Dust management is an issue that almond growers and their surrounding neighbors face annually. With almond harvest fast approaching, dust control is crucial to keeping our air clean. Jesse Guadian with D & J Farm Management of Kern County knows first hand the steps it takes to cut down on dust.
“We’re in the San Joaquin Valley, where dust is a problem, especially if you’re close to schools and homes,” Guadian said.
Reducing air particles is a year-round job for D & J Farm Management, thinking about excess plant material in the air before weeds even begin to present an issue. This allows for fewer passes through the field when it comes time to mow, ultimately reducing the amount of decomposed plant content in the air.
“We’re reducing all that plant material that stays on the surface … to try to eliminate some of that dust,” Guadian said.
Clark Goehring, a third generation Kern County farmer, produces cherries and almonds. He summarized his cherry harvested as “good compared to the other years when we have had rain. Some people in our area still had rain during harvest, but we were able to harvest and bring our cherries to market in good condition.”
“Of course, it rained a lot this winter and spring, but you do not want rain when cherries are maturing on the tree; they don’t like rain.”
Goehring explained that when it rains beyond the point when cherries start coloring, they split, making them unmarketable. “But while it may take some rained-on cherries off the market, the price of the marketable fruit goes up,” he said, benefiting those growers who had a quality crop, like him.
Goehring’s farm workers train the cherry trees to keep them low—approximately 8 feet tall. “We have tried to have them bush out instead of being more of a central leader. Actually, it’s called Spanish Bush style or, in modified form, KGB.”
Kym Green Bush designed the KGB training method in Australia to use multiple leaders and have them fruit on the leaders themselves. KGB simplifies pruning so less experienced farm workers can learn the skill more easily. The trees are replenished every five years.
Goehring said the method saves money on the farm, cuts labor and increases workers’ safety because it requires no ladders and the harvest is quicker. Harvesting without ladders also gives Goehring an advantage of attracting farm labor over other orchards that require ladders.
“In California, if farm workers have their choice of picking your cherries without using ladders, which is usually piecework, or someone else’s crop with ladders, they are going to want to come to you,” he explained.
On Wednesday afternoon, November 9, the Who’s Who of Agriculture will gather at the long-standing celebratory Annual Ag Awards Luncheon in Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Centerto commemorate the achievements of an individual and a company in the County’s agricultural industry.
Nathan Ahle, president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are very excited about this. This is the 33rd time the Fresno Chamber has presented the Agriculturist of the Year Award, and the 21st time the Fresno-based CPA firm Baker, Peterson and Franklin has presented the Ag Business of the Year Award. We recognize that Ag is really the life-blood of our economy. This event is an honor to do and something we take great pride in.”
This year’s Agriculturist of the Year Award recipient is Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. “Everybody knows Manuel Cunha—a legend in Valley Ag as president of the Nisei Farmers League for two decades,” Ahle said. “ This gentleman is a force to be recognized with when it comes to fighting for our farmers, fighting for water, fighting for anything and everything that has to do with agriculture in the Central Valley.”
Nisei Farmers League, established in 1971, informs grower members about ever-changing regulations and policies and provides legal assistance for labor and workplace-related issues. The league’s leadership and staff maintain a close working relationship with local, state and federal agencies and legislators to assure grower interests are adequately understood and defended.
The League also collaborates with other grower and agricultural organizations in California and other states to help provide a powerful and unified voice for the agricultural community. The Nisei Farmers League is all about strength, clear focus and growers looking out for growers and farmworkers.
This year’s Ag Business Award recipient,Booth Ranches, is a premium San Joaquin Valley citrus grower. Otis Booth, Jr. founded Booth Ranches in 1957 on 40 acres by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range near Orange Cove.
Today, Booth Ranches is still family owned and operated on acreage from Orange Cove in the Northern San Joaquin Valley to Maricopa in Kern County to the South. Pasadena-born, fifth-generation farmer Loren Booth currently manages Booth Ranches which boasts premium Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, Cara-Caras, Minneolas and W. Murcott Mandarins that are distributed worldwide.
