Gall Busters are Busting the Gall in Growers Sides

Crown gall is a disease that has been plaguing walnut growers for decades It costs the industry millions with crop loss, replacing trees and laborious treatments that seem to be never ending. Gall Buster is a chemical treatment for crown gall that hit the retail market in 2016 as an environmentally friendly, worker safe and time saving product to effectively treat infected trees.

Caused by a naturally occurring bacteria in all soils, crown ball is a cancer like growth on the trunk and roots of walnut and almond trees. It acts very much like a cancer in humans and the bacteria changes the DNA structure of the cells infected causing rapid, tumor like growths. It can stunt a trees growth, reduce production and even kill the tree.

Sutter County walnut grower John Lewin experienced firsthand the devastation that can come with a crown gall infection and sought for an economical and safe way to treat the disease. Working with a chemical engineer at University of California, Davis, Lewin developed Gall Buster which has been proven in field test as an effective treatment for crown gall.

“Necessity is the mother of all invention,” said Lewin. “I was exhausted trying to treat the crown gall in my orchard not to mention the costs in time, labor and production loss.”

Lewin planted a new walnut orchard which later became prevalent with crown gall infection. At the time, the only treatment recommended growers was to dig or chop out the crown gall and then burn the effected tissue. This long laborious project could take over 45 minutes per gall. As a small grower, it was a never-ending job.

In 2002, he started mixing and experimenting with treating crown gall in his own orchard. He quickly saw that his invention was highly effective. With neighbor’s encouragement, Lewin sent the product for a field test in 2011 that came back with astounding results of 97 to 100 percent effective. Lewin knew that the product could be valuable to the California walnut industry and started the process to get it approved for use.

“I want to provide a service to other growers,” said Lewin. “Growers need help treating crown gall like I did.”

After five years working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Gall Buster was deemed Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) and approved by the EPA. An additional year to get through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Gall Buster was on the market and helping growers.

Since Gall Busters founded in 2008, over 150,000 trees have been effectively treated. Gall Busters, located in Yuba City, Calif. is a full-service company. They can come out and treat the crown gall with Gall Buster for you and sell Gall Buster for growers to self-treat. For more information visit or call Lewin at 1(800)330-5521.

Friday Review – 4.7

Stay up to date with important news of the week with the weekly Friday Review.

California Legislature votes to raise gas taxes, vehicle fees by $5.2 billion a year for road repairs and transit [Los Angeles Times]

After a week of fierce debate between opposing interests, the state Legislature on Thursday approved a plan to raise gas taxes and vehicle fees by $5.2 billion a year to pay for the repair of California’s pothole-ridden, decaying system of roads, highways and bridges. The bill squeaked through the Senate on a 27-11 vote and cleared the Assembly with 54 votes, the bare minimum required in both houses. The measure sparked suspenseful wrangling in the waning hours of Thursday, with Assembly Democrats initially three votes short of securing the two-thirds threshold needed to approve a new tax. Ultimately, all but one Assembly Democrat, Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), backed the bill. View Article

Salinas Valley ag industry coalition agrees to pilot replacement drinking water program [Monterey County Herald]

A coalition of 21 Salinas Valley landowners, agricultural companies and operators have reached an agreement with state water regulators to provide replacement drinking water for some 850 rural Salinas Valley residents whose small water systems and domestic wells have been contaminated with nitrates. Without admitting responsibility for the contamination, the Salinas Basin Agricultural Stewardship Group has agreed in cooperation with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to supply drinking water for up to two years starting this month to those whose water exceeds state and federal nitrate standards, according to a release issued Thursday. View Article

Environmental groups suing EPA over allowing continued use of controversial pesticide [Capital Public Radio]

Environmental groups are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to allow the continued use of a controversial pesticide, widely used on crops in California. The groups say the EPA needs to ban Chlorpyrifos….Cynthia Cory with the California Farm Bureau says her organization is happy with the recent move by the EPA. She says the bureau wants five years for risk assessment, even if that means restrictions will eventually be put in place. “We’ll live with that as long as we’re doing it not in the courts but with the scientists and the risk-assessment process,” says Cory. View Article

We Are Farm Bureau – Clark Becker

Farm Bureau members get involved for various reasons. For some it’s benefits, others it’sClark and Kourtney - small
the advocacy or even the networking opportunities. Current Butte County Farm Bureau President, Clark Becker joined Farm Bureau for the discount he received on his Worker’s Compensation Insurance. However, he quickly learned there is much more to Farm Bureau than discounts.

