Horse Owners Urged to Check West Nile Virus Vaccine Status

As the weather warms up and mosquitoes become more prevalent, California horse owners are advised to consult their veterinarian to ensure their horse’s vaccination status is current for maximum protection against West Nile Virus.

Even though the disease peaked in California a number of years ago, it remains a risk. In 2017 it was confirmed in 21 California horses, eight of which died or were euthanized. According to California’s West Nile Virus website there were 553 human cases of the disease in the state last year.

“Outbreaks of West Nile Virus are still a risk for horses,” said California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones. “Horse owners should contact their veterinarians as soon as possible to make sure their animals’ vaccination status is current. Vaccination will provide optimal protection against the disease.”

Signs of West Nile Virus include stumbling, staggering, wobbling, weakness, muscle twitching and inability to stand. Horses contract the disease from carrier mosquitoes and are not contagious to other horses or people.

The best way to minimize the threat of West Nile Virus is to control mosquito populations and prevent exposure to them:
• Reduce or eliminate sources of stagnant or standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including old tires, buckets, wading pools and other containers.
• Stall horses during peak mosquito periods (i.e., dawn and dusk);
• Use equine-approved mosquito repellants and/or protective horse gear such as fly sheets, masks, and leg wraps;
• Place fans inside barns and stalls to maintain air movement, as mosquitoes cannot fly well in wind.

CDFA is working with the California Department of Public Health to detect and respond to the disease in California. Horses provide an additional sentinel for West Nile Virus detection. For more information click here.


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Applications being accepted for 2018 Leopold Conservation Award

Know of a Golden State landowner who’s a conservation leader in your community? Or, maybe you’re that leader! Nominate a friend, colleague, or yourself for the 2018 California Leopold Conservation Award.

Over 50 percent of all land in California is privately owned, and how people manage this land has a dramatic effect on our environment – helping to combat climate change, boost clean air and water, and protect wildlife.

Dedicated to the spirit of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Award celebrates the extraordinary efforts of California farmers and ranchers to protect and restore the natural resources they preside over, and aims to inspire other would-be conservationists by promoting a better understanding among the public about the Nominations must be postmarked by July 13, 2018.

The award recipient receives an Aldo Leopold crystal and $10,000. Learn more.

The award is co-sponsored by Sustainable Conservation, Sand County Foundation, and the California Farm Bureau Federation.


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A Vineyard Fight Nearly Won – from Wines & Vines

Vineyard View: Success against Pierce’s disease show the value of funding research

Pierce’s disease research developments include disease-resistant winegrape clones that are promising but have yet to become commercially available.

By Cliff Ohmart

San Rafael, Calif.—In 1999, vine deaths in large portions of vineyard acreage in Temecula made it clear to the California wine industry and state, local and federal agencies that the glassy-winged sharpshooter’s (GWSS) vectoring of Pierce’s Disease (PD) put the entire state grape crop at risk.

The next year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture established the Pierce’s Disease Control Program (PDCP) to work with the grape industry, the US Department of Agriculture, County Agricultural Commissioners, the University of California and other state and local agencies on this serious problem.

Due to the limited knowledge of PD and GWSS, the early emphasis was on funding research to develop new and better ways to manage the PD/GWSS issue. Recognizing the need and value of addressing this problem, and with the federal and state governments spending millions of dollars to control the spread of GWSS, the California winegrape industry chose to shoulder its share of the financial costs.

In 2001, an annual, value-based assessment on wine grapes was established, primarily to fund PD/GWSS research. To date the assessment has generated more than $55 million.

PD/GWSS research successes cover a considerable range, starting with traditional management approaches such as containing the spread of GWSS, introducing and augmenting biological control agents for GWSS, and developing PD-resistant red and white grape clones.

New approaches included inoculating vines with a benign strain of Xylella fastidiosa (Xf; the pathogen causing PD) to prevent the colonization of the naturally occurring virulent Xf strain; using a mixture of bacteriophages that kill Xf, and applying a chemical called diffusible signal factor to vines to prevent Xf from moving and spreading. (The results from every PD/GWSS assessment-funded research project from the research symposium proceedings are posted at

A very important milestone in PD/GWSS research was the University of California, Davis (UCD) Foundation Plant Services’ 2017 pre-release of five winegrape clones highly resistant to PD to participating nurseries. Wine has been made from each one and subjected to detailed tasting. They were developed by Dr. Andy Walker of UCD’s Department of Viticulture and Enology using conventional breeding practices.