The selection panel went through a tough selection process, according to Ahle. “Those who have been in the Valley longer than I have tell me this is the strongest group of candidates for the award that we have ever had. I think it just speaks to the great passion that we have for Ag in this community, and Manuel Cunha and the team at Booth Ranches are great, great recipients.”
@AlmondGirlJenny Urges Everyone in Ag to AgVocate on Social Media
By Laurie Greene, Editor
Digital platforms—not newsprint—lead the information superhighway-world we live in. Beyond news websites, everyone in the agricultural industry who is able should engage and agvocate on a few social media platforms such a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or blogs, according to @AlmondGirlJenny.
Jenny Holtermann, aka @AlmondGirlJenny,fourth-generation almond farmer in Kern County, is fully engaged with social media. Social media has become the news source for her, her friends and her generation. “I think it’s important to be involved in social media to tell your story,” Holtermann explained. “That’s how people are getting their news; that’s how people are getting their information these days.”
“It’s critical for us to be out there,” she added, “showcasing what we’re doing and highlighting the benefits of agriculture and how it’s multi-generational, how it’s family oriented. Get people to relate to it and become engrossed in it,” Holtermann said.
Last year a reporter from the Los Angeles Times asked Holtermann about water use in farming almonds. “I was able to set the reporter straight regarding all the myths about almonds and water use,” she commented. “I told her that over the last 10 years, almond growers have reduced their water use by 30 percent and we are working on saving even more.”
Jenny and her husband, Tim Holtermann, have a big story to tell. “I’m a fourth generation California farmer” she began. “My family farms almonds and walnuts in northern California. Then I married a fourth generation California farmer as well.
“We farm together with my husband’s family in the Wasco area. It’s very important to us to care for our land and treat it as best as we can so that it can be passed down to future generations. We’re raising the fifth generation, and we hope that someday, if he so chooses, our son has the opportunity to farm here as well,” she said.
“All of us in agriculture should tell our story,” Holtermann said, so others who are not involved with Ag can learn. “If social media is not your game, hire someone to help you get started.”
“Registrations are at an all-time high,” she continued. “We’ve actually sold out the entire show as well as registrations with 1600 attendees. There were just a handful of walkups that we unfortunately just couldn’t accommodate today. We are excited and looking forward to continuing to have a high professional continuing education program as well as an exhibit hall here today.”
“This year’s theme is ‘Fighting the Fear, Feeding the Nation,’ said Anderson, “so we’ll have Captain CAPCA as well as Doctor Foe here this morning.”
Anderson reflected, “You know for us, CAPCA really represents the Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) for production ag and turf and ornamental. As a requirement for their continuing education, they need 40 hours in order to renew [their certification]. For us, bringing together continuing education as well as networking is so valuable for them as they move into the new year.”
Some “Top Gun” people speaking this year, according to Anderson, “are obviously some of our main sponsors. Bayer CropScience and FMC Corporation are both doing high-level presentations. We also have Kern County agricultural commissionerRuben Arroyo talking about the new proposed regulations for buffer zones around schools, so that’s going to be a great conversation starter for all of our members.”
“We appreciate all of the support we receive,” Anderson stated. “It’s so valuable for us. We exist because of volunteers and we exist because of our membership. We are grateful for all of them.”
CAPCA is dedicated to the professional development and enhancement of our member’s education and stewardship, which includes legislative, regulatory, continuing education and public outreach activities.
CAPCA membership covers a broad spectrum of the industry including agricultural consulting firms, U.C. Cooperative Extension Service, city, county and state municipalities, public agencies, privately employed, forensic pest management firms, biological control suppliers, distributors, dealers of farm supplies, seed companies, laboratories, farming companies and manufacturers of pest management products.
This year, near-perennial spider mite pressure on almonds was delayed until hull-split. “That’s the big story this year,” said David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension entomology farm advisor, Kern County. “The orchards of people who did early management programs well their fields looked great until hull-split. And the orchards of people who did not do anything well their fields looked great at hull-split as well—when the mites showed up,” he said.
