Extension News from the West

UI Extension Natural Resources Camp Continues 55-year Tradition

University of Idaho Extension News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 10:08am
KETCHUM, Idaho – Feb. 26, 2015 -- Natural Resources Camp, a University of Idaho Extension tradition tucked away in some of the state’s grandest scenery, will again offer Idaho youth a unique opportunity to learn about and explore the environment June 22-27. The camp for 12- to 14-year olds will celebrate its 55th anniversary this year with a program that focuses on wildlife, rangeland...

March Master Gardener events

Variety of classes being offered by the Master Gardeners From walking tours to Ask A Master Gardener tables

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners have several educational opportunities scheduled in March. Participants can attend any or all of the events.

March 7 and 21, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Visit the “Ask a Master Gardener” information booth at Tivoli Village Farmers Market (440 S. Rampart Blvd, LV 89145). Gardening advice, horticulture publications, and seasonal displays will be available.

March 14, 10 a.m. — Garden Tour — “March Madness” by Master Gardeners. Springtime brings an abundance of plants at the garden shops, and sometimes we go a bit crazy trying to choose! Learn what plants do well in the desert and how to care for them to get blooms again next year. Free and open to the public. Meet in the courtyard at the Lifelong Learning Center (8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev).

March 21, 9 am. — “Getting Started as a Desert Gardener,” outdoor class by Master Gardeners at Acacia Park (50 Casa Del Fuego St, Henderson, Nev.) A Master Gardener will discuss the basics of irrigation, watering maintenance tips, soil preparation, caliche, pH and soil salts. Register online at the City of Henderson.

March 28, 9 a.m. — “Fruits and Veggies for Your Spring Garden” outdoor class by Master Gardeners at Acacia Park (50 Casa Del Fuego St, Henderson, Nev.) Do you wonder why some gardens flourish and others just get by? Learn which cool season veggies to plant now and get tips on how to care for them from a Master Gardener. Register online at the City of Henderson.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon — Seasonal produce, mulch and compost available (fees) plus guided tours and gardening advice at Cooperative Extension’s Research Center and Demonstration Orchard, 4600 Horse Dr., NLV 89131.

And don’t forget, every Friday at 10 a.m. — Walking Tours of Demonstration Gardens through May. Meet in the Lobby at the Lifelong Learning Center, 8050 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, Nev.

For more information, email or call the Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555.

WSU’s Green Times – sheep, wheat, watermelon, mulch, and more – February 2015

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 1:34pm
Grazing among grains yields ecological, economic benefits White Dorper ewes graze alfalfa on Eric and Sheryl Zakarison’s wheat farm on the Palouse. (Photo by Jonathan Wachter, WSU)

You generally don’t find livestock among the hills in the Palouse region of eastern Washington where grain is grown. But wheat farmers Eric and Sheryl Zakarison are changing that – and making a profit.

On 100 of their 1,300 family-owned acres, they are experimenting with a rather unconventional scheme for the region – growing wheat, peas, perennial grasses like alfalfa and sheep in a tightly integrated system.

The Zakarisons’ integrated livestock operation also buffers them against market risks like an oversupply of grain. And in the absence of direct payments that were eliminated with the 2014 Farm Bill, it adds an income stream.“This year the dockworker slowdown brought the (alfalfa) hay export industry to its knees, and hay prices plummeted,” Eric Zakarison said. “It turned out to be a better year for lambs than alfalfa.”

But diversifying their income streams and boosting profitability isn’t their only motivation for converting to an integrated and organic farming system.

Ecosheep

The Zakarisons are collaborating with Jonathan Wachter, a soil science doctoral student at Washington State University, to demonstrate how integrated livestock farming in wheat country can contribute to sustainability goals. These include increasing and retaining soil nutrients, adding biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing soil erosion.

“They are the ones doing the research on their farm because they want to improve their soil,” Wachter said. “All I’m doing is putting their ideas into practice in a research context to generate the data that backs up some of (their ideas). They’re the real innovators.”Wachter has been working with the Zakarisons since 2012, when they established the five-year research project funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant.

It’s a soil thing Wheat farmers Sheryl, left, and Eric Zakarison with WSU soil science professor John Reganold and graduate student Jonathan Wachter. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wachter, WSU)


There’s no question that large-scale, monoculture grain production helps feed the world. But ecologically speaking, it takes a toll. Serious soil, water and air pollution problems can result from soil erosion caused by tilling and from the use of synthetic fertilizers and  pesticides.

“Grain farmers are always looking for ways to improve the soil,” said Eric Zakarison. “One of the best ways to increase biomass and organic matter is to grow perennial grass and legume crops like alfalfa. But then, we have to do something with the crop.”

Nutrient cyclers and weeders

He said it’s difficult to produce high quality hay on the Palouse, and a late summer rain can ruin a perfectly good

crop. But his 65 white Dorper mother ewes can eat lower quality hay and turn it into milk for lambs and meat for local markets while cycling nutrients through the soil system.

He explained that ewes with lambs serve as the delivery mechanism for calcium via their milk. Calcium, he said, is an important nutrient for grain that is expensive and otherwise hard to supply for crops.

Concerning weeds, organic farming often relies on light but frequent tillage; but on the erosion-prone hills of the Palouse, this is risky business. Cover crops – and grazing sheep – help control weeds.

By nibbling weeds very close to the ground, the sheep act as living weeders. They even prefer some weeds, like prickly lettuce, over grass or alfalfa.

A study in diversity

Of the 1 million-plus acres in the Palouse River drainage that are cultivated, only an estimated 500 acres are organic. Although they are starting small, the Zakarisons plan to eventually convert all of their land into an integrated livestock and organic production system.

Wachter’s study compares three different schemes. One treatment follows a conventional rotation of peas, winter wheat and spring wheat with minimum tillage and the use of herbicides and synthetic fertilizers.

In an organic treatment, livestock are allowed to graze after three years of growing pasture, supplying nitrogen for the next planting of grain crops. Finally, a hybrid treatment includes livestock plus fertilizer – and herbicides as needed. Austrian winter peas replace the conventional rotation of spring peas and, instead of harvesting a pea crop, sheep graze the crop to return nutrients to the soil.

Over the past three years, Wachter said, the organic treatment has been most profitable and shows carbon has increased in the soil (rather than as a greenhouse gas escaping into the air). The verdict is still out on the hybrid scheme.

Small, local, nimble

Though diversity provides ecological and economic stability to farming, it also requires a lot of work.
Neighboring wheat farmers don’t understand why the Zakarisons are doing this.

“They think it’s way too much work,” Eric Zakarison said. “You’re out there in blizzards, deep snow drifts, mud – and then lambing is going on when you’re getting ready to plant in spring. It takes that extra work and extra income to make it now.

“But we stay diverse, small and nimble,” he said. “We market locally and we make it.”

