Greetings from UCCE Central Sierra!

UCCE Central Sierra is offering a variety of in-person and virtual events and workshops this month, including Post-Fire Resilience and several Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver classes that are free and open to the public. The UC Master Food Preservers just started their next round of statewide volunteer trainings, so we look forward to adding some new faces to our programs in the spring. We are delighted to welcome two new staff members and eager to fill a few vacancies. Please read on to find out more about the amazing work of our academic staff and share with your friends and family. I am sure you will find something to spark your interest!

JoLynn Miller
University of California
Cooperative Extension
Central Sierra Nevada
Multi-County Partnership (MCP)
The Central Sierra foothill region produces a wide variety of agriculture commodities. The University of California brings research and outreach to area farms to assist with growing and cultural practices, pest and disease management, and more!
UCCE Central Sierra Welcomes New Livestock Advisor

Meet our newest Central Sierra Advisor, Flavie Audoin (pronounced Flah-vee Oh-dwan). Flavie was born and raised in France. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences and her Technical Degree in Agronomy with a major in Crop and Animal Production, she completed an engineering degree in agronomy (which is the equivalent to a Masters’ Degree in the United States) with a major in Breeding and Systems of Production. In 2019, Flavie obtained a Graduate Certificate in Science Communication from the University of Arizona and in December 2022, she completed a PhD in Natural Resources also from the University of Arizona. Flavie’s degree focused on Ecology, Management, and Restoration of Rangelands, with a minor in Animal Science. 

For the last 6 years, she has been studying the Seasonal Grazing Behavior, Diet Selection, and Meat Characteristics of Range-Fed Raramuri Criollo Cattle (Cows, Heifers, and Steers) in Southeastern Arizona. Flavie worked directly with the ranchers raising this type of cattle (Deb and Dennis Moroney), who introduced Criollo cattle in Southeastern Arizona more or less 10 years ago. This first experience in the United States (started in 2013) provided Flavie with knowledge and skills in rangelands, livestock production (cattle and sheep), direct marketing, and science communication. In addition to working on her research, she has also been able to improve her skills as a ranch hand (branding, gathering cattle horseback in rough country, using low-stress livestock handling methods, sheep shearing, fixing fences and water lines, meat marketing direct to the consumer). 

Before starting her PhD, Flavie was an advisor to beef producers in France and also worked for nine years at France’s leading brand of packaged meats and meat products while studying. During her time at the University of Arizona and the 47 Ranch, Flavie was in direct contact with livestock producers, slaughterhouse managers and employees, farmers market managers, vendors and consumers, cooperative extension employees, university professors, public resource management agencies (NRCS, Arizona Game & Fish), non-profit conservation organizations (Arizona Land & Water Trust, Borderlands Restoration Network), and a number of youth groups. 

When asked about her new position as the Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for UCANR Central Sierra, Flavie says “My first goal is to learn about the Central Sierra region; to listen to the needs of the communities living in this area in order to identify the greatest needs for research projects that will help our communities. I am looking forward to meeting everyone and hope to be able to provide an innovative extension education and applied research program to address issues related to livestock production and marketing to help the communities of Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties. As a rangeland and animal scientist, I have a sincere interest and extensive experience working directly with ranchers in both research and extension contexts. At the same time, I have field research experience in rangeland ecology and animal science through my own research. As a result of this experience, I know what it takes to effectively engage in collaborative, team research and I am ready to do that with UCANR.”

Flavie’s main office will be based in Calaveras county, but she will serve all four counties in the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership. She can be reached via email ([email protected]) and by phone (209-454-8472).
Small Farm Conference Coming UP

Published on: December 21, 2022 Registration is now open for the 35th annual California Small Farm Conference, which will be held in a hybrid online/in-person format Feb. 26-March 3, 2023. Hosted by the California Alliance with Family Farmers,...

