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Barley, New Degree, Perennial Wheat, and Bugs!

Posted by | September 6, 2006

It’s a Fact

Barley is grown in every county in Washington state; however, the principal production areas are in the central and eastern portions of the state. The top five barley producing counties in Washington are Whitman, Lincoln, Spokane, Garfield, and Columbia.

On Solid Ground is a weekly, electronic newsletter for the friends and stakeholders of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), WSU Extension and the WSU Agricultural Research Center.

New Systems Degree Responds to Marketplace Demand

Washington State University received approval from the state Higher Education Coordinating Board in June to offer a bachelor’s of science degree in Agriculture and Food Systems starting in the fall of 2006. The new degree will provide students with a broader perspective of agriculture and equip them with the critical thinking, leadership, communication and problem-solving skills that employers are seeking. Five majors are offered, including the nation’s first Organic Agriculture Systems major. The others are: agricultural business and technology systems, agricultural education, pest management systems and plants and soil systems.

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The Perennial Question

A team of WSU researchers is making natural crosses between wheat and its perennial relatives, such as perennial grasses, to convert wheat from an annual to a perennial growth cycle. Perennial wheat should only need to be replanted every three to seven years, resulting in a more environmentally friendly farming system that aids in the reduction of water and wind erosion and ultimately cleaner air and water, improved wildlife habitat and an economically viable alternative to the Federal Conservation Reserve Program. Perennial wheat has been growing for three years at the Spillman Agronomy Farm and is being tested in fields in Franklin and Adams counties.

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Good Bug/Bad Bug

While reliance on conventional broad-spectrum insecticides is still the dominant insect pest control tactic used on apples in Washington, development of resistance in pests, especially codling moth and leafrollers, has brought new urgency in the quest for alternative tactics. This, coupled with regulatory action, most notably the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, and concerns from environmental, consumer and farm worker advocacy groups over pesticides, will hasten the loss of the “traditional” chemical controls. Entomologists Jay Brunner, director of WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, and Elizabeth Beers are looking at alternative pest control tactics that include new highly selective insecticides, biological control, cultural control and behavioral control to determine the potential for producing apples without the use of broad-spectrum insecticides.

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