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Washington’s Green Industry

At more than $326 million in 2005, the nursery and greenhouse industry is Washington’s eighth most valuable commodity in terms of production, according the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. But the economic impact of an industry is typically much greater than direct production. In the nursery and greenhouse industry, value is added in both sales and jobs by factoring in, for example, sales of lawn and garden equipment and the employment of workers in the landscape services and architecture sectors.

WSU Greenhouse Manager Chuck Cody and Student Examine PlantA study by Washington State University economist David Holland and doctoral student Sanjoy Bhattacharjee demonstrates that the economic impact of the “green industry” was an estimated $2.48 billion in sales (in 2002 dollars) and employed more than 43,000 people. Holland and Bhattacharjee consider this estimate conservative because it includes only those goods and services generated within the state. (The complete report is available on the WSU School of Economic Sciences’ Web site.)

“It’s a huge, diverse industry,” said Rita Hummel, WSU Puyallup associate professor of horticulture. “It’s like a spider web, and there are many strands in the web.”

WSU researchers and extension agents support that web in many ways.

Biological Chemistry Professor Rod Croteau in Greenhouse with Students
Biological Chemistry Professor Rod Croteau in Greenhouse with Students

One of the primary ways WSU helps the green industry thrive and grow is through education. Students study the science needed to understand both how plants grow and how plants and the environment interact; the technology to be able to produce a quality product, and business in order to be able to manage and market a successful green industry business. WSU is educating the next generation of green-industry leaders through degree programs in horticulture and crop and soil science, as well as through student-run organizations.

“The Horticulture Club teaches students to produce commercial-quality plants,” said James Holden, the club’s faculty advisor and greenhouse manager.

Master Gardeners is “a public service program that provides university training to volunteers for the purpose of enabling them to serve their communities through horticulture, gardening and pest management,” according to the WSU Master Gardener’s Web site.

Pesticide recertification programs insure that people handling pesticides have the most current safety information.

And then there’s disease research in the bulb and Christmas trees industries, where WSU’s Gary Chastagner and others are working to reduce grower input costs by minimizing the number of treatment applications required for control and to come up with effective and environmentally sound alternatives to pesticide use.

In particular, Chastagner and his colleagues are investigating Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a fungus-like pathogen identified in 2000 after killing thousands of trees in California and causing leaf blight on rhododendrons in Europe. SOD attacks many types of plants and trees common to the Pacific Northwest, including azaleas, big leaf maples, huckleberry, California bay laurel, camellia, myrtles, honeysuckle, Pacific madrone, Douglas fir, rhododendrons, and vibernum. The potentially devastating effects for Washington nursery and forestry industries promoted state officials recently to fund a $250,000 biocontainment facility at WSU Puyallup. The new isolation facility enables researchers to focus on the susceptibility of Washington plants to SOD and on disease controls specific to the state’s environment.

WSU undergraduate environmental horticulture majors
WSU undergraduate environmental horticulture majors in greenhouse

Once called ornamental horticulture, because it studied plants that were easy on the eyes, the study of how “ornamental” plants can sustain and improve human health and quality of life is now known as environmental horticulture.

Environmental plants are used to conserve energy, to improve the quality of the air, water, and soil, to form visual barriers, and more. New advances in biotechnology are increasing the variety and utility of environmental plants. Especially in Washington’s urban areas where open space is at a premium, low-stature trees with stress and pest resistance are needed to keep cities livable. One of the missions of WSU’s Environmental Horticulture Group is to develop new varieties that meet these and other demands.

WSU Extension Educator Tim Smith’s research on using recycled materials for planting containers is supporting the sustainability of the green industry. Recycled containers act as compost for the plant and help reduce the overall carbon footprint of the industry.

Professor Norm Lewis in greenhouse with graduate students
Professor Norm Lewis in greenhouse with graduate students

WSU Extension’s Kay Oakley and Craig MacConnell are investigating alternatives to the industry’s use of peat moss as a bedding material. “Peat moss is mined from ecologically sensitive wetland bogs,” they said. Peat bogs are an important carbon sink and mining them reduces the planet’s capacity to deal with greenhouse gasses. The industry has long relied on peat moss because it consistently holds water and air well. But their research is uncovering alternatives in the waste from dairy farms using a process called anerobic digestion.

Anerobic digestion (AD) turns dairy waste (colloquially known as cow poop) in methane, which can be fed into the energy grid and thus reduce dependence on petroleum. But AD also results in two additional and economically beneficial byproducts: a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer and a fiber that has many of the properties of peat moss.

