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Wheat & Small Grains Timely Topics

2016 WSU Variety Testing Results

Harvest results from the 2016 WSU Cereal Variety Testing Program are rolling in! As soon as results are available, they’ll be posted on our website.  Check back periodically to make sure you find the results that you’re looking for.  After all the locations in a given precipitation zone have been harvested, results will be uploaded to the… » More ...

Organic Case Studies Publication

The latest bulletin published by the Small Grains Team is PNW683 – Organic Small Grain Production in the Pacific Northwest: A Collection of Case Studies. The publication includes 12 case studies of organic grain farms that encompass three precipitation zones of the rainfed Inland Northwest, plus farms using full- and supplemental irrigation.

The farmers interviewed for the case studies discussed their philosophy for organic farming, methods of transition to organic production, crop rotation, soil fertility, seedbed preparation, plus weed and pest management. They also discussed marketing methods and techniques that had worked well (or not) on their farms. In addition, they offered tidbits of advice for farmers considering organic production.

As the case studies are comprised of individual’s experiences and opinions, they do not constitute formal recommendations by WSU Extension. Each case study does include complementary and pertinent information on the National Organic Rules and Certification.

PNW683 is available, free of charge. Go to the Organic Production button on the left side of the page, then click on Case Studies. The online version of the document includes hyperlinks to other sections or websites. These links are lost in the printed version.


If you encounter any problems with these links or when downloading files, please contact Blythe Howell at blythe.howell@wsu.edu as this publication is unique in its size and complexity.

The case studies were authored by Louise Lorent, Associate in Research; Diana Roberts, PhD; and Ian Burke, PhD. Funds were provided by a grant from OREI (Organic Research and Extension Initiative) and a Hatch Project.

For questions regarding the case studies, contact Diana Roberts at robertsd@wsu.edu.

Soil Acidification Video Series

Awareness of soil acidification has been growing in the inland Pacific Northwest (iPNW). Farmers, Researchers, and Industry Professionals have been finding that this emerging regional issue has generated more questions than answers. Soil acidification can affect crops and nutrient availability, as well as pathogens and herbicide use. Growers faced with low pH soil can be challenged by the question of what to do about it.

WSU Extension has released a series of three short videos featuring growers and local researchers explaining the challenges, symptoms, causes, and implications for farm management that are associated with soil pH decline.


“Soil Acidity- What it looks like” this video focuses on the symptomology of crops being affected by low soil pH, and other factors that may confound identification of acidic soil.


“Soil Acidity- How it happens” this video focuses on why the Palouse region is experiencing a decline in soil pH, and how it is often seen distributed through the landscape and soil profile.


“Soil Acidity- managing it on the farm” this video discusses how low pH soil can affect management decisions on the farm, and ways of mitigating the impact of soil acidity on crops.


For questions contact Carol McFarland at carol.mcfarland@wsu.edu.

Continue Monitoring Spring Wheat and Barley for Stripe Rust

The most recent and likely last Stripe Rust Update of the season from Dr. Xianming Chen, USDA-ARS Pullman, came out last Friday, June 17. Although stripe rust development was slowed some by the warm temperatures in late May and early June, recent cool conditions have allowed for continued stripe rust development. Winter wheat crops across… » More ...

Ammonium Sulfate as a Water Conditioner to Improve Glyphosate Efficacy

Water is a universal solvent that serves as the primary carrier for pesticide applications. The quality of the water used as a carrier can have a large influence on the performance of herbicides such as glyphosate. Dissolved cations such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and manganese form complexes with glyphosate that reduce its efficacy.

Ammonium sulfate (AMS) conditions water by reacting with the dissolved cations to form insoluble sulfates that will not react with glyphosate. Spray grade AMS should be added to the spray tank and thoroughly mixed before adding glyphosate.

Here is a handy calculator that uses data from a standard water quality test to determine the amount of AMS to add to your spray tank, in pounds of AMS per 100 gallons of water. The calculator uses an equation developed at North Dakota State University (Nalewaja and Matysiak, 1993) to determine the required amount of AMS needed to neutralize the effects of cations in the water on glyphosate activity. Adding more AMS than called for to neutralize the effects of cations may improve glyphosate activity by providing extra N that helps weak acid herbicides like glyphosate pass through cell membranes. The addition of 8.5 to 17 pounds of AMS per 100 gallons of water is generally recommended to improve glyphosate activity. Liquid forms of AMS are equally effective if used at equivalent rates.

Give the calculator a try and see what you think.


Questions may be directed to Wayne Thompson wayne.thompson@wsu.edu (509-524-2691) or to Drew Lyon drew.lyon@wsu.edu (509-335-2961).

It’s Seed Buying Time!

Spring is in the air in some areas of the Pacific Northwest with others still under snow. Planting season is almost here, bringing with it the latest seed buying resources.

The Washington State Crop Improvement Association’s (WSCIA) 2016 Certified Seed Buying Guide is available both online and from local seed dealers. Produced with help from the WSU Crop and Soil Sciences Department, it covers variety performance for legumes, wheat, and barley, and planting rate based on seeds per square foot. The guide also has a certified seed source list.

The WSU Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) website has several updated resources:

  • Spring oilseed supply list from Pacific Northwest seed dealers and retail outlets — Canola, mustard, camelina, sunflower, safflower, and flax are all available. The crucifer seed quarantine now applies to eastern Washington counties. All seed must be tested for blackleg, and be certified blackleg-free. Every bag should have a Washington State Department of Agriculture-issued tag. This includes cover crop mixtures containing cruciferous crops such as canola, radish, and others.
  • USDA-ARS/WSU 2015 winter canola variety trial results from Okanogan and Pomeroy
  • University of Idaho 2015 spring canola variety trial report from four locations in Idaho and three locations in Washington
  • A Whole-Farm Revenue Protection presentation that was given at the WSU Oilseed Workshops. March 15 is the whole-farm revenue protection and insurance coverage deadline for spring crops.