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Virtual Fencing – How Collars on Cows Might Change Grazing on California Rangelands and Forestlands
By Scott Oneto & Brian Allen, UC Cooperative Extension
Recent advances in virtual fence (VF) technology are rapidly providing cost-effective opportunities to revolutionize grazing management practices and livestock production systems. Virtual fencing, an alternative technology to traditional physical fencing, enables land managers to control livestock distribution across extensive landscapes without the intensive labor, expense, and logistical efforts required by traditional fencing. Livestock are outfitted with GPS collars (Figure 1) that communicate with radio towers to create a virtual fence, and if livestock cross manager- defined virtual boundaries, the collars deliver audible (e.g., series of short, high-pitched sounds) and/or tactile stimuli (e.g., electrical pulse). Previous research has demonstrated that both cattle and sheep can quickly learn virtual fencing cues, including responding to audio cues alone. This innovative technology has also been shown to be effective for multiple natural resource goals in grazed rangelands across the Great Plains and Great Basin in the United States and grazed pastures of Australia.
In November, we partnered with Mount Echo Ranch and the Mother Lode Land Trust to test the efficacy of this technology on a ranch in Sutter Creek, CA (Figure 2). The site has not been grazed for over 20 years and as a result, medusahead (Elymus caput-medusae), has taken a foothold and become the dominant species. Research has shown that medusahead can reduce grazing capacity by 80%. As a winter annual, the plant is quick to germinate and can outcompete more desirable forages. As it ages, the plant becomes less palatable with high silica content and long awns that can cause injury to livestock. Over time, medusahead can accumulate thatch and it is not uncommon to see thatch 6-10 inches thick. The objective of this trial was to determine if VF technology could be used for high intensity, short duration grazing to reduce medusahead thatch, thereby creating conditions for more desirable forage species to grow. At the beginning of the trial, there was an average of 5,090 pounds of dry forage/thatch (Figure 3) across all treatments. Each grazing block is approximately 3 acres in size, and we utilized 25 cow/calves. Animal movement can be tracked using a mobile device or laptop computer (Figure 4). On occasion a few animals wandered out of the grazing treatment but would often quickly return. Several cows in the study gave birth during the trial, so it was interesting to examine animal behavior as part of this study. Pregnant cows would often isolate themselves under tree canopy outside of the virtual pasture to give birth. They would then leave their newborn and return to the herd to feed and then would continue to check on its calf. Eventually, the cow would introduce the calf to the entire herd in the virtual pasture.
After grazing for 10 consecutive days, we pulled the animals from the first grazing treatment. Post grazing, the first plot was grazed to an average of 524 pounds per acre (Figure 5). This resulted in a reduction of thatch by 87%! Two weeks after treatment, the grazed plot was already showing more diversity of desirable grasses and forbs as visually compared with the untreated plots (Figure 6). Because of the torrential rainfall experienced in late December and early January, we had to postpone the remaining grazing treatments as the sites were too wet. We will continue with the trial as weather permits.
If you have any question about the research, contact us at Scott Oneto [email protected] or Brian Allen [email protected]

Special thank you to Leisel Finley of Mount Echo Ranch, the Mother Lode Land Trust, the Renewable Resources Extension Act, and Sierra Pacific Industries for support of this project.
Forests and woodlands in the Central Sierra Nevada are beautiful, extensive, diverse and owned by both public and private landowners. Active management is needed to reduce forest density and to help forests recover after wildfire. The goal of the Central Sierra forestry program is to empower landowners to overcome these challenges.
UCCE Central Sierra Welcomes Forest Stewardship Communications Specialist

Grace Dean joined UCANR in January 2023 as a Forest Stewardship Communications Specialist. Based out of Los Angeles County, she will help spread the word about Forest Stewardship Education workshops to forest landowners. Her job duties will include creating comprehensive media strategies and storytelling materials that can reach landowners of all backgrounds. 

She comes to UC ANR after graduating UCLA in 2022 with a B.A in Public Affairs. There, she studied public policy, communications, and environmental affairs. Grace has worked in development with forestry-related organizations in the past, through internships with the U.S.D.A Forest Service and the nonprofit TreePeople. She was also involved in student life, serving as a campus tour guide and outreach coordinator for the charity organization Camp Kesem. 

