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Posts Tagged: Houston Wilson

UC ANR's new organic institute is swinging into action

The newly appointed Presidential Director for the Clif Bar Endowed Organic Agriculture Institute, Houston Wilson, has already initiated a needs assessment of organic agriculture in California, reported Lee Allen in Western Farm Press. Wilson is using surveys and focus groups to determine production needs within target commodities.

“Our mission will be to develop research and extension for organic production of things like tree fruits, tree nuts and raisins, commodities representing a significant portion of the entire Central Valley, but with very different cropping systems," Wilson said.

The diversity of California agriculture is represented in scale and systems - from orchards to vineyards to row crops and rice production.

"We're working on a cost-benefit analysis for commodities across the state to determine where gains can be had by developing better organic practices," Wilson said. "The argument about whether or not organic production can produce more yield is a hot topic. There are arguments that say organic can't yield as much as conventional and that may be because not that much has been invested in the organic effort compared to conventional agriculture. Metaphorically, it's like comparing a veteran player with a new kid on the team."

Price premiums for certified organic produce entice growers to convert to organic.

"Our job is to work with them, to identify and develop industry practices that make (organic production) move even more alluring," Wilson said.

A needs assessment for organic agriculture research and extension is underway.
Posted on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 8:44 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

ANR in the news May 16-31, 2020

ASEV's Invasive Pest Webinar Series Starts June 3

(Wine Business) May 30

… The invasive pest webinar series will include:

June 3: Impact of the New Invasive Pest, Spotted Lanternfly, in the Northeastern Vineyards by Heather Leach (The Pennsylvania State University, University Park) at noon – 1:00 p.m. (PDT)

July 2: Fruit Flies and Their Role in Causing Sour Rot by Megan Hall (University of Missouri, Columbia) at noon –1:00 p.m. (PDT)

October 22: Lifecycle Modeling and the Impacts of Climate Change by Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel (Washington State University, Prosser) at noon – 1 p.m. (PDT)

November 12: Invasive Species Response: Lessons from the European Grapevine Moth Collaboration Program by Monica Cooper (University of California, Cooperative Extension, Napa County) at noon – 1 p.m. (PDT)

UC Davis sponsoring COVID-19 symposium

(Woodland Daily Democrat) May 30

… Statewide Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UCD Department of Entomology and Nematology, is scheduled to share her expertise on bee venom, one of the possible COVID-19 treatments suggested by researchers but not yet investigated.

… Among those asking questions will be Jennifer Cash, the newest faculty member of the UCD College of Biological Sciences; Fred Gould, a National Academy of Sciences member; UC Cooperative Extension adviser Surendra Dara; and University of Brasilia graduate student Raquel Silva.

Gardens Have Pulled America Out of Some of Its Darkest Times. We Need Another Revival.

(Mother Jones) Tom Philpott, May 29

The first great national gardening mobilization came two decades later, scholar Rose Hayden-Smith writes in her 2014 book Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War 1. Building on a Progressive Era push to install gardens in public school yards as an educational tool, President Woodrow Wilson tapped the Bureau of Education, with funding from the War Department, to launch the US School Garden Army shortly after sending troops to intervene in the European conflict. “A Garden for Every Child,” its slogan promised. “Every Child in a Garden.”

The School Garden Army was just one of several national programs that “encouraged Americans to express their patriotism by producing and conserving food,” Hayden-Smith adds. Wilson also promoted a civic gardening boom through the Committee on Public Information, which hired writers, artists, scholars, and advertising professionals to create marketing campaigns to promote school, home, and community gardening.

More scientists joining UC Cooperative Extension

(Daily Democrat) Jim Smith, May 29

Four staff research associates will join the ranks of UC Cooperative Extension scientists in the coming months to support nut crop advisors conducting critical research in walnut, almond and pistachio production.

The California Walnut Board, the Almond Board of California and the California Pistachio Research Board together have provided about $425,000 to cover annual salaries, benefits, travel and equipment for the new UC Cooperative Extension staff. Under the terms of the agreement, the new positions will be funded annually for up to three years, pending available funds and success of the program.

Tree Nut Industry Provides Funding for more UCCE Researchers

(Ag Net West) May 29

The California tree nut industry is helping to provide funding for four new research associates who will become part of the UC Cooperative Extension system.  The addition of the new personnel is being made possible by the California Walnut Board, the Almond Board of California, and the California Pistachio Research Board who have contributed a total of $425,000 in funding support. Collaborations like this are one of the many ways that the UC system is able to support important agricultural research through alternative funding methods.

Modoc County continues to see zero coronavirus cases

(Action NewsNow) Ana Marie Torrea, May 28, 2020

…Next month, the Modoc Junior Livestock Auction is planned for June 8 to June 12. Action News Now reached out to the U.C. Cooperative Extension which oversees the auction. A representative tells Action News Now that they've already made significant changes to the event.

The event's Facebook page says it is working to follow state guidelines by increasing seating and sanitation. 

Gardens Have Pulled America Out of Some of Its Darkest Times. We Need Another Revival.

(Mother Jones) Tom Philpott, May 29

…The first great national gardening mobilization came two decades later, scholar Rose Hayden-Smith writes in her 2014 book Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War 1. Building on a Progressive Era push to install gardens in public school yards as an educational tool, President Woodrow Wilson tapped the Bureau of Education, with funding from the War Department, to launch the US School Garden Army shortly after sending troops to intervene in the European conflict. “A Garden for Every Child,” its slogan promised. “Every Child in a Garden.”


Women Taking the Reins at Marin's Family Farms

(Marin Magazine) Christina Mueller, May 27

…The two sisters, who grew up on the family ranch but no longer live there (Melissa lives in Novato, Jessica lives in Bend, Oregon), were looking to re-establish their connection to the family's West Marin land. After attending a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and MALT agricultural summit 15 years ago that focused on helping the next generation of Marin ranchers figure out how to sustain small family farms, the sisters started researching, digging into their family history to learn what Angelo and subsequent generations of Poncias produced. Cattle, dairy and potatoes kept appearing at the top of the list. With the help of the Tomales Regional History Center, they found an old Petaluma Argus Courier newspaper advertisement where their grandfather posted about the potato varietals he was working with. One of those varietals was known as the Bodega Red.


San Joaquin County cherries withstand ‘spotty' rain losses

(Ag Alert) Kevin Hecteman, May 27

… Rain gauges around the area showed 0.19 to 0.52 inch fell during this year's May storms, according to Mohamed Nouri, a University of California Cooperative Extension orchard advisor in San Joaquin County, with cherries in the Escalon area being among the most affected

… Temperature plays an important role in the rate of cherry fruit cracking, Nouri said; more water is taken up when the temperature is warm following rain, causing the cherry to expand and split.

Table grape industry promotes viticulture research

(Farm Press) Lee Allen, May 27

…Another of the presented research subjects involved remote sensing for nutrient content detection. Ali Pourreza of the University of California Cooperative Extension was one of the presenters.

“Future agricultural and food production systems must make better use of limited resources to ensure farmers can economically produce more high-quality food while minimizing impact on the environment,” Pourreza said. “An effective nitrogen (N) management plan involves monitoring vine N status, currently accomplished by collecting plant tissue samples for lab analysis.


Houston Wilson Named Presidential Director for the Clif Bar Endowed Organic Agriculture Institute

(Cal Ag Today) May 27

Houston Wilson has been named the Presidential Director for the University of California's Organic Agriculture Institute, which was established in January 2020 with a $500,000 endowment by Clif Bar and a matching $500,000 endowment from UC President Janet Napolitano.


Nutritious Movement

(Move Your DNA) Katy Bowman, May 26

… First up, I am talking to Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith. She is an author, educator, and advocate for a sustainable food system. She  is University of California emeritus. Dr. Hayden-Smith leverages the power of social technologies in her research as a historian, to tell stories, share information, start conversations, and engage with a wide range of people interested in the food system. She believes in the power of gardens to transform the world. And I first interviewed Rose in 2018 and I'll be sharing parts of that interview, where we discuss gardening, how to get started, the history of Victory Gardens, as well as garden movement tips. But  I wanted first to get Rose's take on our current situation, and what she thinks about how things are changing.

California Nut Industry Funds 4 New Extension Researchers

(Growing Produce) David Eddy, May 26

Four staff research associates will join the ranks of University of California Cooperative Extension scientists in the coming months to support nut crop advisors conducting critical research in walnut, almond, and pistachio production.

Specialty grant to examine impact of integrating animals in crop rotations

(Farm Forum) May 24

…“Fresh produce growers and their advisors will benefit from learning about the impacts of integrating livestock grazing with winter cover crop management on soil health including soil organic matter, nutrient cycling and reduced nitrate leaching, and potential food safety risks discovered in this project to make decisions on adoption, management, and environmental benefits of WCC in annual vegetable systems,” said Alda Pires, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist and lead principle investigator in the study. 

