Washington wheat growers are about to become even more involved in the consideration and approval of new wheat varieties developed by scientists in the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources.
CAHNRS Dean Dan Bernardo, working with leadership from the Washington Wheat Commission and Washington Association of Wheat Growers, has launched several new initiatives to strengthen the wheat industry and WSU wheat research.
"These initiatives are a way to make a great wheat research program even better," he says. "The WSU wheat research program is one of, if not the best of its kind in the country, in large part because of the strong industry support we've enjoyed. Strengthening our already-strong ties with wheat growers will help us be more responsive to their needs."
Specifically, CAHNRS will be working with the industry to:
- Create a new WSU Wheat Research Advisory Committee comprised of a mix of industry representatives as well as WSU faculty and administrators.
- Refine the composition, policies and leadership of the Variety Release Committee to make it more responsive to grower needs.
- Revise the Wheat Commission's current research grant process to provide more specific direction to scientists and to ensure research outcomes are delivered.
- Develop an up-to-date set of research priorities endorsed by the Commission.
- Develop a business plan for WSU wheat research.
The initiatives spring from recommendations made in an external review of the program earlier this year. WSU requested and paid for the review as a way to ensure and improve quality of the program.
"The review team found outstanding talent at all levels," the report states. "Facilities we observed are world class. Support for growers and other stakeholders has been strong and consistent. We heard that WWC funding for wheat research and extension programs at WSU is the largest in the country, and this appears to be true. This amounts to a strong, sustained expression of confidence from producers."
Washington state ranks fifth nationally in wheat production, with 1.8 million acres of winter wheat and 500,000 acres in spring wheat, the third largest farm commodity in the state.