Healthy Soils Initiative Looks at Cover Crops

Cover Crops Between Annual Veg Crops Studied

 By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Research is under way to determine if using cover crops between two annual vegetable crops will improve the soil for future crops. It’s all part of the California Department of Food and Ag Healthy Soils Program—a statewide project.

Amber Vinchesi is a UCANR Vegetable Crops Farm Advisor in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties. She works mainly with processing tomatoes but also with growers farming vegetables for seed as well as fresh market vegetables such as honeydew and cantaloupe melons.

Vinchesi is collaborating with California’s Healthy Soils Initiative, a partnership of state agencies and departments led by the CDFA Healthy Soils Project. It’s a combination of innovative farm and land management practices that may contribute to building adequate soil organic matter that may increase carbon sequestration and reduce overall greenhouse gases.

“We have three sites, and the site that I’m working on is focused on winter cover crops between crops such as wheat, tomato or corn, to improve soil health,” said Vinchesi, who is being assisted by her colleague Sarah Light, the agronomy advisor in Sutter, Yuba, and Colusa counties

Other Healthy Soil sites are located in the Delta area, and overseen by Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, UCANR Delta Crops Resource Management Advisor in San Joaquin County. Brenna Aegerter, a UCANR Vegetable Crops Farm Advisor also in San Joaquin County, is working with Leinfelder-Miles. Additionally, Scott Stoddard a UCANR Vegetable Crops Farm Advisor in Merced County has a site.

The cover crop will be vetch, a legume.

“We hope that it will put nitrogen and biomass into the soil,” Vinchesi said. “We’re not sure what the results will be, but we hope it will help with aggregate stability, water infiltration, and even reduce weed density.”

She noted that the trial, which is in the first year of a three-year project, will include two different seeding rates, a high and low rate, and then an untreated control where there’s no cover crop.

“And we’ll do soil testing to see how things change in the soil over time,” she explained.

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California Crop Values for 2017 Released by CDFA

Full Statistics Now Available For the Crop Year 2017

News Release

The California Agricultural Statistics Review for crop year 2017 has been released. It reports that California’s farms and ranches received more than $50 billion in cash receipts for their output. This represents an increase of almost 6 percent in crop values compared to 2016.

California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California is the leading U.S. state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value. The top producing commodities for 2017 include:

Dairy Products, Milk — $6.56 billion

Grapes— $5.79 billion

Almonds— $5.60 billion

Strawberries— $3.10 billion

Cattle and Calves — $2.53 billion

Lettuce— $2.41 billion

Walnuts— $1.59 billion

Tomatoes— $1.05 billion

Pistachios— $1.01 billion

Broilers— $939 million

Complete Report at this Link:

https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Statistics/PDFs/2017-18AgReport.pdf

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Oriental Fruit Fly Quarantine Expands in Northern California

New Quarantine Measures 123 Square Miles

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

A portion of Sacramento and Yolo Counties have been placed under quarantine for the Oriental fruit fly following the detection of 15 flies in and around the southern part of the City of Sacramento near the Lemon Hill community.

The quarantine zone measure 123 square miles, generally bordered on the north by El Camino Avenue; on the south by Laguna Boulevard, on the west by the Sacramento River; and on the east by Bradshaw Road. A link to the quarantine map may be found here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/off/regulation.html.

To prevent the spread of Oriental fruit flies through homegrown fruits and vegetables, residents living in the quarantine area are urged not to move those items from their property. However, they may be consumed or processed (i.e. juiced, frozen, cooked, or ground in the garbage disposal) on the property where they were grown, or disposed of by double-bagging and placing in the regular trash bin, not green waste.

Following the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), CDFA primarily uses the “male attractant” technique to eradicate this pest.  Trained workers squirt a small patch of fly attractant mixed with a very small dose of pesticide approximately 10 feet off the ground on street trees and similar surfaces; male fruit flies are attracted to the mixture and perish after consuming it. This approach has successfully eliminated dozens of fruit fly infestations from California over the last several decades.

