Posts Tagged: Organic
The University of California system's first-ever institute for organic research and education will be established in the UC's Agriculture and Natural Resources division (UC ANR) with a $500,000 endowment gift from Clif Bar & Company and $500,000 in matching funds from UC President Janet Napolitano.
The California Organic Institute will accelerate the development and adoption of effective tools and practices for organic farmers and those transitioning to organic by building on the capabilities of UC ANR's Cooperative Extension and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Although organic is the fastest growing sector of the food economy, funding for research has lagged far behind support for conventional agriculture. Farmers interested in transitioning to organic or improving performance of their organic systems often lack the guidance they need to succeed.
“California's organic farmers already benefit from UC ANR's pest management, irrigation and crop production research, and this partnership with Clif Bar will give UC more capacity to focus on challenges specific to organic farming,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with farmers throughout the state so new organic farming techniques can be applied quickly.”
The California Organic Institute is Clif Bar's third organic research endowment and the first in its home state of California, where the company sources several key organic ingredients. Clif Bar is not alone in sourcing from the state, which has the most organic farms in the U.S.: California's nearly 3,000 certified organic farms grow crops on land that represents 21% of all U.S. certified organic land.
“The California Organic Institute will serve many of the organic producers we depend on for ingredients like almonds and figs, as well as farmers outside our supply chain,” said Lynn Ineson, vice president of Sustainable Sourcing for Clif Bar. “We recognize that the future of our food company depends on the ecological and economic success of organic and transitioning farmers.”
Recruitment for an institute director will begin in early 2020, with a search committee including industry representatives and partners. The director will work with a permanent advisory committee, Clif Bar, and UC ANR to launch the institute and recruit additional like-minded partners to support its long-term success.
Ultimately, with the support of UC ANR and a constellation of partners, the California Organic Institute will be in a strong position to increase the performance of organic farming for improved stewardship of natural resources, the economic well-being of rural communities, and greater stability for the next generation of California farmers.
About Clif Bar & Company
Clif Bar & Company is a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drinks, including CLIF® Bar energy bar, LUNA®, The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women®; and CLIF Kid®, Nourishing Kids in Motion®. Focused on sports nutrition and snacks for adventure, the family and employee-owned company is committed to sustaining its people, brands, business, community and planet. For more information on Clif Bar & Company, please visit www.clifbar.com, check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/clifbar and follow us on Twitter at: twitter.com/clifbar.
About UC ANR
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC research in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and youth development to local communities to improve the lives of all Californians. UC ANR is a statewide network of UC researchers and educators who create, develop and extend knowledge on agricultural and natural resource management, youth development, family and consumer sciences, community and economic development, STEM and more. UC ANR collaborates with private and public stakeholders in all 58 counties to advance the well-being of all Californians.Learn more at ucanr.edu.
For the first time, the University of California has hired a Cooperative Extension specialist dedicated to organic agriculture.
Joji Muramoto, a longtime research associate with the University of California Santa Cruz, will coordinate a statewide program focused on the organic production of strawberries and vegetables. His first day in the new position will be May 29.
Muramoto is highly regarded for the depth of his knowledge of soil science and for his pioneering contributions to the organic production of strawberries—a high-value crop that is notoriously vulnerable to pests and soil-borne disease. He will have a joint affiliation with UC's Cooperative Extension (CE) and the Environmental Studies Department and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UCSC.
CE specialists serve as liaisons between the university and the agricultural sector, building research programs that align with the needs of farmers and conducting collaborative on-farm studies that address problems growers are facing.
"I'm honored and humbled to have this position," said Muramoto, who plans to focus on soil fertility and the organic management of soil-borne diseases. In his position as assistant specialist, he looks forward to expanding his reach statewide and to coordinating short courses on organic pest management and organic soil fertility management.
CASFS Director Daniel Press said the establishment of an organic specialist is long overdue — and that Muramoto was an excellent choice.
"This is highly visible, public recognition of the significance of agroecology and organic agriculture," said Press. "It signals to the community of organic growers that we are a partner with them. They know this is for them, and they really love it."
UC Santa Cruz has played a vital role in the flourishing of organic farming on the Central Coast and beyond, through undergraduate education, training provided by the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, CASFS, and faculty research projects, many of which Muramoto supported in his capacity as a research associate. Thirty percent of agriculture in Santa Cruz County is certified organic, said Press, who called the figure "astonishing."
"Joji is an exceptionally accomplished, skilled, talented, and respected scientist," said Press. "His list of publications is as long as many of my colleagues.' Now it's his show. He's the organic production specialist in the state."
