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Spring 2023 Newsletter

Masthead: WSU NWREC News & Notes

Spring 2023 Edition

Director's Message

Dr. Carol Miles

It has been a good year for us at WSU NWREC (Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center). As I look back at our goals and priorities for the last year, I am honored to say I believe we have achieved what we set out to do.

  • We recruited our new Entomologist, Louis Nottingham, to work with horticultural crops in northwest Washington. And we were lucky that we also gained Molly Darr, a new Extension Forestry Specialist. Another addition to our research team at NWREC is the USDA small fruit group: Jeff DeLong, USDA-ARS Research Support Scientist, is based with us and carries out small fruit field and lab research.
  • We upgraded our seed processing and plant drying area by adding a seed thresher and a belt seed grader (donated by Universal Seed Co., Independence, Oregon) as well as a plant and soil dryer. This dryer has a great story: we worked with the manufacturer R&D group of Circul-Air Corporation International, which makes fire hose dryers, to create this very affordable new dryer, the first off their production line.
  • We are replacing the two original boilers in our 1948 greenhouses with energy-efficient modern units, thanks to funding we received from WSU. These greenhouses are solid structures but need upgrades for heating, cooling, and environmental controls. The new boilers will be in place by June. We have upgraded benches and lights in most of the 8 bays, and over the next few years we will upgrade the cooling and control systems.
Group of people outdoors
NWREC 75th anniversary event, July 13, 2022.

A highlight at NWREC this past summer was our 75th anniversary that we celebrated on July 13. We were so pleased to see many of you in attendance—the growers we work with and for, and our administrators and community partners. And it has been a pleasure to see so many of you recently in attendance at the meetings in our auditorium. It has been a long two years with our doors closed to events, we are so glad that in-person meetings are back. Please note our doors will remain locked unless there is an event, this is a sad testament to the security and safety concerns that we all live with today. Visitors are welcome, and we encourage you to make an appointment in advance with the person you want to see as our faculty and staff frequently work in the field or off site.

Looking ahead, our good news for 2023 is that we are now recruiting a Horticultural Crops Weed Scientist (see Weed Science program update below). Similar to most faculty at NWREC, the Weed Scientist will have teaching responsibilities, which will integrate an applied research program into the classroom, to teach the next generation of farmers, industry representatives, researchers and educators. Other good news is this is the 50th anniversary year for the Master Gardener program, which was started in Tacoma in 1973 by WSU Extension Specialist Dr. David Gibby. There will be ceremonies around the state, and at NWREC the celebration event will be July 13, 2023—mark your calendars! We have been upgrading the Demonstration Garden parking lot and the garden groups that share these gardens are landscaping and beautifying the parking area with the goal of being ready for this major event.

We look forward to seeing you this year, at meetings, field days, celebrations, and all the events that keep our lives full and joyful.

Feature Focus: Introducing Louie Nottingham

Dr. Louis Nottingham

Dr. Louis Nottingham (‘Louie’, he/him/his) was hired in October 2022 as an Assistant Professor who will lead the Entomology Program at WSU NWREC. His research and Extension program will cover insect pest management issues for agricultural commodities in Northwestern Washington. In 2023, Louie will begin projects in four main areas:

  1. Advancing integrated pest management (IPM) of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in small fruit;
  2. Ecology and distribution of introduced parasitoid wasps of SWD;
  3. Pest management potential of biodegradable mulches in strawberry;
  4. Surveying pests and beneficial insects in Western Washington potatoes.

Louie will also teach classes in the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture major at WSU Everett, covering topics related to entomology and sustainable agriculture. Louie’s current team includes Ben Diehl (technician, NWREC), Chris Sater (administrative technician, remote), Daniel Hassler (technician, USDA Wapato), Katlyn Catron (postdoc, TFREC), Robert Curtiss (postdoc, TFREC), Molly Sayles (Ph.D. student, TFREC), and Laura Flandermeyer (M.S. student, Pullman).

Louie completed his BS in Biology in 2008, then worked for four years in fisheries and wildlife at over 10 locations across the U.S., for agencies including Idaho Fish and Game, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and Western Ecosystems Technologies. Louie then entered an Entomology Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech, where he studied ecology and IPM of vegetable pests including Mexican bean beetle, brown marmorated stink bug, slugs, spider mites, and thrips. After graduating in 2017, Louie took a postdoc with Dr. Betsy Beers at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center (TFREC) in Wenatchee to develop IPM solutions for a notorious pest of pears, pear psylla. In 2019, Louie was promoted to Research Assistant Professor, allowing him to start his own lab at the TFREC, where he continued work on pears while expanding efforts to cover cherries and apples. We are honored to welcome Dr. Louie Nottingham as our new Entomologist to NWREC.

Lunch & Learn Seminars

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Program Highlights

Berry and Potato Pathology

[Tryptic image] Woman at microscope; woman examinig fruit; woman recording data in a potato field.
Berry and Potato Pathology team members conducting various research activities in the lab and in the field.

