The Packer, a Lenexa, Kansas,-based publication that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, ran a story yesterday about an ongoing dispute over CDFA handling of avocado imports from Mexico. (The story is available on The Packer's Web site only with a subscription.)
In short, the article says Mexican avocado producers are suing CDFA for unreasonably blocking Mexican avocado shipments to California. Mexican avocados were allowed entry to the California market beginning Feb. 1, 2007. Later that month, the agriculture department rejected 11 truckloads of the fruit because of the presence of live scale insects. Reporter John Chadwell sought insight from UC Riverside entomologist Joe Morse. Morse is leading a team of UC entomologists who are inspecting boxes of avocados at the Mexican border.
“We’re looking at what the levels of armored scales are in a box and extrapolate it up, assuming the same numbers are in all the boxes,” Morse is quoted in the article. “That’s risky, but what else can you do, inspect the entire truck? I don’t think the shippers would allow that.”
He said if high levels of insects were to get into the state they could damage fruit trees and, in rare instances, some species could kill trees.
However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection service ruled scales do not pose a threat. In July, the CDFA issued a Pest Exclusion Advisory, ordering inspectors to stop rejecting commercial shipments even if the scales were present.
"That made no sense to me,” Morse said. “We’re quite concerned about the danger. I realize that APHIS has ruled that they don’t think it’s a danger, but my personal opinion is that’s ridiculous.”
Viticulture farm advisor Larry Bettiga of the Salinas County UC Cooperative Extension office wrote a column that ran in the "Business Monday" section of the Salinas Californian today. The article makes a strong case for local agricultural research.
Local research has been instrumental in helping the Monterey County wine grape industry achieve and maintain a reputation of being early adapters of new technologies, Bettiga asserted in the article.
He noted that, when phylloxera was found in the Salinas Valley in the early 1980s requiring the replanting of some vineyards to phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, UC researchers established a series of rootstock trials with cooperating vineyards at 10 sites under different soil and pest conditions.
Mildew is another area UC researchers have studied extensively. If not controlled annually, mildew can cause major losses in fruit yield and quality.
The article closes with a plug for "Diamonds and Denim," a Feb. 16 fundraiser hosted by Monterey County Vintners and Growers Foundation that will raise money for local viticultural research.
Our Master Gardeners make appearances in the media quite a bit. Usually, they pop up in my subscribed feeds for their numerous workshops, garden tours, advice columns, seminars and workshops, such as in this garden calendar from the Santa Cruz Sentinel. As a result, I don't always report on the Master Gardener stories that appear, so I missed an excellent piece in the San Jose Mercury News on Jan. 12.
Master Gardener Rebecca Jepson introduced a new monthly column in the paper, which has a weekday circulation of over a quarter million. Jepson promoted the Master Gardeners' demonstration gardens, their Web site, their telephone hotline and monthly events calendar. She also invited readers to submit their home gardening questions.
The story ended with an explanatory note stating that "The Santa Clara County Master Gardeners Program is a University of California Cooperative Extension volunteer organization dedicated to providing research-based gardening information to home gardeners."
Here's something on "future" ANR news . . . The media has been invited to join UC President Dynes on a tour this Friday. A 20-minute window has been set aside as a media availability.
Dynes will be visiting the Coachella Valley as part of his series of tours around the state of California. ANR's new vice president Dan Dooley will be traveling with him.
They will visit Hadley date farm and packing facility, a vegetable farm, the UC Riverside Coachella Valley Agricultural Research Station and the Kent SeaTech aquaculture facility. All are in the town of Thermal. ANR advisors and specialists will be along to explain how their programs are making contributions to the community.
Following the tour, I will post links in this blog to any news coverage.
Action News 6, which serves the Central Coast, ran a story this week on an ongoing effort by UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo County to teach children and caregivers how to adopt a healthy lifestyles.
"You can teach the children, but unless the parent is involved in these changes, it doesn't always happen," UCCE health education specialist Krista Mugford said in the TV story.
The six-week-long "Eat Smart, Play Hard" program includes lessons on proper nutrition, healthful recipes, and creative and fun activities to get participants moving.
Monica Dupaix participated with three of her five children. She said in the story she's surprised how much information her kids retained.
"We'll be eating cold cereal and they'll be comparing the sugar grams," she said.