Home to one of the most productive plant-science faculties in the U.S., these are just a few of the many ways that scientists and educators in WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences and WSU Extension are benefiting a thriving industry.


The Washington Winegrowers annual convention and trade show held in Richland, Wash. Feb. 6-8, included learning and networking opportunities for wine industry members and addressed relevant topics in viticulture, enology, tasting room and business operations. Nearly 2,000 state, national, and international participants from the grape and wine industry attended the three-day event which featured contributions from WSU V&E faculty, staff, researchers and students:

2018 Winegrowers Education Committee

Tom Collins, Assistant Professor of Enology

Charles Gould Edwards, Associate Professor of Food Science

Jim Harbertson, Associate Professor of Enology

Thomas Henick-Kling, Director, WSU Viticulture & Enology Program, Professor of Enology

Gwen Hoheisel, Extension Regional Specialist

Catherine Jones, Clean Plant Center Northwest, WSU

Markus Keller, Associate Professor of Viticulture

Mysti Meyers, Academic Advisor for Viticulture & Enology, WSU Tri-Cities

Michelle Moyer, Associate Professor of Viticulture, Statewide Viticulture Extension Specialist

Naidu Rayapati, Associate Professor of Virology

2018 Program Speakers

Michelle Moyer
Get the Dirt on Nematodes Session Manager

Katherine East, Graduate Research Assistant
“Updates on Grapevine Nematology Research in Washington”

Scott Harper, Director, Director, Clean Plant Center Northwest, WSU
“Plant Source (Original & Grafted) and Air Quality”

Naidu Rayapati
“Grafting Case Studies”

Jim Harbertson
“Impact of Irrigation Practices on Wine”

Kaury Balcom, WSU V&E Communications & Public Relations Coordinator
“World-Class Research in Your Own Backyard: The Wine Science Center”

Tom Collins
“High pH Effects on SO2 and Sanitation”

Thomas Henick-Kling
“Microbial Ecology Changes with pH”

Tom Collins
“Smoke Taint”

Kirk Schulz, President, WSU
“WSU and Washington Wine: A Partnership Designed to Thrive”

Jenni Sandstrom, Assistant Professor of Hospitality Business Management
“Identifying and Accurately Communicating Hiring Needs”

Scott Harper
“Plant Source (Original & Grafted) & Quality”

Naidu Rayapati
“Grafting Case Studies”

Markus Keller
“Growing Grapes for White Wine Production: Do’s and Don’ts in the Vineyard”

Tom Collins
Labratory Design for Small Wineries Session Manager

2018 Poster Awards

The 2018 Washington Winegrowers’ Association poster session highlighted the latest industry research, providing a platform for students, educators, and researchers to present cutting-edge information and discuss their research with grape and wine industry stakeholders. Posters were judged by industry members and prizes awarded in three categories: Graduate, Undergraduate and Professional.

Undergraduate Student

1st Place: Corydon Funk, WSU
“Impact of Tobacco Ringspot Virus on Vine Growth and Grape Quality”

2nd Place: Mitchell Williamson, WSU
“Impact of pH on the Wine Microbial Population”

Tie for 3rd Place:

Gillian Hawkins, WSU
“Cabernet Sauvignon Berry Quality in Vines Watered Through Direct Root Zone Irrigation”

Carlos Zúñiga-Espinoza, WSU
“Proximal and Remote Sensing Methods to Evaluate Vine Water Status in Subsurface and Deficit Irrigated Cabernet Sauvignon Grapevine”


Graduate Student

1st Place: Margaret McCoy, Washington State University
“Accessing and Optimizing Sprayer Technologies in Commercial Eastern Washington State Winegrape Vineyard”

2nd Place: Katherine East, Washington State University
“Developmental Dynamics of the Northern Root-Knot Nematode Meloidogyne Hapla in Washington State Vineyards”



1st Place: Naidu Rayapati, Washington State University
“The Mantra of ‘Start Clean, Stay Clean’ for Healthy Vineyards”

2nd Place: Sridhar Jarugula, Washington State University
“Impact of Two Distinct Virus Diseases in Washington State Vineyards”

3rd Place: Michelle Moyer, Washington State University
“Field Performance of Nematode-Resistant Winegrape Rootstocks in Washington”


Graduate Student Presentation

1st Place: Zachary Cartwright, Washington State University
“Quantification of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis in Oak Barrel Staves and Removal Strategies Using Heat”

Browse to research genes behind healthier vegetable oil

Headshot of John Browse
John Browse

John Browse, Regents’ Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Plant Sciences at Washington State University, will investigate new ways to breed canola for healthier vegetable oils as part of a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Saturated and trans-fats in vegetable oils are a major concern for the nation’s $7.5 billion vegetable oil industry, costing farmers more than $1 billion annually in lost market share.

