The UC Cooperative Extension Program has served Tulare County since 1918 and continues to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. UC Cooperative Extension, Tulare County is preparing to welcome their new citrus farm advisor, Greg Douhan, on March 1, 2016. Douhan, who noted his excitement for the opportunity, will be taking the reins from the recently retired Neil O’Connell who gave over 34 years of faithful service advising Tulare County citrus growers.
Douhan shared that his relatives inspired him to focus his career in agriculture. “I had an uncle who was an almond grower when I was a kid. And my grandfather was an avid horticulturalist; he used to graft different trees and I always found that fascinating.”
“As I got older, I decided I was interested in plants, so I went to Humboldt State University. I also got interested in fungi, so I decided to fuse my interests in fungi and in plants and go into plant pathology,” Douhan said.
“I earned my Master’s and Ph.D. at Washington State University, and then completed a post-doc assignment at UC Davis for 3-4 years. I moved to UC Riverside for about 6 years. Now I am here in Tulare County!”
Cooperative Extension advisors serve as conduits of information from various UC campuses. Subject matter specialists, along with local research centers, collaborate with local advisors to identify and solve local problems through research and educational programs. The mission of the program is to serve California through the creation, development and application of knowledge, in agriculture, natural and human resources. Farm advisors then apply this knowledge to improve our agriculture and food systems along with our natural resources and environment.
“I’ve been working for the UC system basically since I was a post-doc,” Douhan said, “so it has been for many years. I think Cooperative Extension was the best system for working with both the growers and everybody else to better California agriculture,” Douhan said. “This was just an incredible opportunity. I was doing science and looking for another career move, and this was a perfect opportunity to have a next chapter in doing something different.”
Winegrape growers are invited to participate in an online forum to discuss vineyard nutrient management in limited water conditions. The free nutrient management forum, which will run Jan. 12 through Jan. 23, is hosted by the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (UC SAREP), FarmsReach and Sustainable Conservation.
Farmers and UC Cooperative Extension advisors from different regions will answer questions and share resources throughout the discussion. Participants can post a question in the forum and receive an e-mail when there is a reply.
“Nutrient management for grapes can be very complicated, and growers have to continually adapt to changing conditions such as this year’s drought,” said Maxwell Norton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor. “It’s good to spend some time exploring how grape growers can succeed in challenging circumstances, and learn from each other about the many ways nutrient management can affect your farm in the coming season.”
Kicking off on Jan. 12, the Nutrient Management Solutions online discussion forum will offer the agriculture community:
Online videos and Q&A with farmers and advisors on nutrient management and soil fertility issues, with a special focus on winegrapes.
Online discussions via the FarmsReach website, moderated by series presenters.
A new “Soil Nutrient Management Toolkit” on the FarmsReach site, with selected practical resources and fact sheets for farmers of all crop and product types.
This online series is part of the Solution Center for Nutrient Management—a growing resource for nutrient management research and information, created by UC SAREP. For more information, contact Aubrey White, UC SAREP communication coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-5299.
About UC SAREP
The University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (UC SAREP), a program in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, provides leadership and support for scientific research and education in agricultural and food systems that are economically viable, conserve natural resources and biodiversity, and enhance the quality of life in the state’s communities. SAREP serves farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, researchers, educators, regulators, policymakers, industry professionals, consumers and community organizations across the state.
Founded in 2007, FarmsReach is a network that connects small- and medium-scale farms to the products, support and services they need to be successful. By partnering with farmer members and agriculture organizations, FarmsReach offers a growing suite of services that empower farmers to make better business decisions, access new markets, preserve the environment and strengthen rural communities.
About Sustainable Conservation
Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing our land, air and water. Since 1993, Sustainable Conservation has brought together business, landowners and government to steward the resources that we all depend on in ways that make economic sense. Sustainable Conservation believes common ground is California’s most important resource. www.suscon.org
For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California’s systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.
UCCE On-Line Training Helps Growers Safeguard Their Produce Fields
By Pam Kan-Rice, Assistant Director, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
On their farms, growers are active stewards of the land, protecting soil quality and water quality as well as supporting wildlife by preserving their habitat. At the same time, fresh produce growers must ensure that their crops are free from pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses.
To help growers and food safety professionals achieve all of these important goals, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has launched a free online course.
“Actions that farmers take to protect food safety may affect natural resources, and conservation practices may affect food safety,” said Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, who oversaw design of the course.
The intent of the UCCE online training is to demonstrate that communication between food safety professionals and growers can help to achieve a balance between food safety and sustainability.
“Our co-management course will help food safety professionals better evaluate the risk of conservation practices,” said Bianchi.
