As evidenced by the numerous reports in this annual compilation, the Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) project continues to crank out a wide range of research results annually. The WOCS team’s top priorities are to conduct research to 1) answer production questions from growers, 2) improve production, and 3) be applicable in a range of precipitation zones in eastern Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Just as important as the research is finding effective ways to disseminate the data and findings to growers, crop consultants, and other stakeholders. We have found that a variety of formats of outreach is key to effective communication. Methods we use throughout the year are online via the WOCS website (www.css.wsu.edu/oilseeds), email updates and notifications, five field days during the growing season, individual farm visits, on-farm trials, Extension publications, presentations at university and industry events, and finally, our annual oilseed production workshops and/or conference. In 2015, 1335 people attended all WOCS events. Ten Farmer Technology breakfast meetings were held in Colfax and Lewiston, all of which had an oilseed component.
After partnering with the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association for a large conference in 2014 and 2015 and based on survey results, we returned to our original format of several smaller workshops dedicated specifically to oilseed production, marketing and processing information. The workshops were held in Odessa, Colfax and Dayton, and the response from growers and industry was overwhelmingly positive. Attendees placed the highest value on the presentations being geared toward the production region where each workshop was at, and the interactive format of the breakout sessions. We will be having workshops again in 2017 with the interactive format, potentially a more hands-on approach, and growers and industry involved in the planning.
Winter canola plans with growers and WOCS staff were challenged, and in many cases failed, last summer and fall with drought conditions. Additionally, there was a period of time during seeding time when bids were not available for canola and there was uncertainty about the future of a major processor where most growers take their crop. Those factors resulted in planted winter canola acres again being down from the recent high of 51,000 acres in 2014 to 37,000 for 2016 (USDA-NASS, Mar. 31, 2016). Despite the reduced prospective acres, the WOCS team is forging ahead with outreach to continue educating PNW growers and crop consultants about the latest research to improve production. Several fact sheets were published to kick off a WOCS-branded Extension publication series.
With a grant from Viterra, the WOCS Extension team has planned on-farm spring canola variety trials that are now being planted at three locations in eastern Washington: Davenport (WSU Wilke Farm), St. John (Eriksen farm), and Fairfield (Emtman Farms). There are six varieties, including Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, Clearfield (including a high-oleic), non-GMO hybrid, and a Brassica rapa. We are using grower equipment for most field operations and will be hosting field days at the plots. Stand establishment, soil water and nitrogen use efficiency, weed control, and yield will be measured. Keep an eye on our website calendar for upcoming events!