Extension News from the West

Chainsaw safety and handling presentation

Ken Palmer, president ArborMaster®.

This is the first presentation offered in Las Vegas

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension along with the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA) and the Southern Nevada Arborist Group are offering a chainsaw safety and handling informational presentation on Feb. 4. This first-time ever presentation will cultivate safety and greater awareness for modern arboriculture. Attendees will be introduced to systematic methods to plan smarter and to work more effectively.

The presentation will be given by ArborMaster® President, Ken Palmer. Please bring a hardhat and safety goggles for the afternoon demonstrations. The presentation will held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cooperative Extension’s Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev.

Topics covered include: Safety and Risk Management; Chainsaw Handling and Operation; Precision Cutting Methods and Best Practice; Leveraging and Mechanical Advantage; Chainsaw Preventative Maintenance; and ANSI A-300 Pruning Standards. Demonstrations include chipper safety and NV Energy will also be doing a powerline safety for the tree worker.

Chainsaw Safety in action. Photos courtesy of ArborMaster®.

Registration for WCISA members is $105 (early bird before Jan. 25 is $80); non-members is $130 (early bird before Jan. 25 is $105). Student and senior members of WCISA’s registration is $55. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Sponsors include First Choice Tree, Green Valley Turf, Terra Firma and NV Energy. View full agenda and register online. For more information, please contact 866-785-8960.

To pay by check, make payable to: Western Chapter ISA and mail to 31916 Country Club Drive, Porterville, CA 93257. Refunds will be given up to 10 days prior to the presentation (subject to a $10 fee).

MSU Extension and USDA announce Farm Bill meetings in seven Montana communities

Montana State University Extension News - Fri, 01/08/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency announce seven Farm Bill informational meetings...

Developing technologies that will change agriculture

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 5:36pm

Farming of the future will be data-driven, and Washington State University is helping shape that future.

As the world population grows and demands on our natural resources increase, producing more food more efficiently is a top global priority. Converging that need with advancements in robotics, sensors, satellites and data analysis puts agriculture into the Internet of Things – a world connected by sensors and data processing that leads to more informed decision making. Applying these technologies to farming, often referred to as precision agriculture or agtech, will help farmers produce more crops with more efficient use of land, water and fertilizer.

While the potential of these new technologies is exciting, a lot of work still needs to be done to customize them to farmers’ needs, and train the future generation in this new data-driven, mechanized agricultural era. WSU plays a big role in tackling that need, from preparing graduates to work in this emerging market to developing technologies and launching companies that match farmer’s needs. With the approaching Precision Farming Expo hosted in Kennewick, Washington, WSU’s Office of Economic Development is  producing a mini-blog series to highlight WSU’s role in the regional economic development that results from helping industries advance.

To start, here are a few examples of the technologies currently in development at WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, a long-established research and extension center that engages with local farmers, growers and businesses to validate products through research trials, and engineer new technologies and processes.

Addressing natural resource and land management needs View of vineyards from the new Center from Precision Agriculture and Automated Systems in Prosser.


Gathering detailed crop data for more informed decision-making
Currently, farmers and plant breeders have to walk through acres of fields to manual inspect and monitor crop health. WSU researchers combine the power of high-tech sensor and camera systems with mechanized platforms to detect plant health characteristics more quickly and accurately than the human eye. Dr. Sindhuja Sankaran and her team are in the early development of this technology which could get new, hardier plant varieties to farmers faster, help farmers detect issues like disease earlier, and monitor the quality of fruit once it is in storage. So far, they have tested the technology in vineyards, and wheat fields, using a range of platforms from tractors to unmanned aerial systems (UAVs).
Contact: Sindhuja Sankaran, sindhuja.sankaran@wsu.edu, 509-335-8828

Water crops more efficiently with an irrigation app
An app developed by WSU engineers and agriculture specialists to help manage irrigation systems is helping farmers in Washington and 10 other states save water and energy. The app, Irrigation Scheduler Mobile, uses data from AgWeatherNet, the robust weather monitoring system developed by WSU researchers, to help farmers determine when and how much their crops need watering. The digital tool adds convenience to farmer’s daily tasks, while also conserving water used on the farm.
Contact for irrigation app: Troy Peters, troy_peters@wsu.edu, (509) 786-9247
Contact for AgWeatherNet: Glenn Hoogenboom, gerrit.hoogenboom@wsu.edu, 509-786-9371 (Agweathernet)

