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Spring 2021 Newsletter

Dr. Carol Miles

Director’s Message

I hope this Spring Newsletter finds all of you well and the Summer that is on our horizon is as productive as the Winter has been. As you read all our Program Highlights you will see how busy everyone has been at WSU NWREC the last few months. We have maintained our projects through the pandemic by staggering our work schedules to minimize the number of people in our facilities each day. Many of our personnel have been working at home for a year now, and students also have been attending their classes from home. We are all looking forward to returning to work together, and since we spend much time working outside in our field plots, we will be able to maintain safe working procedures while continuing to focus on our research activities.

A primary change for us in December was the retirement of Dr. Bev Gerdeman, Entomologist, and Dr. Hollis Spitler, Entomology Technician. And in February we were very fortunate that our new Plant Pathologist Dr. Chakradhar Mattupalli joined us at WSU NWREC. We were also very fortunate last year that we received a Skagit County Economic Development Public Facility Project Grant (EDG) and a matching gift from a private donor that enabled us to construct the new headhouse (Phase I) of our new Plant Growth Facility. The headhouse is almost complete and we will move into the building in May. The headhouse provides office space for 8 personnel and a field lab for our Soils, Small Fruit and Pathology programs. We just submitted a second EDG proposal for Phase II of the Plant Growth Facility that includes 4000 sq ft of greenhouse space and a new growth chamber room. The majority of our greenhouse space at NWREC was built in the 1950s and lacks environmental controls that are needed for our research projects. We also hope to be able to secure private donations that are needed to match EDG funding for the plant growth facility. If you are interested in contributing to support our new Plant Growth Facility, please contact Tatum Weed,, 253-445-4554.

Architectural rendering of headhouse, grow room, and greenhouse structures.
WSU NWREC Plant Growth Facility conceptual design with completed headhouse (Phase I) and proposed greenhouse and growth chamber room (Phase II).

Plant Growth Facility Phase I: Ruth Wylie Plant Growth Headhouse

The Ruth Wylie Plant Growth Headhouse has been supported by a generous gift from Nancy Kercheval (1979, B.S., Agricultural Economics, WSU) who asked that the facility be named in honor of her mother Ruth Wylie (1950, B.A., Secretarial Studies, WSU). After graduating from WSU, Nancy had a successful career in the commercial fishing industry in the North Pacific and retired in 2011. “I admire my mother because of the risks she took to change her life. Her example helped me enter into a non-traditional field and run my own business. The idea for this gift came from my wanting to honor my mom’s 90th birthday, and because we’re both WSU alumni, the headhouse was an ideal project to support.” Ruth Wylie grew up in Mount Vernon, born to pioneer parents Harry and Eva Parker. Her husband Jack Wylie’s parents homesteaded and farmed on Fir Island from the early 1900s, and Jack was a dairy farmer and a longtime county commissioner. After Ruth graduated from WSU she became business manager for United General Hospital (now PeaceHealth United General) in Sedro-Woolley, and was elected Skagit County Treasurer in 1979 and Skagit County’s first woman County Commissioner in 1992. Ruth and Jack were married more than 30 years, Jack passed away in 1999. In 2015, the Wylie family was recognized as the Skagit Valley Pioneer Family of the year. Ruth has been a long-time strong supporter of WSU NWREC and she, her late husband Jack, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are WSU alumni. “As farming changes, we need crops and methods that are suited for the Skagit Valley. That’s what WSU and the Extension service do through their research. This new building is a great honor that my daughter has helped realize for me.”

Single story building with board and batten siding.
The Ruth Wylie Plant Growth Headhouse (Phase I) of the Plant Growth Facility at WSU NWREC. Construction is almost complete and move-in is scheduled for May.

Plant Growth Facility Phase II Supporters

We are very grateful to Skagit County EDG and Nancy, Ruth and the Wylie family for their partnership that has enabled us to complete Phase I of the NWREC Plant Growth Facility. We are now looking for support for Phase II. We would like to pass on Nancy Kercheval’s challenge: “It’s been a great experience for me to be able to do this for my mom, now I challenge other Cougs to seek the same opportunities. What better gift can you give a parent?”

Bee landing on a cluster of closed blooms.
Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) resting on a blueberry inflorescence. This species is native to Washington State. Photo by L.W. DeVetter.

