Course Titles & Descriptions

Wheat Academy logo with WSU cougar.

Diversifying the Wheat Portfolio of the PNW. Dr. Craig Morris, Doug Engle, Dr. Alecia Kiszonas, and Stacey Sykes
The PNW currently grows five market classes: Soft White, Hard Red Spring, Hard Red Winter, Hard White, and Durum. There will be a brief discussion as to the how and why for these classes, and how the USDA and wheat breeders are working to diversify this portfolio, including “noodle” wheats, “waxy” wheat, and soft kernel durum. Are there other opportunities?

Managing Soil Acidification and Interactions of Soil pH with Wheat Diseases, Dr. Kurtis Schroeder and Doug Finkelnburg
Soils’ pH in the rainfed cropping systems of eastern Washington and northern Idaho has been on the decline since the widespread adoption of ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizers became widely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Low soil pH can influence many components of the cropping system including nutrient cycling, herbicide activity, plant disease and of course reduced plant vigor and yield. An overview with results from a regional survey of northern Idaho will be discussed along with mitigation strategies for soil acidity, with a focus on lime application strategies and variety selection. We will explore the influence of low soil pH on several important wheat diseases and provide a hands-on experience to identify soil acidity and develop strategies for management.

Drones in Ag., James Durphey
This presentation covers how we are using drones and the technology they deliver on a daily basis to manage personal time and evaluate the growing crop. Learn the basics of different types of drones and their utilization to help in the decision making process for your own operation. The presentation will explore how we at WSU in the Agricultural Technology and Management degree program, and in Hinrichs Trading Company (HTC), are using drones for current decisionmaking processes from education to practical in-field usage. We will cover the legal responsibilities of drone ownership and licensing with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Identifying and Managing Insect Pests on the Farm, Dale Whaley, and Dr. David Crowder
Insect pests can affect crops and have a serious impact on the economic output of a farm. However, not all insect pests are created equal and some cause more damage than others and some are not even “pests” at all! A cornerstone of successful pest management is regular scouting (monitoring) to identify and determine the extent of emerging pest threats. Why is monitoring for pest and beneficial insects so important? Because it is of utmost importance for farmers and pest managers to understand insect activity in their crops and fields before they can make cost-effective and environmentally sound pest management decisions. Being able to identify major pests quickly and correctly allows you more time to obtain and consider advice on the best control tactic should the pest reach treatable levels. One question is whether or not the damage potential is more costly than the control cost. The economic threshold plays an important role in management decisions and is defined as when there are enough pests present to warrant treating the crop.

How Tillage, No-till, and Surface Residue Influence Soil Water Storage, Dr. Stewart Wuest
A more accurate understanding of what causes water to run off or evaporate rather than be absorbed and stored in the root zone can help farmers choose soil management methods that maximize water for crop growth. This session will explain how modern management tools can be used to improve both short-term and long-term water storage to decrease plant stress and improve yields. These practical guidelines are backed up by two decades of field data from the dry and intermediate rainfall zones of the Pacific Northwest. Hands-on demonstrations will relate your own field experience to the soil-physical conditions that control water infiltration.

Greenhouse Tour & Wheat Crossing, Dr. Michael Pumphrey and staff
Participants will tour the Washington Grains Plant Growth Facility, recently expanded in 2015, with $15 million of funds from WSU, the USDA and the Washington Grain Commission. The tour will include approximately 17,000 square feet of growing area, herbicide application and seed storage rooms, specialized disease resistance and stress tolerance infrastructure, and work/lab support space. In addition to touring this state-of-the-art facility, participants will learn about the science and art of wheat breeding. Everyone will have an opportunity to learn successful hybridization techniques and try their hand at making a cross. This is the foundation of the wheat breeding programs, where all new varieties start.

Pulse Crop Production, Dr. Rebecca McGee, Dr. Weidong Chen, Dr. Lyndon Porter, and Dr. Stephen Van Vleet
Pulse crops have been grown in the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho for more than 100 years. They are a valuable rotational crop in these small grain-based cropping systems. Recently, there has been increased interest in growing chickpeas, lentils, and peas. During this hands-on course, we will discuss identifying and managing pulse crop diseases and insect pests, new approaches to breeding for resistance to abiotic stresses, the re-invention of pulse variety trials and new varieties, and marketing avenues. And, of course, you’ll hear about the new options for autumn-sown legumes.

Plant Problem Diagnosis, Rachel Bomberger
The first step to implementing a successful integrated pest management (IPM) program is the correct identification of the pest or problem. This course will focus on how to approach diagnosis to identify different groups such as pathogens and pests and abiotic causes of plant problems. Key points covered will be patterns associated with biotic and abiotic problems; the timing of different diseases and the associated symptoms; distinguishing characteristics of commonly confused diseases; and how to successfully utilize the diagnostic lab for confirmation. Participants will be able to work with physical samples. Information about utilizing the Western Regional Small Grains Genotyping Lab and the Herbicide Resistance Testing program will also be discussed.

Market Strategy Development, Dr. Randy Fortenbery
The Market Strategy Development module focuses on identifying and comparing specific marketing objectives and strategies under different market conditions. We will examine how to incorporate market outlook projections with current price activity to estimate price risks, and how those risks might translate into pricing opportunities going forward. The pros and cons of different marketing strategies under different risk scenarios will be examined, including evaluating whether storage or delayed pricing is likely to be attractive in any given year.

Nutrient Management in Wheat Cropping Systems Dr. Don Wysocki
High crop yields, crop residue removal, cover crops, increasing soil acidity and new technologies for nutrient testing and application are affecting how nutrients can be managed. Nutrient removal by harvested grain and the cycling in crop residues will be discussed. Soil nutrient pools and chemical and biological transformations of N, P, K, S, Zn, B, and Cu will be presented to better understand the functioning of the soil and the release of nutrients for crop use. There is increased interest in plant tissue analysis as a means of assessing nutrient status for standing crops, however, interpretation of tissue results can be complicated. The effect of crop growth stage and choice of specific plant parts on nutrient concentrations will be reviewed. Nutrient critical levels in crop tissue will be reviewed and the rationale for establishing currently used levels will be discussed.

Herbicide Decisions in Integrated Weed Management Systems, Dr. Ian Burke
Integrated weed management is critical for the long-term management of troublesome weeds in the inland Pacific Northwest. A critical element of integrated weed management is the knowledgeable selection of herbicides so that each weed species is targeted by multiple modes of herbicide action. New tools and databases are available to make such decisions a little easier. To take full advantage of the content of this session, please bring a record of herbicides used in your own cropping system, and we’ll teach you to evaluate your own system using the tools available.

Roots of the Next Green Revolution: Balancing Soil Fertility and Crop Root Growth, Dr. Karen Sanguinet, and Dr. Bill Pan
Historically, plant breeding has mainly focused on improving yield and end-use quality traits. However, managing rhizosphere interactions has been largely overlooked due to the inaccessibility of root systems and the difficulty in studying soil—root—nutrient interactions. The recent soil health movement has focused on soil physical, biological and chemical characteristics that influence root growth, function, and efficiency. Analysis of these soil characteristics is starting to make their way into commercial soil testing. We will discuss innovations in studying root systems in the field, will provide demonstrations and discuss some considerations and strategies for balancing root growth and nutrient management.

Download the 2018 Wheat Academy titles & course descriptions (pdf) pdf format.

Washington State University