Addressing agriculture’s workforce needs

Robotic apple picker
WSU researchers are developing a robot that is expected to pick apples with the gentleness and speed of a human hand. While mechanical harvesting is already implemented in fruit crops destined for the processing market, apples for fresh market prove a greater challenge because they are easily bruised and time-intensive to pick. As agriculture’s labor workforce continues to decline, mechanizing the harvesting process will become increasingly important. The prototype in development at WSU could become a multi-armed robot that works alongside people in the orchard to pick apples faster with less labor required.
Contact: Dr. Manoj Karkee, manoj.karkee@wsu.edu

The shake and catch
WSU researchers are also developing robotic arms that can shake branches and release cherries to cushioned catching surfaces waiting below. The robotic arms have small cameras, which have been programmed to identify branches to shake. The method is designed for harvesting stemless cherries. Researchers are also designing and testing possibilities for harvesting apples with this method. Various shake and catch prototypes have been evaluated in the field over the last two years and have shown promise for certain apple cultivars.
Contact: Matt Whiting, mdwhiting@wsu.edu

The bin dog, orchardists’ mechanical best friend
The bin dog is a robotic, self-propelled fruit bin carrier that will reduce labor requirements and maximize worker productivity. Preliminary research demonstrates that fruit picking could be improved by 50% if the collection bins within harvesting sites could be better managed. The intelligent bin-management system being developed at WSU places collecting bins in the fruit tree orchard, a process that currently requires a human-powered tractor.
Contact: Qin Zhang, qinzhang@wsu.edu

For more emerging technologies, visit: http://cpaas.wsu.edu/impact/
See some of the recent research projects:http://cpaas.wsu.edu/research/fundamental/

Tree fruit events look at best practices, pests

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 12:07pm
Stefano Musacchi, Endowed Chair of Tree Fruit Physiology and Management, shows how to prune Bartlett pear trees to optimize fruit quality. Learn more best practices for tree fruit at upcoming workshops.

Tree fruit producers and industry professionals are invited to five Tree Fruit Extension Programs in North-central Washington, January 18, 19, 20, 21 and February 4, providing the latest information on horticulture, pest and disease management. Events are held in Chelan, Wenatchee and Omak.

Chelan Horticultural Meeting
January 18, 2016
Chelan High School
Co-sponsored by WSU Extension and Chelan High School
Topics include: Spotted Wing Drosophila Update; Improving your Spray Coverage; Soil Quality; Tree Fruit Nutrition; Irrigation for Quality; WSU Decision Aid System Updates for 2016; Considering Value Added Hard Cider; and more.

North Central Washington Stone Fruit Day
January 19, 2016
Wenatchee Convention Center
Topics include: Spotted Wing Drosophila; Little Cherry Virus; End of Season Irrigation Timing for Cherry Quality; Observations on the Newest Cherry Breeding Materials; and more.

North Central Washington Pear Day
January 20, 2016
Wenatchee Convention Center
Co-sponsored by WSU Extension and Pear Bureau Northwest
Topics Include: Integrated Management of Pear Psylla and Mites: Biology, Natural Enemies, New Tools and IPM; Pear Pruning; Higher Density Pears Panel Discussion; Pear Marketing Update; and more.

North Central Washington Apple Day
January 21, 2016
Wenatchee Convention Center
Co-sponsored by WSU Extension and North Central Fieldmen’s Association
Topics include: Update on the Release of Cosmic Crisp; Limiting Risk and Reducing Stress by Using Netting in Apple Orchards; Precision Irrigation Management to Meet High Water Needs and Reduce Stress in Hot Summers; Honey Crisp Storage; FSMA Update and Irrigation Water Quality Research; Bullseye Rot; and more.

Okanogan Horticultural Association Meeting
February 4, 2016
Okanogan County Agriplex, Omak
Co-Sponsored by WSU Extension and Okanogan County Horticultural Association
Topics include: Market Update; Little Cherry Virus; WSU Decision Aid System Updates for 2016; Coddling Moth Resistance Management; Spotted Wing Drosophila; So You are Going to Go Organic.