It is also a sign of the times that UC Santa Cruz was selected to partner with UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) to create this CE position, said Press. Despite its strength in agroecology, Santa Cruz is not one of UC's traditional "ag schools." But times are changing, and the Berkeley, Davis, and Riverside campuses are no longer the only hosts of these valued positions.
"We have a long record of important ag research coming out of UC Santa Cruz, but it hasn't been part of a permanent program or a formal network," said Press, citing pathbreaking work by his colleagues in Environmental Studies, including Professor Emeritus Steve Gliessman, Professor Carol Shennan, former CASFS Director Patricia Allen, and former CASFS Associate Director Sean Swezey, all of whom Muramoto collaborated with. Most recently, in collaboration with Shennan, he helped pioneer the development of anaerobic soil disinfestation, a biological alternative to fumigants that has become a key strategy in conventional and organic strawberry production in coastal California.
"I can't overstate the different ways Joji has been engaged with campus research and undergraduate and graduate students," said Press. "He has played a key role in CASFS research for more than 20 years."
Tragedy inspires a commitment to organic agriculture
Muramoto's commitment to organic agriculture is almost as old as he is. When he was a boy growing up in Tokyo, Muramoto lost his 6-year-old sister to leukemia. His parents were shocked and devastated. Their loss took place when many people in Japan were concerned about pesticide residues in produce, spurred in part by Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring and the emergence of the organic movement in Japan.
"My mother wanted to do something," recalled Muramoto. "There was no direct evidence between pesticide residue and cancer, but she didn't want her daughter's death to have been in vain, so she joined the early organic movement. She started buying organic produce via the 'Teikei' system, which is similar to Community Supported Agriculture."
During middle school, Muramoto spent school breaks on organic farms in suburban Tokyo. "Organic farmers there told me repeatedly, 'Soil is the foundation of farming,'" he said. "That's when I got interested in soil science."
Today there is much more evidence showing an association between pesticide use and cancer, and Muramoto said, "It is important to increase our efforts to develop agroecological practices to manage pests without using pesticides."
Uphill battle to study organic processes
As a young assistant professor studying soil science at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, a private ag school, Muramoto found it difficult to get support for the work he wanted to do on organic production—while others in his department were well-supported for their work on conventional farming practices, including studies on chemical pesticides. The stress took a toll on Muramoto's health, and he left the university.
He reached out to Steve Gliessman after reading an academic article about Gliessman's early work on organic strawberries. Muramoto visited Gliessman in 1995 and joined Gliessman's agroeology lab at UCSC as a visiting scholar the following year. "I am so thankful, because he gave me the second chance I needed," said Muramoto. "I ended up working on organic strawberries ever since."
The Central Coast is well known around the world for the high concentration of organic production, and UC Santa Cruz is internationally recognized as a hub of organic activity and expertise.
Muramoto looks forward to building his research program; he hopes to develop ways to measure indicators of soil health, including levels of readily decomposable organic carbon and nitrogen. "Soil health has become a mainstream research topic among soil scientists worldwide, but there's no regional data for the Central Coast," he said.
Intuition + scientific expertise = a winning formula
Jim Cochran, founder of Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, met Muramoto shortly after he arrived in Santa Cruz. Cochran was the first farmer who managed to grow organic strawberries commercially, a success he credits to his collaboration with CASFS researchers, including Gliessman, Swezey, and Muramoto.
"I'm more of an intuitive farmer, but intuition isn't everything," said Cochran, who values the curiosity and scientific discipline Muramoto brought to their collaboration. "Science is super important. You don't want to live by one or the other."
Soil biology encompasses physics, chemistry, geology, and biology, making it extraordinarily complex, said Cochran. "There's no magic bullet, but Joji was ready to put a close scientific eye on the complexity of it," he said. "Joji embraced that complexity. Chemical farming was reductionist."
Unlike other academics who specialize in a particular segment of a complex problem, Muramoto takes a "holistic approach" to soil science and has kept his eyes on the larger picture, said Cochran. "He's been able to make some serious progress understanding soil biology, but there's a long way to go—which is good news for graduate students," he said. "It's wonderful to be able to call Joji and ask him what he thinks."
Benefits for conventional growers, too
Rod Koda of Shinta Kawahara Family Farms has grown strawberries in Watsonville since 1984. He has worked with Muramoto for nearly a decade and attended the "candidate talks" by the three finalists vying for the new organic specialist position. Still, he was "blown away" to learn how long Muramoto has been active in organic research, and the number of researchers across the country with whom he collaborates.
"For me, that was the game changer," said Koda. "Joji is this quiet, humble guy, but he's been working all over the place with so many people."
Koda farms 10 acres conventionally and seven acres organically, and he said "it's time" for organic to get the support it deserves. But all growers can benefit from paying close attention to soil health, he said.
