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Combinations best dodder control

Dodder is an annual parasitic weed that yearly infests thousands of acres of processing tomatoes, alfalfa, carrots, melons, onions, safflower and sugar beets in California.

Numerous broadleaf weeds also serve as hosts to dodder.

It has many opportunities to thrive within California's numerous agricultural production systems.

Dodder germinates from seed, begins emerging from the soil as early as February, and continues emerging for several months. The majority of dodder emerges from February through late May. Since dodder is a rootless plant, it must attach to a suitable host plant within two to three days of emergence or it dies.

As a parasitic weed in tomatoes, it attaches to the plant (usually the stem), penetrates the epidermis, and enters the vascular tissue to obtain water and nutrients for survival. As long as the host plant remains alive, so does the dodder.

Feeding off the tomato host plant, it grows rapidly, and envelops the original host and surrounding plants with its wiry orange strands.

Young tomato plants may be killed or severely retarded in growth during a short period of time. Eventually, entire fields may be blanketed with dodder, reducing stand and yields.

Problem reduction

Dodder produces hard-coated seed that remain dormant in the soil for more than 20 years. Therefore, it is essential that some sort of management be implemented to sustain tomato yields and reduce future dodder outbreaks.

There are no magic bullets for dodder control in tomatoes, but there are options that reduce dodder survival or eliminate the impact dodder has on tomato production. Try using combinations of the following:

  • Plant after May 15 to avoid the period when most dodder germinates and emerges. Select varieties that can be planted and grown later in the season to reduce risk of damage caused by high temperatures.

  • Use transplants to minimize risk of early stand loss compared to direct-seeded tomatoes which are easily killed by dodder attack. Rapid growth of transplants helps reduce yield loss.

  • Plant varieties H9492, H9553, and H9992, which have been previously shown to have a large degree of dodder resistance. These varieties have similar growth and production characteristics to H8892, already commonly grown in California. In most instances, these varieties will significantly reduce the amount of new dodder seed that would normally be produced with non-resistant varieties.

  • Use early post-emergence sprays of Shadeout to help reduce the growth of dodder. While Shadeout“ alone will not control dodder, it can delay its growth by 21 days or more. This gives the tomatoes a head start before dodder growth really begins to expand.

  • Timely hand removal of infested tomato plants will help reduce dodder populations. Hand-weeding crews should be used when a significant number of attached plants can be seen (usually about the 2-leaf stage). A second walk-through is needed seven to 10 days later to pick up the missed plants.

Infested plants can be moved to furrow bottoms or hauled from the field in burlap sacks, to be buried or burned.

Weeding crews

To get the most efficiency for your buck, use weeding crews that are conscientious about chopping out as many infested plants as possible the first time through a field. Then, come back with the same crew a second time to remove the missed plants. Sending weeding crews through the field later in the season as the only means of dodder removal usually leads to a significant loss of plants, leaving large gaps in the field.

  • Practice good weed control techniques in and around known dodder-infested fields. Since dodder readily survives on many weed hosts (including nightshade, pigweed, lambsquarters, and field bindweed), it is imperative that these and other weeds be controlled early in the season. This will reduce the likelihood of supporting dodder survival.

    Timely herbicide sprays and close cultivation should be used to reduce dodder attachment sites.

  • Rotating to non-host crops like cotton or cereals will reduce dodder populations, since they do not attach and produce additional seed. Rotating to host crops like melons, onions, safflower or sugar beets only encourages dodder survival.

While there is no one sure-fire method of controlling dodder in tomatoes, there are several options that can help reduce the amount of new seed produced and the impact on tomato production.

Dodder seed can survive in the soil for many years, so planning for the long-term is the only way of managing dodder effectively. While the old saying goes “nothing is guaranteed in life except death and taxes”, some may argue death, taxes, and dodder.

Growers to hear environmentalist

Dr. Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who has since left the organization to form his own environmental policy and communication consultancy, will be the keynote speaker a the California Cotton Growers Association's annual meeting March 9 at the Visalia Convention Center, Visalia, Calif.

Registration begins at 7:30 with a continental breakfast and the first general session will be at 9 a.m. There will also be a trade show for industry suppliers.

For more than 30 years, Moore has been an international leader in environmental activism. He was a leader of in many Greenpeace activities in the early days of the organization. He has since left the group because a change in its direction. He will discuss that at the March 9 meeting where the UC Cooperative Extension also will conduct its annual winter cotton production meeting.

In 1991 Moore founded Greenspirit, a consultancy focusing on environmental policy and communications in natural resources, biodiversity, energy and climate change.

“Dr. Moore is a fascinating individual who will offer rare insight into today's environmentalist movements and their motivations,” said Earl Williams, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations president.

