Why It’s Important to Celebrate Ag Day Every Day

Organization focuses on education for California youth 365 days a year RDOWater_AgDay

Author: Judy Culbertson, California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

If you ask students where their food comes from, many will say, “From the grocery store.” Frankly, that concerns me. Far too many people are unaware of the role of California agriculture in their daily lives and what it takes to have food on their dinner tables.

We know that food and fiber doesn’t just arrive at the grocery or clothing store—or magically appear on our dinner tables or in our closets. There’s an entire industry dedicated to providing safe and plentiful food for consumption, as well as a wide range of comfortable, fashionable clothing choices.

We rely on agriculture for the very necessities of life. From beef and pork to cotton and corn, agriculture is working harder than ever to meet the needs of Californians, Americans and others around the world.

This week, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, California Women for Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture host Ag Day 2017 at the state Capitol. It is a day to reflect and be grateful for agriculture. It is a day to share with California legislators and the public the educational programs and materials we provide to students and teachers so they can learn, for example, how each American farmer feeds more than 144 people.

Of course, it’s not just the farmer and rancher who make our food possible. The entire agriculture sector, all the way to the grocery store, comprises a chain that brings food to every citizen—and millions of people abroad.

At the Capitol event, 50 agricultural organizations gather to reinforce the appreciation people have for the role California agriculture plays in our lives. The day includes interactive displays, farm animals, dancing, farm equipment and, of course, plenty of food. Legislators join in and see the passion and commitment the agricultural community has for agricultural education.

Student authors of California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s Imagine this… Story Writing Contest autograph books of the stories they wrote about agriculture, receive recognition on stage during the program, and are honored by their legislators during a ceremony in the Governor’s Council Room.

Students taught by the CFAITC Outstanding Educator of the Year, Lisa Liss of Woodlake Elementary in Sacramento, take a special walk around the Capitol grounds, sponsored by United HealthCare, to promote healthy eating and lifestyles.

Elsewhere in the state, more than a dozen Farm Days take place this month, organized by county Farm Bureaus, high schools and fairs. From Siskiyou to San Benito to Fresno and Los Angeles, thousands of kids will experience agriculture for a day. Yolo County alone will reach 4,000 students this week.

Ag Day at the Capitol is one location, one day. CFAITC focuses on educating California youth 365 days of the year. Our role is not only to reach students and teachers, but also to equip volunteers and other organizations with lesson plans, hands-on activities and other educational resources that enable them to teach accurately and professionally about this critically important part of our lives.

Ag in the Classroom works to expand that first day of experiencing agriculture through projects such as our Taste and Teach program, sponsored by Raley’s supermarkets. Through this program, Raley’s supports 100 Northern California teachers by providing gift cards and a binder of lessons developed by Ag in the Classroom that focus on fruits and vegetables, their nutritional benefits, growing habits and fun facts about them.

As one of the largest procurers of California agricultural products, McDonald’s is investing in agricultural education by organizing field trips to its restaurants and teaching students that the food there comes from the same farms and ranches as the food they buy in a grocery store.

CFAITC could not do what it does without support from California farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations. For example, the California Farm Bureau Federation has supported Ag in the Classroom since its inception in 1986. The California Dairy Council has brought dairy cows to school sites every day of the school year for years, and has been an innovator in nutrition education since 1919. The 48th District Agricultural Association features agriculture and education and an annual farm day in the Los Angeles Basin. For the past 65 years, the California CattleWomen have traveled to schools in rural and urban areas to help children experience agriculture.

Ag in the Classroom supports thousands of teachers every year. We work with hundreds of farmers, ranchers and associations who share their knowledge, time and energy in support of agricultural education.

More than 7 million students are enrolled in California public and private schools. Is it a lofty goal to reach them all? Yes, it is! Can we reach the goal? Yes, together, we can!

Not every child has an opportunity to grow up on a farm, but through efforts of farmers and ranchers, Ag in the Classroom programs and supporters of agricultural education, every child can learn about where their food and fiber comes from.

Full article shared from Ag Alert, with credit to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Deserts – Key to Feeding Future Global Population

Food crop production must expand into land areas considered to harsh, wet, or dry RDO-Water

Author: Lee Allen, Western Farm Press

Merle Jensen may not walk on water, but he knows a lot about it – the water part anyway.