"Conventional growers, we don't have fumigants like methyl bromide anymore, so we've got to get smarter about how we farm," said Koda. "Joji is going to be a part of that."
Koda first started growing berries organically in 2006, steadily adding acreage over the years. "I eased into it, drawn by the sustainability of organic," he said, adding that organic alternatives to managing pests and controlling soil-borne disease were key to his willingness to make the leap. Muramoto and his colleagues' focus on maximizing soil health and using the functions of soil bacteria and organisms to suppress soil fungal diseases was eye-opening.
"I've learned a lot from Joji over the years," said Koda. "He's going to be the conduit that's going to bring that knowledge to other people—not just strawberry growers, and not just organic growers. Anyone who pays attention will glean some information from his work and his collaborations with other researchers."
Use of ProgGibb LV Plus® Plant Growth Regulator Increases Total Yield/ Fruit Size of Hass Avocados
As of March 27, 2018, foliar application of GA3 (ProGibb LV Plus®, Valent BioSciences, Corp.) to ‘Hass' avocado trees in commercial orchards has been approved. Dr. Carol J. Lovatt, emerita professor of plant physiology at the University of California – Riverside, recently completed research concerning the effectiveness of ProGibb LV Plus® on avocado fruit size and yield. A summary of her research — including best practices — follows.
Application Best Practices
ProGibb LV Plus® should be applied as a foliar spray when 50 percent of the trees in a block are at the cauliflower stage of inflorescence. If a grower cannot make an application at this time, it is best to apply the spray later, rather than earlier in order to ensure effectiveness.
The spray should be applied like a pesticide spray — full canopy coverage with a focus on the inflorescences. Those applying the spray should avoid spraying to run-off.
The ideal dilution for ground application is 12.5 fluid ounces of ProGibb LV Plus® (25 grams active ingredient [gai]) per 100 gallons of water/acre. For aerial application, use 12.5 fluid ounces (25 gai) in 75 gallons of water/acre. According to the research, the ideal application rate is 25g GA3 per acre; higher and lower doses were less effective. The pH of the water used should be adjusted such that the final pH of the spray solution is between pH 5.5 – 6.0.
Dr. Lovatt utilized organosilicone surfactant Silwett L-77® or Widespread Max® at a concentration of 0.05 percent as a wetting agent. Similar pure organosilicone type surfactants would be acceptable as wetting agents. It is important to note that until additional research can be conducted, other materials should not be included in the ProGibb LV Plus® spray solution.
Effect of ProGibb LV Plus® (GA3)
Dr. Lovatt's research team tested the effect of ProGibb LV Plus® on fruit size and yield for both ground and aerial applications. Overall, the research team noted that GA3 had no negative effects on ‘Hass' avocado fruit quality.
Ground applications were tested in March at groves located in Corona, Irvine and Somis, California. The tests were run on Duke 7 clonal rootstock trees at the cauliflower stage of inflorescence development. Each of the groves reported net increases in total yield and large/commercially valuable size fruit. The results were as follows:
Table 1. Effect of GA3 (25 g ai/acre) applied at the cauliflower stage of inflorescence development on yield and fruit size (pounds/tree) of ‘Hass' avocado trees in Corona, CA.
|Treatment||Total Fruit||Net Increase (%)||Large fruit (213-354 g/fruit)||Net increase (%)|
|GA3||74.7 az||84||34.3 a||128|
|Control||40.6 b||15.0 b|
z Values in a vertical column followed by different letters are significantly different at specified P-values by Duncan's Multiple Range Test at the P-values indicated. (From the work of Salazar-García and Lovatt, 2000).
Table 2. Effect of GA3 (25 g ai/acre) applied at the cauliflower stage of inflorescence development on yield and fruit size as pounds and number of fruit per tree in an alternate bearing ‘Hass' avocado orchard in Irvine, CA.
|Year 1 Yield|
|Treatment||Total Fruit||Net Increase (%)||Valuable Size Fruit (178-325 g/fruit)||Net increase (%)|
|GA3||92.2 az||70||67.9 a||65|
|Control||54.2 b||41.2 b|
|GA3||215 a||76||141 a||70|
|Control||122 b||83 b|
z Values in a vertical column followed by different letters are significantly different at specified P-values by Duncan's Multiple Range Test at the P-values indicated. (From the work of Lovatt and Salazar-García, 2007; Zheng et al., 2011)
Table 3. Effect of GA3 (25 g ai/acre) applied at the cauliflower stage of inflorescence development at on yield and fruit size of ‘Hass' avocado trees in Somis, CA. Percent net increase reflects the benefit of GA3 at 25 g ai/acre relative to the untreated control trees.
|Treatment||Total Fruit||Net Increase (%)||Valuable size fruit (178-325 g/fruit)||Net increase (%)||Large fruit (213-354 g/fruit)||Net increase (%)|
|GA3||408.1 az||10||379.4 a||13||294.1 a||16|
|Control||372.6 b||335.3 b||253.3 b|
z Values in a vertical column followed by different letters are significantly different by Fisher's Protected LSD test at the P-values indicated.
