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Posts Tagged: Susie Kocher

Protecting homes in wildfire-prone communities covered in new publication

A team of California and Nevada fire scientists have produced a booklet with step-by-step guidance on retrofitting an existing home to be more resilient to fire.

Susie Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry and natural resources advisor and co-author of the new guide, said some homeowners feel powerless to protect their homes against California's increasing wildfire threat.

A new home retrofit guide identifies 12 vulnerable components of homes in wildfire-prone areas.
“I'm happy to tell them that's not true. There are specific actions that we can all take to reduce the likelihood of our homes being burned in wildfire,” said Kocher, who lives in a forested area near Lake Tahoe. “We need to educate ourselves on the details of home construction that make homes less vulnerable to ignition.”

The free 20-page publication, How to Harden Homes against Wildfire (http://ucanr.edu/HomeRetrofitGuide) is now available online. It includes recommendations for 12 vulnerable components of homes in wildfire-prone areas, including roofs, gutters, vents, siding, windows, decks and fences.

In the past, agencies have focused on recommending changes in vegetation and establishing defensible space. However, Kocher said recent advances in wildfire science have exposed vulnerabilities of structures themselves.

“Managing vegetation and retrofitting the home are both needed to decrease wildfire risk and help our communities become more fire adapted,” she said.

CAL FIRE awarded funding to develop and publish the wildfire home retrofit guide, funding that is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that assigns cap-and-trade dollars to projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment.

In addition to CAL FIRE, organizations that contributed to the document are University of Nevada, Reno Extension; University of California Cooperative Extension; Living with Fire, Tahoe; Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team; Tahoe Resource Conservation District; and Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities.

The team also hosted three webinars to share home fire resilience information targeted to different audiences. Videos of the webinars are available on the Living with Fire YouTube Channel:

For the public: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YX114wpPwmg&t=327s

For building professionals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccIAIg6xONs

For fire educators: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOsdyVSPxnA&t=177s

 

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC to all 58 counties. Through research and Cooperative Extension in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, economic and youth development, our mission is to improve the lives of all Californians. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8:58 AM
Tags: Susie Kocher (27), wildfire (154)
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

New videos demonstrate techniques and tools to survey forestland trees

Forestland owners can learn how to survey the trees on their property from four new videos produced by UC Cooperative Extension, setting them on a course for sustainable management of their forestland. The videos are available on the UC ANR YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/UCANR).

Learning the tools and techniques used for centuries by professional foresters and research scientists allows private forest owners to collect data that paints a picture of the land and trees' current condition.

“Whether it's managing to reduce wildfire, control invasive species, protect the nature beauty or maximize timber harvest, you need to know what you have so you can select the right actions to achieve your goals,” said Kimberly Ingram, UC Cooperative Extension forest stewardship education academic coordinator.

A compass is one of the tools professional foresters use to establish plots when collecting data about a forest.

While about two-thirds of California's 33 million acres of forests are public lands held by state and federal government agencies, the rest is in private hands. In 2019, with funds from CAL FIRE, UCCE launched a program to reach out to the 87,000 private landowners who manage portions of California's forests.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, three-day field workshops were offered to groups of forest owners to help them develop a plan to improve and protect their forestlands in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner. Because of the pandemic, alternative approaches are being used, including video training, online workshops and limited outdoor field days in locations where social distancing is feasible.

“We're using the flipped classroom method,” Ingram said. “The learner reads and watches videos beforehand and then, when they come to the online classroom and field day sessions, we're delving into real-world examples.”

Kestrel Grevatt, a member of the Grizzly Corps, an AmeriCorps program developed by UC Berkeley that addresses community needs related to climate change, was enlisted to create videos that demonstrate forest measurement practices.

The videos are for landowners who participate in the workshop series and for other forest owners who wish to begin collecting data on their own.

Susie Kocher, UCCE forestry and natural resources advisor in the Central Sierra Cooperative Extension office, narrates and conducts demonstrations in each of the videos. They cover the following topics:

Tree measurement tools
Learn the basics of forest inventory and what measurements you need to quantitatively represent your forest. It covers the usage of a diameter tape, Spencer logger's tape and Biltmore stick (or CA tree stick).

