UC ANR Horticulture Advisor Retires After 28 Years

John Kabashima wrapped up his horticultural career on July 1, after 28 years with University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Nursery professionals lauded the UC Cooperative Extension advisor’s service to the nursery and landscape industry and to homeowners in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

“He’s one of the few people who could translate science into business with a sense of candor and fact-based conversation,” said Robert Crudup, president of Calabasas-based Valley Crest Tree Company, of Kabashima.” John has long-term vision, which he used throughout his career to move the nursery industry forward.”

John Kabashima
John Kabashima, UC ANR

“He is smart about political science as well as plant science,” Crudup said. On a regular basis, Kabashima would warn growers about emerging issues that were likely to affect the nursery industry, such as regulations to control the spread of polyphagous shot hole borer, red imported fire ant and palm borer.

“He’s been very, very valuable,” said retired nurseryman Gary Hayakawa, noting that Kabashima not only contributed research on pest control and water issues for the nursery and landscape industries, but also persuaded people from UC campuses, the California Department Food and Agriculture and industry to work together. “Before he was involved in issues, the work was all separate. Industry didn’t have input,” Hayakawa said. “What John has done is to work with all three to form a coalition.”

Crudup, whose company has nursery operations in Los Angeles, Ventura, Alameda and San Joaquin counties, agreed.

“John’s biggest contribution was his work with the glassy-winged sharpshooter subcommittee,” said Crudup, who served on the subcommittee. “He brought a voice of reason that helped counterbalance emotional sides of the discussion.”

“His ability to act as the primary liaison between the nursery industry, CDFA, the UC, the county agricultural departments and the wine and grape industries was the primary reason this part of the GWSS (glassy-winged sharpshooter)  program was so successful and, more importantly has resulted in the continued viability of the California nursery industry in light of significant regulatory pressures,” said Bob Wynn, who was statewide coordinator of the CDFA Pierce’s Disease Control  Program and who  continues to oversee the program as senior advisor to Secretary Karen Ross.

“The CDFA, with advisement and counseling from John, developed what is known as the Approved Nursery Treatment Program, which allows nurseries in the infested areas of the state to ship by merely treating the plants with an approved treatment,” Wynn said.  “John was the primary author in the development of the nursery ‘Approved Treatment Best Management Practices’ document published in 2008. The use of this document has allowed the nursery industry to save millions of dollars in regulatory compliance costs over time.”

A native of Los Angeles, Kabashima says he started working in his family’s nursery business as soon as he was tall enough to water 1-gallon nursery plants.  “After killing thousands of plants, I was finally allowed to manage the family business from 1970 to 1976,” he quipped.

In 1976, his family sold the nursery and Kabashima enrolled at California Polytechnic University, Pomona. After he  earned a B.S. in agricultural biology from Cal Poly Pomona in 1979, he was hired by UC Riverside horticulture entomologist Pat Morishita as a lab technician. While working at UC Riverside, Kabashima earned a  master’s degree in pest management. He would later complete a Ph.D. in entomology at UC Riverside.

Kabashima earned his MBA at Pepperdine University in 1986 while managing the Ornamental Horticulture Division at Target Specialty Products. In 1987, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources recruited him to become a UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Over the years, he has studied the management of insects, diseases and weeds in horticulture production systems, biological control of exotic pests, and water-related problems in landscapes, golf courses, nurseries, municipalities and watersheds.

In 1998 Kabashima took over the fledgling UC Master Gardener Program in Orange County, which as of now has trained more than 300 UC Master Gardener volunteers to extend research-based information on gardening and horticulture to the public.

The UCCE environmental horticulture advisor has also served as director of UC Cooperative Extension in Orange County and interim director of the UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center.

In 1994, when Orange County filed for bankruptcy and the Board of Supervisors voted to discontinue funding and housing for the local UC Cooperative Extension, Kabashima worked with Gary Hayakawa to keep UCCE in the county.

“When Orange County cut Cooperative Extension’s budget, we found out that without extension you don’t have 4-H or Master Gardeners,” Hayakawa said. To preserve the UC Cooperative Extension programs, Hayakawa, who was an Orange County Fair Board member, helped Kabashima  secure office space in trailers on the fairgrounds. In 2014, the UCCE office moved from the fairgrounds to UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine.