The Berry and Potato Pathology (BPP) program celebrated its second-year anniversary in February 2023. The team now includes Chakradhar Mattupalli (program leader), Dayna Loeffler (full-time research technician), Babette Gundersen and Adam Elcan (part-time research technicians), Roshani Baral and Purnima Puri (M.S. Students). We took advantage of the unique skills and expertise of our team members to initiate new research projects and continue ongoing projects. Babette and Purnima successfully completed our first field trial at the NWREC to study silver scurf disease on potatoes. Promising preliminary results are guiding us to repeat the field trial in 2023. Chakradhar worked with seed potato growers in Whatcom County on a mail-away tuber testing project, which involved grower cooperators providing their farm crew to sample seed potatoes for high-throughput molecular detection of potato pathogens. Roshani completed isolating more than 800 Botrytis isolates from several fields in Whatcom and Skagit Counties and is currently developing both conventional and high-throughput methods for assessing these isolates for fungicide sensitivity. Furthermore, she started 2023 early-season sampling from blueberry fields to obtain additional Botrytis isolates. Dayna collaborated with Chris Benedict (WSU Whatcom County Extension Specialist) to monitor blueberry shock disease progression using drone generated aerial images. Updates from this research were published in the Whatcom Ag Monthly Newsletter. Dayna and Adam have resumed monitoring fruiting bodies of the pathogen that causes mummy berry disease and these results are being communicated to growers through 2023 Weekly Mummy berry Updates. Chakradhar submitted research proposals to funding agencies and is hopeful to initiate new projects as well as continue ongoing projects and bring them to fruition.

Cider Education

Cider bottle.
2021 Orchard Blend

In 2003, the first Cider and Perry Production class was taught at NWREC by Peter Mitchell, a leading cider making instructor from the historic Research Institute at Long Ashton, Bristol, England. Drew Zimmerman, a local cider maker and cooperator in the NWREC cider project, attended this class in England in 2002. He was so impressed that he suggested to Gary Moulton, WSU Tree Fruit Specialist at NWREC managing the cider project, that they invite Mitchell to conduct the same five-day class at NWREC. The first class was Basics of Cider Production, a detailed step-by-step guide to cider and perry making. Gary Moulton led the sections on orchard management, and a tour of commercial cideries was also included. Courses of Advanced Cider Production, business management, and sensory analysis/evaluation of cider and perry were soon added. Participants in the classes we have hosted for 20 years have been local, national, and also some international. Many successful commercial cider makers today have gone through these classes. After more than a decade of teaching cider classes, Peter Mitchell phased out teaching and we hired Bri Ewing Valliere as our instructor at NWREC in 2017. Bri left WSU in December 2021, and we are now collaborating with the Cider Institute of North America (CINA) and partners Cornell University and Brock University to continue to offer cider making classes to Washington cider makers and at NWREC. The Foundation Cider & Perry Production course is now being taught on-line as well as at other partner locations. The final advanced class to be taught by Peter Mitchell in the U.S. will be at NWREC in December 2024, in honor of the first class that he taught in the U.S. Classes fill up quickly so we recommend you register right away if you would like to attend. For more information, see the CINA website for the most up-to-date information on courses, certifications, and other CINA resources.


Dr. Louis Nottingham (‘Louie’, he/him/his) was hired in October 2022 as an Assistant Professor to lead the Entomology Program at WSU NWREC. Ben Diehl will continue to serve as the lead technician for the Entomology program. Louie will also supervise personnel in other areas of the state including Chris Sater (administrative technician, remote), Daniel Hassler (technician, USDA Wapato), Katlyn Catron (postdoc, TFREC), Robert Curtiss (postdoc, TFREC), Molly Sayles (Ph.D. student, TFREC), and Laura Flandermeyer (M.S. student, Pullman).

Two men in a laboratory.
Louie Nottingham (Entomology Assistant Professor) and Ben Diehl (Entomology Lead Technician) processing wild blackberry samples with SWD parasitoids.

Since joining the NWREC, Louie and the entomology team have entered a collaborative project with Betsy Beers (WSU) and Paul Abram (Ag Canada) studying two recently discovered parasitoids of spotted wing drosophila (SWD), the most severe pest of small fruit. Louie and Ben have surveyed around 30 sites across Western WA, including the San Juan Islands, documenting dispersal and parasitism rates of these parasitoids. Also in 2023, prior to Louie’s arrival, Ben Diehl completed development of a Lucid Key for thrips affecting peonies in Alaska, which are a primary trade barrier for this crop. Ben also participated in a 2023 project testing integrated pest management (IPM) programs for blueberries and raspberries against conventional spray programs. This fall and winter, the NWREC Entomology team collectively delivered seven Extension talks to Western WA growers and master gardeners, led two tours of the NWREC, joined the NWREC safety committee, and participated in activities to advance undergraduate recruitment to the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture major based out of WSU Everett.

In 2023, the Entomology team will conduct research in four project areas: 1. advancing IPM of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in small fruit, 2. ecology and distribution of introduced parasitoid wasps of SWD (collab. B. Beers and P. Abram), 3. pest management potential of biodegradable mulches in strawberries (collab. L. DeVetter), and 4. documenting key pests and beneficial insects in Western Washington potatoes (collab. C. Mattupalli, T. Waters, A. Schreiber, S. Reitz, E. Wenninger). Louie will also teach classes in the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture major at WSU Everett beginning in the fall 2023 semester, covering topics related to entomology and sustainable agriculture.

Forestry Extension

Woman with a chainsaw in a forested area.
Molly working to clear growth in a forest.

Dr. Molly Darr joined the WSU NWREC at the end of 2022 and is thrilled to be building a new Forestry Extension program in northwest Washington. Currently, the program objectives are:

  • Provide research-based education and resources for owners of forested property and members of the general public of various experience and skill levels.
  • Conduct research to improve forest stewardship planning and management techniques among family forest owners.
  • Provide expertise in entomology, pathology, tree health and management in a forested setting and connect landowners to forest health professionals in their area.

The goal is to help educate stakeholders about forest health, invasive species, and forest management in Washington. Various forms of communication will be used, including social media, webinars, popular and peer-reviewed publications, in-person visits, and workshops. The objectives and outreach products of the program will continue to evolve to meet the needs of stakeholders.