New genomic techniques enabled Walker to identify PD-resistant genetic markers within months of seed germination so that new backcrosses could be made quickly. This resulted in a significant shortening of the standard breeding timeframe to develop PD-resistant vines that then could produce fruit to make wine for tasting trials. The clones are not yet available to growers while intellectual-property aspects of the new clones are addressed.

Assessment-funded research has produced several novel approaches to managing PD/GWSS. The University of Florida’s Dr. Don Hopkins identified a benign strain of Xf that, when present in a grapevine before colonization by the natural virulent strain, prevents the development of PD if the vine subsequently becomes infected by the virulent strain. Dr. Hopkins is working with a private company to develop this practice commercially.

More recent research by Cal-Berkeley’s Dr. Steve Lindow has identified a diffusible signal factor (DSF) that is produced by Xf during the later stages of vine colonization. When Xf first enters the vine, it moves around through the plant’s xylem system. When populations build up, the concentration of DSF also builds up, signaling the bacterium to stop moving and instead form clumps. Lindow has observed that high concentrations of DSF causes abnormal behavior of Xf and reduces its virulence in the vine. He is working on a way to get DSF into vines that might be adapted to commercial vineyard management. One idea would be to spray it on the vine in a formulation that would result in the DSF being absorbed and preventing the development of PD if the vine becomes infected with Xf.

Another significant development occurred in 2009 when the legislation for the PD/GWSS assessment was expanded to include research and outreach on other important pests and diseases of wine grapes. To date research has been funded on the European Grapevine Moth, red blotch virus, leafroll viruses, fanleaf virus, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and the Vine Mealybug. One early success from this research is the development of a PCR assay for all variants of grapevine leafroll-associated virus-3 that soon will be available for virus screening of planting stock.

While the PD/GWSS Board and assessment have led to important research, the PDCP also has generated its share of successes in PD/GWSS containment and management. When the PD/GWSS problem’s magnitude was realized in 1999, the potential for rapid spread of GWSS throughout California was huge, due to the large host range of GWSS and the concentration of production facilities in the infested areas of southern California that ship nursery stock throughout the state. While assessment funds were not used for containment efforts, some very key research was funded to develop procedures for these nurseries that reduced the cost of containment and to work on pesticide-resistance strategies used in the containment program.

Since the start of the PDCP, more than 2.56 million GWSS biological control agents have been released in agricultural, riparian and urban environments in California. In 2016, three species of egg parasites of GWSS were reared at the CDFA Arvin Biological Control Facility in Kern County and, when released, the three species collectively parasitized approximately 65 percent of GWSS eggs sampled in Fresno, Kern, Tulare, and Ventura counties.

One final, less obvious success attributable to the PDCP is the development of a network of industry groups, government agencies, university researchers and Cooperative Extension agents that can react quickly and effectively to address emerging pest problems. The eradication of EGVM in the North Coast of California, achieved in 2012, is an outstanding example.

In conclusion, I feel the grower-supported PD/GWSS research program demonstrates that great advances can be made in viticulture when significant money is made available for basic and applied research in a consistent way. It attracts the best minds to address a problem and provides sufficient financial resources to perform the research in a timely manner to solve serious problems facing the winegrape industry.

Cliff Ohmart, Ph.D., was a senior scientist for SureHarvest for eight years and author of View from the Vineyard: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Wine Grape Growing. Previously he served as research/IPM director at the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. He has been writing about sustainable winegrowing issues for Wines & Vines since 1998.

See the complete article on Wines & Vines here.

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Eat your (frozen) vegetables – they’re good for you. From The Business Journals

By Anne Stych

If you think frozen vegetables are only good as a makeshift ice pack, think again.

Putting those peas and carrots in your stomach instead of on your swollen knee will give you a nutritional boost almost equal to eating fresh veggies, research finds.

Although 85 percent of people say they know they should eat more vegetables, only one in 10 adults actually meet federal fruit and vegetable intake guidelines, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But new frozen vegetable varieties are making it easier and more fun to up your veggie intake.

Cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes has been the darling of low-carb dieters for years, and a riced version of the vegetable is available in the frozen food section, right next to Green Giant’s veggie tots, made with broccoli, not potatoes.

In January, Green Giant introduced frozen spiral veggie noodles, a pasta alternative made from zucchini, carrots, butternut squash, and beets, which have just 15 to 50 calories per serving.

