Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Mushrooms, Mold, Beef Quality

Posted by | April 11, 2007

It’s a Fact

The value of Washington’s forests is more than the sum of the value of its trees. Mushrooms, for instance, bring in more than $17 million per year and rank 28th in value among the state’s more than 230 agricultural commodities. Many mushrooms, such as chanterelles, morels and oysters, grow wild in forests where they are a source of agritourism, while oysters and shiitakes are cultivated on timber and timber byproducts. Overall U.S. mushroom production has risen steadily at about 7% per year since 1970. (Sources: USDA-NASS; AgMRC)

Timing Is Everything

The dense canopies and frequent irrigation of potato crops in the Columbia Basin result in ideal conditions for devastating fungal blooms. To treat white mold, growers typically applied two or three fungicide applications per season, at a cost of almost $100 per acre. The initial application was made just prior to or at the time of row closure, but research conducted by WSU plant pathologists Dennis Johnson and Zahi K. Atallah demonstrated that this was ineffective.

Instead, an initial application one to two weeks later, when plants were at full bloom, significantly reduced white mold on potato stems when compared to both traditional (row closure) treatment or non-treated controls. This information was disseminated to growers at field days, potato conferences, and Extension meetings, with dramatic results for growers.

Adoption of WSU recommendations resulted in a more than 10% tuber yield increase, along with a reduction from an average of 2.5 to 1.3 fungicide applications. This in turn reduced application costs from $100 to less than $32 per acre. The annual estimated savings to Columbia Basin growers is a whopping $7.6 million.

For more information, please visit:

Quality Assured

Cattle and calves rank 3rd among agricultural commodities in Washington State and contribute over $600 million annual to the regional economy. The Grant/Adams County region produces 175,000 calves while 80,000 head of cattle are fed in commercial feedlots annually. To help insure the future of this thriving industry, WSU, in partnership with the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, the Cattle Producers of Washington, Washington Beef Commission, and the Washington State Dairy Federation, established a statewide beef quality assurance program.

Through 4-H programs, county Extension offices, and other venues, the program educates producers, both youth and adult, to use best management practices and state-of-the-science technology, such as ultrasound, to select and raise the high-quality beef demanded by today’s market. From 2005 to 2006, the result has been an improvement in both quality grade (up 22%) and yield grade (up 32%), while 32% of steers qualified for Certified Angus Beef premiums.