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Wheat & Small Grains Blythe Howell

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Falling Numbers

Falling numbers have been a major issue throughout Eastern Washington this past harvest season. Several recent Timely Topics have directed readers to information on falling numbers. Now a new resource has been added to the list of existing information on the topic. Frequently asked questions – Low Falling Number and Wheat (PDF) provides answers to the most frequently… » More ...

Wheat’s Contribution to the Washington Economy

The Washington wheat cluster is composed of wheat producers, wheat transportation storage and handling, and wheat processing. Roughly 2.3 million acres of land are put into wheat production annually in Washington. Over the last 15 years, wheat production has averaged about 60 bushels per acre, but there can be significant year-to-year variation. The combination of yield and price volatility results in significant change in the value of Washington wheat production from year to year. In 2014 both wheat yields and prices were down significantly from their 15-year highs. This led to total 2014 production value being at its lowest level in 5 years, coming in at $714.9 million. This is equal to the 15-year average value, but the average is weighed down by much lower values early in the period. Despite the 2014 outcome, wheat continues to be one of the top agricultural products produced in Washington.

Wheat processing in the state has declined, but the degree of decline is difficult to assess. Due to a limited number of firms and the associated data privacy issues that come with that, most Washington processing data is not disclosed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 7 flour mills exist in Washington, but only two of those are known to be large commercial facilities. The remaining 5 appear to be smaller operations focusing on local or organic flours.

Total wheat cluster contributions to Washington’s gross state product (GSP) came in at just under $550 million dollars. Wheat production accounted for $461.4 million of the total; transportation, storage, and handling accounted for another $50.4 million; and wheat processing generated an additional $37.5 million. The cluster supports nearly 8,200 jobs in the state with wheat production; wheat transportation, storage, and handling; and wheat processing each accounting for 6,941, 778, and 448 respectively.

A significant portion of the total cluster contributions accrued in non-cluster industries. The value added in Washington’s service sector, other agricultural activities, and wholesale and retail trade were $195.6 million, $119.1 million, and $57.1 million respectively. Of total wheat cluster contributions, 75% were generated in industries not directly involved in wheat production or processing, along with 71% of the employer contributions. As such, Washington’s wheat sector is a fundamental contributor to Washington’s overall economic vitality.

View the Economic Contributions of the Wheat Cluster to the Washington Economy in PDF format. 


For questions, contact Randy Fortenbery at r.fortenbery@wsu.edu or Timothy Nadreau at timothy.nadreau@wsu.edu.

Herbicide Resistance Has Been Around for 60 years

Diversity of Russian Thistle

Glyphosate–resistant Russian-thistle was identified in Washington in 2015. Other weeds resistant to glyphosate have been identified in the state in recent years, including prickly lettuce, horseweed, kochia, and Italian ryegrass. Many people think that herbicide resistance is a recent phenomenon associated with the overuse of glyphosate-resistant crops, but as a recent article released by the Weed Science Society of America states, herbicide-resistant weeds predate glyphosate-resistant crops by 40 years.

The use of glyphosate-resistant crops (there are no glyphosate-resistant wheat varieties) is very limited in the dryland crop production systems of Eastern Washington and yet herbicide-resistant weeds are a growing concern for many Washington wheat farmers. Resistant weeds can evolve whenever a single approach to weed management is used repeatedly, whether that approach is chemical, mechanical, or cultural. A diverse, integrated approach to weed management is the first line of defense against herbicide-resistant weeds.

Washington wheat growers who suspect that they may have developed a weed that is resistant to an herbicide may want to submit a sample to the WSU Resistance Testing Program.


For questions contact Drew Lyon (drew.lyon@wsu.edu or 509-335-2961) or Ian Burke (icburke@wsu.edu or 509-335-2858), who are Weed Scientists at Washington State University in Pullman.

Jasper, WSU’s 100th Released Variety

In 2015, WSU released a new soft white winter wheat cultivar named Jasper, which was the 100th cultivar released from the University.  Unfortunately, in the 2016 WSU Variety Testing trial, Jasper was not included due to a seed error in transferring the seed from the breeding program to the variety testing program.

Table 1. Agronomic characteristics of Jasper compared to check cultivars in WSU Wheat Breeding trials
BU/A HD PH
Jasper 89.5 149 34
Xerpha 80 151 34
Eltan 75 152 35
Bruehl 79 153 36
Puma 82.5 149 36
Otto 85 153 36

As a result, many growers have asked for yield information on this line from the test plots in the breeding program, where the correct seed was planted.  Tables are provided to help summarize the performance of Jasper as compared to other cultivars released from the breeding program.  These lines are also included as check cultivars in my yield trials, and thus provide easy yield comparison.

Table 1 provides information on heading date (HD; days after January 1st to heading) and plant height (PH; measured in inches).  The yield data encompasses all paired location data we have on Jasper across 74 locations and seven years.  Yield of Jasper is significantly higher than all other cultivars when averaged over these locations.

Table 2 provides the data just in locations receiving less than 16” of annual rainfall.  Here there are 49 paired observations for yield comparison.  Jasper again demonstrated higher yield potential than check cultivars.  Data is also presented in Table 2 representing specific locations where we have multiple observations of Jasper across years.  Again, yield potential is higher than check cultivars with the exception of Lind.

