WSU Wine Research Leaps Forward
WSU now features the largest experimental, non-commercial winemaking facility in the Pacific Northwest.
The research winery, which is located at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, has a production capacity of about 5,000 gallons. The new facility was designed by enologists James Harbertson and Kerry Ringer, scientists in the WSU Department of Food Science. The facility will be used to conduct research in support of the region’s rapidly growing wine industry.
“We designed the winery for small-lot, research-scale production,” said Harbertson. The winery will produce multiple small lots of wines under controlled and reproducible conditions, said Harbertson and Ringer.
For more information, please visit the newly redesigned Enology Extension Web site: http://winegrapes.wsu.edu/wineweb/.
WSU Selected to Conduct Rural Transportation Study
WSU has signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help USDA and the U.S. Department of Transportation develop a comprehensive study of rural transportation issues.
“They felt we had the skills and background and would commit to doing it well,” said Ken Casavant, a WSU transportation economist and leader of the Transportation Research Group in the School of Economic Sciences. “Our past research history shows we are familiar with many of the issues.”
WSU is the only university chosen to be involved in the project. The Transportation Research Group will study rail service, barge movement, and the transportation of agricultural products, domestically produced renewable fuels, and domestically produced resources for the production of electricity for rural areas.
Keep on Truckin’
A report on the log-truck industry just delivered to the state legislature indicates that the number of traffic accidents involving log trucks declined 11 percent while collisions for all commercial trucks increased by 15 percent in Washington between 2004 and 2006.
But that safety record could be jeopardized in the future, the report from the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources and WSU’s School of Economic Sciences says. A survey of log truckers in Washington revealed an experienced but aging workforce with an average age of 55 and an average of 27 years experience in log truck operations. Fifty-one percent reported plans to retire or diversify out of the logging industry and nearly everyone surveyed said skilled drivers are harder to find now than 10 years ago.
The business side has been tough in recent years. The report found that in 2006, 28 percent of log-trucking companies lost money, 50 percent broke even and 21 percent made a profit. No such figures are available for 2008 but the price of diesel this year has jumped 80 percent, increasing the total cost of operations by 20 percent.
Problems for log haulers could also have implications for Washington’s forest industry, which employs 45,000 people and generates $2 billion in wages and $16 billion in gross business revenues a year.
“These are men and women who have worked all their adult lives in the forest product industry and love being in the trucking business,” Casavant says. “Many are like small farmers – they like to run their own businesses.”