ABC30 salutes Michael Yang on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
(ABC30) Aurora Ortiz Diaz, May 22

ABC30 salutes Michael Yang on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Yang is a former Hmong refugee who came to the United States when he was ten years old. He has worked for UC Cooperative Extension's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 26 years.
Yang says, "I'm a certified pesticide safety trainer, I speak Hmong, Lao, and English." Yang connects with local Southeast Asian farmers when he visits their farms in the central valley. "Fresno is a nice place to grow everything. We're the number one ag county in the nation."

Project explores livestock grazing impacts on organic crops

(Feedstuffs) May 22

…“Fresh produce growers and their advisors will benefit from learning about the impacts of integrating livestock grazing with winter cover crop management on soil health, including soil organic matter, nutrient cycling and reduced nitrate leaching and potential food safety risks discovered in this project to make decisions on adoption, management and environmental benefits of winter cover crop management in annual vegetable systems,” said Alda Pires, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist in the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) School of Veterinary Medicine and principle investigator in the study.

Leafy Green Growers Will Survive COVID-19

(Growing Produce) Carol Miller & Frank Giles, May 20, 2020

…“The lag in adjusting to the situation is mostly a two-month window for a crop like lettuce,” says Richard Smith. Smith is a University of California Vegetable Crop and Weed Science Farm Advisor at the Cooperative Extension in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties.

…“Companies varied in their level of exposure to this market that just collapsed,” Smith says. “Some were more exposed than others. Given other issues with the food distribution system, in general, some growers think that they may be 30% overplanted.”


The Underlying Importance of Improving Broadband Expansion

(AgNet West) Brian German, May 20

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) continues efforts to assist rural Californians in gaining access to high speed internet.  UC ANR has spearheaded multiple initiatives that have driven development in underserved areas of California to provide better coverage in rural communities.  Vice President of UC ANR, Glenda Humiston noted the importance of providing broadband internet to rural, agricultural communities will become even more critical moving forward.


Hard-fought industry wins 'evaporating' under new budget reality

(Agri-Pulse) Brad Hooker, May 20

… Roschen was also disappointed by a 10% cut to the current budget for the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Division. 

Here's how to stay safe while buying groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic

Erin DiCaprio, UCCE specialist, answers questions about how to stay safe while shopping for food amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(Brooklyn Reader) Erin DiCaprio, May 19

Wear a mask, but skip the gloves. Don't sanitize the apples. And if you are older than 65, it's probably best to still order your groceries online.

As a food virologist, I hear a lot of questions from people about the coronavirus risks in grocery stores and how to stay safe while shopping for food amid the pandemic. Here are answers to some of the common questions.
The Conversation

New bioinsecticide promises help with tree nut pests

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, May 19

….“Based on what I hear from some growers and the biopesticide industry data, there has been a steady increase in biopesticide use,” said Surendra Dara, a University of California Cooperative Extension entomologist.

These 5 foods show how coronavirus has disrupted supply chains

(Nat Geo) Sarah Gibbens, May 19

… “What we have is a low-cost and efficient system that allows for huge variety and attention to individual tastes,” says Daniel Sumner, an economist at the University of California, Davis.

“A dairy farm has milk coming out of the cow into a tank. That milk must be pasteurized and packaged, meeting lots of food safety standards,” says Sumner.

Individual farms generally can't afford the equipment necessary to process milk on site without raising prices significantly. “Nowhere is a dairy farm suited to send milk directly to a store,” Sumner says.

Posted on Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 3:48 PM

UC Cooperative Extension reaching out to NorCal cannabis growers

UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County has invited local cannabis farmers to meetings this week to discuss ways to reduce the industry's environmental impacts, reported Will Houston in the Eureka Times-Standard.

UC advisors and specialists will discuss future research aimed at reducing the impacts of pesticide and fertilizer use on cannabis grows.

UC Cooperative Extension advisor Deborah Giraud has called a meeting with Humboldt County cannabis growers to discuss the industry's environmental impacts.
The reporter talked to Deborah Giraud, UCCE advisor in Humboldt County, who said federal laws prevent UCCE from handling cannabis plants in their studies, but they are still able to test areas around cannabis grows for issues like pesticide runoff and soil and water quality.

At this week's meetings, Giraud said, "Mostly we just want to listen to folks who come to the meetings ideas and concerns. They're on the ground. We just want to know what could be planned with us."

The meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 3 at Adriana's Restaurant, 850 Crescent Way, Arcata; and 12 to 2 p.m. Oct. 4 at Women's Civic Club, 477 Maple Lane, Garberville.

