Reporters sought UC Cooperative Extension expertise for recent articles about unusual farming efforts in two parts of California.
Fresno Bee reporter Robert Rodriguez covered the story of sisters in their early 20s who have settled on their dad's Laton alfalfa farm after he suffered complications from a black widow bite. The young women purchased chickens on a whim and began producing specialty eggs under the brand name "Just Got Laid."
Rodriguez spoke to Shermain Hardesty, UCCE specialist in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis, about trends in cottage farming.
"The timing is right for operators who can make a connection with consumers," Hardesty said. "People will support that."
Sacramento Bee reporter Edward Ortiz wrote about a return to dry-land farming in the Central Valley, with examples of farmers opting out of irrigation in producing particularly tasty apricots, wine grapes and tomatoes.
UC experts, however, commented on the difficulties associated with dry-land production in the valley.
"Dry farming would be a hard life because you're at the whim of the rains," said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. "It would have to be a fairly small-scale farm, and in some cases, it would be a good road to poverty."
Duncan said wine grape growers might withhold irrigation early in the growing season to control leaf growth and improve fruit quality, but water is still needed later on. He noted that the valley in the 19th century was widely planted with wheat that relied on rainfall. The boom ended when irrigation allowed diverse fruits, vegetables and other crops to be grown.
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The Magic Kingdom on SoilWeb (http://ucanr.edu/soilweb).
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A Sudden Oak Death "Blitz" planned for Sonoma County June 15-16 will prepare local residents to spot infected plants, collect samples from their neighborhoods and submit them for laboratory testing, reported the Kenwood Press.
Trees susceptible to sudden oak death include California bay laurel, tan oak, live oak, black oak, canyon live oak and shreve oak. After the laboratory analysis is complete, Garbeletto will schedule a return visit to discuss the findings of the survey and provide guidelines for action.
"If the disease front is 100 yards away, then one needs to decide whether some of his oaks should be protected," Garbeletto said. "For oaks up to 30 inches in diameter, removal of small and medium size laurels for a 10-yard radius around the oak trunk plus the application of AgriFos on the bark each year or every other year will protect the oak."
The information collected by the citizen scientists will also be added to Garbelotto's OakMapper website, a portal where SOD appearance in California is monitored.
An image from the Oak Mapper website (oakmapper.org) where citizen-submitted scientific data is collected.