“And a good population of them arrived,” Haviland continued. “People sprayed, but now we’re at the beginning of September, and everyone I have talked to in the Southern San Joaquin Valley have reported the arrival of the sixspotted thrip, a beneficial spider mite predator. The thrips came in fierce, cleaning out anything that didn’t get controlled prior to Nonpareil harvest,” said Haviland.
“We are on the tail end of the season in Kern County, and mites ought to be going away in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Haviland also explained the appearance of navel orangeworm this year is about average. “As far as navel orangeworm goes, things are looking good. They are certainly out there. They’re certainly in some nuts, but trap captures have been about normal, so—nothing really alarming in terms of numbers,” Haviland noted. “I haven’t heard of anybody really getting hit hard this year, other than some orchard edges here and there.”
“Growers seem to be happy. We are about halfway through the harvest, hoping the second half of almond-shaking goes just as well as the first,” said Haviland.
“This is a major event, a significant milestone in terms of the process to get Temperance Flat Dam built.” Santoyo said. “In essence, it is a partnership between the new joint powers of authority and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and, more specifically, their study team who worked on the technical studies and the feasibility reports for Temperance Flat.”
Merced, Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties are joining forces with leaders of cities, Tribes, and other agencies to begin this significant move towards building the Temperance Flat Dam. “Working together, we are going to put the application together and submit it to the California Water Commission for their consideration for funding through Proposition 1, Chapter 8,” Santoyo said. “It’s a solid statement that needs a signature.”
“It’s a memorandum of understanding between the Bureau of Reclamation and the joint powers of authority,” he said, “that defines the scope of work. In essence, it’s full cooperation between their technical people and our joint powers of authority. Our people are tailoring the application to the state to optimize funding. Keep in mind, we’re talking big dollars here; we are not talking a million or a hundred million; we are talking a billion.”
Temperance Flat Dam would create nearly 1.3M acre-feet of new water storage, according to the SJWIA, 2.5 times the current capacity of Millerton Lake, and would be a part of the Federal Central Valley Project.
“Chapter 8, which is the storage chapter in Prop 1, has $2.7 billion in it,” Santoyo explained. “Projects that are submitted for funding are limited to up to 50% of the capital costs of their project. If we were to take Temperance Flat, for instance, that’s going to cost somewhere around $2.8 billion. The maximum you could ask from the state is $1.4 billion, but we don’t expect that because there is a lot of competition. There’s not enough dollars to go around. We’re hoping to shoot for somewhere around $1 billion.”
“I see [the July 1 event] as being historic,” Santoyo reflected, “because it is one of the most critical things to happen—to be able to build Temperance Flat, as well as a good opportunity to be at a place where history’s being made.”
For more information, contact Mario Santoyo at 559-779-7595.
Featured image: Mario Santoyo, executive director of the San Joaquin Water Infrastructure Authority (SJWIA)
Monterey County 2015 Crop Report Shows Ag Value Up 7.75 Percent
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Monterey County Ag Commissioner Eric Lauritzen announced TODAY the production value by farmers in Monterey County for 2015 is $4.84 billion, an increase of 7.75% or $348 million over the previous year. According to the the 2015 Monterey County Crop Report released TODAY, the Monterey is again the fourth highest Ag producing county in California, following Tulare, Kern, and Fresno Counties.
“Crop values vary from year to year based on production, market and weather conditions,” said Lauritzen. “As often the case, there was much fluctuation in the 2015 values, with 22 commodities down and 29 commodities increasing in value.
Notable results include:
head values increased 12% on better pricing.
Head lettuce showed a decline of 2% with fewer acres planted but higher prices.
Spring mix and salad products also declined in overall value.
Strawberry values increased by 21% on increased acreage and higher production.
Cauliflower and celery each saw values increase by approximately 25%. Celery showed a decrease in production with stronger pricing and cauliflower posted increases in both production and pricing.
Winegrapes declined 25% in 2015, after above-average production in previous years. This followed the statewide trend, with lower production and slightly higher prices.
Despite reduced acreage related to the drought, the value of nursery products increased by 11% on stronger pricing for many products.