“The biggest benefit of being a Farm Bureau member is all the resources that we have to keep our industry in the fight,” said Becker. “Without Farm Bureau, the regulations that we all complain about now would be so much greater and we would not be able to stay in business. Whether it be at the local, State or Federal level Farm Bureau is there fighting for us.”

His passion for agriculture began as a child growing up on a small walnut ranch in Gridley. Before he started farming on his own, Becker attended California State University, Chico where he earned a bachelor of science in agriculture business. After college, he and a friend started farming rice and a custom spraying operation.

“My father farmed rice until I was five and the farming bug was stuck to me,” said Becker. “I enjoyed working in our orchard and often couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could go drive some type of equipment on the ranch.”

Becker relies on Farm Bureau to be an accurate resource of information for his daily farming operation. He often calls Butte and California Farm Bureau Federation staff for help in addressing issues and knows there is always somewhere there to answer his questions or take the time to find the right answer.

“The resources that Farm Bureau brings are endless and will be a huge asset to you if you so choose to use them,” said Becker “All of us pay some type of assessment on the crops we grow that goes to supporting only that commodity. Only Farm Bureau is there fighting for all of agriculture.”

Though being the president of Butte County Farm Bureau takes a lot of his time, Clark, his wife of 20 years Kourtney and their three boys, Jackson, Charlie and George farm walnuts in Gridley and rice in Butte, Colusa, Yolo and Yuba counties. He is also partners in a wetland restoration and land leveling business that works on duck clubs and ranches across Northern California. In his spare time, he also enjoys spending time with his family snowmobiling in the winter, Jeeping in the summer and hauling his son George to High School Rodeos.

Are You a Farm Bureau Member?

A letter from Darren Rice, Butte County Farm Bureau 1st Vice President

The Butte County Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization led by farmers and ranchers –Darren the people you know. In fact, one of your neighbors is probably on our Board of Directors.

But what does grassroots organization mean? 2016 is a perfect year to reflect on what it means to be a grassroots organization. In 2015 the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) passed the California Legislature. SGMA put in motion a requirement for counties to establish a sustainable groundwater management plan in phases. 2016 was the year that Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) were established to come together in 2017 to start working on what the groundwater management plan for Butte County may look like.

The GSA’s represent the people in their areas in the SGMA process. So who are your GSA’s? The irrigation districts were eligible and applied to be GSA’s, however that left a large portion of Butte County growers out of the conversation. Those not farming in and paying into a surface water irrigation district where to be represented by the Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation (the County). Concerned growers in the “White Area’s” weren’t being adequately represented, the BCFB pulled members of the agriculture community together to advocate for their need to be represented. This resulted in the formation of the Groundwater Pumpers Advisory Committee (GPAC) to advise the County going forward in how they feel the groundwater management plan should look and to ensure ALL growers are represented.

That is what it means to be grassroots. To start from the bottom, gather people and work together to represent agriculture and growers. That is what Farm Bureau does for you every day.

We work vigorously here in Butte County and Sacramento talking, educating and providing information to County supervisors, legislators and regulators by advocating for farmers, Ag businesses, property rights, water rights and to protect growers from excess taxes like oppressively burdensome laws. We advocate for common sense solutions.

You can no longer afford to just skim the surface of information in front of you. Farming has changed and will never be the same as it was when our fathers and grandfathers were farming. Keeping up with the deadlines and requirements of regulation and rules most of which are government related are going to be part of your daily farming and ranching requirements. People often call the BCFB office and ask “how do you get rid of this regulation?” The short answer is you can’t. We as farmers have a tremendous talent of ignoring an issue until it’s pushed in our face; we can’t do that anymore. Many of the regulations we are burdened with start in small areas. The rest of agriculture turns a blind eye and says “oh that’s that areas problem, it doesn’t affect me.” That’s not true! State agencies and environmental organizations have a time and time again, used the strategy of starting small and ultimately spreading the regulation or law suit across the State. It works because ag traditionally does not unite. It’s time for that to change.

So what can you do? It’s simple: Join Farm Bureau. It’s time for ag to get back to its grassroots, come together from the ground up and effect change. If we all joined together, we would be unstoppable. No more balking at commodity or political boundaries. We need to work together. Coming together, joining our roots to hold each other up is how we are going to be able to protect our future and ensure stability for future generations.