Along with Dr. Moore's presentation, there also will be reports on cotton growers association's activities, including legislative and regulatory affairs updates.

UC farm advisors and Extension specialists will offer a 2003 season overview and key production and management recommendations for the coming season.

Application has been made for continuing education hours.

Reservations can be made through the cotton growers association office: (559) 252-0684; fax (559) 252-0551 or on line at www.ccgga.org.

Celery herbicides closer to growers

Four new herbicides for use in celery, two now on the horizon and two others still several years distant, are moving toward registration in California.

Steve Fennimore, University of California, Davis Extension vegetable specialist at Salinas, reported on his evaluations of the materials during a recent meeting of celery growers there.

Application for a Section 24c special local needs registration for Dual Magnum has been submitted to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The Syngenta product is effective on numerous weeds in celery and has a federal tolerance.

Goal 4F, a new, microencapsulated formulation of the Dow AgroSciences compound used on various crops for several years, has a federal label for celery and is expected to gain California registration for that crop later this year.

Meanwhile, Valent's Chateau and Bayer Crop Science's Define have far to go. They have been submitted to the IR-4 Program at Davis for residue tolerance field trials, which will require four to five years to complete.

“Although celery growers now have choices in herbicides, in our search for new materials,” Fennimore said, “the main need is for control of yellow nutsedge.”

The standby herbicide, Caporal, applied to nearly three of every four acres of celery in California, is quite safe for the crop but also has little effect on yellow nutsedge.

Lorox and Treflan are also widely used in celery for several weeds, but their control of persistent, pea-sized yellow nutsedge tubers is also limited, particularly during cool, fall weather.

Could lose product

What's more, he continued, “Just because you have a good material like Caporal today, there's no reason to assume you will have it tomorrow.”

Given the protracted process for registration of new herbicides, growers need to consider a long-term timeline for even the most promising herbicides.

Goal 4F and Chateau are among the new class of protox inhibitors that act against chlorophyll synthesis in weeds, breaking down lipids and creating the same effect as freezing temperatures.

“The good thing about this class of herbicides,” Fennimore said, “is no weed resistance to it has been found anywhere in the world. That's contrary to the resistance found in almost every other classical herbicide chemistry, including that of Lorox and Caparol.”

In trials on celery transplants at Oxnard and Salinas during the past three years, Fennimore compared several new herbicides with Caporal and Lorox, both known for their effectiveness on purslane and hairy nightshade. The new compounds also were screened for their control of yellow nutsedge.

Dual Magnum, an intensified version of the well-established Dual product, is active in the soil, inhibiting growth of roots and shoots of grasses and sedges. In Fennimore's trials it showed broad-spectrum activity, including good control of purslane and fair control of hairy nightshade, although higher rates may be needed for heavy nutsedge.

Plusses, minuses

Define showed fair control of nutsedge and purslane but had little effect on hairy nightshade.

Goal 4F performed well against purslane, but hairy nightshade and nutsedge escaped it.

Chateau gave good control on purslane and hairy nightshade but “basically doesn't do anything to nutsedge,” he said.

The new materials generally did little harm to the celery crop in trials with populations ranging from 32,000 to 45,000 plants per acre. Weights of marketable stalks indicated the products had no significant effect on yields. In another presentation during the celery gathering, Bill Chaney, entomology farm advisor for Monterey County, said among several aphid pests, the foxglove aphid has been the most harmful to celery recently.

“According to the literature, foxglove aphid has been in the Salinas Valley for a long time, but I suspect when the lettuce aphid was introduced several years ago we also got foxglove aphid. In Europe, where we think the lettuce aphid came from, both species are always found together.”

Several products can control foxglove aphid, distinguished by its green color when in celery. The neonicotinoid group of compounds he tested, Chaney said, worked well until they started to break down 10 to 14 days after application.

Leafminers

Leafminers have returned to Salinas Valley celery fields after an absence of several seasons and continue to be of more concern in celery than in other crops. He said the standard compounds, Trigard and Agri-Mek, give good control of leafminers on celery.

Several plant bug species attack celery, but usually most losses come from lygus that accumulate on native hillside vegetation. As the hillside cover dries, they invade celery and other crops.

Another plant bug, Calocoris, inflicts similar feeding-site damage. When immature forms of it or lygus infest celery, they cause twisting of plant hearts.

Chaney said although other compounds have residual effects on lygus and other plant bugs, neonicotinoids knock down the pests when applied but then lose potency once sprays have dried.

Recalling the increased damage to celery by western flower thrips in 2003, he said, ”We had numbers like we have not seen in a very long time. They are both a source of direct damage to the crop and a contaminant.”

