The prestigious journal Science features a cover story on the work of UC Davis plant scientists Jorge Dubcovsky and Jan Dvorak in its current issue. The article is not written at the eigth-grade reading level, the typical goal of the general media. For the reader willing to devote some extra concentration, and perhaps look up a few words in the dictionary, there are many interesting facts. For example, the article says 620 million tons of wheat are produced annually worldwide, providing about one-fifth of the calories consumed by humans. About 95 percent of the wheat crop is common wheat, used for making bread, cookies, and pastries, and the other 5 percent is durum wheat, used for making pasta and other semolina products.
The transition from hunting and gathering to agrarian lifestyles in western Asia was a threshold in the evolution of human societies, the authors wrote. Seeds of free-threshing wheat began to appear in archaeological sites about 10,000 years ago.
The article continues with Dubcovsky and Dvorak 's review of recent insights from molecular genetics and genomics "to understand how gene mutations and genome ploidy paved the way for successful domestication of modern cultivated wheat varieties."
From Websters: "ploidy n. the condition of having or lacking one or more chromosomes than the number found in the normal diploid set."
UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Paul Vossen was among 22 world-class judges at last month's Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The article said the event, part of the Los Angeles County Fair, has now become one of the premier olive oil competitions in the world.
There were many gold medalists who are repeat winners, among them California Olive Ranch, McEvoy, Round Pond, the Olive Press, Apollo, Pacific Sun and Stella Cadente.
"The state of American olive oil is in a very, very good spot," Vossen was quoted in the article, written by Olivia Wu. "The olive oils we're producing are excellent."
According to the Weather Channel Web site, temperatures in California’s inland valleys will soar into the triple digits next week. Those valleys include the Coachella, Sacramento and mighty San Joaquin, where much of the state’s agricultural industry is centered. The same geology that created the valleys' fertile farmland fed by snow melt from local mountains helps trap the heat, creating problems of its own.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Communicators Network has compiled tips with information from UC experts on coping with high temperatures. Issues run the gamut, from shading your home with trees to protecting outdoor workers and even how high temperatures help olive growers in their battle with the new exotic pest, olive fruit fly.
The topics are:
- California workers' heat-caused deaths were down in 2006
- UC offers wealth of heat illness information
- Come on in, the water’s fine — for mosquitoes
- Tree placement can save you energy, keep you cool and reduce your carbon footprint
- Heat can play havoc with forensic science
- Keep cows cool during hot summer months
- On-farm help from hot weather
Many people think of June when planning their weddings. This year, for a number of UC Cooperative Extension academics, the early summer month is time to retire from a long and distinguished career.
The four retirement releases I wrote this June represented a combined 111 years of experience with UC Cooperative Extension, and these aren't the only retirements to take place this month. The advisors' stories are being picked up by the media.
The Fresno Bee included Dave Snell's retirement in its Business Briefs.
California Farmer printed Joe Camarillo's release in its entirety.
The Central Valley Business Times covered Mario Viveros' retirement in its "People in the News" column.
Ken Willmarth's retirement news release was distributed today to his hometown newspapers. It is on the ANR news Web site.
Best wishes to all our new retirees.
When I first heard that UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Morgan Doran would be training sheep to clean up weeds in vineyards, I knew it would be a great story. I personally enjoyed visiting Doran and his cooperators in the study at the beautiful UC Hopland Research and Extension Center, getting the details of the research and writing a piece for the UC Web site and to share with the media.
I have also enjoyed what the media have done with the story. The Central Valley Business Times led their article, published June 2:
"Who knew? It turns out that sheep can be trained to be vineyard workers, say scientists at the University of California’s Hopland Research and Extension Center, south of Ukiah."
Author Joanne Marshall, writing for the June 24 edition of Farm news for New Zealand farmers, compared Doran's research to the effects of drinking too much:
"Whoever said sheep were stupid should think again. If you've had a big night out, drunk too much alcohol and had a terrible hangover do you decide to never go out drinking again? The answer is usually NO. But if you happen to be a sheep, you'll probably know better than to inflict pain and suffering on yourself a second time."
M. S. Enkoji of the Sacramento Bee opened his story, which was printed in the paper last Saturday, like a classified ad:
"Wanted: Hungry sheep, a year old, with limited dining experience, otherwise healthy. Work in the state's most breathtaking countryside."
Perhaps this experience shows reporters can't resist a story with which they can have some fun.