Farm Bureau represents all of agriculture and is the best resource to help you fight for your farm. Though you may have been at odds with certain positions in the past, it’s time to look past that and look towards the future. Get involved! And Farm Bureau can help you so you are not navigating the complicated regulatory systems alone. There is literally an alphabet soup of programs and agencies who are all looking to get something from you. The BIT program DPR, WDR, CVFPP, BRCP, SGMA, CUPA, NMP, SALC and WOTUS. I could go on but I won’t.

I tell you this not because I want to elevate your blood pressure. I want you to understand the need to pay attention, be engaged and keep informed. But how? Open every envelope, read every industry email, newsletter and alert, follow your commodity groups Facebook page, make notes on the margins of Ag Alert and don’t be afraid of conference calls, webinars and podcasts. Learn to use tools like California Farm Bureau Federation Farm Team to communicate quickly and effectively with your elected officials.

As a Farm Bureau member, you have access to lots of information. Please take time to attend the many classes Butte County Farm Bureau offers like heat illness prevention, safety training, CPR training, hazmat transportation, nitrogen management plan self-certification and Grower Day.

At the beginning of this column I talked about SGMA. I wish I could tell you that was the only issue of concern for the Farm Bureau. We continue to fight the invasion of commercial marijuana, the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program continues to change and require more reporting, heat illness requirements, over time pay, minimum wage, you name it! The issues keep coming and we want to be a reliable resource for growers.

We are your advocate and your partner with the rest of the more than 1300 Butte County Farm Bureau members. If you are a member, thank you for your commitment and belief in Farm Bureau. If you are not a member, please consider joining our Farm Bureau. Please call Kayla Wheeler at 530-533-1473 and she can answer your questions and help you get signed up. You can also join online or print and mail an application.

What are you waiting for?

From the Farm – CSU, Chico Meats Lab

Written in Collaboration with Zach Bauer, Meats Lab Student Employee

As many know, Chico, Calif. is home to California State University, Chico and the over IMG_20170217_141643214800-acre diversified University Farm. The Farm gives students hands on experience in the many studies offered in the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture. However, few know that The Farm is home to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected Meats Lab.

The Meats Lab was built and started operating in 1969. At which time, it also started selling its farm-raised and processed products to the public. In the mid 1990’s, long time Meats Lab Manager, Jim Holt, saw the need to establish a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan. The Meats Lab started putting into place a HACCP plan before it became USDA law in 1996 following e. Coli outbreaks in fast food. Now, students in the College of Agriculture can get HACCP certification and learn to develop functioning HACCP plans for the industry.

Though the College of Agriculture has several Meat Science courses that utilize the Meats Lab, many other courses use the Meats Lab for feed trials, hands on learning about animal systems and more. The College of Agriculture is home to Dr. Michael Chao, who earned a PhD in Animal Science with specialization in Meat Science and Muscle Biology. With Dr. Chao’s background in Meat Science and current Meats Lab Manager James Richardson, the team sees the Meats Lab continuing its path of an educational environment.

Today, the Meats Lab has an in-house smoker to cure sausages, bacon, smoke turkeys for Thanksgiving and allow experimenting with new sausage recipes. Students are employed in the Meats Lab supervised by James Richards and sell the products they process and make. The Meats Lab always has a selection of sausages, steaks, roast from beef, pork and lamb available.

The Meats Lab is open to the public from 8 AM – 5 PM on Thursdays and Fridays so you can meet the students and buy farm fresh products right there. For more details on products the Meats Lab carries, visit the website. You can also follow the Meats Lab on FaceBook.

Leg of Lamb
• 1 (5-7pound) boneless leg of lamb, untrimmed, and lamb tied with net
• 2 tablespoon of olive oil
• 4 peeled garlic cloves
• 1.5 tablespoon fine sea salt
• 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth

1. Put rosemary, garlic and olive oil in a food processor and chop to paste and mix with sea salt and pepper.
2. Put lamb in a lightly oiled roasting pan, then rub paste all over lamb.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
4. Roast lamb in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of meat registers 140°F, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 15 to 25 minutes (internal temperature will rise to about 150°F for medium-rare).
5. Add wine to pan and deglaze by boiling over moderately high heat for 1 minute, filter out the brown bits. Season pan juices with salt and pepper and serve with lamb.

Food Safety Recommendations from Dr. Chao:
Most pathogens can be effectively controlled by cooking to an internal temperature of 150°F. However, we need to be aware of cross contamination. Do not put the cooked leg of lamb on the same pan or cutting board that you used to prepare the raw materials. Also, wash hands with soap before serving the food. Finally, do not leave leftovers in room temperature for over 1 hour, put them in the refrigerator immediately to avoid potential microbial growth.