Taiwan and other Pacific Rim destinations for California celery exports have zero tolerance for the tiny insects that leave scars on stalks.

Another vegetable pest in higher numbers last year was root maggot, which normally remains beneath the soil surface. Last year it damaged some celery fields above ground.

Extended periods of cool, wet conditions during the winter, Chaney explained, caused adult females to lay eggs at the base of plants rather than underground. Larvae then remained on the plant to feed.

Three species in the maggot group, cabbage, seed corn, and onion, occurred in various combinations to damage celery mostly in the Santa Maria and Oxnard areas.

Chaney said since the egg laying coincided with the celery-free period in the Salinas Valley, root maggot damage on celery there was less.

Weed Science society slates March meet

The 57th annual meeting of the Western Society of Weed Science will convene in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the Doubletree Hotel Colorado Springs-World Arena, on March 9-11, 2004.

Two excellent symposia on saltcedar (Tamarisk) and soil organic matter are scheduled on Wednesday. A special 1-day registration that includes the awards luncheon is available to anyone interested in attending the saltcedar symposium.

The general session on Tuesday morning will feature presentations about the economic, environmental, and societal losses due to invasive plants; a review and update about glyphosate (Roundup herbicide) resistance in weeds and glyphosate-resistant crop systems; and perspectives on U.S. government policies as they relate to weed science.

The program features over 72 scientific presentations and 69 displays of research activities in weed science in crops, rangelands and forests, wetlands and wildlands, and educational outreach programs.

The detailed program, registration, and lodging information may be accessed at: www.WSWeedScience.org or contact Mrs. Wanda Graves, Business Manager - WSWS, PO Box 963, Newark, CA 94560, 510-790-1252.

Guard against wheat stripe rust repeat

Wheat stripe rust disease caused major crop losses last season to much of California's 675,000-acres winter wheat crop, and University of California farm advisors are advising producers to be alert for another possible outbreak in the 600,000-acres crop this season.

Yields were reduced by as much as 75 percent in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys due to wheat strip rust and more than 40 wheat-producing counties in Northern California were declared disaster areas.

Now is the time to start checking for wheat stripe rust, according to Doug Munier, Glenn County field crops farm advisor.

Last year, Lee Jackson, UC Davis cereals specialist, found wheat stripe rust very early. By March, wheat stripe rust in California was severe and widespread. Several new races were present last year, so some varieties previously resistant were greatly affected by this important wheat disease.

At this early stage of wheat development, stripe rust is difficult to see, according to Munier.

“It develops slowly and will not show up in the upper leaves until later. It will often appear on the bottom leaves, possibly a leaf laying on the soil surface, and will appear as necrotic blotches surrounded by a few small pustules. These pustules may have the spores washed off of them by any recent rain,” explained Munier.

Very resistant

The new wheat variety Summit was still very resistant to last year's strains of the wheat stripe rust fungus disease. Much of the acreage in the Sacramento Valley this year is planted to Summit, according to Munier. This should result in normal yields unless new strains develop which overcome this resistance. The wheat stripe rust fungus has been rapidly developing new strains over the past few years.

If milling quality wheat is the goal, Munier said Summit may need nitrogen applied during the boot to flowering stage. Thirty to 40 pounds of actual nitrogen usually raises grain protein by 1-2 percent.

Munier said many wheat growers have responded to the increase in wheat stripe rust by planting barley. “There are two newer University of California varieties, UC 937 and UC 933 which have yielded very well with good tolerance to barley leaf diseases,” said Munier.

Colusa County Farm Advisor Jerry Schmierer warned that even though stripe rust-resistant strains were identified last year, that does not mean a new strain cannot develop on these new varieties.

“Resistant varieties are the first line of defense against this disease, but we must keep watch so that we don't let a new strain catch us off guard,” said Schmierer.

Rust spores, he said, are spread by wind to initiate infection. Disease development is most rapid at temperatures of 50-60 degrees with intermittent rain and dew. Secondary cycles occur at seven to 10 days intervals.

If wheat stripe rust is found this early in the growing season some growers may consider using a fungicide, which may be economical considering the current weather pattern and amount of time left for grain-fill.

Jerry Schmierer, Colusa County farm advisor, and Munier conducted several fungicide trials last year and will do several more this year to get more information on the economical effectiveness of fungicides for wheat stripe rust.

Fungicide options

The two better fungicide options are Tilt and Quadris. Tilt may be applied no later than full flag leaf emergence. It cannot be applied to forage wheat. Quadris can be applied up to late head emergence. The Quadris label does not address wheat for silage, but says it can be used on wheat for hay (defined as dried to 20 percent moisture before being fed).

