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Glassy-winged sharpshooter back in the news

Glassy-winged sharpshooters made a tremendous spash in the California media back in the 90s when they were first introduced into California and began spreading Pierce's disease in grapes. They were never far from the minds of grape researchers and farmers, but the stories in the press almost completely disappeared. Until yesterday.

The Riverside Press Enterprise ran a 500-word story about renewed concerns of a Pierce's disease outbreak in Temecula wine country. According to the article, a grower and a UC Riverside scientist are warning that not enough wineries are applying a pesticide that kills the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

UC Riverside entomologist Nick Toscano told the paper that as many as 40 percent of Temecula-area wineries do not apply the pesticide to control GWSS, which sets the winery back $175 to $210 an acre.

There have been no widespread outbreaks of Pierce's disease since the late 1990s, but sharpshooters are still found in local vineyards, according to the article. The week of April 28, it said, close to 40 sharpshooters were caught in UC Riverside's sticky traps.

An interesting side note: The Press Enterprise posted a four-minute podcast with the story, which is simply an automated text reader robotically saying the words in the story.

A GWSS poses on a leaf.
A GWSS poses on a leaf.

Posted on Friday, May 16, 2008 at 12:49 PM

It's not easy being green

Kermit the Frog's cute lament about being green was used to introduce a story in the Vacaville Reporter recently on the movement to eat "green" by purchasing organic food.

Organic producers say their products are more nutritious, safer, tastier and better for the environment because herbicides and pesticides are not used, wrote freelance reporter Elizabeth Long.

Critics, however, say organic agriculture requires more land to produce the same amount of food, land that should be conserved for wildlife.

For the story, Long spoke with Tom Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute housed at UC Davis. According to the article, he noted that organic production makes sense in the highly productive Sacramento Valley.

The risk of lower crop yields could be balanced by the benefit of fewer pesticides in the air and water, the article said. Selling to local metropolitan areas, such as Sacramento and San Francisco, could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

In other parts of the world, being green won't be so easy. Africa and Asia may have to look to other methods to grow food as their populations increase and the cost of importing foreign crops rises with fuel prices, according to Long's story.

Kermit couldn't be more right.

 

Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 6:08 AM
Tags: organic (25)

Garbanzos touted as low-cost protein source

The Fresno Bee's ag savvy food writer, John Obra, wrote an article for today's Life section on fresh garbanzos, with information gleaned at a recent UC Cooperative Extension garbanzo bean field day at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center.

High-protein garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, are most familiar to consumers as dried bagged beans or cooked canned beans. Obra says the green fresh beans will be harvested during the next few weeks and make their way into the produce section of grocery stores.

The article said young, fresh garbanzo beans are so highly sought after, they can be a poacher's quarry. At the field day, UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist Steve Temple told stories of garbanzo farmers camping on their fields to prevent thieves from ripping up garbanzo plants for prized young, green legumes, Obra wrote.

In addition to offering recipes for using garbanzo beans, Obra's story noted that the legume adds nitrogen back to the soil as it grows.

These and other winter legumes "will definitely have a role 10 to 20 years from now in California agriculture because of low water requirements and nitrogen fixation," Temple was quoted. 

 

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 9:15 AM
Tags: chick peas (1), garbanzo beans (1), nutrition (70)

Far reach of Associate Press proven again

An Associated Press story on growing concerns about coyotes in California has reached far and wide over the past few days. Here is the version that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Google News reports that, as of today, 181 media outlets picked up the story. The articles quoted UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist Robert Timm and plugged the Coyote Bytes Web site he created.

The AP article, written by Alicia Chang, says that coyote's agressive behavior seems to be on the upswing in Southern California.

"We're not sure what pushes them over the edge," Timm was quoted in the article. "There may be no single explanation for it." But he added later in the story, "They go where the food is."

The AP story noted that CoyoteBytes.org allows residents in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties to report coyote sightings online. Scientists use the information to study coyotes' movements in those areas.

Coyote
Coyote

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 9:01 AM
Tags: coyotes (10)

ANR nutrition experts take on obesity

Two ANR nutrition experts spent an hour last Friday morning on the air with Michael Krasney, who hosts the daily "Forum" program on KQED, NPR's Bay Area affiliate.

UC Davis nutrition professor Judith Stern and associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health Gail Woodward-Lopez provided commentary on a new study from Sweden that determined heavy adults shed and reproduce fat cells too rapidly. One of the study's authors, Peter Arner, a professor of medicine at the Karolinska Institutet, also participated in the program.

Woodward-Lopez said the study adds to the body of evidence that it is better to prevent obesity in children, than to try to treat it in adults. She said obesity is a symptom of wider societal issues and suggested that changes in policy can create a more healthy environment for children.

Stern said scientists do not know how to prevent obesity. "Studies haven't been done," she said. "The solution is years off."

She said the big questions are, How do we stop excessive replication of fat cells in children and adolescents? and How do we stop the unmerciful teasing of overweight and obese children and adults?

The program is available for online listening or MP3 download.

Posted on Monday, May 12, 2008 at 9:52 AM
Tags: nutrition (70), obesity (22)

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