Millennials are increasingly purchasing frozen foods, and fruits and vegetables experienced the most growth in the space in 2017 at 4 percent, and growth in the frozen food sector “is accelerating as consumers begin to see freezing as a way to preserve food with fewer negatives,” according to a report from RBC Capital Markets.

Frozen foods, which have a longer shelf life than fresh, help cut back on waste, a potential savings of $1,500 a year, per NPR.

study at the University of California – Davis tested eight fresh fruits and vegetables for flavor and nutrient content after flash-freezing half and storing the other half according to industry standards. The researchers found that good frozen produce is about equal with fresh produce.


Link to article

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Virulent Newcastle Disease update, with video PSAs

CDFA and the USDA are continuing their joint project to eradicate a recent outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease (VND) in Southern California. Detections have occurred at a small number of properties in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

The project includes extensive outreach to bird owners and feed stores with tips on signs of the disease.

Please remember that there is no cure for VND. It is important that all commercial and non-commercial poultry owners maintain effective barriers to protect against the risk of the disease. Biosecurity tips for backyard and non-commercial poultry owners can be found here. For commercial poultry owners, biosecurity tips can be found here.

Two video public service announcements have been produced to share information about the disease, in English and Spanish.

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Strip leaves from citrus to reduce risk of spread of huanglongbing – from the Riverside Press Enterprise

By David Downey

Southern Californians are being urged this summer to help fight a disease that threatens to wipe out the state’s iconic citrus by sharing fruit with friends, family and coworkers only after thoroughly washing it and removing the leaves.

Agricultural officials also ask those who live within a citrus greening disease quarantine zone in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino counties not to take fruit outside those areas.

The warning from the state Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program comes as the summer travel season heats up and the number of fruit trees infected with Huanglongbing — or citrus greening disease — multiplies across Southern California.

So far, the disease has afflicted residential neighborhoods only and three counties: Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside.

But, as of June 2, the total number of diseased trees statewide had reached 602, up from 370 at the end of last year and 23 at the end of 2016, said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a UC Riverside extension entomologist who conducts research in the Central Valley.

Grafton-Cardwell said it is a matter of time before the disease reaches commercial groves.

“It could be as soon as this year,” she said. “We don’t really know how devastating it is going to be, but it is going to be bad because we don’t have a cure for the disease.”

What’s driving the call to take precautions is recent devastation in Florida, which saw its citrus production plummet.

At stake is a $3.2 billion California industry that supports 22,000 jobs, the citrus program says.

The fear of widespread disaster is so great that officials recently covered Riverside’s parent navel orange tree and UC Riverside researchers conducted a study to better understand how the disease attacks fruit-bearing trees.

Citrus greening disease is spread by a tiny bug, the aphid-like Asian citrus psyllid. Infected trees have mottled leaves, and produce deformed fruit that fail to ripen and stay green. And the fruit, though not harmful to people, isn’t fit for eating, officials said.

“It tastes bitter, like medicine,” said Ken Pellman, spokesman for the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner.

As for the psyllid, it is tiny, Orange County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Croy said.

“They are about the size of an uncooked grain of rice,” Croy said. “Most people looking at the plant, because of their size, would never see them.”

Ruben Arroyo, Riverside County’s agricultural commissioner, said the bug “hitchhikes on the leaves” of citrus trees.

“They actually prefer the new leaf growth,” Croy said. “That is their favorite.”

That’s why officials want people to remove leaves and stems before moving oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and tangerines.

Pellman said the state’s first infected tree was discovered in 2012 in the front yard of a Hacienda Heights home. Then all was quiet until 2015, when the disease began to show up elsewhere, he said.

It since has spread to San Gabriel, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Whittier, Cerritos and other cities, he said.

To the south, Orange County has recorded more than 330 tree infections — the most of any county, Croy said. Afflicted trees are in Anaheim, Garden Grove, Westminster, La Habra and Yorba Linda.

Arroyo said three infected trees were discovered in a Riverside neighborhood,not far from 15,800 acres of groves that annually produce $200 million worth of fruit.

Quarantine zones totaling 729 square miles have been drawn in wide circlesaround each of those areas.

While the campaign’s primary focus is the industry, officials want to protect people’s gardens, too. More than half of Southern California homes have citrus trees.

“We love our citrus,” Croy said. “And it tears me apart when we have to take out someone’s citrus tree from their yard.”