For agendas and event information visit treefruit.wsu.edu. Pesticide update credits will be awarded for program attendance.

$260K in grants advance WSU pulse crop research

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 11:44am

Winter peas in a WSU research plot emerge from snow. Researchers at the university received more than a quarter-million dollars in funding to advance pulses like chickpeas and spring peas.Researchers at WSU received more than $260,000 in grants from the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council in December to advance pulse breeding and production.

The council funded nine projects, including management of fungicide-resistant Pythium pathogens for Palouse pulse crop production; harvesting the pea genome; spring lentil and pea variety development; breeding of autumn-sown food legumes; development of elite chickpea varieties; and weed management in chickpeas and lentils.

Named recipients include Weidong Chen, USDA-ARS Research Plant Pathologist and adjunct professor; Stephen Guy, Extension agronomist; Clarice Coyne, USDA Geneticist and CSS adjunct scientist; Dorrie Main, associate professor of Horticulture; Rebecca McGee, USDA Research Geneticist and CSS adjunct professor, pea and lentil genetics and breeding; George Vandemark, USDA-ARS Research Geneticist and adjunct professor, chickpea genetics and breeding; Ian Burke, associate professor of weed science; and Drew Lyon, professor and Endowed Chair for Small Grains Extension and Research; and James Harsh, professor and scientist in Crops and Soil Sciences.

Learn more about legume breeding efforts here.

Learn more about grain legume research here.

Variety survey results are out: Where does your wheat rank?

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 11:05am
Ryan Higginbotham, WSU Regional Extension Specialist for Cereal Variety Testing.

Grain commissions in the Northwest recently released their annual variety surveys and quality rankings, giving growers the latest information on the best wheat to plant.

This fall, the Washington Grain Commission published their annual Washington Wheat Variety Survey. Certified seed sales were used to estimate the total acres of each wheat variety planted in the state. According to the survey, the top five winter wheat varieties for the 2014-2015 crop year were Otto, ORCF-102, SY Ovation, Bruehl, and Xerpha.

“In terms of the number of acres of varieties, there aren’t any big surprises,” said Ryan Higginbotham, a Regional Extension Specialist for Cereal Variety Testing. “Rankings in the top group tend to stay grouped together.

The Washington commission, in cooperation with the Idaho and Oregon Wheat Commissions, also this fall released their 2015 Preferred Wheat Varieties brochure.

The annual publication ranks wheat varieties based on end-use quality, providing growers with additional information when deciding what to plant.

“Quality is more important in terms of what a grower can actually do,” said Higginbotham. “We suggest that, if there are two varieties that fit equally well in a grower’s environment, growers pick the one that’s higher in end-use quality. Our overseas customers demand good quality wheat. If we fail to provide it, they may buy it cheaper from somewhere else.”

By planting varieties that are higher in the quality rankings, farmers can help ensure that the Pacific Northwest maintains the high standards of end-use quality wheat that our customers have come to expect. Click on 2015 Preferred Wheat Varieties and see how the end-use quality of your chosen variety ranks.

Visit WSU’s Variety Selection Tool to explore the wealth of information on currently available wheat varieties—including rankings for end-use quality.

Extending the growing season for baby-leaf salad greens

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 10:52am
Researchers harvest baby-leaf greens in Washington. Field experiments have revealed ways growers can lengthen production seasons for popular salad greens. (Photo courtesy Carol Ann Miles).

Ready-to-eat salad mixes have experienced a tremendous increase in popularity and sales over the last 20 years. A study in HortScience reports that supermarket sales of the produce increased from $197 million in 1993 to $2.7 billion in 2008 in the U.S. Looking for ways to meet consumer demand and extend the production season of popular baby-leaf salad greens in the Pacific Northwest, scientists in Washington evaluated salad cultivars for suitability as spring and fall crops.

“There is strong demand in northwest Washington for locally grown baby-leaf salad greens,” said Carol Miles, from the Department of Horticulture at Washington State University, corresponding author of the study. “While the market is well supplied throughout the summer in this region, growers require production information to enable them to extend the season as much as possible in the spring and fall.” Miles and researchers Charlene Grahn, Chris Benedict, and Tom Thornton evaluated nine salad crop cultivars for suitability as baby-leaf salad greens in the spring (April-June) and six cultivars for the fall (September-November) growing seasons in northwest Washington. Trials were conducted at Cloud Mountain Farm Center in Everson, and Washington State University’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon.