Find more information on integrated livestock farming at the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

- Sylvia Kantor

Grafting research could rescue state’s watermelon crop

The watermelon crop has declined dramatically in Washington because of disease. But Washington State University researchers are developing a solution that involves grafting watermelon plants onto squash and other vine plant rootstocks.

Watermelon vine shows Verticillium wilt when the fruits are nearly ready for harvest. (Photos courtesy of Carol Miles, WSU)

Today, there are about 550 acres of watermelon grown in Washington, with a value of approximately $5 million.“We’ve lost about a third of our state’s watermelon production over the last 10 years because of Verticillium wilt,” said Carol Miles, a professor of vegetable horticulture at the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon. “Growers have switched to other crops that are less susceptible.”

Miles said growers can lose 25-75 percent of their yield to the disease – but this loss does not occur until the very end of the growing season. That’s when the damage from Verticillium appears.

The fungus also affects tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and many other crops and plants.

Watermelon grafting used worldwide

Last fall, Miles received a $138,000 grant from the state agriculture department to look into grafting, a solution that doesn’t require fumigants. She is also working with a national team of researchers on a $3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Her portion is $171,000 to look at grafting tomato and eggplant.

Grafting involves cutting a young seedling from its roots and attaching it to the roots of a related plant that is disease resistant. The grafted plant produces fruits that are equivalent or better in quality than those of nongrafted plants.

“Grafting is very old technology, going back over 1,500 years in China,” Miles said. “Farmers in Japan have used grafted watermelon since the 1920s. In the Mediterranean region, farmers have been using grafted watermelon, tomato and eggplant for almost 20 years.

A grafted tomato seedling requires binding with a delicate cast for a few days to make sure the graft takes. Carol Miles and her team are grafting watermelon, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, which are all susceptible to Verticillium wilt.

Testing rootstocks in the field“We just need to find out what works best for our region and we’ll solve the Verticillium wilt problem,” she said.

Testing rootstocks in the field

Her research involves testing which plants work best together under Washington growing conditions and which rootstocks are most resistant to Verticillium wilt.

The first goal is to increase the survival rate for newly grafted watermelon plants. If only 25 percent survive, the effort is not worth it, Miles said.

The second goal is to find successful plant combinations that are disease resistant and have equivalent fruit yield and quality, compared to nongrafted plants grown in healthy soil. Miles and her team are testing watermelon grafted to pumpkin, squash and bottle gourd because they are all resistant to Verticillium wilt.

This year will be the second of a two-year field study. While these studies actually started about five years ago under a previous grant, Miles and her team are applying new information that they have learned along the way. They will have two full years of testing in commercial fields by the end of the grants.

- Scott Weybright

Fruit quality the focus of new WSU biodegradable mulch research Lisa Wasko DeVetter will research the impacts of biodegradable mulches on fruit quality. (Photo by Kim Binczewski)

Biodegradable mulches provide eco-friendly benefits to the agriculture industry, but the effects on fruit quality of these weed-controlling, moisture-preserving products are largely unknown.

A recently awarded, two-year, $40,000 grant will fund a study about the migration of chemical constituents from deteriorating biodegradable mulches (BDMs) to developing fruits.

“We would like to help growers and mulch manufacturers gain confidence, validated through research, that growing crops with BDMs allows for the production of a delicious and safe product for consumers,” said Lisa Wasko DeVetter, lead scientist on the study.

“Additional questions remain about the application of these products in organic agriculture, which needs critical review,” said DeVetter, who leads the small fruit horticulture program at the WSU Northwestern Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon.

Evaluation and migration

DeVetter will work with Carol Miles, WSU professor of horticulture in Mount Vernon, and Shyam Sablani, associate professor of biological systems engineering at WSU Pullman. Miles will assist with evaluation of the mulch treatments, while Sablani will measure chemical migration in strawberry fruits, the model crop used in this experiment.

“A master’s student will complete this project as part of his/her thesis research and will be advised by both Doctors Miles and Sablani,” DeVetter said.

History of research on biodegradable mulches

The grant is one of eight for “Emerging Research Issues” awarded by the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. The projects take innovative approaches to resolve significant issues – including social and economic factors – faced by the state’s agricultural industries.

The study builds on a history of research at WSU NWREC on biodegradable mulches in horticultural crop production conducted by Miles and vegetable pathologist Debra Inglis.

A new fact sheet Biodegradable Mulch Film for Organic Production Systems is now available.

- Cathy McKenzie

A little more about bees

Paul Stamets has had a life-long love affair with mushrooms, one that goes well beyond their culinary and psychedelic qualities. Wearing his signature hat — made from mushrooms — a turtle pendant and, always, a blue scarf, the nearly 60 year-old mycologist runs Fungi Perfecti, a family-owned farm and business in Shelton, Washington.> “Early last year, Stamets asked Washington State University entomologist Steve Sheppard to help confirm his hunches about bees and fungi. The two have since joined forces to explore the connections that, as far as they know, no one has ever made before.”

As promised last month, read the full Crosscut.com story about how mushrooms could help save the honeybee.

Resources you may need

New WSU Pub Series: Trends in Washington Organic Crop Production
The first WSU Extension publication in a series on Trends in Washington Organic Crop Production has been released. Trends in Washington State Organic Berry Production, Acreage and Crop Value was published with support from the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Two new must-have publications from the WSDA
Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide is the go-to guide for on-farm food safety. WSDA has produced this publication to help farmers implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP).

An updated, 7th edition of the Handbook for Small and Direct Marketing Farms: Regulations and Strategies for Farm Businesses in Washington State, otherwise known as “the Greenbook” is also now available.

Don’t forget to protect your poultry against avian flu!
Poultry owners: find the latest news and resources for protecting your birds at the WSDA Avian Health Program.

 

Green Times
If you are interested in WSU research and education about organic agriculture and sustainable food systems, check outGreen TimesSubscribe here.

On Solid Ground
On Solid Ground features news and information about ways WSU researchers, students, and alumni support Washington agriculture and natural resources. Subscribe here.

Voice of the Vine
Each issue of Voice of the Vine brings you stories about viticulture and enology and WSU researchers, students, and alumni working in Washington’s world-class wine industry. Subscribe here.

WSU’s On Solid Ground: Nature appeal, Tree fruit website, Apple testing video, Genetic mapping, Forestry major, New farmer grants, Women in Ag Conference

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 4:56pm

February 2015

 

Nature appeal: Palouse conservation buffers please the eye, protect the landscape Strips of wooded buffers intermingle with wheat fields in Washington’s Palouse landscape. (Photo courtesy www.AlisonMeyerPhotography.com)

Researchers know that adding natural buffers to the farm landscape can stop soil from vanishing.

Now, a scientist at Washington State University has found that more buffers can also please the eye.

Linda Klein, a recent doctoral graduate from WSU’s School of the Environment, worked with six other researchers at the university, plus one at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Moscow Forestry Sciences Laboratory, to explore the role that buffers—strips or clumps of shrubs, trees and natural vegetation—play in the landscape and in people’s visual preferences.