For more information about the WSCIA seed buying guide or the cereal variety testing program, contact Ryan Higginbotham (rhigginbotham@wsu.edu or 509-335-1205). Karen Sowers (ksowers@wsu.edu or 509-396-5936.) can answer questions about oilseed suppliers and the WOCS program.

Spring wheat, barley, peas, canola, and winter wheat in a research field. Photo by Stephen Guy.
Spring wheat, barley, peas, canola, and winter wheat in a research field. Photo by Stephen Guy.
Washington State Department of Agriculture Tag
Washington State Department of Agriculture Tag

New Publication Has Washington Agribusiness Focus

Washington Agribusiness Status and Outlook cover photo_Page_01 Washington Agribusiness: Status and Outlook 2016 is the inaugural issue of a new annual publication. Produced by WSU economic sciences faculty, it examines the opportunities and challenges facing Washington agriculture. Each issue will come out in January and will provide an update on Washington’s major sectors, including wheat and barley, specialty crops, tree fruit, beef, and dairy, as well as feature articles on specific issues unique each year.

A major focus this year is on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently awaiting action by the U.S. Congress. In his article, “Status of Washington Agricultural International Exports,” writer Andrew Cassey highlights the importance of trade to Washington agriculture and discusses potential impacts of the trade agreement. Writer Randy Fortenbery gives the small grains economic forecast in his piece “Situation and Outlook for Small Grains.” In addition, there are two interesting articles that review the results of recently completed research projects that focus on the beef and hard cider sectors in Washington.

Executive editor Randy Fortenbery, who is also a professor in the School of Economic Sciences, intends Washington Agribusiness: Status and Outlook 2016 to provide a concise summary of the issues facing Washington agribusiness. Timothy Nadreau, managing editor, welcomes suggestions for future content. He can be reached at timothy.nadreau@wsu.edu.

Get a Refund for Your Organic Certification Fees Through Cost Share

The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program offers funds to organic producers and handlers to assist them with costs of certification.

Who Qualifies?

If you:

  • are an organic farmer, processor or retailer,
  • received/updated your organic certification from October 1, 2013- September 30, 2014,
  • have an organic operation with a scope in crops, wild crops or livestock,

you may be eligible for a refund of up to 75% of your certification costs, with a maximum of $750 per scope of operation.

What fees can be reimbursed?

For WSDA Organic Program clients, fees eligible for a refund include: Annual Fees, Application Fees, Site Fees, Certification Fees, Inspection Fees and Expedite Fees as designated under chapter 16-157 WAC.

How to Apply?

  • If you are certified Organic through the WSDA Organic Program: complete, sign, and submit the Statewide Payee Registration form. The form can be found here: http://agr.wa.gov/foodanimal/organic/
  • If you are certified Organic through another USDA accredited certifier and your business is located in Washington State: complete, sign, and submit the Statewide Payee Registration form, along with a proof of organic certification and an itemized paid receipt of fees paid for certification

Submit your application directly to WSDA before December 1, 2014

  • By e-mail at organic@agr.wa.gov
  • By fax to: Attention: Organic Program, 360-902-2087
  • By mail to: Washington State Dept of Agriculture, Attention: Organic Program, PO Box 42560, Olympia WA 98504-2560

Find more information about the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

Does Organic Production Result in Lower Protein Content?

Environmental conditions impact grain quality parameters. For example, soil available nitrogen can affect protein content. Do organic management practices result in lower protein content? If that’s the case, is the end product quality at risk? Researchers from Washington State University and Montana State University compared quality of organic versus conventional wheat. Their findings on protein content are presented in this post.

In Montana, scientists looked at hard red spring wheat. Protein content of hard red wheat tended to be lower in organic than in conventional systems, but that was a consequence of fertility regime: if the organic crop was preceded by winter pea instead of spring pea, the gain of soil nitrogen was enough to bridge the protein % gap with conventionally grown wheat. Researchers also looked at bread loaf volume, which is directly related to protein content. Again, it tended to be lower (a sign of low protein content) for organically grown wheat, but bread loaf volume from high-fertility organic systems was as high as bread loaf volume from conventional systems.

In Washington, researchers compared soft white winter wheat produced under conventional and organic systems. Protein content was lower for wheat grown in low-fertility organic systems. It was equivalent for conventionally grown wheat and wheat grown under a high-fertility organic regime. Low protein content is desirable in soft wheat, as it results in higher sponge cake volume (a typical end-product of soft white wheat flour). For soft white wheat, low-fertility organic practices had the advantage: they resulted in a low protein wheat which produced a high volume sponge cake.

To bank on highest quality for all class of wheat, sound organic practices should supply as much nitrogen as possible for a  hard red wheat crop, and less so for a soft white wheat year. Use your rotation to achieve this tough challenge: if using cover crop to supply nitrogen to your organic system, follow the cover crop with hard red wheat to capture a maximum of the protein and the premium. Have a soft white following the hard red to take advantage of the diminished nitrogen supply.

To learn more about grain quality under organic management, consult these posters: Pat Fuerst Tilth poster 2011 and Wheat Quality in Organic, No-till and Conventional Cropping Systems

You can also consult the Soil Management page for more information on cover crops and soil nitrogen in organic systems.

Washington State University