Orchard Origins

Environmental Stewardship Sustainability

Each year, a portion of CWB/CWC assessments is budgeted to support production research aimed at addressing industry competitiveness, profitability and long-term stability.

In 2020, $1.97 million was awarded to research projects in walnut breeding & genomics, orchard management, and disease, nematode, and insect pest management. These funds are used to devise science-based solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s orchard production challenges. But the real value of money spent on research lies in outreach and eventual grower adoption of new practices. The CWB, along with its research and extension partners, makes a concerted effort each year to see that research progresses toward practical solutions that are disseminated broadly in a timely, accessible, user-friendly manner. It makes sense for growers and handlers to stay abreast of the latest production research projects for two key reasons: 1) Growers and handlers should benefit from research investments made on their behalf; and 2) Since industry monies are being used to fund the research, those providing the funding have the right and responsibility to know how the funds are being used. Growers and handlers can also provide input through industry channels, around various priorities and project funding processes.

“The Walnut Industry Insider” e-newsletter is a part of the CWB’s efforts to publicize and bring attention to recent research and best practices available to growers and handlers. Following are other resources that walnut growers and handlers can use to stay abreast of recent advances in production research findings and applications:

The University of California Farm Advisors are a key resource for accessing information flowing out of the production research pipeline. Activities and accomplishments in “extension education” for their grower clientele is a formal criterion upon which advisor performance is measured by the university. A current listing of UC Farm Advisors by county can be found here. Take advantage of the various opportunities around recent research findings and new practices, which include the below.

  • County and regional walnut Farm Advisor newsletters Most walnut Farm Advisors publish regular county or regional newsletters (and they are free!) with information on new findings and practices. Some have blogs or host online forums for this purpose. Regular direct communications like these are also the vehicles whereby advisors announce upcoming educational meetings of interest to walnut growers. So, subscribing to these is the first and essential way to stay in tune with research-based information.
  • Extension and trade-show educational meetings All Farm Advisors with significant walnut responsibilities organize annual “winter” educational meetings for growers and allied industry. Many also hold field meetings – normally with a narrower, more specialized focus than the winter meetings – at various times during the growing season. As stated above, getting on your advisor’s newsletter/blog/meeting announcement mailing list is the best way to know when and where these meetings are held.

In recent years, of course, tree nut and ag trade magazines have also begun organizing winter trade shows that include educational sessions highlighting recent research and new management practices.

Speaking of trade magazines, these have evolved in recent years into an excellent source of information on walnut research and new practices. Every walnut grower should be receiving industry publications (such as Pacific Nut Producer (PNP) and West Coast Nut (WCN)). These publications regularly feature articles by walnut researchers and Farm Advisors on recent research, as well as informative articles by magazine staff based on published research reports and researcher and grower interviews. These publications are an excellent resource for knowing who is doing what – and what they are finding.

Finally, written research reports are published each year for all CWB-funded production research projects dating back several decades. These are available for reading and download (in early March for the previous research season) at the UC Davis Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center’s website. The research database is searchable (e.g. by subject and year) and is user friendly. Though these reports are detailed and often very technical, they are still an excellent resource, especially for tracking the year-by-year progress of multiyear projects addressing important industry needs. An annual midstream progress report from a multiyear effort may not contain key practical takeaways until the project concludes. Nonetheless, for those particularly interested in tracking how industry dollars are being used (and often leveraged to garner government and other external research dollars) to address industry challenges, these reports make for interesting and worthwhile reading.

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