BCFB is Now Taking Applications for Scholarships!

Butte County Farm Bureau is now accepting applications for Gerald M. Geiger Memorial FB OnlyScholarships. The Scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors who plan to major in agriculture in college. Applicants must meet the following requirements to be considered for a scholarship:

  • Must be a graduating senior living in or attending high school in Butte County
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Planning to pursue a major and career in agriculture
  • Complete an application with a one page brief essay, written by the applicant, outlining his or her goals and objectives and a current letter of recommendation which includes the name of the applicant, comments on the applicant’s character and abilities, and an opinion of his/her ability to profit from a college education. (Note: A parent or relative cannot be considered as a reference)

Completed applications must be received no later than 4:00PM Friday March 31, 2017 at the Butte County Farm Bureau office 2580 Feather River Blvd, Oroville, CA 95965. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. If you know of a graduating senior in Butte County who will be majoring in agriculture, please have them contact Shay at the BCFB office (530) 533-1473 or visit the BCFB Website.

The Butte County Farm Bureau Gerald M. Geiger Memorial Scholarship is a program of the Butte Basic CMYKAgriculture Foundation


New Member Benefit from Western Square Industries.

logoWestern Square Industries has been a longtime supporter of Farm Bureau and recently joined the Butte County Farm Bureau as a member. A family owned business since it was founded in 1978, Western Square Industries has put quality and customer service first in providing essential products to agriculture.

Western Square Industries offers a variety of agricultural products including: light duty gates, wire filled gates, utility bow gates and panels, heavy duty gates and panels, feeders, field trailer, harvest bins and shade trailers. They also have one of the largest powder coating facilities in California where they use the Tuff Guard process that sets their products apart. All of the products made by Western Square Industries are custom made in Stockton, Calif. shade-trailer.jpg

As supporters of Farm Bureau, Western Square Industries offers a 10 percent discount on its shade trailers to current Farm Bureau members.

“We chose to do this to support Farm Bureau members and help them stay in compliance with California law regarding shade for employees,” said Ron Colombo, Western Square Industries.

Heat illness prevention regulations continue to change annually. Farmers are now required to provide shade adequate for all employees to be under, fully covered and normal sitting posture once field temperatures reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Western Square Industries builds structures meant to last through time, use and elements that meet regulation requirements. They can help you figure out the best structure for your operation.

For more information contact Ron Colombo at (209)481-9254 or email You can also learn more at

Sohnrey Family Foods Offers New Benefit to Farm Bureau Members

Butte County is lucky to have several farms that have remained within a family for sohnreyfamilyfarmslogoadjustfinalmultiple generations. Keeping a farming tradition alive in family is a difficult task, but the Sohnrey family has managed to do so by putting family first. In 2014, the Sohnrey family realized a long time goal to have its own brand to sell to local consumers. Sohnrey Family Foods was born and is now a full operating almond processing company with a unique gift shop right on the farm.

“We decided to start Sohnrey Family Foods when we had enough family members to not only keep the farms running but also to start and run the gift shop,” said Derek Sohnrey. “Our hope with this business is that as our family keeps expanding we can continue to create enough jobs to keep everyone involved with our family business.”

Sohnrey Family Foods specializes in creativity by developing innovative flavor profiles for its products. For instance, they have exciting flavors like Maple Bacon Almonds and a new Snickerdoodle Almond Butter. To support other local producers and the community, Sohnrey Family Foods also carries locally made olive oils, hand crafted wood products, art and much more.

The Sohnrey family has also been longtime supporters of the Butte County Farm Bureau and Sohnrey Family Foods is no exception.

“Farm Bureau does so much to help protect and promote agriculture,” said Sohnrey. “Agriculture and farming is our way of life and it is nice to know that someone is helping protect that for not only us, but future generations to come.”

The Butte County Farm Bureau is very excited to welcome a new member benefit from Sohnrey Family Foods to other Farm Bureau members. Farm Bureau members now receive 10 percent off of their purchase in the Sohnrey Family Foods gift shop.

“We wanted to support the people that support Farm Bureau,” said Sohnrey. “This is just one way that we can help give back and support Farm Bureau and its members.”

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, keep Sohnrey Family Foods in mind when shopping for your significant other. They can create the perfect local gift with having everything from wine to chocolate covered almonds and locally made candles they have what you need.

