Backyard Orchard News
A group of 22 produce executives and supervisors from the SaveMart Corporation - which includes Lucky and FoodMaxx grocery stores - spent a morning at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center today to experience another part of the food journey.
The visitors were the guests of Carlos Crisosto, UC Cooperative Extension postharvest physiologist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. They toured the F. Gordon Mitchell Postharvest Laboratory, which includes 18 controlled temperature and relative humidity rooms, eight of which are capable of controlled atmospheres. Years of work in the state-of-the-art facility by Crisosto and his colleagues resulted in a completely new protocol for handling peaches, plums and nectarines as they journey from the farm, to packing sheds, in the backs of trucks to distribution centers and finally to the supermarket produce aisle.
The findings came as a surprise to the industry when they were introduced nearly 10 years ago, but they have been widely adopted. In a nutshell, fruit is now "preconditioned" before it is cooled, a process that results in better tasting fruit, and subsequently, better sales of this Central California summertime staple.
The SaveMart tour continued in the field, where the group saw research plots of kiwifruit, pistachios, stone fruit, grapes, blueberries and other crops. A highlight was the fresh fig orchard, where all the participants hopped off the tram to pick and eat the tree-ripened fruit.
Think of them as "the good guys" and "the good girls." Insects such as lacewings, lady beetles and...
A syrphid fly, aka flower fly or hover fly, nectaring on a tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A lacewing glows in the afternoon sun. Larvae eat such soft-bodied insects as mealybugs, psyllids, thrips, mites, whiteflies, aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, and insect eggs, according to the UC IPM website. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The lady beetle, aka ladybug, is well known for its voracious appetite of aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When an egret swooped down and ate all the goldfish in our fish pond--quite a smorgasbord of...
Damselfly with water mites (see egglike mass). The insect next to it is probably thrips, according to Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Damselfly resting in the garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A blue damsefly brightens the garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There I was, walking across the University of California, Davis, campus to the Environmental...
A fast-moving assassin bug spears a male metallic sweat bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Assassin bug paralyzes his prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
“You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get."--Michael...
A praying mantis eyes a Gulf Fritillary butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A praying mantis "wetting," er, "whetting" his appetite. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The praying mantis emerges from his morning swim. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)