The Oriental fruit fly is known to target 230 different fruit, vegetable, and plant commodities.  Damage occurs when the female fruit fly lays her eggs inside the fruit.

Small larvae generally enter the fruit at the stem end, although entry can be made anywhere on the fruit, particularly where two fruits touch. Larvae immediately bore to the center of the fruit and feed around the pit. After reaching maturity, they exit from the fruit and pupate.

While fruit flies and other invasive species that threaten California’s crops and natural environment are sometimes detected in agricultural areas, the vast majority are found in urban and suburban communities.

The most common pathway for these pests to enter the state is by “hitchhiking” in fruits and vegetables brought back illegally by travelers when they return from infested regions of the world or ship infested produce through the mail. Help protect California’s agricultural and natural resources; please Don’t Pack a Pest (www.dontpackapest.com) when traveling or mailing packages.

The Oriental fruit fly is widespread throughout much of the mainland of southern Asia and neighboring islands, including Sri Lanka and Taiwan, and it has invaded other areas, most notably Africa and Hawaii.

Residents with questions about the project may call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899. Additional information may be found here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/off/.

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CDFA’s Karen Ross: Water and Labor are Big Issues for California

CDFA Secretary Says State has High Water and Labor Standards

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, spoke to California Ag Today recently about the two big challenges regarding California agriculture.

“[The] two biggest challenges we have are labor and water. Some days, labor’s number one and water’s number two, but they’re both always right up there,” she said.

Karen Ross

Ross spoke at the recent California Citrus Conference in Visalia.

“I think for the future, water is very key to how we’ll grow. I think it’s important for people to think about how we farm in this state,” she said. “We farm to extremely high environmental standards, and extremely high labor standards. Those are responsibilities that we have taken on. I certainly hope that people will continue to buy California to reward that kind of stewardship, because it comes with a price.”

Ross noted that investment is key with labor, automation and water.

“We just have to get through a couple of really big, challenging issues,” she explained. “Automation’s going to definitely be more of our future, and as we invest in that automation, we have to make sure we’re concurrently investing in the workforce skills development to go with it, because they will be different jobs.”

“When it comes to water, the renewed focus on how do we do intentional groundwater recharge as part of making the sustainable groundwater management actually work in our basins is going to be an exciting opportunity for us,” she said.

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LGMA: A Decade of Protection – Part 1

California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement Now 10 Years Old

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
Scott Horsfall, CEO of California Leafy Green Marketing Agreemen

After a severe E.coli outbreak nearly a decade ago, California took steps in ensuring the safety of consumers through the creation of the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA). We met with Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, which is managed by the CDFA, to talk about the topic.

“The Marketing Agreement was actually created February of 2007. The outbreak was in the fall of 2006 and then, for a few months, the industry worked with the government to figure out what to do, and they created this Marketing Agreement,” Horsfall said. “The Marketing Agreement was moving fast and in the right direction. The leaders of the industry came together or appointed to that initial board of directors. With the little staff, it was those people and their internal staffs who did all the heavy lifting.”

The outbreak was the driving force behind the creation of this Marketing Agreement.

“They saw the impact that the tragic outbreak had on businesses, consumers, and on individuals. The will was there on the part of the industry to do something quickly and I think they brought in the people who had the expertise,” Horsfall said. “The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) were there with the marketing agreement option. Also there was the Western Grower’s Association, Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh. They were all putting up their best people to figuring out a solution.”

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Citrus Referendum Coming Up

Citrus Growers to Vote on Referendum

News Release from Citrus Research Board

California citrus growers soon will receive a critical citrus referendum ballot from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) asking them to vote on continuing the work of the Citrus Research Board (CRB) for the next five years.