New Crops Horticulture

The past couple of years we have been learning how to propagate tea plants in our northern environment. All the guides that are available are written for tropical regions and the methods have not worked for us. We have been fortunate to collaborate with a local grower who has tea plants and we have assessed time of collection and number of nodes per cutting. We have now successfully propagated tea plants and are preparing them for transplanting to the field where we will assess establishment and growth. See our tea webpage for more information about this project. Our evaluation of wireworm resistant sweetpotato breeding lines developed by the USDA and North Carolina State University breeders shows promise in our region. Overall, we have found sweetpotatoes to be productive in our region when grown with plastic mulch to warm the soil. We have developed guides for slip production, growing sweetpotatoes in NW Washington, and curing and storing sweetpotatoes in our region, see our sweetpotato webpage for more information. This work with tea and sweetpotatoes has been carried out by Ph.D. student Srijana Shrestha. M.S. in Ag student Ann Kowenstrot (4-H Program Coordinator, University of Alaska) has completed phenotyping heirloom rhubarb cultivars in Alaska, and Ph.D. student Alex Cornwall (Curator in Training, USDA Plant Introduction Center, Pullman) has phenotyped 65 unknown lettuce accessions in National Plant Germplasm System and has begun experiments to genotype these cultivars. This new information for rhubarb and lettuce cultivars will be added to the NPGS Global GRIN system where it will be available to scientists and plant enthusiasts worldwide.

Drone image of machine in an orchard.
Custom made over-the-row harvester for cider apples.

In our research cider apple orchard, M.S. student Seth Brawner continues our studies to evaluate mechanization to reduce labor needs and increase the production efficiency and profitability associated with growing cider apples in Washington. Our studies are focused on hedging to summer prune and utilizing an Oxbo Korvan 930 over-the-row mechanical harvester that was custom-made in Lynden, WA by one of the leading harvester manufacturers. This year, Seth has added a new study to his project, he will use the harvester to thin blossoms and fruit, replacing hand and chemical techniques. This is a novel and unique cider apple production system, the first in the world to test these production technologies together. Additionally, our irrigation research with Dr. Gabe LaHue (Soils and Water program) continues to show that reduced irrigation can conserve water while not sacrificing cider apple fruit yield or quality.

Small Fruit Horticulture

The Small Fruit Horticulture (SFH) program is led by Dr. Lisa Wasko DeVetter. Our focus is to develop and evaluate alternative management systems designed to promote plant productivity, fruit quality, on-farm efficiencies, and the health of adjacent natural resources within the diverse conditions of Washington State. We work across the state with blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry growers. This translates into a lot of diverse projects that we hope benefit the industry.

Since our last program update, former student Brenda Madrid completed her M.S. research on plastic mulch. She specifically investigated approaches to enhance degradation of soil-biodegradable plastic mulches and assessed plastic mulch adoption among raspberry growers. In addition, postdoctoral researcher Maxime Eeraerts, technician Emma Rogers, and retired entomologist Bob Gillespie spearheaded blueberry pollination research that shed light on landscape-level effects of honeybees’ hive stocking density. Because blueberry pollination is a very “buzzworthy” topic, graduate student Kayla Brouwer has been working with Eeraerts, Rogers, and our collaborators at Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Florida on a project investigating the role honeybee hive placement has on pollination and pesticide exposure. This national project has several other research and Extension components with our primary outcome being a pollination decision aid tool that we look forward to releasing in the near future. Alexandre Dias da Silva also visited our program from Brazil and completed a project looking at the timing of calcium uptake in raspberry fruits to inform fertilizer application timing. Our other graduate students, May Wang and Qianwen Lu, made progress with their studies on innovative mulching research for strawberry systems and raspberry nutrient management, respectively. They both graduated in 2022. Sam Chronert also graduated as a M.S. in Ag student with a focus on emerging technologies for controlled environment agriculture. Amy Cardenas is another M.S. in Ag graduate student that graduated earlier in 2022 and her project focused on the causes of fruit malformation in strawberry.

We have new faces in our program as well. Brian Maupin joined as our new Scientific Assistant and is bringing his expertise and enthusiasm to the program. Furthermore, Ben Weiss joined the program as a new graduate student working on hydromulching for organic berry systems. In addition to research, we have been actively extending information on mulching, pollination, nutrient management, machine harvesting, and postharvest management via webinars. Extension also means sharing information with the academic community and we are doing that through our role in a Vaccinium coordinated agriculture breeding project as well as co-conveying the International Society for Horticultural Science Rubus and Ribes Symposium. We also generate factsheets, newsletter articles, and peer-review publications. Many of the resources we develop can be found on our website and we have pages devoted to mulch technologies and blueberry pollination. Speaking of mulch technologies, the program will be doing more research on soil-biodegradable mulches and improving recycling outcomes of plastic mulches in berry systems through a newly awarded federal grant with collaborators at multiple institutions across the nation.

Soil Health

7 people pose with soil-related signs
Members of the Soil Health and Soils & Water programs at the Soil Science Society of America meeting in November 2022.

The Soil Health team had a productive winter and spring, keeping busy with sample and data analysis from our wide array of soil health projects across the state investigating impacts of soil management practices including tillage intensity, cover cropping, and organic matter amendments like biosolids and compost. We also had numerous opportunities to present our findings to stakeholders and fellow researchers, including at the Soil Science Society of America international conference in Baltimore.

