Ag Today August 21, 2020

California farmworkers continue harvesting in unhealthy air quality, extreme heat [KFSN TV, Fresno]

You can see, smell and even feel the smoke in the Central California skies from surrounding wildfires, but farmworkers are still on the job, working to put food on our tables. … Ryan Jacobsen from the Fresno County Farm Bureau says that farm employees’ health is vital to the industry, especially now during some of the busiest harvest weeks of the year. “I have grown up in the ag industry and this is by far shaping up to be the most challenging year I have ever seen,” said Jacobsen. … The Fresno County Farm Bureau is set to pass out hundreds of thousands of N95 masks to Fresno farmworkers Friday to protect them from dangerous particulate matter in the air.


Bay Area wineries and farms evacuate, shutter as wildfires scorch the region [SF Gate]

As California wildfires continue to torch thousands of acres throughout Bay Area counties and surrounding areas, several wineries and farms have evacuated, while some took precautionary steps and closed Thursday. … Lunaria Flower Farm in Pescadero shared a grim video clip of the nearby blaze on its Instagram account, just before it evacuated. … Other Bay Area farmers who didn’t leave their property shared that they were ready to go if mandatory evacuations hit. … Nichelini Winery, a historic and 130-year-old winery in St. Helena, also shared on Instagram that the property had been spared after the wildfires threatened the facilities on Tuesday.


Ranchers prepare for the worst, hope for the best as fires burn Butte County [Chico Enterprise-Record]

As over 30 fires have burned in Butte County, ranchers who said they tried to prepare for the year’s fire season as best they could say they’re now left waiting to see if they must evacuate livestock. … Butte Valley cattle rancher Holly Foster said her family has been using the same methods to prevent loss of grazing forage “for years and years,” placing fire breaks along all roadways and using precautions like slowing operation of farm equipment on hotter days. … When fire begins, local connections are needed while monitoring when to go. That makes the local ranching community pipeline key to survival, Foster said.


California’s devastating summer blazes are a bad omen for fall wildfire season [Bay Area News Group]

… Though California regularly sees summer wildfires, the state’s most deadly and destructive blazes have tended to hit in fall, when weather patterns shift and warm, dry winds from the high desert blow offshore across tinder-dry grasses, shrubs and trees that haven’t seen significant rain since the spring. The sheer number and rapid growth of this week’s wildfires signal that brush already is primed for intense burning after a light rainfall season, said Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of earth system science at Stanford University. … With a third of the year left, California is already close to last year’s total number of fires and acres burned.


Why ‘thousands’ of cows are dying, sparking crisis in central San Joaquin Valley [Fresno Bee]

Several central San Joaquin Valley counties have issued emergency proclamations to prevent a pile-up of cow carcasses killed from the recent stretch of scorching temperatures. County agriculture officials estimate livestock operators may be seeing an increase of 50 to 100% in mortality. The rising death rate poses a potential disposal disaster for farmers and ranchers who rely on rendering plants to haul away their dead livestock. … To avoid cow carcasses piling up on farms, Tulare, Kings, and Fresno counties issued emergency proclamations giving livestock operators options for disposing of their dead animals.


California’s war against nutria is getting bloodier. But it’s unclear who’s winning [SF Gate]

Of the 1,680 nutria taken by members of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Nutria Eradication Program over the past two-and-a-half years,  a whopping 663 (39.4%) have been hunted down in the last four months alone. Because the invasive 20-pound rodents pose a unique threat to California’s wetlands, the state has expanded the size of the Nutria Eradication Program over the past year to boast a staff of 26 field operatives 100% dedicated to exterminating the swamp rat. … Members of the eradication program will return to the River Corridor and Grasslands in the fall, when they should be able to get a better idea of who is winning the war.