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.

Hurdles outnumber bright spots on cotton’s horizon

A runner in a hurdles race must jump and clear multiple obstacles to finish a race - much less win. The U.S. cotton industry continues to face its own challenges with no finish line in sight.

Among cotton’s high hurdles include lackluster fiber prices, low price challenges from cotton’s top competitor - polyester, and huge cotton stockpiles in China, says Jarral Neeper, president of the Calcot Limited cotton cooperative based in Bakersfield, Calif.

Variable rate fertilization can maximize alfalfa efficiency, profitability

The Rayner family farms year round near Phoenix in the Arizona desert, double cropping 4,500 acres of alfalfa, cotton, wheat, and forage sorghum.

The family embraces new technology across the farm to maximize the farm’s productivity and efficiency. Yet there’s always room for improvement.

“With all of our yield gains in our crops, alfalfa is the one that has been lagging yield wise,” said Ron Rayner, who along with his brothers Robert and Earl are partners in ‘A-Tumbling-T-Ranches’ based in Goodyear.

Arizona agriculture creates framework to protect water supply

About 60 leaders from Arizona’s diverse farming industry huddled in September for the Arizona Agriculture Water Summit. The goal was to identify agricultural water issues across the Grand Canyon State and how the food and fiber industries should work together to protect its vital and threatened water supply.

Farmers, ranchers, and leaders representing various agricultural organizations in Arizona divided into groups to learn about water issues across commodity areas and regions in the state.

Insecticide efficacy trials at Yuma Agricultural Center

There are many insecticides on the market today and finding the right product for the right pest and the right plant in commercial agriculture can be quite a challenge for growers.

Among these agricultural researchers who test insecticides in field trials includes  


Latest insecticides improve efficacy against produce pests

With the 2015-2016 winter produce season underway in the low desert, a large blip on the radar screens for growers and their crop advisers is pest threats.

Produce insect pests are broken down into eight categories, including whitefly, worms, leafminer, aphids, thrips, and others. Thanks to evolving chemical technology, the good news is the produce industry has a tool box full of effective insecticides to combat pests.

Pacheco family grows food, fiber even with urban encroachment

The Pacheco family of Marana, Ariz. knows first hand about two things: farming successfully for three generations and now facing the likely loss of their farm in time due to urban encroachment from the greater Tucson area.

Yet the Pachecos are proud and profitable farmers, and will continue to farm as long as they can.

Enjoy these photos of the Pacheco family and their food and fiber operation.

Pacheco family – feeding, clothing the world from the urban fringe

Only a painted concrete block wall and a dirt road separate the Pacheco family’s farm shop and equipment shed from a spanking new subdivision of stucco-based tile-roofed houses next door - about 100 feet apart to be precise.

Despite the closeness between the still rural yet urbanizing town of Marana, Ariz. and the family’s agricultural enterprise, Dan Pacheco keeps hard at work managing the almost 1,600 acre operation.

Photos tell the story - Brown stink bug in California cotton

Two years ago, a new pest menace to California cotton - the brown stink bug - infested fields in the state's Palo Verde Valley in Riverside County. The pest has now caused damaged in cotton for three consecutuve growing seasons.

Cotton losses have been significant. In late August, some growers turned off the irrigation water to their cotton crops and planned to harvest what fiber they could.    

Review these photos to see the pest culprit, its damage, and the actions by cotton leaders to bring future solutions to this problem.

'Red tape' delays brown stink bug control in Cal cotton

The California cotton industry continues in survival mode these days with growers facing water reductions from a four-year epic drought, acreage competition from high-value permanent crops, flat fiber prices, and now the devastating brown stink bug (BSB).

The brown stink bug reared its ugly head two years ago in California’s Palo Verde Valley (PVV) in Riverside County in the southern reaches of the state. The cotton pest has also been found just to the south in northern Imperial County.

2015 Arizona Pecan Growers Association meeting

Members and guests - about 200 total - gathered Aug. 28 for the 2015 Arizona Pecan Growers Association annual meeting in Tucson.

They heard about a wide variety of topics including the recently confirmed pecan bacterial leaf scorch disease in Arizona pecan, an Arizona-specific water study to determine precise water needs in Arizona-grown commercial pecan orchards, and how China should continue to be a large market for U.S.-grown pecans.

Enjoy these photos from the pecan meeting, courtesy of Western Farm Press.


Bacterial leaf scorch confirmed in Arizona pecan

Its official – the Arizona pecan industry has a new plant disease, according to plant pathologist Mary Olsen.

Olsen of the University of Arizona told several hundred folks gathered at the Arizona Pecan Growers Association annual meeting in Tucson in August that pecan bacterial leaf scorch (PBLS) disease was confirmed in Arizona pecan in July with help from the Plant Diagnostic Lab at New Mexico State University (NMSU).

Two diagnostic methods were used to confirm the disease - DNA and ELISA, the latter an acronym stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

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 1
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.

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