Cary Blake

Associate Editor,
Western Farm Press

Cary Blake, associate editor with Western Farm Press, has 32 years experience as an agricultural journalist. Blake covered Midwest agriculture for 25 years on a statewide farm radio network and through television stories that blanketed the nation.
Blake travelled West in 2003. Today he reports on production agriculture in Arizona and California. He also covers New Mexico and West Texas agriculture for Southwest Farm Press.
Blake is a native Mississippian, graduate of Mississippi State University, and a former Christmas tree grower.

Skipping alfalfa ‘summer slump’ irrigation has pros, cons 1

Usable water – there’s seemingly not enough for life around the globe despite the many conservation efforts underway to save it.

Four consecutive years of epic drought in California continues to take its toll on available water supplies for users including the food and fiber industries. A ‘down under’ drought in Australia has stretched for nearly two consecutive decades with no immediate relief in sight.

Wine grapes draw next generation of Arizona farmers

About three o’clock in the afternoon, a growing number of Phoenicians climb inside their hot cars, crank up the air conditioning, and head north to higher elevations in Yavapai County to secure a new future in wine grapes.

The end of the 107-mile drive up Interstate 17 and cross country to the northwest on Highway 260 is Yavapai College’s Verde Valley campus in Clarkdale and its viticulture and enology programs.

‘Best pistachio-growing season in years’ for Arizona grower
In late July, Arizona pistachio grower Jim Graham kept one eye peeled on his nut trees while the other busily scanned the horizon for dark clouds and a summer monsoonal rain.
Arizona swings closer to shortage on Colorado River system

Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Thomas Buschatzke says the Grand Canyon State is not in a “water crisis,” thanks to a century-plus of planning which has helped conserve the ‘liquid gold’ amid rapid population and economic growth.

Yet Arizona’s water pendulum is swinging closer to an official shortage tied to prolonged drought in the Colorado River basin and more promises of the same.

Summer tour of central Arizona agriculture - Knorr Farms, Pinal Feeding, and Shamrock Farms

Several hundred of the nation's agricultural journalists and farm communicators gathered in Scottsdale, Ariz. in late July for the 2015 Ag Media Summit. The four-day event included professional development workshops, a farm industry trade show, but started out with a day-long farm tour of central Arizona agriculture.the week of 

Good odds for wet Arizona winter if El Niño remains strong

In late July, University of Arizona (UA) agricultural meteorologist Paul Brown remained bullish about above average precipitation chances this winter in the Grand Canyon State if the current El Niño weather system in the southern tropics continues to strengthen.

Brown is quick to note that a lot can change between now and then. He shared the optimistic weather forecast with alfalfa growers gathered for an UA-sponsored ‘Alfalfa Tent Talk’ held in Buckeye, Ariz.

Western grapeleaf skeletonizer serious, destructive pest 2

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for the legendary Hollywood phrase “I’m B-a-c-k” yet also on the return is the voracious western grapeleaf skeletonizer (WGS) pest in Napa County, Calif. grape country following an eight-year hiatus.

Agricultural officials on June 24 discovered an adult male WGS in a vineyard pheromone-baited trap on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga.

“This is a destructive and serious pest,” says Greg Clark, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner.

Top 5 ways cotton ginners can survive trying times

The official theme of the 2015 Arizona Cotton Conference held in June was “Survival,” amid a plethora of industry concerns including continued low cotton prices, wide fluctuations in planted acreage and related gin consolidation, crop competition, drought issues, and more.

Conference speaker and ginning specialist Tommy Valco at Stoneville, Miss. noted he had seen more serious times for cotton in his 40-year tenure in the U.S. cotton industry.

Second case of HLB disease confirmed in California
Second case of the citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB) confirmed in California.
Allied Grape Growers annual meeting in pictures

The 2015 annual meetings of the Allied Grape Growers cooperative held July 7 and 9 in Fresno and Santa Rosa, Calif., respectively, were full of news and forecasts about California's ever changing wine industry - an industry where change is about a daily affair.

Those gathered at the Fresno site received a sobering look at the likelihood that still more vines will need to come out in the southern San Joaquin Valley; given the supply and demand for interior-grown grapes.

Sterile insect technology could help thwart Navel orangeworm pest in pistachios, almonds

Sterile insect technology (SIT) is a critical component towards the eradication of the pink bollworm (PBW) insect (Pectinophora gossypiella) in Far West and Southwest cotton fields.

This method in turn could help pistachio and almond growers combat the destructive Navel orangeworm pest.

The cotton industry is working with various groups to possibly use a section of the Pink Bollworm Rearing Facility building in Phoenix to rear and sterilize Navel orangeworm (NOW) insects for release in California pistachio and almond orchards.

Up close: Western grapeleaf skeletonizer pest
Photos of the western grapeleaf skeletonizer pest.
Western grapeleaf skeletonizer pest found in Napa County vineyard trap 3

Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Greg Clark asks grape growers and gardeners to keep on the lookout for all larval (caterpillar) stages of the western grapeleaf skeletonizer (WGS) pest.

This follows the June 24 discovery of an adult WGS in a vineyard pheromone-baited trap on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga.

“This is a destructive and serious pest,” Clark said.

“All larval life stages are voracious feeders that cause extensive damage to grape leaves, including partial or complete defoliation of grapevines.” Clark explained.

Davis new Arizona Game and Fish Commission chair

Kurt Davis is the new Arizona Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) chairman for the agency’s 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Davis, who took office July 1, succeeds Robert Mansell who will continue to serve on the commission until his successor is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.
"Serving on a commission dedicated to conserving and protecting Arizona's wildlife - more than 800 species - is an honor of a lifetime,” Davis said.

Arizona cotton acreage slides 75 percent in last 22 years

In the western cotton industry, the folks who perhaps have the best estimate on planted acreage are those who tabulate grower field data information from pink bollworm eradication surveys.

In Arizona, the ‘cotton numbers man’ is Leighton Liesner, director of the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council (ACRC) in Phoenix.

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