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Oysters, Organic Econ, Cereal Leaf Beetles, Orchard Planting

Posted by | May 23, 2007

It’s a Fact

Oysters have been cultivated for at least 2,000 years. Romans imported oysters from England, raising them on wine and pastries in salt-water pools. Washington is the leader in West Coast production, yielding about 75 percent of the 35,000-ton/year total.

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.

Ag Econ, Organic Style

Certified organic acreage in Washington rose by as much as 47 percent between 2004 and 2006, and as much as 70 percent since 2002. “We’ve been conservative with our analysis, so the report represents a low-end estimate of organically farmed land in the state,” said WSU CSANR sustainable agriculture specialist David Granatstein, who compiled the estimates with research assistant Elizabeth Kirby.

The estimated farmgate sales of organic goods for 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, increased by 31 percent over the previous year to more than $101.5 million. Seventy-five percent of organic sales were from eastern Washington farms.

Nationally, the Organic Trade Association reports that “US sales of organic foods totaled nearly $17 billion in 2006, exceeding last year’s forecasts of $16 billion. This marks a 22 percent increase compared to sales of $14 billion in 2005. Organic food’s 3 percent share of total food sales is up from 1.9 percent in 2003 and approximately 2.5 percent in 2005.”

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Organic is up (again): Two-thirds of the state’s organic land is devoted to three crop categories: forage crops for feeding livestock, vegetables and tree fruit. In 2005 Washington ranked second only to California in organic vegetable acreage. Apples are the state’s predominant organic tree fruit crop with apple orchards comprising 76 percent of the certified tree fruit acres, primarily in irrigated areas of central Washington.

Cereal Leaf Beetle Alert

Eastern Washington grain growers should be on the lookout for cereal leaf beetles, which have caused significant damage at a number of locations in the region the past few years. Both the adult and the larval stages of the beetle feed on most cereal and grass, according to Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension educator.

“The adult cereal leaf beetle is about a quarter of an inch long with a blue-black, shiny, rectangular abdomen,” Roberts said. “The legs and the region above the abdomen must be red-orange; if not, it is a different, beneficial species.”

WSU Extension is coordinating a biological control project intended to keep cereal leaf beetle populations below the economic threshold. “We are using two species of wasps, which are tiny and harmless to people, pets, livestock or other plants and animals,” Roberts said. “They lay their eggs in the larvae or eggs of cereal leaf beetle and prevent further development of the pest.”

For pictures, information on labeled insecticides, and reports on biocontrol of cereal leaf beetle, visit and click on the Integrated Pest Management button on the left.

Top: Adult cereal leaf beetle (right) and beneficial look-alike Collops sp. (left) also found in wheat. Photo by Garrett Clevenger. Bottom: Parasitoid wasp T. julis. stinging cereal leaf beetle larva. WSDA photo.

Orchard Partnership to Bear Fruit

Literally thousands of young fruit trees will be planted at the new Washington State University research orchard near the Palisades Rd southeast of Wenatchee on Highway 28 this week.

Washington nurseries, including VanWell, C&O and Columbia Basin Nursery, donated all of the trees. Similarly, local growers and businesses have donated equipment needed for the planting. WSU employees, members and staff of the Washington State Tree Fruit Commission as well as hired local labor will plant as many as 7,000 trees today and several thousand more Thursday and Friday.

The trees are being planted for general tree fruit horticultural research, as well as pest and pathogen research. Jay Brunner, director of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, said that, in some cases, the trees will be useful for research by next year. However, the majority will require three years of growth before they bear enough fruit for research plots.

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An existing high-density orchard near Wenatchee.