Getting the Most Out of Production Research

California Walnuts
Nov 13, 2019
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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 2019, $1.63 million was awarded to research projects in walnut breeding and genomics, orchard management, 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 the money spent on research lies in outreach and the eventual grower adoption of new practices. The CWB, along with its research and extension partners, closely monitor research progress to ensure the delivery of timely, user-friendly and broadly accessible practical solutions for our growers. For this reason, it’s important for growers and handlers to stay abreast of the latest production research projects for two key reasons: 1) To benefit from research investments made on your behalf; and 2) To stay informed as to how and where your investment is being utilized, along with the priorities of the funding process.

The ‘Making The Grade’ series of articles is a part of the CWB’s effort to publicize and bring attention to recent research and best practices available to growers. The following are other resources walnut growers and handlers can reference to stay up to date on recent advances in production research findings and applications.

Know Your Farm Advisor

University of California Farm Advisors are a key portal for accessing information flowing out of the production research pipeline. And, in fact, the activities and accomplishments in “extension education” of their grower clientele is a formal criteria upon which advisor performance is measured by the University at promotion time. A current listing of UC farm advisors by county can be found at Take advantage of the various means by which advisors spread information on recent research findings and new practices, including:

  • County and regional walnut Farm Advisor newsletters. Most walnut Farm Advisors regularly publish free county or regional newsletters with information on new findings and practices. Some have blogs or host on-line forums for this purpose. Regular direct communications like these are also the vehicles whereby advisors announce upcoming educational meetings of interest to walnut growers. 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 industries. Many also hold field meetings – typically with a narrower, more specialized focus than the winter meetings – at various times during the growing season. Again, getting on your advisor’s newsletter/blog/meeting announcement mailing list is the way to know when and where these meetings are held.

In recent years, nut trade magazines have started organizing winter trade shows that include educational sessions highlighting recent research and new management practices. They have evolved into an excellent source of information on walnut research and new practices. Two publications that every walnut grower should be receiving are Pacific Nut Producer ( and West Coast Nut ( There are others more broadly focused on agricultural topics and issues. PNP and WCN publications regularly feature first-author articles by walnut researchers and farm advisors on recent research, as well as informative articles by magazine staff 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.

Last but not least, for the die-hard student of walnut research, are research reports published annually covering all CWB-funded production research projects going back several decades. These are available to download in early March for the previous research season, at the UC Davis Fruit and Nut Research & Information Center’s web site ( The research database is searchable (e.g. by subject and year) and easy to navigate. Though these reports are detailed and often very technical, they are an excellent resource for tracking the year-by-year progress of multi-year projects addressing important industry needs, although the annual midstream report from a multi-year effort may not contain key practical take-aways until the project concludes. Nonetheless, for those interested in tracking how industry dollars are being used to address industry challenges (and often leveraged to garner government and other external research dollars), they make interesting and worthwhile reading.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

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