UC post filled

Christine Casey, vice president for Business and Administration at Western New Mexico University has been named assistant vice president — administrative services for the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She assumed her new leadership post on July 1.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators have joined forces to control the pink hibiscus mealybug, which, if unchecked, could cause an estimated $750 million in crop losses annually in the United States.

No-till soil management can play an important role in keeping carbon in the soil, rather than allowing it to escape into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, according to a cooperative study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Brazilian scientists at Beltsville, Md.

Beginning in April 2005, The American Phytopathological Society (APS) will offer free access to research articles after 24 months of publication in Phytopathology, Plant Disease, and Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (MPMI). For each journal, a two-year-old issue will gain free-access status when the current month's issue is published on APS's Web site at www.apsnet.org.

Nursing facility residents who consumed 200 International Units (IUs) of vitamin E daily for one year were less likely to get the sniffles than those who took a placebo. Scientists funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that those who took the moderate supplements were 20 percent less likely to contract upper respiratory infections, such as colds.

In 2003, an estimated 87.2 billion eggs were produced in the United States, with about 85 percent of them destined for human consumption, according to figures from USDA's Economic Research Service. Per capita consumption of eggs and egg products in 2003 was the equivalent of 254 eggs, an increase of 19 eggs per person from 1990, ERS estimated.

Unmistakable cattle manure odors have become a bigger issue during the last several years as more and more people move from cities and suburbs to rural areas. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are researching various methods to reduce the unwanted odor, including the type of corn fed to animals.

Women are about four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, or weak, porous bones. But a new study links vitamin B12 deficiency with low bone mineral density in men, and confirms similar, previously reported findings in women. Researchers funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) reported the findings in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists first compared high-meat protein diets with low-meat protein diets. Now, they've compared animal-protein diets with vegetable-protein diets. This “sequel” study rocks the foundation, again, of a commonly held belief that high-protein diets can be bad for bones.

ARS scientists in the Grand Forks [N.D.] Human Nutrition Research Center conducted the study. The findings were published in January in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

How many kernels of wheat in a pound? Anywhere from 14,000 to 17,000.

It is reported that more than 87 percent of America's farmers own cell phones.

On average, agriculture uses about 43 percent of the state's available water.

Alfalfa got its name from the Persian word for horsepower.

Farmers make about a nickel or less from each loaf of bread.

Want to keep unwanted grains from slipping into your box of organic cornflakes or canister of Basmati rice? The USDA says with more specialty grains flowing into the marketplace, there is a growing need for grain-handling programs that can effectively segregate grains so that there's no unwanted mixing.

Zeroing in on the commingling that can occur during grain unloading and storage, a scientist with the Agricultural Research Service recently identified the parts of a grain elevator that may contribute to mixing and assessed how flushing with a quick burst of “cleansing” grain can lessen the problem.

A form of vitamin D, discovered in laboratory studies by an ARS researcher, may help fight cancer.

Nowadays, it will take more than a “huff and a puff” for the Big Bad Wolf to blow down a house made of California rice straw. To help air quality, rice farmers are no longer burning the straw left after harvest. Instead, they've found unique uses for it Ö new homes. The lightweight steel frame supports the structure and separates the straw bales from the interior and exterior cladding materials. The straw bales provide more than twice the insulation of a traditional 2 × 6 wood-frame wall.

One apple tree can produce enough apples to fill 20 boxes every year.

Rice grown on more than 500,000 California acres provides more than nourishment. Rice straw is used to create fine specialty papers, building materials such as medium density fiberboard, animal bedding, high-quality soil amendments, beds for growing mushrooms, and erosion control products.

Imagine having 144 guests for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch. For one whole year! And you have to dress them, too. A tall order for anyone. Anyone, that is, except one of California's farmers. They're so productive that each one produces enough food and fiber to feed and clothe 144 people around the world for a year. Farmers have become increasingly more productive since 1940, when each American farmer produced enough food to feed and clothe 19 people.

What's in your refrigerator? A lot of really good food, if you're an average Californian. Per capita, we consume about 126 pounds of fresh fruit, 197 pounds of fresh vegetables, 251 eggs, 22 gallons of milk, 29.8 pounds of cheese and 184 pounds of meat and poultry. Farmers grow that good food right here in California.

Raisins retain all the nutrition of the original grape, but weigh less than a fourth as much. This makes raisins the perfect food to pack in school lunches. In fact, raisins are so nutritious and so easy to carry, that Hannibal fed them to his troops while they were crossing the Alps.

Although people enjoyed raisins for centuries in other parts of the world, California raisins weren't produced until 1893 … and then it was by accident! In September of that year, a devastating heat wave hit the San Joaquin Valley just before the grape harvest. The grapes dried on the vine and the crop would have been a total loss if one enterprising grower hadn't taken his “accidental” raisins to San Francisco. The raisins became very popular and soon there was a large market for the wrinkly treats. The rest, as they say, is history.

Next time you're inclined to complain about your grocery bill, remember this: The same bag of groceries that costs $18.79 in the U.S., costs $74.23 in Japan. That bag includes 1 gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, 5 pounds of cheese, a 2-pound sirloin steak and 2 pounds of apples. All of these commodities are produced right here in California.

Imperial County is the largest alfalfa-growing region in the world. Some of the crop grown on its 173,000 alfalfa-producing acres is exported, but most of it is baled and shipped to California dairies. These fields also serve as pasture for more than 245,000 feeder lambs, the largest concentration of feeder lambs in the nation during the five-month winter feeding period. Feeder lambs are purchased after weaning, when they weigh from 35 to 60 pounds. They're marketed when they reach a weight of approximately 110 pounds. The lambs are valued at $7.5 million.

Of every dollar spent on food, at home and away, farmers and ranchers earn only 19 cents, 12 cents less than in 1980.

More than 140 varieties of fresh plums are shipped throughout the country from California orchards, but there are really just two general categories: Japanese and European. Japanese plums are large, juicy and bright red or yellow. European plums are blue or purple, somewhat oblong, a bit smaller and mildly sweet.

California produces more than 17 million gallons of wine each year.

Eight of the nation's top 10 farm counties … Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Monterey, Merced, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Riverside … are in California and are members of the “billion dollar club,” generating on-farm revenues of at least $1 billion a year.

California produces 100 percent of the U.S. crop of raisins.

A one-time tillage will not cause great soil carbon loss, even though major damage is caused to soil structure.

That's the finding of Lloyd Owens, a soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Service in Coshocton, Ohio, after a study comparing soil carbon in the top foot of soil under a meadow with the carbon level in soil under cornfields with various levels of tillage. He found that it takes a few years of continual annual plowing before carbon losses become noticeable in fields previously unplowed for years.

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