“It is always important to note that the figures provided here are gross values and do not represent or reflect net profit or loss experienced by individual growers or by the industry as a whole,” Lauritzen clarified. “The numbers are big and only tell part of the story. It’s really about diversity and the ability to withstand changes, whether it is commodity change or Mother Nature,” said Lauritzen.
“Growers do not have control over increased input costs such as fuel, fertilizers and packaging, or drought and labor shortage conditions,” Lauritzen explained, “nor can they significantly affect market prices. The fact that the gross value of agriculture increased reflects positively on the diversity and strength of our agriculture industry and its ability to respond to the many challenges,” he noted.
“The mainstays in Monterey County are the cool season vegetables,” said Lauritzen. “County growers are able modify planting programs even within the same year depending on market strengths or changes in consumer needs. When the cable food shows or restaurants decide to feature certain vegetable there is suddenly increase demand so Monterey County growers are often flexible in their planting schedules to meet demand.
“The Salinas Valley floor is very tight on acreage and available land planted out on the bench lands,” he said. “And growers are being asked to produce more with the same amount or even less ground and we are seeing that it increases prices,” he noted.
“Each year we like to highlight a component of the industry in our report,” Lauritzen elaborated, “and this year we chose Certified Farmers Markets. We include a short piece on some of the people who produce and sell their own products directly to consumers at the 14 markets in Monterey County and elsewhere,” he said. “This important segment of our industry lets consumers meet farmers face-to-face and to become more directly connected with the food they eat.”
“Monterey County is proud to produce the crops that are healthy for the nation,” Lauritzen said, “and if consumer demand really matched what we need for a healthy diet, there would not be enough vegetables produced. We produce the food that consumers need to eat and it’s not just an economic driver for our region, but for the health of our nation,” he added.
“This 2015 Crop Report is our yearly opportunity to recognize the growers, shippers, ranchers, and other businesses ancillary to and supportive of agriculture, which is the largest driver of Monterey County’s economy,” Lauritzen summarized. “Special recognition for the production of the report goes to Christina McGinnis, Graham Hunting, Shayla Neufeld, and all of the staff who assisted in compiling this information and improving the quality of the report.”
The CSBA offers up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for stealing bees and/or beekeepers equipment. We take the issue of hive theft very seriously and are willing to generously reward those who help us stop this growing problem. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and check for brand numbers on frames, boxes, lids and pallets.
Additionally, the CSBA owners of stolen hives have given assurance that if a farmer reports he/she has stolen hives, they will allow the hives to stay for the remainder of the bloom. We do not want to punish farmers for doing the right thing by putting their crop at risk. We want all farmers to feel comfortable to report the hives without worrying about them being taken out from under them during a critical time.
Beehive Theft Alert 1
A beehive theft has occurred near Kern County within sight of I-5. The thieves are getting bolder and we all must be vigilant. The theft occurred around January 26-27th, 2016. The hives are branded with CA0330333H. This theft may or may not be related to the last major theft (see below).
Hive Description: All hives are 10 frames. The hives are made of a deep super with a 6 5/8 shallow on top. The hives are painted silver and have internal feeders and a mixture of wooden and plastic frames. The hives are on pallets with the entrances all facing the same direction. The lids, boxes and most of the frames are branded with CA0330333H. The bees are Italians with cordovan (light-colored and reddish) genetics. Pictures will soon follow.
If you are around any beehives you are unfamiliar with, don’t hesitate to look for brand numbers. Thieves often times switch the frames into different boxes to avoid being caught so be aware that the outside appearance of the hive may not match the description.
If you see any frames with the CA0330333H brand on them, they are from stolen hives and you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately to report the information.
Beehive Theft Alert 2
240 hives were stolen near Colusa, CA around January 25-26th, 2016. All boxes, lids, frames and pallets are branded with 42-14. Please take a careful look at the picture and if you see hives that fit the description, don’t hesitate to check for brand numbers and call the Sheriff’s department. You can also email us at email@example.com we can pass along the information for you. These hives could easily be anywhere in California by now. It is very likely that the hives will be destroyed after pollination season to cover up the crime. In the interest of saving these bees, it is critical we all do our part to locate these hives.
