Extension program more than gardens

Gwen Alyn-Hoheisel

SUNNYSIDE — Most people think of the Washington State University Extension program as it relates to Master Gardener programs or youth organizations, such as 4-H.

For Regional Extension Specialist Gwen Alyn-Hoheisel, the program’s educational services extend to her favorite topics – all things related to controlling invasive bugs and helping farmers use the proper Methodists of applying pesticides.

Speaking to the Noon Rotary Club, Monday, Alyn-Hoheisel said her work during past few years had evolved around stink bugs.

The brown stinkbug and the spotted stink currently top her list of invasive bugs that need to be addressed. The invasive species spread quickly and are difficult to control, she said.

Alyn-Hoheisel said her area of expertise is in commercial fruit, such as blueberries, wine and juice grapes and tree fruits.

“About 100 percent of my time is spent doing putting educational workshops, generally focused on pesticides use and sprayer applications and safety,” she said.

Alyn-Hoheisel is also currently researching to determine cold hardiness levels for blueberries as more acres are being put into commercial blueberries in Eastern Washington.

She also discussed the increased use of canopies covering crops in the region.

She said canopies help to not only control the amount of sunlight hitting fruit trees, it helps to control other damages such as rainfall at the wrong time of the year.

Most of the local canopies are used as protection against rain and hail, two weather factors Alyn-Hoheisel described as horrific for fruits such as cherries.

“I believe we will be seeing more fields covered by canopies to protect the crops not only from weather conditions but pests as well,” she said.

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