We continued to work on our ‘State of the Soils’ Assessment, a collaboration with WSDA Soil Scientists and Conservation Districts that is funded by the WA Soil Health Initiative (WaSHI). Over 700 sites across the state have now been sampled and analyzed for a suite of 30 soil health indicators. With this study we are assessing the baseline soil health status of Washington’s soils and aim to define expected ranges of soil health indicators for Washington’s diverse systems. Two new factsheets from our program give more information on interpreting soil health measurements: FS378E: Soil Health in Washington Vineyards and FS379E: A Practical Guide to Soil Health Indicators for Monitoring Shifts in Soil Organic Matter.

We are looking forward to Year 3 of the Mount Vernon Long-Term Agroecological Research & Extension (LTARE) site and the additional LTARE sites funded by WaSHI getting on-line over the next couple of years. You can learn more about our process of starting what we hope will be a multi-decadal trial in our blog.

Soils & Water

Three people working a field
Postdoctoral researcher associate Navdeep Singh, Scientific Assistant Ed Scheenstra, and undergraduate intern Alexis Perez soil sampling in a field managed with controlled drainage and subirrigation.

It’s been a busy year for the Soils & Water program. We continue to conduct research on our programmatic pillars—soil-plant-water relationships, soil physical and hydrologic health, and soil fertility—and to work across a wide variety of crops on both sides of the Cascades. Some research highlights from this past year include publishing our work on controlled drainage and subirrigation (CDSI) and our work on reduced irrigation in cider apples. We found that CDSI is most likely to increase crop yield in medium-textured soils and in areas with <21 inches of precipitation during the growing season—both of which mean there is quite a bit of potentially suitable area for CSDI in NW WA. In the cider apple study, we highlighted the importance of measuring plant water status for irrigation scheduling, as predicted and actual soil moisture deficits did not translate to plant water stress.

Undergraduate and graduate instruction is a large part of my role at WSU, especially given the often-underappreciated importance of the Agricultural and Food Systems degree program and the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture major to our ability to conduct agricultural research at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC. In addition to teaching courses on introductory soil science and soil fertility management, I developed a new course on organic and sustainable agricultural certifications this past year. Our program also hosted an excellent Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates intern who collaborated on a project to assess the impact of soil compaction on plant available water and on farmer participatory research on irrigation. We’re continuing the participatory research this summer given the interest we’ve seen, so please reach out if you are interested in collaborating!

We said a bittersweet goodbye to two program personnel who moved on to greener pastures – M.S. student Tessa Belo graduated and is now employed by the Department of Ecology, while postdoctoral research associate Navdeep Singh is now an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University. To end on a positive note, two new students joined our program this past fall, M.S. student Claire Yost and Ph.D. student Paul Martinez. We’re excited to have them both here!

Vegetable Seed Pathology

Two women examine carrot foliage in a field.
Attendees examine some of the 183 carrot cultivars and breeding lines planted in a demonstration trial for the 40th International Carrot Conference held at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC on August 29 & 30, 2022. The Vegetable Seed Pathology Program organized the conference and field trial.

The Vegetable Seed Pathology (VSP) program had a very productive year in 2022. The 2022 field season started off cold and very wet, and the season then turned into one of the warmest and driest falls on record. Six onion field trials planted in Pasco in the Columbia Basin completed a third season of extensive trials on management of bacterial diseases of onion. Marilen Nampijja completed a beet seed crop field trial on bacterial leaf spot caused by a seedborne pathogen. As part of Kayla Spawton’s Ph.D. project, we planted a baby leaf spinach cultivar trial in Crystal City, TX in December 2022, in collaboration with TX growers and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, to screen 65 cultivars for resistance to Stemphylium leaf spot. This is the third season we have done spinach trials in Texas, funded by the TX Wintergarden Spinach Producers’ Board. We also planted 183 carrot cultivars and breeding lines submitted by seed companies from around the world, to demonstrate at the 40th International Carrot Conference that took place at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC on August 29 & 30 (Lindsey du Toit was chair of the organizing committee). We also planted an organic demonstration trial of 45 carrot cultivars at Ralph’s Greenhouse in Skagit Co., that was included in the field tour for the International Carrot Conference. The conference had ~100 attendees from nine countries.

In the summer of 2022, Lindsey taught the WSU Field Plant Pathology course (Pl_P 525), with 14 graduate students from three departments visiting >40 guests at numerous public, private, non-profit, and government field, lab, forestry, and greenhouse facilities around the state.

Group of people holding potted plants.
Alex Batson (in graduation gown and cap) celebrated completion of his Ph.D. degree in December 2022 with members of the Vegetable Seed Pathology program (L to R: Marilen and daughter Eleana, Bailey, Alex, Kayla, Lindsey, Tomy, Mike, and Babette).

In August 2022, Ph.D. students Alex Batson and Kayla Spawton, as well as Lindsey du Toit presented posters on various research projects at Plant Health 2023, the annual meeting of the American Phytopathological Society, in Pittsburgh, PA. Lindsey was honored as a Fellow of the APS at the conference. Lindsey du Toit and Heather McKay organized the two-day annual team meeting in Savannah, GA for a $4M USDA NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative project on onion bacterial diseases that Lindsey is leading, and Heather is managing. In January 2023, Ph.D. students Marilen Nampijja and Kayla Spawton, as well as Lindsey du Toit shared updates on various projects during the Western Washington Seed Workshop in Mount Vernon, WA. In February 2023, Kayla and Lindsey attended the TX Spinach Field Day near Crystal City, where Kayla had a spinach Stemphylium leaf spot field trial planted. One grower informed Lindsey and Kayla that their research has enabled growers in the TX Wintergarden Region to continue to produce spinach, as Stemphylium leaf pot was making it infeasible to produce this vegetable in that region.

