Food & Farm News
September 24, 2014
Wineries keep an eye on water
Water availability will be a key concern for California winemakers in coming years, according to an annual survey of wine executives. UC Davis presented the survey at a symposium in Napa Tuesday. While generally optimistic about future trends, the executives said the wine business continues to work on using water more efficiently, including investment in technology and use of recycled winery water in vineyards.
Rice straw takes expanded feed role
Drought has forced both livestock owners and rice farmers to take another look at rice straw. Rice farmers won’t have the water they need to decompose the straw following the harvest, and ranchers need feed for their animals. So farmers and farm advisors have been experimenting with new ways to bale and handle rice straw, to maximize its nutritional value for livestock. Ranchers typically use the straw to supplement other sources of livestock feed.
Prune research aims at taste, efficiency
In a search for new prune varieties, University of California specialists say they’ve found several with excellent taste. Now, they’re looking to make the varieties more efficient for farmers. Because prune-plums are dried after harvest, researchers look for types with dense flesh and little juice, so the prunes will dry quickly—therefore saving energy and time. Researchers say they’re making progress but it’s a slow process to breed and select new trees.
Bagrada bug attacks crops
An invasive stinkbug continues to move northward and eastward in California, causing problems for farmers and home gardeners alike. Known as the Bagrada bug, the pest arrived in Southern California six years ago. Experts say the bug prefers crops such as cauliflower, broccoli and their relatives, but will attack many other plants. Farmers and gardeners have been charting its spread by reporting infestations to county farm advisors.