Klein chose four sites along the Palouse Scenic Byway, then used soil erosion modeling to measure how buffers stabilize stream banks, trap pollution and slow erosion. To gauge visual appeal, she used image simulation technology and mailed survey booklets to 1,200 rural and urban residents of Whitman County. Respondents were asked to rate landscape images, starting with a baseline of mostly monoculture grain fields, then gradually altered to show more and more buffers—first on stream banks, then adding hill slope drainages, and finally adding steep slope vegetation.

Klein found people preferred at least two buffers in the landscape. However, she found no statistically significant difference between their preference for landscapes with both stream and hill slope buffers—the second highest amount of natural vegetation—and those with a third type of buffer added to steep slopes. One implication of Klein’s findings is that visually appealing agricultural land may also be ecologically better. “By looking at a landscape and seeing these buffers, you could imply the landscape is healthier,” Klein said. She now plans to go deeper into the data, teasing out connections between demographics and scenic preference.

Read the full article about Klein’s study here.

—Seth Truscott

A tree fruit website that would make Willy Wonka proud Washington State University’s new tree fruit website, launching in March 2015, will be instrumental in communicating information to growers.

“What is that?” I asked, referring to the large, noisy mechanical machine into which the Rainier cherries were being whisked.

“Oh, that’s a camera,” my escort explained. Thousands of pictures were being taken every minute, multiple photos of each small fruit, to assess the qualities of millions of cherries headed to customers that afternoon. The truly “smart” feature of this camera allowed automated routing of each cherry to one of roughly a dozen conveyor belts, each carrying a different size or grade of cherry.

My perception of the tree fruit industry was rocked by my Willy-Wonka-like tour. The endless fields of fruit trees I saw on my way to Stemilt led me to imagine a romantic, old-world industry, but behind closed doors was a sophisticated, ultramodern operation.

Delivering the answers

My trip to Wenatchee, where I toured facilities and talked with growers about industry needs, was part of a discovery mission for a new, comprehensive website to support growing, distributing and consuming “world famous” cherries, apples, pears, and other types of stone fruit in Washington. The CAHNRS Communications web development team is working with WSU Extension leader and globally recognized horticulturist Desmond Layne to construct a new, comprehensive tree fruit website—the “world’s best” tree fruit website, as Dr. Layne characterized it.

What I didn’t know was that the camera that left me speechless was established technology, and there were new technologies, some mechanical and others biological, on the horizon. The Washington State Tree Fruit Commission had pledged $32 million to bolster WSU’s tree fruit research program. In addition to increasing research, part of those funds were to be used for technology transfer, and our tree fruit website was going to be instrumental in communicating information to growers.

With such amazing technologies proliferated throughout the industry, it’s fair to question the significance of a website to that industry. But as we learned, WSU researchers and extension specialists—and even third party websites—had mountains of important data to share with growers, and it was spread across the Internet like the apple orchards throughout central Washington. Furthermore, Dr. Layne had a reputation for making useful and compelling videos for growers and consumers alike, and this new website made for the ideal stage to present his work.

My visit to Stemilt was months ago, and now we are pleased to announce that this March WSU will launch treefruit.wsu.edu, the world’s best, most comprehensive website for tree fruit growers. Not only does the website catalog the thousands of online tree fruit resources and showcase videos by WSU scientists and researchers, it guides both the inexperienced and seasoned grower to produce world-famous fruit. The website features a robust search engine, topic-based articles, and is optimized for use on a mobile phone. In my mind, it still isn’t as cool as the cherry camera, or Willy Wonka’s chocolate river, but it is a great leap forward to supporting an industry that provides delicious and nutritious food for millions of people throughout the world.

—Joshua Paulsen

Video: Fruit testing at the WSU Apple Breeding Program Researchers at WSU’s Fruit Quality Evaluation Laboratory test apples for deliciousness.

In a new video, Dr. Kate Evans and her apple breeding team lead a tour of the Fruit Quality Evaluation Laboratory at the WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center in Wenatchee, Washington.

Watch and learn how researchers test fruit qualities (maturity, firmness, crispness, acidity, soluble solids concentration, juiciness, sweetness, fruitiness) and use genetic markers to screen seedling materials for specific traits.

The apple breeding program is dedicated to creating new, high quality cultivars that have excellent qualities for eating, storing and growing.

Watch the video here.

 

Discovering the STEM in your apple: Genetic mapping helps orchards, environment A map of apple and peach genomes emerges in this illustration by Gerald Steffen, WSU.

Never before has such a vast amount of genetic information been available to tree fruit breeders. Today, Washington State University researchers know enough about the natural diversity within a species’ genetic code to enrich centuries-old tree fruit breeding techniques. Here in the Northwest, this means increasing tree fruit yields while leaving a smaller environmental footprint. For consumers, it means better tasting apples, cherries, peaches and other tree fruit.

At the heart of these improvements is genomics, the study and mapping of genetic material, or DNA. In 2010, WSU scientists unraveled the genetic code of apples and in 2013 the code of pears and cherries, in hopes of one day breeding better fruit. With this genomic wealth, “we can make more efficient decisions about which plant parents to combine to get the traits we’re after,” said WSU apple breeder Kate Evans. It greatly increases the odds that the desired traits will show up in the offspring seedlings, she said.

Read more about the science behind the apples we eat here.

—Sylvia Kantor

WSU re-establishes updated major in forestry WSU School of the Environment file photo

“We already are advising students interested in pursuing this degree,” said Keith Blatner, professor of forest economics and program leader for forestry in the School of the Environment. “We have revamped and refreshed the curriculum to give our students a strong foundation in science with an emphasis on forest ecosystems. Our graduates will be field ready with a strong background in forest measurements and sampling.”Washington State University will offer new, updated major in forestry this fall. The recently established WSU School of the Environment will provide the program to students at the Pullman campus.

The Washington Legislature instructed that the forestry major be re-established as part of WSU’s 2013-2015 biennial budget. The major was phased out in 2011 as part of institutional budget reductions.

Learn more about the program at soe.wsu.edu.

—Kathy Barnard

Federal grants available for new farmer, rancher programs

If you’re thinking about starting an agriculture-based business, talk to a university extension educator, tribal leader or nonprofit director about collaborating on a training program for like-minded entrepreneurs. The group effort could be eligible for up to $750,000 in grant funds over the next three years.

With the average age of U.S. farmers on the rise and an 8 percent projected decrease in the number of farmers and ranchers between 2008 and 2018, the National Institute of Agriculture sees a growing need to encourage and support the next generation of producers.

The Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, part of the Agriculture Act of 2014, will provide $20 million annually through 2018. Applications for 2015 are due by Friday, March 13. Grants are aimed at state, tribal, local, and regional networks of community organizations, higher education institutions, nonprofits and individuals.

To learn more, visit http://1.usa.gov/1DO90KS.

WSU conference brings Women in Agriculture together to network, learn

WSU Extension will offer the fourth annual Women in Agriculture Conference, Saturday, Feb. 21. The one-day gathering, broadcast to 28 locations in four states, helps women farmers learn, network and be inspired.

