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Wheat & Small Grains Timely Topics

New Publication Addresses Acidic Soils and How They Interact with Root Diseases

As soil acidification continues to be a concern for growers in the Pacific Northwest, WSU researchers are working to provide information and recommendations for how to mitigate adverse effects. Root diseases are one of many factors influenced by acid soils, depending on the soilborne pathogen. The new publication, Acid Soils: How Do They Interact with Root Diseases?, explains how soil pH affects root diseases and also offers examples of common ones in the Pacific Northwest.

Cereal growers in the Pacific Northwest have been experiencing an increase in soil acidity (lower pH) primarily due to a long history of ammonium fertilizer use.

In eastern Washington and northern Idaho, soil acidification tends to be worse in areas that are annually cropped, do not include nitrogen-fixing legumes in the crop rotation, and in areas that were historically forested. Forested soils tend to have a lower pH buffering capacity, making them more prone to shifts in soil pH. These same areas also typically include more forage and seed grass production and seldom include legumes in rotation, meaning that there is more intensive nitrogen application to the soil.

In addition, direct seeding can result in a stratification of soil pH in which the top few inches of soil are more acidic. This is because acidification caused by fertilizer application in the top soil layers is not diluted by mixing with the more alkaline soil below the fertilizer zone. However, the contribution of this stratification on management of soil acidity in direct-seed systems has not been evaluated.


For questions or comments, contact Tim Paulitz at USDA-ARS Wheat Health, Genetics and Quality Research Unit (paulitz@wsu.edu or timothy.paulitz@ars.usda.gov) or Kurtis Schroeder, Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences at the University of Idaho (kscroeder@uidaho.edu).

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.

Washington State University