Using a clinometer to measure tree height
A clinometer is a simple tool which can be used to measure heights. In this video, you will learn how to use a clinometer to accurately measure tree height as part of a forest inventory.

Plot establishment tools
Learn how to use a compass, reel fiberglass tape and cruise vest to establish plots. The video covers how to think about your own inventory system and what you will want to take with you when you head into the woods.

Plot layout and inventory system
Learn what it looks like to collect plot data. This video includes a review of plot layout, the measurements and observations to note, and how sample data can represent your entire forest.

Three more forest stewardship workshops have been scheduled:

Feb. 2 - April 13, tribal-focused stewardship workshop: Online and at the Big Sandy Rancheria. Registration now open.

March 22 - May 27, online and in Humboldt County. Registration now open.

April 21 - June 16, online and in San Bernardino County. Registration opening soon.

Workshop registration is $60. Breakfast and lunches are provided for in-person field days. Register at http://ucanr.edu/forestryworskhopregistration.

For more information on forest management and forest stewardship workshops visit the Forest Research and Outreach website at http://ucanr.edu/forestry

Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 10:52 AM
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

High-severity megafires don't preclude future fires

In less than a decade, some of the burned expanses from this year's megafires could burst into intense flames again, reported Ula Chrobak in Scientific American.

Frequent, low-severity fires, which clear out patches of low-lying vegetation and dry leaf litter, have an preventative effect. Research shows that areas burned by megafires are more likely to become susceptible to fires again. 

UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor Susie Kocher said that a century ago, before officials quashed all wildfires, only 5% to 10% of Sierra Nevada fires would burn at high severity. Today, the proportion of high-severity fires is between 40% and 60%.

“That's way outside of what we think would have been natural,” Kocher said.

After high-severity fires, the landscape is scorched and shadeless. Without mother trees, it may take a long time, or even be impossible, for conifers to move back in. With open land and sunlight, shrubs sprout amid downed dead pines, which over time accumulate dead twigs and leaves. If there is a spark, the shrubbery and fallen wood can sustain another large fire.

“Ultimately, all of these lands are going to need management within anywhere from two to 10 years —and probably closer to two to five years after a fire—to maintain that reduction in fuel,” said Kate Wilkin, a fire scientist at San José State University. As climate change makes California hotter and drier, increasing the propensity for monstrous fires, this need will only grow.

Posted on Monday, November 30, 2020 at 4:51 PM
Tags: Susie Kocher (27), wildfire (154)
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

Proper land management can help forest owners ease wildfire risk following mass tree die-off

The massive die-off of conifers in the Sierra Nevada between 2012 and 2018 was predictable and unprecedented. Sadly, it is also likely to happen again, said UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor Susie Kocher.

To help landowners manage forests in a way that minimizes the risk of such catastrophic tree die-off and the threat of uncontrolled wildfire, Kocher and two colleagues produced a 20-page publication that summarizes current research on tree mortality and outlines actions that can be taken to make the forest more resilient. The publication, Mass Tree Mortality, Fuels, and Fire: A Guide for Sierra Nevada Forest Landowners, is available for free download from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources catalog.

A low severity prescribed fire consumes understory plants and branches on the forest floor, but leaves the mature trees intact. (Photo: Susie Kocher)

Written by Stanford graduate student Devin McMahon (now graduated), UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension forest health specialist Jodi Axelson and Kocher, the publication presents the extent of the die-off in the Sierra Nevada, and describes different factors that contributed to the vast loss of tree life – including land management practices, weather patterns and geography. It includes detailed reporting on the mortality's impacts on fuels and fire risk so landowners and managers can understand and develop strategies to prevent similar destruction in the future.

While about two-thirds of California's 33 million acres of forests are public lands held by state and federal government agencies, the rest is in private hands. Large companies manage millions of acres for commercial timber production, but about 9 million acres are owned by individuals. Nearly 90% of individuals own 50 acres or less; 87,000 landowners have 10 acres or more of forest.

“That's a really large number of people,” Kocher said. “That's one of the reasons why it is so difficult for landowners to manage land to improve forest health and reduce fire risk. It's not economical to do forest management on small areas.”

It's also very complicated. As natural processes play out over time in a forest with mass mortality, the fire risk changes dramatically.

