Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center
University of California
Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Hansen News

"Big Dig" Day of Giving Slated for 6/5

On Friday June 5th, UCCE Ventura will launch a local campaign as part of UC ANR's statewide giving day, which we're calling “Big Dig Day”...a day to “dig deep” to support the UCCE programs that you care about in Ventura County. 


Ventura County Master Gardener Program

We invite you to support our mission to extend research-based knowledge about home gardening, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to our communities. Our program is driven by 209 active volunteers who use UC science-based information to offer solutions to gardening, landscape, and pest challenges. Last year, our volunteers donated 12,561 hours of service to the program.

The Master Gardener Program helps Ventura County grow in many ways, including:

  • Offering water-wise workshops to help residents optimize use of a scarce resource

  • Staffing a helpline to answer questions for home gardeners

  • Working with other community organizations to maintain 9 demonstration gardens throughout Ventura County

  • Delivering dozens of educational and hands-on outreach programs and talks each year

#DigDeep for UCCE Programs!

Ventura County 4-H Program

Since 1914, the Ventura County 4-H Program has served generations of youth and families. Our motto is “To Make the Best Better.” Through our volunteer-driven experiential programs, we help Ventura County youth develop life and leadership skills that enable them to succeed. In the last 100 years, Ventura County has changed. But some things never change, including our belief in the power of youth. 

4-H grows here:

  • 7,300+ youth reached across Ventura County each year

  • 14 community and 2 military clubs providing educational opportunities in STEM, healthy living, animal husbandry, leadership, and civic engagement

  • Outreach programs delivered in classrooms and virtually that connect youth with one of our county's most important resources: agriculture 

  • Efforts driven and supported by 150 motivated and highly-trained volunteers 

Help us serve even more youth by donating on “Big Dig” Day.

4-Hs: Head, Heart, Hands, Health

What We're Asking

Now more than ever, we all know the value of community. In times of crisis and beyond, we are here. We live where you live.


By donating to the Master Gardener Program and the 4-H Program, you help us extend the knowledge and resources of the University to our community. Join us on 6/5 and #DigDeep to support our UCCE programs.


Mark your calendar, spread the word, and stay tuned for more details.

#BigDigDay #DigDeep

#DigDeep for our programs!
#DigDeep for our programs!

Posted on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 11:58 AM
Focus Area Tags: 4-H Family Food Health

Fireworks in the Garden: Octopus Agave in Bloom

In this weekly blog, Dr. Annemiek Schilder, Director, UCCE Ventura County and Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center, shares her observations about the natural world across the seasons. As she says:

"Gently observing your surroundings with curiosity will teach you some amazing things. There are so many fascinating things happening under our noses, only wanting for an observant eye."

The flowering spikes of the octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana), currently in bloom in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at HAREC in Santa Paula, are seriously impressive at more than 12 feet tall. Octopus agave is a drought-tolerant plant native to the Mexican desert where it grows on rocky ground. The gray-green smooth, twisting leaves with flexible spikes at the tips give the plant an octopus-like appearance. Like other agaves, it is monocarpic, flowering only once in its life before it dies. 

Agaves belong to the family Asparagaceae and are therefore related to asparagus. Indeed, young flower spikes may resemble giant asparagus spears. Flowering usually occurs between 6 and 25 years of age. The plant invests all of its energy into producing a spectacular flower display as its last hurrah. The copious small yellow flowers start opening at the bottom of the spike, moving upwards in waves. Flowering may occur over a period of 4 to 8 weeks.



Agave flowers are a magnet for pollinating insects and hummingbirds. However, in their native habitat, nectar-feeding bats, such as the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat, play an important role in agave flower pollination. This may also explain the height of the flower spikes. Bats pollinate at night and are critical for seedset. In the absence of these specialized bats, fewer than 5% of the flowers may produce seed. Commercial cultivation of agave for tequila, which involves cutting off flower stalks, as well as pesticides and habitat destruction have been put forward as reasons for the current endangered status of some of these bat species in Mexico. 

In addition to seeds, plantlets called “bulbils” may be produced in large numbers on spent flower stalks. These bulbils are exact clones of the mother plant and will root readily when planted in soil. While clonal reproduction is a good short-term strategy for plant survival, it does limit genetic diversity which makes the species less adaptable to environmental changes in the long term.

Agave. Credit: Annemiek Schilder

Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 10:53 AM
  • Author: Annemiek Schilder
Tags: agave (1), Master Gardener (3), pollinators (19), UC HAREC (11)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

News You Can Use: Food Preservation Video Library, New UC ANR California Water Podcast, and More

Here's news we hope you find useful, including food preservation resources, a new podcast, and a reading recommendation.


UC ANR and Citrus Research Board Co-Funding New Citrus IPM Advisor

The citrus IPM advisor will help fill the role of retiring UCCE citrus entomology specialist Beth Grafton-Cardwell and will be based at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Per UC ANR's Jeannette Warnert, “The new IPM advisor will conduct a multicounty extension, education and applied research program and provide research-based technical and educational assistance to the citrus industry…”

Beth Grafton-Cardwell is well known to growers in Ventura County for her work on Asian Citrus Psyllid.

Read the full story.

Food Preservation How-To Videos 

As a result of the pandemic, we're seeing dramatically increased interest in “traditional” home arts, including gardening, bread baking, cooking and food preservation/canning. Because of food safety issues, finding science-based, reliable information is vital when it comes to home food preservation. 