Feature Focus: Establishing Bee-autiful pollinator habitats at WSU NWREC

The conservation of bees and non-bee pollinators is central to the biodiversity and life on Earth, to food security, and to the global economy. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that close to 75% of the flowering plants on Earth rely to some degree on pollinators in order to set seed or fruit. Bees are involved in pollinating approximately 70% of the world’s flowering plants.  Insect-pollinated fruits and vegetables provide most of the vitamins and minerals we need and diversify our diets beyond meat and wind-pollinated grains. More than 4,000 species of bees live in the US and Canada. In Washington, Dr. Don Rolfs 2015 checklist of bees lists 590 species of bees in our state.

A number of factors are contributing to the population decline of honey bees, some bumble bee species, and other insects. To address these factors, a team of individuals that include scientists and staff at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, the Native Plant Society, and Master Gardener volunteers are beginning a program to establish pollinator habitat on the grounds of NWREC. Pollinator hedgerows will be established in the crabapple orchard, and nesting sites for ground- and cavity-nesting bees will be established within our blueberry planting. A pollinator garden will also be established at the main entrance and north side of our main building. The goal of this project is to begin to determine the biodiversity of bees and other pollinating insects in Skagit County, supplement honey bee pollination when honey bees are unavailable, or replace honey bee pollination with native bees when honey bees are unavailable or inactive during cool wet spring weather. An additional important goal will be to educate the public on the importance of native pollinators and how they can support pollinator conservation efforts in their own backyard or farm.

Pollinator Diversity Workshop

In collaboration with the North Cascades Institute, we are going to offer a workshop at NWREC on August 6, 2021, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The workshop will introduce participants to the diversity of pollinators at NWREC and their interesting life histories. The program will also discuss ways habitat for pollinators can be established around your home, acreage, or farm.

Our Pollinator Working Group

Dr. Lisa DeVetter, Dr. Carol Miles, Dan Gorton, Juan Alonso, Dr. Maxime Eeraerts (NWREC), Dr. Bob Gillespie (retired entomologist), Brenda Cunningham (Native Plant Society), Alix Foster and Kathryn Lindsay (Master Gardeners).

Welcome New Personnel to NWREC

Small Fruit Horticulture

  • Maxime Eeraerts, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Emma Rogers, Technical Assistant II
  • Rachael Schick, Technical Assistant II (also part time in Vegetable Horticulture)

Soil Water and Nutrition

  • Dax Joubert-Bousson, Technical Assistant II
  • Sage Ince, Technical Assistant II

Soil Health

  • Teal Potter, Postdoctoral Research
  • Adam Elcan, Professional Worker I
  • Bob Hulbert, Technical Assistant II (also working for Soil Water and Nutrition)
  • Ryan Yamamoto, Technical Assistant II

Vegetable Horticulture

  • Radhika Koppuravuri, Professional Worker I

Program Highlights

Man standing in field of berry canes and hoophouse frames.
Chakradhar in a blueberry field.

Berry and Potato Pathology

While the berry andpotato pathology program led by Chakradhar Mattupalli was just initiated in February 2021, Chakradhar is off to a running start. He has been interacting with potato and blueberry growers to identify their research needs and has submitted his first grant proposals to address growers’ top priorities. Field studies are already in progress to develop a decision support system for mummy berry management in blueberries. The study findings are being communicated to growers and stakeholders through ‘Weekly Mummy Berry Updates’ that can be found on the program’s webpage. Based on the feedback obtained from potato growers, new research projects focusing on the management of potato surface blemish diseases are being developed. Stay tuned to hear more about the exciting research coming out of this new program!

Seven people in winter jackets look at a wheat field.
Winter wheat, barley and rye plots at Viva Farms.

WSU Breadlab

WSU Breadlab has been focusing not only on ongoing research and spring planting, but also on strengthening relationships within our community and increasing outreach to area schools. PhD candidate Merri Metcalfe developed and instructed, with help from her Breadlab colleagues and Meagan Dawson of Kulshan Middle School, a “Whole Grain Researchers” OSPI course designed to meet STEM CEU requirements for teachers across WA state. We have also offered virtual instruction about fermentation and whole grains to elementary school students and co-hosted one of the public forums of UCCS Grain School 2021 on Whole and Heritage Grains in Health, Wellness and Disease Prevention. These efforts have been resounding successes and we plan on building on them in the future. We continue to participate as the Community of Practice Partner for regional grains in the USDA-AMS funded Local Food Systems Response to COVID, working on developing a longer-term project to help bolster regional food systems and elevate the collective voices of these food producers.