“In the new publication, we help people understand the nuances of forest management so they understand what actions are most appropriate throughout the whole cycle,” she said.

Mastication, mechanically chewing up brush and branches, can be used to thin brush and trees. (Photo: Michael Bataglia)

Assessing and addressing the fire risk

The publication provides an overview of fire risk reduction. A table lays out the seven components of fire risk – fuel load, fuel moisture, fuel continuity, probability of ignition, weather conditions, topography and vulnerability to fire – along with mitigation actions for each that landowners can take.

Intentional, controlled burning, or prescribed fire, is often the most effective way to decrease fuel loads and future risk from fires, the researchers wrote. Other management actions include masticating – chewing up brush and branches with specialized equipment – felling and removing dying and dead standing trees, and thinning live trees.

The authors conclude with a glimmer of hope for the future of California forest lands. “Carefully planned forest management can reduce the amount and continuity of fuel on the landscape and limit the risk of destructive fire after tree mortality.”

A masticator head is being lowered onto small trees to shred them. (Photo: Michael Bataglia)
Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 10:58 AM
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

ANR in the news April 1-15, 2020

Missy Gable talked with Fast Company about how to grow a vegetable garden.

Pandemic And Wildfire: California Is Preparing For A Crisis Within A Crisis

(CapRadio) Ezra David Romero, April 15

…To protect human health, prescribed burns are not allowed for the time being on Forest Service land. But Ryan Tompkins, a forest advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension for Plumas, Sierra, and Lassen counties, says it's still early enough to prepare for wildfire with other tools like thinning and in some cases burning. 

“It is really difficult because of the concerns about smoke and COVID, but sort of now is our chance to be prepared,” said Tompkins. 

…“We know the agencies are going to have maybe limited capacity, limited resources, they're going to have other strains on their organizations while dealing with this crisis,” Tompkins said. “So, I think it emphasizes in a silver lining way that we all have a piece to play or a role to play.” 

Susie Kocher, a forest adviser for the Lake Tahoe region with the UC Cooperative Extension, is concerned about a triple threat of COVID-19, wildfires, and power shutoffs. 

“These two potential situations just could stack on top of the uncertainty of what people need to do,” she said.

https://www.capradio.org/articles/2020/04/15/pandemic-and-wildfire-california-is-preparing-for-a-crisis-within-a-crisis/

Pandemic Crisis Got You Planting a Garden? Join the Club. (18:23)

(BYU Radio) April 14

Guest: Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD, Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, Emeritus Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the University of California, Author of "Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of WWI"

The pandemic has sparked a moment of “crisis gardening” among Americans. It's not much different from the Victory Gardens that sprung up in yards around the country during World War I, and then again in World War II.

http://www.byuradio.org/episode/7b035e43-0dd7-4b33-8b59-017e7ab7463d/top-of-mind-with-julie-rose-pandemic-business-stimulus-victory-gardens-pandemic-voices-part-ii?playhead=1103&autoplay=true

New fungicide approved for Calif. tree nuts

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 14

… University of California, Riverside plant pathologist Jim Adaskaveg helped develop data to validate the efficacy of ManKocide for California tree nuts and says the product has advantages, including ease of use.

It is also highly effective against copper-resistant bacteria in California, Adaskaveg said in an email.

“The product has efficacy against the walnut blight and bacterial spot of almond pathogens and suppresses fire blight on pome fruit and bacterial blast on almond,” he said.

Adaskaveg said he is unaware of other products that have this combination as a premixture,

https://www.farmprogress.com/tree-nuts/new-fungicide-approved-calif-tree-nuts

People are rushing to plant 'pandemic gardens' and seed companies say they can't keep up with the surge in demand

(Business Insider) Michelle Mark, April 14, 2020

…It's not the first time economic crises have led Americans to grow their own food. One food historian told HuffPost that the trend began during WWI and WWII.

