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July smoky wine prediction coming true

Last July, when the summer's most ferocious wildfires near wine country were still smoldering, Wine Spectator magazine suggested the 2008 vintage could be tainted by the smoke.

An article in today's Santa Rosa Press-Democrat seems to confirm that the magazine's early prediction is coming to fruition, at least in Mendocino County.

“Winemakers are saying that they think stuff is smelling funny to them, and they want to know what’s going on,” the Press-Democrat article quoted Glenn McGourty, viticulture advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Mendocino County.

The article said McGourty held a workshop to teach winemakers options for preventing, for example, an unpleasant smoky quality from masking the subtle oak, buttery, vanilla flavor of their best chardonnay.

Michelle Bowen, director of laboratory operations at Vinquiry, said grapes are coming in with an aroma that is "kind of smoked salmony and fishy.”

"The good news is that there seems to be the technology to fix things if something is wrong,” McGourty is quoted in the story. Reporter Kevin McCallum wrote that McGourty was referring to filtration companies that specialize in removing the malodorous compounds.

“Winemakers are wizards at taking problems and turning them into drinkable products," McGourty concluded.

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2008 at 10:27 AM
Tags: wildfire (82), wine (30)

Bee's new garden writer uses UCCE sources

Not only did the Fresno Bee lose veteran ag reporter Dennis Pollock to its recent buyout cuts, the paper's garden reporter, Mzong Xiong, decided to take the buyout and continue her maternity leave indefinitely.

But it hasn't taken long for her replacement to find UC Cooperative Extension. Margaret Slaby, who together with columnist Mary Lu Aguirre are now covering the garden beat, wrote a charming piece about heriloom corn this week that included quotes from two Tulare County UCCE advisors.

The story centers on Gary Jones of Tollhouse, who is growing corn with kernals ranging from red, purple and pink to blue, black and teal, the article said. Small farm advisor Manuel Jimenez noted in the article the reasons why such varieties are less popular with commerical growers.

Modern field corn (for animal feed, corn meal and flour) and sweet corn are more disease-resistant, store better, and the ears tend to be more uniform in size than heirloom corn, Slaby paraphrased Jimenez.

Slaby also gave Carol Frate's self-evident assessment about the term "heirloom corn." Varieties are considerd "heirloom," according to Frate, when they've been around a long time. There are thousands of varieties of corn in all colors. Some varieties -- but not all -- are heirloom.

Frate and Jimenez were also credited in the story for providing information on planting and growing corn.



Incidentally, in a conversation I had today with the Fresno Bee business editor, Mike Nemeth, I learned that agriculture will be covered, for the most part, by Bob Rodriguez. A few years ago, Bob was dedicated to the ag beat, but then was reassigned to cover mainly energy and workplace issues. Nemeth said his business staff consists of four reporters, down from seven when he took on his post three years ago.

Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 2:25 PM
Tags: corn (9), media (7)

No Sweat!

Sweat bee

Okay, everybody in the pool! That means bees, too? It does.  Sweat bees. You may have noticed the tiny bees--common name “sweat bees” from the family Halictidae--in your swimming pool or...

Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 1:29 PM
Tags: Lasioglossum (6), Robbin Thorp (220), sweat bee (18)

Bakersfield Californian chimes in about citrus psyllid

The Bakersfield Californian today ran a story raising concerns about the recent introduction into California of the Asian citrus psyllid, a pest which can transmit the devastating citrus greening disease. In Kern County, citrus was the agricultural commodity with the third highest value in 2007, more than $450 million, according to the county's crop report. Citrus ranked fifth in 2006.

"This could cause catastrophic losses,” the paper quoted Craig Kallsen, UC Cooperative Extension citrus farm advisor for Kern County. “The insect isn’t in Kern County yet, but it travels easily and it’s probably just a matter of time.”

The article says that commercial growers are asking homeowners with citrus trees to educate themselves about the insect and keep an eye out for signs of both the pest and the disease it often carries.

Flyers and identification cards about Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening disease in English, Spanish and Chinese are available for free download from the Citrus Clonal Protection Program at UC Riverside. 

Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Behold the Dragonfly

William Yuen wearing dragonfly t-shirt

Some folks wear their heart on their sleeve.   Others wear a dragonfly on their chest. As part of its public outreach education program and to showcase the world of insects, the...

Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 3:06 PM

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Stanislaus County
University of California Cooperative Extension
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Phone: (209) 525-6800
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