There will be brief presentations followed by group discussions. The UC participants include Van Butsic, UC Cooperative Extension land use science specialist at UC Berkeley; Kent Daane, UCCE biological control specialist at UC Berkeley; Houston Wilson, post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley; and Giraud.

Posted on Monday, October 3, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Organic farmers are counting on UC to control exotic Virginia creeper leafhoppers

Organic farmers are struggling with invasion of exotic Virginia creeper leafhoppers in Lake and Mendocino counties.
When Virginia creeper leafhopper made its way into Mendocino and Lake county wine country a few years ago, some certified organic winegrape producers threw in the towel.

“They lost too much income,” said Glenn McGourty, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension advisor in Lake and Mendocino counties. “They decided they were not going to risk their crop until there is a workable biological control solution to this new pest.”

Meanwhile, other organic grape producers are hanging on to their organic certification and counting on UC ANR researchers to come through with a biological control option soon.

“Organic farmers are spending a couple hundred dollars per acre for organic pesticides,” McGourty said. “They don't want to use them. It takes out beneficial insects and it doesn't even control Virginia creeper leafhopper very well.”

Three leafhopper species are pests of California grapes. Western grape leafhopper is a native insect that's present throughout California north of the Tehachapi Mountains. Several natural enemies keep the pest in check most years. Variegated leafhopper migrated north from the Imperial Valley to Central California in the 1980s, and is established in Napa Valley and other valleys of Napa County. Virginia creeper leafhopper, a native of the northern Midwest, made its way to Northern California in the early 1980s. It migrated southward to the northern Sacramento Valley and Sierra foothills, and most recently was detected in Lake and Mendocino counties, where the population boomed.

“The farmers were devastated, especially financially,” McGourty said. “Conventional growers had to begin spraying pesticides. Some organic vineyards were completely defoliated.”

The leafhoppers' key natural enemies are fairyflies (Genus: Anagrus), among the tiniest flying insects in the world. Certain species of fairyflies attack certain species of leafhoppers. What has scientists perplexed at the moment is the fact that Virginia creeper leafhoppers' natural enemies are present in Mendocino and Lake counties, but they are failing to do their job.

Generally, fairyflies lay their eggs in leafhopper eggs, killing them. The fairyflies known to attack Virginia creeper leafhopper are successfully parasitizing the pest's eggs in Yolo County. However, the very same species of fairyfly is not recognizing Virginia creeper leafhopper eggs as a host in Mendocino and Lake counties.

Virginia creeper leafhopper adults have a reddish-brown zigzag marking on each front wing.
“Virginia creeper leafhopper only recently moved into the Mendocino area,” said post-doctoral researcher Houston Wilson. Wilson works in the lab of Kent Daane, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. “Although these Anagrus parasitoids can attack both Western grape leafhopper and Virginia creeper leafhopper, the Anagrus population in Mendocino County has been reproducing on Western grape leafhopper for so long, they seem to have lost their preference for Virginia creeper.”

The scientists believe that, in time, fairyflies in Lake and Mendocino counties will begin to parasitize Virginia creeper leafhopper eggs on their own. But, because of the severity of the situation to organic winegrape growers, they've hatched a plan to help out the natural enemies. This summer, they will be rounding up fairyflies in the Davis area – where they know how to attack Virginia creeper – and bring them to Lake and Mendocino county vineyards.

Beginning in April, Wilson will allow Mendocino area Virginia creeper leafhoppers to lay eggs on potted grapevines. The vines will be transported to Davis, where local fairyflies can parasitize the eggs. The plants will go back to the laboratory in Berkeley so scientists can rear populations of the parasitoids and later release them in Mendocino and Lake county vineyards.

“I just planted the grapevines this month,” Wilson said. “When leafhoppers become active in the summer, we'll start monthly releases. We hope our efforts will take some of the pressure off winegrape farmers soon.”

In addition to the work releasing natural enemies of Virginia creeper leafhopper, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists are implementing an area-wide integrated pest management program in Mendocino and Lake counties. The program – a combination of biological, cultural and chemical controls for this pest – employs:

  1. Improved monitoring and mapping of Virginia creeper populations
  2. Cultural practices to reduce egg deposition in vineyards
  3. Earlier and coordinated pesticide applications (if a spray is necessary)

The Virginia creeper leafhopper pest control program is funded in part by the American Vineyard Foundation.

An initiative to manage endemic and invasive pests and diseases is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 9:01 AM

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