Schmierer said to “positively identify the rust before spraying. Consider spraying if rust is found on 10 percent of any leaf on 10 percent of the plants in a stand.”

General yellowing of lower leaves without any evidence of pustules cannot be attributed to the rust pathogen.

Dry, windy conditions should slow the disease's progress.

Tulare County Farm Advisor Steve Wright said multiple factors contributed to the severe yield loss last season to the central valley wheat crop from stripe rust. The most often cited factor is the increasing acreage of early-planted susceptible wheat varieties grown for silage.

“This early-planted acreage served as a source of inoculum for spreading the disease,” he said.

Next was the near perfect weather conditions during the 2002-03 growing season that was ideal for the development and spread of the disease. And finally, the genetic adaptability of the stripe rust organism to develop new races capable of infecting a wide range of host plants.

A study done in Kings County last year indicated that for every unit increase in stripe rust resulted in a 794-pound yield loss.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com

Chestnut groves

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” We sing about it at Christmas but few of us have ever tasted this small California crop.

Immigrants who came to California during the Gold Rush planted European variety seeds in the Sierra foothills, Central Valley and North Coast. Today nearly 600 acres of chestnuts are planted in California.

The California Avocado Commission has promoted Guy Witney to director of industry affairs. In his new position Witney will be responsible for the management of all CAC's industry-related field programs including crop estimation, chemical registrations, crop insurance, quarantines, production research and grower communications.

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, individuals with normal to moderately high cholesterol levels, may be able to lower their cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart by substituting almonds into their diets for less nutrient-dense foods.

Researchers concluded it is likely the combination of a variety of nutrients uniquely found in almonds — such as vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, arginine and dietary fiber — incorporated into the highly effective National Cholesterol Education Program Step 1 diet that reduces cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk. Today, cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States.

Gulfprince, a new peach variety that can tree-ripen for several extra days, thus becoming sweeter and juicier, is now available to consumers.

The new variety, released to growers in 1999, was developed by the Agricultural Research Service, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. It was planted in grower orchards in 2001.

California's table grape growers had a record-breaking year in 2000. They exported nearly 20 million 21-pound boxes of grapes valued at more than $240 million.

The Farm Bureau points out that California farmers and ranchers produce an average of $67 million in food, fiber and flower products every day of the year.

Milk is California's top ranked commodity, having a value of $2.9 billion in 1994. Grapes follow in second, with cattle and calves rounding out the top three spots.

How much did a Bartlett pear cost in the mid-1800s? $20.67. they were so delicious, people paid the same price for Bartletts as they did for an ounce of gold!

California leads both the nation and the world in apricot production with a 10-year average of about 180,000 tons. Of that only 6 percent is consumed fresh.

More than two-thirds of the U.S. production of Bartlett pears is harvested in California. The peak season for Bartletts is from mid-July to November.

In orchards where water infiltration is limited, gypsum applications can be helpful. Gypsum is especially effective in increasing water penetration.

On average, only one in 20,000 chemicals makes it from the chemist's laboratory to the farmers field, says the Alliance for Food and Fiber.

Dating back to 7000 B.C. the walnut tree is the oldest known fruit tree. Fifty percent of the world's supply of walnuts comes from California.

The California Farm Bureau heard through the grapevine that 75 percent of all California raisins are eaten at breakfast.

Figs were not only eaten by the first Greek Olympians for their great tasted and healthful qualities, they were also worn as medals for their Olympic achievements.

Almonds are really a fruit. They originated in China and are related to such fruits as peaches, plums and cherries.

The No. 1 olive producing county in California is Tulare.

The “Gala” apple was first found in 1939 in New Zealand. It is a cross between a Golden Delicious apple and a Kid's Orange Pippin.

The pistachio is a relative of both the mango and the cashew. California grows all of the nation's commercial pistachios on 60,000 acres.

Grapefruit is very high in vitamin C and is a source of potassium, folacin and Vitamin A. Dieters are especially fond of grapefruit because it is sodium and fat-free.

During the Super Bowl, enough avocados were consumed to cover a football field 18 inches deep in guacamole!

The Farm Bureau points out that California farmers and ranchers produce an average of $67 million in food, fiber and flower products every day of the year.

California produced 151 million pounds of pistachios last year; Iran leads the world in production of pistachios.

Milk is California's top ranked commodity, having a value of $2.9 billion in 1994. Grapes follow in second, with cattle and calves rounding out the top three spots.

California avocados contain more vitamin A than many other popular fruits, including apples, bananas and grapefruit.

The famous “Golden Apples” of Greek mythology were actually apricots. Commercial growing of apricots in California started in 1872 in California's fertile Santa Clara Valley.

How much did a Bartlett pear cost in the mid-1800s? $20.67. they were so delicious, people paid the same price for Bartletts as they did for an ounce of gold!