Grace is excited to learn more about forest management from her team and find creative avenues for information to reach new audiences. When she’s not working, you can find her crocheting, volunteering at the local cat shelter, or tending to her succulents. Welcome, Grace!
Forest Research and Outreach Blog 

Interested in learning more about forest stewardship, forest resilience or how to protect your home from wildfire? The UC Forest Research and Outreach Blog is an additional resource for landowners looking to increase their knowledge around forestry and forest management topics. Check it out!
The 4-H Youth Development Program offers educational opportunities for children, teens, families, and adults. 4-H helps young people to reach their full potential as competent, confident, leaders of character who contribute and are connected to their communities.
4-H Program Representative
Placerville, CA

The Placerville Office is seeking a 4-H Community Education Specialist! This position's primary focus will be on conducting, managing, and evaluating an education program to improve the environment of the schools and communities in El Dorado County. The position is a benefited career appointment that is 80% variable. Ideal candidates will have general knowledge of the 4-H Youth Development Program, experience with volunteer management, event planning, and a desire to teach and grow. For more information or to apply, email [email protected].
Shenandoah Valley 4-H Shares the Love with Local Seniors ❤️

Eighteen members from Shenandoah Valley 4-H Club participated in a community service activity on Sunday January 22, 2023 to make Valentine’s Day cards for over 350 senior citizens in Amador County. 

The activity was led by older 4-H youth who contacted several local facilities, Amador Senior Center, Kit Karson, St. Katherines Church, Oak Manor, Cal-Fire, Sutter Hospital in Jackson and The Call Church’s Widow Ministry, to see if they were interested in receiving Valentines Days cards, and then made arrangements to deliver the cards.

So many skills learned from this community service activity, and it provided a great opportunity for members to practice their communication skills and penmanship! Several members went in-person to pass out their Valentine's Day cards to residents at Oak Manor. The residents were so happy to see the kids and receive their handmade cards. Members also enjoyed seeing their impact first hand, and look forward to finding more ways to be actively involved in their community!   
If you are interested in joining a 4-H project like this or others, or if you are interested in volunteering to help the 4-H youth grow and achieve, please contact your local 4-H Office or email [email protected].
Enroll NOW for the 2022-2023 Program Year!
UCCE Master Gardeners are community members who have been trained under the direction of the University of California Cooperative Extension. Each volunteer has completed more than 50 hours of formal classroom training to provide practical scientific gardening information to the home gardeners.
Fruit Tree Grafting and Scion Exchange
Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 9:00AM – 12:00PM
UCCE Office Amador County | 12200B Airport Rd Jackson, CA

Our dormant season (late winter to early spring) is a wonderful time to expand the options in your fruit orchard. Join our instructors as they demonstrate how to graft different varieties of fruit trees to provide and abundant, varied crop. We’re back in-person this year so we will have a scion exchange.  Watch the instruction video prior to class and then bring some of your favorite varieties to trade with others! 

  • Learn when and how to harvest scion wood and how to store for grafting 
  • Understand the purpose for each type of graft 
  • Learn the best methods for successful grafting
  • See the outcome of successful grafting 
Start Planning Your 2023 Garden! - February 4, 2023

(Rescheduled January 14 class that was cancelled due to weather) UCCE Master Gardeners of Amador County will be hosting a Public Education Class "Start Planning Your 2023 Garden" on Saturday, February 4 from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the General...

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The Sherwood Demonstration Garden is closed for repair through the end of February due to last month's storms. Fortunately, we have resilient volunteers ready for the challenge of getting everything back to where it needs to be and we plan to open our gates again in March.

