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Latest WSU Extension guides: lady beetles, soil health, and protecting fruit

Lots of ladybugs
Lady beetles are a popular biocontrol in home gardens.

The latest guides from Washington State University Extension update Northwest farmers, foresters, and gardeners on how to protect tree fruit crops, gauge soil health, grow canola for harvest and grazing, the pros and cons of buying lady beetles, and more.

This January, experts from WSU and partner institutions released 10 new or revised online guides and modules. Find them at the WSU Extension online bookstore.

A Practical Guide to Soil Health Indicators for Monitoring Shifts in Soil Organic Matter (FS379E)

Improving and maintaining soil health can have a wide range of agricultural benefits, reducing input costs while improving crop growth, quality, and yield. Soil organic matter is a common metric but can be slow to respond to management changes. This guide is an overview of soil health indicators that can respond more rapidly; authors are Rachel Breslauer, Katherine Smith, and Deirdre Griffin LaHue with the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

Soil Health in Washington Vineyards (FS378E)

Tracking soil health over time is an integral component of good vineyard management. Learn how to get started building and sustaining soil health in your operation. Authors include Deirdre Griffin LaHue, Molly McIlquham, Devin Rippner, Leslie Michel, Dani Gelardi, Teal Potter, Joan Davenport, and Michelle Moyer.

Canola Grazing
In the vegetative growth stage, winter canola can be a nutritious and productive forage crop.

Dual-Purpose Canola Management in the Pacific Northwest (FS374E)

This publication details the state of knowledge on grazing on canola in the inland Pacific Northwest. It also compares canola grazing to mechanically harvested canola forage and subsequent impacts on seed yield. Authors are Isaac Madsen, WSU Oilseed Extension Agronomist, and Clark Neely, Extension Agronomist.

Revised Publications

Crop Protection Guide for Tree Fruits in Washington (EB0419)

The 2023 edition of the crop protection guide outlines examples of pesticides registered on orchard insect, disease, and weed pests in Washington state; includes efficacy and toxicity charts; 172 pages. Cost is $21.50; authors include Tianna DuPont, Elizabeth Beers, Robert Orpet, Gary Grove, Achour Amiri, Rachel Bomberger, and Tory Schmidt, with editor Lagene Taylor.

Pest Management Guide for Grapes in Washington (EB0762)

This updated guide looks at control of diseases, insects, weeds, and vertebrate pests on commercial grapes. Cost is $9.50.

Lady Beetles: Should We Buy Them for Our Gardens? (FS268E)

Hailed as the home gardeners’ go-to aphid biocontrol, catch-and-release lady beetles are often cited in popular lit. This pub explores the science behind the hype—and suggests some alternatives. Part of the Home Garden Series; authors include Professor and Extension Specialist Linda Chalker-Scott and Washington State Department of Agriculture Entomologist Michael Bush.

Potential Contaminants in Residential Rain Barrel Water (FS280E)

Practical and inexpensive, rain barrels collect rooftop runoff and can extend irrigation during dry spells. But what’s in the water? Part of the Home Garden Series; by Linda Chalker-Scott.

Revised Online Modules

Animal Damage Control (OM29)

In this module, Jim Bottorff, retired wildlife biologist from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, provides an overview of the wildlife species that most commonly damage trees and describes control strategies. Access to the modules is free, but registration is required.

Managing a Successful Timber Sale: Top 10 Musts (OM13)

Long-time forest consultant Ron Munro discusses the top ten “musts” for putting together a successful timber sale. These tips will help minimize your risk and liability as a landowner. Access is free but registration is required.

Managing Woodlands for Aesthetics and Enjoyment (OM12)

Jeff deGraan, Forestry Consultant, Cascade Woodland Design, discusses six principles of managing for aesthetics and enjoyment. Jeff DeBell is an additional author.

Latest WSU Extension guides: Launch a food hub, keep eggs safe, and grow pears feasibly

Food Hub- warehouse with boxes
From a new Extension guide on food hubs: warehouse workers repack multi-farm produce boxes for delivery to workers displaced by COVID-19 (Photo: S. Bramwell).

Each month, experts with WSU Extension share new and updated guides for practical farms and consumers.

