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.

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.

Drought takes toll on 2015 California almond crop

2015 California almond production is forecast at 1.80 billion meat pounds, down 3 percent from May's subjective forecast and 4 percent below last year.

The objective crop estimate, based on a National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) survey funded by the Almond Board of California (ABC), is based on 890,000 bearing acres.

Production for the Nonpareil variety is forecast at 670,000 million meat pounds, down 6 percent from last year’s deliveries. The Nonpareil estimate is 37 percent of the total California almond crop.

Glufosinate damage can occur on young almond tree trunks
Glufosinate herbicide use has increased over the last year due to the increased supply and availability of generics, according to David Doll, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) pomology farm advisor in Merced County.
Rain, chill hours brighten 2015 outlook at Eagle Ranch Pistachios 1
The outlook for Marianne and George Schweers’ 2015 pistachio crop in Alamogordo, N.M., looks bright, thanks to good fall and winter rains plus above average chilling hours.
Citrus: State status update on ACP, HLB disease

Citrus-producing states continue to circle the wagons to ward off the evil Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and Huanglongbing (HLB) disease intruders. The following is a roundup (status report) of pest and disease information in Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas.

These assessments are from University of Arizona Tree Crop Specialist Glenn Wright based on his notes from the 4th International Conference on Huanglongbing he attended, along with information from Brian McGrew, the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s (ADA) quarantine program coordinator.

US citrus industry can beat odds to win ACP-HLB war
Among the potential Huanglongbing cures Wright is advanced research into transgenic citrus trees created through genetic engineering or GMOs.
Test results on NOW control lure in pistachio, almond, and walnut
California entomologist Charles Burks with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Parlier is helping tree nut growers evaluate a new lure to monitor orchards for infestations of the Navel orangeworm, according to an article written by the ARS’ Dennis O’Brien.
Central Coast weather research targets water efficiency in wine grapes

On a warm, sunny afternoon in late April, University of California Cooperative Extension Viticulture-Soils Farm Advisor Mark Battany guided the GMC pick-up truck across hilly, drought-parched pasture near Paso Robles on the Central Coast.

The truck moved slowly – dodging a gopher hole – to reach a new state-of-the-art weather station which extended 35-feet skyward on land owned by the J. Lohr Winery.

Arizona, New Mexico in El Niño's wet path this year? 1

Don’t get out the umbrellas just yet. University of Arizona agricultural meteorologist Paul Brown is suspicious of wet weather forecasts as are many of you.

“For many years, I have not trusted climate models, yet over the last 3-4 years they’ve done a pretty good job correctly predicting wet weather biases in the Southwest, including wet summer monsoon patterns,” Brown says.

The National Weather Service reports an El Niño wet weather pattern is finally in place – about six months later than expected.

2015 Desert Ag Conference huge hit with farming crowd

About 230 pest control advisers, growers, and other agricultural industry members gathered May 6-7 for the 2015 Desert Ag Conference held in Chandler, Ariz.

The crowd heard the latest information on about 20 agricultural issues and topics including pests in alfalfa, bee health, new leadership at the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the agricultural weather forecast, insect vector management, precision phosphate applications, cotton pest management, and more.

Enjoy these snapshots at this key Arizona agricultural event.



New Arizona farm chief talks budget, water, GMOs 1

Mark Killian, tapped in April as the new director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA), is quickly finding a new home with his rural constituents on the issues and challenges which lay ahead for the Grand Canyon State’s $17 billion farming industry.

The Killian family has deep Arizona farming roots with more than a century in production agriculture.

“Agriculture has been a part of my life – I love it,” said Killian, who grows cotton, wheat, and alfalfa and raises beef on about 1,700 acres in the state.

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