Speaking of volunteers, we have several long-time volunteers in the El Dorado Master Gardeners, including Robin Stanley, who we’d like to recognize for her 40 years as a Master Gardener. Forty years ago, Robin became the first Master Gardener Volunteer in El Dorado County. Robin continues to be inspired by the approach the organization has taken as it’s grown, offering training classes to bring on new volunteers, new ideas, and a wide variety of skills. “I have met some of the most wonderful people, some of whom have changed my life forever, and I hope that will continue in the years to come,” she says. 

Two other volunteers, Sue McDavid and Jan Keahey, reached the 25-year milestone; and Debbie Hillel, who is both a Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver, celebrated year 20 as a volunteer with our program.
Can We Plant...?
February 4 | 9:00AM - 12:00PM
UCCE Office Placerville

The class will discuss considerations when determining which plant to choose, how to choose appropriate species for a site based on those considerations and your desired outcome.
Master Gardener Dara Mills will introduce and demonstrate two useful websites and databases to aid in choosing the appropriate plant: SelecTree  and UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars. Space is limited. Register Here
Gardening in Small Spaces
February 8 | 9:00AM - 12:00PM
Cameron Park Community Center
2502 Country Club Drive, Cameron Park

Join Master Gardener Mike Pavlick in a discussion that will cover site location, design, raised bed options, container gardening and other methods that will allow anyone to have a vegetable garden in a small backyard setting. Registration is not required.
Fruit Tree Pruning Demonstration
Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 10:30AM - 1:00PM
Tuolumne County Demonstration Garden | 251 South Barretta Street, Sonora
Fruit Tree Pruning
When a Master Gardener, during a pruning demonstration, reduced a beautiful-looking tree to a vertical stick, I was sure that I had just witnessed a crime. Little did I know that, due to my lack of knowledge, it was I who was committing injustice to my own trees.

There is an art and science to pruning and it is important that your objective is very clear. It was not a crime that I had witnessed. I just did not understand the objective.

The principal objectives of fruit-tree pruning are: to direct or control growth, shape and size; to stimulate new fruiting wood and encourage flower and fruit production; to remove broken, damaged and diseased wood; and to space new wood to allow good air circulation and sunlight penetration into the canopy.

Prune annually in late winter or early spring for fruit production and some tree shaping. (Note: apricots should be pruned six weeks before rain is expected or after the rainy season has ended to prevent water-borne disease.) Prune in spring to summer to control growth, do some shaping, and help thin fruit.

There are three pruning phases in the life of a deciduous fruit tree:

The first pruning phase occurs at planting, when the first cut fosters development of a vase-shaped structure. After a bare root tree is planted, the trunk should be “headed back” at 24 – 32 inches above the soil surface. This most important cut serves to establish low origination points of structural branches which allow most pruning, harvesting and pest management to be performed without a ladder during the life of the tree.

The second phase of pruning begins in the second year after planting and establishes tree structure. The initial low heading cut results in several branches growing outward at various directions and angles. Three or four strong upwardly-growing branches, spaced at intervals around the trunk, should be selected as main branches (scaffold). Additional branches should be removed. Pruning in the next few years should concentrate on structural development of these main branches and well-spaced secondary branches (laterals).

The third phase of pruning begins with the onset of maturity, five to seven years for most fruit trees. Pruning at this stage invigorates and directs the growth of the tree with a goal of producing new, fruiting wood. In home orchards, peaches should be pruned most severely and cherries the least.

There are important differences between each type of fruit tree. For example, peaches bear fruit on terminal wood of the previous season. Therefore, well-spaced lateral shoots with flower buds are retained. It is common to thin (remove) half to two-thirds of peach laterals and to shorten (head) remaining fruiting wood. Apricots, plums and cherries bear fruit laterally on spurs which live three, five, and ten years, respectively.