The scientists found interactions between year, season, location, planting date, and cultivar for all crop parameters recorded (marketable crop weight, days to harvest, and ability to compete with weeds). They said that these results suggest that “environmental conditions and phenotypic plasticity”—the ability of an organism to change its phenotype, or observable traits, in response to changes in the environment—”play an important role in the performance of baby-leaf salad crops.”

“Because lettuce is one of the most desirable crops for salad mix, there is a need to identify cultivars that are well suited to extended season production,” the authors said.

The report recommends that growers in the region plant a diverse array of crops for baby-leaf salad to protect from crop loss and realize overall yield stability.

In the spring growing season, cultivars had higher marketable weight and shorter days to harvest than in the fall season. Overall, pak choi ‘Joi Choi’ had a high marketable weight, a relatively quick time to harvest, and high weed competitiveness. Mustard ‘Komatsuna’ also had one of the highest marketable weights, as well as the lowest days to harvest and highest weed competitiveness.

Beet ‘Bull’s Blood’ showed a consistently low weight, relatively long days to harvest, and poor weed competitiveness. ‘Brown Goldring’, a romaine-type lettuce commonly grown for baby-leaf salad, had the longest overall days to harvest.

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site.

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. Find more information at ashs.org

Mulch available at Lifelong Learning and Research Centers

Residents loading mulch at the Research Center and Demonstration Orchard.

Mulches can help tree and plant roots stay warm in winter and cool in summer

Many Las Vegans have taken advantage of recycling their holiday tree creating an abundance of mulch. This is coarse, organic wood mulch was chipped from the holiday trees. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Research Center and Demonstration Orchard and the Lifelong Learning Center is making the mulch available to the community, free of charge. Be sure to bring your own containers and tools.

This coarse mulch will not blow under high winds and allows good water and air penetration to the roots. It will decompose in a couple of years, adding organic matter to your soil, lowering the soil pH and encouraging soil microorganisms and worms. Both Centers use four to six inches around the fruit trees.

The mulch and the soil are available for pick-up from the Research Center on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. The soil is free if loaded by the individual and only $2 per tractor scoop loaded. The Center is located at 4600 Horse Drive, North Las Vegas, Nev.

The Lifelong Learning Center is located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only self-loading is available at this site.

Read Angela O’Callaghan, social horticulture for Cooperative Extension, publication titled Mulches for Nevada Landscapes.

For more information, contact the Research Center at 702-786-4361 or the Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555.

Local Radon presentations

Nearly 9 percent of homes tested in Clark County found radon concentrations at or above the EPA action level. For a radon potential map specific to each Nevada county, go to www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/radon/results/.

Cooperative Extension offers free test kits at local, public meetings

January is National Radon Action Month, and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Radon Education Program is offering educational presentations at various locations across the state. Free test kits will also be available at the presentations.

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It comes from the ground and can accumulate in homes, raising the risk of lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-caused lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, falls in the home, drowning or house fires.

In Nevada, one in four homes tested show radon concentrations at or above the EPA action level. According to experts, living in a home with radon concentrations at the action level poses as much risk of developing lung cancer as smoking about half a pack of cigarettes a day.

The risk of radon-caused lung cancer can be reduced. A simple three-day test can determine if a house has a radon problem, and winter is an ideal time to test a home for radon. If radon problems are found, they can be fixed. Find out more and get a free test kit at a presentation in your community:

Scheduled presentations for Las Vegas are:

  • Jan. 30 — Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive, at 10:30 a.m.
  • Jan. 30 — Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, at 2 p.m.
  • Jan. 31 — West Charleston Library, 6301 W. Charleston Blvd., at 10:30 a.m.
  • Jan. 31 — Sunrise Library, 5400 E. Harris Ave., at 1:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 1 — Rainbow Library, 3150 N. Buffalo Drive, at 6 p.m.

