New Video Series to Spark Interest in Vegetable Production of the Future

A 26-episode weekly video series will debut Monday, May 13, 2019, on YouTube to help train the next generation of vegetable crop workers and increase their use of effective stewardship practices in vegetable production.

UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis vegetable crops specialist Jeff Mitchell shoots video for the vegetable production series.

Projections for near-future retirements of people working in California’s agricultural production, marketing and postharvest handling sectors indicate severe re-staffing needs in the coming years. Technological advances have reduced manual labor in agriculture, but increased the need for skilled labor to maintain the sustainability of the vegetable industry.

“We already see it happening,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist, and faculty member in Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “Robotic machines are now used for lettuce thinning in Salinas, but these technologies must be serviced by an educated workforce with knowledge in both mechanics and science.”

Mitchell assembled a team of professors from California’s public universities with agricultural programs — UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — to pull together a series of videos designed to spark the interest and begin training future farmers and ag workers in sound agronomic, economic and environmental stewardship skills. The team received financial support from the California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant Program.

“We know that maintaining California’s leading role in producing abundant, safe vegetables is critical not only to Americans’ health, but also to the state’s economy,” Mitchell said.

The video series is offered on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) YouTube page on a playlist titled “Training of a New Generation of California Vegetable Producers.”

Each Monday morning from May 13 through Nov. 4, a new video will premiere in the playlist. The video lengths range from 47 minutes to 7 minutes. The videos will also be made available to high school and college ag professors to use in the classroom.

“We believe that this series of videos on vegetable production will have broad interest beyond the classrooms,” Mitchell said. “The agricultural industry, students in other parts of the United States and the world, and the broader public all have an interest in understanding how the vegetables we eat are produced at the ever-increasing scale at which they are needed.”

The videos depict state-of-the-art technologies and techniques that are in use in many production regions of California today, vegetable farming systems used in other parts of the world, and increasingly popular cottage farming systems that are popping up in urban areas for easy access to healthful foods.

To receive a notification of each video premiere, set a reminder by visiting the playlist on YouTube, or follow the UC ANR Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/UCANR.

Here are the first 10 episodes. More will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

  1. Urban Agriculture; Premieres May 13, 2019
  2. Vegetable Transplants; Premieres May 20, 2019
  3. Processing Tomato Production; Premieres May 28, 2019
  4. Organic Processing Tomato Production; Premieres June 3, 2019
  5. Sweet Corn Production in California; Premieres June 10, 2019
  6. Potato Production; Premieres June 17, 2019
  7. Weed Management in Specialty Crop Production; Premieres June 24, 2019
  8. Seed and Variety Improvement; Premieres July 8, 2019
  9. Lettuce Production in the Salinas Valley; Premieres July 15, 2019
  10. Cover Crops in Specialty Crops Production Systems; Premieres July 22, 2019

(Article by Jeannette Warnert, UC ANR, jewarnert@ucanr.edu)

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