California Agriculture is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal reporting research, reviews and news on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources.
Volume 57, Issue 1, 2003
We conducted focus group dis-cussions and a survey to explore diabetes-related health beliefs and to assess educational needs among low-income Latino adults, primarily of Mexican descent. We found that many low-income Latinos served through UC Cooperative Extension programs may be at high risk of developing diabetes. At the same time, many of those at risk lack awareness of risk factors for dia-betes, have never been screened and do not know where to go for advice. Although some were unsure of the true causal connection, 64% of the focus group participants had heard that susto (stress or strong emotion) might be related to onset of the illness. In addition to increas-ing awareness of the disease and reducing barriers to care, nutrition educators can help program partici-pants by identifying ways to alleviate the effects of stress and lower the risk of diabetes through a healthy lifestyle.
In September 2002, Governor Gray Davis signed the first major amendments to the 1975 Agri-cultural Labor Relations Act in 27 years. Under these amendments, if a farm employer and certified union are unable to negotiate a first collective bargaining agree-ment within 6 months, a mediator can impose an agreement. The number of contracts in California agriculture has declined precipitously since the mid-1980s, and we are skeptical that mandatory mediation will sharply increase the number of workers employed on farms under collective bargaining agreements.
The finding of Phytophthora ramorum — the pathogen that causes sudden oak death in four California native trees — on rhododendron in Europe led us to hypothesize that its host range in California’s natural forests was much greater than previously suspected. In addition to the affected oak species, we have now identified an additional 13 species from 10 plant families that act as hosts for P. ramorum in California. Our data indicates that nearly all of the state’s main tree species in mixed-evergreen and redwood-tanoak forests — including the coniferous timber species coast redwood and Douglas fir — may be hosts for P. ramorum. The broad host range of P. ramorum, the variability of symptoms among different hosts and the ability of the pathogen to disperse by air suggests that it may have the potential to cause long-term, landscape-level changes in California forests.
Due to high water tables, the western San Joaquin Valley is prone to high salinity in drainage water, which requires appropriate manage-ment and disposal in order to sustain agricultural productivity. We developed a model that describes a farming system for irrigating a salt-tolerant crop with high-salinity drainage water from a salt-sensitive crop. The farming system would include the collection of subsurface drainage water from the salt-sensitive crop, which would then be combined with good, low-salinity water for an average electrical conductivity (EC) of 5 deciSiemens/meter (dS/m); irrigation of the salt-tolerant crop(s) (cotton, in this case) for several cycles; and final disposal of the drainage water in an evapor-ation pond. The main benefits of this system are that the proportion of the farm required for evaporation ponds decreases and fresh water is saved. According to our calculations, this farming system could be physically sustainable for centuries. However, the costs related to mitigating wildlife impacts caused by ecotoxic salts such as selenium in the evaporation ponds must be fully evaluated to determine the system’s economic viability.
The recent invasion of California by the olive fruit fly has the potential to devastate commercial olive production throughout the state. Fortunately, much is known about this pest in Europe, and prospects for olive fruit fly control in Calif-ornia are good. Effective manage-ment is likely to result from careful monitoring and properly timed chemical control. Suppression of olive fruit fly populations on ornamental and residential olive trees using biological control may also contribute to overall control.