Scheduled presentation in Lincoln County is:

  • Feb. 2 — Caliente Fire Hall, next to Rainbow Canyon Motel at 880 Front St. on U.S. 93, Caliente, at 7 p.m.

For those who cannot attend a presentation, free radon test kits are also available through Feb. 29 at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offices and partner offices statewide. The local Las Vegas office is located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. The Lincoln County office is located at 360 Lincoln St., Caliente, Nev.

The Nevada Radon Education Program is a program of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and is funded by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. Since the program began in 2007, more than 21,000 homes have been tested in Nevada.

Cooperative Extension, the EPA and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health urge all Nevadans to get their homes tested for radon. For more information, visit the Nevada Radon Education Program website or call the Radon Hotline at 888-RADON10 (888-723-6610).

Looking for educational gardening activities?

Attend one or both of the Junior Master Gardeners Open Houses

Searching for fun, educational activities for your children this fall? Check out University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Junior Master Gardener™ Open House. View projects and collect programmatic information on the upcoming fall sessions which begin in February. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., speak with Junior Master Gardener Ambassadors and experience a make-and-take project and tours of the children’s demonstration gardens. Registration for the spring sessions will be available at the Open House. The Junior Master Gardener program offers your child leadership skills, service, safety with tools, community service and more.

The first Open House will be held in the north part of the valley on January 23 at the Research Center and Demonstration Orchard’s Children’s Garden located at 4600 Horse Road, North Las Vegas, Nev. The second Open House will be held in the south part of the valley on January 30 at the Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. Refreshments will be available.

The Junior Master Gardener program is open to all children ages 7-12. The 8-session per semester class fee is $52. Classes are held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. every other Saturday. If you live in the north part of the valley, there are Saturday Junior Master Gardener classes at the Research Center and Demonstration Orchard (4600 Horse Road, North Las Vegas, Nev.) beginning Feb. 6. If you live in the south part of the valley, the Saturday Junior Master Gardener classes will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center’s Outdoor Education Center (8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev.) beginning Feb. 13.

For more information and to register, email or call Karyn Johnson at 702-257-5523. Students must register to participate. For more information on the nation-wide JMG program, visit JMGKids. Families with children outside of the registration age range, please contact Johnson for scheduled dates of family gardening days.

Montana’s Next Generation Conference set for Jan. 29-30 in Shelby

Montana State University Extension News - Tue, 01/05/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Registration is now open for <a href="http://www.mariasriverlivestock.com/next_generation_conference.html">Montana’s Next Generation Conference</a>. The conference, which will take place Friday and Saturday, Jan....

2016 Tree Care: Best Practices seminar and workshop in English

In an effort to educate the green industry and arborist community on tree care and best practices, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension presents the Annual Professional Tree Care Seminar and Workshop in English on January 22 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with early registration beginning at 6 a.m. This year, the emphasis will be urban tree care: Best Practices-Tree Health. The seminar will be held at Cooperative Extension’s Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev.

Other topics covered include: New Palms for the Southwest; Turf Removal; Irrigation and Proper Site Assessment; Diagnostic Procedures and Techniques; Common Diseases of Southern Nevada and Soils Management.

Afternoon, hands-on sessions are offered from 2—3:20 p.m. covering topics of choice: Pruning roses; Pruning Grasses; Rejuvenation Pruning of Shrubs, and Palm Problems. Guest lecturers and speakers will be Russ Thompson, Sunkissed Horticulture Consultants; Kathy Kosta, Sr. Environmental Scientist, Plant Pathologist, California Department of Food and Agriculture; John Smith; ML Robinson, Cooperative Extension and Dennis Swartzel, private consultant.

The cost of the full day seminar which includes handouts, coffee, beverages, CEU’s and lunch is $25 if you pre-register and $30 at the door. Registration is available online. For more information, email or call Chelle Reed at 702-257-5536.

2016 Tree Care: Best Practices seminar and workshop in Spanish

In an effort to educate the green industry and arborist community on tree care and best practices, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension presents the Annual Professional Tree Care Seminar and Workshop in Spanish on January 29 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with early registration beginning at 6 a.m. This year, the emphasis will be urban tree care: Best Practices-Tree Health. The seminar will be held at Cooperative Extension’s Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev.