The latest free publications share ways to establish a successful food hub, connecting farmers with consumers, as well as food-science tips for safe handling of eggs, plus revised looks at pear economics and mounded home gardens.

Food Hub Establishment: A Case Study of the Southwest Washington Food Hub (TB89E)

Food hubs connect small and mid-sized crop producers with retail and institutional markets, helping provide training, insurance, and value-added product development. Many hubs have environmental and social goals, seeking to increase community cohesion and access to healthy, local food. This guide offers information and a model for those interested in starting or adapting one of these dynamic food systems. Authors include Stephen Bramwell, Assistant Professor and County Director, and Marilyn Sitaker, Food Systems Researcher and Program Coordinator, both with Thurston County Extension.

Proper Egg Handling: From Farm or Grocery Store to Table (PNW720)

Eggs are part of a healthy diet and contain many nutrients. However, Salmonella enteritidis infections from eggs continue to be a significant cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis. This new publication provides an overview of egg handling practices in the United States, noting safe practices for handling, storage, and consumption of eggs from farm to grocery store to table. Authors are Stephanie Smith, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist with the School of Food Science, and Rachel Beck, Youth and Families.

Pears stock imageRevised publications:

2022 Cost Estimates of Producing and Packing Fresh Market Anjou Pears in the Wenatchee River Valley, Washington State (FS031E)

Washington state is the number one producer of fresh-market pears in the United States. This updated guide, by Economic Sciences Professor and Extension Specialist R. Karina Gallardo, Extension Assistant Professor Suzette P. Galinato, and Tree Fruit Entomology Research Assistant Professor Louis Nottingham, helps growers evaluate the feasibility of producing fresh-market Anjou pears in the Wenatchee Valley, identifying inputs, costs, and yields considered typical of well-managed orchards.

2022 Cost Estimates of Producing, and Packing Fresh-Market Bartlett Pears in South Washington (FS034E)

Pear growers can estimate costs and returns and examine the ranges of price and yield at which a fresh-market Bartlett pear operation is profitable in this newly revised publication by Gallardo, Gallinato, and Nottingham.

Hugelkultur: What is it, and should it be used in home gardens? (FS283E)

Hügelkultur is an increasingly popular way of using organic material to create mounded home gardens and landscapes. Authored by Linda Chalker-Scott, Extension Urban Horticulturist and Professor, this updated publication describes how to create a Hügelkultur bed, how Hügelkultur originated, and the state of the science behind the practice. It concludes with some science-based alternatives for using woody debris in gardens and landscapes.

New from Extension: Wilke research farm performance, orchard soil moisture sensors

Weeds growing over a sprinkler head.
Tall weeds blocking sprinklers can create dry spots near sensors (Tianna DuPont photo).

Two new, free online guides from WSU Extension detail the practices and performance at WSU’s Wilke research farm, and guide pear growers in the use of soil moisture-sensing tools.

WSU Wilke Research and Extension Farm Operation, Production, and Economic Performance for 2021 (TB88E)

The WSU Wilke Research and Extension Farm, near Davenport, Wash., helps give a clear picture of agricultural practices and conditions in Washington’s intermediate rainfall zone. This publication outlines the farm’s operation, production, and economic performance for 2021. Authors are Aaron Esser, Wilke Farm Management Committee Chair, and Derek Appel, Research Technician.

Using Soil Moisture Sensors in Pears (FS377E) 

Sensors are important tools for fine-tuning irrigation: kicking the dirt or doing a “the-grass-looks-green irrigation check” is not always enough. Old pear orchards have deep roots, and what is happening in the top two inches of soil can be quite different from what is happening two feet underground. Sensors can help growers make more informed irrigation decisions. Authors include WSU Tree Fruit Extension Specialist Tianna DuPont, Biological Systems Engineering Professor Troy Peters, and Lee Kalcsits, Horticulture Associate Professor.

Find more WSU Extension publications at the online bookstore.

WSU students develop professional skills at landscaping and horticulture show

By Carmen Chandler, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Spanning three days and showcasing industry leaders, experts, and vendors, Portland, Ore.’s yearly Farwest Show is the biggest landscaping and horticulture industry event in the West. The expo creates a space for plant enthusiasts to exchange ideas, show off new products, and sell upcoming varieties.  