You can visit Sohnrey Family Foods and meet the Sohnrey family in the gift shop located at 41 Skillin Lane, Oroville, CA 95965 (Off HWY 99 between Durham and Bigs) or shop online at

You can also follow them on social media through the following:

From The Farm – Noble Orchards

Homemade Applesauce with Noble Orchards

Noble Orchards was founded by Grandpa Perry Noble in 1921. Starting from clear fields to plant trees and building the packing sheds, the family has been producing premium apples for 95 years. In fact, Noble Orchards is the only remaining apple orchard in Paradise.

Jim and Laurie Noble

Since 1921, Noble Orchards has continued to grow and currently raises 31 different varieties of apples along with white and yellow freestone peaches. At Noble Orchards they have a variety for every ones tastes including Fuji and Pink Lady’s as well as older varieties with complex flavors such as Pippins, Winesnaps and Black Twigs.

Though the Nobles have been selling their apples from the same 1930’s packing shed to local consumers since they founded, Jim and Laurie Noble took another step in their business and were the first in Butte County to be licensed as a Cottage Food Producer. This license allowed them to make and sell on site their homemade Apple Butter, dried apples and develop new products like the Pink Lady Apple Butter.

Try one of Laurie Nobles homemade applesauce recipes.
Apple Sauce Chunky:
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
4 medium apples

Pare, core and slice apples, bring water and sugar to a boil, add apples, cover and simmer until tender.

Apple Sauce Smooth:
Same recipe as above except cook apples in water until tender mash apples lastly adding the sugar.

Both recipes can be varied with the addition of spices, or cinnamon red hots that both flavor and lightly color the applesauce. Great for a special occasion.

Noble Orchards currently have apples available that would be perfect for trying out making your own applesauce. Visit Noble Orchards from 10am – 5pm Monday thru Friday and 10am – 4pm Saturday and Sunday and sample the fresh fruit, fresh apple cider, homemade products and see other locally made products from Butte and Tehama County.

Noble Orchards is located at 7050 Pentz Road, Paradise or find them on Facebook. You can also contact them at (530)877-4784.

Members of Ag Community Honored by Farm City Celebration

The 37th annual Farm City Celebration farm_city_cmykis proud to announce that three outstanding members of the agriculture community were recognized at the Awards Reception and Dinner Dance hosted by the Farm City Celebration committee and the Butte County Young Farmers and Ranchers on Saturday November 5, 2016 at the Butte Creek Country Club in Chico, Calif. Andy and Janet Bertagna for Agriculture Service, and Butte County Rice Growers Association was awarded the Agri-Business of the year, Butte College Agriculture Department, was awarded for Community Service.

Asm. James Gallagher, Sen. Jim Nielsen & Andy and Janet Bertagna

Andy and Janet Bertagna farm almonds and walnuts in the Chico area and have been leaders in supporting agriculture education for youth. Not only have they been long time supporters of the Farm City Celebration, they have also supported local youth through purchasing 4-H and FFA project animals at Silver Dollar Fair and Butte County Fair. Andy was a founding member of the Friends of Agriculture that formed when budget cuts threatened agriculture programs such as FFA at Chico High School. Janet is an active member of the California Women for Agriculture.


Asm. James Gallagher, Carl Hoff, Sen. Jim Nielsen & Stacy Gore

Butte County Rice Growers Association (BUCRA) has been a key supporter of the Farm City Celebration for many year. It is also an integral part of the agriculture community providing rice seed, crop input supplies, agronomic advice and drying and storage for area rice growers. BUCRA was founded in 1914, by 400 Northern California farmers and has continued to grow. In 2015, it dried over 470 million pounds of rice for its members.


Butte College.jpg
Asm. James Gallagher, Carrie Monlux, Lyman Hagan, Bill Graves and Sen. Jim Nielsen

The Butte College Agriculture Department was founded in 1969 and now serves almost 700 students. Butte College students and faculty are known in the area for being willing to help and leaders in community service. Each year, students from Butte College participate in youth agriculture education programs such as Farm City Celebration Kids Day at the California State University, Chico Farm and the Harvest Festival at the Bidwell Mansion, co-hosting FFA Field Days and much more.

Each year, the Farm City Celebration looks forward to honoring leaders in the community at the Awards Reception and Dinner Dance. This fun event brings the community together for the cause of agriculture education and connecting agriculture and its neighboring urban communities.

For more information about the Farm City Celebration and any of the events, visit or call (530)533-1473.