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Oilseed workshops help farmers establish vigorous crop

Posted by struscott | February 12, 2019
Two growers stand, visiting with scientist holding a plant
Ian Burke, WOCS director, speaks with growers at 2019 oilseed workshops in Washington state.

More than 250 growers and industry professionals saw Washington State University oilseed research in action firsthand last month, at annual WSU-based Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems workshops.

Held at Wilbur and Clarkston, Wash., this year’s workshops focused on helping farmers establish strong stands, through live plant diagnostics, variety selection tips, pollinator stewardship, seeding equipment manufacturer updates, marketing strategies, and more

“The WOCS program has been instrumental getting the entire oilseed supply chain involved in research and outreach,” said Nathan Rosenau of Columbia Grain. “Without them, the oilseed industry in Washington state would be like a marathon runner missing a shoe—it just doesn’t work.”

“It was a great workshop with a lot of variety,” added Josh Sherwood, a Wilbur farmer and member of the Wilbur workshop planning committee. “Whether you’ve never grown canola, or have for 30 years, there was a little bit of everything for everyone.”

Exploring the theme of stand establishment—attaining maximum, uniform, and vigorous seed germination and emergence— both general and breakout sessions addressed that challenge. Topics included diagnosing residual herbicide injury on live canola plants, plant growth regulators, fertility management, and more. Seed company representatives also shared the newest canola varieties.

“It was really great to learn more about winter canola, how people are doing things in this area, and especially about stand establishment,” said Simon Fordyce, a first-time attendee from Montana State University.

Each workshop featured an opening session with a panel of growers relating their experiences with stand establishment. One of those growers, Minot, N.D., farmer Pat Murphy, is the recently elected president of the U.S. Canola Association.

“I was impressed by the workshops and the attendance,” said Murphy. “I haven’t seen a group of growers that enthusiastic for a long time.”

“I’ve been going to meetings for over 20 years and this is no doubt one of the best meetings I’ve been to,” added Stacey Lorentz, a canola industry representative who took part in the Clarkston workshop. “It was very informative, and I was really impressed.”

“The workshops, no matter the theme, have been a source of discussion in a huge way,” said Rosenau. “I’ve never heard people talk about a single specialty crop as much as I have the weeks and months following the workshops.”

Presentations will be posted on the WOCS website as they become available.

Learn more about WOCS here.

Scientist stands at a table covered with small plants, speaking as a circle of growers listen.