This year’s theme is “Making Sense of Marketing.” The keynote farmer, Emily Asmus of Welcome Table Farm in Walla Walla, will talk about how to keep a farm’s brand fresh to build customer interest and loyalty. Instructor Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing in Seattle will discuss how to create a marketing action plan.

Learn about the conference at womeninag.wsu.edu. Or, read more here.

On Solid Ground
On Solid Ground features news and information about ways WSU researchers, students, and alumni support Washington agriculture and natural resources. Subscribe here.

Green Times
If you are interested in WSU research and education about organic agriculture and sustainable food systems, check out Green Times. Subscribe here.

Voice of the Vine
Each issue of Voice of the Vine brings you stories about viticulture and enology and WSU researchers, students, and alumni working in Washington’s world-class wine industry. Subscribe here.

 

Cooperative Extension offers ’Gardening Smarter as We Mature’

Raised beds, such as these, make gardening easier. The "Gardening Smarter as We Mature" series offered by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension this spring teaches how to garden more easily as the body ages.

Three free classes offered this spring in 11 Nevada locations

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is offering a series of three free classes at 11 locations statewide for maturing gardeners. The "Gardening Smarter as We Mature" series teaches how to garden more easily as the body changes and ages.

"Traditionally, about 65 percent of the American population participates in some form of gardening," said Cooperative Extension Educator JoAnne Skelly, who helped research the need for the classes and organized the series. "But this population is aging, and as they age, gardening becomes more difficult. These classes will show aging gardeners easier ways to continue doing what they love."

The classes are taught by Health, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology Specialist Anne Lindsay and Social Horticulture Specialist Angela O’Callaghan. They will focus on the biomechanics of the body, covering gross and fine motor skills, core strengthening, cardiovascular health, strength and endurance. Participants will learn practical gardening applications, such as simplifying gardening life, prioritizing tasks, using lower-maintenance plants and gardening in raised beds.

Classes run from 10 a.m. to noon, March 11, April 8 and May 14. Topics include:

  • March 11: Understanding the biomechanics of the body’s changes as we mature; improving cardiovascular health, strength and endurance
  • April 8: Using the maturing body properly, techniques and tools
  • May 14: Simplifying gardening life

Classes will be held at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas, 8050 Paradise Road, Suite A, 702-222-3130, and will be available via interactive video at the following locations:

  • Lincoln County Cooperative Extension, 360 Lincoln St., Caliente, 775-726-3109
  • Carson City Cooperative Extension, 2621 Northgate Lane, Room 12, 775-887-2252
  • Great Basin College, 1500 College Parkway, Griswold Hall, #31, Elko, 775-738-7291
  • White Pine County Cooperative Extension, 950 Campton St., Ely, 775-293-6599
  • Churchill County Cooperative Extension, 111 Scheckler Road, Fallon, 775-423-5121
  • Douglas County Cooperative Extension, 1325 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville, 775-782-9960
  • East Clark County Cooperative Extension, 1897 N. Moapa Valley Blvd., Logandale, 702-397-2604
  • Pershing County Cooperative Extension, 810 Sixth St., Lovelock, 775-273-2923
  • Humboldt County Cooperative Extension, 1085 Fairgrounds Road, Winnemucca, 775-623-6304
  • Lyon County Cooperative Extension, 504 S. Main St., Yerington, 775-463-6541

Registration is required. If you have questions, contact Skelly, at 775-887-2252. To register, contact the location above where you plan to attend. Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should call at least three days prior to the scheduled event.

Eight MSU students win ‘Torley’ awards for community involvement

Montana State University Extension News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 1:00am
<p>Eight Montana State University seniors have won the 2015 Torlief Aasheim Community Involvement Awards, the university's top award for student...

Voice of the Vine: clean vines, sparkling wine, Wine Science Center, wine webinar, cookbook contest (Feb. 2015)

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 3:43pm
Welcome to the mother block: Nursery is main source for clean vines Inland Desert Nursery, co-owned by brothers Kevin and Jerry Judkins and their father, Tom, cultivates 100 acres of clean grapevines known as “mother blocks” with material sourced from Washington State University’s Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. (Photo courtesy of Inland Desert Nursery.)

The Judkins family has been in the business of clean grapevines for more than 40 years.

Today, their Inland Desert Nursery, co-owned by brothers Kevin and Jerry and their father, Tom, cultivates 100 acres of clean grapevines known as “mother blocks” with material sourced from the Washington State University Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. These mother blocks are where 75 percent of the clean grapevines planted in Washington come from.

Mother blocks are visually inspected multiple times during a growing season by the Washington Department of Agriculture to confirm their disease-free status, according to Aaron Paul, an environmental specialist in the WSDA plant services program in Pasco. Paul says Washington’s clean plant program and quarantines on imported vines help maintain freedom from viruses and limit the distribution of grape phylloxera within the state, allowing growers to plant certified grapevines directly into the vineyard without the use of grafted rootstocks.

“WSDA is constantly on the lookout at wholesale and retail plant outlets for certification and quarantine compliance,” Paul said. “Plants that are out of compliance with state quarantines are destroyed or returned to their state of origin.”

Federal funding through the WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program pays for testing of all certified mother blocks in the state, a cost that would have been too great a burden for private vineyard owners.

Chateau Ste. Michelle planted a certified mother block in one of their vineyards with materials from the Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. They have expanded that first mother block to have more stock available. Any plants not used in their own vineyards are consigned to Inland Desert Nursery.

“Kevin Judkins and Inland Desert have done a great job developing mother blocks and getting [clean material] out to the growers,” says Mike Means, vineyard manager at Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Clean Plant Center foundation block advisory group chairman. “We don’t always have enough to go around, but what we have is quality.”

This year will mark Inland Desert Nursery’s biggest year to date for grapevine sales. They will deliver more than 3,000,000 dormant vines and 600,000 green-grown vines.


Partnerships key to healthy Northwest grapevines Retiring operations manager’s career highlights program’s successes Gary Ballard, operations manager, tending grapevines at the Clean Plant Center Northwest in Prosser.

Washington’s grape industry has seen accelerating growth over the past several decades. That momentum is owed, in part, to the vision and hard work of people like Gary Ballard, the retiring operations manager of Washington State University’s Clean Plant Center Northwest Grape Program.

Formerly known as the NorthWest Grape Foundation Service, the Clean Plant Center has been producing “clean” grapevines for Northwest growers since 1961. Now in its tenth year under its current name and structure, the center is a reliable source for growers to buy planting stock from 300 grapevine varieties that are state-certified as being tested free of 30 targeted viruses.

Ballard—who graduated from WSU in 1971 with a master’s degree in plant pathology—will retire in April after 12 years as the Clean Plant Center’s operations manager and a career focused on plant pathology. In 2003, he left a lucrative private industry job to work for WSU, out of conviction for what he believes a clean-plant program means for the grape industry.