He says, “Farming’s future is totally dependent on the availability of good water for crop production and the proper placement of that water for higher yield. The whole future of growing crops is dependent on the best method of irrigation and fertigation, and farmers would be wise to consider adapting the concept of drip irrigation now – or they might find themselves out of business.”

Jensen, a retired professor Emeritus plant scientist at the University of Arizona (UA), spent his career growing vegetable crops in harsh desert climates over the world – from Mexico and Latin America to Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

“There are over 20,000 miles of desert coastline in the world that, if made habitable, could feed millions of people,” he says, strongly recommending drip irrigation for plants grown in sand.

In most cases, edibles are seeded directly into leached beach sand and once growing are put on constant liquid-feed solutions of commercial-grade fertilizer applied through the irrigation system.

With a United Nations estimation that the world’s population will grow by an additional 4 billion to 11.2 billion by 2100, there’s a major concern by food scientists about where food will be grown.

“Vast areas of prime agricultural land are being taken out of production each year and we’re losing farmland and rich river valleys,” Jensen says.

“Production of food crops will have to expand into land areas always thought as too harsh, too wet or dry. If we are to successfully increase our supply of food, we must increase the output our land is producing.”

He adds, “Growth in food production will not keep pace unless we extend agriculture into new areas. And toward that end, the day will come when the world’s deserts must be cultivated.”

That day is here thanks to a variety of issues that work in conjunction toward a common goal, including trickle irrigation where measured amounts of a water and nutrient mix drip onto plants from a narrow hose running the length of the furrow, using whatever soil is available, including sand in Iran, Morocco, Jordan, Israel, and the American Southwest.

A People magazine feature on horticulture quoted Jensen saying, “Year-round growth can give yields 10 to 40 times greater than standard open-field production.”

Another publication, Horticulture magazine, cited “the outlandish world of Merle Jensen” who “has a penchant for blending Buck Rogers with Rube Goldberg for futuristic desert farming.”

Well, the future is now.

According to scientists with degrees from Cal Poly, Cornell, and Rutgers, the pro versus con formula is pretty simple. Over the short term, the negatives include a higher cost to implement along with salinity hazards and an increased sensitivity to clogging.

Jensen replies, “Expensive, yes, but the future alternative is you’re either in production or out of it, and you won’t be in production if you don’t find a way to conserve water.”

Advantages tend to outweigh negatives – maximum use of water maximizes crop yield, less weed growth or soil erosion, relatively low labor and operational costs, less evaporation compared to surface irrigation, and decreased tillage.

AgricultureGuide.com notes, “One of the most important aspects of this method is that the watered zone is only along the plant line, leaving the rest of the field dry – using the least amount of scarce and/or costly water possible. Because the watered zone is shadowed by the plant itself, evaporation is minimal, consumption is lowered, and the required moisture level in the root zone is maintained. Additionally, fertilizers can be used via the drip system, thus reducing that volume needed.”

Jensen proved the efficacy of drip irrigation at the UA’s Environmental Research Laboratory.  Time magazine, in 1967, reported on Jensen’s experiments in the integrated production of vegetables, electricity, and desalted water in the soil-poor desert of Arabia’s Abu Dhabi.

They termed the growing of food in Sadiyat, a sandy, essentially barren, uninhabited island, ‘sand culture.’ And they proved it would work in an area with strong prevailing winds and rainfall that averaged less than two inches per year.

The facility and a previous prototype in Puerto Penasco, Mexico were intended to make a coastal desert agriculturally productive.

In Sonora, plants were seeded in separate plots of beach sand or sphagnum peat moss/vermiculite and grew equally well in either drip-irrigated medium. Once the efficacy of the concept literally bore fruit, it expanded to other countries throughout the world.

Another strong proponent of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) is fellow Arizonan Howard Wuertz of Sundance Farms in Coolidge, the 2016 winner of Netafim USA’s Award for Advancement in Microirrigation – http://www.westernfarmpress.com/irrigation/wuertz-honored-subsurface-drip-irrigation-pioneer.

