Skip to main content Skip to navigation

New Wheat Varieties, Beekeeping, Sense of Place

Posted by | March 5, 2008

WSU Releases Four New Wheat Varieties

Washington State University has released four new wheat varieties for commercialization, including Xerpha, a soft-white common winter wheat, which is highly adapted to a broad range of production zones in Washington, Oregon, southern Idaho and northern California.

“WSU’s job is to work in partnership with industry so growers will have the best varieties possible,” said Ralph Cavalieri, director of the Agricultural Research Center and associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. “These new varieties are the product of good science, hard work and the dedication of our breeding teams.”

In 2006 and 2007, Xerpha, a product of Steve Jones’ winter wheat breeding program, was the highest yielding variety in every precipitation zone in the WSU Extension Cereal Variety Testing Program where it was compared with 50 other varieties, breeding lines and varietal blends from 10 other programs at 19 locations.

Farnum, Whit and Kelse, three varieties from Kim Kidwell’s breeding program, also were approved for final release.

Farnum, a high yielding, hard red winter wheat, is named for a major road in the Horse Heaven Hills where the variety is targeted. The variety carries an early senescence gene associated with high grain protein content as well as a slow rusting gene for stripe rust.

Kidwell collaborated with Jones and Kim Campbell, USDA-ARS wheat geneticist on this variety.

Whit, a soft white common spring wheat, is named for and suited for production in Whitman County although it also has performed well in Latah County, Idaho. It has high-temperature, adult plant resistance to stripe rust and Hessian fly resistance.

“We expect it to replace Nick, Alpowa and some Louise in the high rainfall region,” said Kidwell, who was appointed associate dean for academic programs of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences last summer.

Beekeeping Workshop

Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, on a farm or in the woods, you can become a beekeeper. Beekeeping is an excellent hobby that can easily become an income producer. Washington State University Snohomish County Extension is offering a Beginning Beekeeping Workshop to help you get started.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, Mar. 19, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Snohomish County Extension office, 600 128th Street S.E. in Everett. The cost of the workshop is $35, or $25 for certified Master Gardeners. Advance registration is required. To register, either call 425-338-2400 or download the form ( and mail it with your check.

The workshop will cover what is needed to get started including equipment, “livestock,” maintaining hive health, managing honey flow and dealing with the challenges facing modern-day beekeepers, including colony collapse disorder.

Local beekeeper Mark Johns and WSU Snohomish County Extension entomologist Dave Pehling will be the instructors.

For more information on the workshop contact Dave Pehling, or 425-357-6019.

A Sense of Place

Birds, natural history and culture — these are just a few of the topics covered by the Sense of Place program in Pend Oreille county.

Between 1990 and 2000, Pend Oreille grew 31.6 percent, and those new residents wanted to know more about the area, said Janet Kiser Lambarth, WSU Extension director for Pend Oreille County.

“We sent out a survey and found that residents weren’t really into the regular agricultural programs but wanted to learn about where they lived,” she said. They also wanted information on land stewardship. The Sense of Place program, offered through WSU Extension with the assistance of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, provides that information.

“Most definitions of ‘sense of place’ boil down to knowledge and appreciation of what is unique and authentic about a particular geographical region,” said Carol Mack, extension agriculture coordinator who puts together the program. “Here we are concentrating on place-based information that helps us understand forested and rural lands.”

“We offer education throughout the year,” Kiser Lambarth said. “It helps educate people about preserving the environment while understanding this particular county.”

–Jessica Fitts, WSU Today intern

For more information about Pend Oreille County Extension, please visit