“For example, cover crops attract beneficial insects, help control soil erosion and improve soil quality, but they may attract wildlife,” she said. “In the course, we demonstrate frank conversations between food safety auditors and growers about strategies for minimizing the potential risks of crops being contaminated by animal feces. Growers can often provide existing examples, such as monitoring programs or temporary fencing that excludes wild and domestic animals from produce fields.”
The course also provides growers with tools to evaluate their strategies for managing food safety and sustainability.
“After the training, growers and auditors will be better prepared to engage in realistic and frank discussions of co-management strategies used in crop production” Bianchi said.
Dr. Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension Entomology Farm Advisor in Blythe located in Imperial County, reports the Palo Verde Valley has a lot of activity this time of year.
“Currently we’re transitioning out of the summer crops; temperatures are getting cooler; we’re no longer in the 114° to 116° F zone; and nighttime temperatures are dropping. So we are transitioning to our late fall/winter crops, which is predominantly lettuce in the Palo Verde Valley,” said Barlow.
“A lot of those growers out there are pre-irrigating their fields now to increase soil friability—to break it up so that when they come in and mulch the soil, they can create fine soil and soil particles—because lettuce seed needs good soil contact for it to imbibe water and germinate,” said Barlow.
“The Palo Verde Valley is unique in the desert in that it is a highly productive agricultural region. It’s the second largest alfalfa production in that area outside the San Joaquin Valley, and it actually has greater production than the inner-mountain areas in Northern California. We have plentiful sunshine, good soil types, easily-drained soils, and available water for irrigation, so that’s the trifecta for agriculture,” said Barlow.
With a predicted record 545,000 tons to be harvested, the walnut industry is getting very busy this time of year.
Janine Hasey is a UC Cooperative Extension Tree Crops Farm Advisor and County Director for Sutter-Yuba Counties. She also assists growers in Colusa County.
“We started early up here, but the hot weather we’ve had has slowed things down again. So we’re working on early varieties, a lot of Serrs are in; Vinas are in, and Tulares are being harvested, and we are trying to get the Howards harvested.”
“Right now it sounds like we’re on track for that record production prediction to come true,” said Hasey. “Growers are now harvesting early varieties; I have just talked to a grower who doubled Serr production from last year, and her Ashley production has tripled or more,” Hasey commented.
Growers have used a lot of Ethrel, a common late-season spray, to help speed up harvest and trigger a more even harvest period. “Some growers are saying it has worked, while others say maybe not so well,” said Hasey.
In addition to the hot temperatures and dryness, Hasey said, “we’ve had a little bit of dew last week. We are expecting some possible rain showers on Thursday…which would be really good to get the walnut hulls splitting, and get things moving again.”
While a severe drought continues to devastate California agriculture, one sheep rancher in Oroville has found a centuries-old solution at the bottom of his wood stove — and researchers at UC Davis are paying attention.
After dumping ash from a weekend cookout in his backyard, Mel Thompson noticed the grass grew a little better. On the advice of Glenn Nader, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor based in Yuba City, Thompson took the initiative to research wood ash on his own, going as far as to establish a connection with an Oroville-based energy plant 20 minutes away, which was paying millions to deliver wood ash to the landfill.
Today, the difference in growth from that wood ash can be seen in two adjoining pastures on Thompson’s foothill ranch. One layered in ash three years ago has chest-high grass despite the drought, while the untreated pasture has considerably shorter ground cover.
While the benefits of supplementing crops with ash have long been known, the UC Davis researchers were interested in specifically how it was altering the soil composition to promote plant growth and how it could help other ranchers in this Northern California region.
“It has improved our feed production significantly,” says Thompson. “With that, in conjunction with fencing and the rotational grazing, we seem to be doing OK through this drought period.”
Ken Tate, a plant sciences professor and a Cooperative Extension rangeland watershed specialist, recently surveyed more than 500 ranchersand says Thompson falls into the roughly 5 percent of California ranchers practicing these types of strategies in hopes of gaining more productivity from their land.
“Mel is what we call an early adopter, someone who has a large toolbox and a lot of information that he makes use of,” Tate says. “He’s an innovator and experimenter in the industry.”
By Brook Gamble,Community Education Specialist, UC ANR California Naturalist Program, Hopland Research & Extension Center
Featured Photo: Jeannette Warnert
Stewardship: \ˈstü-ərd-ˌship: the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something.
In 1862 the Morrill Act was passed to support and maintain colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts, including a later provision that included the donation of public land. As one of the first land grant Universities, the University of California was well positioned to manage agricultural extension across the state as part of the Smith Lever Act of 1915. Today, many people think of California agriculture as strawberries, broccoli and rice; but it is livestock and forestry that dominated California working landscapes in those early days.