Viruses cause smaller yields and lower quality fruits—which end up costing growers, winemakers and consumers. Today, thanks to the work of Ballard and many others, vineyard owners who choose healthy, virus-tested planting material continue to see greater yields and higher quality grapes.

Providing clean grapevines to the Northwest and beyond The Clean Plant Center Northwest is part of a national network of foundation vineyards, certified nurseries and growers. (Click image to enlarge.)

The Clean Plant Center is part of the National Clean Plant Network, which promotes the use of healthy plant material for important specialty crops in the United States. The University of California at Davis serves as headquarters for the grapevine network, with other centers located at Florida A&M University, Missouri State University and Cornell University.

In the Northwest, clean plants are produced at the Clean Plant Center’s foundation vineyard at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. Customers include certified nurseries, university and federal research programs, and grape growers in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and beyond.

“We’re still a Pacific Northwest organization, although it seems we’re becoming a main source for the northern states and eastern seaboard states,” Ballard said. Sometimes growers purchase vines from the Clean Plant Center because their climate matches Washington’s more than other centers that are geographically closer.

“We go a little bit further because of the crown gall disease that happens quite often in the northern states,” said Ballard, explaining why the Clean Plant Center ships grapevines as far as New York, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas. “Grapevines can suffer winter injury and if there’s bacteria inside that plant, it causes the onset of crown gall disease. If there’s no damage, then that bacteria lies latent. In warmer climates where you don’t get cold weather injury, it’s not a problem, so they don’t deal with it to the extent we do.”

Virus-free grapevines are grown at the Clean Plant Center Northwest’s foundation vineyard at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.

Kevin Judkins is co-owner of Inland Desert Nursery along with his father Tom and brother Jerry. They are the largest certified nursery for grapevines in Washington. Judkins said the protocols to combat diseases such as crown gall that California was not dealing with were improved in 2004, after Ballard came on board.

In 2003, WSU viticulture professor Markus Keller hired Ballard to manage the NorthWest Grape Foundation Service. Keller led the program at the time.

“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Keller said. “Gary doesn’t just work with clean grapevines, he IS clean grapevines. Without him, the program simply would not have happened.”

“My role in the program was to basically do it,” Ballard explained. “At that time there were three of us in the program, excluding Markus: me, myself and I. I did all the tissue culture work. I did all the greenhouse maintenance. I developed a foundation vineyard and did all the maintenance there as well.”

Soon Ballard was so busy that he needed help. Around this same time, WSU merged their clean plant programs for grapes, fruit trees and hops under Director Ken Eastwell.

The plant doctor is in

Despite carefully coordinated efforts by growers and the Washington Department of Agriculture to keep infected grapevines out of Washington, plant pathogens infiltrate the borders from time to time and clean plants become infected when weakened by stress or environmental damage. That’s when WSU grape virologist Naidu Rayapati steps in to diagnose and treat grapevine ailments. He works with industry stakeholders, nurseries and regulatory agencies to implement best management practices for healthy vineyards.

The Clean Plant Center Northwest sells vines that are tested and found free of grapevine”redleaf” (or red blotch) disease and 29 other viruses. Redleaf causes red coloration of leaves and a reduced yield in fruit harvest.

Until 2013, grapevine redleaf (red blotch) disease in Washington vineyards was mistaken for grapevine leafroll disease. Similarities in the symptoms—a red discoloration of the leaves and reduced fruit yields at harvest—make it difficult to differentiate the two pathogens. When checking for viruses in symptomatic vines, however, Rayapati discovered that some of these vines tested negative for grapevine leafroll disease and developed a detection method for redleaf disease.

Identifying pathogens and finding solutions maintain the health, quality and productivity of Washington’s grape and wine industry, but it also comes with a considerable price tag. The alternative, however, is more costly in the long run.

If a disease spreads from illegally imported vines, not only can the grower be fined, but they may have to rip out the whole block of vines, said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, a group that has been instrumental in educating growers about the benefits of using clean plants and the disadvantages of risking it.

Sustaining awareness

The National Clean Plant Network has been federally funded since 2009, which is one reason the Clean Plant Center foundation block advisory group is a tri-state effort, according to Mike Means, group chair and vineyard manager at Chateau Ste. Michelle, the largest wine producer in Washington. Including Oregon and Idaho in Washington’s clean plant efforts supports the health of the region and encourages those states to add to the federal funding that sustains the program.

In 2011, the Washington Wine Industry Foundation surveyed the grower community to measure their awareness of clean plants and understanding of disease. Results showed the need to educate the growers. Since then, WSU and various grape-growing and wine industry associations have made a concerted effort to share information through workshops, publications in both English and Spanish, and clean plant field trips that include tastings comparing grapes from healthy and diseased vines.

Order clean vines early for best selection

Growers should plan to order clean vines more than one year in advance whether they are purchasing from the Clean Plant Center or a certified nursery. The center gives priority to orders placed before December 15 from customers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, but increasingly Ballard receives requests from outside the Northwest.

Demand has grown to the point where one of Ballard’s last projects is creating a tissue-culture-generated plantlet, or young plant, of patented table grape vines from the University of Arkansas. Plantlet material is typically created in-house to clean up a plant and establish material for the Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. However, this material will be sold to a vineyard in South Africa and needs to remain in plantlet form to meet that country’s quarantine requirements.

Whether it’s propagating clean planting material for growers in the Northwest or somewhere else in the world, Ballard has enjoyed providing a service to the industry as a whole.

“WSU has given me the opportunity to do that with assistance and guidance where needed,” he recalled. “Along with the successful raising of my kids and a full-term marriage, those three things are what I consider the major accomplishments in my life.”

- Erika Holmes

How many bubbles are needed in bubbly?

Fizzy bubbles are the big draw for those who love sparkling wine, but can they tell the difference between varying carbonation levels? And do they have preferences as to how much carbonation should be in their wine?

That’s what Washington State University School of Food Science graduate student Kenny McMahon is looking at as part of his Ph.D. dissertation with advisor Carolyn Ross.

Kenny McMahon puts used glasses into bins during a panel taste test for his study. (Photos courtesy of Kenny McMahon, WSU)

Findings from his first study “showed that consumers like the lower carbonation levels but have a greater preference for the higher carbonated wines,” said McMahon, who presented his data at the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers annual conference last week.

A second study is being conducted.

Detection and preference

For the first study, he convened two panels, one with trained wine tasters and one with typical wine consumers.

McMahon made his own sparkling wines – with differing carbonation levels – in a commercial Washington winery. The carbonation range was 0-7.5 grams of carbon dioxide per liter.

The trained panel was studied regarding attributes related to carbonation. Panelists were asked to consider the perception of bite/burn, carbonation/bubble-pain, foaminess, numbing, prickly/pressure and tingliness, as well as various aromas, flavors and basic tastes.

McMahon said the trained panel started to pick up those various attributes at lower carbonation levels than the typical consumers, but most participants noted the carbonation by about 2 grams per liter.