The grower-funded and grower-directed CRB was chartered nearly 50 years ago to enable California citrus growers to sponsor and support needed research that industry members otherwise would be unable to individually fund or access on their own. The Board’s mission is to ensure a sustainable California citrus industry for the benefit of growers by prioritizing, investing in and promoting sound science.

Some key areas funded include general production research, a variety improvement research program, a quality assurance program on agricultural chemical residues, and pest and disease control activities. Currently, disease control is crucially important.

The California citrus industry is now in the fight of its life to prevent the spread of the devastating disease huanglongbing (HLB) from California’s orchards.

HLB already has decimated most other major citrus growing regions, including Florida.

In California, HLB so far only has been found in 40 residential trees in Los Angeles; however, unless researchers are able to find a solution, HLB could gain a foothold in the state’s commercial groves. Currently, the CRB is dedicating its primary research efforts to controlling the spread of HLB and eradicating the disease. The Board is beginning to see some promising results; but without the CRB, much valuable research will go unfunded.

“We urge all citrus growers to vote when they receive their ballots from the CDFA,” CRB President Gary Schulz said. “Citrus is important to our state’s economy, employment, health and positive identity. We are proud to proactively protect and sustain the world’s largest fresh citrus market. The work that our researchers are conducting is vital to sustaining the California citrus industry and ensuring its continued success.”

The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act as the mechanism enabling the State’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. More information about the Citrus Research Board may be found at www.citrusresearch.org.

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HLB Detected Again in San Gabriel

46 HLB Positive Trees in California

News Release from Citrus Insider

CDFA routinely conducts HLB surveys throughout the state based on a risk model that considers factors that may make an area more likely to have a presence of the disease. CDFA has further fine-tuned this approach by increasing the number of samples pulled from citrus trees that are considered high risk. This strategic approach – developed by the CDFA lead diagnostician with input from the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and leading scientific researchers – has helped pinpoint infected trees.

State and local crews are building relationships with residents in the area, which not only helps gain access to properties, but also results in swift removal of trees identified as having HLB. While removal of diseased trees is mandatory, positive homeowner relationships encourage cooperation. Of the eight trees recently detected, seven have already been removed or been scheduled for removal by CDFA. Crews are contacting the property owner of the remaining citrus tree Tuesday, March 28, and will pursue quick removal.

In 2016, CDFA collected nearly 50,000 plant samples and nearly 80,000 Asian citrus psyllid samples to test for HLB. Since sample collection began in 2008, more than 400,000 plant and psyllid samples have been collected and processed. This diligent work has contributed to quick detection and eradication of diseased trees.

As a part of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program, CDFA will continue surveying and sampling the area for HLB and keep the industry abreast of finds as they occur.

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CDFA Supports Ag Education

CDFA Awards more than $250,000 to support Ag Education

Today, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $257,000 to four organizations for projects that enhance agricultural education and leadership opportunities for students, teachers and youth under the 2016 California Special Interest Plate (CalAgPlate) grant program.

“The CalAgPlate program helps to support agricultural education and leadership opportunities,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Every purchase and renewal of a CalAgPlate provides funding for activities that enrich the lives of students through exposure to farming and ranching across the state.”

Funded projects include school farm tours with the Dairy Council of California; ‘LearnAboutAg’ assemblies at elementary schools hosted by California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom; an agricultural leadership program in Monterey County for community leaders and professions; and support for California Future Farmers of America’s (FFA) leadership and development programs. Each of these projects provides educational and leadership opportunities connected to the agricultural sector.

The CalAgPlate program is funded with proceeds generated through the sale of specialized, agriculture-themed license plates through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

CalAgPlate project abstracts are available online at www.cdfa.ca.gov/calagplate

Help to support agricultural education and the CalAgPlate program by purchasing a special interest license plate at your local DMV office or online today.