“SDI delivers many benefits and we encourage growers to take measures to ensure the sustainability of their farming operations for generations to come,” says Wuertz.

“Successful farming in the desert is not only about using water more efficiently, but about being productive with the resources we have and subsurface drip irrigation has allowed us to boost our productivity per acre with less water than traditional irrigation methods.”

The Wuertz family estimates a reduction in water usage up to 50 percent on their 3,200-acre farm.

While Wuertz has been referred to as “the father of subsurface drip irrigation,” Jensen claims some of that parentage too due to his longevity in drip cultivation trials throughout the globe.

Former colleague Hassan Elattir, Morocco’s first horticulturist, worked with Jensen to initiate drip irrigation there. Elattir praises the growth since their first drip irrigation experiments in 1975.

“By 2020, there will be more than 500,000 hectares of crops under drip irrigation,” Elattir says.

And that’s good news as the estimation is that more food will needed in the first half of this century than was produced in the previous 100 centuries combined.

Jensen isn’t one to generally say ‘I told you so,’ but in this case, he does.

“The projects we’ve been involved with have demonstrated it is possible to produce vegetables in many sandy areas of the world where almost nothing now grows,” said Jensen.

Full article shared from Western Farm Press website.

Wild, Wacky Winter Weather

Weather’s effect on alfalfa and forage fields Alfalfa

Author: Mike Rankin, Hay & Forage Grower

The weather geeks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tell us that 2016 was the second warmest year for the U.S. in the 122 years of record keeping. It was the 24th wettest year, but we also had double the record number of inland flooding events.

What’s done is done, but 2017 is not exactly starting out as anything close to normal in many U.S. regions. The impact on the forage industry, especially alfalfa, looms heavy; it almost always does in matters concerning weather.

Let’s begin in the West where Dan Putnam, extension forage specialist for the University of California-Davis, recently reported that some fields in northern California are flooded from relentless rains. It was needed moisture, for sure, but Putnam points out that there can be consequences to long-term ponding on alfalfa fields.

“The extent of either (plant) death or damage depends upon temperature, drainage, alfalfa growth status, and duration of flooding,” Putnam notes in a recent Alfalfa & Forage News blog.

He explains that dormant alfalfa varieties under cool or cold conditions may tolerate winter flooding more so than the green, actively growing plants in the warmer, desert regions. This is because plant respiration rates are much slower, somewhat buffering the effect of anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions caused by flooded or waterlogged soils.

In addition to the impairment of the plant to “breath,” Putnam notes that flooded alfalfa plants may suffer root damage in the form of fine root hair death, pruning, and weakened nitrogen-fixing nodules. Saturated soils also impair the uptake of micronutrients and predispose plants to disease infections. New seedings planted last fall are especially susceptible to damage.

A warm and wet Midwest

Some early December snow set the stage for a desired winter groundcover in most of the Upper Midwest. It didn’t last long as temperatures warmed with the new year and were accompanied by volumes of liquid precipitation in many areas. Temperatures in the 40s and 50s are not normal for January, but they have been this year, even in the northern states.

Many fields contain standing water with thawed or thawing saturated soils. Given that winter is far from the finish line, the concern now turns to ice formation if the water doesn’t infiltrate the soil before colder temperatures return.

“A solid layer of ice restricts air diffusion and suffocates alfalfa plants,” says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension forage agronomist. “Solid ice is more devastating than ice that is cracked or where plant stems are sticking above the ice layer,” he adds. As with water, the duration of ice cover plays a large role in determining the potential for damage.

Undersander doesn’t recommend any remedial practices when ice forms over alfalfa fields. Practices such as pulling a disk across the field to break the ice or applying fertilizer to melt the ice are generally of little consequence and often can cause more damage than if fields were left alone.

The waiting game

It’s never easy to predict damage incurred to alfalfa during winter. Be it water or ice, the effects of damage, or lack thereof, are usually not known for weeks and sometimes months into the future.

Past history tells us that the spectrum of potential damage is wide, ranging from total death to slightly weakened plants. In the latter case, both Putnam and Undersander suggest conservative management during the upcoming growing season. Let plants reach 10 percent bloom to build carbohydrate reserves before taking the initial cutting. Also, be vigilant to ensure adequate soil fertility and control pests. Insects often prefer stressed plants. Where possible, also try to control weeds.