"Crisis-gardening is not new," Rose Hayden-Smith, the author of "Sowing the Seeds of Victory," told the outlet.

https://www.insider.com/seed-companies-cant-keep-up-with-demand-for-pandemic-gardens-2020-4

4-H searches for locals to serve on sponsoring committee

(San Benito Link) Devii Rao, April 14

We are looking for a few local people to serve on a sponsoring committee to keep 4-H active and strong in San Benito County. The sponsoring committee will organize events such as letter writing campaigns, barn dances, dinners, silent and live auctions, fireworks booths, having 4-H youth sell treats at the fair, or your other creative ideas! Sponsoring committee members are not required to have any affiliation with 4-H. We are looking for business leaders and other people who are well connected in the community and who are motivated to provide educational and leadership opportunities to our youth.

https://benitolink.com/4-h-searches-for-locals-to-serve-on-sponsoring-committee/

California dairies dump milk, crops may be left to wither as coronavirus pandemic disrupts food system

(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, April 12

…“Everybody's scrambling. The whole food system is scrambling,” said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis. “I don't see a big supply-side issue for agriculture. It's really an issue with the food (delivery) system.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/California-dairies-dump-milk-crops-may-be-left-15195891.php

Widespread shutdown order slams California dairy farmers, ‘You can't turn off the cows'

(Sacramento Bee) Michael Finch II, April 10

…“Like every part of the food system, there are complications. The issue for milk is you can't turn off the cows,” said Daniel A. Sumner, an agricultural economist and professor at UC Davis. “What's becoming more of a problem is the slightly longer-term outlook where we have a massive recession (coming).”

Dairy prices are regulated by the federal government and fluctuate on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. So the price of large quantities of milk, cheese, whey and milk powder is set based on data from the prior month, Sumner said.

In January, milk traded at nearly 18 cents per pound and by March the amount fell nearly five cents. Sumner said this suggests there is a price shock to come in the summer.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article241896861.html

Grocers Serving Low-Income Neighborhoods Pinched by Shortages, Rising Prices

(KQED) Farida Jhabvala Romero, April 10

…“This hoarding behavior is unfortunate,” said Richard Sexton, a professor of agriculture and resource economics at UC Davis. “We can understand why people do it, but it is what's causing these disruptions.”

… The current shortages could deepen disadvantages for family-owned neighborhood stores, said Sexton, the UC Davis economist.

“The little guys, the small chains of just a few stores, could get the short end of the stick in this situation because food manufacturers and distributors are going to probably prioritize their biggest and best customers,” he said.

https://www.kqed.org/news/11811758/grocers-serving-low-income-neighborhoods-pinched-by-shortages-rising-prices

 

Private Grant Will Support New UC California Organic Institute

(Organic Farmer) Marni Katz, April 10

A $1 million endowment will establish the University of California's first institute for organic research and education within the UC's Agriculture and Natural Resources division (UC ANR), expanding the UC Cooperative Extension's research and outreach capacity to target organic growers in California.

http://organicfarmermag.com/2020/04/private-grant-will-support-new-uc-california-organic-institute/

UCANR points to help for Californians amid crisis

(Farm Press) Mark Bell, April 10

…In response to these pressing needs, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, like many other universities and extension organizations across the country, are moving quickly to get more information online. While I haven't seen the actual numbers, we know millions of students (both high school and university) are quickly transitioning to online classes.

https://www.farmprogress.com/extension/ucanr-points-help-californians-amid-crisis

Scientists Worry Agency Plan to Prevent Fires Could Do Opposite

(Bloomberg) Bobby Magill, April 9

…Controlling wildfire in the region depends on how many firefighters the federal government has on the ground—and they'd have to be in the right place at the right time for the fuels reduction plan to work, said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying how wildfire affects broad landscapes.

As the climate changes, the effectiveness of fuels reductions projects and fuel breaks begins to fade, he said.

“Climate change seems to be priming the landscape for fires to ignite more easily, spread more easily, to burn hotter and larger—so all of these aspects of climate change would make one suspect that fuel breaks have a harder and harder time doing their job,” Moritz said.

The wildfire program is an “expensive large-scale experiment,” he said.

https://news.bloombergenvironment.com/environment-and-energy/scientists-worry-agency-plan-to-prevent-fires-could-do-opposite


The real reason we're seeing more wildlife during the pandemic

(Pop Sci) Ula Chrobak, April 9

…In those cases, additional sightings might be due to simple behavior changes. But a less charismatic creature may be also on the rise due to an increased human presence at home. Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California, thinks that rat populations may be increasing in New Orleans and elsewhere. That's because people are cooking, storing, and disposing of at home, drawing rats away from closed restaurants and toward residences.

