to growers looking for biological certified products without compromising  efficacy, as proven by the numerous trials performed in Mexico and in the USA.”

For example,  purely organic Timorex Act has proven to be as good as the chemical mixture of boscalid and pyraclostrobin in the vines trial in in Mexico against botrytis and Erysiphe necator:

2021-02-08T19:10:06-08:00February 8th, 2021|

Technology Helping Calif. Wineries Thrive

Technology is Paving the Way for Better California Wines

By Erica Smith, California Ag Today Contributor

California makes great wine every year. In fact, the state is the world’s fourth-largest producer of wine. Eighty percent of American wine is produced in California. Many of the most coveted wines are made in California. As such, when it comes to innovations in winery and grape harvest, California also has that handled.

Here’s how technology is helping California create better wines.


One of the first drones to hover over Californian vineyards was seen above the Santa Lucia Highlands in 2016. It’s the location of the Hahn Estate Winery. Equipped with multispectral sensors, the drone monitored the vineyard’s health, gathering data in aspects like canopy cover, temperature, and moisture. And they’ve long since improved their drones’ capabilities, as they can now analyze pathogens and yield estimates. In recent months, other vineyards like Bennett Valley and Jackson Family Wines have begun to adopt drone technology as well.

Mechanized Vineyards

Humans are able to discern which grapes are ripe enough for the picking. However, mechanized vineyards can also do this to an extent, and without the added labor costs. With the vintner’s knowledge on optimum ripeness (which tools like drones can help them arrive at), they can order the mechanized picking of their grapes. Wilson Vineyards in Clarksburg does this and even found that the hot weather didn’t affect their yields as much. This is because the machines can harvest at night when it’s cooler, giving the grapes a more pleasant taste.

Self-Driving Tractors

Self-driving vehicles don’t just belong on the public roads. The world’s first autonomous electric tractor is proof of this. This smart vehicle can be trained to plow, cultivate, and fertilize vineyard areas automatically. And since it’s automated, the cultivation is more standardized. It’s taught and controlled via an app until it eventually remembers the patterns. Monarch Tractor, the Californian startup responsible, is starting production and releasing it to the market next year.

Incidentally, these technologies are not only boosting the quality and production of existing vineyards—but they’re also encouraging aspiring vintners to invest in their own winery. As mentioned, between staff training and the number of people needed to harvest quality grapes, labor is one of the biggest expenses involved in launching and operating a vineyard. In fact, startup costs range from $560,000 to over $2 million, making the industry intimidating to those just starting out. Fortunately, while machines do require a big initial cost, their efficiency saves vintners more in the long-run.

Similarly, with state vineyards being significantly affected by droughts, wildfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic, technology’s subsequent boosts in business, productivity, and savings are more important than ever. For example, a mechanized harvested vineyard can also help vintners quickly harvest their grapes before a big storm hits.

Overall, even with more competition, the quality wines produced by California vintners  is allowing them to increase their presence in the global wine industry.

2020-12-23T18:38:28-08:00December 23rd, 2020|

Goodness Matters with California Table Grapes!

Campaign Encourages Consumption of Table Grapes


The heart of the California Table Grape Commission’s multi-faceted outreach effort, California Goodness Matters, asks consumers to buy California table grapes. The program promotes the importance of supporting California’s table grape farming communities that grow and harvest 99% of the nation’s fresh table grapes.

Currently underway and continuing into the fall, the Goodness Matters campaign features radio commercials, social media outreach supported by advertising, and a series of messages delivered to retailers.

Kathleen Nave

Kathleen Nave, President of the California Table Grape Commission

“Goodness in all forms matters now more than ever,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. The California Goodness Matters campaign, according to Nave, is about “recognizing that the decisions we make as consumers make a difference in the livelihood of others. It also aids in the economic survival of small rural communities. It is  about the goodness that is California table grapes.”

The campaign reaches consumers in California markets over radio in English and Spanish.  Award – winning chef and restaurateur, Aarón Sánchez, is featured in a 15 second Spanish-language spot. It focuses on his belief in the importance of supporting those who grow and harvest our food.

California Table Grapes

California Table Grape Commission’s “Goodness Matters” Campaign

The campaign’s next phase  will include two more radio commercials, focusing on healthy eating. Sánchez will voice the first spot. Amy Brown, co-host of The Bobby Bones Show that is syndicated to more than 150 country stations throughout the nation, will voice the second spot.


In addition, both Sánchez and Brown will share their thoughts on California table grapes and the ways in which California Goodness Matters through social media.

According to Nave, when consumers make a conscious decision to buy California table grapes rather than imports and packaged snacks, they are supporting California farmers and workers during this challenging time.

Science reveals what we’ve perceived intuitively for centuries: Grapes are very good for us. Research shows that grapes of all colors—red, green and black—are a natural source of beneficial components called polyphenols. Polyphenols help promote antioxidant activity and influence cell communications that affect important biological processes.

2020-07-27T19:07:40-07:00July 27th, 2020|

Produce Passes All Residue Testing in 2017

FDA Produce Residue Sampling “Once Again” Verifies Safety

Last week the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its 2017 pesticide residue sampling data results. FDA concluded: “The latest set of results demonstrate once again that the majority of the foods we test are well below the federal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Note the term “once again” in FDA’s statement. They used it because government residue sampling data year after year reaffirms the safety of our food and the exceptionally high level of compliance among farmers with laws and regulations covering the use of organic and conventional pesticides.