Other topics covered include: New Palms for the Southwest; Turf Removal; Irrigation and Proper Site Assessment; Diagnostic Procedures and Techniques; Common Diseases of Southern Nevada and Soils Management.

Afternoon, hands-on sessions are offered from 2—3:20 p.m. covering topics of choice: Pruning roses; Pruning Grasses; Rejuvenation Pruning of Shrubs, and Palm Problems. Guest lecturers and speakers will be Russ Thompson, Sunkissed Horticulture Consultants; Kathy Kosta, Sr. Environmental Scientist, Plant Pathologist, California Department of Food and Agriculture John Smith; ML Robinson; Cooperative Extension and Dennis Swartzel, private consultant.

The cost of the full day seminar which includes handouts, coffee, beverages, CEU’s and lunch is $25 if you pre-register and $30 at the door. Registration is available online. For more information, email or call Martha Barajas at 702-257-5522.

MSU faculty create agriculture and Extension research report for Montana producers

Montana State University Extension News - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 12:00am
<p><a href="http://ag.montana.edu/">Montana State University College of Agriculture</a> and <a href="http://www.msuextension.org/">MSU Extension</a> faculty have created a report for Montana agricultural producers...

MSU Extension hosts cover crop seminar Feb. 2 in Helena and Sheridan

Montana State University Extension News - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University <a href="http://www.msuextension.org/">Extension</a> is hosting a cover crop seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 2, in Sheridan and in Helena. The...

Living snow fence thrives, surprises

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 9:08am
For the past decade, WSU’s Living Snow Fence has survived and thrived near Davenport. The fence was planted in 2003 to show that Great Plains-style live windbreaks can grow in eastern Washington. (Photo by Andy Perleberg, WSU Extension)

Along a blustery rural highway, foresters from Washington State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are proving that living snow fences—windbreaks made of live trees—can protect Northwest roads and farms from winter’s fury.

More than a decade ago, a group of WSU, state and federal researchers planted the Davenport Living Snow Fence, two 880-foot double rows of Rocky Mountain junipers designed to catch wind and snow along Highway 25, just north of Davenport, Wash.

Ten years later, the scientists returned, measuring poles in hand, to see how the wall of junipers had fared. They discovered that, contrary to popular belief, living snow fences can thrive in Washington’s drylands.

Living fences are common in the Great Plains, where winters are frequently harsh and drifts top 30 feet, closing highways. The Davenport fence was planted to show that Plains-style windbreaks can grow well on less than 16 inches of annual rainfall.

Gary Kuhn, left and Dennis Robinson, retired NRCS foresters, measure juniper trees at the Davenport Living Snow Fence after 10 years of growth. (Photo by Andy Perleberg, WSU Extension)

“There was a belief that trees wouldn’t grow here,” said Don Hanley, an Extension forester and emeritus professor with the WSU School of the Environment. “We knew that was wrong. People were using the wrong stock, and they weren’t planting or maintaining them correctly.”

To change that, he, Gary Kuhn and Dennis J. Robinson, two now-retired foresters with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), enlisted help from the Washington State Department of Transportation to find a snowdrift-prone stretch of Highway 25.

Working with a cooperative landowner, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the local Lincoln County Conservation District, they laid down tough polypropylene weed-blocking fabric, planted a hardy strain of junipers—and waited.

“We had good stock that was planted correctly, and good site preparation,” Hanley said. “We put everything we had into it perfectly. And the trees grew, and grew, and grew—with no irrigation. ”

Between the double rows, the NRCS Pullman Plant Materials Center planted a hardy species of fescue grass for erosion and weed control.

The five-year-old Davenport living snow fence captures 35 inches of snow in January 2008. (Photo by Andy Perleberg, WSU Extension)

Hanley, Kuhn and Robinson measured the windbreak at five- and 10-year marks, then shared their findings in “Davenport Living Snow Fence Demonstration: A 10-year Survival and Growth Update,” a technical bulletin published in December by WSU Extension.

They found that the trees had crown closure—grown their branches together to form a complete wind barrier—in five to six years.

“With a live snow fence, you want them to close quickly, so they can start doing their job,” Kuhn said.

“This means the windbreak starts being effective almost immediately,” Hanley said. “Growth has been tremendous. More importantly, it’s been observed by thousands of people driving that highway.”