Kabashima belongs to many professional organizations including the Entomological Society of America, California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Nursery Growers Association, Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, United Agribusiness League, and San Diego Flower and Plant Association. The scientist has served on numerous government and industry advisory committees.

Throughout his career, Kabashima’s achievements in education and research have been recognized by various organizations. To name a few, he received the 1987 Education and Research Award from the Orange County Chapter of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), 1993 CANERS Research Award from CANGC, 2002 Nursery Extension Agent Award from the American Nursery and Landscape Association, 2008 Western Extension Directors Award of Excellence, 2010 Entomological Society of America’s National IPM Team Award and the 2011 California Agriculture Pest Control Advisors Association Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award. In 2014, he and his friend Hayakawa were inducted into the Green Industry Hall of Fame.

Being a UCCE advisor has suited Kabashima. “I love learning new things, sharing that information with others, and using my skills to solve problems facing California, such as the ever-increasing arrivals of exotic and invasive pests,” he said. The avid photographer has been able to unite his avocation with his vocation. His photographs of insects have been used to illustrate textbooks, websites and news articles.

“Success in one’s field is often a combination of natural ability, informal and formal training and education, being mentored, and networking with collaborators and colleagues, all sprinkled with a little bit of luck and support from one’s family and friends,” Kabashima said.

In retirement, Kabashima plans to seek new culinary experiences with his wife Janet and daughter Misa, at  home and in their travels together. He has been granted emeritus status by UC ANR and he will continue his efforts to help UC Irvine save trees on its campus that are infested with polyphagous shot hole borer.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and educators draw on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

Ag Leader Paul Martin Inducted into Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hall of Fame

Paul Martin, a Petaluma rancher and agricultural leader who has dedicated his life to building bridges between farmers and regulatory agencies, will be honored at Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s “Love of the Land” celebration on July 16 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor, Calif.

Paul_Martin
Paul Martin (Sonoma County Farm Bureau)

Martin’s remarkable agricultural legacy has earned him a prominent place in Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Hall of Fame. The annual award recognizes agricultural leaders who are a guiding force in preserving, protecting and propelling Sonoma County’s $4 billion farming industry. Martin joins legendary leaders in the Hall of Fame, like the late Saralee McClelland Kunde, who was the Saralee of Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard; Gene Benedetti, who was founder of Clover Stornetta Farms; and Larry Bertolini, who was founder and president of Western Farm Center.

Martin is a former dairy rancher who had a second career as a representative for the dairy and agriculture industries. After selling his cows in the late 1990’s, Martin started working as field representative for Western United Dairymen, utilizing his knowledge of the dairy industry and his excellent communication skills to represent milk producers. After retiring from Western United Dairymen in 2012, he served a two-year stint as Gov. Jerry Brown’s Deputy Director in the Office of Business and Economic Development. Martin and his wife Jill have retired to their ranch in Two Rock.

Sangiacomo Family Photo
Sangiacomo Family Photo (Sonoma County Farm Bureau)

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau will also honor the Sangiacomo Family, a multi-generational Sonoma Valley family respected for their land stewardship, agriculture leadership and dedication to growing world-class grapes, as “Farm Family of the Year”. In addition, the Bureau will present the “Luther Burbank Conservation Award” to Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery in Sebastopol. The Farm Bureau refers to Harmony as, “It could easily be called the Institution of Organic & Sustainable Farming & Gardening, a revered center of learning that upholds an environmental ethic while helping growers produce crops the natural way.”

Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery (Sonoma County Farm Bureau)
Harmony

Love of the Land honors the stewards of the land and Sonoma County’s agricultural bounty. The event starts at 5 p.m. with a tasting of Sonoma County wine and food. A dinner featuring an array of Sonoma County grown products is at 7 p.m. The dinner will be followed by the awards presentation and live auction. The event is open to the public and anyone who wants to join in recognizing the stewards of Sonoma County’s working landscape.

Individual tickets are $65. Corporate sponsor tables for eight people are $1,250. General seating tables of eight are $700.

To make reservations, visit Sonoma County Farm Bureau or call 707-544-5575. Tickets are available until July 2 or until sold out.

 

BioConsortia Invents the Future

BioConsortia Plans New Ag Bio Products

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Associate Editor

Marcus Meadows-Smith is with BioConsortia, a research and development biodiscovery company in Davis, Calif. He and his company have big plans to invent the future for Ag.

