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Potatoes, Wheat, New Schedule

Posted by | July 1, 2009

New Potato Institute Bringing in Dollars for Research, Product Marketing

Before 2005, administering and marketing potato varieties developed in Washington, Oregon and Idaho was primarily the purview of research universities in each of those states. Today, a new organization charged with those tasks — the Potato Variety Management Institute — is turning new varieties into cash to further the regional industry’s research and marketing goals.

“It’s starting to pay off,” said Jeanne Debons, PVMI executive director. She was a featured speaker at the WSU Potato Field Day in Othello June 26.

Potato commissions in the three states launched PVMI in 2005. The non-profit corporation is housed in Bend, Ore., and provides a grower-controlled alternative to the universities’ efforts to manage varieties and interact with processors and end users.

“Each new potato variety takes from 13 to 15 years from the first cross to being released,” Debons said. “That is a lot of investment on the part of our three states. And if they’re not protected, anyone in the world could use them for free.”

Today, growers in the three states involved pay $250 a year to license the new potato varieties they grow. Other U.S. growers pay $500, and growers outside the United States pay $1,000 a year. In addition, growers pay annual royalties when they sell seed of PVMI varieties.

Since 2005, PVMI has collected more than $200,000 in licensing fees and $225,000 in royalties. “The royalties is where the big money will eventually come in,” Debons said. She noted that almost two-thirds of the new revenue is being generated outside of Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Funds generated by the license fees and royalties will be returned to the potato breeding programs to help fund a variety of research projects for the industry at universities in the three states.

“Potato breeding programs at the universities in all three states are in dire straits because of budget cuts and the economy,” Debons said. “The infrastructure is now in place to administer the new varieties to help fund the research our industry needs.”

For more information on potato variety development and research at WSU, please visit

For more information on potato variety development and research at WSU, please visit

Grad Student Investigates Nematode Resistance in Wheat

Two species of root-lesion nematodes cause up to a 5 percent yield reduction in the Pacific Northwest’s wheat harvest. That adds up to over $50 million a year in lost income for the region’s farmers.

The pests have been detected in 95 percent of the region’s wheat fields. Researchers working on the problem are taking a pragmatic approach by looking for varieties with natural resistance to the nematodes. WSU crop science graduate student Alison Thompson is researching the problem.

A resistant variety, she recently told the Northwest Ag Information Network, would have “characteristics about it that don‘t allow the nematodes to multiply and reproduce. So it keeps the populations below a level that the plant can deal with and still yield well.”

Thompson said she and her colleagues have found a variety of wheat from Iran that is resistant to both species of root-lesion nematodes. Thompson is searching for the genetic markers that signal the presence of the genes that give the Iranian wheat resistance to the nematodes. Knowledge of the genetics of resistance should speed up breeding wheat that has both resistance to the nematodes and yields well in the Pacific Northwest.

Listen to the Ag Information Network’s report by visiting:

Learn more about graduate studies in crop science by visiting:

Bottom: wheat root lesions caused by nematodes.

Bottom: wheat root lesions caused by nematodes.

On Solid Ground Moves to Biweekly Publishing Schedule

Dear OSG Reader,

For the past three years, On Solid Ground has arrived in your email box almost without fail every Wednesday morning; that’s approximately 150 issues and nearly 500 ag-related articles. We’ve appreciated your positive responses to one of the most popular e-newsletters published by WSU.

In dealing with the budget challenges of the past spring, we worked hard to preserve On Solid Ground. The good news is it will continue to provide you with stories, pictures and video links featuring the fine agricultural research and extension programs offered by WSU.

The bad news is it will not come to you as often. Beginning with this issue, On Solid Ground will be published on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

Thank you for your understanding of this change and for your continued support. Great things are happening in CAHNRS; we couldn’t do it without you.

Best regards, Dan Bernardo, dean

Visit the On Solid Ground archive for access to 150 issues with nearly 400 ag-research stories.

Visit the On Solid Ground archive for access to 150 issues with nearly 500 ag-research stories: