Bowles Farming Co. Shares Success Secrets

Google Hangouts Helps Bowles Farming Communicate Throughout 

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

When it comes to agriculture, Merced County-based Bowles Farming Company has it figured out. With 160 years of experience, and six generations worth of history, the company has had a major influence on the state. Danny Royer, Vice President of Technology at Bowles, has valuable insight on what makes the company so successful.

Royer is in charge of the technology behind growing various crops including tomatoes, cotton, wheat, watermelon, and other organic commodities. He said that the key to solving issues is by sharing data within the operation.

“Data is what’s going to provide the solution, but we have to create systems that give the people [the data] who have the competencies to solve the problem,” he explained.

One way Bowles Farming Co. is able to achieve this is by using Google Hangouts on the farm, which enables them to communicate with different sectors of the operation single-handedly.

“We’ve got to be a little more transparent and open about sharing our information with people that are coming from the tech sector trying to help us,” Royer said.

Grain Crop Variety Trials Important

Grain Crop Variety Trials Ongoing in California

By Brianne Boyett, Associate Editor

Grain crop variety trials are taking place around the state in hopes of measuring productivity among a diverse range of environments. California Ag Today spoke with Mark Lundy, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist for grain cropping systems at UC Davis, about the topic.

“We’ve been doing statewide variety trials as an institution for decades, almost a century. The goal is to be consistent, as California is such a diverse environment and because there are different conditions from year to year,” Lundy said.

“We are conducting trials that we measure yield and crop quality, disease reactions, agronomic traits on small grains—which are predominantly wheat in California, but we also do trials on barley,” Lundy explained.

The goal is for producers to be able to utilize this data and apply it in their own management systems.

“We want to take that data and put it into a format that growers can use to make decisions about what to plant. Also, we want to make it so the breeders can use it to make decisions on what to advance in, what lines to make available for growers,” Lundy said.

These trials are widespread and take place in a variety of locations.

“We have trials as far north as Tule Lake in the intermountain region, as far south as the Imperial Valley. Trials are conducted on a combination of grower fields and also at research and extension centers where we can have better control over the variables. We want to get a little better understanding of not just the location and its inherent characteristics, but the management in terms of how much water or nitrogen it may need,” Lundy explained

For More information on Mark Lundy:




Uniqueness of California Wheat Industry

California Wheat Growers Farm Every Class of Wheat

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

Wheat is a primary crop for many producers, along with being a valuable rotational crop that helps manage disease and improve the condition of the soil. Wheat production is an important aspect of the economics of farming in California.  Nick Matteis is the Executive Director for the California Association of Wheat Growers.  Having finished planting last month, California wheat growers are pleased with the amount of rainfall already coming to California.

“Soil moisture is key for having a good start on the wheat-growing season. … It’s the best start you could ask for as far as growing season goes,” Matteis said.

The average wheat production in California is 1.1 million tons annually and is most often used within the state for both human and animal consumption. Nearly a quarter of that total is exported. Between 2010 and 2014, an average of 47 percent of the common wheat planted in California was used for silage, forage, green chop or hay.    California wheat also has some characteristics that sets it apart other states.

“We have both irrigated and non-irrigated acreage in this state which is sort of unique compared to most other wheat-growing regions in the country. Most of it’s rain-fed; what we call dryland farming,” Matteis said.

The irrigated wheat acreage in the state also provides “the highest yields in the country, like tons per acre versus bushels, which is how most of the other wheat producing states would measure it,” Matteis said. This quality also contributes to the production of high protein wheat.

California growers planted close to 470,000 acres of wheat in 2015, with a farm value of nearly $125 million for grain produced.  It appears that 2016 saw an increase in plantings. “Right now, I think the guesstimate is somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 acres are planted in wheat,” Matteis said.

The two main types of wheat grown in California are hard red winter wheat and durum wheat, but growers also produce multiple other varieties.  “We grow every class of wheat, which we’re one of the only states that actually does that. You’re talking Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Hard White, Soft White. We have the Desert Durum which is really popular for the pasta makers in the world,” Matteis said.

The hard red varieties are classified as winter wheat because of the timing of when it enters the market.  Winter wheat is grown throughout the state, with the majority of production coming from areas located in the San Joaquin Valley, where Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties dominate production.

Desert Durum is a registered certification mark owned by the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council and the California Wheat Commission.  Durum is the hardest of all the wheat varieties, with a high protein content and white bran. Its most often used to make pasta, couscous and some types of Mediterranean breads.

A significant portion of the state’s common wheat is used for milling into general purpose or bread flour.  California also happens to have the largest milling capacity in the U.S., due to having the most mills in one state.