What to watch for: The Asian citrus psyllid is one-eighth of an inch long and feeds at a 45-degree angle, making it appear thorn-like on leaves and stems. Symptoms of citrus greening disease include blotchy, yellow leaves; deformed fruit that doesn’t ripen; and excessive fruit drop.

What to do if you spot the pest or disease: Call the free California Department of Food and Agriculture Pest Hotline, 800-491-1899.

How to prevent disease spread: Share citrus fruit with friends and family only after thoroughly washing the fruit and removing the leaves.

Link to article

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Applications now being accepted for Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA)

The Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) is California’s highest environmental honor. The award honors individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy. Applications for the 2018 awards are being accepted through Tuesday, July 31, 2018.


GEELA recipients will be chosen from five categories and one subcategory:

  • Climate Change
  • Automobile Dealer Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Promotion
  • Ecosystem and Land Use Stewardship
  • Environmental Education
  • Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities
  • Waste Reduction

Who May Apply/Eligibility

The awards will be presented for voluntary achievements culminated in 2017. Competition is open to all California residents, businesses, nonprofit organizations, professional and trade associations, communities, state and local government entities, tribes, and federal agencies operating in California. Projects are deemed ineligible if they are the result of mitigation, litigation, or required by legislation. Those who applied previously are welcome to apply again.

Award Selection

The annual Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California State Transportation Agency, the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, the California Government Operations Agency, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the California Health and Human Services Agency.


For any questions regarding the application process, please contact us at

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Recycled wastewater now flowing to Central Valley farms – from Water Deeply

Map of the project.

By Matt Weiser

Wastewater recycling doesn’t have to be a fancy affair. Sometimes it can be as simple as building a pipeline.

That is more or less the full description of the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Project. Only a year after starting construction, at a cost of around $90 million, the project is already delivering recycled urban wastewater to farms and wildlife refuges in California’s San Joaquin Valley, providing a reliable new water supply to a drought-plagued region.

“Everything seems to be working great,” said Anthea Hansen, general manager of Del Puerto Water District, the farm irrigation agency that receives most of the recycled water. “We knew the benefits would be incredible, and we’re seeing it already.”

The project, which began delivering water in December, provides farmers in Hansen’s district with about 10,000 acre-feet of water. That’s roughly a 25 percent increase over what they were allocated this year by the federal Central Valley Project (CVP).

And since the source is a steady stream of urban wastewater, it’s an irrigation supply that won’t change much from year to year. In comparison, allocations of federal CVP water, managed by the U.S.Bureau of Reclamation, vary enormously depending on drought conditions, environmental issues and other factors.

Because it’s not subject to pumping restrictions or measurements of snowpack or water in storage, the supply should be very constant,” Hansen said. “So it’s very meaningful.”

The water comes from the city of Modesto, population 213,000. The city was under regulatory pressure to upgrade its wastewater treatment to a so-called “tertiary” level, because its discharges to the San Joaquin River posed a threat to water quality and wildlife.

Hansen’s agency piggybacked on this need by offering to buy some of the newly refined wastewater for the district’s 200 or so farmers, who irrigate almonds, walnuts, peaches, pistachios and other crops. This offer helped Modesto finance the treatment plant upgrades. All Del Puerto had to do was build a pipeline 7 miles from Modesto’s treatment plant to the Delta-Mendota Canal, the federal ditch from which Del Puerto already diverts its federal irrigation water.

Building the pipeline didn’t take long, but the deal didn’t happen overnight. Del Puerto signed an initial agreement with Modesto in 2010 to cooperate on the project. Then there were regulatory hoops to jump through. Construction started on the pipeline in summer 2016 and took only a year to build.

Modesto’s initial recycled water deliveries to the project are expected to be about 15,000 acre-feet annually. Del Puerto farmers get about two-thirds of this water, which satisfies California’s Title 22, the state law that ensures treated wastewater is fit for landscaping and crops.

Some of the recycled wastewater is also going to state, federal and private wildlife refuges in the valley, thanks to a federal law known as the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. The law, passed in 1992, requires the United States Bureau of Reclamation to buy additional water supplies to benefit wildlife impacted by operation of the CVP irrigation system.

Reclamation has fallen far behind its obligations under the law, partly because of inadequate funding and scarce water supplies available for purchase. The availability of Modesto’s recycled water was a unique opportunity to acquire a firm new water supply.