Two Washington State University juniors majoring in landscape, nursery, and greenhouse management (LNGM) attended this year’s Farwest Show.  

Each summer, LNGM faculty offer their students a chance to attend this conference for free. Katie Weaver and Kiera Wirt answered the call, jumping at the opportunity to learn more about their industry. The Farwest Show exposed the students to an environment that fostered exploration and professional development, introducing them to new career options such as horticulture marketing and industry product management. 

Three people stand at the bottom of a staircase in a garden.
Advisor Adelaide Snider (left), Katie Weaver (center), and Kiera Wirt (right) at the Farwest Show in Portland, Ore.

The expo offered many showcases for participants to continue their education, including the “Women in Horticulture” networking event and the “Overcoming Substrate Shortages with a Proven Solution” mini-session. During these showcases, key speakers discussed their research, products, and professional developments within the industry. Students were able to look behind the scenes of the landscaping industry, previewing technology such as brand-new cultivator designs that they could vote on.  

Weaver said this behind-the-scenes look helped her get in touch with the landscaping community. For many students, an industry event of this size is their first look into the possibilities of landscaping. 

Internships and career opportunities were at the heart of the student experience at the Farwest Show. Wirt and Weaver developed their professional skills when meeting with potential employers, collecting business cards, and learning about what companies are looking for in internship applicants.  

Wirt and Weaver both encourage current LNGM students to explore the Farwest Show next year. The trip is free of cost, making it a great opportunity for students who want to learn more about the landscaping industry or get involved in upcoming internships.  

New from Extension: Guides on sooty bark disease, mobile drip irrigation

Sooty bark disease
New from Extension: Guides on sooty bark disease, mobile drip irrigation

The latest free online guides from WSU Extension help irrigated crop growers consider the pros and cons of a flexible mobile drip system, and aid Washington residents in identifying a troubling, emerging problem in maple trees: sooty bark disease.

Sooty Bark Disease Diagnostic Guide (FS375E)

Sooty bark disease, caused by the fungus Cryptostroma corticale, is an emerging disease that can impact deciduous trees in urban areas, primarily maples. This guides walks readers through how to correctly identify the diagnostic symptoms this troubling disease, first detected in Washington in Whitman County in 1968. Authors include Rachel Brooks and Dan Omdal with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources; and Joseph Hulbert, Marianne Elliott, and Gary Chastagner with the WSU Department of Plant Pathology.

Mobile Drip Irrigation (MDI) (FS367E)

This method of irrigation combines the high efficiency of surface drip irrigation with the flexibility, lower hardware costs, and the convenience of center pivot systems. This guide looks at advantages and disadvantages, concluding that growers should consider MDI if they don’t have enough water for unstressed crop production, and runoff problems that make it hard to use low elevation spray application. Authors are WSU Biological Systems Engineering PhD candidate Behnaz Molaei, WSU Professor Troy Peters, and Isaya Kisekka; Associate Professor at University of California, Davis.

Find more guides on the WSU Extension Publications website.

MANRRS creates opportunities for WSU student

By Carmen Chandler, CAHNRS Academic Programs

This past summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to provide students with 12-week internships in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Each program location offered a different experience, matching students’ interests and career goals with the department that best fitted their needs.

A woman stands in front of a kitchen sink looking into a metal bowl.
WSU student Suzena Arias works at her internship collecting diet samples to look for predation on juvenile salmon in Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.

The internship began with one week of preparation where students became familiar with the history of the projects that they would be assisting with. This allowed them to get acclimated to their new environments and build relationships with their coworkers. The remainder of the internship was spent in the field aiding in research and tracking and tagging wildlife.

The internship improves students’ technical skills in the field while promoting their professional development. In the past, students were offered federal hiring workshops through U.S Fish and Wildlife Service that focused on resume and interview skills. These workshops were not required, but highly encouraged to help students navigate finding a job after graduation.

