Ag Economy, Wine Pricing and Potato Late Blight

It’s a Fact

Agriculture is critical to Washington’s economic well-being. The state’s $29 billion food and agriculture industry contributes 13 percent to the state’s economy, including more than $6 billion of annual farm gate value. The food and agriculture industry employs 170,000 people in every corner of the state, making it Washington’s No. 1 employer. More than 250 commodities are produced commercially in the state, making Washington’s agricultural economy the second most diverse in the nation.

Does Price Really Indicate Quality?

WineThe vast majority of consumers know little about wine. Consequently, they use quality signals such as price categories, expert ratings, location of production, and appearance of the label in their purchase decisions. A team of WSU faculty in the School of Economic Sciences and the Department of Marketing is analyzing the relationship between prices and quality signals. Led by Associate Professor Jill McCluskey, the team is looking at whether wine prices embody characteristics that differentiate the product and whether wines in different price categories should be analyzed separately. The team also considers the effect of production location. Specifically, they are studying how American Viticulture Area appellations affect prices and how these price effects change over time. The team is also studying how long it takes for a newer AVA, such as Washington, to obtain market recognition and a reputation for quality.

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Battling Late Blight on All Fronts

Potato Late BlightPlant pathology Professor Dennis Johnson has been working on management measures to prevent late blight in potatoes in the Columbia Basin, specifically sanitation practices, irrigation management, cultural practices and fungicide application. He also continues to research the economic impact of late blight and other diseases on the Washington potato industry. Those who have followed his management recommendations have spent less on fungicide applications and lost less to late blight on foliage in the field and on tubers in storage. Debra Inglis, plant pathologist and interim director of WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center at Mount Vernon, is co-coordinator of WSU’s Statewide Vegetable Pathology Extension team and is former co-coordinator of the National and North American Late Blight Fungicide trials. Her research centers on identifying and managing sources of inoculum that either initiate or perpetuate epidemics of late blight. She also works at developing integrated chemical and cultural control practices for Phytophthora infestans.

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