Research by Browse, who is part of the WSU Institute of Biological Chemistry, will help increase health benefits of oils, and help farmers by providing oils that are preferred by the consumer.

His discoveries into genes that create more “good fats” in oil crops could effectively eliminate the production of trans-fats.

Lange helps broaden involvement as Phytochemical Society president

Head shot of Mark Lange
Mark Lange

Mark Lange, professor with the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University, is advancing his research field as the current president of the Phytochemical Society of North America.

Lange, who began his year-long term in 2017, is working as president for broader participation of members in their society, which promotes research on the chemistry and biochemistry of plants.

“I am honored to lead and help broaden the impacts of the Society,” he said. “Service and involvement with this extraordinary group of international researchers helps me and my WSU colleagues become better at what we do, and also gives a great sense of satisfaction and collaboration.”

Lange seeks to improve visibility of the society among the broader scientific community, and to increase involvement by colleagues in Canada and Mexico. This year, for the first time in more than 15 years, the society’s annual meeting will be held in Mexico and includes several invited speakers from Canada and Mexico.

As society president-elect, Lange has worked to help the society become an active member of the National Plant Systems Initiative (NPSI), which is aimed at addressing urgent scientific priorities of plant science research in climate change, agricultural sustainability and food security.

He started the formation of a “President’s Club” of former presidents, and invited scientists at all stages of their careers to become part of the society’s advisory committee. Lange is also part of an effort to improve the society’s website, once again with the goal to make the society more broad-based, welcoming and impactful.

Learn more about the Phytochemical Society of North America at

Record attendance, great feedback at 2018 WSU oilseed workshops

Denise Race (Croplan by Winfield) visits about canola variety choices with Andy Juris, Bickleton farmer
Denise Race (Croplan by Winfield) visits about canola variety choices with Andy Juris, Bickleton farmer

“This is a great program and great day of learning, the diversity and knowledge base of the presenters is A+.”

“Great workshop, well worth my time. I learned several things I didn’t expect to.”

These are just a few of the many positive responses from attendees about the recent WSU Oilseed Workshops.

For the third year in a row, attendance records were at an all-time high at the annual WSU-based Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) project events.

The full-day workshops were held in Hartline, Richland, and Colfax, Wash., with 317 individual attendees, 170 of whom were attending for the first time.

“I thought it was great seeing so many growers at all the workshops, and so many of them were new faces,” said Scot Hulbert, research lead for the WOCS project.

Scot Hulbert stands and talks to a gathering of canola growers and professionals.
WSU plant pathologist Scot Hulbert speaks to growers at Colfax.

The hands-on diagnostic sessions were popular with many attendees, along with combine settings, stand establishment strategies, and canola fertility management.

“The presentations were about everything from the (seed) bag to the bin – a great learning opportunity,” commented Mike Nestor, a field agronomist with Ag Enterprise in Wilbur.

Several growers who attended the Hartline workshop agreed it was “one of the best workshops we have ever been to.”

Dan Orchard, standing, talks about world markets in front of a slideshow screen.
Canadian agronomist Dan Orchard talks about world markets

Mike Stamm is the winter canola breeder at Kansas State University and spoke at two of the workshops. He praised the WSU-WOCS team for putting on such a well-run set of workshops.

“Pacific Northwest farmers have a thirst for knowledge, and that sure makes participating worthwhile,” said Stamm. “I always learn a lot from visiting with producers from outside the Great Plains.”

Along with Stamm, the other invited speaker, Dan Orchard, also received high marks. Orchard was a favorite presenter in several sessions, including how world markets relate to U.S. and Canadian canola markets, and how to reach a higher canola yield goal.

Presentations from the workshops are available at

Short course helps forest owners steward their lands, sustainably

winter forest trees covered by snow and sunlightTo help forest owners plan for their forests, WSU Extension Forestry and the Washington Department of Natural Resources host a series of weekly classes, March 19 to May 7 in Cle Elum, Wash.

In the Coached Planning Short Course, experts coach participants as they develop simple management plans for their forests.

Owners learn how to keep their forest healthy, enhance wildlife habitat, protect their land from wildfire, and harvest timber sustainably. Also covered are forest ecology and soils, fish and wildlife habitat, cultural resources, special forest products, forest recreation; and many other topics.

