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Potatoes, Beef, Wheat

Posted by | October 3, 2007

Workshop: The Story of the Makah/Ozette Potato

Most spuds took the long road from South America to our dinner plates, traveling first to Europe before being imported to North America. The exception may be the Makah/Ozette, a fingerling potato much prized by gastronomes for its nutty, earthy flavor and dense, creamy texture.

Scientists, historians and Makah tribal members suspect that the fingerling potato was brought directly from the Andes Mountains to the Olympic Peninsula and planted by Spanish explorers in the 1700’s. Makah tribal members have maintained and preserved the variety over the centuries.

Now the tasty tater is the topic of an educational workshop hosted by WSU and the Swinomish tribal community and entitled “The Story of the Makah/Ozette Potato.” The workshop is being offered on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. The Center is located at 16650 State Route 536 (Old Memorial Highway) west of Mount Vernon. The public is invited to attend.

Driving directions to the WSU NWREC are available at and more information is available by calling (360) 848-6134.

Don’t be fooled by this spud’s humble apperance: not only is it tasty but it has a fascinating history, too.

Beef 300

Beef 300, a collaborative program hosted by WSU Extension faculty and the WSU Department of Animal Science, will provide people in the beef industry with an overview of the role environment, nutrition and genetics play in the production of beef. Featuring presentations from various disciplines, including animal sciences, economics, veterinary medicine and extension, the Oct. 3-5 program is already sold out.

“The purpose of the program is to show what really goes into producing a quality product for consumers,” said Jan Busboom, professor of meat science and extension meat specialist.

Lamb 300 was offered in the fall of 2006 as a pilot program and, based on the responses of participants, it was apparent that a similar program was needed for the beef industry, said Sarah Smith, animal science extension educator for Grant-Adams County.

“I will definitely be attending Beef 300 because, in my 15 years of attending educational workshops, Lamb 300 provided by far the most practical information and skills that I can take back to the classroom and farm,” said Greg Pile, ag education instructor at Sumner High School.

The 300 series is expected to become an annual program, Smith said. Pork 300 will be held next fall, if not sooner, and then the series will repeat, beginning with lamb again but incorporating new changes in the industry.

For more information, please visit:

Beef 300 focuses on teaching producers, feeders, and marketers (regardless of the size or type of operation) how to produce and market quality cattle and beef products.

WSU Seeking Patent on Disease-resistant Wheat

WSU is seeking international patent protection on Scarlet Rz1, a new spring wheat genotype believed to be the first to have resistance to Rhizoctonia root rot, a yield-limiting root disease found world-wide. The soil-borne fungal disease can cut wheat yields by as much as 30 percent when conditions favor it.

The new wheat gentoype is a mutation of the variety Scarlet developed and released by WSU interim spring wheat breeder Kim Kidwell in 1998. Scarlet-Rz1 was created by a chemical mutation, and is not considered to be a genetically modified organism.

Camille Steber, a USDA-ARS geneticist, and Kidwell treated Scarlet wheat seeds with a chemical mutagen, which causes mistakes to occur in DNA sequences. The mistakes can sometimes lead to creation of valuable new genes. Victor DeMacon, a senior scientific assistant in Kidwell’s lab, tested the mutant seedlings for resistance to Rhizoctonia root rot in the greenhouse. One exhibited tolerance.

The team of researchers, in collaboration with Patricia Okubura, a USDA-ARS research geneticist, confirmed that resistance was conferred by a single gene. The utility of the gene has not been fully determined but in the future researchers hope to clone the gene and transfer disease resistance to other wheat varieties.

“This is the first wheat genotype that we know of that has tolerance to [Rhizoctonia rot root],” said Kim Kidwell, interim spring wheat breeder and associate dean of academic programs for WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “It’s a major problem in direct seeded spring wheat production. We’ve just started to present data publically, and people are interested in it because the disease is a serious yield-limiting factor in Australia as well as here, and we don’t have any means of controlling the disease aside from tillage.”