California leads both the nation and the world in apricot production with a 10-year average of about 180,000 tons. Of that only 6 percent is consumed fresh.

More than two-thirds of the U.S. production of Bartlett pears is harvested in California. The peak season for Bartletts is from mid-July to November.

A 50-acre apple orchard with 44 trees per acre can lose about $27,000 a year to deer.

The key for long-term success of drying raisins “on-the-vine,” will be new varieties, according to UC Davis viticulture specialist Pete Christensen

The most well-nourished families are those that prepare foods from scratch, buy more fruits and vegetables and use a variety of cooking methods.

Prunes top the list of antioxidant fruits, followed by raisins and blueberries. Heading the list of antioxidant vegetables is kale, followed by spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Sixty percent of California's raisins are sold as an ingredient to food processors, according to the California Raisin Marketing Board.

Marketing research studies show consumers praise low-cost raisins as a source of nutrients, as a convenient and nutritious snack, and as a useful cooking ingredient.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter rides again! No, it's not a cute, little gun-totin' winged fairy. It's an insect that poses a serious threat to California viticulture. Why? Because it spreads Xylella fastidiosa — the bacterium that causes Pierce's disease — for which there is no effective treatment.

Rural crime has changed. It's no longer just a neighbor's kid swiping Tipe cherries from your tree on a warm spring day — it's serious business. Commercial orchards are particularly vulnerable to thefts of walnut burls that sell for thousands of dollars and are used in luxury vehicles.

California continues to lead the U.S. in production of apricots, avocados, grapes, lemons, plums, prunes and strawberries.

Eating a handful of walnuts everyday will lower your blood cholesterol. A study at Loma Linda University found that people who ate any kind of nuts at least five times a week had half the risk of heart attacks as those who ate nuts less than once a week. California leads the nation in production of walnuts, which ranks 10th in agricultural export commodities. What, countries import them? Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, Netherlands and Israel.

Differences in color are not the only thing that distinguishes white-fleshed peaches and nectarines from traditional varieties. Yellow varieties continue to ripen after harvest, while white varieties taste sweet even while they are quite firm to the touch.

Ben Franklin predicted that in the future food would be our medicine. He was right! Farm Bureau reports that researchers found certain compounds in cherries which can help prevent heart disease, block inflammatory enzymes and are more effective than aspirin for reducing pain. So, if you hurt…eat 20 cherries and call me in the morning.

What do wine and angel food cake have in common? Cream of tartar. Farm Bureau sources report that this major ingredient in baking powder is a natural, pure substance left behind after grape juice has ferments to wine, and keeps egg whites from foaming.

Winery shipments increased for the sixth consecutive year, reaching a record high of 446 million gallons in 1999.

“An apple a day…” You know the rest. Studies have found that people who eat at least one apple a day have a lower risk of stroke than those who don't eat apples.

Kiwi — no, not the bird — the funny, fuzzy fruit-was rated No. 1 in per-gram nutrient density out of 27 fruits analyzed. In addition to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, kiwifruit contains phytochemicals and amino acids that have been shown to help prevent macular degeneration — a leading cause of blindness.

At first glance, a kiwifruit isn't very pretty. In fact, it looks like it needs a good shave. However, Farm Bureau says those hirsute kiwifruit are especially good for men. Each serving contains a healthy dose of nutrients that help fight prostate cancer and impotence. No need to peel it; just cut it in half and scoop out the goodness with a spoon. Or, eat it with the skin on. Really. Some do.

The earliest evidence of wine was found on a pottery jar in Iran dating back at least 7,000 years.

What familiar, low-cost, lunchbox treat is grown only in California? Raisins.

According to researchers, farm children have lower rates of asthma than those children raised in cities. Studies credit this to their early exposure to fungi, dust and animal dander.

California's 37,000 apple-producing acres yielded 408,000 tons of apples at last count.

Technically, olive oil is really “fruit juice.” It's the only cooking oil that doesn't come from seeds, grains or nuts. And, like other fruit juices, it's good for you.

If you're “nuts” for nuts, snack on pistaschios while you're watching Monday night football. A one-ounce serving has about 47 nuts — more per serving than any other nut — so you can eat a lot. They're tasty, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and monounsaturated fat that helps lower cholesterol. Shaped like little footballs, too!

The United Kingdom is the largest export market for California raisins — about 22 percent, says Farm Bureau.

When Dom Perignon discovered champagne in 1600 he exclaimed, “Come quickly, I'm drinking stars.”

Sunkist and Henry Ford — what do they have in common? 1908. that's the year Sunkist was adopted as a brand of oranges and Henry Ford introduced the Model-T automobile at a cost of $825.