In the winter of 2022-23, we completed the 14th Annual Spinach Fusarium Wilt Soil Bioassay in which we screened soil sampled from each of 55 growers’ fields in western Washington to quantify the risk of Fusarium wilt for spinach seed crops. We also screened 28 spinach parent lines to help seed companies assess the susceptibility of their spinach lines to Fusarium wilt. Results of the soil bioassay and parent line trial are used each year by spinach seed growers and seed companies to select fields in which to plant spinach seed crops. We have screened ~602 fields in western Washington since 2010, which has helped maintain economically viable spinach seed production in the USA.

Weed Science

We are hiring a Horticultural Weed Scientist at NWREC! The position is 12-month, career-track (assistant professor rank) with integrated research, extension, and teaching responsibilities. The successful applicant will investigate, develop, and teach sustainable and effective weed management of horticultural crops including but not limited to blueberry, raspberry, potato, vegetable seed, flower bulbs, tree fruit, and greenhouse production. Focus will be on weed management strategies that enhance crop productivity while increasing profits and improving environmental quality. Funding for the position has been secured from regional crop commodity groups and research and education will be based on stakeholder needs.

Weeds in a field
Questions can be addressed to the search committee chair, Drew Lyon (, 509-335-2961).

The position was advertised in early February, screening will start March 6, and will remain open until we select our top candidate. Our goal is to have our new weed scientist on board by summer 2023. We encourage you to reach out to potential candidates and ask them to apply. The position is posted on the WSU Jobs Site.

Horticultural Weed Scientist (R-8511)

USDA-ARS-Small Fruit Pathology

The Small Fruit Pathology program conducts research on diseases of small fruits in northern Washington with a focus on diseases of raspberry and blueberry. This research program actively provides enhanced technical support and services to multiple USDA-ARS scientists (located in Corvallis, Oregon) in the Plant Health National Program in the Pacific Northwest Area contributing to U.S. small fruit genetic resources.

Projects of the USDA-ARS small fruit pathology research program at NWREC  include:

  1. Characterizing population structures and biology of plant pathogenic fungi in the context of plant health,
  2. Monitoring emergence and persistence of fungicide resistance,
  3. Developing genetic tools (genic, SSR and SNP-based markers), to assist with disease management of Botrytis cinerea, the causal agent of grey mold,
  4. Conducting Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) of current and upcoming red raspberry cultivars in respect to disease response.

During the 2022 field season, we worked directly with Washington state small fruit commissions and regional growers to monitor and sample fields for disease related issues. Much of this work involved manual sampling of infected crop tissues as well as the deployment and monitoring of spore collection traps. Analysis of existing fungal pathogen population structures as well as screening for the development of fungicide-resistant pathogens is currently being conducted. We will continue to sample pathogens from infected tissues and spore traps through the upcoming 2023 growing season.

Employee and Graduate Student Highlights

New Arrivals

Graduate Students

  • Laura Webb, M.S. in Ag Student (Small Fruit Horticulture), Optimizing plant care in changing climate.
  • Chloe Waters, M.S. in Ag Student (Soils & Water), Critical soil, and plant tissue thresholds to guide nitrogen management.
  • Ben Weiss, M.S. Student (Small Fruit Horticulture), Hydromulching in berry crops.


  • Jeff DeLong, USDA Research Support Scientist
  • Molly Darr, Extension Forester
  • April Fairbanks, Administrative Assistant 2
  • Marcia Hunt, Fiscal Technician


Juan Alonso, Maintenance Mechanic 2

Two men pose with an award.
Juan with WSU President Schultz at 2023 Employee Recognition Reception in Pullman.

We honor someone who has been working at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC for longer than most people who are currently at NWREC have been alive. This coming August 1 marks the 46th anniversary for Juan Alonso working full time at NWREC, and Juan has decided to announce his retirement, effective July 31, 2023.

Juan and his family are originally from Cuba, and he started as a timeslip employee in 1974 when he was 17 years old and a high school student in Mount Vernon. He was hired full time in the Farmer 1 position in 1977, at age 20. Over the years as others retired, Juan was promoted to Maintenance Mechanic 1 and then to Maintenance Mechanic 2 in the late 1990s, which is his current position. Juan started work at NWREC under the direction of the original maintenance staff hired when the center opened in 1947. Some of those staff were WWII veterans, and as they reached retirement, they transitioned the knowledge and care of the facilities to Juan. Juan has been part of routine maintenance and many construction projects at NWREC throughout his career at NWREC, and he knows something about almost every aspect of the campus. A task that Juan has made his own is planting the pots of bulbs and annuals at our front door and at the WSU road sign. We will need to continue this tradition each year and will think of it as Juan’s Garden.

Juan expresses his gratitude to all of his colleagues at NWREC and WSU for providing him with such a wonderful and rewarding career. He shares he has been fortunate to work with an incredible team of people who have inspired and supported him every step of the way. We look forward to celebrating Juan and his career with you all prior to his retirement and will share details as they unfold.

We hope you enjoy this photo collection of Juan and his five decades of service at NWREC. The most recent photo was taken Wednesday, February 22 at the Employee Recognition Reception in Pullman, with President Schulz presenting the award to Juan and a couple photos around campus after the celebration. Only 3 other people have been working at WSU as long as Juan! Be sure to let Juan know how much we all have appreciated his dedication and service to WSU.

Thank you, Juan Alonso, for 46 years of service at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC!