“The company was founded about 20 years ago in New Zealand and was funded by a U.S. private equity,” said Meadows-Smith. “We decided to globalize the technology, and I became the founding global CEO of the company as it was established in the U.S. about 1 year ago.”

The company in New Zealand is called BioDiscovery. For many years, it was a contract research company that was very successful in the microbial space, working with companies like Monsanto and Syngenta. Then Biodiscovery made a R&D breakthrough. “We have totally restructured the company so that the global headquarters and global R&D are now run out of the United States,” noted Meadows-Smith, “and the New Zealand company has become the subsidiary that handles complementary R&D functions.”

Meadows-Smith mentioned that UC Davis and surrounding areas such as West Sacramento are teaming with bioscience researchers. “It’s turning into a bit of a hub for microbial expertise with several of the big players. Obviously you’ve got UC Davis, which is always credited as being the number one U.S. agricultural university. I’ve heard that it is now the world’s best agricultural university, so it’s a great place to be.”BioConsortia Logo

“We’ve got an excellent team of scientists in Davis, and the historic team in New Zealand has a lot of experience. They’ve been working together now for about five years, so the R&D down there is really humming at a great pace,” said Meadows-Smith.

“We’ve been able to rapidly bring together a group of scientists in the U.S.,” said Meadows-Smith, “that have jelled. We have set up a series of experiments, and we’re putting discoveries together. It’s a very exciting time to be doing pure research in the lab.”

“The other very exciting progression for us is we have just planted our second year of field trials, having completed our first year of field trials in 2014–just after the company was established,” he said.

The company is biological- and microbial-based. “We are looking at teams of microbes to improve plant traits and increase plant yield . We are developing products for fertilizer-use efficiency, abiotic stress tolerance, and biotic stress,” said Meadows-Smith.

“Pests and disease control are important, as well as metabolite expression,” he continued. “We’ve identified teams of microbes that instruct or enable the plant to deposit more sugar. As you can imagine, this provides the double productivity benefit of increasing both yield per acre and sugar content per plant.”

“While getting the plant to have increased sugar deposited in its leaf structure is a good thing; but that is actually not our main focus,” Meadows-Smith said. “We look at all the crops we want to target and ask what are the biggest needs today?”

“Fertilizer, for example, is a significant cost for the grower, so fertilizer-use efficiency products, we believe, would experience a large demand,”  Meadows-Smith stated. “There are also concerns about fertilizer leaching into groundwater, so the more efficient you can make plant take up the fertilizer, the better,” he added. “And of course, living in California, we are acutely aware of the importance of drought, so we are working on that as well. We are hoping for a yield increase per acre for the grower in everything we do.”

“We are moving products down the pipeline as we speak,” he commented, “and, obviously, we want a large body of data to demonstrate to growers how to best use our products. We are looking for two years of good field trial results and then we’ll go through the registration process. So we are expecting to get our first product on the market by 2017.

“We are developing products that contain beneficial bacteria, beneficial fungi, and good plant colonizers,”  Meadows-Smith declared. “Some will colonize the root system, and some the outside of the plant. Still others, endophytes, that will actually grow through the plant tissue. Just as we humans have microbes in our guts to aid digestion, plants actually have beneficial microbes, bacteria and fungi growing within the plant tissue,” Meadows-Smith explained.

Meadows-Smith said BioConsortia’s revolutionary platform will take biologicals to the next level “by assembling teams of microbes that perform complementary functions; so while some microbes will enhance the root system, others will aid the root in nutrient uptake,” he said. “This will bring consistency and superior performance to the marketplace. It’s a very exciting time for the industry as a whole,” he said.

“We are looking to transform food production in a way that is sustainable, bringing benefits to the grower and feeding the world with nutritious, affordable food. That’s what we are in this industry for. These are very exciting times!” Meadows-Smith said.

Featured photo: Marcus Meadows-Smith, with Bio Consortia Scientists.

Whitefly and Aphid Pressure on Cotton

Cotton Growers: Beware of Whitefly and Aphid Pressure Early this Season 

By Laurie Greene, Editor

Pete Goodell
Peter B Goodell Ph.D., Cooperative Extension Advisor-IPM, Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Parlier, CA. (Source: UC ANR)

Pete Goodell, an IPM Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension based at the Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Parlier, Calif., noted that cotton growers should be treating for whitefly and aphid pressure earlier—instead of later—this season.

