Todd Fitchette

Associate Editor,
Western Farm Press

Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press, spent much of his journalism career covering agriculture in California and the western United States. Aside from reporting about issues related to farm production, environmental regulations and legislative matters, he has extensive experience covering the dairy industry, western water issues and politics. His journalistic experience includes local daily and weekly newspapers, where he was recognized early in his career as an award-winning news photographer.

Fitchette is US Army veteran and a graduate of California State University, Chico. He resides in Tulare, Calif.

Pistachio crop could be record in 2016
Will records fall in California tree nuts this season?
For growers of almonds, pistachios and walnuts the word is all three are in record-high territory this season. Meanwhile, California’s other large permanent crop – grapes – could fall short of earlier record crushes, though wine grape growers are optimistic about quality.
Mandarins are a $1.6 million industry in northern California's Placer County
Asian citrus psyllids found in Placer County, Calif.
A call to a state tip line drew confirmation of the first-ever find of Asian citrus psyllids in the northern California community of Lincoln.
Weedy red rice, a problematic weed in the South, has appeared in California rice
Weedy red rice reappears in California
Weedy red rice, a considerable problem for rice growers in the South, is said to be in at least six fields in the northern California counties of Glenn and Butte.
California Navel orange production should be close to last year
California Navel orange survey says 84 million boxes
California’s 2016-17 Navel orange estimate is projected to be 84 million cartons, down from the previous year’s actual utilization of 88 million cartons. According to survey data released earlier this week, Kern County growers have a higher average fruit set per tree at 472. Tulare’s fruit set averages 380 while in Fresno the average set is 296. This was based on a sample of 537 groves, the highest number of groves sampled since the 2012-13 season.
Grapes and almonds each valued at over $1 billion in Kern County in 2015
Kern County crop values fell 9 percent in 2015
Topping the county’s list of most valuable crops, grapes and almonds remained No. 1 and No. 2 with gross receipts near or above $1.5 billion each. Citrus rounds out the top three at over $927 million in gross value. As the county’s top commodity, total grape acreage remained unchanged from the previous year at 106,200. Internal changes in the grape industry saw acreage gains in wine varieties and a decrease in raisin acreage.
University of California Entomologist Larry Godfrey at Rice Day in Biggs
Calif. rice growers work through armyworm challenges
In typical seasons growers can see two peaks of armyworm activity, Espino says. The first tends to be in mid-to-late June and the second in mid-August. The first period tends to result in defoliation while the second period tends to injure the panicle, resulting in blank grains. Espino says rice can tolerate some defoliation and still not affect yield. The recommended threshold for defoliation is 25 percent. Beyond that Espino says yield loss can occur.
UC Entomologists Pete Goodell and David Haviland
California, Ariz. strategize on sugarcane aphid control
The Sugarcane aphid – known by that name because it was first spotted in sugarcane – is now a problematic pest in California after first spreading across the South, according to David Haviland, an entomologist with UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County. Haviland and integrated pest management (IPM) advisor Pete Goodell of the UC Statewide IPM program are working hard to gather information on this pest as they seek to quickly disseminate that knowledge to growers who are days to a couple weeks away from harvest.
UC entomologists explain biology of sugarcane aphid to sorghum growers
California sorghum growers get crash course in sugarcane aphid
The sugarcane aphid can be identified by its pale yellow color. Other identifying marks that can be seen with a magnifying glass include black cornicles, or tailpipes at the back end of the insect, and black tips on their feet and antennae. Chemical controls labeled for use in California can help somewhat, though these insects are said to be more difficult to kill than the light green aphids that can be more easily controlled with common insecticides.
Fresh honeydew melons moving to market
Honeydews: from California fields to Canadian markets
Northern California honeydew harvest has connections with Canada
Almond acreages decline in Tulare County in 2015
Tulare crop value falls nearly 14 percent to $6.98B
After hitting an all-time high of over $8 billion in 2014, the annual crop value in the county in 2015 fell more than $1.1 billion to $6.98 billion. Most counties don’t have crop values as high as the losses realized by Tulare County.
Opponents of AB 1066 say farm workers will see reduced wages
California moves to change overtime for farm workers 2
Assembly Bill 1066, if signed by Gov. Brown, will phase in requirements to pay farm workers overtime after eight hours of work in a day or 40 hours in a week – the same requirements as mandated in other types of work.
UC Researcher Lindsay Jordan studies various wine grape varieties at Kearney
UC research targets adding value to SJV wine grapes
In an effort to perhaps put more value into the Valley’s grape industry, University of California researchers are studying over 50 different wine grape varieties to see which ones can produce the tonnage and quality necessary to profitably make quality wines. The studies couldn’t come at a better time as the San Joaquin Valley grape industry has been challenged in recent years by lower returns, leading some to replace their vineyards with tree nuts because of their profitability.
Processing tomato production looks to be lower in California in 2016
Canning tomato numbers trail last year's crop
Production of canning tomatoes is forecast to be 11 percent behind last year’s crop. Contracted production for processing tomatoes is forecast at 12.8 million tons.
Farm advisor explains wine grape varieties that might grow well for farmer
Farm advisor studies wine grapes in warm climate
Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist searches for wine grapes that grow and produce well under San Joaquin Valley's hot summers.
California expands releases of parasitic wasps in Asian citrus psyllid fight
Bakersfield enlists biological tool in ACP war
For the first time since California enlisted biological control methods in its war against the Asian citrus psyllid, the state has moved reinforcements to the Central Valley. Bakersfield becomes the first San Joaquin Valley city to enlist a tiny parasitic wasp – Tamarixia radiata – to help fight the ACP in the state’s urban battle against the invasive pest that can kill citrus trees.
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