Junior wildlife ecology and conservation student Suzena Arias participated in this summer’s internship and recounted her experiences. Arias’ internship focused on collecting diet samples to look for predation on juvenile salmon in Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. Interns were trained to implement external radio tags, collect data, and take notes for the project leads.  The team also identified the size and sex of Olympic mudminnows, using dog food to attract the minnows.

“I got stuck in the mud!” Arias said. “It’s a pretty messy job, but it was really fun.”

The internship required a lot of field work, hiking, and being outdoors. Arias also gained skills outside of field work, sharpening her public speaking skills through a presentation about her summer with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This presentation allowed Arias to share her experiences while listening to feedback about the internship and how to take the next steps in her career.

Pursuing a degree in wildlife ecology and conservation gives students a broad field of career options. Much like other interns, Arias entered this internship with little to no experience in the field. The internship is intended to give students like her an opportunity to explore different projects and expand skills and knowledge in the field. Because of this experience, Arias was able to narrow down her interests and confirm her desire to continue down this career path.

“Nothing felt better than being outdoors and helping with the conservation of salmon, bull trout, and other species,” she said.

Arias initially hesitated when applying for the program, unsure if she should pursue this opportunity. After having this experience, she urges any students interested in wildlife to pursue opportunities with MANRRS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Jill McCluskey named Alumna of 2022 by UC Berkeley Ag & Resource Economics Dept.

Jill McCluskey
Jill McCluskey, Regents Professor and Director of the School of Economic Sciences

Regents Professor Jill McCluskey was named alumna of the year by the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics (ARE) at the University of California, Berkeley.

A leading scholar of the economics of product quality and reputation, food labeling and standards, food access, and consumer preferences for new technology, McCluskey received her doctorate at UC Berkeley in 1998.

“This award from my alma mater means a lot to me,” McCluskey said. “I received outstanding mentorship and learned to love doing research while I was a student at Berkeley. I hope that I do the same for my students here at WSU.”

Acclaimed for her research and involvement, McCluskey is the first woman to direct WSU’s School of Economic Sciences. A Fellow and past president of the Agricultural & Applied Economic Association, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), McCluskey has served as major professor to 47 WSU doctoral graduates, many of whom have gone on to professorships at research universities. She is an editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. She also serves on several boards, including the Board on Agricultural and Natural Resources of the National Academies of Sciences and the International Association of Agricultural Economists.

She cofounded the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which honors the legacy of her daughter and raises awareness of dating violence and stalking on campuses.

McCluskey will give the talk, “How Women Saved Agricultural Economics and Other Ideas from a Berkeley Graduate,” Friday, Oct. 14, at Berkeley. Her talk will be followed by a ceremony and reception.

“I hope this award inspires others,” McCluskey said. “I have experienced many challenges and setbacks, but I have persevered, received a lot of support from WSU and my community, and benefitted from WSU programs,” such as the spousal-hire program, the WSU children’s center, and family-medical leave.

Berkeley was a special place for me,” she added. “My mentors believed in me and expected me to succeed. Believing in the skills and abilities of my own students at WSU, especially female and minority scholars, has given them the confidence to solve difficult problems and compete at the highest levels.”

New from Extension: Are sweet cherries feasible for my orchard?

Cherries stock image
New guides from WSU Extension help growers learn whether they can feasibly grow several sweet cherry varieties.

Newly published by WSU Extension, four free guides help orchard operators learn whether several popular sweet cherry varieties are feasible for production.

Washington is the number one producer of sweet cherries in the United States; in 2019, the crop was worth nearly $400 million, ranking eighth overall among state commodities. Guides offer current considerations and estimates in determining whether Chelan, Sweetheart, Coral Champagne, and Skeena are economically practical for an orchard business.

Sweetheart makes up about 11% of Washington cherry acreage, Chelan 10%, and Skeena, about 6%. Coral Champagne is a relatively new variety. Guides help growers estimate costs of equipment, materials, supplies, and labor required to establish and produce the variety.

Authors are R. Karina Gallardo, Professor and Extension Specialist with the School of Economic Sciences (SES) and the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS); and Suzette Galinato, Assistant Director of the Impact Center in SES.

