PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Extension programs that have eradicated Spartina, a noxious invasive weed in Willapa Bay, and that are keeping a grain pest in check by means of biological control, will be honored in July at the Western Region Joint Summer Meeting in Blaine.
Eradication of Invasive Spartina in Willapa Bay, a program led by Kim Patten, a horticulturist at the WSU Long Beach Research and Extension Unit, will be one of two state programs that will receive WEDA Awards of Excellence.
Successful Biological Control of the Cereal Leaf Beetle in the Western United States and Canadian Provinces, a program led by Diana Roberts, a WSU Spokane County Extension educator, will be the only multi-state program honored with a WEDA Award of Excellence.
Spartina was a threat to the state’s oyster industry as well as critical shorebird, waterfowl and salmonid habitat. Seven years of research trials resulted in the registration and use of a new herbicide in 2004. Use of this herbicide in state and federal control has resulted in the elimination of Spartina from Washington estuaries.
The cereal leaf beetle, an insect pest of wheat, barley, oats and Timothy hay, was detected in Washington state in 1999. The beetle has reduced spring wheat grain yields by up to 25 percent, which statewide would cause a loss of $39 million per year. Chemical management costs $15 per acre, and could cost Washington grain growers $6.75 million per year.
Aided by WSU entomologists Keith Pike and Terry Miller, Roberts led an effort that dispersed a tiny wasp species that parasitizes the cereal leaf beetle. “The wasps are harmless to humans, pets, livestock and other plants and animals,” Roberts said. “They lay their eggs in the larvae of the cereal leaf beetle and prevent further development of the pest. With the successful survival and distribution of the wasp, farmers should not need to use chemicals to control the cereal leaf beetle.”
The WEDA Awards of Excellence recognize extension outreach education programming that has achieved outstanding accomplishments, results, and impacts in addressing contemporary issues in one or more of the 13 Western states and Pacific Island U.S. territories.
The awards are made annually to individuals or multi-discipline teams for single state or multi-state programs. The Western Region Program Leadership Committee administers this program on behalf of the WEDA.