In collaboration with the local business leaders of Leadership Skagit and our friends at Viva Farms, WSU Breadlab will be hosting a virtual event specifically for local schools (and anyone else who would like to attend!) that will feature a Bread Lab! children’s book reading by author Kim Binczewski as well as a live demonstration and Q&A about making your own sourdough starter June 2. Please check out the program’s Instagram for updates and sign-up info.

Screen capture of a Zoom class in progress.
Cider class meeting in Zoom.

Cider Education

In February, we launched another online section of the Cider & Perry Production – A Foundation course. Our latest cohort has 51 students from all corners of North America interested in taking the next step in their cider careers. This online class follows the same curriculum as the in-person version of the course but over a 15-week period and with additional guest speakers from the industry. Students are sent supplies prior to the start of the course for hands-on activities and sensory evaluations that complement the synchronous and asynchronous learning sessions. Our next offering will be an accelerated 8-week course that launches on April 13. Registrater for this course and others at

Close-up of maggot on blueberry bud.
Gall midge maggot in a blueberry bud tip


With the retirement of Drs. Bev Gerdeman and Hollis Spitler, the Entomology program and projects are continuing with Dr. Lydia Tymon and Ben Diehl. In collaboration with the Alaska Division of Agriculture and USDA-ARS, the project “Eliminating pest-related trade barriers for the Alaska-grown peony trade industry” is focused on thrips, which can cause spotting, scarring, and deformed buds, and also they are vectors of tospoviruses. Some thrips species are considered quarantine pests for flowers that are exported so accurate identification is required, which we are doing using morphological methods and a molecular assay that we are developing. Increased damage from blueberry gall midge, Dasineura oxycoccana, was reported in 2019 and in our project “Biology of the blueberry gall midge” we sampled blueberry bud tips weekly from 4 locations in Whatcom County in 2020. We collected gall midge larvae and using molecular analysis, we determined that some larvae were D. oxycoccana and others were of another Dasineura species. We will continue midge sampling and identification in 2021 to determine if increased damage is associated with this other species.

In our project “Improved management of Lepidopteran pests of red raspberry and blueberry in Skagit and Whatcom Counties” we are collecting data on the seasonality of adult pest moths. We are using pheromone traps, passive light traps that are a stationary collecting box affixed with a rechargeable battery and light sensor, and active light traps that uses a collapsible light sheet set up for only a few hours. We will continue to monitor using pheromone traps in 2021 and will increase the number of light trapping events and use alternative light sources to attract more specimens. In a separate laboratory study we are testing Obliquebanded leafroller (OBLR), Choristoneura rosaceana, collected from Whatcom County for pesticide resistance. Please contact Ben Diehl with any Entomology related questions.

Cover of "Western Fruit Grower" magazine.
Yixin Cai’s research on machine harvesting blueberries for fresh market featured on the cover of Western Fruit Grower magazine.

Small Fruit Horticulture

The Small Fruit Horticulture program has been transitioning the past few months as former graduate students Dr. Huan Zhang and Yixin Cai finish publications from their graduate work. Huan’s final research article was published in January 2021 and presents an extensive review on mulch application in small fruit systems. Yixin’s article on machine harvesting for fresh market blueberry is in review and was recently featured on the cover of a trade journal. Another programmatic highlight is the development and release of a state-wide blueberry cold hardiness model. The model is a beta (i.e., test) version being evaluated by stakeholders this spring and will be refined based on their input. The model is a significant accomplishment and represents seven years of work in partnership with Gwen Hoheisel in eastern Washington (extension specialist and project lead), Clark Kogan (statistician), and David Brown with WSU AgWeatherNet. The work also represents six years of cold hardiness testing and bud dissection led by Sean Watkinson, Scientific Assistant in the program (and certified firefighter!). The program also recently welcomed the arrival of postdoctoral researcher from Belgium, Dr. Maxime Eeraerts. Maxime represents the transition the program is taking this year, which will have a greater focus on pollination research. Maxime will be working on and providing co-leadership on several collaborative blueberry pollination projects funded by the USDA SCRI program and Washington Blueberry Commission.

