Fresh from WSU Extension: Freeze damage to crops; Giant hornets; flour food safety

Red cedar foliageScientists at Washington State University Extension share ideas every month through newly published guides. The latest new and revised publications help farmers, landowners, beekeepers, and food preparers improve, understand, and update their practices.

Seasonal Foliage Discoloration and Loss in Pacific Northwest Evergreen Conifer Trees (FS056E, Revised January 2022)
Colorful, falling foliage from deciduous trees is a hallmark of autumn. Some evergreens, such as western redcedar, also have foliage that turns yellow or orange and is shed in fall. Written by Extension Forestry Professor Kevin Zobrist, this publication explores the different foliage retention strategies of trees, the phenomenon of seasonal foliage loss in evergreens, and how it differs from deciduous trees, as well as other seasonal color variations in Pacific Northwest conifers that may look unhealthy but are generally harmless.

A large, dead hornet held in a human hand.
Asian giant hornets are usually about 1.5 to 2 inches in length, with an orange-yellow head and striped abdomen (Photo courtesy WSDA).

Distinguishing Asian Giant Hornet Damage to Honey Bee Colonies (FS370E)
Native to east Asia, the Asian giant hornet was found in 2019 in Washington state’s Whatcom County. The hornet is a potentially devastating predator of honey bees—while bees in the hornet’s home range have evolved a defense against the large hornets, the European honey bee relied on for pollination in the U.S. has not. Written by Postdoctoral Researcher Kelly Kulhanek and Assistant Research Professor Brandon Hopkins, this guide helps keepers identify signs of hornet attack versus other damage to colonies, such as rodents.


Wheat crown illustration
Figure 1. from the Extension guide; Image created by David Brian Fowler, University of Saskatchewan Department of Plant Sciences, Winter Wheat Production Manual.

Assessing Freeze Damage to Winter and Spring Wheat Using a Crown Viability Test (FS369E)
Factors such as available soil water, as well as soil and air temperature, have a major effect on the growth and development of wheat plants. In the drylands of eastern Washington, farmers look to snow cover in winter to provide water for the upcoming growing season and protect the vital crown—the underground growing point where the stem, tillers, and roots connect—against rapidly changing or subfreezing temperatures. Written by Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Unit Assistant Professor Dale Whaley, this guide helps wheat growers identify potential winter and spring freeze damage by using a crown viability test.

Harvesting Blueberries: A Guide to Machine Pick Blueberries for Fresh Market (FS368E)
Fresh-market blueberries are a valuable​ crop, but harvesting high-quality fruits has become challenging due to the cost and decreasing availability of hand-harvest crews. Many growers have turned to machine harvesters. Examining field establishment, planti​ng and field design, pruning and training, harvest, packing facilities, food safety, and other topics, this guide shares practices that can improve harvest efficiency and fruit quality in machine harvesting for the fresh market; authored by WSU Associate Professor Lisa DeVetter, Oregon State University Associate Professor Wei Yang, USDA Research Horticulturist Fumiomi Takeda, and University of Georgia Professor Jinru Chen.

There Are Dangers Lurking in Your Flour (PNW717)
Recent flour recalls highlight how raw flour can cause serious foodborne illness, and should not be treated as a safe product, especially for young children or others at risk. This publication outlines the risks of flour-based crafts and shares steps you can take to keep people safe. Authors include Statewide Consumer Food Safety Specialist Stephanie Smith and WSU Youth and Families Program Research Intern Rachael Beck.

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