Though nothing can be done at this time, it doesn’t hurt to develop a backup plan if the worst-case scenario comes to fruition. Think about alternative crop rotations, possible interseeding strategies for new seedings, annual forages that could fill a short-term feeding need, and when or where new seedings might be established in 2017. Then hope none of those plans will ever be needed.

Full article shared from Hay & Forage Grower website.

What Will 2017 Mean for California Water Users?

What will 2017 mean for California water users and the farmers who need it to grow crops? california-water

Author: Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press

Winter across California has been a tale of two seasons in the past couple years.

Last year this time we were coming off a wet December. Little did we know at the time, but the taps would largely be in the “off” position for a couple months before faucets reopened and liquid gold began falling from the skies.

Knock on wood, that hasn’t happened. At least not yet.

Let’s hope it doesn’t.

Forecasters are calling for an “atmospheric river” to pummel California this week and bring continued blessings to a state parched by several years of severe drought conditions.

All this rain and snow is a good thing for Mediterranean Climate zones that produce the volume of food as California does.

The recent December freeze that kept citrus growers up at night wasn’t the blockbuster of previous seasons. Instead, it helped growers leave fruit on the trees rather than rush to harvest them.

Now they’re rushing as I write this because heavy rain is expected later this week in the San Joaquin Valley. The rain will put a temporary halt to citrus harvest as I’m told the fruit cannot be picked when it’s wet as it damages the fruit.

Meanwhile, tree nut growers were shaking their trees as part of their winter sanitation protocols to remove “mummy” nuts, a necessary activity to rob pests like the Navel orangeworm from a place to hunker down and over-winter.

Navel orangeworms, later in the growing season, can wreak havoc and cause yield losses in almonds and pistachios.

On the flip side of the natural water blessings California is experiencing, the State Water Board is moving ahead with plans to take half the natural flows from several key rivers used to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and produce billions of dollars’ worth of crops.

The decision isn’t final and likely won’t be until later in the year. Though thousands of farmers and others reliant on waters from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers spoke in unified opposition to the state’s plans, the looks on the faces of water board members at public hearings suggested they were simply going through the motions to do what they want, regardless of how damaging it will be to the state’s economy and the people who live here.

This certainly won’t be the only challenge farmer’s face in 2017. Regardless of whether Mother Nature calls an end to the climatic drought, regulators and lawmakers appear to be laser-focused on continuing their regulatory drought in California.

Time will tell how effective the promises of the upcoming Trump administration will be to pull back on the onerous rules, regulations and laws keeping California farmers from adequate water supplies.

Meanwhile, bring on the rain.

Full article shared from Western Farm Press website.

Crops Benefit from Holiday Demand

Marketers say the just-concluded year-end holidays brought an upturn in sales RDO-Water

Author: Ching Lee, Ag Alert

Year-end celebrations may be finished, but a number of California agricultural products continue to feel the benefits of a traditional bump in sales created by increased baking, feasting and toasting during the holiday season.

Holiday festivities boost sales across many wine categories but particularly sparkling wine, which remains a favorite for ringing in the New Year. About 30 percent of sparkling wine sales happen during the last two months of the year—10 percent in November and 20 percent in December, according to Nielsen. During the rest of the year, each month represents about 6 to 7 percent of total annual sales.

Table wine also sees a spike in sales—with the last eight weeks of the year averaging 9 to 10 percent of annual sales. This compares to average monthly sales of 7 to 8 percent the rest of the year.

“Wine sales are pretty consistent throughout the year,” said Gladys Horiuchi, spokeswoman for the Wine Institute. “Sparkling wine is the wine that shows the most seasonality of sales.”

That may be changing, as more people break out the bubbly for different occasions year-round. Horiuchi noted that sparkling wine sales in the U.S. have been on an upward trend. During the first nine months of 2016, U.S. sparkling wine sales grew 11 percent.

Turkey remains popular year-round as deli meat, but the whole-body bird is still a favorite for Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation. About 30 to 40 percent of annual turkey sales occur in November, he noted, while 25 percent of what’s normally produced for Thanksgiving is for the Christmas market.