In 2021, our mulch research will continue with MS students Brenda Madrid and May Wang. Brenda is focusing on characterizing and improving degradation of soil-biodegradable plastic mulches in western Washington. May’s research focuses on double cropping with strawberry and lettuce and understanding how mulches impact spore dispersal of Botrytis. These projects involve collaborations between the programs led by Drs. Miles and Tymon and include extensive outreach efforts regarding soil-biodegradable mulch. Qianwen Lu will continue her PhD studies on nutrient management in raspberry and impacts on soil health. She has also been evaluating the utility of sap nutrient analysis in raspberry and will be publishing her work soon. Our nutrient management work in organic blueberry systems in eastern Washington and Oregon continues and the program recently received another 3 years of funding from the Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research to continue evaluations of organic nitrogen fertilizer sources and rates. Last but not least, blueberry pollination research will be a primary focus as we study impacts of honey bee colony placement on pollination and pesticide exposure risks, characterize primary and secondary metabolites in pollen and nectar, and monitor how environmental conditions impact pollinator activity and bloom phenology. Furthermore, the program is excited to support the pollinator habitat effort at WSU NWREC and expand our knowledge on the biodiversity of native pollinators in the western Washington landscape.

Woman in field measures plot boundaries.
Scientific Assistant Betsy Schacht channels Pythagoras to lay out plots for our new Long-term Agroecological Research & Extension site at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC.

Soil Health

The Soil Health team continues to grow and expand into working with a large variety of cropping systems. Graduate students Kwabena Sarpong and Molly McIlquham and Scientific Assistant Betsy Schacht have been working hard on the soil health assessment of specialty crops in eastern Washington, funded by a WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, and potato systems in western Washington. Last summer we collected soil samples from 114 on-farm sites across crops including wine grapes, onions, sweet corn, and potatoes, and we spent this winter working on sample analysis and conducting interviews with participating growers to learn about their soil management practices.

We are gearing up for an even more extensive sampling season this year and are partnering with WSDA scientists and WA State Conservation District staff. Our new postdoc Dr. Teal Potter has also joined the project and will be studying the soil and rhizosphere microbiome in potato systems. M.S. student Toby Una is wrapping up her thesis work on the effects of cover crops on soil health in potato-spinach seed systems (which has been supported by the WA Potato Commission, Puget Sound Seed Growers Association and NARF), and she plans to pursue her PhD in soil science at UW! We will welcome two new graduate students this summer, one to work on a $1M FFAR-funded project on the effects of soil management on quinoa nutritional properties, and another who will study the impacts of biosolids and grazed cover crops on soil health. With so many projects in the works, we are pleased that Liz Myhre (Ag Research Tech) has joined the Soil Health and Soils & Water programs this year and brings over 25 years of expertise from her time working at WSU Puyallup.

Three people stand near pickup truck in a field.
From left: Gabe LaHue (Soil Scientist), Navdeep Singh (Postdoc), and Tessa Belo (M.S. Student) on-site to perform characterization for a project on controlled drainage and subirrigation in Whatcom County.

Soils & Water

Our program has been busy throughout the winter with research projects, course development, and outreach events. The Mount Vernon Long-Term Agroecological Research and Extension site, funded by the Washington State Soil Health Initiative, has taken center stage with the formation of a Stakeholder Advisory Committee, finalization of the experimental design, and baseline sampling prior to initiation of the trial this spring. Stay tuned for more on this valuable asset to agricultural research in our corner of the state, and please thank your legislators for supporting the Soil Health Initiative! Many other research projects have been moving along this winter, including site characterization for an NRCS-funded project investigating controlled drainage and subirrigation, bacterial rot evaluations to determine the impact of irrigation and fertility management on the incidence and severity of onion bulb rots (see the USDA SCRI ‘Stop the Rot’ project highlighted by the VSP program), and seed germination assays for our work on soil moisture management and irrigation scheduling for spinach seed crops.

A new M.S. student will be joining the program this summer to work with farmers on experimentation with irrigation scheduling – our work on this last year was promising, so let us know if you’re interested in collaborating! Our program has also been developing a new course on organic and sustainable agricultural certifications for our students at the WSU Everett campus, which is a critical part of contributing to the vibrant agricultural industry in NW WA, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had the pleasure of connecting with many of you virtually through workshops and other meetings.

Woman holding clipboard stands between rows of cantaloupe plants.
Srijana Shrestha, MS student in Vegetable Horticulture, in her grafted cantaloupe field at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC.

Vegetable Horticulture

Grafting vegetables is an effective means to overcome soil-borne diseases and soil salinity, and in greenhouse production is used to increase nutrient and water uptake resulting in 10% yield increases. Our research has focused on developing a more efficient method to graft watermelon, as currently they are cost-prohibitive in the U.S. We have developed a methodology to successfully graft watermelon by removing their rootstock cotyledons, and this method is especially suitable for mechanization. Our new research at NWREC is focused on grafting field-grown cantaloupe, and we have found grafting onto cold tolerant rootstocks can increase yield four-fold. Cantaloupes show rootstock incompatibility so care must be taken with selection. We continue to explore growing new crops in our region, and this year we are testing sweetpotato. Other researchers have found that sweetpotatoes grown with plastic mulch in northern climates have higher yield than in the SE U.S., and our preliminary results also showed this. However, our plots were heavily impacted by wireworm, and so this year we are testing wireworm resistant varieties and breeding lines.

