2017 Sustainable Ag Expo

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Last week I was in San Luis Obispo attending the 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo. It is a very well run event and there were a number of excellent speakers. It’s a great place to meet with growers we work with from all around the state. Dr. Marc Fuchs, Plant Pathology Professor at Cornell University, spoke

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Getting Your Bearings, Post-Harvest

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

There are a number of studies showing Alternate Bearing (AB) as a naturally occurring and internally regulated process. That’s equivalent to saying that your family has a history of high blood pressure, when it’s actually a family history of poor living and eating habits that has caused the problem. After harvest, a perennial crop is

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The Pest and Pathogen Carousel

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I’m reading a book by Francis Chaboussou called “Healthy Crops.” The book has groundbreaking material, and all growers should give it a read. I would compare Chaboussou (although much less known) to Liebig, the German chemist who made major contributions to agriculture and biological chemistry and was considered the founder of organic chemistry. Chaboussou presents

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Soil Microbes Can Help Battle Heat Stress

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Drought conditions, heat stress, heavy frost and freezes all dramatically impact our crops. In California, over the Labor Day weekend, we witnessed a heat wave with temperatures soaring as high as 117 degrees in wine growing regions like the Santa Cruz Mountains. Many winemakers experienced a gut reaction of fear, especially with sensitive varieties like

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Fire Relief Offer for Northern California Growers

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Andaman Ag, Master Distributor for Creative Ag Products, Inc. (Pacific Gro) and Sustainable Growing Solutions (MetaGrow ST compost tea), is working directly with its generous suppliers to offer free and discounted products to those vineyards or orchards that have been burned or singed by the recent fires in Northern California. We are offering IBC totes

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A Growing Problem: Ramifications of Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Despite the best efforts of soil health advocates, the rate of synthetic fertilizer use is still on the rise. According to USDA, in 1964, farmers were applying on average 58 pounds of nitrogen per acre. By 2010, the average was 140 pounds. It’s unlikely those numbers have changed much since 2010, and that level of

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Now You’re Cooking: Being a Chef of the Kitchen of Your Soil

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Organic farming is less about following a recipe and more about being a chef in the kitchen, experimenting with different ingredients.  We’re learning more and more about the exchange between plants and the fungi, bacteria and other organisms in the soil and, frankly, there are few recipes available for dialing this in. Like with any

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Flush With Success! Post-Harvest Is the Time to Ready Perennials for Spring

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Most perennial crops will do a final leaf flush after harvest or in the fall, to expand new root growth and store sugar produced through photosynthesis as starch to be used for next year’s spring growth flush. The tree also reduces its total moisture content and begins to synthesize the proteins it will need in

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Post Harvest Applications

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Post harvest applications are essential as studies have shown that nearly 30% of all nutrients for the entire season are taken up at post harvest providing essential nutrients to help get the crop through the winter and ready for spring. This is a window of opportunity that cannot be ignored even given the rigorous demands

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Organic Farming as Crop Insurance

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Organic farming combines conservation-minded methods with technology, but does not use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, organic farming relies on enhancing and building soil fertility. Still, for a farm to survive in a market economy, it has to be profitable. Long-term studies show that organic farming increases both energy efficiency and economic returns, the latter

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Microbes Carry a Lot of Carbon to Their Graves

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My newsletters are consistently about improving soil fertility, and carbon sequestration is a key part of that process. What’s interesting is that carbon sequestration is still poorly understood despite years of research. I believe that where technology is making its greatest impact on agriculture is in accurately measuring things that we’ve only guessed at in

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What Can We Learn from Soil Management?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I met a grower down in the Oxnard area that grows over 600 acres of blueberries in substrate (pots) and is very successful selling his organic product to Driscoll. One of his primary challenges is growing during the winter. The pots cool off each night much more quickly than soils and thus, the next day

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Great Grapes: Accelerating Vineyard Maturation

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

As we get closer to grape harvest, many of you have been asking us about options for increasing the maturation of vineyard blocks. The question is, how can you accelerate improvements in color, sugar and phenolic levels? The last 30-40 days prior to harvest is when sugar content begins to ramp up in the fruit.

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Soil – It’s All About the Carbon

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I was visiting an organic lemon grower recently. His lemon trees were full of fruit, rich in color and uniform in size. After I toured the property, we stopped and he dug a bit to show me the thick dark brown soil. He invited me over to smell it and it was musty, damp and

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Do Amino Acids Work?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, continue to get a lot of attention in agriculture. Proteins are one of the major components of the structure and the chemistry of living things. Amino acids may be linked together to form more than 50,000 different proteins. The primary function of amino acids is to furnish the

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