Research and extension efforts to improve forestry practices and range production throughout California have evolved over time. Research questions gradually changed over the last 100 years from a “how can we economically produce more” perspective to how can rangeland management practices improve ecosystem composition and function? How can extension programs be employed to educate stakeholders and help land managers implement change? How can we conserve working landscapes for biodiversity conservation in a period of rapid development? How can we assess and monitor management effectiveness?
This year, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources celebrates 100 years of UC Cooperative Extension serving as a research and outreach partner in communities throughout California. For an interesting read on this rich history and the evolution of UC rangeland management perspectives, see M. George, and W. J. Clawson’s The History of UC RangelandExtension, Research, and Teaching: A Perspective(2014). Additionally, UC ANR California Rangelands Website includes a free Annual Rangeland E-book; current project descriptions, publications, and online learning modules: http://californiarangeland.ucdavis.edu/.
Maintaining and improving environmental quality on public and private land requires an informed strategy that encourages stewardship by land owners and community members. In present times, we face the challenges of managing land in the face of growing population, drought, invasive species, and climate change, just to name a few forces of global change. Out of necessity, our broader perspective on land management has shifted to one of “ecosystem stewardship” which is defined as a strategy to respond to and shape social-ecological systems under conditions of uncertainty and change to sustain the supply and opportunities for use of ecosystem services to support human well-being (Chapin et al. 2010). The stewardship framework focuses on the dynamics of ecological change and assesses management options that may influence the path or rate of that change.
Using an ecosystem stewardship framework, the UC ANR’s California Naturalist Programis building astatewide network of environmental stewards. The program is designed to introduce the public, teachers, interpreters, docents, green collar workers, natural resource managers, and budding scientists to the wonders of our unique ecology and engage these individuals in the stewardship of California’s natural communities.
The California Naturalist Program uses a science curriculumwhich includeschapters in forest, woodland, and range resources and management, geology, climate, water, wildlife, and plants. Experiential learning and service projects instill a deep appreciation for the natural communities of the state and serve to engage people in natural resource conservation.
Land management is the focus of many of the partnering organizations that offer the California Naturalist Program. For example, land conservancies and preserves are involved including, Tejon Ranch Conservancy, at 270,000 acres the largest contiguous private ranch in California; Pepperwood Preserve, a private rangeland preserve dedicated to conservation science in the Northern SF Bay Area; UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station, a forested research station in the Sierra; UC Hopland Research & Extension Center, a rangeland research and education facility in California’s north coast region; and the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a non-profit land trust in the Western Sierra Nevada including Fresno, Madera, eastern Merced, and Mariposa counties. Land trusts are increasingly responsible for conserving working landscapes and open space across the state and often rely on a trained volunteer corps to steward these valuable landscapes. UC ANR is pleased to advance training opportunities for those actively managing these lands.
California Naturalists trained at these locations and more are involved in ecosystem stewardship, rangeland management, watershed restoration, and helping outdoor education programs that benefit the environment and people of all ages. Naturalists have donated over 13,000 hours of in state service in the last three years. These types of stewardship opportunities are essential for the active adaptive management that both public and private lands need to ensure resilience and continue to provide ecosystem services that we all rely on. These trained environmental stewards are an important part of this growing community of practice who not only steward land but also pass on critical knowledge about California’s natural and managed ecosystems.
A little more than a year ago, a California law went into effect that gave small farmers and even home gardeners a new opportunity to sell value-added products.
TheCalifornia Homemade Food Act permits individuals to produce certain types of cottage food in home kitchens to sell in limited quantities to the public.
That sounds simple, but like most laws, there are plenty of caveats. The legislation has stipulations about the types of foods allowable, registration, permits and labeling requirements.
UC Cooperative Extension has been helping farmers and home gardeners who produce fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and honey take advantage of the new opportunity at workshops around the state, reported the Stockton Record.
Shermain Hardesty, UC Small Farm Program extension economist, is coordinating the project. Hardesty thinks that marketing may be the hardest part of creating a successful cottage food businesses for many farmers and other entrepreneurs.
At the workshops, Hardesty teaches the basic “Four P’s” of marketing: product, place, price and promotion.
Slate.com’s “Thirsty West: The No-Water Way” is the latest in a string of popular press articles to suggest that California might be better off relying less on irrigated agriculture and more on dryland farming.
Generations ago, California settlers and residents established a system of water conveyance that allowed great cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco to be built and agriculture to flourish.
Modern irrigation paved the way for greater crop yields and the ability to feed a growing society that left the farm starting with the industrial revolution.
What would an article in the popular press be without a few gross misstatements, such as the oft-repeated meme that California agriculture uses 80 percent of the state’s water supply in an average year?
This is far from an average year. Still, agriculture typically uses about 43 percent of the water allotted while 46 percent is consumed by the environment. For California, that means much of that 46 percent is allowed to flow unimpeded to the Pacific Ocean.
Urban users consume the remaining 11 percent, according to the State of California.
