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.

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 2
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.
Over 152,000 acres of Pima cotton planted in California in 2016
California cotton acreage jumps 35 percent to 218,000 1
After six years of trending downward, California cotton growers are slated to harvest more cotton than they did last year, which fell to the lowest level since the Great Depression. Overall acreage based on the state’s pink bollworm survey – the most accurate accounting of cotton acreage in the state – reflects a 35 percent increase to 218,713 acres. By type this includes a 31 percent hike in Pima acreage to just over 152,000 acres. Upland acreage figures are up 44 percent to over 66,000.
California eradicates the European grapevine moth 1
California declares eradication of the European grapevine moth seven years after its discovery in Napa County
Citrus greening disease continues southern California spread
Two new HLB finds in Southern California
Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, continues to spread across southern California.
Almonds most valuable crop for Fresno County agriculture
2015 Fresno County crop value slides 6.5 percent
Fresno County agricultural value dropped 6 percent in 2015. County has fallen from top spot as leading producer of food and fiber in the United States.
Consumer demand for California mandarins is growing
Mandarin plantings continue to increase in California
Overall citrus acreage in California is up about 1 percent though on a variety basis the figures are a mixed bag – or box – as the case may be. While Navel oranges remain the most popular citrus variety in the state at over 120,000 bearing and non-bearing acres, orange plantings declined in the past two years as the popularity of easy-peel mandarin varieties continues to win favor with consumers and by default, growers.
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