May 15, 2019 – Congratulations to longtime research associate at UC California Santa Cruz, Dr. Joji Muramoto, who recently became the first Cooperative Extension Specialist in the UC system dedicated to organic agriculture. Leading a statewide program focused on organic production of strawberries and vegetables, Muramoto plans to focus on soil fertility and the organic management of soil-borne diseases.

Some of the most significant scientific advancements in strawberry research have been made by Muramoto and Dr. Carol Shennan at UC Santa Cruz, where they have pioneered alternatives to methyl bromide in commercial strawberry production. OFRF initiated this research with grants in 1997, 2003, and 2010, which have since been leveraged to secure more than $5M in additional funding from state and federal agencies.

There have been tremendous impacts for organic growers from this research. Focused on anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD), an alternative to soil fumigation for the control of soil pathogens and nematodes, ASD was primarily developed with the goals of controlling Verticillium dahlia, a pathogen that causes verticillium wilt and reduced yields in strawberry fields.

Today, the practices of ASD have been widely adopted among organic strawberry growers in California, and most commonly utilized in the areas of Ventura, Watsonville, and Santa Maria. Although 80% of farms that use ASD are organic, conventional farmers are also exploring the use of ASD and adoption is expected to increase.

As a long-time advocate for more extension serving the organic community, we couldn’t be more excited about this new position and the appointment of a respected soil scientist like Joji. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Read about the impacts of OFRF funded berry research.