With no surface water allotted to much of California agriculture this year, and the ever-shrinking ground water supplies, California agriculture will have a fraction of its typical annual supply of irrigation water for the few crops farmers can maintain.
We really do not know how much remains in underground aquifers, though it’s a safe bet to suggest “not enough.”
The premise behind dryland farming comes at a time when drought awareness has increased, though not entirely in practice as California lawns remain watered and cars are washed in driveways.
While dryland farming has its challenges, maybe it’s time for modern agriculture to consider the benefits of the water-thrifty practice and tackle the challenges with all the fervor of a sergeant told by his lieutenant “that can’t be done!”
While dryland farming is utilized to a small extent in California, its close cousin could be the no-till practices recommended by researchers Jeff Mitchell of the University of California.
Mitchell continually promotes the benefits of no-till and strip-till conservation practices that help hold in soil moisture and provide a host of other benefits to growers. He’ll readily admit there are challenges under California’s current farming systems.
While farmers elsewhere in the U.S. successfully employ the practice, California farmers seem reluctant to do the same.
Still, Mitchell works with California growers to employ conservation tillage practices that work and to transform machinery used in standard farming practices to achieve results.
Since Mitchell works with UC Cooperative Extension, his efforts move beyond the purely academic to the practical.
As California agriculture continues to seek ways to be as water thrifty as possible, and new technologies are developed to meet those ends, we need not be so quick to say “that won’t work” and instead embrace ideas that right now might only be a “what-if” conversation between a third-year undergrad and her college Ag professor.
Joanne O’Sullivan, a licensed PCA and QAL (Qualified Applicator), and a Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program Grower Liaison in Ventura County, reported TODAY that four new urban settings with 25 or more citrus trees on the property have been discovered in Asian citrus psyllid treatment areas in recent weeks. These four finds are within the same area as the commercial Camarillo find in March.
CDFA deems these orchards also as commercial; therefore, the homeowners are financially responsible for the treatment.
O’Sullivan said, “The first two homeowners I contacted were more than willing to cooperate and take on the financial costs of spraying. They understand it is necessary for the benefit of both their trees and the health of Ventura County’s citrus industry. The third homeowner opted to remove 15 of his trees and CDFA then sprayed the remaining ten. The last and remaining homeowner will take a bit more convincing, but I am confident they will come to see the great benefits of working with us.”
“On a less uplifting note,” O’Sullivan continued, “it has been an unlucky month for Fillmore and Piru producers. Piru has been hit again in the Bardsdale area with two ACP confirmations in the same week. These same growers had completed the ACP psyllid spray protocol in November of last year. It goes without saying that the producers are less than delighted to be repeating treatment again so soon.”
She reiterated a very important element in the ACP/HLB program, ”The goal of the [Ventura County ACP-HLB] Task Force has been to delay as long as possible the introduction of HLB into Ventura County. As a result of the progressive and aggressive work from producers, packers, pest advisors, operators and the CDFA and county trapping programs, Ventura remains one of the most successful ACP/HLB programs in the state.
A critical element of ACP treatment protocol for organic growers is the importance of scouting post-treatment. All blocks must be aggressively monitored following applications, using the sampling protocol that is included in the ACP CONFIRMATION IN YOUR AREA packet.
Current protocol requires organic producers to sample every two weeks after the third treatment. Sampling every two weeks allows the grower to document control. Early detection and swift eradication is our best defensive against the introduction of HLB and its devastating effects on Ventura citrus producers.
Every producer – commercial and organic – should be familiar with the signs of Asian citrus psyllid. Literature on identifying ACP is available at the CRB, UCIPM, UC Cooperative Extension as well as from CDFA. Share it with your workers. If you have any doubts about your ability to identify adults, nymphs, and eggs, please contact me, I am always glad to meet with you on your ranch and help you scout.
In closing, I was forwarded an interesting short news article outlining the economic hit Florida has taken as the result of HLB, with annual production dropping from 1,000,000 boxes of fruit to 750,000. This news story is a not- so-gentle reminder of why it is vitally important that everyone working together in a cooperative spirit can keep Florida’s scenario from happening in California.
And let’s all keep up the diligent efforts that help keep Ventura’s citrus industry strong.
The California Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program is a grower-funded program administered by the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Committee, which was established to advise the California Secretary of Agriculture and the agricultural industry about efforts to combat serious pests and diseases that could threaten our state’s citrus industry.
Key responsibilities are:
Develop informational programs to educate and train residential owners of citrus fruit, local communities, groups and individuals on the prevention/detection of pests, diseases and their vectors specific to citrus.
Develop programs for surveying, detecting, analyzing, and treating citrus pests and diseases.
Set box assessment to help pay for citrus pest and disease detection, treatment and educational outreach programs.