“Thanksgiving is a huge time for us,” he said. “This year was really good too, because we basically sold everything we produced for the holidays; all of the turkeys were gone.”

Chicken sales, however, typically drop off in November and early December, and tend to pick back up by the end of December, Mattos said, noting that January is usually “a huge chicken month because people are ready to cut back and eat something lean and healthy.”

Other poultry such as duck and squab also have become more popular during the holidays, especially in ethnic communities, he said. Those types of birds “are really big” during the lunar New Year celebration at the end of this month, he added.

California egg producers felt the pinch of low egg prices for most of 2016, as U.S. egg production recovered from the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza with fully restocked barns and supplies that now outpace demand.

San Diego County egg farmer Frank Hilliker said the holidays and winter season have helped to increase demand a tad, with people eating more eggs now that temperatures are colder. He’s seen a 10 percent jump in sales because of holiday baking, but he noted the stronger prices won’t last.

“It’s all going to go away,” he said. “Prices have been horrible since after Easter (last year) because of overproduction. I imagine sometime in January to sometime in February, we’re going to see the market go down again.”

Another baking staple—butter—also does well during the fourth quarter, said Beth Ford, chief operating officer of Land O’Lakes. The dairy cooperative typically begins planning for holiday production and building inventory during the second quarter by reviewing market trends and talking to its customers.

“Consumers continue to make the switch to butter from other products, continuing a several-year trend,” she said. “Over the last two years alone, our demand on a pound basis is up 15 percent from just two years ago.”

California almonds and walnuts are used in many holiday foods and fourth-quarter sales are typically the heaviest, said Chad Temel, who markets the nuts for Stockton-based Pearl Crop. He estimated the company ships 55 to 60 percent of its crop during the last three months of the year.

Because the company exports more than 95 percent of its nuts, Temel said the holiday rush usually starts as soon as the crop is harvested to allow for shipping time—and because the nuts often need to be further processed, packaged or used in different forms once they arrive at their overseas destinations. He noted export markets buy mostly in-shell nuts and prefer to do their own shelling.

The California Walnut Board began its advertising campaign with heavy emphasis on holiday baking in early November and ran it right up until Christmas, said Jennifer Olmstead, the board’s director of marketing and domestic public relations.

“November, December is a very traditional time of year to use walnuts, particularly for holiday baking,” she said. “We have really embraced that with a lot of our outreach efforts.”

Although shelled walnuts still make up the bulk of the domestic market, consumption of in-shell walnuts remains a popular tradition during the holidays, Olmstead noted. Walnut sales don’t necessarily slow down after the holidays, she added, as more nuts are moved to replenish markets.

Board Executive Director Michelle Connelly also pointed out that the holiday season for walnuts is not limited to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day in the U.S. A string of holidays in the fall through the end of January in Canada, Europe, India, Korea, Japan and China all help to bolster walnut exports and consumption, she said.

The use of California raisins in more recipes for moon cake, a traditional Asian pastry popular during the lunar New Year celebration, also may help boost sales later this month, said Larry Blagg, a senior vice president of the California Raisin Marketing Board. But November and December remain peak months for raisin consumption, as people use the dried fruit in their holiday dishes and baking recipes, said Jackie Grazier, marketing director for Sun-Maid Growers of California. Data from the market research company IRI show sales of raisins, not counting snack-sized units, are 30 percent higher during this period.

Not all holiday food items experience the seasonal market uptick, however. Even though flour is a major baking ingredient during the holidays, a rise in flour purchases hasn’t necessarily translated to better prices for wheat, said Claudia Carter, executive director of the California Wheat Commission. Unlike specialty products such as raisins, nuts and wine that are produced mainly in California, wheat is traded globally and grown in many regions of the world. Not only is there a huge surplus of wheat on the global market, but U.S. wheat consumption has been flat, she added.

“Wheat is more related to the commodity market and currently prices are very depressed,” Carter said.

Full article shared from Ag Alert, with credit to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

What Growers Can Do With Precision Ag Technology

Growers learn at inaugural North State Precision Ag Expo and Farm Business Forum Agriculture-Technology

Author: Tim Hearden, Capital Press

Rice growers Joe Richter and Jim Bell wanted to get a bird’s eye view of their own fields to gain a better understanding of how well their crops grow.