Departing Staff

  • Roger Burt, Maintenance Technician 2
  • Drew Morris, Research Assistant
  • Best wishes to Mikelyn Rochford, Administrative Assistant, who left in late 2022 to pursue her Ph.D. program.
Young man in reflective jacket

Roger Burt began working for WSU Mount Vernon NWREC as an hourly timeslip employee in June 2021 fresh out of high school. In January 2022 Roger was promoted to Maintenance Mechanic 1 via open recruitment. Roger is wise beyond his years and the skillsets he brought to our team were top notch. With expertise in mechanics, fabrication and equipment operation, Roger lead many projects at our Center with some of his most noteworthy projects being fabrication of the Small Fruit Horticulture Hydro-mulch applicator and multiple in-house automotive repairs saving thousands of dollars. While we will miss Roger, we are very proud of his accomplishments. Just as we remind ourselves as faculty that we train our graduate students for positions, so we also train our staff. Wishing Roger well as he grows in his career path!


Dan Gorton received this year’s CAHNRS Administrative Professional Staff Excellence Award. In April this year, Dan will have worked at WSU for 25 years, and he oversees all aspects of managing our NWREC farm and facilities operations, providing leadership for maintenance and improvements, farm services, and both strategic and emergency responses for facility repairs. Dan is on-call 24/7, and too often has been called in after hours and during holidays to make repairs. His forte is solving problems and making repairs so efficiently, quickly, and quietly, that often no one notices. Dan has led several major construction projects at NWREC, including the Wiley Headhouse and currently the renovation of our 1948 greenhouses. He took the lead for implementing all COVID-19 safety measures at NWREC that provided us a safe working environment and allowed essential research to continue throughout the pandemic.

Dan’s other roles include being the Federal Excess Coordinator for CAHNRS, screening and acquiring Federal Excess Property for faculty state-wide. This past year, Dan served as Interim Facilities Manager for WSU Puyallup REC. He traveled to Puyallup weekly and was available for all their facilities and farm management and emergencies for 9 months. He is the senior REC facilities and farm manager, and the other RECs turn to him regularly for advice and assistance.

The award will be presented on April 11, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, at the Ensminger Pavilion at WSU in Pullman. For those of you who are in Pullman, I hope you will join us for this award presentation.

Graduate Student Completion

  • Aidan Kendall (advised by Carol Miles and co-advised by Gabe LaHue) completed his M.S. degree in May 2022, he worked last year for WSDA Organic Food Program and now is working for Highland Economics in Missoula, MT.
  • Tessa Belo (advised by Gabe LaHue and co-advised by Lindsey du Toit) completed her M.S. degree in June 2022, and is now working as a Water Quality Nonpoint Specialist for the Washington State Department of Ecology.
  • Alex Batson successfully completed his Ph.D. degree in December 2022, with his dissertation on Fusarium wilt of spinach. He is gainfully employed at the Guadalupe, CA facility of Ball Horticultural Co. as a plant pathologist supporting ornamental breeders.


