WHAT DO YOU THINK?
The editorial staff of California Agriculture welcomes your letters, comments and suggestions. Please write to usât: 1301 S.46th St., Building 478-MC 3580, Richmond, CA 94804, or firstname.lastname@example.org . Include your full name and address. Letters may be edited for space and clarity
Clarification: Olive fruit fly in Mariposa County
After our article “Understanding the seasonal and reproductive biology of olive fruit fly is critical to its management,” was published in the January-March 2011 issue of California Agriculture, Cathi Boze, the agricultural commissioner in Mariposa County, noted that her county was not included as infested on the map of California on page 15. Mariposa County was not listed as trapping for olive fruit flies in the California Department of Food and Agriculture's list of counties that we used to make the map. However, Boze did indeed run traps in the county, and olive fruit flies were first detected there in 2003.
Professor, CE Specialist and Entomologist
UC Agricultural Experiment Station
Smart sprayers pay in Australia
I just read “Smart sprayer technology provides environmental and economic benefits in California orchards,” April-June 2011. We retrofitted this system to our almond orchard sprayers for $5,000 Australian dollars ($5,218 U.S.) each, 4 years ago. If anything, the predicted estimates of savings are conservative. In addition to the tree sensors on our foliar sprayers, we have set up “Weed Seeker” heads on our herbicide sprayers. While these cost four times more than the tree sensors, the payback period has been similar.
Lake Cullulleraine Almonds
Redwoods regenerate on 7,000-plus acres
The Mendocino Land Trust congratulates California Agriculture on the recent article about the remarkable regrowth of redwoods at Big River (“Scientists discover redwoods’ resiliency in Fritz's Wonder Plot,” April-June 2011). The Fritz Wonder Plot is part of 7,334 acres of former industrial timberland that now make up the Big River unit of the Mendocino Headlands State Park. The Mendocino Land Trust, with the support of individual and institutional donors, raised the $28 million needed to acquire the Big River Unit in 2002. Former Big River program manager Matt Gerhart (now with the state Coastal Conservancy), working with UC, organized the Fritz Plot resurvey and compiled and composed the historical and current data. To read the Fritz report or learn more about Big River, visit mendocinolandtrust.org .
Matt Coleman Mendocino, CA
Greg Giusti, UC cooperative forest and wildlands ecology advisor, responds:
For more than 70 years, scores of people and organizations worked to keep the Fritz Wonder Plot operational. Scientists and researchers, many unnamed in the article, spent large portions of their careers protecting and collecting data from the site. The focus of the article was not on all the players involved, but rather on the unique characteristics, history and story the plot tells. Thanks to the Mendocino Land Trust, the Conservation Fund and the Save the Redwoods League, the activities started in 1923 continue today. The property was transferred from private to public ownership in 2002, and California State Parks is the official land steward.
Long-term care and financial-planning data
Editor's note: The following letter and response have been edited substantially for space. To read the entire exchange, with references, go to: http://ucanr.org/u.cfm?id=8 .
I greatly enjoy reading California Agriculture, and I especially liked the October–December 2010 issue, since I was born in 1941 and am experiencing the privilege of aging. However, the brief article “Long-term care is an important consideration in financial planning for later life” (page 206) lacks an original source reference regarding the claim, “While not all Californians will need expensive long-term care, 70% of those over age 65 will need some during their lifetimes.” The reference given is: California HealthCare Foundation, Survey: Many Californians Not Ready for Health Care Costs, California Healthline (April 22, 2010).
The California HealthCare Foundation published a more definitive report in November 2009. In 2007, there were 1,391,281 California residents in some type of long-term care. I used the higher 2010 U.S. census estimate of 4,640,000 residents to divide into the 2007 total of 1,391,281 residents in some type of long-term care. The result was 30%.
Three of the seven references in this article were from a long-term care insurance company, Genworth Financial. I am not a health services research professional, but I would like a more rigorous peer review from objective scientific references using original sources, not newsletters that reference a government summary that has no sources.
Bob Whitney Willits, CA
Patti C. Wooten Swanson, Nutrition, Family and Consumer Science Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego County, and Karen P. Varcoe, Consumer Economics Specialist, UC Riverside, respond:
The widely quoted and generally accepted projection that at least 70% of U.S. residents ages 65 and older will need long-term care services can be traced back to analysis of data from the 1986 National Mortality Followback Survey (NMFS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics. The figure appears to have originated in a 2001 Journal of Risk and Insurance article. Included from the NMFS data was the finding that persons age 65 and older in 1995 had a 68.5% probability of needing assistance with two or more activities of daily living (ADLs) during their lifetimes, including eating, toileting and dressing. “Needing assistance with two or more ADLs” is generally the criteria for receiving benefits from a long-term care insurance policy sold in California.
The California HealthCare Foundation data cited have limitations. For example, it includes only those who utilize long-term care “services” and not the estimated 70% of elders who get most or all of their care from (unpaid) family members and friends.
Genworth Financial's annual cost-of-care surveys are commonly quoted in educational materials to help consumers estimate and plan for potential future costs of long-term care. The surveys collect data from a random sample of nursing homes, assisted living and adult day health facilities, and home care providers. Genworth's 2011 survey contacted more than 53,000 long-term care providers to complete nearly 15,500 surveys. Results cover the four major categories of long-term care in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Private long-term care insurance is only one of several ways families afford the long-term care they may need. In addition to unpaid care from family and friends, seniors may qualify for Medi-Cal by spending down their assets. Seniors with more resources may choose to access their home equity. Others pay for care from personal savings and assets, funds generated from cash-value life insurance or viatical settlements from companies that buy insurance policies from terminally ill patients. For more information, see the UC ANR publication “Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care” ( http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/Items/8383.aspx ).