High Country News: COVID-19 makes it harder to know when to harvest sugar beets

High Country News: COVID-19 makes it harder to know when to harvest sugar beets. “To create forecasts, meteorologists look to weather models fueled in part by temperature, pressure and humidity readings collected by commercial flights. But as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, travel ground to a halt: In March, air traffic was cut by 75% to 80%, leaving meteorologists with just a fraction of their usual data, and, by September, many airlines were still operating less than half their pre-pandemic flights. Fewer readings mean that experts have an incomplete picture of what’s happening in our skies, resulting in murkier forecasts for farmers.”

Daily Democrat: Database connects grain growers, millers, bakers

Daily Democrat: Database connects grain growers, millers, bakers. “California wheat growers have taken the next step in developing premium markets, with the introduction of a new online tool intended to make it easier for all the major players in grains to find each other and cooperate in making the grain more profitable, environmentally sustainable and better for human health. The tool, Golden State Grains, is free software that lets users log on and quickly find, learn about and connect with farmers, seed suppliers, millers, maltsters and bakers.”

Modesto Bee: Got wildfire fuel around your rural home? Use website to find livestock to graze it

Modesto Bee: Got wildfire fuel around your rural home? Use website to find livestock to graze it. “A new website helps put livestock to work on California land overgrown with wildfire fuel. Owners of small rural properties can schedule visits by cattle and other livestock that munch on the fuel. The animals come from full-time ranchers and other participants in the program.” If this sounds familiar, it’s because a similar site also launched in November. That, however, was a grazing exchange site focused on the midwestern US.

Practical Farmers of Iowa: New Midwest Grazing Exchange website aims to connect livestock farmers with landowners in six states across the region

Practical Farmers of Iowa: New Midwest Grazing Exchange website aims to connect livestock farmers with landowners in six states across the region. “The Midwest Grazing Exchange… is a free matchmaking service that aims to connect graziers and landowners in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Graziers can search for forage to graze and landowners can search for livestock to graze their land.”

New York Times: Migrant Workers Restricted to Farms Under One Grower’s Virus Lockdown

New York Times: Migrant Workers Restricted to Farms Under One Grower’s Virus Lockdown. “In Virginia, gone are the weekly outings to Walmart to stock up on provisions; to El Ranchito, the Mexican convenience store, to buy shell-shaped concha pastries; and to the laundromat to machine wash heavily soiled garments. ‘You put up with a lot already. I never expected to lose my freedom,’ said Martinez, 39, who is in his third year working in the tomato fields along the East Coast. He said workers spent months on end without interacting with anyone at all outside the farms, though Lipman eventually relented and organized a carefully controlled trip for groceries each week.”

VT Digger: Pandemic, new consumer outlook create new markets for Vermont produce

VT Digger: Pandemic, new consumer outlook create new markets for Vermont produce. “Community-supported agriculture operations reported a huge surge in memberships this spring; grocery stores, unable to get shipments from some of their traditional suppliers far away, started buying more local produce. Sales of canning supplies and freezers soared; even home gardeners stepped up their game, buying out the inventory of seed suppliers.”

Mississippi State University: What Can Google Searches Tell Us About Changes in Consumer Behavior Toward Food and Plants Beyond COVID-19?

Mississippi State University: What Can Google Searches Tell Us About Changes in Consumer Behavior Toward Food and Plants Beyond COVID-19?. “If pre-pandemic trends are any indication, it is possible that search interest in Local Food, Cottage Food, and Food Waste will continue to rise after the pandemic, maybe fueled by the recent interest in short local supply channels, the expansions to some states’ cottage food laws, and the growth in the upcycled food products industry. While search interest in Online Groceries has seen an upward trend since 2004, interest after COVID-19 might not grow as fast and dramatic as 2020 levels might suggest.”

Aberdeen News: Website’s new weather tool to aid farmers in 12 states

Aberdeen News: Website’s new weather tool to aid farmers in 12 states. “Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has debuted a new tool on the Forecast and Assessment of Cropping Systems (FACTS) website that displays weather summaries for every crop reporting district in 12 Midwest states. The weather summaries include data from 1984 through today, updated every month and with information on temperature, precipitation, radiation and other weather indicators — like the number of days with extreme weather rain events, or the number of warm nights.”

Harvest of shame: Farmworkers face coronavirus disaster (Politico)

Politico: Harvest of shame: Farmworkers face coronavirus disaster. “Within days of the coronavirus pandemic taking hold, the Trump administration had to confront a reality it had long tried to ignore: The nation’s 2.5 million farmworkers, about half of whom the government estimates are undocumented, are absolutely critical to keeping the food system working. It was a major shift for a president who continues to reduce any debate about immigration to stoking fears about border defense and crime. But the Trump administration and Congress have done little to help keep farmworkers safe on the job.”

Bloomberg: Getting Covid Gets You Fired When You’re a Food Worker on a Visa

Bloomberg: Getting Covid Gets You Fired When You’re a Food Worker on a Visa. “As coronavirus cases explode at U.S. farms and food factories, the foreign migrants who pick fruit, clean seafood and sort vegetables are getting trapped in tightly packed bunkhouses where illness spreads like wildfire. Often, they can’t leave — unless they’re willing to risk deportation.”

A farmer, ‘little ghosts’ and 18,000 tobacco plants: How COVID-19 upended farming in South Korea (Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times: A farmer, ‘little ghosts’ and 18,000 tobacco plants: How COVID-19 upended farming in South Korea. “He was in his third hour of picking tobacco, beginning shortly after dawn at the foot of a mountain in a sleepy South Korean town. Weaving between rows lining the gentle slope, he stooped to snap off the ripe, yellow-tinged leaves from plants as tall as he. Nearby, Park Jong-bum took a break from heaving bales of tobacco onto a truck bed. He lit a cigarette beneath a cloudy sky. He had quit smoking last year, but the stresses of running a farm had hooked him again. Park and Phonsrikaew were on the second chapters of their lives: Phonsrikaew a 52-year-old Thai army captain-turned-migrant farmworker, and Park, 49, a South Korean businessman who returned to his native farming village after two decades of city life.”

United Farm Workers: After a death and quarter of work force infected by COVID-19, Primex letting go workers who complained & turned to UFW

United Farm Workers: After a death and quarter of work force infected by COVID-19, Primex letting go workers who complained & turned to UFW. “With one Primex Farms LLC worker dead from the novel coronavirus and a quarter of its workforce now infected, the large Wasco, Calif. pistachio and almond processing firm announced it is letting go many of the workers who complained about the failure to properly protect them and turned for help to the United Farm Workers, according to Primex employees who were informed on Thursday. The UFW is filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging illegal retaliation for union and concerted activities.”

Roanoke Times: Farmers cultivate new business models as the pandemic forces them to adapt

Roanoke Times: Farmers cultivate new business models as the pandemic forces them to adapt. “Agriculture is one of countless industries that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many farmers who can sell directly to consumers are weathering the pandemic well, though it often required a significant reworking of their business model. But others, like beef cattle and dairy farmers, have struggled because of issues on the processing side.”

AI goes underground: root crop growth predicted with drone imagery (Phys .org)

Phys .org: AI goes underground: root crop growth predicted with drone imagery. “Using drone images, the Pheno-i platform can now merge data from thousands of high-resolution images, analyzing them through machine learning to produce a spreadsheet. This shows scientists exactly how plants are responding to stimuli in the field in real-time.”