The consumer panel was studied to see if participants noticed the differing levels of carbonation and what amount they preferred.

McMahon also asked both panels to think about the carbonation in each sip and how it impacted the sensation in their mouths.

“We were looking to see at what point people noticed the carbonation-related attributes and what wine they liked the most,” he said.

Kenny McMahon grabs wine glasses to serve to panel members as part of his research on sparkling wines. Various grapes, carbonation levels

Sparkling wine is any wine containing carbonation, which gives rise to bubbles. The wine can be made using a variety of grapes, such as chardonnay or pinot noir.

Some sparkling wines, such as Portugal’s vinho verde, benefit from lower carbonation levels, but there haven’t been many studies on the subject.

Traditional producers keep a steady 9-11 grams per liter because that’s the way champagne was originally made. A proportion of U.S. producers of sparkling wine follow that tradition. But only wine made in the Champagne region of France can be labeled with the term “champagne.”

- Scott Weybright

Wine Science Center nearly complete

Members of the viticulture and enology program at Washington State University are packing to move into their new digs on the Tri-Cities campus this spring.

Construction of the $23-million Wine Science Center has reached substantial completion, and Lydig Construction is working through the “punch list” to finish the 39,300-square-foot, LEED Silver-certified research and teaching facility.

The construction has progressed to the point that the Richland City Council voted this month to disband the development authority whose board members oversaw Wine Science Center construction and managed the finances. That development authority has successfully completed its mission and is turning over $98,000 of unused funds to the WSU Foundation.

That money will go into the Wine Science Center construction fund, which will pay for remaining unfinished rooms as well as equipment purchases. Rooms yet to be finished are a teaching laboratory and three plant growth chambers.

The growth chambers will provide important research capacity, allowing scientists to study grapevines under a wide range of temperatures and light and irrigation levels. This research will provide the Washington wine industry with better management tools for their vineyards, to support premium grape production, preserve resources, and prepare for climate change.

A grand opening for the Wine Science Center is planned for early June, but program director Thomas Henick-Kling recently toured the facility with Tri-Cities’ KEPR Action News. For a sneak peek at the facility, check out reporter Davis Wahlman’s video report “WSU’s Wine Science Center is state of the art.”

- Erika Holmes

Winery owner offers online info session Preview “Food from the Heart with Merry Cellars Winery,” an online presentation offered March 3 at 6 p.m. through WSU’s Digital Academy.

Learn about wine tasting, wine etiquette and how to pair food and wine in a free online presentation by Patrick Merry, owner of Merry Cellars Winery. Merry will also provide an inside look at the process of wine production.

Merry launched Merry Cellars Winery in 2004 with an inaugural vintage of 400 cases, and now produces 5,000 cases annually.

This presentation is 6 p.m. March 3. It is offered through WSU’s Digital Academy, part of the Global Connections program that brings extracurricular events to WSU Global Campus students. The session lasts about 45 minutes, and includes time for attendees to ask questions. All participants present in the chat area will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Merry Cellars gift certificate.

Please register here.

Find us on Facebook to win “The Crimson Spoon” “The Crimson Spoon: Plating Regional Cuisine on the Palouse” by WSU Executive Chef Jamie Callison. “Like” the Washington State University Viticulture & Enology Program on Facebook for program and wine industry updates!

Everyone who likes our post about “The Crimson Spoon: Plating Regional Cuisine on the Palouse” between February 18 and March 17, 2015, will be entered to win a copy. This 200-page, photo-illustrated, hardback cookbook features WSU Executive Chef Jamie Callison’s gourmet dishes and recipes.

The winner of the cookbook will be announced on March 18 in the “Voice of the Vine” and on the WSU Viticulture & Enology Program Facebook page.

Get your “like” on, and good luck!

Voice of the Vine
Each issue of Voice of the Vine brings you stories about viticulture and enology and WSU researchers, students, and alumni working in Washington’s world-class wine industry. Subscribe here.

Green Times
If you are interested in WSU research and education about organic agriculture and sustainable food systems, check out Green TimesSubscribe here.

On Solid Ground
On Solid Ground features news and information about ways WSU researchers, students, and alumni support Washington agriculture and natural resources. Subscribe here.

UI Extension Offers Precision Ag Seminar at Boise Library Feb. 24

University of Idaho Extension News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 2:31pm
BOISE, Idaho – Feb. 19, 2015 – A free seminar focused on precision agriculture and technologies to help farmers use water and fertilizer more efficiently is planned Feb. 24 at the Boise Public Library. Sponsored by University of Idaho Extension, the seminar is free and open to the public. It will run from noon to 5:40 p.m. in the library’s William F. Hayes Memorial Auditorium. ...

Fleming elected vice-chair of Montana District Export Council

Montana State University Extension News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 1:00am
<p>BOZEMAN -- Paddy Fleming, interim director of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center in Bozeman, was elected vice-chair of the Montana...

Partnerships key to healthy Northwest grapevines

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:14am
Welcome to the mother block: Nursery is main source for clean vines Inland Desert Nursery, co-owned by brothers Kevin and Jerry Judkins and their father, Tom, cultivates 100 acres of clean grapevines known as “mother blocks” with material sourced from Washington State University’s Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. (Photo courtesy of Inland Desert Nursery.)

The Judkins family has been in the business of clean grapevines for more than 40 years.

Today, their Inland Desert Nursery, co-owned by brothers Kevin and Jerry and their father, Tom, cultivates 100 acres of clean grapevines known as “mother blocks” with material sourced from the Washington State University Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. These mother blocks are where 75 percent of the clean grapevines planted in Washington come from.

Mother blocks are visually inspected multiple times during a growing season by the Washington Department of Agriculture to confirm their disease-free status, according to Aaron Paul, an environmental specialist in the WSDA plant services program in Pasco. Paul says Washington’s clean plant program and quarantines on imported vines help maintain freedom from viruses and limit the distribution of grape phylloxera within the state, allowing growers to plant certified grapevines directly into the vineyard without the use of grafted rootstocks.

“WSDA is constantly on the lookout at wholesale and retail plant outlets for certification and quarantine compliance,” Paul said. “Plants that are out of compliance with state quarantines are destroyed or returned to their state of origin.”

Federal funding through the WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program pays for testing of all certified mother blocks in the state, a cost that would have been too great a burden for private vineyard owners.

Chateau Ste. Michelle planted a certified mother block in one of their vineyards with materials from the Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. They have expanded that first mother block to have more stock available. Any plants not used in their own vineyards are consigned to Inland Desert Nursery.

“Kevin Judkins and Inland Desert have done a great job developing mother blocks and getting [clean material] out to the growers,” says Mike Means, vineyard manager at Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Clean Plant Center foundation block advisory group chairman. “We don’t always have enough to go around, but what we have is quality.”

This year will mark Inland Desert Nursery’s biggest year to date for grapevine sales. They will deliver more than 3,000,000 dormant vines and 600,000 green-grown vines.


Retiring operations manager’s career highlights program’s successes Gary Ballard, operations manager, tending grapevines at the Clean Plant Center Northwest in Prosser.