Course fee is $75 per person, family or land parcel. Participation is limited to 30 registrants on a first-come, first-served basis upon receipt of the registration and fee. Classes will be held weekly on Monday evenings from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at the Cle Elum Ranger Station in Cle Elum, WA.

This course has not been held in Kittitas County for 20 years.

To learn more, call the WSU Extension office at (509) 667-6540. To download a brochure/ registration from the web, go to

‘Working Forests’ workshop helps owners protect their land

Man cutting a branch with chainsawWSU Extension’s Working Forests For Landowners Workshop is Saturday, March 24, at the Columbia County Fairgrounds Youth Building in Dayton, Wash.

Natural resources professionals will share fundamental information to help landowners set and achieve goals, protect the health and beauty of their forests, protect their financial investments, and reduce risk.

Forests can provide both a lifestyle and living, but that almost always requires “active management” – actions such as timber harvesting, tree planting, thinning, grazing, weed control, and other activities for improving wildlife habitat, controlling erosion, fire suppression and fuel treatment, and road and trail maintenance.

Active management creates healthy forests that resist tree-killing insect infestations, diseases and wildfire, and become good wildlife habitat.

Early-bird registration is $10 per person, or $20 per family by March 20, or $20 per person/$30 per family after March 20. Lunch can be purchased for an additional $10, to benefit the local Future Farmers of America, and must be purchased by March 20

To learn more, call WSU Extension at (509) 667-6540.

Information and registration is available at or at your local WSU Extension office.

Get fit, feel better with CAHNRS Evening Exercise classes

Head shot of Robert Yarbrough
Robert Yarbrough

CAHNRS Faculty/Staff Evening Exercise is held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Hulbert Room 27.

Held since 2015, the class is taught by CAHNRS staff member Robert Yarbrough a certified group fitness and Tai Chi instructor, , and is approved by the WSU Registrar’s Office, the WSU Office of Risk Management, and the Attorney General’s Office. All staff, faculty, and students are welcome, and drop-ins are encouraged. Classes are free to attend.

Staff Evening Exercise benefits those who spend most of their day sitting, or who suffer from mobility issues, who would like basic movement exercise options without the need to attend a fitness class at University Recreation or a gym.

A low-impact/low-cardio dance exercise, Zumba Gold, is held every Tuesday and Thursday. Routines, including swing, salsa, cha-cha, tango and folk movements, are easy to follow and designed for older populations.

A meditative movement class, Tai Chi for beginner and intermediate level, is held on Wednesdays. This class is aimed at those who wish to maintain and regain energy and balance, lower their blood pressure, or just feel better.

Governors discuss leadership, balance at Ruckleshaus Center joint luncheon

Picture of Gary Locke, Christine Gregoire and Slade Gorton, with a forum speaker, in front of a large screen showing host organizations.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, the William D. Ruckelshaus Center and the Slade Gorton International Policy Center featured former Washington State Governors Daniel Evans, Christine Gregoire, and Gary Locke, at their fifth annual joint luncheon.

The luncheon was titled “Statespersonship from the Governor’s Mansion: A New Role for the States,” featured a discussion moderated by Renee Radcliff Sinclair of TVW.

The former governors reflected on their views and personal experiences in governing the state, and how the balance of power and leadership between state governments and the federal government may be changing.

The event can be viewed on the Ruckelshaus Center site or the TVW website.

The Ruckleshaus Center is a joint effort of WSU Extension and the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

2018 WSU oilseed workshops in full swing

A field of bright yellow canola grows at St. John, Wash.
Canola grows at St. John, Wash. WSU researchers have begun their 2018 workshops across the region, sharing information and advances.

The WSU-based Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems project hosts its annual canola/oilseed workshops in January, with the first one already in the books at Hartline on Jan. 22.

At Hartline, more than 120 producers, crop consultants, university faculty and students, and agency representatives learned about all aspects of oilseed production and marketing.

Hands-on diagnostic sessions with live canola plants, demonstrations of harvest loss and stand establishment, and posters about current Northwest university oilseed research were among the many tools used to educate attendees.

Faculty, staff and students involved in the workshops from CAHNRS include Rachel Bomberger, Ian Burke, Dave Crowder, Aaron Esser, Scot Hulbert, Isaac Madsen, Rachel Olsson, Michael Neff, Tim Paulitz, Marissa Porter, Dennis Roe, Bill Schillinger, Karen Sowers, Haiying Tao, Dale Whaley, and Rachel Zuger.

Two more workshops will be held this week at Richland on Jan. 24 and Colfax on Jan 25. Registration is available at the door for $25.

Registration and other information is available at For more information, contact Karen Sowers,, 808-283-7013.