“On cotton, we are continually working with the whitefly and the green peach aphid. They have been a problem for the last 3-4 years, so we are continuously working with educational outreach to catch these pests early and manage their populations,” Goodell said.

Goodell explained, “I think with cotton acreage down significantly this year, we can really focus and ensure that everybody is aware of the pressure and how to handle the problem beginning in July. In some incidences, folks have misunderstood and treated whiteflys like aphids; folks started looking for the pests around the open cotton boll stage of growth. But that’s too late to treat for whitefly; growers must treat earlier to maintain a quality cotton crop.”

“That’s why we’re going to get ‘on the stick’ this year,” Goodell said. “We are going to hold a series of gin meetings and get the word out that growers need to start earlier to prevent damage from these insects.”

 

Feature photo source: Sweetpotato Whitefly, JackKellyClark, UC ANR

The Water Chase for Harris Farms Onions

Harris Farms Onions Diversify to Chase Water

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Associate Editor, CaliforniaAgToday.com

Some farmers facing very little or zero water deliveries in the Central Valley are investing in crops in areas where water is more plentiful. Steve Hamm, controller for Harris Farms near Coalinga in Fresno County, noted that Harris Ranch has taken this bold move and is now reaping benefits from farming in Kern County.

Hamm told California Ag Today, “We own a couple thousand acres of land in a little town called Mettler, near the intersection of 99 and I-5,” at the foot of a grade known as ‘The Grapevine’ that starts at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon and ascends the canyon to the Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains. “It is more of a gas stop; you’ve probably breezed by it many times heading to Los Angeles.”

“Despite the name ‘Grapevine Region,’ we do not grow any grapes. We grow crops similar to what we grow on the Westside, starting with almond trees, of course. These days, especially given over-priced water and an increase in fallowed ground, record almond prices is really the only thing keeping us afloat. Like almonds, we also grow melons, carrots, onions, tomatoes and lettuce down there,” Hamm noted.

“Although we duplicate a number of crops, farming in Mettler is unique. I’ll use onions as an example. We have an onion processing plant down there to process the onions as soon as they come in from the field, so they don’t  sit around for month–as in a bin. With onions, we are looking to getting through a certain tonnage per year and this is our window,” said Hamm.

“If we took onions from everybody on the Westside in Fresno County or northward,” Hamm explained, “processing them would not work efficiently. Harvest deliveries would arrive at the processing plant at the same time, resulting in a backup, and we would have to push the crop through the plant as fast as possible.”

Hamm says this inefficiency in delivering a large volume to market at one time would greatly impact prices. “What you are really looking for is a location at which you can harvest a crop when the market reaches its highest price. So, Kern County, especially south Kern County, right at the Grapevine but not quite at the granite mountain, still has good-enough soil to grow row crops like you do here in Fresno County. But Mettler is at a higher elevation, by hundreds of feet, and is also further south in latitude. Surprisingly, this combination places the Grapevine onion harvest first. So we harvest it down there, transport it up here to our packing shed, and that keeps us plenty busy for weeks until the local Fresno harvest, and that’s a huge volume.”

“These days the wholesale produce folks are looking for a year-round supply,” he continued. When they talk with an onion salesperson, they want a twelve-month supply. So our onion salesman looks into Mexico to start off the season, chasing it northward and all around California, wherever it becomes available. At the end of the season, we end up in Washington, even Canada. And when it gets too cold up there, we return to Baja Mexico. We may or may not pack each harvest, but when we geographically spread our supply, our market timing improves.”

In explaining the water chase for Harris Farms onions, Hamm said, “Kern County also has a very different water situation than the Westside of Fresno County, which is supplied by the Westlands Water District, a Federal system that delivered a zero percent water allocation last year. Our water systems in Kern County are Arvin-Edison and Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa, part of the state program, which delivered about a fifteen percent water allocation this year and five percent last year. And, unlike the Westside where the water district owns no wells, these Kern County districts have wells.”

“In addition,” he said, “we are actually part of a water bank in Kern, plus we have our own private wells, like most farmers there. But, here on the Westside, we have only two water sources; groundwater, of course, and our canal allocation that has been zero. So our Westside land is down to a single water source, not including free market trade. We are doing as much as we can in Fresno County on wells, but they have a maximum capacity–you can only run them 24 hours a day.”