UC ANR is helping by curating the best video resources in this area.

“To make reliable home food preservation how-to videos easy to find, a team of UC Cooperative Extension professionals and volunteers reviewed and aggregated research-based food preservation videos produced by Cooperative Extension programs across the nation on one website – http://ucanr.edu/MFPvideolibrary.”

Read the full story.

Water Talk Podcast

“Water Talk” is a new podcast from UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. Hosted by Drs. Mallika Nocco, Faith Kearns, and Sam Sandoval, this great new listen explores a range of topics related to water in the Golden State. Recent episodes have explored: 

  • California water law;

  • The history of Victory Gardens...and what's happening with gardening today;  

  • The food-water-virus nexus; and

  • Ranching and water in California

Check out the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or listen here.


And Speaking of Water...

H/T to Ben Faber for sharing this #goodread by Edmund Andrews: Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count. 

“As climate change and population growth make drinking water costlier, here are six strategies to quench the state's thirst without busting its budget.”

It appears in Stanford University's Engineering magazine. 

Photo by Micah Tindell on Unsplash

Posted on Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 3:12 PM

Invasive Shot Hole Borer Discussed in Article

Invasive shot hole borer (ISHB) infestations have been identified in Ventura County since 2015 but have not significantly spread. Discovery of the pest/disease complex was found in late 2018 in the urban forest of Meiners Oaks. Citizens Journal recently published an article about the removal of a tree that was at risk for amplifying the local infestation and causing potential other community harm.

The Ventura Agricultural Commissioner supervised the removal of the tree, using grant funds for this purpose from CAL FIRE. The box elder was located on private property and considered to be a hazard to extend the infestation. 

UCCE Ventura has been collaborating to address ISHB with UC insect, disease, education specialists, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner, CAL FIRE, US Forest Service, several other agencies and non-government organizations. We are locally active in monitoring and outreach. Ventura County Master Gardeners Invasive Pests Outreach Group augments our work through their efforts to educate the public, firewood users and vendors.

Below is a video produced by California Releaf, a nonprofit organization that works to empower grassroots efforts and build strategic partnerships that preserve, protect, and enhance California's urban and community forests. It's been edited for length.



For more information about ISHB, you can also visit the UCANR website.

Posted on Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 1:07 PM
  • Author: Julie Di Blasio
Tags: shot hole borer (1)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Free Workshops for Youth, Professionals and Community Members. Plus: Fire and Plant Disease Resources for Homeowners

Learn About California Agriculture

Join us on Thursday, May 21st, 9:30 am PST, for Part 2 of a webinar series on California agriculture, where we'll learn about major crops and production areas. This webinar will feature UCCE Ventura County advisors Andre Biscaro and Ben Faber. Watch it live or view after on YouTube. Part 1 is up. This is an ideal webinar series for the home classroom.



Photo by Adele Payman on Unsplash

Fumigants and Non-Fumigant Alternatives: Regulatory & Research Updates

Growers, PCAs, applicators and supervisors of fumigant and non-fumigant technologies and decision makers should plan to attend this free, virtual educational outreach event, scheduled for Monday May 29th from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This workshop is open to the public. Although targeted to strawberries, most of the learning will generally apply to other crops. The program is being hosted by Dr. Oleg Daugovish, who serves as the Strawberry and Vegetable Crop Advisor for UCCE Ventura County. 

Topics include:

  • Most pertinent regulatory requirements for fumigant use and application
  • Industry updates on fumigant and non-fumigant tools use
  • Fumigant application based on need within fields
  • Soil-borne pathogen management

Continuing Education Units are available: 1.5 hours of "Other" and 1.0 hours of laws and regulations have been applied for from California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

Registration is required and participants will receive a link and instructions prior to the workshop. Register here.

Dr. Oleg Daugovish


Announcing Treemendous Learning Webinars for Middle and High School Students

Join us on alternate Tuesdays in May and June, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, for this opportunity designed for middle and high school students. Treemendous Tuesdays is a collaboration of U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles Center for Urban Natural Resources, California Project Learning Tree, California 4-H, and UC Agriculture & Natural Resources

Five webinars will be hosted every other week starting May 5 and ending June 30. These events are free and registration is required.

  • May 5: Invasive Species (invasive shot hole borers)
  • May 19: Invasive Plants & Trees
  • June 2: Benefits of the Urban Forest
  • June 16: iTree
  • June 30: Living with Fire

Register at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=29846

New Resource to Diagnose and Manage Plant Disease

UC's Integrated Pest Management Program has a new Pest Notes publication available, which provides information to help diagnose and manage Anthracnose, fungal diseases that can impact many deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. These diseases can also infect vegetables, flowers, fruit and turfgrass in some regions in California. Dr. Jim Downer, an Advisor in our UCCE Ventura County office, is a co-author.

Preparing for Fire Season

UC ANR has organized an electronic portal - Homeowner's Wildfire Mitigation Guide - that contains a wealth of resources to help homewoners prepare for fire season. Please visit our Fire Resources and Information page for the latest research and information.

Follow Us on Facebook and Instagram

We'd love to interact with you on social media. Like our Facebook page and visit us on Instagram.

Posted on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 10:21 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Environment Family

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