 

Table 2. Grain yield potential of Jasper compared to check cultivars in WSU Breeding and Variety testing trials receiving less than 16” of annual rainfall

Davenport (4) Harrington (5) Lind (12) Ritzville (5) Breeding Trial Average (49) Variety Testing Average (34)
Jasper 103 75.8 50 69 73 71
Xerpha 99 73.2 53 64 67 72
Eltan 90 64.4 48 59 63 68
Bruehl 88 69.2 48 58 64.5 65
Puma 92 71 48 67 67 67
Otto 88 70.4 51.5 68 67.5 66

When data is averaged from the <16” WSU Variety Testing trials where Jasper was present (2013-2015, 34 observations), Jasper had a significantly higher yield potential than all checks except Xerpha, which showed no significant difference.  In 2016, Jasper was also on two large scale plantings.  In Ritzville, a large strip trial had Jasper averaging 77 bushels per acre (bu/a), the highest yield of all entries.  Xerpha yielded 61 bu/a, whereas Puma and Otto both yielded 74 bu/a.  At the Wilke Farm in Davenport, Aaron Esser had a field of Jasper and a field of an Otto/Masami blend.  Jasper averaged 99 bu/a, whereas the Otto/Masami blend averaged 91 bu/a.

Average grain yield in bushels per acre over all paired locations in WSU Winter Wheat Breeding Trials in areas with less than 15” annual rainfall.  Variety Testing data is also included, averaging yield data from 2013-2015 in less than 16” rainfall zones.  Individual locations are also presented along with the number of observations analyzed.

Photo courtesy of Paul Porter with Washington Genetics
Photo courtesy of Paul Porter at Washington Genetics
jasper-field-2
Photo courtesy of Aaron Esser
Photo courtesy of Mike Miller with Washington Genetics
Photo courtesy of Marci Miller at Washington Genetics

For questions, contact Arron Carter at ahcarter@wsu.edu or (509) 335-6198.

New Publication Addresses Managing the Risk of Low Falling Numbers

Figure-2-300x191Low Falling Numbers has been a big issue for eastern Washington wheat growers this season. Discounts for grain with falling numbers below 300 are causing serious financial losses for some growers. Falling numbers testing of the Washington State University Cereal Variety Trials are currently underway. Based on variety trial information, the low falling number problem is far more extensive this year than in 2013. In 2013, there were major problems with low falling numbers in seven of 20 variety trial locations.

Thus far in 2016, we are seeing low falling numbers problems in 11 or the 14 locations tested thus far. Of these 11 low falling number locations, four are showing falling numbers below 200 seconds. In order to help growers understand what the Hagberg-Perten Falling Number test is and how to manage the risk of low falling numbers for the future, Camille Steber, Research Molecular Geneticist with the USDA-ARS, authored Managing the Risk of Low Falling Numbers in Wheat, a new WSU Extension publication.


For questions or comments, contact Camille Steber at csteber@wsu.edu or 509-335-2887.

Resources for Understanding Low Falling Numbers

WAWG-WSU-WGC-banner

2016 Washington Wheat Industry Resources for Understanding the Low Falling Number Issue

The following resources were assembled to help growers and wheat industry members understand issues surrounding low falling number in wheat.

Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington Grain Commission

Washington State University and the USDA-ARS

Idaho Wheat Commission

View this page in PDF format.

Washington Association of Wheat Growers Falling Number Update

Falling Number Blues Low falling numbers, which have struck distinct regions of Eastern Washington periodically have shown up once again in the 2016 crop. This season’s outbreak is widespread, but on a random basis. Low falling numbers can be caused by two factors: rain at harvest and Late Maturity Alpha Amylase (LMA) activity. This year,… » More ...

Mormon Crickets are on the March in Douglas County!

A large mormon cricket on man's leg.

Despite their name and characteristic male chirping, Mormon crickets are not true crickets, but rather shield-backed katydids. These pests got their name by endangering the livelihood of Mormon pioneers in the mid-1800s. Pest outbreaks are common and typically occur when conditions are favorable for their development. Some outbreaks can last for up to 20 years. Mormon crickets are voracious feeders that attack a wide variety of field and forage crops, small grains, grapes and fruit trees.

Mormon cricketMormon crickets are large insects (1.5-2 inches) with variable coloration, from beautiful green or purple coloration of solitary individuals to dull black, brown and red coloration of swarming individuals. Females have a long ovipositor present at the end of the body that is used for laying eggs. Although adult insects do have ornamental wings, they are flightless. However, this doesn’t stop them from covering large distances during the swarming phase (up to 1.5 miles per day, 50 miles per season), eating everything in their path and having devastating effects on agricultural production.

Mormon crickets usually have one generation per year, with some exceptions at higher elevations where they require 2 years to complete the life cycle. Adults mate in early summer, after which females lay eggs in the ground. Each female can lay over 100 eggs. Eggs hatch the following spring (March-May) when soil temperatures reach 40 °F. Nymphs pass through seven instars (60-90 days) before reaching maturity and 10-14 days later mating occurs. Nymphs resemble adults in appearance but are smaller and lack wings. Adults feed throughout the growing season.

Although Mormon cricket outbreaks are common, populations tend to build up fairly slow and are easily predictable. Insect monitoring is necessary for a timely risk assessment and the development of effective control measures. More information on pest activity and risk areas can be found on the USDA APHIS official website (https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/grasshopper-mormon-cricket/ct_grasshopper_mormon_cricket).

For information on how to properly control these pests contact your local County Extension office. Dale Whaley is an extension specialist for Douglas County. He can be reached by email (dwhaley@wsu.edu) or by phone (509-754-8531).

Insect samples or pictures can be sent for proper identification to David Crowder, Associate Professor in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University (dcrowder@wsu.edu) and Ivan Milosavljević, Research Associate (ivan.milosavljevic@wsu.edu) in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University.

For more information on Mormon crickets use these useful links:

Washington State University