50 Years: California Agriculture
Past issues illustrate the changing look of the magazine.
The first issue of California Agriculture was a four-page tabloid printed on newspaper stock in December 1946. By 1947, the slim monthly journal was published on semi-gloss paper. Today it is a four-color publication running 40 pages or more in length — one of the oldest, continuously published land-grant university research publications in the country. It is also one of the largest circulation publications of its kind, with 17,829 domestic and 1,586 foreign subscribers.
Originally, articles were brief descriptions of “progress as it is being made, before the results are formally published.” As the volume of UC research grew and faculty expectations for scientific rigor increased, the journal adopted a peer review system.
In the 1980s, faculty reviewers called for more long-term research supported by statistically significant data. Articles lengthened and authors provided more tables and figures. In 1992, California Agriculture established an Associate Editor panel and an Advisory Committee, to further strengthen the journal's scientific content.
While ensuring scientific accuracy, the journal's equally important task is to make research results meaningful and interesting to its diverse readership: 41% growers and agribusiness, 34% university faculty, and 11% government agency professionals. (Another 15% fall into the categories of communications, public office, advocacy, and private consultants.) In response to reader surveys, California Agriculture established three news sections in 1993: Research Update, Progress Report and Science Briefs. Articles in these sections, authored by the editorial staff, provide context for the peer-reviewed research articles written by faculty.
In the same surveys, readers indicated a strong preference for thematic coverage of research on matters of public concern or controversy. California Agriculture responded with special issues focusing on food safety, sustainable agriculture, endangered species protection, and other major issues.
In the coming pages, California Agriculture celebrates its 50th anniversary and offers tribute to the UC scientists and staff whose contributions helped establish the journal's international reputation.
The inaugural issue of California Agriculture was published in December 1946.