More than 6,000 California avocado growers produce the 154,000-ton crop.

Almonds — California's largest food export at $780 million — have found their way into school lunches in Japan.

To increase calcium in the traditionally non-dairy Japanese diet, a popular snack mix of baby sardines and slivered almonds was developed. One ounce of almonds provides 8 percent of the daily calcium requirement.

Almond sales to India may eventually surpass those to Japan. The high-protein almonds are important to India's meatless society that spends more than 50 percent of its income on food.

Manufacturer group seeks trade pacts moratorium

An expanded coalition of manufacturing associations is calling for a moratorium on any new trade agreements, including the recently concluded Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The group of 23 American manufacturing organizations is asking the Bush administration to conduct a thorough review of the impact of such agreements on American workers and manufacturers. It said it represents more than 18,000 companies with more than 1.1 million employees.

The call came amid reports that more than 100,000 American workers became unemployed in January as their jobs moved to countries like India, China and the Philippines. It was the first time the number had exceeded 100,000 since October.

The coalition also called for a moratorium on trade agreements and legislation to further liberalize preferential trade arrangements with other countries and regions such as the Africa and Middle East trade liberalization initiatives now being pushed anew within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

“We are extremely alarmed at the rapid disintegration of our manufacturing base resulting in part from past trade liberalization agreements and legislation,” said a spokesman for the coalition.

“The United States has lost a net total of 2.7 million well-paying manufacturing jobs since Jan. 1, 2001, and it is fast losing vital basic manufacturing capabilities that have alarming national economic welfare and national security ramifications.”

Moratorium timeline

The spokesman said the moratorium should extend “until our trade policy and past trade liberalization legislation are fully comprehended and amended to result in balanced trade that benefits our national welfare in a manner that is clearly visible to the American worker and American manufacturers.”

The new group includes: American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition; American Mold Builders Association; MADE in USA; Manufacture Alabama; Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut, Inc.; Manufacturers' Association of Central New York; Manufacturers for Fair Trade; National Tooling & Machining Association;

Save American Manufacturing Now; and the United States Business & Industry Council.

Earlier, the National Cotton Council passed a resolution urging Congress to delay ratifying the new Central American Free Trade Agreement until its textile provisions can be thoroughly reviewed and significantly improved.

The council said it continuing discussions with the U.S. Trade Representative's office to ensure that “World Trade Organization negotiations on the U.S. cotton program will be conducted in the context of the overall agricultural negotiations, while reiterating concerns about the elimination of U.S. textile tariffs.

Post-holiday job cuts

The January job loss estimate came from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement firm, which said post-holiday job cuts reached 117,556 in January, surpassing the 100,000 threshold for the first time since last October.

According to Challenger, consumer product companies led the January cutbacks with 22,775 job cuts, the largest number of reported job cuts in that sector in a single month since 1993, according to Challenger.

Challenger said one of the main factors for the job cuts in January was an increase of employers eliminating jobs in the United States and shifting to service providers in India, China and the Philippines among other countries.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Ocean of wine now receding to lake size

California's wine flood of Biblical proportions has receded.

The only thing missing when industry leaders at this year's Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, Calif., proclaimed the wine ocean had become a mere lake were flocks of doves with olive branches circling high above the cavernous convention center halls and hotel ballrooms where more than 9,000 vintners and viticulturists gathered to hear about the economic health of their industry and catch up on the latest wine industry technology.

Maybe the doves were missing because as hard as the experts tried to paint a new life for California's wine industry, no one broke out in a chorus of “Happy Days are Here Again.”

The state of the industry has improved, but there was no where to go but up after the past few seasons that saw an economic trough deeper than ever before. The rebound is apparently not that high yet or Bronco Wine Co. would not have been selected as the winery of the year for the second year in a row.

Peter Byck of the Winery Exchange selected Bronco because of another year of huge increase in shipments. Bronco's president Fred Franzia is the creator of Charles “Two-Buck Chuck” Shaw wine, the $2 bottle of wine that has mesmerized and chagrined California winemakers. More than 8 million cases of “2BC” reportedly have been sold by Trader Joe's boutique grocery stores since it was introduced two years ago by Bronco.

Primarily a West Coast phenomenon, “2BC” is a product of that surplus sea of wine. Bronco is credited with playing a major role in draining brim-full wine tanks to make 2BC while at the same time driving the price down for every other price category of wine. Most vintners say it continues to hang over the California and West Coast wine market like an economic shroud, cutting wine margins wine for everyone except Bronco and 2BC. Its amazing sales success and loyal followers make it not look like it is going away any time soon.

