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Field Days Focus on Biofuels, WSU Pathologists win $ 1 Million Grant, Neff Lab Looks at Light

Posted by | June 16, 2010

Field Days Focus on Biofuels

Professor Bill Pan will discuss the statewide WSU Biofuels Project at Lind Field day on June 17.
Professor Bill Pan will discuss the statewide WSU Biofuels Project at Lind Field day on June 17.

Existing and emerging crops designed for use in biofuels will be highlighted at a number of Washington State University field days and tours throughout the state this summer. All of the events are free and open to the public.“Biofuel crops are a good fit in many rotations throughout Washington,” said Rich Koenig, chair of the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “They also present another market opportunity for Washington-grown crops.”

Biofuels crop research will be discussed at the following field day events:

June 17, 8:30 a.m. registration – Lind Field Day – WSU Dryland Research Station north of Lind. Professor Bill Pan will discuss the statewide WSU Biofuels Project, while WSU Research Agronomist Bill Schillinger will show experiments on camelina fertility, planting date and method, and 18 camelina varieties planted both in fall and spring. A camelina cropping systems experiment at Lind will not be featured at the field day, but WSU faculty will be available to show these plots on an informal basis after the ice cream social. Five separate winter canola plantings on summer fallow at Lind failed due to either hot temperatures before emergence or bird damage. However, Schillinger reports there are great stands of safflower in farm-scale plots in WSU’s long-term cropping systems experiment on the Ron Jirava Farm 15 miles northeast of Lind near Ritzville. More information is available by contacting Schillinger at (509) 235-1933 or schillw@wsu.edu.

Canola and other biofuel crops will be highlighted at a number of Washington State University field days and tours this summer.
Canola and other biofuel crops will be highlighted at a number of Washington State University field days and tours this summer.

June 23, 9:30 a.m. registration – Wilke Farm Field Tour – Wilke Farm outside Davenport. Professor Koenig will discuss his work with canola fertilization. Professor Scot Hulbert will present information about his early-seeded winter canola study. They also will talk about their plans for future work in oilseed production. WSU Extension Educator Aaron Esser will present information on running the WSU Wilke Farm equipment using biodiesel, as well as review the spring canola variety trial. More information is available by contacting Esser at aarons@wsu.edu.

June 24, 7:30 a.m. registration – Palouse Conservation Field Tour – WSU Extension/U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Palouse Conservation Field Station north of Pullman. One stop in the afternoon field tours will focus on the yields and rotation effects of spring canola in rotation, presented by USDA-ARS soil scientist Dave Huggins. More information is available by contacting Debra Marsh, communications coordinator for the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, at (509) 335-2615 or marshdj@wsu.edu.

July 1, 9:30 a.m. registration – AgVentures NW Seed Plot Tours – Paul Williams’ farm on the corner of Rief and McRae roads near Davenport/Reardon. Morning tours will include reports on 12 spring canola varieties presented by Paul Porter, seed division manager of Odessa Union Warehouse Cooperative, and by University of Idaho plant breeder/geneticist Jack Brown. The variety plots were planted and will be harvested with farm-scale equipment, and are 60 feet wide and a half-mile long. WSU Plant Pathologist Scot Hulbert will discuss what happened with winter canola that was planted early in the summer last year, and Ashley Hammac, WSU graduate student, will discuss nitrogen fertilizer requirements for canola. Both WSU and UI faculty also will be available to answer questions about oilseed production. More information is available at (509) 253-4324.

July 8, 2 p.m. – WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center Field Day – WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center at Mount Vernon – WSU Extension Scientist Tim Miller will be sharing results of his seeding rate/nitrogen rate trial with camelina and yellow mustard during this field day. Crops were seed at either 5 or 8 lbs. per acre, and then those plots were either not fertilized or fertilized with 50 or 100 lbs. of nitrogen. More information is available by contacting Miller at (360) 848-6138, twmiller@wsu.edu.

July 26 – WSU Puyallup Organic Farm Field tour – WSU Puyallup Organic Farm. Six varieties of canola, camelina and mustard plots will be available for viewing during the annual Puyallup Organic Farm Field Tour. More information is available by contacting WSU Soil Scientist Craig Cogger at (253) 445-4512, cogger@wsu.edu.