…Quinn agrees. Late last year, she radio-collared five coyotes in Los Angeles for a research project. She says that her coyotes haven't changed their routines since the shelter-in-place order went into effect, staying in their respective territories, which include areas near a shopping mall and golf course. Quinn adds that while the number of coyotes reported in San Francisco on the Coyote Cacher website isn't unusual, they could be moving about during the day more. “People are just at home noticing more things,” she says. “Especially in California, we're not all spending five hours a day on the freeway [now], you know?”

https://www.popsci.com/story/environment/wildlife-in-cities-covid-shutdown

HLB spreads slowly, confined to residential citrus

(Capital Press) Padma Naggapan, April 9

…”It's slower than we expected, compared to Texas and Florida,” said Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell. “In the Central Valley, homeowners and growers have been able to eradicate the pest, although it's been much more challenging in Southern California. But growers are doing an outstanding job of controlling the psyllids.”

https://www.capitalpress.com/specialsections/orchard/hlb-spreads-slowly-confined-to-residential-citrus/article_6b0c836a-697c-11ea-93f9-7b866d5a123c.html

Almond Update: Maximizing Yields and Sustainability from Start to Finish

(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, April 9, 2020

Setting an orchard up for maximum yield and sustainability is a long game for producers. There are lots of variables, and some are unpredictable such as mother nature. But UC Cooperative Extension Tree Crop Advisor Franz Niederholzer said growers can do several things in the life of an orchard to stay in the game. He believes the most sustainable plan in every aspect of growing is to not focus on hitting home runs but instead have constant attention on management to help them avoid making outs. 

http://agnetwest.com/almond-update-maximizing-yields-and-sustainability-from-start-to-finish/

Soil health practices show benefits

(Morning Ag Clips) Jeannette Warnert, April 9, 2020

A group of California organic farmers is sharing information about their efforts to combine reduced tillage with the use of cover crops, which they have been planting on their vegetable farms for decades to protect soil while adding carbon and diversity to their production systems.

“Every one of the pioneering farmers has seen tremendous benefits from the practices,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist. “These are the very growing practices that we have demonstrated over two decades of research to benefit soil health, environmental conservation and the bottom line on plots near Five Points in Fresno County.”

https://www.morningagclips.com/soil-health-practices-show-benefits/

Why are eggs getting so expensive? Blame coronavirus demand

(LA Times) Samantha Masunaga, April 8

…“Eggs are naturally, very often, one of the most price variable products in the supermarket,” said Daniel Sumner, UC Davis professor of agricultural economics and director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center.

…Egg prices could remain elevated for at least a few months, Sumner said. And the demand for eggs has been historically strong during tougher economic stretches. Eggs are a relatively cheap source of protein and aren't seen as a luxury food item.

“It may take longer to get back to normal for the egg business,” he said. “We can build supply, but it takes a few months.”

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-04-08/egg-prices-rising-coronavirus

Rock Front Ranch permanently conserved for wildlife, grazing by Rangeland Trust

(Santa Maria Times) April 7

“To have this ranch be up against and abut to tens of thousands of acres of public lands is an indispensable connection to have in perpetuity,” said Matthew Shapero, livestock and range adviser in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties for the University of California Cooperative Extension.

https://lompocrecord.com/news/local/rock-front-ranch-permanently-conserved-for-wildlife-grazing-by-rangeland-trust/article_b00c5c41-1779-56d6-9570-f39bbc75aeba.html

Nutrition experts fear 'dirty dozen' produce list will put off consumers

(UPI) Jessie Higgins, April 7

…"Our typical exposure to pesticides is far lower than levels of health concern," Carl Winter, an emeritus cooperative extension specialist in food and science technology at the University of California-Davis, said in an email.

"A graduate student and I published a paper in 2011 relating dietary exposure to toxicity for the 10 most frequently detected pesticides found on the EWG's 2010 Dirty Dozen list," he said. "Estimated exposures were far below levels of toxicological concern. Recommending consumers reduce their consumption of conventional fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list is unwarranted."