Supplies reduced

While Bronco did its part to drain the sea, San Joaquin Valley grape growers played a bigger role in reducing excessive wine supplies. They have paid a big price for it, removing of almost 100,000 acres of vineyards in the California's great central valley since 1998, according to Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers, the state's largest grape marketing cooperative with 500 grower members statewide. Much of that ground remains out of production because of limited alternatives and capital to replace the vines with other permanent crops.

Since 2002 alone, 40,000 acres of vines have been bulldozed by SJV farmers who decided to stop losing money growing grapes. That represents 320,000 tons of production — more than the total annual crush for the three wine grape growing regions that stretches from San Francisco to Ventura.

Those 320,000 tons would have produced more than 55 million gallons of wine annually.

Another 10,000 to 15,000 acres of vines will likely be bulldozed in 2004, said DiBuduo.

“Significant plantings statewide have stopped and pullouts have slowed,” said DiBuduo. “If the industry is looking at the valley to pull out all its (wine) grapes to solve the industry's (nagging oversupply) problems, look somewhere else. It is not going to happen.”

Demand as key

The long term solution is not more abandoned vineyards, but increasing demand. One way to do that, he added, is to “take back” the 26 percent share of the domestic market now in the hands of imports with aggressive marketing.

Wine sales in the U.S. were up 9 percent in 2003, but California's wine sales were up only 4 percent. Sixty seven million cases of wine were imported into the U.S. last year and that number is expected to grow with the increasing production of new world wines from Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa joining growing imports from Italy and Spain.

Bulk wine broker Bill Turrentine said if California wine sales were growing at “anywhere near the rate” of imports into the U.S., the Sacramento symposium “would be devoted to how to get vineyards into full production faster” rather than wondering how fast the wine surplus is disappearing.

Turrentine believes the “brain power and resources” are available in the California wine industry to identify “key factors” to achieve success for individual wineries as well as areas where growers and vintners can unite “to make the California wine business once again competitive in an increasingly competitive world market…make California once again the shining star of the world of wine.”

Only short supply

While DiBuduo, Turrentine and others tried to put a positive spin on the industry's supply/demand picture, the news was basically acreage and wine supply are coming into “balance.” For an industry that has been bleeding economically for several years, news like that is about as thrilling as a tie football game. You know what famous University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal once said about a tie game: It's about as exciting as kissing your sister.

The only variety in short supply? Lowly French Colombard in the San Joaquin Valley. It was the first ripped out. There were 55,000 acres planted in the state in 1992 the wake of the white wine boom, but it has dwindled to just 30,000 acres, bringing the crush down to 300,000 tons from what was once 600,000 tons. Now wineries are looking for Colombard, which has grown in the export market as a bulk commodity for what are now called “extreme value” wines in Europe.

“Don't go home and plant Colombard,” warned DiBuduo.

That is what everyone did with just about every other varietal during what Turrentine called the “glory years” of 1992-1999 when demand was high and supplies short. And that resulted in the deepest economic depression wineries and grape growers have ever seen. Grapes have been left unsold on the vine during the past two seasons.

While the San Joaquin Valley is sobering up from planting too many vineyards far exceeding grape demand, others areas of the state still have a hangover.

DiBuduo said the Central Coast still has non-bearing acreage and production there as well in the North Coast has not peaked. It may be 2005 before it does. Production in the Lodi-Delta area has leveled off.

By specific varietal, here is what Turrentine and DiBuduo had to say about acreage the wine supply.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the second largest wine grape in terms of acreage and bulk wine supplies are so excessive some wineries are no longer listing bulk supplies because they is no chance of it being sold. Supplies swelled tremendously until this year from the Northern and Southern interior valleys. Over the next two to three years, the increases will come from the coastal regions. It may be 2006 before Cabernet Sauvignon supplies are balanced with demand. Acreage has almost doubled since 1994 and 13,000 acres came into bearing last year. Single digit sales increases have been overwhelmed by double digit production increases. Expect the next two seasons to be difficult in marketing Cabernet wine grapes.

  • Syrah. California's answer to Australia's popular Shiraz is overplanted big time, and supplies are well ahead of admittedly strong sales. There are now 12,000 acres of Syrah in California, up from just 600 in 1994. Some 4,000 acres are non-bearing. Turrentine is impressed with the quality of the Syrah vintages and if the U.S. economy continues to improve, wine drinkers may become more adventurous and try Syrah instead of the more traditional reds. However, for now there is too much Syrah in the ground, in the tanks and coming down the pipeline.

  • Pinot Noir. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, acreage has almost doubled in 10 years. However, Mother Nature has not seen fit to produce a huge crop. There is an adequate supply of Pinot wine. It there is a big crop in the next year or two, Pinot could find itself battle for storage tank space with Cabernet.

