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Trout, Microwaves, Wheat

Posted by | May 9, 2007

It’s a Fact

Washington is the nation’s fourth largest producer of trout. Washington-based Troutlodge is the world’s largest producer of trout eggs. In 2005, the total value of trout and trout eggs sold in Washington was more than $9 million. (Sources: AquaGen, Norway; USDA-NASS)

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.

The Future of Food Processing Is Here Today

U.S. soldiers, astronauts and the general public may enjoy packaged foods that look and taste better thanks to technology developed by researchers at WSU’s IMPACT Center. Juming Tang, IMPACT Center food technology fellow, and his team have received a U.S. patent for a newly developed, microwave sterilization technology. “We wanted to create products that look and taste better for our military and eventually the general public,” said Tang.

Researchers have applied the technology to a variety of foods, such as fish, meat and poultry products, vegetables like asparagus and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and recently soups, to retain overall quality, taste, aroma and eye appeal.

Tang’s long-wave microwave sterilization method reduces overall processing time from 30 to 60 minutes down to approximately 10 minutes, by radiating microwave energy from the top and bottom, through the packaging and directly into the center of the food product. This process essentially heats the food from the inside out, which kills harmful pathogens, while preserving the quality and appearance. “Reducing time is key, and in most products, we see a dramatic increase in quality,” Tang said.

For more information, please visit Microwave Heating –

Juming Tang and his research team have developed the first pilot-scale 915 MHz single-mode microwave system for high-temperature short-time sterilization of packaged foods.

CSI, Pullman: Cereal Selection Investigation

For plant breeders, looking for the genes associated with desirable traits has traditionally been like looking for a needle in a haystack. The desirable genes are few while the genome—the haystack—is huge. Using a technique called marker-assisted selection (MAS) researchers have made the haystack a lot smaller.

Markers are bits of genetic information that are correlated with desirable traits. Wheat breeders at WSU are using MAS to select for traits important to the economic and environmental sustainability of wheat production. The result is accelerated breeding for cultivars with, for example, stripe rust resistance or good bread-baking qualities.

Now, WSU wheat breeders, in collaboration with researchers from the USDA-ARS, are passing on that knowledge in a workshop called “CSI Plant Style: From the Lab to the Wheat Field” being offered on July 12. In the workshop, offered in conjunction with the Spillman Field Day, participants will gain hands-on experience applying biotechnology techniques to wheat improvement. Participants will cross-hybridize wheat plants, extract DNA, conduct molecular marker analyses and select plants based on their marker profiles to advance to the next stage of the breeding process.

For a complete calendar of WSU’s 2007 Pacific Northwest crop tours, please visit:

Researchers and growers gather at the annual field day on the Spillman Agronomic Farm located 1.5 miles north of Pullman.