Tractor pulls harvesting machine through orchard.
Over the row tree fruit harvester donated to the WSU NWREC Cider Program in 2020.

For cider apples, we are developing a production system that is suitable for mechanical pruning and harvest. Our cider apple research orchard includes 65 varieties planted in a tall spindle system and we are using a hedger for mechanical pruning. Last year an over-the-row tree fruit harvester was donated to our program by Ken Engle of Left Foot Charley Cider in Michigan, and this year we will be testing it for picking efficiency. In a separate study of regulated deficit irrigation, we have found that it may not be necessary to irrigate an established orchard in our region and with our soil type as yield and juice quality are similar to full irrigation.

Woman wearing backpack hugs large plywood Popeye figure.
Kayla Spawton, PhD student, greeting Popeye before evaluating a spinach trial near Uvalde, TX on a cold day in Feb. 2021.

Vegetable Seed Pathology

The Vegetable Seed Pathology program has been busy this winter with vegetable disease projects. The 12th Annual Spinach Fusarium Wilt Soil Bioassay and the Annual Spinach Parent Line Fusarium Wilt Screening Trial were completed in January 2021, with spinach seed growers and seed company representatives examining their results on January 18 (following COVID-19 safety requirements). It was wonderful to see only a few of the growers’ fields tested had significant risk of Fusarium wilt, but a lot of the spinach parent lines evaluated were susceptible to Fusarium wilt. PhD student, Kayla Spawton, and Lindsey du Toit traveled to Texas in February to evaluate field trials on Stemphylium leaf spot of spinach, planted in a growers’ field in the Texas Wintergarden area. We were pleased to see excellent resistance (no disease) for 21 of the 79 cultivars evaluated.

The ‘Stop the Rot’ onion bacterial project funded by USDA NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative, led by Lindsey du Toit, had their annual meeting (virtually) on February 4-5. Much was accomplished during the 2020 field season for this $4M project over 12 states and one other country. On February 26, 22,000 onion bulbs in storage that had been hand-harvested from field trials in Pasco, WA were cut and rated for rot! To find out more, visit the Alliumnet website, including a video on the project. We’re excited to be initiating our 2021 carrot, beet, and onion disease field trials in addition to ongoing greenhouse and lab pathology trials on beet, carrot, chard, onion, spinach, and sweet corn. PhD students Kayla Spawton and Alex Batson gave a Lunch-and-Learn webinar on March 25 on soilborne and foliar diseases of spinach in the Pacific Northwest From roots to shoots: a synopsis of spinach diseases in the Pacific Northwest – YouTube.

Blooms and seedpods amongst green leaves.
Wild buckwheat in flower and producing seed.

Weed Science

This summer we will be validating the wild buckwheat and pale smartweed growing degree day models for determining days left before seed set commences based on the number of leaves on the mainstem. The models will be available in AgWeatherNet for this testing. The estimated number of days until seed set will be determined based on climate forecasts and will give growers trying to reduce the number of viable seeds returning to the soil a tool to determine when best to prevent seed production of these weeds. Studies on management of reed canarygrass on Ross Lake in the North Cascades National Park will be completed this spring and our active IR-4 program will be testing for efficacy, residues, and crop safety for a variety of pesticides.


Cover of Plant Pathology (Volume 70, Number 4, May 2021)
Cover article in Plant Pathology 70: Gyawali et al., 2021,