Overall, ground application of GA3 resulted in a net increase of 3,905 lb/acre, with a net increase of 4,851 lb/acre of commercially valuable size fruit (packing carton sizes 60+48+40; 178-325 g/fruit) and a net increase in large fruit (packing carton sizes 48+40+36; 213-354 g/fruit) of 4,488 lb/acre.
Aerial applications were tested on groves located in Pauma Valley and Carpinteria, California. Together, the aerial applications demonstrated that GA3 increased fruit set (fruit retention) by 55 percent into the last week of August and fruit size by 6 percent through mid-August.
Ultimately, Dr. Lovatt's research indicates that use of GA3 could result in substantial increases in net dollar return per acre to the grower due to increase in yield and commercially valuable size fruit. In addition, growers whose avocado groves are not suited to ground applications (groves located on slopes or in high-density formations) can benefit from the efficacy of utilizing aerial applications. In summary, ProGibb LV Plus® is “vital to the California avocado industry to increase grower income per acre to help sustain the California avocado industry.”
N.B. Remember, only well managed trees are going to respond. This will not turn around a poor producing orchard. only potentially increase production on an already good producing orchard. Ben
Just catching up on my reading, and ran across this little number concerning the production of seed propagated strawberries. To some extent, this is to provide an "environmentally friendly alternative to the vegetatively propagated varieties currently relied upon by the strawberry industry". One, seed propagation would mean less dictation of planting date by nursery harvest schedules and purchaser climatic region and two be able to eliminate the chemical inputs necessary in bare root production systems and avoid transmission of diseases by living plants.
I need some time to get my head around this.
Nice job btw by writer Lori Wright.
Synopsis of: “The Organic Premium for California Blueberries” by Hoy Carmen, professor emeritus in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Dept., UC Davis
Commercial-scale production of blueberries in California is a relatively recent development. California first reported blueberry statistics in 2005 when there were 1,800 acres of blueberries harvested and production of 9.1 million pounds with a total value of $40.58 million. Harvested acres increased to 3,900 acres in 2010 with production of 28 million pounds and a total value of $75.98 million. Growth continued through 2015 with California Agricultural Statistics Survey (CASS) reporting 5,700 acres of blueberries harvested, production of 62.4 million pounds, and total value of $116.98 million.
California blueberries are shipped throughout the U.S. and to a number of export destinations. During the 2016 harvest, California's largest U.S. market was California, which accounted for 34.75% of California's total fresh blueberry shipments of 46,493,407 pounds.
The largest out-of-state domestic shipments were to Texas, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New York, Minnesota, Utah, and Pennsylvania. These states collectively accounted for 36.54% of California shipments. Canadian shipments of 5.54 million pounds accounted for 11.9% of California's volume and made up 67.1% of exports.
Typically, the price per pound of organically grown blueberries is higher than for conventional production. Prices also vary by package size, with smaller package sizes usually selling for more per pound than larger packages. There is usually a premium for the first portion of the crop-marketing year, and the overall level of prices will vary by year. Prices can also be expected to vary by geographic location. California organic blueberries are among the first domestic fruit on the market when prices tend to be seasonally high.
Growth in California organic blueberry production has outpaced conventional production for several years, and California accounted for about half of the U.S. supply of organic blueberries in 2014. The organic share of California blueberry shipments in 2016 was 23.1% in terms of volume and 34.8% in terms of value. The larger share of value is due to the premium price for organic blueberries.
The organic premium, which averaged $2.28 per pound in both 2015 and 2016 (78–79% of the conventional fresh blueberry price), varies by package and over time. California has some of the earliest domestic blueberry production, with relatively high prices for both conventional and organic blueberries at the beginning of the season. The proportion of shipments that are organic decreases as the season progresses and the organic premium tends to be highest after the first one-third of the season. The growth of organic blueberry production in California, relative to overall California production as well as U.S. organic blueberry production, seems to indicate a comparative advantage for organic blueberries in California. Further growth of organic as well as total blueberry production in California is expected.
For the full article see:
Organic production costs, South Coast
Conventional costs, South Coast
Conventional, San Joaquin Valley
Report on US Organic Sales, 2016