Featured image: Jen Uranga, Mountain West Ag/Gem Ag Professionals, photo courtesy of Stuart Reitz
By Stuart Reitz
Malheur Experiment Station and OSU
[Editor’s note: The Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association represents vegetable growers from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. To the Association, the smallest specialty crop grower is just as important as the largest corporate farm that has thousands of acres. Both fill a specific need in the marketplace. The Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association is dedicated to education, research, production, promotion, and representation relative to the Northwest vegetable industry and its markets.}
There were over 800 attendees and over 100 exhibitors on hand for the 2022 PNVA Nov. 16-17at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, WA, making it the largest PNVA meeting to date. Attendees included growers from across the PNW and western U.S. as well as allied industry representatives ranging from crop advisors, pesticide and fertilizer suppliers to irrigation specialists and farm equipment companies.
The day before the convention began, the Columbia Basin Onion Research Committee met to receive reports from researchers for projects funded for the 2022 season and to hear research proposals for the coming year. The research committee helps to identify research priorities and funds research to support the onion industry in the Columbia Basin.
The onion session kicked off the 2022 PNVA meeting and was quite well-attended.
Dr. Gina Greenway, Greenway Consulting, gave an update on the costs of production. Not surprisingly, the cost arrows on many of her slides were pointing up (and up and up…). She also provided a look at the costs and benefits of nitrogen fertilization and insecticide use, based on research conducted at the Malheur Experiment Station. She noted that using recommended fertilization levels, as determined by soil and tissue testing, provides a good return on investment, returning anywhere from $2-$4 for each dollar spent on nitrogen. Likewise, the judicious use of insecticides provides a strong return on investment.
Also on the economic front, Jen Uranga, Mountain West Ag/Gem Ag Professionals, discussed the ins and outs of the H-2A guest worker program. Although there are complexities to the program and specific requirements for growers to meet to bring in workers, the H-2A program is a route to hire experienced, dependable farm workers. The H-2A program continues to grow and has allowed the ag industry to hire over 300,000 guest workers this year.
Rob Wilson, University of California, Intermountain Research and Extension Center, Tulelake, reviewed his program’s history of onion and seedcorn maggot management research. He noted the importance of seed treatments for maggot management now that Lorsban (chlorpyrifos) is no longer registered. He received news just before the onion session that a new Spinosad based insecticide seed treatment should be available from Corteva for the 2023 growing season to replace the Regard seed treatment, which is no longer available. Spinosad has been the most effective seed treatment for seedcorn maggots.
Dr James Woodhall, University of Idaho, Parma, discussed the effects of the cool wet spring conditions on onion diseases, a topic of great concern following the 2022 growing season, which started cold and wet across the Columbia Basin and Treasure Valley before transitioning to record-setting hot temperatures.
Dr Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University, Mt.Vernon, presented an update on the “Stop the Rot” project that she leads, and which is funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative program. This large multi-institution project is working to identify the major pathogenic bacteria that cause bulb rots in different growing regions across the U.S. The research team is also examining cultural practices, such as irrigation and fertilization, that can be manipulated to reduce the incidence of bacterial bulb rots.
Our thanks to Larry Bauman with L&L Ag Production and Target Ag., Lyndon Johnson with Crookham Company, Zane Beams with Seedway, Sheri Nolan with PNVA, and Stuart Reitz for sending in great photos from the event.
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