Benefits of snow fences

“Living snow fences are like an insurance policy,” said Kuhn. “About every 10 years or so, we get bad winters in Washington. When we do, roads are closed and people have big problems.”

Pheasant tracks show that wild birds find cover at the living fence in winter. (Photo by Andy Perleberg, WSU Extension)

Living fence benefits are widely documented, Hanley said. The trees keep roads clear of snow, making them safer while minimizing the expense of plowing. They help homes and barns stay warmer, saving on heating costs. Windbreaks shelter barns, pastures and livestock pens, for example, protecting newborn calves from cold, while saving on feed costs—cold livestock eat more. Windbreaks also keep valuable topsoil from blowing away in the wind.

Live fences require less maintenance than their wood or metal counterparts, while also providing cover for wild birds. Increased plantings of windbreaks could benefit the Northwest’s conservation nursery industry, says Kuhn.

The Davenport fence is expected to live for at least another 25 years, with little maintenance. Knowledge gained from the Davenport experiment has helped develop other living fences near Anatone, Wash., and Athena, Ore.

“It shows that if you plant these the right way, in the right place, they’ll benefit the public,” Kuhn said. “Proper planning ensures the effectiveness and existence of a windbreak for years to come.”

• Read “Davenport Living Snow Fence Demonstration: A 10-year Survival and Growth Update,” a technical bulletin published in December by WSU Extension, here: https://pubs.wsu.edu/ItemDetail.aspx?ProductID=15815&SeriesCode=&CategoryID=&Keyword=Living%20Snow%20Fence.

Food waste reduced in MSU’s renovated Miller Dining Hall, study finds

Montana State University Extension News - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 12:00am
<p>A team of Montana State University faculty members, students and staff have found that changes to the university’s recently renovated...

Voice of the Vine – December 2015

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 12/17/2015 - 1:49pm
 Events

Raise a Glass fundraiser

More than 300 west side restaurants will give a portion of wine sales through December to the Raise a Glass Fund, a Scholarship program that benefits viticulture and enology programs at WSU and other Northwest universities.

Precision Farming Expo
Jan. 7-8, 2016
Three Rivers Convention Center
Kennewick, WA

Crown Gall Workshop

The Wine Science Center in Richland hosts a workshop on Crown Gall Management on January 19, 2016, featuring Tom Burr of Cornell University. More details available soon. WSU-Extension and the WSU V&E Program Ravenholt Lecture Series are sponsoring the workshop. Burr will also present a research seminar at WSU-IAREC on January 20 at 10:30.

2016 WAWGG Convention

Feb. 9-11, 2016
Three Rivers Convention Center
Kennewick, WA

International Cool Climate Wine Symposium
May 26-28, 2016 in Brighton, England
Bringing together the globe’s foremost experts in viticulture and enology, the challenges of cool climate wine production take center stage.

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CHOOSE THE RIGHT WINE FOR HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS

Thomas Henick-Kling, director of WSU’s V&E program, provides a handy guide for holiday wine pairings. Enjoy!


WSU TRI-CITIES STUDENTS LEARN TO REPURPOSE WINE WASTE

Students in linked biology and chemistry courses at WSU Tri-Cities worked with the Wine Science Center this semester to test “recipes” for composting wine pomace – the grape skins, stems and seeds left over from winemaking.

THE DRINK THAT BUILT A NATION

From new cideries and orchards around the state to cider science at Washington State University, the fermented beverage has come back in a big way.

See the full story in Washington State Magazine.

WINE SPECTATOR BEHIND THE SCENES AT WSC

In a recent feature story, Wine Spectator magazine went behind the scenes at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center. They have some great pictures and information about WSU’s $23 million state-of-the-art research and teaching facility.

Read the entire story here.

CHEERS!

This month’s column toasting WSU faculty, winemakers, and graduates!

Learn how to reduce the radon health risk

Nearly 26 percent of homes tested in Nevada found radon concentrations at or above the EPA action level. For a radon potential map specific to each Nevada county, go to www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/radon/results/.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers free test kits at public meetings statewide

January is National Radon Action Month, and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Radon Education Program is offering educational presentations at various locations across the state. Free test kits will also be available at the presentations.