Journal Articles

  • Alege, F.P., H. Tao, G.J. Miito, L.W. DeVetter, and P.M. Ndegwa. 2022. Influence of moisture content on recovery and durability of dairy manure compost pellets. Bioresource Technology Reports. 18:101076.
  • Bagnall, D.K., C.L.S. Morgan, M. Cope, G.M. Bean, S.B. Cappellazzi, K.L.H. Greub, D. Liptzin, C.E. Norris, E.L. Rieke, P.W. Tracy, …, D. Griffin-LaHue, …C.W. Honeycutt. 2022. Carbon‐sensitive pedotransfer functions for plant available water. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 1–18.
  • Bagnall, D.K., G.M. Bean, D. Liptzin, S.B. Cappellazzi, M. Cope, K.L.H. Greub, E.L. Rieke, C.E. Norris, P.W. Tracy, …, D. Griffin-LaHue, …, C.W. Honeycutt. 2022. Selecting soil hydraulic properties as indicators of soil health: Measurement response to management and site characteristics. Soil Science Society of America Journal 86(5), 1206-1226.
  • Batson, A.M., Gyawali, S., and du Toit, L.J. 2022. Shedding light on races of the spinach Fusarium wilt pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. spinaciae. Phytopathology 112:2138-2150.
  • Batson, A., Spawton, K, Katz, R., and du Toit, L.J. 2022. Cladosporium leaf spot, caused by Cladosporium variabile, in winter high tunnel production of spinach (Spinacia oleracea) in Maine, United States. Plant Disease 106:2268.
  • Carrijo D.R., LaHue G.T., Parikh S.J., Chaney R.L., and B.A. Linquist. 2022. Mitigating the accumulation of arsenic and cadmium in rice grain: a quantitative review of the role of water management. Sci. Total Environ. 839:156245.
  • Cucak, M., Harteveld, D.O.C., Wasko DeVetter, L., Peever, T.L., Moral, R.d.A., and Mattupalli, C. 2022. Development of a decision support system for the management of mummy berry disease in northwestern Washington. Plants 11:2043.
  • Darr, M.N., D.R. Coyle and R.M. Jetton. 2022. Arthropod and Disease Management in Fraser Fir (Pinales: Pinaceae) Christmas Trees in the Southeastern United States. J. Integr. Pest Manage. 13(1), 8,
  • DeVetter, L.W., S. Chabert, M.O. Milbrath, R.E. Mallinger, J. Walters, R. Isaacs, S.P. Galinato, C. Kogan, K. Brouwer, A. Melathopoulos, and M. Eeraerts. 2022. Toward evidence-based decision support systems to optimize pollination and yields in highbush blueberry. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 6:10062001.
  • Devi, P., L. DeVetter, M. Kraft, S. Shrestha and C. Miles. 2022 Micrographic view of graft union formation between watermelon scion and squash rootstock. Front. Plant Sci. 13:878289.
  • Edger, P.P., M. Iorizzo, N.V. Bassil, J. Benevenuto, L.F.V. Ferrão, L. Giongo, K. Hummer, L.M.F. Lawas, C.P. Leisner, C. Li, P.R. Munoz, H. Ashrafi, A. Atucha, E.M. Babiker, E. Canales, D. Chagné, L.W. DeVetter, M. Ehlenfeldt, R.V Espley, K. Gallardo, C.S. Günther, M. Hardigan, A.M. Hulse-Kemp, M. Jacobs, M.A. Lila, C. Luby, D. Main, M.F. Mengist, G.L. Owens, P. Perkins-Veazie, J. Polashock, M. Pottorff, LJ. Rowland, C.A. Sims, G. Song, J, Spencer, N. Vorsa, A.E Yocca, and J. Zalapa . 2022. There and back again; historical perspective and future directions for Vaccinium breeding and research studies. Horticulture Research. 9.
  • Eeraerts, M., E. Rogers, B. Gillespie, L. Best, O. Smith, and L.W. DeVetter. 2022. Landscape-level honey bee hive density, instead of field-level hive density, enhances honey bee visitation in blueberry. Landscape Ecology. 1-3.
  • Griffin-LaHue, D., S. Ghimire, Y. Yu, E. Scheenstra, C. Miles, and M. Flury. 2022. In-field degradation of soil-biodegradable plastic mulch films in a Mediterranean climate. Science of the Total Environment. 806(1):150238.
  • Kendall, A., C.A. Miles, T.R. Alexander, E. Scheenstra, and G.T. LaHue. 2022. Reduced irrigation during orchard establishment conserves water and maintains yield for three cider apple (Malus domestica Borkh) cultivars. HortScience 57(1):118–125. doi:10.21273/HORTSCI16252-21
  • Kendall, A., T.R. Alexander, G.T. LaHue, and C.A. Miles. 2022. Summer mechanical hedging to prune eight cider apple cultivars. HortTechnology. 32:313-320.
  • Kubalek, R. D. Granatstein, D. Collins, and C. Miles. 2022. Review of tarping and a case study on small-scale organic farms. HortTechnology 32:119-128.
  • Liptzin, D., C.E. Norris, S.B. Cappellazzi, G. Mac Bean, M. Cope, K.L.H Greub, E.L. Rieke, P.W. Tracy,…, D. Griffin-LaHue, …., C.W. Honeycutt. 2022. An evaluation of carbon indicators of soil health in long-term agricultural experiments. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 172, 108708. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2022.108708.
  • Lu, Q., H. Tao, P. Ndegwa, F.P. Alege, and L.W. DeVetter. 2022. Biofertilizer derived from dairy manure increases raspberry fruit weight and leaf magnesium concentration. Scientia Horticulturae. 302:111160.
  • Lu, Q., C. Miles, H. Tao, and L. DeVetter. 2022. Evaluation of real-time nutrient analysis of fertilized raspberry using petiole sap. Frontiers in Plant Science. Front. Plant Sci. 13:918021.
  • Lu, Q., C.A. Miles, H. Tao, and L.W. DeVetter. 2022. Reduced nitrogen fertilizer rates maintained raspberry growth in an established field. Agronomy. 12(3):672.
  • Lukas, S., S. Singh, L.W. DeVetter, J.R. Davenport. 2022. Leaf tissue macronutrient standards for northern highbush blueberry grown in contrasting environments. Plants. 11(23):3376.
  • Madrid, B., S. Wortman, D.G Hayes, J.M DeBruyn, C. Miles, M. Flury, T.L Marsh, S.P. Galinato, K. Englund, S. Agehara, and L.W. DeVetter. 2022. End-of-life management options for agricultural mulch films in the United States. A review. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 6:921496.
  • Madrid, B., H. Zhang, C.A. Miles, M. Kraft, D. Griffin-LaHue and L. W. DeVetter. 2022. Humic and acetic acids have the potential to enhance deterioration of select plastic soil-biodegradable mulches in a Mediterranean climate. Agriculture. 12(6):865.
  • Madrid, B., J.R. Goldberger, C.A. Miles, and L.W. DeVetter. 2022. Risk and uncertainty of plastic mulch adoption in raspberry production systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 1–12. doi:
  • Mattupalli, C., Shiller, J. B., Proano, F., Watkins, T., Hansen, K., Garzon, C. A., Marek, S. M., and Young, C. A. 2022. Genetic diversity of Phymatotrichopsis omnivora based on mating type and microsatellite markers reveal heterothallic mating system. Plant Disease 106:2105-2116.
  • Naegele, R. P., Abdelsamad, N. A., DeLong, J. A., Saito, S., Xiao, C.L., Miles T. D. 2022. Fungicide Resistance and Host Influence on Population Structure in Botrytis spp.from Specialty Crops in California. Phytopathology 112:2549-2559
  • Nottingham, L. B., R. J. Orpet, E. H. Beers. 2022. Integrated pest management programs for pear psylla, Cacopsylla pyricola (Förster) (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), using kaolin clay and reflective plastic mulch. J. Econ. Entomol.
  • Rieke, E.L., D.K. Bagnall, C.L.S. Morgan, K.L.H. Greub, G.M. Bean, S.B. Cappellazzi, M. Cope, D. Liptzin, C.E. Norris, P.W. Tracy, …., D. Griffin-LaHue, et al. 2022. Evaluation of aggregate stability methods for soil health. Geoderma 428. IF = 6.114
  • Rieke, E.L., S.B. Cappellazzi, M. Cope, D. Liptzin, G.M. Bean, K.L.H. Greub, C.E. Norris, P.W. Tracy, …, D. Griffin-LaHue, …C.L.S. Morgan, C.W. Honeycutt. Linking soil microbial community structure to potential carbon mineralization: A continental scale assessment of reduced tillage. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 168, 108618.
  • Shi, A., Bhattarai, G., Xiong, H., Avila, C.A., Feng, C., Liu, B., Joshi, V., Stein, L., Mou, B., du Toit, L.J., and Correll, J.C. 2022. Genome-wide association study and genomic prediction of white rust resistance in USDA GRIN spinach germplasm. Horticulture Research 9:uhac069.
  • Shrestha, S. and C. Miles. 2022. Plastic mulch and in-row spacing effects on sweetpotato yield in northwest Washington. HortTechnology. 32:241-251.
  • Shrestha, S., C. Mattupalli, and C. Miles. 2022. Effect of grafting compatibility on fruit yield and quality of cantaloupe in a Mediterranean-type climate. Horticulturae 8, 888.
  • Singh N., Kogan C., Chaudhary S., Rajagopalan K., and G.T. LaHue. 2022. Effects of controlled drainage and subirrigation on crop yield and soil moisture. Vadose Zone J. 21:e20219.
  • Una, T.M., D. McMoran, S.S. Seefeldt, B. Maupin, E. Myhre, D. Griffin-LaHue. 2022. Short-term impacts of cover crops in maritime potato (Solanum tuberosum) systems. Agrosystems, Geosciences, and Environment 5, 1-11.
  • Wang, X., S. Shrestha, L. Tymon, H. Zhang, C. Miles, and L. DeVetter. 2022. Soil-biodegradable mulch is an alternative to non-biodegradable plastic mulches in a strawberry-lettuce double cropping system. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 6:942645. doi:10.3389/fsufs.2022.942645
  • Weldon, W. A., McGhee, G. C., DeLong, J. A., Stockwell, V. 2023 Multiplex PCR assay for rapid identification of Monilinia rubi, the casual agent of dry-berry disease of caneberries. Plant Health Progress