Guides include:

Find more Extension publications here:

Coached planning courses to help western Washington forest owners

4 people stand in a forest, with 2 of them holding each end of a tape measure.
Attendees at a previous WSU Forestry planning workshop learn how to take a forest inventory.

Natural beauty, wildlife, harvest income, family ties, and peace and quiet are some of the many reasons people value their forestland.

WSU Extension’s comprehensive Forest Stewardship Coached Planning course, coming to east King County and Skagit County, helps owners get the most out of the land they love.

The Preston course runs Tuesday evenings, Sept. 6-Nov. 1, at the Preston Community Center, while the Conway course is held on Thursday evenings, Sept. 8-Nov. 3, at the Conway School, Mount Vernon.

Learn about tree type and health, wildlife, thinning and how to cut trees without damaging the land, fire risk mitigation, soil, and invasive weeds, and write a forestry plan to aid in tax reduction and conservation grants. Registration is $160, and is open through Thursday, Sept. 1.

Excellence award honors Extension Parenting Team’s support for underserved families

Cradleboard practice
Participants in WSU Extension Parenting Team’s Positive Indian Parenting course practice the traditional skill of lacing a cradleboard for a young child.

Helping underserved families in Washington State grow healthy skills for life, the WSU Extension Parenting Team was honored this summer for efforts on behalf of equity and inclusivity.

Parenting Team faculty members Kayla Wells-Yoakum, AnaMaria Diaz-Martinez, Brittany Cooper, Jennifer Leach, Louise Parker, and Diane Smith received the Western Extension Director’s Association‘s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, during the organization’s joint summer meeting, June 29, 2022, in Concord, Calif. This award recognizes outstanding achievement by Extension professionals in reaching traditionally underrepresented populations.

The Extension Parenting Team supports the health of caregivers, parents, and children across Washington, helping build resilient families, enhancing positive parent-caregiver-child interactions, and reducing risks.

Kayla Wells-Yoakum
Kayla Wells-Yoakum

“Without the culturally adapted programming led by our team, we would be missing key audiences often left out of traditional parenting programs,” said Wells-Yoakum, Parenting Team member and associate professor in WSU Extension. “We are doing what Extension does best, serving the needs of our communities, and doing so with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Formed in 1999 to provide training and assistance through the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14), the Parenting Team has expanded its scope to meet diverse childhood development stages, family needs, and cultures. The team focuses on two traditionally underserved populations: Latino and Native American families; Washington is one of the top ten states with the largest Native American population, and more than 13 percent of Washingtonians are Latinx or Hispanic.

The original Strengthening Families program has reached tens of thousands of Washington families. Participants report significant improvements on rules about substance use, positive involvement, family harmony and open communication.

Other successful, award-winning programs include Positive Indian Parenting, a program based on traditional Native American child-rearing practices that applies those practices to parenting today; Fortaleciendo Familias, a culturally-adapted version of SFP 10-14 delivered entirely in Spanish; and Guiding Good Choices, which promotes healthy, protective parent–child interactions and addresses children’s risk for early substance use. Members of the Extension Parenting Team are trained as both facilitators and trainers for all four programs.

During the COVID pandemic, the transition to virtual learning pushed the team to adapt and innovate, ultimately helping programs be more inclusive, accessible, and valuable for parents.

Traditional in-person activities were adapted to meet the needs of virtual audiences, and culturally relevant activities were introduced. The team has also expanded virtual facilitator trainings, offering sessions in English and Spanish, and more than 330 positive parenting podcasts have been downloaded, as well as shared with parents and school counselors.

“Our Extension Parenting Team thanks WSU Extension leadership and Associate Dean and Director Vicki McCracken for recognition that our work has always been about supporting diversity, equity and inclusivity, and for encouraging us to submit for the award,” Wells-Yoakum said.

“This team is highly deserving of the excellence award,” McCracken commented. “Together, they’ve done innovative work in reaching and helping families learn, grow, and be more resilient. They have been able to enhance their impact by effectively working together as a team.  Please join me, and their peers across the West, in congratulating them.”

Serving the western U.S. states, territories, and protectorates, WEDA supports members’ Extension organization through education, facilitating stakeholder input, and developing collaborative environments and partnerships. Learn about WEDA at