NWREC Publications

  • Batson, A.M., Fokkens, L., Rep, M., and du Toit, L.J. 2021. Putative effector genes distinguish two pathogenicity groups of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. spinaciae. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 34:141-156.
  • Devi, P., L. Tymon, A. Keinath and C. Miles. 2021. Progress in grafting watermelon to manage Verticillium wilt. Plant Pathology, 767-777.
  • du Toit, L., and Waters, T. 2021. Shank or irrigate? Evaluating methods of application of metam sodium for onion production in the Columbia Basin. Onion World, Jan. 2021:14-21.
  • Gyawali, S., Derie, M.L., Gatch, E.W., Sharma-Poudyal, D., and du Toit, L.J. 2021. Lessons from 10 years of stakeholder adoption of a soil bioassay for spinach Fusarium wilt. Plant Pathology 70:778-792.
  • Hulse-Kemp, A.M., Bostan, H., Chen, S., Ashrafi, H., Stoffel, K., Sanseverino, W., Li, L., Cheng, S., Schatz, M.C., Garvin, T., du Toit, L.J., Tseng, E., Chin, J., Iorizzo, M., and van Deynze, A. 2021. An anchored chromosome-scale genome assembly of spinach (Spinacia oleracea) improves annotation and reveals extensive gene rearrangements in euasterids. Plant Genome: accepted 27 Mar. 2021. TPG-2021-03-0030.R1.
  • Liu, B., Stein, L., Cochran, K., du Toit, L.J., and Correll, J.C. 2021. Three new fungal leaf spot diseases of spinach and the evaluation of fungicide efficacy for disease management. Plant Disease 105:316-323.
  • McDonald, M.R., Collins, B., du Toit, L.J., and Adusei-Fosu, K. 2021. Soil amendments for the management of Fusarium wilt of bunching spinach in Ontario, Canada. Crop Protection: accepted 2 Apr. 2021. CROPRO-D-20-00839R1.
  • Mattupalli, C., Shiller, J., Kankanala, P., Krom, N. D., Marek, S., Mysore, K. S., and Young, C. A. 2021. The first genomic resources for Phymatotrichopsis omnivora, a soil-borne pezizomycete pathogen with a broad host range. Phytopathology: in press.
  • Nampijja, M., Crane, S., du Toit, L., and Ocamb, C. 2021. Beet – Bacterial leaf spot. Swiss chard – Bacterial leaf spot. In: 2021 Pacific Northwest Pacific Northwest Disease Management Handbook, J.W. Pscheidt and C.M. Ocamb, editors. A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication, Oregon State University, Washington State University, University of Idaho.
  • Nampijja, M., Derie, M.L., and du Toit, L.J. 2021. First report of bacterial leaf spot caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. atata on Swiss chard, Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, in Arizona. Plant Disease 105: accepted 8 Mar. 2021.
  • Solemslie, R., du Toit, L.J., Tracy, W.F., and Stearns, T. 2021. Evaluation of steam treatments for Fusarium spp. and other fungi on sweet corn seed, 2020. Plant Disease Management Reports 15:CF017.
  • Stern, A., J. Berstein, S. Jones, J. Blumberg, and T. Griffin. 2021. The impacts of germinating organic wheat: effects on phytic acid, resistant starch, and functional properties of flour, and sensory attributes of sourdough bread.  International Journal of Food Science and Technology.
  • Swisher Grimm, K.D., Crosslin, J.M., Cooper, W.R., Frost, K.E., du Toit, L.J., and Wohleb, C.H. 2021. First report of curly top of Coriandrum sativum caused by Beet curly top virus in the Columbia Basin of Washington State. Plant Disease: accepted 5 Apr. 2021.
  • Trivedi, P., Mattupalli, C., Eversole, K., and Leach, J. E. 2021. Enabling sustainable agriculture through understanding and enhancement of microbiomes. New Phytologist: in press.
  • Zhang, H., C. Miles, B., Gerdeman, D.G, LaHue, and L.W. DeVetter. 2021. Plastic mulch use in perennial fruit cropping systems – A review. Scientia Horticulturae: in press.

Educational Events

SoilCon was a week-long event February 8 – 12, 2021 that brought together soil scientists from across the region to discuss soil health in the Western U.S. and Washington State, long-term research sites, soil health indicators and in specific cropping systems. NWREC personnel participated in several sessions that can be viewed on the CSANR YouTube channel.

