California Agriculture is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal reporting research, reviews and news on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources.
Volume 57, Issue 3, 2003
The wine industry in California and the world is entering a new era, marked by consolidation and globalization. People are drinking less but better wine. Will producers of lower-priced grapes raise quality to attract more upscale wine drinkers, putting downward pressure on all grape and wine prices, or will the wine-grape industry fragment into distinct quality and price segments? In 2001 and 2002, an increased grape supply and the recession led to declining prices for wine grapes in all areas of California except the North Coast. Predictions of a severe wine-grape glut obscure the possibility that a fragmented wine industry is developing in which some segments prosper while others languish.
California specialty cheese makers need information on what drives product sales so they can effectively market their products. Focus group and telephone research revealed that specialty cheese consumers have a strong preference for sampling cheese before making a purchase. Consumers also rely heavily on staff recommendations to select cheese. They appreciate unlimited sampling in an unhurried, low-pressure environment. Specialty cheese consumers consider themselves “food experimenters”; they value narrative descriptions about where and how the cheese was made and are not price sensitive in this area of their food purchases.
Low-income consumers, though less aware of genetically modified foods, are concerned and want labels
Consumer attitudes about genetically modified foods have been reported in a number of studies in recent years, but little attention has been paid to the awareness and attitudes of low-income consumers. While land-grant universities and public health departments have targeted these consumers for nutrition education, it is not clear what their attitudes are, or how the subject should be addressed in education programs such as those offered by Cooperative Extension. We conducted focus groups with low-income consumers in California during spring and summer 2002. Their awareness of genetically modified foods was low, but ethical and safety concerns were fairly high; and they wanted genetically modified foods to be labeled. Consumer and nutrition education programs targeted at low-income consumers should address emerging food technologies.
As concerns increase over changes in pesticide regulations, farmworker safety, surface and groundwater contamination and escalating costs and uncertainties associated with chemical controls, walnut growers need effective and cost-efficient ways to produce walnuts with minimal use of pesticides. This study compared the effectiveness of Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems (BIOS) with conventionally managed walnut orchards in the northern San Joaquin Valley from 1999 to 2001. We found no significant differences between BIOS and conventional blocks in nut quality or yields. Codling moth was effectively controlled by pheromone disruption and alternative pest-control methods. Mating disruption, by itself, appears to provide good control of codling moth in many orchards. However, it is still more expensive for growers than conventional pest-control methods.
As California’s dairy industry continues to grow, manure management has become an increasingly important issue for dairy producers, government regulators and the public living in close proximity to dairies. Dairies are increasingly required to prepare nutrient management plans and comply with regulations concerning their manure management practices. A common dairy practice in California is to house the cows in free stall barns with water flush systems to remove the manure.
The manure flush water, high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, is collected in holding ponds until it can be combined with freshwater and applied to cropland during irrigation. Being able to quantify the amount of manure water applied is critical to good nutrient management of crops. The high trash and debris content of manure water has precluded the use of most flow meters commonly used in agriculture, such as the propeller meter. A field test of electromagnetic flow meters and a Doppler flow meter determined that both were accurate, dependable and appropriate for measuring manure-water flow rates. Their drawbacks are price ($3,000 to $4,000) and the need for electrical power for permanent flow-meter installations.