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Specialty Crops

pest diseases funding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $11 million in available funding through the Minor Crop Pest Management Program (also known as Interregional Research Project or IR-4).

“The IR-4 funding allows NIFA to ensure that new, robust crop protection products are created,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These investments will lead to improved practices and profits for specialty crop producers.” Continue reading

snap house agriculture committee
Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, held a hearing to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2014 Farm Bill programs aimed at benefiting specialty crop production. Members heard from a panel of witnesses who highlighted the various programs available for specialty crops ranging from promotion programs and crop insurance to trade assistance and extension services. This hearing is a continuation in the series of hearings that set the stage for the next farm bill. Continue reading

farming technology
Everett Griner talks about how farming technology continues to grow in today’s Agri View. Hear Everett’s report, watch the video and learn more. →

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking nominations to fill 13 seats on the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

The board is seeking nominees for two producer member seats and two handler member seats in District One. It is also seeking nominees for one public member seat and eight importer member seats. Selected representatives will serve three-year terms. Continue reading

white rot
White rot remains the top concern for California’s garlic and onion industries. Producers received the latest research findings on the disease, including bioactive volatile compounds and white rot GPS mapping, at the 2017 California Garlic and Onion Symposium in Tulare. Continue reading

cherry splitting
The packing line can have negative impacts on fruit quality, and a small amount of water can cause problems with cherries. A postharvest cherry study looked at what practices increase splitting and some processes that might reduce it. Continue reading

by Sharon Durham, Agricultural Research Service


ARS geneticist Beiquan Mou and colleagues analyzed hundreds of spinach plants to find ones with less oxalate, a compound linked to kidney stones.
Photo by Peggy Greb.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists identified 8 spinach varieties that have low oxalate levels, which is sometimes linked to better health. Oxalic acid, or “oxalate,” is a naturally occurring plant chemical and in the human diet it’s been linked to kidney stone formation. It also can react with calcium, iron, and other minerals to inhibit mineral absorption.

Scientists with the ARS’s Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit in Salinas, California, and the University of Arkansas conducted a study to find genetic components related to oxalate concentrations in spinach. By analyzing the genetic code of 310 spinach varieties, ARS geneticist Beiquan Mou and his university colleagues identified 6 DNA markers linked to genes that contribute to oxalate levels and may be useful for breeders in reducing oxalate concentrations.

The scientists analyzed oxalate concentrations in 300 USDA germplasm accessions and 10 commercial cultivars and found oxalate concentrations that ranged from 647.2 to 1,286.9 milligrams (mg) per 100 grams on fresh weight basis, according to Mou. They also found 8 accessions with less than 780 mg per 100 grams based on fresh weight that may be useful as sources of low oxalate concentration genes in breeding efforts. Continue reading

Almond growers and beekeepers have their fingers crossed that apiarists from California and out of state can supply the state’s 900,000 bearing acres of almond orchards with enough honeybees to pollinate and set this year’s crop.
Continue reading

potato breeding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $1.85 million in funding for regional potato breeding research to support the development of superior-performing varieties that can be brought to market as soon as possible. The United States is one of the top potato producers worldwide, and industry sales estimates topped $3.6 billion in 2015.

“Potatoes constitute a significant proportion of our diets, and there’s urgent need to continue to develop varieties with value-added traits, including a nutrient profile that promotes growth and development in children,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA. Continue reading


Image Courtesy: USDA

Everett Griner talks about growing Guayule making progress in the U.S. in today’s Agri View. Hear Everett’s report and learn more. →

California Cherries
2016 was a bad year for California cherries, but industry leaders say it was actually the best season in the last several years. Late spring rains and low chilling hours are the reasons for the unfortunate streak. The California Cherry Board hopes the colder temperatures will make this year a success. Continue reading

Phytophthora in Walnuts

Excessive saturation can aid the spread of phytophthora in walnuts. Growers need to manage irrigation carefully to avoid long sets and over-saturation.

Continue reading

Almond Orchard
Almond Board of California President and CEO Richard Waycott went into detail about the state of the industry presentation at this year’s Almond Conference. The industry is seeing growth among challenging times, and Waycott said focusing on the almond orchard of the future is spurring innovation and fueling that gain. Watch the video ->

summer bee loss
Researchers started tracking annual bee loss five years ago, instead of just winter mortality. Summer bee loss totals over the last three years are surprising the industry. Continue reading

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug CA
It’s unknown if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) can live in the major agriculture-producing areas of California. Researchers say if it can, large populations could take over crops by the tens of thousands. Continue reading

Orchid Farm. Thailand APHIS
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is publishing a proposed rule that would allow orchid plants from Taiwan of the genus Dendrobium spp. to be imported into the United States under a systems approach.  Plants would be permitted when they come in an approved growing medium, and those plants would also be subject to specified growing, inspection and certification requirements. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted for 60 days starting on October 27, 2016, and ending on December 27, 2016. Continue reading

State receives more than $22 million in federal grant funds from Farm Bill

European Grapevine Moth California
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced funding for the 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). California received more than $22.3 million out of approximately $62.6 million awarded nationwide.

The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Continue reading

specialty cropsThe U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced over $62.5 million in grants to support farmers growing fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops, also known as specialty crops. The projects include research, agricultural extension activities, and programs to increase demand and address the needs of America’s specialty crop industry. AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer made the announcement while attending USDA’s Fall Forum with local stakeholders held in Concord today to discuss key issues facing the future of agriculture. Continue reading

Promoting California Avocados
The California Avocado Commission (CAC) had a new look at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit in Orlando, Florida. The commission was again promoting California avocados to buyers around the world.

See the new logo->

orchard recycling
California producers saw another option for orchard recycling. Organizers said this demonstration aimed to show growers different ways to perform this practice and keep producers thinking about the benefits recycling can have in their orchards.

Watch the video ->

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