I am retiring on July 1st after nearly 38 years working for UC Cooperative Extension and over 36 years as an Orchard and Environmental Horticulture (EH) Advisor in Sutter-Yuba Counties. What an honor to work with all of you growers, PCAs, and others in the Ag industry, and such a privilege to collaborate with so many talented UC colleagues solving challenging problems together. I can’t think of a better career than working with so many fine individuals in orchards and vineyards throughout these counties diagnosing problems and researching methods to increase production, reduce labor costs, and manage pests and diseases with products safer to humans and the environment. We’ve persevered through droughts and floods, good times and bad – soaring crop prices only to come crashing down …and then cycle back up. It’s been quite an amazing experience and certainly an adventure.
It all started back in October 1981, when I was fortunate to become a Farm Advisor Intern. Dave Ramos, the UCCE Walnut Specialist at the time said I needed exp erience in tree crops and assigned me to Sutter-Yuba Counties where Dave Chaney mentored me for six months. My next assignment was in Napa County working with Dean Donaldson (weeds and EH) and Keith Bowers (viticulture). I’m so grateful for everything I learned from these experienced UCCE Advisors and many others as an intern. I returned to Sutter-Yuba in February 1983 to serve in my present position working mainly with walnuts, kiwifruit, and almonds. Over the years I added cling peaches (almonds went to another advisor), walnuts in Colusa County in 2011 and County Director in Sutter-Yuba Counties in 2014 to my responsibilities. I have seen walnut acreage in Sutter and Yuba Counties grow from 17,000 to 47,000 acres. UC released Chandler shortly before I began and now accounts for well over half of local and statewide walnut acreage. We went from two seedling walnut rootstocks to having three clonal Paradox rootstocks that now dominate our newer orchards. We had a paradigm shift when we realized that lateral bearing walnuts do not have to be headed to grow during the training stage. I am pleased to have played a role in these changes and really appreciate all the support from the growers and industries I have served over the years. A special thank you to those who cooperated on research projects and hosted extension meetings giving so much of your time and resources. Without you, we would not have made these advances.
Since I started, we have also seen UCCE Advisor and Specialist ranks decline from around 500 to 292 now. Within the current Advisor ranks most have 5 years or less of experience. Unfortunately, UC ANR continues to have budget issues so positions around the state are not being filled at this time. I do not see a replacement for my position in the foreseeable future. However, I will continue to work on certain research projects, follow-up on ongoing problems, be involved in industry advisory boards, mentor newer advisors, write long overdue publications, and continue to be involved in the Sacramento Valley Walnut Newsletter which you will continue to receive in Sutter, Yuba, and Colusa Counties. I am looking forward to travelling more but I’m not planning to “ride into the sunset” for a while.