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Dairy, Berry, Golf, Grain

Posted by | June 13, 2007

Did You Know?

According to the Dairy Farmers of Washington, “Dairy foods constitute the second largest agricultural commodity produced in Washington, with a farmgate value of more than $861 million (2004). The annual economic impact (the ‘multiplier effect’) of dairy farming in Washington is estimated at $3.5 billion.” WSU supports the state’s dairy industry with education, research and extension programs in animal, crop and soil sciences. The WSU Creamery produces award-winning cheeses, including Cougar Gold, as well as tasty ice creams. Learn more about the science of dairying and Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe by visiting

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.

Taster’s Choice Drives Berry Breeding

WSU berry breeder Patrick Moore is consumer oriented—so much so that he’s invited a group of top chefs to WSU Puyallup’s Goss Farm to taste strawberries.

“I hope to be able to show the chefs that there are many different strawberry cultivars available and they have different characteristics,” Moore told the Tacoma News Tribune. “I also hope to learn what they are looking for in a strawberry.”

That makes sense, Moore said, because the processing industry is shrinking, so the breeding program is placing more emphasis on breeding for the fresh market. “And the fresh market is largely a local market,” he added.

That means a greater emphasis on consumers. Jon Rowley, a food marketing consultant and Gourmet magazine contributing editor, told the News Tribune, “Historically, it has been growers who have participated in the process to determine which cultivars go into commercial production. Flavor might not be the overriding selection criteria for a grower but may be the primary consideration for chefs and consumers.”

Ambrosia grows in Puyallup: new strawberry variety from Patrick Moore’s berry breeding program. Photo: Brian Clark/CAHNRS & WSU Extension Marketing & News Services.

Turf’s Up!

The golf world is abuzz: the site of an old waste-water treatment plant and gravel mill in University Place, near Tacoma, is about to open as a world-class championship course.

Called Chambers Bay, the course was designed by the internationally renowned golf course architecture firm of Robert Trent Jones II. The Jones firm, Pierce County, and KemperSports Management worked closely with WSU turfgrass researchers Gwen Stahnke and Eric Miltner to develop turf seeding requirements for the Scottish links-style course.

“That’s unusual,” said Miltner. “Usually the superintendent comes to us after problems develop.”

Developed in Scotland in the 12th century, the Scottish links style is a return to golf’s grassroots: the course is a bit rougher than the smooth-as-silk links typical of U.S. facilities. The Chambers Bay turf is a mix of fine leaf fescues and colonial bentgrass, which are well adapted to the cool and rainy climate of the Puget Sound area. At about half an inch, Miltner said the mow height of the fairway is on the high end for courses in western Washington, while the green, at two-tenths of an inch, is twice the height of a typical course.

The $21 million public course is scheduled to open later this month and is already vying for a spot on the USGA circuit.

For more information, please visit the WSU Turfgrass Science program at:

Close shave: WSU turfgrass researchers Stahnke and Miltner get a close look at their research at WSU Puyallup’s Goss Farm. Photo: Brian Clark/CAHNRS & WSU Extension Marketing & News Services.

Mmmm… Pizza

Next time you’re on campus, slide into one of the many cafes operated by WSU Dining Services and have a slice of pizza. Notice anything different about that crust?

“We did a taste test with students, and they said, ‘Well, what are we testing?’ They couldn’t tell the difference between the white flour crust and the whole wheat crust. So we just switched,” said Jeff Wold, general manager of WSU Dining Services.

The whole wheat flour in question is made by Shepherd’s Grain and is grown and milled in eastern Washington using Terra, a variety developed in WSU’s wheat breeding program. Shepherd’s Grain growers use the direct-seed or no-till method of cultivation, which results in better soil health. And because the grain is grown, milled and consumed locally, it’s a “low mileage” food that reduces transportation costs and environmental impacts.

WSU Dining Service’s partnership with Shepherd’s Grain began in 2001. Many of the growers are WSU alumni, a relationship that executive chef Doug Murray described as “symbiotic.” WSU now uses about 40,000 pounds of the flour per school year in everything from muffins and cakes to hamburger buns for football games. And, oh yes, pizza, too.

For more information, please visit:

Top: WSU Dining Services chef pulls a par-baked pizza crust from the oven. Bottom: Pizza! Photo: Brian Clark/CAHNRS & WSU Extension Marketing & News Services.