Apple, pear and grape growers in California now have a valuable new tool to add to their resistance management programs that will help them fight economically important diseases.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation approved Sovran fungicide for control of tough diseases, including scab, powdery mildew, sooty blotch, frogeye leafspot and fly speck on applies; scab and powdery mildew on pears and powdery mildew, phomopsis, black rot, and downy mildew on grapes.

Sovran, developed by BASF Agricultural Products, has been widely tested and showed excellent disease control in states where it was registered in 1999. "We were very pleased with the efficacy of Sovran during its first season of use in 1999," says Jerry Minore, fungicide market manager for BASF. "It has shown to offer superior control of a broad spectrum of diseases in a variety of high value crops."

This unique new product for California growers has a novel mode of action and is from the strobilurin class of chemistry, derived from a mushroom. Because Sovran comes from a different class of chemistry, it will be an essential addition to growers' resistance management programs.

"Sovran provides growers with another fungicide to use in rotation, in order to help curb resistance problems and extend the life of traditional fungicides," Minore says.

Sovran also has Surface Systemic Activity, so the active ingredient diffuses in and over the waxy cuticular layers of the plant surface for a more even distribution of the active ingredient, kresoxim methyl. Plus, the fungicide has a translaminar effect that allows the active ingredient to move from one side of the leaf to the other. This means growers get complete coverage of the leaf and very effective protection from the most economically damaging diseases.

In this country, we eat about 2,175 pounds of food per person each year and about 900 calories more every day than the worldwide average of 2,700, say Farm Bureau sources.

There are 1.8 acres per person of arable land in agricultural production to feed the current U.S. population. By 2050, that figure is expected to decline to 0.6 acres. This will result in higher food prices, imported goods and less diversity in our diet. Farmers look to advances in science, biotechnology, animal nutrition, technology and water delivery systems to help them stay productive and competitive.

What did one ear of corn say to the other? "Quit stalking me!"

What is the most commonly eaten food in the world? Rice. What food is grown on every continent except Antarctica? Rice. What food does the United States export more of than it consumes? Rice.

What do you call cattle with a sense of humor? Laughing stock.

Natural? Or organic? If you're talking about the method used to produce some foods-from growing to processing, they're not necessarily the same. "Natural" has no legal definition or regulations to guide production and processing and offers no guarantees that no pesticides were used. "Organic" includes a fully audited management system, guaranteed by a third-party inspection and certification.

Americans may not be getting sweeter, but their diet definitely is. Sugar consumption is up 28 percent since 1982. Farm Bureau sources say that equals about 68.5 pounds of sugar per person each year.

American beef consumption has been on the increase since 1993 and now equals that of poultry, pork and seafood combined.

Nematodes - a threat to dozens of California crops - are nearly invisible. Ten times finer than an eyelash, these microscopic worms with voracious appetites invade the roots of plants, suck out their juices and leave them vulnerable to attack by deadly fungi and bacteria. That's the bad news. Here's the good news: Genetic researchers found a rare strain of sugar beet that resists a half-dozen nematodes and are working to insert its disease-resistant genes into peaches, tomatoes, beans, carrots and potatoes.

Proud hunters who bag their limit usually haul the meat home to feed the family. To get the maximum enjoyment from your wild game, Farm Bureau suggests that you follow food safety procedures when dressing, storing and cooking the meat. Why? Of the cases of human trichinosis reported to the Centers for Disease Control, many were the result of eating bear and other game meats.

The most recent statistics indicate that California exports of milk and cream to Mexico increased $46 million to a total of $65 million annually.