WSU Pathologists win $ 1 Million Grant for Onion Research

Brenda Schroeder is one of five co-principal investigators on a multi-state team that is creating a suite of management tools to improve the productivity and profitability of the U.S. onion industry.
Brenda Schroeder is one of five co-principal investigators on a multi-state team that is creating a suite of management tools to improve the productivity and profitability of the U.S. onion industry.

Plant pathologists at Washington State University have won more than $1 million grant funding to participate in a multi-state team of scientists and industry professionals to create a suite of management tools to improve the productivity and profitability of the United States onion industry.

Brenda Schroeder, an assistant professor in the WSU Department of Plant Pathology, is one of five co-principal investigators on the team directed by Howard Schwartz of Colorado State University and James VanKirk of North Carolina State University on a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative. She also was recently awarded funding from the Western Regional Integrated Pest Management grant program.

The long-term goals of the project are to develop, fully deploy and evaluate a sustainable online information-management platform called Onion ipmPIPE – Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education – to integrate innovative diagnostic tools and optimize sound pest management decision-making in specialty crops such as onions. Onion growers especially need diagnostics for Iris yellow spot virus, bacterial and fungal diseases, insect pests and vectors like thrips; and an integrated pest management ipmPIPE infrastructure and access to information from the team of specialists.

“My role in this project is to lead the team in the development of diagnostic tools for bacterial and fungal pathogens of onion, and to coordinate the WSU team’s activities in overall pest diagnostics,” Schroeder said. Every year, iris yellow spot virus and onion thrips, as well as numerous bacterial and fungal diseases, threaten onion crops nationwide.

The long-term goals of the project are to develop, fully deploy and evaluate a sustainable online information-management platform called Onion ipmPIPE - Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education – to integrate innovative diagnostic tools and optimize sound pest management decision-making in specialty crops such as onions.
The long-term goals of the project are to develop, fully deploy and evaluate a sustainable online information-management platform called Onion ipmPIPE - Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education – to integrate innovative diagnostic tools and optimize sound pest management decision-making in specialty crops such as onions.

Hanu Pappu, professor of plant pathology and an expert on tospoviruses in vegetables, will coordinate virus archiving in Washington and six other cooperating states and enhance virus diagnostics. A critical component of the development of the Onion ipmPIPE is the collection and distribution of data in real-time for immediate access and use by the stakeholders. Lindsey du Toit, associate professor of plant pathology, located at the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center at Mount Vernon, will oversee the data collection relative to fungal diseases, thrips, IYSV and bacterial diseases from onion Sentinel Plots in the Columbia Basin. Finally, Schroeder, du Toit and Pappu will work closely with Extension Educators Timothy Waters and Carrie Wohleb to deliver the information collected by this project to onion stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest via presentations at the Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association Conference and the WSU Onion Cultivar Field Day.

Schroeder and du Toit will also be responsible for developing a DNA macroarray detection method for bacterial and fungal pathogens that can affect onions in the field and during storage.

“The proposed research is expected to provide diagnostic tools that will enable onion growers and packers to obtain accurate and rapid diagnoses of the causes of onion diseases, and detect the presence of latent infections by pathogens capable of causing onion bulb rots in storage,” Schroeder said. This will provide an “early detection and monitoring tool” that key stakeholders identified as a critical need for onions in the western states.

“Another valuable aspect of this project is that, once the DNA macroarray is functional, it can be used to develop risk assessment parameters for onion bulb rot pathogens,” du Toit said. du Toit will collaborate with WSU statistician, Rich Alldredge. They will use pathogen incidence data obtained using the DNA macroarray, along with disease incidence and progress data collected with Schroeder to enable stakeholders to determine which onion bulb crops are at risk for development of storage rots. This will provide a management tool not currently available to onion stakeholders.

“The Plant Pathology Department at WSU has one of the strongest and most successful vegetable pathology research and extension programs in the country today” said Pappu, chair of the department of plant pathology. “This grant enables us to carry out a comprehensive study at the regional and national levels and to better manage the diseases affecting onion production.”


Neff Lab Looks at Light

Michael Neff in his lab.
Michael Neff in his lab.

Light influences much more than photosynthesis in plants, according to CAHNRS researcher Michael Neff. It also may play a dramatic role in the genetics of plant size and productivity. Listen to him describe his research at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl4WFUe5PCw.

To learn more about Neff’s research, visit http://bit.ly/bzmCVF.