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Chickens, Snow Mold, Celebration

Posted by | December 13, 2006

It’s a Fact

According to the Washington Fryer Commission, the economic impact of Washington’s fryer industry exceeds $300,000,000. Over 3,500 jobs are affected by the industry, including approximately 1,500 in allied industries, including the retail and wholesale grocery trade, food service, transportation, and packaging.

Breaking the Mold

Washington wheat growers may be able to break the mold–snow mold, that is–thanks to research being done by WSU plant pathologist Tim Murray. Murray is developing wheat varieties with resistance to snow mold and other diseases that plague growers in cold climates. Under the cover of snow, the mold infects the leaves and crowns of wheat, severely reducing yields, sometimes as much as 100 percent.

Developing disease resistant wheat varieties has traditionally relied on field plot testing. Murray, however, uses an innovative technique to speed up the process. He grows wheat in laboratory growth chambers, using water-soaked cotton balls to keep the chambers–and the developing wheat–at a steady 37 degrees, thus replicating the conditions found in the fields of Washington. But instead of the state’s average of 100 days of snow cover, Murray’s innovation reduces that time to about 28 days.

Collaborating with researchers in Japan, one of the world’s snowiest wheat-growing regions, “the process of being able to introduce snow mold resistance into new varieties” has been expedited, Murray said. Supported in part by funding from the Washington Wheat Commission, mold-resistant varieties are being field tested in plots near Mansfield and Waterville, Washington and Hokkaido, Japan.

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Community Celebrates New Ag Research Facility

A standing room only crowd of more than 200 people on Wednesday celebrated the official opening of Washington State University’s new Agricultural Research and Technology Building. The 18,750 square foot facility is the centerpiece of the $8 million renovation and expansion of the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. “This building is the first step toward the revitalization of this nearly 60-year old facility,” said Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences in his welcoming remarks.

The new facility is allowing WSU to expand the NWREC faculty and staff. A small fruit horticulturist position was added and filled in 2005. New positions for an entomologist and a vegetable horticulturist are being filled through transfers within WSU. WSU has already begun a search to fill a new position for a value-added economic development specialist. A new four-bay 3,200 square foot research greenhouse already is under construction as part of phase 2 of the renovation.

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