This article adapted from University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Kern County "Planting and Early Care of Deciduous Fruit Trees" and former UCCE Tuolumne County Master Gardeners Gary Fowler and Jim Gormely.
Questions about your home garden or landscape?
Interested in upcoming classes and events?
UCCE Master Gardeners are available to answer your questions!
The UCCE Master Food Preserver program trains dedicated volunteers to assist the county UC Cooperative Extension staff provide up-to-date food preservation information. Our current program is active in El Dorado, Amador, Tuolumne, and Calaveras counties.
UC Master Food Preserver New Volunteer Training is Underway

The largest group of future Master Food Preservers ever to join the program have embarked on the course of 2023 training. Over 155 people are undertaking a rigorous curriculum that includes practical applications of chemistry and physics in matters of food preservation. Weekly virtual meetings and in-person labs will prepare these students to represent UC in the community. 

They will be learning pickling and fermentation, high- and low-acid and pressure canning methods, food storage and safety, dehydration, and how to work with fruit, as well as preparing to be in front of groups and strategies for teaching and outreach into the community. 

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy doing, you can sign up for our newsletter email, and we’ll keep you in the loop about joining a future class. Master Food Preserver public classes are offered year-round, virtually and in person. 
Pressure Canning: Meals in a Jar
February 18 | 9:00AM - 12:00PM | UCCE Placerville

Who needs Dinty Moore or Chef Boyardee when we can make our own meals in a jar? Learn the basics of pressure canning, and then enjoy the fun as we present lots of recipes and ideas for those busy times when we don’t have time to cook. Space is limited.
Ask a UC Master Food Preserver online, any time! Plus sign up to get e-news, event updates and free class schedules delivered to your inbox each month. Subscribe Here
Through the CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) UCCE Central Sierra program, we teach free classes in local schools, community centers, libraries, and other public locations. Our classes show people how to choose, grow, cook, and enjoy affordable healthy foods, and how to make physical activity a regular and fun part of life. We also work to create environments where it’s easier for people to make healthy choices, by supporting school wellness policies, community and school gardens, walking clubs, and more.
February Harvest of the Month: Dried Beans

You may know them as the musical fruit that’s very good for your heart—dried beans. Kidney, pinto, black, white, chickpeas, lentils, soy, and many of their variations are not actually fruit, they are legumes: nutrition powerhouses, a protein with no cholesterol and no fat, loaded with iron, and zinc, as well as fiber, folate, and potassium. They are also inexpensive, especially in dry form, easy to store, and extremely versatile.

If you think you don’t like beans, you might not be aware of their many variations. They are the primary component in hummus, tofu, pea soup, and sprouts, as well as sweet baked beans and mushy refried versions. They can be salad, soup, side dish or main course, and are a good substitute for (or complement to) meat in chili and other dishes. 

So many health benefits are associated with frequent consumption of beans, including lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and healthy regulation of blood sugar and insulin.
Many dried beans are generally soaked overnight or a minimum of four hours before cooking, and double or triple in size when you soak them. (Throw away the soaking water and cook in fresh water to tone down their, um, “musical” nature.) Cooking time depends on the freshness, size, and variety of the bean. Of course, if you buy them in a can, they’re already cooked! In this way, they are a super-convenient, quick, easy meal.
Harvest of the Month Recipe: Cooked Beans

A good, basic instructional recipe for cooking dry beans. Cooked beans are a great way to get more iron and fiber and can be eaten alone or added to salads and side dishes.

1 cup dried beans plus 10 cups water
SORT: Before soaking beans, pick them over and remove any damaged beans, small stones or dirt.
SOAK: Most beans will rehydrate to triple their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. Choose one of the following ways to soak your beans:
  • Hot Soak: Hot soaking helps reduce intestinal gas. For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for up to 4 hours.
  • Quick Soak: For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour.
  • Overnight Soak: For each pound (2 cups) dry beans, add 10 cups cold water and let soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
COOK: Drain soaking water and rinse beans. Cover beans with fresh water. Simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until tender.
More UCCE Central Sierra Programs
California is reopening all activities statewide, but it is important to remember that the pandemic is not over and COVID-19 remains a health threat. As we plan and implement a return to in-person ANR programs, we should stay informed about COVID-19 trends statewide and in our communities. Here are a few resources from the CDPH and other trusted sources.
 530-621-5502 | 888-764-9669 | [email protected] |