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A Brief History on the Pest Control Adviser and Certified Crop Adviser Programs

Longtime Crop Adviser Helped Increase Job Market for CCA Industry

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

 

The Certified Crop Adviser Program (CCA) was introduced in 1992 as a means to address the increased concerns regarding agriculture’s contributions to a variety of environmental issues.  By 1994, the CCA program was fully established with the support of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, along with the American Society of Agronomy and the California agricultural industry. The program was designed to raise the awareness and professional standards of individuals who make recommendations on agricultural fertilizers, pesticides and related products. 

Allan Romander has a long history with the CCA program, having joined the CCA Board in 2004. “I am currently with the Certified Crop Adviser Program in California, and Arizona I might add. I am a consultant with the organization. I just concluded my term as ICCA Chair and past Chair,” Romander said.

Allan Romander, member, California Certified Crop Adviser Board
Allan Romander, member, California Certified Crop Adviser Board

A Pest Control Adviser (PCA) since 1979, Romander joined the California CCA Board in 2004 and was instrumental in helping to develop a marketing program that nearly doubled the number of CCAs in California in a little less than six years. 

California is one of just a few states that require people who advise farmers on pest control management to be licensed as a Pest Control Adviser.  Amidst rising public concerns regarding pesticide use on California farms, the PCA program was launched in 1973 to ensure that those who make pesticide recommendations are both qualified and knowledgeable. “But that only certified them in the area of pest management,” Romander said. “It never said anything about their competency in the area of crop management or soil or water management.”

certified crop adviser logo“There has long been a gap between growers and consultants. Consultants historically have just held a Pest Control Adviser’s license,” Romander said. Over time, farmers began to ask their PCAs for guidance on multiple subjects outside of pest control, such as fertilizers and irrigation. 

“That’s where the Certified Crop Adviser Program comes in and picks up where the PCA program leaves off.  It covers those categories and certifies to a grower that [the adviser] has competency in those other areas,” Romander said.

Currently, there are close to 4,000 EPA-licensed Pest Control Advisers in California.  Romander noted, “Eighty-five percent of the Certified Crop Advisers in California are also Pest Control Advisers. So it’s a well-established program and well-respected throughout not only the United States, but North America and the rest of the world.”

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National Agriculture Week is Here

Each year, more than one-million students learn about the importance of agriculture through the efforts of California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. This spring, Agriculture in the Classroom will partner with CDFA and the California Women for Agriculture to host California Ag Day 2015 as part of National Ag Week (March 15-21).

On March 18, the State Capitol will come alive with farm animals, educational displays, and entertainment all celebrating California’s great agricultural bounty during California Agriculture Day. The theme for the 2015 event is “California Agriculture: Breaking new Ground.” A focus will be the importance of soil health to our food supply and all of agriculture.

Ag Day is the agricultural community’s annual opportunity to educate and inspire the farmers and ranchers of tomorrow, showcase new technologies, and highlight the diversity of California agriculture.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross, along with 12 other industry leaders, are members of the National Agriculture Week host committee. The host committee helps plan and promote special events throughout the state.

“Please join me and other leaders in agriculture as we support the education of our next generation of consumers and voters,” said Secretary Ross. “National Agriculture Week gives us the opportunity to celebrate agriculture, an industry that provides a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, a strong economy, and a world of job opportunities.”

An additional Ag Week event will be held on March 19 at the Sacramento Kings’ Experience Center in Sacramento, to recognize student winners of Ag in the Classroom’s Imagine this… Story Writing Contest. Student authors will attend and read their stories from the newly published Imagine this… books to the audience. A southern California event will be held aboard The Queen Mary on April 2.

Since 1986, The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, a non-profit organization, has worked to promote a greater awareness of agriculture’s role in our daily lives to California’s teachers and students. The Foundation delivers exciting, standards-based curriculum that builds students’ knowledge of the farmers and ranchers who produce the food, clothing, and shelter they use every day. Agriculture in the Classroom programs reach far beyond the classroom walls and into the lives of California’s students and their families.

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