Nik Wiman, an entomologist with extensive experience in integrated pest management, is Oregon State University’s new orchard crops extension specialist, a position designed to focus on hazelnuts.
Wiman, 38, started in his new position Sept. 16. He is based out of the North Willamette Valley Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Ore.
Wiman replaces Jeff Olsen as the lead hazelnut extension specialist in Oregon. Olsen served the hazelnut industry for nearly 30 years as a Yamhill County Extension agent before he died unexpectedly in January of 2014.
Wiman, however, will have more research responsibility than did Olsen, according to Mike Bondi, regional administrator of the Clackamas County Extension Office and director of the North Willamette Valley Research and Extension Center.
“Nik has more of a research expertise background (than Olsen did) and will be able to fill a role that more fully integrates the applied research as well as the extension and outreach piece,” Bondi said. “And because he has worked in the research realm as much as he has, we believe he will be in good position to bring in significant grant-contract funding, which will allow him to expand or to grow his program with faculty research assistance and or other program assistance.
“We ultimately decided, in conjunction with the hazelnut industry, to realign the position and relocate it at North Willamette, so the person would have more of a research community to work with and the facility to do the research,” Bondi said.
The college conducted a national search to fill the position, Bondi said, reviewing what he characterized as a small but relatively strong pool of candidates.
“We really felt that Nik was by far the strongest candidate,” Bondi said. “And we are very, very fortunate to get someone who has been working some with hazelnuts, because, obviously, it is hard to find people with a background with that crop.”
Bondi said Wiman is expected to invest about 80 percent of his time on hazelnuts, with the remaining 20 percent focused on tree fruits and other orchard nut crops.
Wiman holds a doctorate in entomology from Washington State University, where he worked extensively in tree fruits, and holds a master’s and a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University.
Wiman, who spent the past three years working as a post doctorate in Oregon’s brown marmorated stink bug project, said he already has started working with hazelnut growers to identify and prioritize research projects.
“I plan to be involved in issues like irrigation, weed management and cover crops. There are so many different interesting experiments to be done,” Wiman said.
“But the biggest thing I think is needed is effective communication to growers, particularly new growers coming on. There is really good information out there that OSU has put together. And also the hazelnut commission has good information, but there is not a one-stop place people can go and find out everything they need to know,” he said.
“I’m real excited,” he said. “You couldn’t pick a more exciting industry.”
Funding for the position was allocated in 2014, Bondi said, and is not part of the $14 million in additional funds lawmakers provided OSU’s statewide public services in the 2015 Oregon Legislature.