Journal Articles, Technical/Extension

  • du Toit, L.J., Derie, M.L., Gundersen, B., Waters, T.D., and Darner, J. 2022. Effects of bactericide and herbicide applications on bacterial leaf blight and bulb rot of onion, Pasco, WA, 2021-22. Plant Disease Management Reports 16:V150.
  • du Toit, L.J., Derie, M.L., Gundersen, B., Waters, T.D., and Darner, J. 2022. Effects of late-season cultural practices on bacterial leaf blight and bulb rot in an onion crop, Pasco, WA, 2021-22. Plant Disease Management Reports 16:V149.
  • du Toit, L.J., Derie, M.L., Gundersen, B., Waters, T.D., and Darner, J. 2022. Efficacy of disinfectants applied to onion bulbs in storage for control of bacterial bulb rots, Pasco, WA, 2021-22. Plant Disease Management Reports 16:V148.
  • du Toit, L.J., Derie, M.L., Gundersen, B., Waters, T.D., and Darner, J. 2022. Susceptibility of 12 onion cultivars to bacterial leaf blight and bulb rot in Pasco, WA, 2021-22. Plant Disease Management Reports 16:V151.
  • McCullough, C and L. Nottingham. 2022. Potted Plant Assay of the Timing of Insect Growth Regulator Application for Control of Pear Psylla in Pears, 2021. Arthropod Manage. Tests 47.
  • McCullough, C and L. Nottingham. 2022. Field Assay of the Timing of Insect Growth Regulator Application for Control of Pear Psylla in Pears, 2021. Arthropod Manage. Tests 47.

Extension Factsheets

  • DeVetter, L.W. and G. Hoheisel. 2022. WSU Master Gardener Manual CH. 8 Berries and Small Fruit. Washington State University Publication. Pp. 31. In Press.
  • DeVetter, L.W., F. Takeda, J. Chen, and W. Yang. 2022. Harvesting blueberries: A guide to machine pick blueberries for fresh market. Washington State University Extension Publication. Pp. 11. FS368E
  • DuPont, S. T., Nottingham, L. B., Beers, B., Grove, G., Amiri, A., Schmidt, T. 2022. Crop Protection Guide for Tree Fruits in Washington. Washington State University Publications EB0419.
  • Gallardo, K. R., S. P. Galinato, and L. B. Nottingham. 2022. 2022 Cost Estimates of Producing and Packing Fresh-Market Anjou Pears in the Wenatchee River Valley, Washington State. Washington State University Publications FS031E
  • Gallardo, K. R., S. P. Galinato, and L. B. Nottingham. 2022. 2022 Cost Estimates of Producing and Packing Fresh-Market Bartlett Pears in South Washington. Washington State University Publications FS034E
  • Mattupalli, C. Charkowski, A. O., Ingram, J. T., and Filiatrault, M. J. 2022. Rethinking seed potato certification: Moving toward a grower-focused system. Spudman 60(1):25-28.
  • Mattupalli, C., Charkowski, A. O., Ingram, J. T., Filiatrault, M., Sklarczyk, D., Ebe, G. D. 2022. COVID-19 tech provides lessons for seed potato certification improvements. Spudman 60(3):14-19
  • Nottingham, L. B., R. J. Orpet, S. T. DuPont. 2022. Pear Psylla Integrated Pest Management. WSU Extension Publications FS376E.
  • Sullivan, D.M., A. Tomasek, D. Griffin-LaHue, E. Verhoeven, A.D. Moore, L.J. Brewer, A.I. Bary, C.G. Cogger, D. Biswanath. 2022. PNW 508: Fertilizing with biosolids. Pacific Northwest Extension.

Extension Newsletter Articles

Trade Journal Articles