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It comes from the ground and can accumulate in homes, raising the risk of lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-caused lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, falls in the home, drowning or house fires.

In Nevada, one in four homes tested show radon concentrations at or above the EPA action level. According to experts, living in a home with radon concentrations at the action level poses as much risk of developing lung cancer as smoking about half a pack of cigarettes a day.

The risk of radon-caused lung cancer can be reduced. A simple three-day test can determine if a house has a radon problem, and winter is an ideal time to test a home for radon. If radon problems are found, they can be fixed. Find out more and get a free test kit at a presentation in your community:

Scheduled presentations for Reno, Carson City, Incline Village, Stateline and Minden are:

  • Jan. 9 — North Valleys Library, 1075 N. Hills Blvd. #340, Reno, at 11 a.m.
  • Jan. 12 — Sierra View Library, 4001 S. Virginia St., Reno, at 4 p.m.
  • Jan. 13 — South Valleys Library, 15650A Wedge Parkway, Reno, at 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 20 — Northwest Reno Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 25 — Carson City Senior Center, 901 Beverly Drive, Carson City, at 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 26 — Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 128 Market St., Stateline, at 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 27 — CVIC Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Ave., Minden, at 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 28 — Incline Village GID Public Works, 1220 Sweetwater Road, Incline Village, at 6 p.m.

Scheduled presentations for Las Vegas are:

  • Jan. 30 — Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive, at 10:30 a.m.
  • Jan. 30 — Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, at 2 p.m.
  • Jan. 31 — West Charleston Library, 6301 W. Charleston Blvd., at 10:30 a.m.
  • Jan. 31 — Sunrise Library, 5400 E. Harris Ave., at 1:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 1 — Rainbow Library, 3150 N. Buffalo Drive, at 6 p.m.

Scheduled presentations in other communities are:

  • Jan. 7 — Elko County Library, 720 Court St., Elko, at noon
  • Jan. 14 — locations in Lyon County
    • Dayton Valley Branch Library, 321 Old Dayton Valley Road, Dayton, 9 to 10 a.m.
    • Fernley Branch Library, 575 Silver Lace Blvd., Fernley, 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.
    • Radon test kits will be distributed at the Park and Ride parking lot at the intersection of Hwy. 95A and Hwy. 50 in Silver Springs, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.
    • Smith Valley Library, 22 Day Lane, Smith, 3 to 4 p.m.
    • Yerington Central Branch Library, 20 Nevin Way, Yerington, 5 to 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 2 — Caliente Fire Hall, next to Rainbow Canyon Motel at 880 Front St. on U.S. 93, Caliente, at 7 p.m.

For those who cannot attend a presentation, free radon test kits are also available through Feb. 29 at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offices and partner offices statewide.

The Nevada Radon Education Program is a program of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and is funded by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. Since the program began in 2007, more than 21,000 homes have been tested in Nevada.

Cooperative Extension, the EPA and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health urge all Nevadans to get their homes tested for radon. For more information, visit the Nevada Radon Education Program website at www.RadonNV.com, or call the Radon Hotline at 888-RADON10 (888-723-6610).

Cheers!

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 9:31am
Toasting WSU Viticulture & Enology donors and newsmakers!

 

Keller named science editor

The American Society for Enology and Viticulture has named Markus Keller, WSU distinguished professor of viticulture, as science editor of their publications.

Keller will direct strategic planning and ensure scientific rigor of the journals American Journal of Enology and Viticulture and Catalyst: Discover into Practice.

He will also serve as chair of the society’s publications committee and be a member of the board of directors.

First crush at the WSC

The WSU V&E program completed a successful first crush at their new Wine Science Center, making 195 wines and processing 23 tons of grapes. Three undergraduate students worked in the winery during the crush, and a new assistant winemaker was hired.

This successful crush provided material for numerous ongoing research projects and will even help a few new projects get started.

Graduation

Several V&E students went through winter commencement at WSU, both in Pullman and in Tri-Cities. Congratulations to all of our graduates and good luck as you pursue your careers. Cheers!

Do you know a WSU student, faculty member, alumnus or wine industry member who deserves a cheer? Submit their achievements to Voice of the Vine Editor Scott Weybright!