So they took aerial photographs of their fields using a program from AgPixel, an Iowa-based firm that uses sensing technology to detect plant stresses before they are visible to the naked eye.

Now the two have their own company, Willows, Calif.-based AgVision, and provide aerial surveying of rice fields, nut orchards and row crops for growers throughout the Sacramento Valley.

“The most critical thing is, data has to be usable” to help growers cut costs or increase revenue, Richter told a gathering Nov. 15 at the Glenn County fairgrounds in Orland. “We wanted something that would be high-quality and flexible when people needed it.”

Richter and Bell use a fixed-wing, manned aircraft to capture their images, while some other growers and businesses use drones. Aerial imagery can help a rice grower spot inconsistencies in aerial applications of fertilizer or seed and help a nut grower see troubled areas in orchards that would otherwise take days or weeks to survey from the ground, Richter said.

“The most important thing is not just the information you collect but what you can do with it,” he said, noting that the data could help a grower know where to take soil samples or do weed control.

Richter spoke during the opening session of the inaugural North State Precision Ag Expo and Farm Business Forum, a two-day conference that was to feature more than 30 presenters on precision technology and farm management as well as about 40 trade show vendors.

Fair director Ryann Newman created the event after hearing from growers that they’d like to learn more about all the new ag-related technology available. Other discussion topics were to include precision nutrient management, irrigation and soil moisture testing and mobile device applications that can change how a grower does business.

Among the trade show booths was one operated by Bob Myre of Myre Distributing in Willows, who was demonstrating a computerized tractor steering system used for planting crops.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Myre said of the conference, adding it would teach growers about the technology that’s available. “We have the tools to obtain precision when farming, when doing fertilization.”

Butte City, Calif., alfalfa and walnut grower Cameron Jantz, a beginning farmer, wanted to learn what tools are available to make the job easier.

“I’m actually here looking at precision irrigation stuff, like drip tape,” he said.

The conference and trade show come as a recent USDA study found that many growers aren’t using the precision technology with which their farm machinery is equipped.

Richter said he became interested in the subject two years ago at a conference in Oregon, but he said much of the emphasis then was on drones.

“Everyone is interested in the hardware but not what you can do with the pictures,” he said.

“For precision ag to work,” he said, “you’ve got to be able to take the information and turn it into action.”

Full article shared from Capital Press website.

Early Start for California Desert Vegetables

Volumes of red bell peppers expected to pick up as Thanksgiving nears California-Lettuce-Field

Author: Mike Hornick, The Packer

Green bean prices were high and U.S.-grown red bell peppers are scarce as the California winter desert vegetable deal gears up.


Those volumes could pick up as Thanksgiving nears, and grower-shippers in the state’s Coachella and Imperial valleys expect ample supplies generally on mixed vegetables and leafy greens.


Cauliflower markets may strengthen as growing conditions suggest the volatility of that crop over the past year could return.


Bushel and 1-1/9 bushel cartons of round green beans shipped for about $39 from Coachella, Calif., on Nov. 3, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year’s price was $25.


“The green beans market looks like it’s going to be active for a while,” said Richard Cowden, sales and marketing at Fresno, Calif.-based Baloian Farms. “Some of the growing districts in the east that were affected by Hurricane Matthew may have contributed to it.”


“We’re in the middle of green bean harvest, which we try to target for Thanksgiving,” Mike Aiton, director of marketing for Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International, said Nov. 2. “We will have good volume through the month of November.”


Green bell pepper production in the California desert was already well underway as November began, but red bells were just kicking off.


“Prices are really good on reds,” John Burton, general manager for sales and cooler at Peter Rabbit Farms, said Nov. 1. “Market demand exceeds supply. It’s just the opposite on greens.”


Red bells were not listed among shipping prices from U.S. regions reported Nov. 2 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But Mexico greenhouse product crossing at Texas shipped for just $7.95-8.95 in 11-pound cartons, sizes jumbo and extra large.


Coastline Family Farms expected to start mixed vegetables in Brawley, Calif., around Nov. 21 and head lettuce there about Dec. 5.


Coastline focuses on Imperial Valley for the winter but has some early overlap with Yuma, Ariz.