  • Zinfandel. Supplies for white and red Zin are in balance. It has become a good bulk export product for the UK and Germany where it sells for $3 to $4 per bottle, the European version of 2BC. Zinfandel grape prices should be stable to strengthening in 2004.

  • Merlot acreage and wine supply peaked last season. Merlot pullouts in the San Joaquin helped bring supply and demand into balance. There is a stable to strengthening price outlook for 2004. Turrentine called this varietal the bulk wine variety of the year. “People actually made money on Merlot this year — a novel concept for the wine industry,” he said. This is true for the $10 or less bottle of wine. It is as close to a bull market as Turrentine would go. Harvest was short in 2003 and Turrentine was surprised there was not more upward price pressure for 2003 grapes.

  • Chardonnay. The crown jewel of California wine was the first to go into the financial tank when the downslide started. It is the first to come out of the darkness. Enough Chardonnay has been pulled from the central valley to offset new acreage elsewhere coming into production. Demand and prices should be strong in 2004 and 2005.

World supply short

Chardonnay supplies are short worldwide and there has been a steady reduction in California bulk Chardonnay. It may be bit of a stretch to call Chardonnay a bull market, but sales are good.

For the California wine grape industry to continue pulling itself out of the hole, it must produce quality at all price points, said DiBuduo. “The question is will growers be compensated for the cultural practices that produce quality.

“There are also (winery-grower) contract issues to be resolves,” said DiBuduo. Final prices, harvest schedules and the new winery terminology/demand, more “hang time.”

Wineries want grapes to sugar more on the vine. However, the longer they are left on the vines, the lower the tonnage delivered to the winery. Growers are paid on tonnage.

DiBuduo is confident these issues can be resolved.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com

Brazil threatens to become major U.S. cotton competitor

Much has been written about China's dominance of the world cotton market. It's almost reached the point that when a textile mill buyer in Shanghai sneezes, a U.S. cotton merchant develops pneumonia.

But one U.S. market watcher believes China's days as a major cotton production force are numbered. The country U.S. cotton producers will have to contend with for an increasing share of the world market: Brazil.

Speaking at the American Cotton Producers meeting in New Orleans, William B. Dunavant III said Brazil is set to become one of the United States' toughest competitors in the cotton market as China's population growth forces its leaders to switch more acres out of cotton.

“China is losing an estimated 2 percent of its agricultural acreage per year due to urban sprawl and industrial development,” he said. “With estimates for increased population growth, food production will continue to be more important than fiber production.”

If China's cotton production continues to fall short of supplying its mills — as Dunavant expects — other countries will expand production to fill that gap. Brazil is more than ready to meet that challenge.

“Farming in Brazil, today, is not a cultural issue; it is a business issue,” he noted. “The Brazilian producer's practices are similar to ours, the way they manage their farms are equal, and in some cases better than ours.”

Brazilian producers have copied U.S. models of producing, researching, picking, ginning and other uses of technology along with some from other progressive cotton-producing countries such as Australia and Turkey. “The results are ‘extraordinary,’ and in the last five years they have created one of the greatest expansion areas,” he noted.

The Brazilian grower's base quality is strict low middling, 1-3/32 inches and their yields range between 1,400 and 1,450 pounds per acre. Their average cost of production runs between $475 and $500 per acre or about 35 cents per pound — before rent or depreciation costs.

“With the potential to reduce costs by farming larger areas of, say 100,000 acres, we and other major producing countries can expect very strong competition from Brazil,” said Dunavant. “Cotton acreage in this part of the world can double even before 2010.” He says Brazil could increase production from 5 million bales to 9.5 million bales by 2010 and exports from 1.5 million to 6 million bales.

Brazil will have to solve major problems with its transportation structure to be able to move that much cotton and the increased amounts of soybeans it's producing, a tall order for any country. It also is not likely to expand its textile industry, meaning most of those bales must be exported.

“I do not see them increasing their domestic consumption of 3.6 million bales of cotton as dramatically as I see them increasing their cotton production,” he said. “Basically, this is because of the great investment required to compete internationally and the cheap labor costs of China and on a lesser scale, India.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Sunkist appoints financial officer

Sunkist President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey D. Gargiulo has announced the appointment of Jeffrey E. Moxie as vice president and chief administrative officer for Sunkist Growers Inc., the international citrus marketing cooperative headquartered in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

In this newly created position, Moxie assumes responsibility for all the company's internal administration including finance and accounting, human resources, information services and legal functions.

Moxie comes to Sunkist from Virgin Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, Calif., where he was chief financial officer. Prior to joining Virgin, he spent five years with Kinko's Inc., in Ventura, Calif., advancing rapidly from director of corporate accounting chief financial officer.