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Special Projects

Biodegradable mulch

Biodegradable Plastic Mulch

Our WSU research team is testing soil-biodegradable mulch (BDM) to find effective and affordable alternatives to polyethylene (PE) mulch to reduce non-recyclable waste. Our team is evaluating the impact of BDMs on the crop micro-climate (temperature, moisture, solar radiation, wind, etc.) as well as soil conditions. We are collaborating with other universities and enterprises to find solutions to improved end-of-life management of agricultural plastics in specialty crop systems.

Cider apples on a tree

Hard Cider

Our cider research program at WSU is evaluating more than 65 cider apple varieties for cultivar performance, orchard establishment, and management practices. We have assessed the productivity, juice quality, and sensory characteristics of these varieties, as well as mechanical pruning and harvest methods to reduce labor costs.

PNW Vegetable Extension Group logo

PNW Vegetable Extension Group

The coordination of the Pacific Northwest Vegetable Extension Group (PNW–VEG) is based at WSU NWREC in Mount Vernon. The team is comprised of 23 vegetable specialists from Washington, Idaho and Oregon who contribute expertise in plant pathology, horticulture, weed science and entomology. The specialists organize vegetable extension information and events throughout the region via website, workshops, growing season conference calls and other activities.


Our Research team at WSU has been testing grafting methods since 2009 with three crops (tomato, eggplant, and watermelon) to improve plant production, reduce disease susceptibility, and increase soil utilization. We are evaluating the use of grafted watermelon as a biological disease management practice for verticillium wilt, and we have developed a successful splice-grafting method for watermelon, where both the cotyledons are removed from the rootstock, that can eliminate rootstock-regrowth issue.