Pacific International Marketing plans to start conventional spinach about Nov. 18 in Brawley and El Centro, Calif., and organic lettuce and conventional broccoli close to Thanksgiving.


With fewer U.S. regions supplying vegetables in the fall and winter, buyers have fewer choices and a bigger freight bill than they might have before. Celery hearts that shipped for $13.45-15.56 out of Salinas on Aug. 3, were up to $18.45-20.45 on Nov. 3.


Ocean Mist Farms anticipates good volume for its desert artichoke deal that starts in late November and runs until about March 10.


The Castroville, Calif.-based shipper, which grows more than 30 vegetables in the region, has doubled its brussels sprouts acreage and will for the first time offer Coachella-grown head lettuce to supplement Yuma production, said Jeff Percy, vice president of production for the southern desert region.


Ocean Mist will start romaine hearts around Nov. 16 with other leafy greens plus broccoli to follow Nov. 20.


“The plants look good, but I predict cauliflower will be about a week late, probably Nov. 25,” Percy said.


“The desert is a bit of a challenge,” said Henry Dill, sales manager for Pacific International Marketing. “The front end of the desert is coming on a little sooner than originally anticipated. Usually when that happens, your yields aren’t quite as good because some of the plants have grown fast. Sometimes you have seeder problems. You run into yields on your first couple fields that may not be as good.”


“If that’s the case, sometimes just 15% or 20% less in the pipeline can change the market,” Dill said.

Full article shared from The Packer website.

Indio Store Hosting Open House

Customers invited to get a first look at newly combined RDO Water / RDO Equipment Co. store RDO-Agriculture

Author: RDO Water

RDO Water / RDO Equipment Co. in Indio is hosting an open house on Thursday, November 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Customers and individuals interested in learning more about complete agriculture equipment and irrigation solutions are encouraged to attend the event to meet the team, tour the store, and enjoy lunch.

A full-service John Deere agriculture dealer, RDO Equipment Co. offers both new and used equipment, vast parts inventories, and service departments with highly-trained, certified technicians in all stores.

Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water, says he’s eager to show both RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water customers the advantages of working with a single enterprise. “We’re poised to offer Indio growers solutions for their agriculture equipment and irrigation needs, as well as access to new opportunities” he said.

RDO Water’s full irrigation offerings include pipe and system rental, pipe and pump repair, system automation, consulting, design and installation services, and products including drip tape, sprinkler heads, and fertilizer.
Team members from RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water will be available to answer questions and talk with attendees about the products, services, and support offered.

“The RDO Equipment Co. team is really looking forward to the opportunity to meet RDO Water customers,” Joe Castillo, General Manager of RDO Equipment Co. in Indio said.

To learn more about the open house, contact your account manager, or stop by or call RDO Water in Indio.

Pistachio Growers Wrap Up Record Harvest

Minimal insect damage and “blanks” found in this year’s crop California-Pistachios

Author: Tim Hearden, Capital Press

Pistachio growers in the San Joaquin Valley are wrapping up their harvest of a bumper crop that’s set to easily surpass the record 555 million pounds produced in 2012.

Growers are taking heavy hauls while finding very little insect damage, said Richard Matoian, executive director of the Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers.

The group has estimated this crop will end up weighing in at between 650 million and 800 million pounds.

“As I’ve talked with growers, the harvest has gone really well across the board,” Matoian said. “There’s no trailer-busters or over-the-top huge crops, but every orchard seems to be running pretty heavy.”

Trees were loaded with nuts after achieving sufficient chill hours last winter for the first time in three years and after last winter’s rains improved drought conditions in many orchards.

The big crop is a contrast to last season, when the drought and a lack of winter chilling hours caused growers to encounter an inordinate amount of “blanks” — fully formed shells in which a nut never developed.

This year’s percentage of blanks was closer to normal, or about 10 percent of the crop, Matoian said. What growers are dealing with this season is closed shells, but they can open them up mechanically, he said.

“The other thing I’m hearing is that staining on the shells is low,” he said. Hulls that adhere to the pistachio shell can cause discoloration, which can affect quality, he said.