Let’s get a little technical for a moment and focus on how FDA residue sampling is protective of consumers. FDA employs a three-fold strategy to enforce the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tolerances or safety standards for pesticide residues.
If you haven’t heard – September is National Fruit and Vegetable month. Yes, it is time to celebrate the only food group health experts and nutritionists agree we should all eat more of every day for better health and a longer life.
While decades of studies have shown the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables are overwhelming and significant, the safety of both organic and conventional produce is also impressive. Government sampling data shows an over 99% compliance rate among farmers with the laws and regulations required for pesticide applications on organic and conventional fruit and vegetable crops. This led the United States Department of Agriculture to state that: “The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world.”

Many health organizations are promoting National Fruit and Vegetable month to remind consumers about the importance of increasing consumption – only one in 10 of us eat enough of these nutrient-packed foods each day.

However, studies show a growing barrier to consumption is fear-based messaging which inaccurately calls into question the safety of the more affordable and accessible fruits and veggies. This messaging is predominantly carried by the same activist groups year after year despite studies which show that “prescriptions” for fruits and veggies could reduce health care costs by $40 billion annually. Or that 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year.

2019-09-23T15:06:22-07:00September 23rd, 2019|

2018 Fresno County Crop Report a Record: $7.8 Billion!

Fresno County up BIG on Production Value for 2018


Submitted to Fresno County Board Supervisors by Milissa Cregan Fresno County Ag Commissioner

It is my pleasure to submit the 2018 Fresno County Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report. In each of our annual reports, the Department likes to highlight a segment of our history; and this edition will feature the California Department of Agriculture’s Direct Marketing Program and the certi­fied producers and their crops.

This report is produced in accordance with Sections 2272 and 2279 of the California Food and Agriculture Code; and summarizes the acreage, production, and value of agricultural commodities produced in Fresno County. Fresno County’s total gross production value for 2018 is $7,887,583,790. This represents an increase of $859,559,690 or 12.23% over the previous year’s total of $7,028,024,100.

Once again, almonds continue to be the leading agricultural commodity in Fresno County with a gross value of $1,178,182,069, which represents 14.94% of the total gross value of all crops produced in 2018. The total gross value of grapes remained in the number two spot at $1,106,858,236 followed by pistachios for the ­first time at $862,144,401.

Fresno County’s agricultural strength is based on the diversity of crops produced. Included in the 2018 report are over 300 different commodities, 76 of which have a gross value in excess of $1,000,000. Although individual commodities may experience difficulties from year-to-year, Fresno County continues to supply the highest quality of food and fib­er nation-wide and abroad to more than 95 countries around the world.

Crop values vary from year to year based on production, market fluctuations and weather. It is important to note the figures provided in this report reflect gross values and do not take into account the costs of production, marketing, transportation, or other ancillary costs. These ­figures do not represent net income or loss to the producers of these commodities.

This report is our yearly opportunity to recognize the growers, shippers, ranchers and other businesses instrumental to and supportive of agriculture in Fresno County. We truly appreciate the many producers, processors, and agencies (both private and public) that supported our e‑orts in completing this report. In addition, a hearty thank-you goes out to my entire staff, especially Fred Rinder, Scotti Walker, Angel Gibson, Rosemarie Davis, Sam Sohal, and Shoua VangXiong. Without their hard work and valuable input, this report would not be possible.


2019-09-11T18:03:57-07:00September 12th, 2019|

California Oak Trees Harbor Insect-Eating Bats

Oak Trees in Vineyards a ‘Win-Win’ For Bats and Growers

By Pam Kan-Rice  UC ANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

Californians love their oak trees. During vineyard development, Central Coast grape growers often feel compelled to leave an old iconic oak standing, even if it ends up right in the middle of their vineyard. While driving through the Central Coast, it’s not unusual to see the pattern of vineyard rows broken by a majestic oak tree. Aside from their beauty, what are some of the ecosystem services that these majestic trees provide?

To find answers, a UC Cooperative Extension scientist in San Luis Obispo County collaborated with a U.S. Forest Service scientist to study how bats use blue oak and valley oak trees in vineyards. UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bill Tietje, a co-author of the study, says they focused on bats that eat insects because bat populations have declined dramatically in some areas due to habitat loss and disease. “And bats don’t hurt grapes. As a matter of fact, thanks to the huge number of bugs they consume, bats could be very good for a vineyard.”

To understand the potential value of remnant oak trees for insectivorous bats, the researchers placed microphones to detect bat calls within 14 Central Coast vineyards. The recordings revealed 11 species of insectivorous bats foraged within the vineyards. Bat foraging activity was 1.5 times greater at the trees compared to open, tree-less areas within the vineyard. And the bigger the tree, the bigger the number of bats it attracted.

“The study results suggest that the large oak tree in my vineyard not only increases the beauty and biodiversity of the agricultural landscape, but also attracts insect-eating bats that can provide natural pest control—a win-win,” said grape grower Jerry Reaugh, who cooperated with the researchers.

In fact, the trees more than doubled the number of insectivorous bats called woodland-adapted bats within the vineyards. The study indicates that the oak trees attracted woodland-adapted bats that would normally be absent from vineyards.

Tietje hopes that the free insect-reduction services provided by bats will increase grape growers’ incentive to manage and maintain the trees, and even to plant new oak trees in suitable areas around their vineyard, in mutual benefit to both agriculture and biodiversity.

“In addition to their value for insectivorous bats, remnant trees maintain bird and insect diversity by providing food, habitat, cover and stepping stones that facilitate the movement of wildlife within agricultural landscapes,” said Tietje.

This study comes at a time when declining blue oak and valley oak populations are of great concern.

“We hope the study will increase awareness of these beautiful and beneficial trees and make the case for conservation and restoration,” Tietje said. “Preserving and enhancing biodiversity in the midst of climate change is key to ensuring resilience in our landscapes and communities.”

The study by University of Washington graduate student Anne Polyakov, Theodore Weller of USDA Forest Service and Tietje is published in the September 2019 edition of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.


2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00September 2nd, 2019|
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