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.
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.
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.
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.
|Davenport (4)||Harrington (5)||Lind (12)||Ritzville (5)||Breeding Trial Average (49)||Variety Testing Average (34)|
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.
For questions, contact Arron Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 335-6198.
Low 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 email@example.com or 509-335-2887.
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
- August 2016 Washington Association of Wheat Growers Green Sheet Falling Number Update.
- August/September 2013 Wheat Life Article titled “Preventing Those Falling Number Blues” by Camille Steber, Arron Carter and Mike Pumphrey.
- July 2014 Wheat Life Article titled “Falling Numbers: Research Strategies to Stay Out of the Red” by Camille Steber, Arron Carter and Mike Pumphrey.
- 2013, “The Falling Numbers Test”, Washington Grain Inspection Lab, Spokane. Video courtesy of the Washington Associate of Wheat Growers and Washington Grain Commission.
Washington State University and the USDA-ARS
- The WSU Small Grains web site, July 11, 2016 Timely Topic “Recent Weather Could Affect Wheat Quality”.
- Camille Steber’s (USDA-ARS Scientist) Low Falling Numbers web site describing the Washington Grain Commission-funded project on falling numbers and wheat variety screening.
Idaho Wheat Commission
- YouTube video in the USDA-ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory with Art Bettge “What is the Falling Number Test?” Video courtesy of the Idaho Wheat Commission.
- YouTube Video from the Idaho Wheat Commission “Reducing Discounts for Low Falling Numbers”.
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