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Disagreement over Light Brown Apple Moth

The Bay Area TV segment "CBS 5 Investigates" looked into the Light Brown Apple Moth controversy for a story posted to their Web site today and found contrary opinions to publicize.

The story opens . . . "The government claims it's an emergency. They say they have to conduct aerial spraying over the Bay Area immediately to eradicate the light brown apple moth. But a CBS 5 Investigation has found there may not be an emergency at all."

California secretary of agriculture A.G. Kawamura made the case for spraying. He said the emergency is so great, the state can't even afford to wait for an environmental impact report.

"If we were to wait a year, even 6, 7, 8 months, we might lose that window," Kawamura is quoted. "We stand an excellent chance to eradicate it if we act on it quickly."

UC Davis entomologist James Carey offered an opposing view:

"It won't work," Carey is quoted. "Historically, there is no precedent for this at all. None. The data argue absolutely for the impossibility of this eradication."

In an op-ed piece published in the April 16 San Francisco Chronicle, Kawamura outlines his reasoning for continuing the LBAM eradication program in the Bay Area.

Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 1:45 PM
Tags: exotic pest (41), exotic pest (41)

Farmers put UC research to use

An article on the front page of the Fresno Bee business section today informs consumers they can return "Ripe 'N Ready" tree fruit to the company if it isn't to their liking. That's how confident the company is that their fruit will be delicious and ready to eat.

The article unfortunately doesn't go into how the company is able to make such a promise to consumers. In fact, much credit goes to UC Davis post harvest physiologist Carlos Crisosto, who is based at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center near Parlier. As reported in a 2005 UC ANR press release, a decade of research in the state-of-the-art Gordon F. Mitchell Postharvest Laboratory revealed that conventional wisdom about stone fruit -- harvest and immediately refrigerate -- was not the best way to ensure good tasting fruit.

Crisosto discovered that the practice was subjecting fruit to what he calls the “killing temperature zone.” He found that, in general, if the fruit is held at 68 degrees for about two days following harvest, until it reaches a specific level of ripening measured by fruit firmness, and then cooled down, shelf life can be extended seven to 15 days and, most importantly, the fruit would be more consistently pleasing when it reached consumers’ mouths.

“This has rocked our world,” the sales manager for Mountain View Fruit in Reedley is quoted in the release. “For us to pick our fruit and delay the cooling, fiddle around with humidity, pressure and brix, then ship it two, three or four days later, ready to eat – that is totally opposite to what we had been doing.”

Post harvest research at the Kearney REC continues. On Friday, the media are invited to attend the dedication of a brand new sensory lab at the center, which will give scientists at Kearney the tools and environment they need to conduct experiments on the effect of a variety of practices on the fruit eating experience.

The new sensory lab at Kearney.
The new sensory lab at Kearney.

Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 10:06 AM

UC farm advisor comments on valley strawberries

Yesterday, the Fresno Bee ran a story about opening of roadside stands selling local strawberries. For the article, reporter Dennis Pollock spoke to UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor Richard Molinar.

Pollock reported that only 25 strawberry farms remain in the county, down from 45 ten years ago. Most of the growers are Hmong and Mien, refugees from Laos.

Many farmers quit growing the fruit because of urbanization, costs for fumigants and unavailability of contracts with processors, Molinar said, according to the story. Wawona Frozen Foods stopped buying from area growers several years ago, and last year Dole Packaged Frozen Foods Inc. closed its Sanger receiving facility.

"That means growers would have to take their strawberries to the Dole plant in Atwater," Molinar is quoted.

Molinar told the reporter that valley strawberries need fewer or no spray treatments for mold prevention because of the dry climate.The crop this year looks good -- "as long as we don't get any rains," Molinar is quoted.


Molinar works with Southeast Asian farmers.
Molinar works with Southeast Asian farmers.

Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 9:47 AM

Mexican farmer honored for environmental work

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story yesterday about a Mixtec farmer from Mexico who formed a non-profit that promotes soil conservation, sustainable agriculture and irrigation to improve the livelihoods of the Mixtec Highlands' 350,000 inhabitants.

The small group ecologists led by Jesus Leon organized more than 1,500 small farmers in 12 communities to reverse hundreds of years of environmental damage. For the effort, Leon is one of seven winners of San Francisco's Goldman Environmental Prize, a $150,000 award for pioneering environmental activists.

The story included a comment from Miguel Altieri, a professor of entomology at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources.

"What's impressive is that they did this all from scratch," he is quoted. "Money is not the crucial factor here. It's their ability to work bottom-up, creating farmer-to-farmer networks and promoting low-tech solutions that tap local knowledge."

Posted on Monday, April 14, 2008 at 5:06 AM

Produce may need more than a wash

Washing fresh produce may not be enough to make contaminated food safe, according to a report on about USDA findings. KTVU is the Bay Area Fox Television affiliate.

USDA found that irradiation could provide a reliable way to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses reported each year in the United States, according to the director of the study.

For the story, the TV station sought comment from UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist Christine Bruhn. Bruhn said some activists are opposed to irradiation, but the process is gaining consumer acceptance as studies have shown that it is effective at reducing pathogens that cause illness, according to the version posted on the Web.

Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 2:59 PM

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