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/04/08/Nutrition-experts-fear-dirty-dozen-produce-list-will-put-off-consumers/9201586279176/?sl=1&ur3=1

How to grow a vegetable garden, according to legendary chef Alice Waters

(Fast Company) Aimee Rawlins, April 7

… It's natural to want to go big and plant everything. But it's important to be realistic and start small, and not just because the productivity trap can be debilitating at a time like this.

“Right now we have enough on our plate. Start modestly and in a way that you can manage it,” says Missy Gable, director of the University of California's Master Gardener Program. “If you've never done this before, don't transform a quarter acre.”

… Because soil quality and composition varies depending on region and location, Gable recommends looking up your local master gardener extension program. These programs, which exist in all 50 states, offer classes and resources for home gardeners as well as knowledgable volunteers who are plugged in to local climate and soil particulars. Right now, some master gardener programs, like the one at Oregon State University, are also offering virtual classes. (OSU waived its fee for April and already has more than 17,000 participants.)

https://www.fastcompany.com/90487006/how-to-grow-a-vegetable-garden-according-to-legendary-chef-alice-waters

Pistachio Rootstock Options Today: Seedlings and Clones

(Pacific Nut Producer) Matthew Malcolm, April 6

Pistachio growers have more options today when it comes to varieties and rootstocks to plant with. Watch this brief interview with UCCE Farm Advisor Elizabeth Fichtner as she shares some of the characteristics of rootstocks currently available to growers and some of the pros and cons to planting on a seedling vs. clone. Read more in Pacific Nut Producer Magazine.

https://pacificnutproducer.com/2020/04/06/pistachio-rootstock-options-today-seedlings-and-clones/

UC urges cattle producers to take precautions

(Farm Press) Larry Forero, Sheila Barry, Josh Davy, Gabrielle Maier, April 6

The COVID-19 pandemic has much of the California population staying home in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. Across the state, many grocery stores have had shelves emptied of food and other day-to-day necessities as people have stockpiled these essentials.

https://www.farmprogress.com/livestock/uc-urges-cattle-producers-take-precautions

http://agnetwest.com/spring-cattle-work-calls-for-covid-19-precautions/

Coronavirus hit California's cut-flower industry at the worst time

((LA Times) Geoffrey Mohan, April 4

…Cut flowers are a $1.3-billion industry nationwide, though most of that revenue comes from the sale of imported flowers, predominantly from Colombia, according to the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center. Domestic growers account for about 27% of national sales, down from 37% roughly a decade ago. California-grown flowers account for three-quarters of the national domestic sales, according to the UC Davis researchers.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-04-04/coronavirus-californias-cut-flower-industry

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Led To A Boom In Crisis Gardening

(Huff Post) Jodi Helmer, April 3

… Even though food supplies may be currently secure, said Rose Hayden-Smith, a food historian and author of “Sowing the Seeds of Victory,” understocked supermarket shelves are forcing shoppers to think about the source of their food, especially fruits and vegetables, often for the first time. And their fears have led them straight to the garden center.

“It's helpful to be productive and connect with nature and it's something that's within our control in a situation that feels entirely out of control,” she said.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/seeds-crisis-gardening-coronavirus-food_n_5e85eca0c5b6f55ebf492212

Gardening during a pandemic

(Appeal Democrat) Chris Kaufman, April 3

Since the toilet paper panic-buying subsided, another item quietly flew off the shelves: garden seeds.

Springtime weather combined with shelter-in-place orders and empty shelves at stores has spurred a spike in seed sales, according to some gardening experts.

“I've seen an increase in seed sales because I've been looking around to see what people are doing and anticipating what kind of questions we will get once we open up again,” said Jan Kendel, a master gardener with the Sutter-Yuba University of California Cooperative Extension. “We've had some calls and emails from people wanting to know if it's a good time to plant tomatoes.”

https://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/urgent/gardening-during-a-pandemic/article_067cd2c8-761b-11ea-9d31-ff64ce956ac0.html

Spotted Lanternfly is an Invasive Pest

(AgInfo) Tim Hammerich, April 2

The spotted lanternfly is a colorful insect pest that has been infesting vineyards and orchards in the eastern U.S. So far, we have been effective in our efforts to keep the pest away from California's multi-billion-dollar ag industry. But we must remain diligent in these efforts, says Dr. Surendra Dara, Entomology and Biologicals Advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

“Spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest because of the reason we don't have any natural enemies that can suppress their populations in a natural way in a new environment," said Dara. "And it can actually infest grapes and several other hosts in California of commercial importance. So it is important for us to be aware of the potential impact and do the need to prevent the damage."

https://californiaagtoday.com/keeping-spotted-lanterfly-state/

The Moment for Food Sovereignty is Now

(Civil Eats) Katie Brimm, April 2

… “People are thinking, ‘If I can't get toilet paper, am I going to be able to get food?'” said Rose Hayden-Smith, a longtime community gardener and a Victory Garden historian, who recently retired from the University of California.

