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Colorado cantaloupe listeria outbreak affects California growers

A listeria outbreak in Colorado last fall resulted in 30 deaths and more than 146 illnesses.
The Colorado farm linked to a deadly listeria outbreak last fall is 1,300 miles away, but the tragedy changed a way of life in Mendota, Calif., the Central Valley farm town that proudly calls itself the Cantaloupe Center of the World, said an article in the Los Angeles Times by Diana Marcum.

This would normally be the season when farmers plan the summer crop that in good years is valued at nearly $200 million, according to the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board. Instead, they are cutting acreage and scrambling for ways to reassure a nervous public that cantaloupes are safe to eat.

This month the UC Center for Produce Safety will host a closed-door symposium in San Diego for cantaloupe growers, shippers, agricultural researchers, government regulators and others to create guidelines for best growing practices.

"The main question will be, 'What are the gaps in our knowledge?'" said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director of the UC Davis-based center. "Do we need to do research or is it a matter of the cantaloupe industry implementing and enforcing best practices?"

UCCE director in Tulare County takes Kings County reins
Lewis Griswald, Fresno Bee News Blog

Tulare County UC Cooperative Extension Director Jim Sullins will also be director of the Kings County UCCE office. Longtime Kings County UCCE director and 4-H youth advisor Peggy Gregory retired at the end of the year. She served 37 years with the University, including 20 in Kings County.

Grape growers fend off thieves, pests
Fresno Business Journal

Pests and thieves can cost grape growers a great deal of money and headaches. That’s why the two issues were addressed along with other important topics at the UC Cooperative Extension San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium held Wednesday in Easton.

UCCE viticulture farm advisor Stephen Vasquez gave an update on glassy-winged sharpshooters and Pierce's disease. He said that recent catches of sharpshooters are concerning since they have been found near a major riparian corridor that has had a historically low level of Pierce’s disease.

Posted on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM

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