“Even without buying water on the open market, we gain a lot more flexibility by diversifying with farms in Kern County that have these four water sources,” Hamm concluded.

 

Sources: California Ag Today interview with Steve Hamm; Harris Farms website; Wikipedia, “The Grapevine”

Featured Image: UCANR

Recycled Wastewater Could Help Growers in Del Puerto Water District

Recycled Wastewater Could Help Growers of Permanent Crops

By Kyle Buchoff, CaliforniaAgToday.com

Jim Jasper
Jim Jasper, Owner/President, Stewart & Jasper OrchardsA recycled wastewater project from Modesto and Turlock wastewaster facilities may help provide 30,000 acre-feet to start with much more coming later if things work out. Jim Jasper, is a diversified grower with Stewart & Jasper Orchards in Newman, which is part of the Del Puerto Water District. “We hope to get about 30,000 acre-feet of water from the city of Modesto,” said Jasper, “and that would start in 2018 if we get it through the Del Puerto Water District which is 45,000 acres stretching from a little bit South of Tracy to just North of Los Banos, along the I-5 corridor.”

This would be enormously helpful for growers in the area, but Jasper said it hasn’t been easy. “We’ve been working on this for going on six years now,” stated Jasper.  “We’ve been back to Washington D.C. three or four times, and we are getting a lot of support. Del Puerto would pay to build a pipeline across the San Joaquin River to take recycled water from Modesto up to the middle of the canal. It would cost over 100 million dollars of farmers’ money to get it done, but it would give us a reliable source of approximately 30,000 acre-feet, which would be 1/3 of what our needs are to take care of our district.

And Jasper noted the supply would particularly help growers of permanent crops, “Of the 45,000 acres in our district, about 27-28,000 are permanent crops, mainly almonds, grapes, walnuts, and cherries. So it is very important that we have a dependable water supply. Obviously, 2015 is the second year that we have had a 0% allocation, so it has been extremely challenging to keep our crops alive.”

Jasper stated the Del Puerto Water District, “has 15,000 acres have been idled in 2015 of our 45,000 acres.”

He expounded, “On the Westside, along I-5, we just don’t have groundwater to substitute for our 0% allocation, so it has been very very difficult.”

Jasper said the only way to survive the 0% water allocation was to purchase water from someplace else. “We’re trying to purchase the water,” said Jasper. “Last year, one of the growers I work with in the almond business was successful at purchasing 1,000 acre-feet of water at $2100/acre-foot, so they were able to get through last year. But they sold their orchard because they could not continue that kind of expense. Another grower I do business with bought 1000 acre-feet of water at $2000/acre-foot, was not successful, and subsequently sold his orchard last year. So we see that as good as the almond industry seems to some people–where there is water, where there isn’t water, almond farmers are really hurting. They are pulling orchards–we pulled 400 acres of our 2,000 acres already–and water the younger trees, which have a better future. You just make these decisions. It’s been very challenging.”

And Jasper said that the recycling project gives them hope, “This recycled water will really help if if we can get it through. We’re in the process and are very, very hopeful.”

Harlan Ranch Pushes Citrus Trees Due to No Water

 

Califonia Citrus Mutual Holds Press Conference at Harlan Ranch to Show Catastrophe

Kevin Severns, a citrus grower and manager of Orange Cove – Sanger Citrus Association and chairman of California Citrus Mutual, spoke to the crowd gathered at third-generation, family-owned Harlan Ranch, Clovis, CA, TODAY, “This is what a zero allocation looks like, folks, this is what zero allocation looks like.”

“Harlan Ranch and Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus have a long history together. Next year we will receive our lowest-ever deliveries from Harlan Ranch simply because of the number of trees are being pushed. Why are they being pushed? No water.

“This is an inexcusable situation and something we are desperate to do something about. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. We can do something about this, and that’s what this is all about–to bring attention to both the plight and what can be done about it,” said Severns.

“The packing house that I manage is about 25 miles, as the crow flies, from where I’m standing, and the fruit from this ranch is delivered there along with fruit from the other growers who also own the packing house. It’s a cooperative of family farmers. We employ about 100 people directly in our packing house, and another 200 to 250 in the crews that pick, harvest and prune,” Severns said.