… Hayden-Smith notes that, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic came on much more suddenly than either World War, individuals and communities are once again turning to gardening to create food security.

https://civileats.com/2020/04/02/the-moment-for-food-sovereignty-is-now/

California's truffle industry could be poised for growth if top hunter helps find path

(Sac Bee) Becky Grunewald, April 1

… Her dining companion is a tall scientist with a gentle demeanor, Scott Oneto. Although he didn't command the attention of this room, his work could be key to whether truffle cultivation becomes big business in local farming, or just a flash in the (frying) pan.

Oneto, a sixth generation California farmer with a background in weed science, had to be coaxed into the project, according to O'Toole. Oneto said after a few years of requests, it took a much-needed sabbatical, at which he could “really dive into research” to catch him at the perfect point to start their (hopefully) fruitful collaboration.

An Aggie through-and-through, Oneto got both his bachelor's and master's degrees at UC Davis, and works for Agriculture and Natural Resources. ANR is an unsung arm of the University of California, with the mission to bring the latest in agricultural science to the California community. Oneto not only bridges the gap to farmers by translating academic science research into in-person workshops and handouts, he also tailors research to local needs.

“When I have a farmer or rancher who is presented with problems, whether it be a new pest, weed, pathogen, or the effects of climate change, we help them solve those problems so they can continue to be successful in agriculture,” Oneto said.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article241680801.html

Humboldt Using Satellite Tech Against Illicit Cannabis

(TechWire) Carl Smith, April 1

…“Local zoning, permitting and enforcement is probably more important than state-level initiatives, although collaboration across units of government is also key,” said Van Butsic, co-director of the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

In fact, every available strategy is needed as California works to implement the “robust standards” that it envisions for cannabis cultivation. For one thing, growers who are willing to play by the rules still face competition from illicit operations. In 2019, sales of illegal cannabis products in California were expected to hit $8.7 billion, more than twice the total for legal sales.

“Larger producers have been able to navigate the system,” said Butsic. “Many smaller growers are going out of business or staying illegal.” Costs are also part of the equation. “The illegal market is competitive because legal marijuana is so expensive to produce under Prop. 64,” Dale Gieringer, director of Cal NORML, told The Los Angeles Times.

https://www.techwire.net/news/humboldt-using-satellite-tech-against-illicit-cannabis.html

GMOs Are an Ally in a Changing Climate

(Wired) Emma Marris, April 1, 2020

In Davis, California, 190 miles from Terranova, I met up with Pamela Ronald, a plant geneticist at UC Davis who has worked to solve this problem. Climate change is making floods worse in parts of South Asia, and in 2006, Ronald helped create a kind of rice that can survive submersion in water. By 2017, some 6 million farmers in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India were growing this rice. We talked in her cozy office, where a painting hangs on the wall of a man under a deluge of rain struggling to plow a field.

https://www.wired.com/story/future-food-will-need-gmo-organic-hybrid/

College farms still functioning amid shutdowns

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, April 1, 2020

…Most employees for the UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources are working remotely during their normal business hours and visiting sites in person for essential duties such as feeding animals, officials said. All the UC Cooperative Extension's in-person seminars and workshops scheduled for April were cancelled.

At the research centers, UC leaders are considering which projects should continue and which ones could be postponed, said Mark Lagrimini, UCANR's vice provost of research and extension.

“With the research that can go forward, we're making sure that protection is provided for the workers and students,”Lagrimini said. “We do have staff out there working right now. We have over 500 projects going on. We're in the process of going through 500 projects and making sure they are all able to be conducted safely. It's a big job.

https://www.farmprogress.com/farm-operations/college-farms-still-functioning-amid-shutdowns

Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 3:48 PM

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