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Peas and Lentils, Woods, Wine and Wasps

Posted by | October 4, 2006

It’s a Fact

Every year, farmers on the Palouse Prairie grow 500 million pounds of dry peas and lentils, which are sent to more than 90 countries around the globe.

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.

New Products, New Jobs

When small forest landowners in economically depressed, forest-dependent communities in Washington were looking for new products to generate income to support their families and keep their land, WSU Extension was there to help. Extension Educator James Freed worked with area tribes, state agencies and the U.S. Forest Service to develop a plan to integrate special forest products, including mushrooms, medicinal plants, floral greenery, wild edibles, craft materials and native landscape plants, into traditional forestry management plans. Since 2004, at least 22 new businesses have been organized in Washington – and a dozen others in surrounding states – as a result. Those companies have approximately 85 full-time employees and more than 250 part-time employees, with gross annual income exceeding $1.9 million.

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Wiring the Wine Industry

Graduate student Kathryn House wants to wire the world of wine for WSU students studying one of the state’s fastest growing agricultural industries. A WSU alumna pursuing her master’s degree in horticulture, House is creating an on-line teaching laboratory that allows enology and viticulture students to put what they learn in the classroom to work in a virtual vineyard. While the program can’t replace the experience garnered by actually working at a winery or vineyard, House said it does help students understand the connections between the individual areas of study their degrees entail.

Students participating in the virtual vineyard decide where they want to locate their vineyard, what kind of tests are needed to determine things such as soil quality and moisture holding capacity, what grapes varieties will be planted where, pest management methods, trellising systems and just about every other aspect of the industry. In addition, students will receive a virtual budget to manage. “The industry has been very receptive and responsive,” House said. “They are really interested in making sure students are well prepared to go to work after they graduate. We’re focused on filling the needs of the wine industry in our state.”

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Wasps All the Buzz in Crop Protection

A team of Extension educators in eastern Washington, led by Extension agronomist Diana Roberts, is deploying wasps to manage cereal leaf beetles, which attack wheat, oats, barley, and other crops in the grass family. They have released two biocontrol species, both minute wasps that are not harmful to people, pets, livestock or plants. One species lays its eggs in the eggs of cereal leaf beetles and stops development of the beetle at that stage. The other wasp parasitizes the cereal leaf beetle larvae.

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