Educational Presentations

  • Batson, A. How can we use genetics to manage spinach Fusarium wilt more effectively? Western Washington Seed Workshop, Mount Vernon, WA. January 8, 2021.
  • Batson, A. What’s in a name? The need for coherent taxonomic and nomenclatural standards for plant pathogens. WSU Dept. of Plant Pathology Seminar (PlP 515). March 22, 2021.
  • Batson, A., and Spawton. K. From roots to shoots: a synopsis of spinach diseases in the Pacific Northwest. WSU Mount Vernon NWREC Lunch & Learn seminar series. March 25, 2021.
  • Diehl, B. R. Alaska USDA FAS TASC: Morphological studies of thrips associated with peonies. Alaska Entomological Society 14th Ann. Meeting. January 2021.
  • Diehl, B. R. Identification and biology of root weevils in western Washington. WSU NWREC Lunch & Learn Seminar. March 2021.
  • Diehl, B. R. Entomology berry research update. Western Washington Berry Workshop. March 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Western Washington vegetable seed pathology update: Brassica black leg and the spinach Fusarium wilt soil bioassay. 2021 Western Washington Small Seed Workshop. January 8, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Evaluating soil amendments for disease suppression in the Pacific Northwest USA. Soil Health Webinar, WSU Farmers’ Network. January 12, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Impact of the Skagit Valley on global vegetable seed production. Anacortes Chapter of the American Association of University Women. January 14, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Current and future concerns: Scientific research, technology, and education from an APS perspective. Presentation in the Phytosanitary session on current and future trends in phytosanitary regulation, American Seed Trade Association Vegetable & Flower Conference. January 15, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Brassica and Alliums. In ‘Seed & plant diseases of common northeast seed crops’ session at 2021 Northeast Organic Seed Conference. January 19, 2021 (
  • du Toit, L.J. Seedborne bacterial pathogens of bean that have quarantine significance for bean seed production in the Pacific Northwest USA. 2021 University of Idaho Extension Bean School. January 27-28, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Challenges and tips for working productively during the pandemic. Invited presentation as part of Plan[t]ify webinar series, Early Career Professionals Committee, American Phytopathological Society. January 29, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Plant and seed pathology. Invited presentation for Seed Production Workshop. University of California-Davis. February16-18 and 23-25, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Chipping away at a recalcitrant pathogen: spinach Fusarium wilt as a case study. Invited seminar, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University. March 12, 2021.
  • du Toit, L.J. Screening carrot germplasm for resistance to cavity spot and bacterial blight. Research presentation update at Carrot Research Symposium, CA Fresh Carrot Advisory Board. March 22, 2021.
  • Griffin LaHue, D., Una, T.M., (co-presentation), Seefeldt, S., and McMoran, D. Cover crops for spinach seed rotations. Western Washington Vegetable Seed Workshop. January 8, 2021.
  • Griffin LaHue, D., G.T. LaHue. Soil fertility and plant nutrition. Home Horticulture Training Program, WSU Master Gardener Training Program. January 23, 2021.
  • Griffin LaHue, D., A. Bary. How do biosolids impact crops and soils? Northwest Biosolids webinar: Biosolids Research 201. January 26, 2021.
  • Griffin LaHue, D. Establishing a soil health baseline and benchmarks for Washington specialty crop systems, SoilCon: Washington Soil Health Week. February 8, 2021.
  • Gyawali, S. Spinacia: Journeys from the origin to Fusarium wilt resistance. Western Washington Seed Workshop, Mount Vernon, WA. January 8, 2021.
  • Hoepting, C., du Toit, L.J., Dutta, B., and Kvitko, B. Rotten onions 101: Part I – What kind of rot you got? Part II – The many ways onions rot. Part III – Rot-free onions in the making – Overcoming challenges to identify varietal tolerance to bulb rot. New York Empire Expo. January 14, 2021 (
  • Kendall, A. Mechanization of cider apple production. Cider-Con. February 2021.
  • Kendall, A. NWREC Mechanized orchard tour. NWCA Symposium. March 2021.
  • LaHue, G.T. Soils, pesticide fate, and IPM. WSU Urban IPM and Pesticide Safety Education Program. December 3, 2020, and February 11, 2021.
  • LaHue, G.T. Soil moisture management and irrigation scheduling for spinach seed crops. Western Washington Seed Workshop. January 8, 2021.
  • LaHue, G.T., and D.E. Griffin LaHue. Soil fertility and plant nutrition. WSU Extension Home Horticulture Training. January 23, 2021.
  • LaHue, G.T. The organic and sustainable agriculture major at WSU Everett. Skagit Ag Summit. January 29, 2021.
  • LaHue, G.T. Farmer-led experimentation on irrigation. Western Washington Potato Workshop. February 19, 2021.
  • MacKay, H. What are markets in ecosystem services, and how might they be useful to farmers? WSU Mount Vernon Lunch-and-Learn seminar series. January 21, 2021.
  • Mattupalli, C. Meet the new WSU NWREC potato-blueberry pathologist. 39th Annual Western Washington Potato Workshop. February 19, 2021.
  • Mattupalli, C. New WSU NWREC potato/blueberry pathologist. 2021 Western Washington Berry Workshop. March 12, 2021.
  • Miles, C. Sustainable vegetable gardening: Getting started. San Juan Island Master Gardeners seminar series. January 2021.
  • Miles, C. Soil-biodegradable mulch a sustainable alternative to polyethylene mulch. Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, Hersey, PA. February 2021.
  • Miles, C. Soil-biodegradable mulch for organic production. Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, Hersey, PA. February 2021.
  • Miles, C. Optimizing watermelon grafting to enhance grafting efficiency and its impact on fruit maturity and quality. Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, Hersey, PA. February 2021.
  • Miles, C. Soil-biodegradable mulch a sustainable alternative to polyethylene mulch. AgTech and Circular Economy Webinar, Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. March 2021.
  • Miles, C. Home vegetable gardening. Pacific and Grays Harbor County Master Gardeners. March 2021.
  • Miles, C. Sustainable vegetable gardening. Franklin and Benton County Master Gardeners. March 2021.
  • Nampijja, M. Bacterial leaf spot in table beet and swiss chard in western Washington. Western Washington Seed Workshop, Mount Vernon, WA. January 8, 2021.
  • Nampijja, M. Bioluminescent fungi, a source of genes to monitor plant stresses and changes in the environment. WSU Dept. of Plant Pathology Seminar (PlP 515), April 5, 2021.
  • Seefeldt, S. S. Collins, D, and Stacey, N. Biochar Study. Western Washington Potato Workshop. February 2021
  • Seefeldt, S. S. Know Your Weeds: Nightshades and Poison Hemlock. Lunch and Learn. March 2021
  • Seefeldt, S. S. Know Your Herbicides: Basagran, Command, and Sandea. Lunch and Learn. March 2021
  • Shrestha, S. Weed control with soil-biodegradable mulch (BDM). Graduate student presentation, WSU NWREC, Mount Vernon, WA. February 2021.
  • Shrestha, S. Growing sweetpotatoes. Franklin and Benton County Master Gardeners. March 2021.
  • Sloan, C., DeVetter, L., Griffin LaHue, D. E., Benedict, C. and G.T. LaHue. Quantifying nitrogen supply from soil organic matter for highbush blueberry production. Western Washington Berry Workshop. March 12, 2021.
  • Spawton, K. Stemphylium leaf spot of spinach in Washington state and international seed production. Western Washington Seed Workshop, Mount Vernon, WA. January 8, 2021.

