The San Diego Union-Tribune ran a story Dec. 9 about the concerns of avocado and citrus farmers in the southernmost county about their dwindling water allocations. The story says Southern California is grappling with one of the worst water shortages in decades, and no one faces a more uncertain future than the region's estimated 3,500 to 4,000 farmers. According to the article, most of the farmers will have to reduce their water usage by 30 percent come January.
For comment, reporter Alex Roth went to UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Gary Bender.
“I think we're going to have some people go belly-up,” Bender is quoted. Particularly in avocado farming, “the profit margin is very, very, very thin."
The KGO TV newscast in San Francisco ran a story yesterday about a virus that seems to be causing vineyard decline in syrah vines. The reporter spoke to Rhonda Smith, the UCCE viticulture farm advisor in Sonoma County. She said the problem isn't as serious in Sonoma County as it is in France because there are only about 1,800 acres of syrah being grown in the county, about 10 percent of the state's total.
According to the story posted on the TV station's Web site, Smith said she's advising the syrah vineyard owners to uproot their vines and replant.
"We're taking it on a case-by-case basis" she is quoted as saying.
The story also appears on Earthtimes.org, which quotes Smith from a story it said appeared on San Francisco radio station KCBS.
The (Arroyo Grande) Times-Press-Recorder ran a story today about "a splendid crop of new gardening books for Central Coast gardeners," including one produced by UC Cooperative Extension. Reporter Joan Bolton noted that there are scores of gardening books published every year, though few target California gardeners.
"But we lucked out this year, with inspired writing, great photographs, and tips and techniques that specifically apply to our mild, coastal climate. Any local gardener would be happy to unwrap at least one of the following books on Christmas morning," she wrote in her article.
On her list is Growing Your Own Deciduous Fruit and Nut Trees, by farm advisors Chuck A. Ingels and Maxwell V. Norton and Master Gardener academic coordinator Pam Geisel.
"If you grow — or have ever even considered growing — deciduous fruit trees, this is the go-to book," Bolton raves.
The book has step-by-step photos and illustrations of selecting, maintaining, pruning and harvesting backyard fruit and nut trees.
"There are also excellent photos of specific maladies, such as phosphorous deficiency in pear leaves and potassium deficiency in prune leaves, as well as close-ups of pests and beneficial insects," the article says.
Bloomberg.com ran a story this week on a problem the devaluing dollar poses for African cotton farmers.
According to to the article, cotton prices have risen, but the dollar's slide against CFA francs (the euro-pegged local currency of 14 western and central African countries) has offset the increase.
For the story, reporters Kim-Mai Cutler and Rose Skelton spoke to Dan Sumner, the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. He said a shift in the exchange rate can eliminate a month's food for the poorest families.
Fifty dollars can be "enough to feed a child for a year," Sumner is quoted. "It's enough to pay the school fees for three to four children."
Farmer Paul Bentencourt noted that the predicted rain will help, but, along with the others, heard dire predictions about how dry his farm could be come summer.
Westlands spokeswoman Sarah Woolf explained a federal court ruling calling for closer monitoring of delta smelt and effects on the fish from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The ruling is expected to reduce irrigation allocations to farmers in Westlands, but the article said the "worst-case scenario," in which farmers receive just 10 percent of their allocations, is unlikely.
According to the article, Woolf predicted allocations in the 35 percent range.
Reporter Pollock mentioned in his story that Sanden discussed water quality and more efficient irrigation practices at the meeting, however the substance of his talk was not published.
The story did quote farmer Bentancourt: "We rely on UC research and its technical assistance. The idea is to get more crop per drop of water."