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Hops, Bugs, Weeds, Wheat

Posted by | February 21, 2007

It’s a Fact

Washington is the nation’s number one producer of hops, accounting for more than 75% of production nationally and 25% globally. Farm-gate value of Washington hops is nearly $100 million. Dried hop cones give beers and ales their distinctive flavors, and Yakima hops are prized by brewers the world over.

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.

Who You Gonna Call? Bug Busters!

WSU has helped Washingtonians diagnose plant problems for years. Threats of new high-risk pests and concerns over bioterrorism created an immediate need for a functional network connecting growers with diagnostic professionals to facilitate the timely identification of plant pests and diagnosis of pathogens. But one of the main obstacles in serving the plant diagnostic needs of citizens is the geographic distance of many residents from specialists.

In response, WSU has set up a network of nine early detector sites located across the state. WSU personnel have been trained in the use of the Distance Diagnostics through Digital Imaging (DDDI) System. They have also been trained to prepare specimens, capture high-quality digital images and submit samples. Diagnostic information is shared via the Web. Nineteen counties are currently using the network for digital diagnosis. Additionally, over 500 horticultural professionals, growers and Master Gardeners have been trained to monitor and submit potential samples of high-risk plant pathogens to WSU.

In 2006, the Seed Bug was first documented in Washington via DDDI. Use of the new system among industry professionals and home gardeners has increased as shown by the rising number of potential high-risk plant pathogen samples submitted to the WSU Plant Clinic.

For more information, please visit: WSU’s DDDI System

Alfalfa plant bug

Eats Weeds for Lunch

Washington state is facing an invasion of non-native, highly invasive noxious weeds. Invasive weeds threaten valuable native grass- and timberlands by lowering land values and uses, increasing soil erosion, and reducing biological diversity.

WSU Extension has led a state-wide collaborative effort to introduce and release biological weed eaters–insects–that feed on invasives. In 2006, more than 223,000 insects were released at 557 sites across the state. GPS coordinates are being used to map the sites which, along with characteristics such as soil type, precipitation, slope, aspect, and size and density of weed infestation, make it possible to evaluate future releases.

Biocontrol of invasive weeds has resulted in a substantial reduction of diffuse knapweed in large tracks of land in eastern Washington and is slowing the spread of Dalmatian toadflax. There has been a corresponding drop in the use of pesticides on knapweed, with a much larger long-term reduction corresponding to the slowed rate of spread of invasive species. The result has been, and will continue to be, a substantial decrease in expenditures for weed control in Washington.

For more information, please visit: Invasive Weeds.

Yellow starthistle - notorious noxious weed