Lunch & Learn Seminars

The Lunch & Learn seminar series organized by Dr. Deirdre Griffin LaHue and delivered through Zoom provides our agricultural community an opportunity to attain WSDA Pesticide Credits. The virtual delivery is important as in-person education opportunities are not yet available. Over the 11-week series in 2020, 131 WSDA Pesticide Recertification Credits were earned by 43 individuals. This Spring we are on track to provide similar education benefits. We have one seminar left in our Spring series, and past presentation recordings are available on our YouTube channel.

April 22 12:00-1:00 pm “Management of potato blemish diseases”



  • Cheyenne Sloan (Soil & Water, Gabe LaHue and Lisa DeVetter) received first place in CAHNRS 2021 three-minute thesis competition.
  • May Wang (Small Fruit Horticulture, Lisa DeVetter) received second place in CAHNRS 2021 three-minute thesis competition.
  • Marilen Nampijja (Ph.D. student in Vegetable Seed Pathology, advised by Lindsey du Toit) received a $1,000 scholarship from the Pacific Seed Association.

Graduate Student Exams Successfully Passed

  • Pinki Devi Vegetable Horticulture, Carol Miles (chair), Lisa DeVetter, Rick Knowles (Department of Horticulture), and Scott Lukas (Oregon State University), Ph.D. defense Friday April 2. Congratulations to our newest Dr. Devi!
  • Alex Batson Vegetable Seed Pathology, Lindsey du Toit (chair), Cynthia Gleason, Bob Brueggeman (Department of Crop & Soil Sciences), and James Woodhall (University of Idaho), Ph.D. prelim exam Tuesday April 6.
  • Kayla Spawton Vegetable Seed Pathology, Lindsey du Toit and Tobin Peever (co-advisors), Tim Murray, and Barry Pryor (University of Arizona) Ph.D. prelim exam Friday April 9.
  • A hearty congratulations to both Alex and Kayla as they become Ph.D. candidates, that is, they have completed all the doctoral coursework and exams and now are able to focus on their research project and dissertation writing. They are now ‘ABD’ (all but dissertation)!

Employee Recognition

  • Congratulations to Mike Derie for completing 35 excellent years of employment at WSU on April 7. Mike has patiently mentored, supported, and helped numerous faculty, students, and postdoctorates during this time!