This is substantial,” said Ric Ortega, general manager of Grassland Water District, which delivers CVP water to a number of public and private wildlife refuges in the northern San Joaquin Valley. “This is a large quantity of water at a fraction of the cost of water on the open market. I would say less than half the cost.”

Ortega said he expects to get about 5,000 acre-feet of recycled water this year. This will benefit the private landowners in his district, including a number of duck club owners. It will also go to government wetland areas in the San Joaquin Valley such as the state-managed Grasslands Wildlife Area and Kern National Wildlife Refuge, which have suffered water shortages for decades due to the diversions caused by the Central Valley Project.

“We’re not meeting the dietary demands of shorebirds in the Central Valley in the spring,” Ortega said. “This will make huge strides as it relates to shorebirds.”

The Bureau of Reclamation invested about $25 million in the project. The partners also received a $27 million grant from Proposition 1, a 2014 bond measure approved by California voters for water projects. These two sources covered about half the cost to build the pipeline and pump station.

And there is more water to come. The city of Turlock, population 73,000, also plans to deliver recycled water to the new pipeline by linking to the system with a pipeline of its own.

As the two cities grow in the decades to come, their output of recycled water is sure to increase. The project’s current output could eventually more than triple to 48,000 acre-feet.

The share secured for refuges – an estimated 13,000 acre-feet when the project reaches full scale – will be the largest water supply dedicated to wildlife in the San Joaquin Valley in more than 25 years.

“All the pieces in this particular puzzle just seemed to fall into place,” said Hansen. “But I do think other agencies could definitely use it as a model. With creativity and thinking outside the box, it can be done.”

Link to article

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Public awareness emphasized during California Invasive Species Action Week

The Mediterranean fruit fly, one of many invasive species that threaten California’s environment and food production.

California Invasive Species Action Week  is underway this week and is continuing until Sunday, June 10. CDFA works in partnership with other state and federal agencies to try to prevent invasive species from entering California, and then managing infestations as effectively as possible, with a goal of eradication in most cases.

In focusing on these activities this week, the objectives are to increase public awareness of invasive species and promote public participation in the fight against them.

CDFA works in this area on a number of fronts. In its Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, operations are ongoing for invasive species like the Asian citrus psyllid and the fatal disease of citrus it spreads, huanglongbing, or citrus greening. Other ongoing projects include management of another insect with the potential to spread plant disease, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Additionally, the division regularly eradicates infestations of invasive fruit flies like the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) and the Oriental fruit fly. The division’s Report A Pest app encourages Californians to take photos of suspected invasive species and send them in for identification and action, if necessary.

California’s Border Inspection Stations, which are managed by CDFA, are on the lookout year-round for boats that may be transporting invasive aquatic mussels like Quagga and Zebra mussels.

Veterinarians and staff in CDFA’s Division of Animal Health and Food Safety Services are currently working to eradicate an invasive species outbreak–virulent Newcastle disease–in Southern California. This disease threatens birds throughout California and is often fatal to chickens.

CDFA serves as co-chair of the Invasive Species Council of California, partnering with the California Resources Agency, the California State Transportation Agency, the California Health and Human Services Agency and the Office of Emergency Services to work with the appointed members of the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee to develop and manage a statewide invasive species action plan.

Invasive species pose a constant threat to California’s uniquely diverse environment and its agricultural production, and they’re also quite costly. Researchers at Cornell University estimate that invasive species cause $120 billion in damage in the US each year.

Click here for more information about California Invasive Species Action Week.


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A little more than a week remaining for mail-in responses for Census of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is wrapping up data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture.


To stay on track for data release in February 2019, the deadline for submitting the paper questionnaire is June 15, 2018. Farmers and ranchers who have not responded by June 15, 2018 still have until the end of July to complete the Census online through the secure website found on the cover of their Census form. Phone follow-up and personal interviews will also continue through July.

The questionnaire needs to be completed by everyone who received a form – including landowners who lease land to producers, those involved in conservation programs, even those who may have received the Census and do not farm. Every response matters.


“Our mission at NASS is to provide data in service to U.S. agriculture,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “We extended the original Census deadline because many producers weren’t counted – and if they aren’t represented in these critical data, they risk being underserved in farm programs, disaster assistance, agricultural research, education, local policies, and business; it is imperative that we hear from everyone.”


Federal law, Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113, requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and to only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.


For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture or to respond online, visit Improved in 2017, the online form is faster and more convenient than ever. For questions about or assistance with filling out the Census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.


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