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Wheat & Small Grains Timely Topics

FAQ: WSU Wheat and Barley Research and Royalties

Washington State University breeds cereals for diverse climates in Washington, with a focus on locally important resistance traits and high standards while training the next generation of plant breeders. The cereal breeding industry is changing rapidly. Public breeding programs need adequate financial resources to remain viable. For the past four years, WSU wheat and barley… » More ...

New Publication Compares Wheat and Canola Management

The Washington State Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) Project team has added another fact sheet to their Oilseed Series with the recent publication of “Physiology Matters: Adjusting Wheat-based Management Strategies for Oilseed Production.” Canola acreage in Washington and the PNW is projected to increase significantly due to several factors such as low wheat prices, sufficient moisture for… » More ...

Slime Mold on Wheat

If you are seeing this in your wheat or straw stubble-don’t panic! These little yellow globs are slime molds. Slime molds are in the Myxomycota within the Kindgom Protozoa. These globs often get lumped together with fungi, but unlike fungi--which absorb their food--slime molds consume their food. The difference between slime molds and fungi is… » More ...

Winter Wheat Herbicide Efficacy Tables Helps Growers Narrow Herbicide Options

Weeds are the bane of many farm operations, and consequently, farmers spend more money on herbicides than any other production input other than fertilizer. However, it can be difficult to choose what herbicide or herbicides to use. There are many herbicides to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, there is a… » More ...

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.

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