Crop and Soil Sciences

The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University serves the Land Grant tradition by offering nationally competitive undergraduate and graduate education programs, conducting fundamental and applied plant and soil research, and extending the science of our disciplines to serve the public.

CSS News & Updates

How Soil Microbiology Might Help your PB&J

If you’ve ever packed fruit snacks in a lunch, enjoyed a glass of grape juice, or made a PB&J, chances are the grapes used in those products were grown in Washington’s Yakima Valley. That’s because household brands like Welch’s Smucker’s, and Tree Top get most of their grapes from Washington state, the largest producer of Concord grapes in the nation.

Researchers at Washington State University are working hard to keep it that way by helping grape growers fight iron chlorosis, a pervasive and destructive disease that threatens Concord grapevines throughout the state.

2019 Field Day Abstracts

The 2019 Field Day Abstracts: Highlights of Research Progress is now available to download on the Field Day Abstracts page.

New WSU Soft White Spring Wheat Ryan in High Demand

Seed for a high-yielding new soft white spring wheat variety is in short supply this year, dealers say.

Geoff Schulz, seed operations manager for HighLine Grain Growers in Reardan, Wash., said he’s been sold out of Washington State University’s new soft white spring wheat Ryan for six weeks. He gets calls every day from farmers and other seed companies looking for Ryan and another WSU soft white spring, Seahawk.

Many of the calls come from irrigated farmers who usually plant dark northern spring wheat, he said.

“I could have sold four times as much Ryan as what I had out there, and I thought I was swimming in it,” he said.

WSU’s spring wheat breeder, Mike Pumphrey, pointed to Ryan as the highest-yielding soft white spring wheat in intermediate or high rainfall zone trials in recent years.

Northwest Scientists Defend Lentils from Root-Rotting Disease

In our snacks, salads and soups, lentils add a high-fiber, protein- and nutrient-packed punch. In Pacific Northwest farmers’ fields, lentils are a valuable crop that conserves water and replenishes the soil, making Washington the third-ranked lentil region in the U.S.

But the Northwest’s prized ‘superfood’ is threatened by root rot, a disease that stunts and discolors lentil roots, stems and leaves, shrinking harvests.

To protect lentils from this costly disease, scientists at Washington State University are hunting down the chief cause of root rot and developing resistant varieties as part of a multi-national, $3.4 million research project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“In bad years, lentil farmers can lose their entire crop to root rot,” said Rebecca McGee, co-project leader, research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and a WSU Crop and Soils Sciences and Horticulture adjunct scientist.

Scientist’s Involvement Helps Sensors Send Water to Crops, Right when they Need it

Helping farmers grow food using less water, Pete Jacoby, plant ecologist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, is advancing water-sensing research in his new role with the American Society of Agronomy.

Jacoby was recently named vice leader of the Society’s Sensor-based Water Management Community, which explores and shares research on water sensors, sensor-based irrigation, and how plants and the soil are affected by water and drought.

Dr. Davenport Receives the WERA-103 Leadership Award

Dr. Joan Davenport was awarded the WERA-103 Leadership Award at the 13th biannual Western Nutrient Management Conference on March 7th, 2019.

ASA, CSSA, SSSA Announce 2019 Future Leaders in Science Award Recipients

Award recipients were formally presented their award at a reception held during the annual ASA, CSSA, & SSSA Congressional Visits Day on March 4, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. 2019 – The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) selected the 2019 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award. Halle Choi of Washington State University was one of 18 graduate students members who received the award in recognition of her interest and engagement in science advocacy. Award winners received a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Congressional Visits Day on March 5, where they met with their members of Congress to advocate for food, agriculture and natural resources research.

ASA, CSSA, and SSSA are scientific societies based in Madison, WI, helping their 10,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop, soil sciences, and related disciplines by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.

For more information on the 2019 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA award, including award descriptions and photo requests, contact Julie McClure, Science Policy Manager, 202-735-5904,

Healing Grain: Scientists Develop New Wheat that Fights Celiac Disease

Researchers at Washington State University have helped create a new, genetically distinct variety of wheat that’s safer for people with celiac disease, opening the door for new treatments and healing potential for the staple grain.

Biodegradable Plastic Mulch Could Help Environment, Increase Yield

U.S. agriculture uses about a billion pounds of plastic annually, and much of that material ends up in landfills, rivers, oceans and even our food, beverages and bodies.

Jessica Goldberger’s aim is to help farmers grow crops more sustainably and curb global dependence on wasteful, perpetual plastic.

Soil Scientist David Brown Named New AgWeatherNet Director

Washington State University soil scientist David Brown has been selected as the new director of AgWeatherNet, Washington’s agricultural weather network.

AgWeatherNet strives to help Washington growers and citizens understand and prepare for the challenges and changes that weather brings.

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WSU Ag Programs Highly Ranked in the World

US News and World Report places WSU at #36 for Best Global Universities for Agriculture Sciences. For more information, go to the US News list. QS World University Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry places WSU at #45 worldwide. For more information, go to the CS Worldwide list.