While walnut and almond growers in California are trying to rebound from a steep drop in prices, wholesale pistachio prices from last year to this year are only off about 15 percent, Matoian said.

Growers have initially been guaranteed between $1.70 and $1.80 per pound, but that will likely go up via a negotiated “marketing bonus” at the season’s end. Farms ended up receiving roughly $3.50 per pound for their 2014 crop.

Matoian expects the worldwide market to be “pretty much on par with last year,” when California’s light crop was offset by big crops in other parts of the world. This year, it’s California that has the big crop, he said.

“We’re going to be able to regain a lot of export-country share that we had lost in the last year,” Matoian said. “That’s my belief.”

Full article shared from Capital Press website.

Toro’s Inge Bisconer to Receive Award

Bisconer recognized for outstanding contributions to the irrigation industryThe-Toro-Company

Author: The Toro Company

The Toro Company is pleased to announce that Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro’s Micro-Irrigation Business, will receive the Irrigation Association’s Industry Achievement Award for 2016.

Established in 1966, the Irrigation Association Industry Achievement Award recognizes employees or retirees from the irrigation industry that have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the advancement of the industry and its products and programs.

In her 35 years in the industry, Bisconer has established herself as a leader in helping agricultural growers improve profitability and sustainability through improved water and resource use efficiency, in addition to serving as an advocate for more efficient irrigation at both the state and national level. Bisconer’s recent achievements include:

  • Created Toro’s education portfolio, including: the award-winning Toro Micro-Irrigation Owner’s Manual, which helps educate growers of row, field and permanent crops about the proper design, installation, operation and maintenance of drip irrigation systems and complements; Toro’s AquaFlow design software; Drip Irrigation Payback Wizard; and, Solutions Brochures.
  • Recorded the “Agriculture Industry Response to California’s Drought” presentation at the invitation of the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Division for their Water and Drought Seminar Series.
  • Served on the California Irrigation Institute (CII) board of directors since 2010, and as president in 2014.CII is California’s oldest independent forum on irrigation and water.
  • Participated in the Irrigation Association’s “DC Fly-in” and “Agriculture Irrigation Technology Day on Capitol Hill” in 2013 and 2015 to advocate on behalf of efficient agricultural irrigation.
  • Presented on “Optimizing Irrigation Uniformity and Water Use Efficiency” to the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, which represents 3,500 California landowners who farm 700,000 acres.
  • Co-host of monthly agriculture segments for The Water Zone, an award-winning radio show on KCAA 1050 AM that is sponsored by Toro. High profile guests from agriculture, industry, academia, government, water agencies and associations have helped move the California water discussion forward.
  • Presented numerous webinars on The Grange Network, including: Making Drip Pay, The Toro Micro-Irrigation Owner’s Manual, Designing for Uniformity with Toro’s AquaFlow Design Software, Drip Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance, Overcoming Drip Irrigation Uniformity Challenges using Aqua-Traxx® FC Flow Control Drip Tape, and California Irrigation Institute 2014 Conference Wrap-Up.
  • Led efforts for The Toro Company to be invited to participate in The White House Water Summit on March 22, 2016, highlighting Toro’s innovation and initiatives in water use efficiency for agriculture, golf and grounds, commercial and residential.
  • Represented the agricultural irrigation industry in July 2015 at the Efficient Agriculture Irrigation Stakeholder Meeting, hosted by California Governor Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown’s office and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) at the Capitol in Sacramento

“It is an honor to have my efforts recognized by such an important industry membership association like the Irrigation Association,” says Bisconer. “Toro’s steadfast support has enabled me to broaden education and outreach efforts, which will ultimately affect change toward improved water use efficiency in local and global agriculture.”

Bisconer is a prime example of Toro’s attitude and dedication to enrich the beauty, productivity and sustainability of the land. “Toro’s legacy of innovation is rooted in the passionate employees who dedicate their lives to supporting our communities and the environment,” says Phil Burkart, vice president for Toro’s Irrigation and Lighting Businesses. “We have always known what an important asset Inge and those like her are to the industry. We congratulate her on this achievement and are immensely proud to have her on our team.”

Bisconer will be formally presented with the Industry Achievement Award at the Irrigation Association Show and Conference that will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2016.

Full article shared from Toro Drip Tips website.