Sweet potatoes are extremely heat tolerant, so they can handle Merced County's hot summer days and moderate nights.
Over the last decade, Americans have more than doubled their sweet potato consumption, reports P.J. Huffstutter
in the Los Angeles Times
. Growth in U.S. per capita consumption, about 6.2 pounds per year, is being driven by the popularity of sweet potato fries. UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Scott Stoddard
told the reporter that most of California's sweet potato farming takes place in Merced County. The crop dates to the 19th century, when Portuguese and Japanese immigrants brought the plant with them. "I've heard about people ripping out grapevines to plant sweet potatoes," Stoddard said. "You have to remember that, at least right now, this is still a specialty niche crop."
A hungry pest is devouring San Diego County oak trees
Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
The goldspotted oak borer is devouring enormous numbers of oak trees in San Diego County and its devastation could spread to trees throughout California, according to researchers at UC Riverside. "This may be the biggest oak mortality event since the Pleistocene [epoch] 12,000 years ago," UC Riverside natural resource specialist Tom Scott said in a report issued last week. The Times story was prompted by a UC Riverside news release.