Washington’s grape industry has seen accelerating growth over the past several decades. That momentum is owed, in part, to the vision and hard work of people like Gary Ballard, the retiring operations manager of Washington State University’s Clean Plant Center Northwest Grape Program.

Formerly known as the NorthWest Grape Foundation Service, the Clean Plant Center has been producing “clean” grapevines for Northwest growers since 1961. Now in its tenth year under its current name and structure, the center is a reliable source for growers to buy planting stock from 300 grapevine varieties that are state-certified as being tested free of 30 targeted viruses.

Ballard—who graduated from WSU in 1971 with a master’s degree in plant pathology—will retire in April after 12 years as the Clean Plant Center’s operations manager and a career focused on plant pathology. In 2003, he left a lucrative private industry job to work for WSU, out of conviction for what he believes a clean-plant program means for the grape industry.

Viruses cause smaller yields and lower quality fruits—which end up costing growers, winemakers and consumers. Today, thanks to the work of Ballard and many others, vineyard owners who choose healthy, virus-tested planting material continue to see greater yields and higher quality grapes.

Providing clean grapevines to the Northwest and beyond The Clean Plant Center Northwest is part of a national network of foundation vineyards, certified nurseries and growers. (Click image to enlarge.)

The Clean Plant Center is part of the National Clean Plant Network, which promotes the use of healthy plant material for important specialty crops in the United States. The University of California at Davis serves as headquarters for the grapevine network, with other centers located at Florida A&M University, Missouri State University and Cornell University.

In the Northwest, clean plants are produced at the Clean Plant Center’s foundation vineyard at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. Customers include certified nurseries, university and federal research programs, and grape growers in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and beyond.

“We’re still a Pacific Northwest organization, although it seems we’re becoming a main source for the northern states and eastern seaboard states,” Ballard said. Sometimes growers purchase vines from the Clean Plant Center because their climate matches Washington’s more than other centers that are geographically closer.

“We go a little bit further because of the crown gall disease that happens quite often in the northern states,” said Ballard, explaining why the Clean Plant Center ships grapevines as far as New York, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas. “Grapevines can suffer winter injury and if there’s bacteria inside that plant, it causes the onset of crown gall disease. If there’s no damage, then that bacteria lies latent. In warmer climates where you don’t get cold weather injury, it’s not a problem, so they don’t deal with it to the extent we do.”

Virus-free grapevines are grown at the Clean Plant Center Northwest’s foundation vineyard at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.

Kevin Judkins is co-owner of Inland Desert Nursery along with his father Tom and brother Jerry. They are the largest certified nursery for grapevines in Washington. Judkins said the protocols to combat diseases such as crown gall that California was not dealing with were improved in 2004, after Ballard came on board.

In 2003, WSU viticulture professor Markus Keller hired Ballard to manage the NorthWest Grape Foundation Service. Keller led the program at the time.

“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Keller said. “Gary doesn’t just work with clean grapevines, he IS clean grapevines. Without him, the program simply would not have happened.”

“My role in the program was to basically do it,” Ballard explained. “At that time there were three of us in the program, excluding Markus: me, myself and I. I did all the tissue culture work. I did all the greenhouse maintenance. I developed a foundation vineyard and did all the maintenance there as well.”

Soon Ballard was so busy that he needed help. Around this same time, WSU merged their clean plant programs for grapes, fruit trees and hops under Director Ken Eastwell.

The plant doctor is in

Despite carefully coordinated efforts by growers and the Washington Department of Agriculture to keep infected grapevines out of Washington, plant pathogens infiltrate the borders from time to time and clean plants become infected when weakened by stress or environmental damage. That’s when WSU grape virologist Naidu Rayapati steps in to diagnose and treat grapevine ailments. He works with industry stakeholders, nurseries and regulatory agencies to implement best management practices for healthy vineyards.

The Clean Plant Center Northwest sells vines that are tested and found free of grapevine”redleaf” (or red blotch) disease and 29 other viruses. Redleaf causes red coloration of leaves and a reduced yield in fruit harvest.

Until 2013, grapevine redleaf (red blotch) disease in Washington vineyards was mistaken for grapevine leafroll disease. Similarities in the symptoms—a red discoloration of the leaves and reduced fruit yields at harvest—make it difficult to differentiate the two pathogens. When checking for viruses in symptomatic vines, however, Rayapati discovered that some of these vines tested negative for grapevine leafroll disease and developed a detection method for redleaf disease.

Identifying pathogens and finding solutions maintain the health, quality and productivity of Washington’s grape and wine industry, but it also comes with a considerable price tag. The alternative, however, is more costly in the long run.

If a disease spreads from illegally imported vines, not only can the grower be fined, but they may have to rip out the whole block of vines, said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, a group that has been instrumental in educating growers about the benefits of using clean plants and the disadvantages of risking it.

Sustaining awareness

The National Clean Plant Network has been federally funded since 2009, which is one reason the Clean Plant Center foundation block advisory group is a tri-state effort, according to Mike Means, group chair and vineyard manager at Chateau Ste. Michelle, the largest wine producer in Washington. Including Oregon and Idaho in Washington’s clean plant efforts supports the health of the region and encourages those states to add to the federal funding that sustains the program.

In 2011, the Washington Wine Industry Foundation surveyed the grower community to measure their awareness of clean plants and understanding of disease. Results showed the need to educate the growers. Since then, WSU and various grape-growing and wine industry associations have made a concerted effort to share information through workshops, publications in both English and Spanish, and clean plant field trips that include tastings comparing grapes from healthy and diseased vines.

Order clean vines early for best selection

Growers should plan to order clean vines more than one year in advance whether they are purchasing from the Clean Plant Center or a certified nursery. The center gives priority to orders placed before December 15 from customers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, but increasingly Ballard receives requests from outside the Northwest.

Demand has grown to the point where one of Ballard’s last projects is creating a tissue-culture-generated plantlet, or young plant, of patented table grape vines from the University of Arkansas. Plantlet material is typically created in-house to clean up a plant and establish material for the Clean Plant Center foundation vineyard. However, this material will be sold to a vineyard in South Africa and needs to remain in plantlet form to meet that country’s quarantine requirements.

Whether it’s propagating clean planting material for growers in the Northwest or somewhere else in the world, Ballard has enjoyed providing a service to the industry as a whole.

“WSU has given me the opportunity to do that with assistance and guidance where needed,” he recalled. “Along with the successful raising of my kids and a full-term marriage, those three things are what I consider the major accomplishments in my life.”

- Erika Holmes

MSU to host March 28 conference on equine nutrition and health

Montana State University Extension News - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 1:00am
<p>Montana State University’s <a href="http://ag.montana.edu/">College of Agriculture</a> and <a href="http://extn.msu.montana.edu/">MSU Extension</a> will host a public conference on equine nutrition and health. The...

