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Farm Census, Hops and Grapes, Fruit for Cereal, Wheat Breeding

Posted by | November 1, 2006

It’s a Fact

According to the latest Census of Agriculture, Washington has 35,939 farms. The average size farm is 426 acres, and the total acreage in farms is 15,318,008 acres.

HIPPOS May Protect Grape and Hops Crops

When attacked by pests, plants produce chemical distress signals that may alert natural enemies of the pests that food is available or inform neighboring plants of impending attack. By raising a “stink,” plants attract natural bodyguards to help them survive. By exploiting this “chemical language” of plants, we may be able to increase levels and reliability of biological control in crops.

David James, an entomologist at Washington State University’s Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, has been investigating synthetic versions of herbivore-induced plant volatiles as a means for attracting predators of pests. He has found that a number of insects that are predators of mites and insects in hops and grapes were attracted by methyl saliciylate and hexenyl acetate. Tests have shown that vineyards and hop yards baited with slow-release dispensers of methyl salicylate, an ingredient found in toothpaste, candies and a variety of household products, recruited larger numbers of predators than non-baited yards. Still in its infancy, this research appears to show potential for making great strides in improving biological control of insects and mite pests of crops around the world.

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Feeding Demand for Fruits in Cereal Industry

If any part of a dried fruit added to a dry cereal retains moisture, the moisture will be released in the box causing the cereal to lose some crispness. This has been solved by matching the moisture content of the cereal and the fruit. A new microwave drying process developed by plant pathology Professor Carter Clary delivers dried strawberries and other fruit that retain the look and taste of fresh fruit. The process could feed a growing demand for fruits in the ready-to-eat cereal industry. The process could feed a growing demand for fruits in the ready-to-eat cereal industry.

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Wheat Winter and Spring

Professor Steve Jones leads WSU’s winter wheat breeding program. Using cytogenetic and molecular genetic techniques to identify and transfer genes of interest, Jones is using wild species as sources of genes for disease resistance, end-use quality and adaptability. In the past five years, WSU has developed and released five varieties of winter wheat. Professor Kim Kidwell leads WSU’s spring wheat breeding program. Her research interests focus on combining traditional breeding methods with molecular marker technologies to improve agronomic traits, quality and disease resistance of spring wheats, and address basic questions related to polyploid genetics. Since 2000, Kidwell and her team have developed seven new varieties of spring wheat.