Description: All the hives are 10-frame double deeps. The boxes are branded on the top cleats. The pallets have metal on the corners. Some of the feed cans and boxes were taken as well. The feed cans are painted green and slightly rusty. The feed can boxes are branded too and most of them hold 8 cans (some may hold 4). The bees are Italian and have Cordovan genetics (most will appear light colored and/or slightly reddish).
Location: The hives were taken from 2 yards, both located north of Colusa on the east side of the river. One yard was about 2 miles from the river and the other about 3 miles from the river.
Thief Description: Based on the tracks, it looks like a bee forklift was used to move the hives. The trucks appear to have dual tires. It is suspected that either 2 big trucks or 3 smaller trucks were used to move the hives.
Please share this information with your club, almond grower and in your community. Hive theft is a growing problem and we all need to keep an eye out for each other. Thank you for helping in this effort.
California farmers are stepping up to supply fresh fruits, vegetables and meat products to the state’s network of food banks as part of the Farm to Family program. Jim Bates, chief financial officer of Fowler Packing in Fresno County, said “It’s a program we’ve been supporting for 20 years, starting with donations of peaches, plums and nectarines.”
“Unfortunately, 20 to 50 percent of the product we grow doesn’t make it to the marketplace,” Bates explained, “sometimes because of a very small cosmetic blemish. Bates says farmers like him really want to take advantage of these unmarketable crops and help the working poor in the Valley. “We don’t want to dump this product; we definitely want to donate it. So, we have developed contacts with the food banks and found ways to transport our products in cardboard bins, plastic bins—whatever they can take—and get it to them.”
Bates noted that Fowler Packing, which farms and ships tree fruit, including mandarins, and table grapes, is doing well, and the company would like to pay it back. “We have made big investments over the years; we’ve retooled our packing house, our mandarin and table grape operations are doing well, and we’ve had good times. We want to give back to the local community that has been so good in supporting us year in and year out.”
Andy Souza, president and CEO of the Community Food Bank in Fresno, noted the dramatically increased produce and meat donations from farming companies, “from almost 19 million pounds a year to almost 40 million pounds in the last three years. And yet, in our service area, we are only meeting about two-thirds of the need. We serve all five counties from the southern end of Kern County, including Tulare, Kings, and Fresno Counties, all the way to Madera County, and the need just continues to grow. We have seen the drought; we have seen the effect of changing commodities; and the impact on farm labor is a very natural part of an economy.”
Souza said Community Food Bank’s connection with those in need is critically important. “It is not just doubling the amount of pounds,” he elaborated, “it is the fact that for so many of the families we serve, we are the only source of fresh produce for them. And the result of not getting fresh produce is what we have seen in each of our five counties: childhood obesity rates over 40 percent.”
“It is rewarding for us to be the vehicle that actually touches the lives that these farming families are supporting. Without their support and donations, it would be an empty warehouse. We, in turn, provide the connection to our families in need. Our staff knows, on a very personal basis, the opportunity to hand fresh food, fresh produce, to families knowing it will be on their tables that evening,” Souza noted.
Souza said quite candidly, he has learned over the last five years, all he has to do is ask the farming industry for help. “The farming community, the ranching community—agriculture in general—is very giving if we ask. We have also learned you don’t ask the packing shed in August. By the time August rolls around, first, they are just incredibly busy; and secondly, they made those decisions in February. So we are learning and looking to the industry for great support and great help. We have been able to make an incredible partnership with the agricultural community here in the Valley.”
Souza said cash donations from companies and from the general public also help immensely because “the ability we have to stretch financial donations is incredible. For every dollar that is donated, we can provide seven meals for a family. If folks would love to come alongside us, we can be reached at communityfoodbank.net. There is a “Donate Now” button there, and we would love the opportunity for folks to partner with us. Right now we have just over 8,000 partners each year and we would love to see that number grow to 10-, 12- or even 15,000.”