Winery owner offers online info session

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 3:45pm
Preview “Food from the Heart with Merry Cellars Winery,” an online presentation offered March 3 at 6 p.m. through WSU’s Digital Academy.

Learn about wine tasting, wine etiquette and how to pair food and wine in a free online presentation by Patrick Merry, owner of Merry Cellars Winery. Merry will also provide an inside look at the process of wine production.

Merry launched Merry Cellars Winery in 2004 with an inaugural vintage of 400 cases, and now produces 5,000 cases annually.

This presentation is 6 p.m. March 3. It is offered through WSU’s Digital Academy, part of the Global Connections program that brings extracurricular events to WSU Global Campus students. The session lasts about 45 minutes, and includes time for attendees to ask questions. All participants present in the chat area will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Merry Cellars gift certificate.

Please register here.

Find us on Facebook to win “The Crimson Spoon”

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 3:12pm
“The Crimson Spoon: Plating Regional Cuisine on the Palouse” by WSU Executive Chef Jamie Callison. “Like” the Washington State University Viticulture & Enology Program on Facebook for program and wine industry updates!

Everyone who likes our post about “The Crimson Spoon: Plating Regional Cuisine on the Palouse” between February 18 and March 17, 2015, will be entered to win a copy. This 200-page, photo-illustrated, hardback cookbook features WSU Executive Chef Jamie Callison’s gourmet dishes and recipes.

The winner of the cookbook will be announced on March 18 in the “Voice of the Vine” and on the WSU Viticulture & Enology Program Facebook page.

Get your “like” on, and good luck!

Wine Science Center nearly complete

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 2:32pm

Members of the viticulture and enology program at Washington State University are packing to move into their new digs on the Tri-Cities campus this spring.

Construction of the $23-million Wine Science Center has reached substantial completion, and Lydig Construction is working through the “punch list” to finish the 39,300-square-foot, LEED Silver-certified research and teaching facility.

The construction has progressed to the point that the Richland City Council voted this month to disband the development authority whose board members oversaw Wine Science Center construction and managed the finances. That development authority has successfully completed its mission and is turning over $98,000 of unused funds to the WSU Foundation.

That money will go into the Wine Science Center construction fund, which will pay for remaining unfinished rooms as well as equipment purchases. Rooms yet to be finished are a teaching laboratory and three plant growth chambers.

The growth chambers will provide important research capacity, allowing scientists to study grapevines under a wide range of temperatures and light and irrigation levels. This research will provide the Washington wine industry with better management tools for their vineyards, to support premium grape production, preserve resources, and prepare for climate change.

A grand opening for the Wine Science Center is planned for early June, but program director Thomas Henick-Kling recently toured the facility with Tri-Cities’ KEPR Action News. For a sneak peek at the facility, check out reporter Davis Wahlman’s video report “WSU’s Wine Science Center is state of the art.”

 

- Erika Holmes

Can mushrooms save the honey bee?

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 10:47am
Mycologist Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti. Photo by Sylvia Kantor, WSU. WSU entomologist Steve Sheppard. Courtesy WSU Media Services.

Paul Stamets has had a life-long love affair with mushrooms, one that goes well beyond their culinary and psychedelic qualities. Wearing his signature hat — made from mushrooms — a turtle pendant and, always, a blue scarf, the nearly 60 year-old mycologist runs Fungi Perfecti, a family-owned farm and business in Shelton, Washington.

Early last year, Stamets asked Washington State University entomologist Steve Sheppard to help confirm his hunches about bees and fungi. The two have since joined forces to explore the connections that, as far as they know, no one has ever made before. This unlikely pairing of entomology and mycology could lead to less toxic and more effective ways to control the diseases and pests that are implicated in winter hive losses and colony collapse disorder. Read the full story at Crosscut.com.

Sensory science helps Cougar Gold find perfect wine partners

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 10:27am

 

Riesling makes a good compliment for Cougar Gold cheddar, says Carolyn Ross, an associate professor and sensory scientist with the WSU/UI School of Food Science. Photo by Scott Weybright

I just bought a can of Cougar Gold cheese, and want to share it with my sweetheart on St. Valentine’s Day. All I need is the right wine to match.

I asked Carolyn Ross, associate professor with the Washington State University/University of Idaho School of Food Science, for choices on the best wines to pair with the university’s famous cheddar. In the process, I learned a little about the sensory science behind wine and cheese’s age-old romance.

Ross’s specialty is sensory evaluation and analytical chemistry.

“I look at how people perceive foods and wines,” she said. “Then I do analytical and chemistry work on flavors, aromas, tastes and textures, and bring that data together.”

Wine enhances flavors in many foods, said Ross, with cheese probably the most well-known partner. During a meal, its acid or astringent taste can balance fats and proteins. Yet, in food as in love, some pairings don’t always work out.

“When you look at sensory evaluation, some compounds suppress one another, others enhance one another,” said Ross. When it comes to pairings, she looks for wine and cheese co-existing in harmony—as opposed to one dominating another.

Ross points to studies by university and industry researchers that use a “Just Right” scale to rate wine and cheese matches. That scale ranges from extreme to moderate or slight dominance by cheese or wine, with an “ideal match” in the center.

“This is the true middle point, if that’s how you’re defining success,” Ross said. “Neither of them dominates.”

To match Cougar Gold’s salty, mild cheddary flavor, she recommends a white wine variety, Viognier. A grape native to France but now grown in Washington state, Viognier has exotic-fruit and floral qualities. Riesling, a somewhat sweeter white wine with pear, citrus, tropical fruit or mineral notes, is another good match.

For a red wine, Ross recommends a Pinot Noir. Less tannic, or astringent, than a Cabernet or Merlot, it matches Cougar Gold’s mildness nicely.

“Cougar Gold is not incredibly strong—it’s more mild and nutty,” Ross says. “It’s got a creaminess, too.”

Wines can also have a creamy quality. Such varieties, like Chardonnay, might end up competing with the cheese, as opposed to harmonizing, says Ross.

“You want to get the most out of both,” says Ross.

So, choose a pairing that lets wine and cheese enhance each other. For you, their flavors will live happily ever after.

• Select your own pairs: many websites can be found on wine and cheese pairings. Ross also recommends the book “Perfect Pairings” by Evan Goldstein.

 

—Seth Truscott, CAHNRS Public Relations/Communications Coordinator

struscott@wsu.edu

 

 

 

Pesticide trainings set for February, March across Montana

Montana State University Extension News - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 1:00am
<p>BOZEMAN – Pesticide training for homeowners, the general public and people wanting to earn their private applicator license will be...

UI Project Explores Best Strategy to Help Farmers Access Local Food Markets

University of Idaho Extension News - Thu, 02/12/2015 - 3:13pm
MOSCOW, Idaho – Feb. 12, 2015 – A University of Idaho research project seeks strategies to help small- to medium-sized farms supply foods to local markets. One of the first efforts of the USDA-funded project will be a survey of restaurant and grocery stores to better understand how consumers’ desire for local foods translates to dollars and cents for farmers and those who buy the...