A Washington State University researcher said the U.S. could double the capacity for spinach seed production.
Seed pathologist Lindsey du Toit, a member of the faculty at WSU’s Mount Vernon Research Center, described current research during the Dec. 10-12 International Spinach Conference in Guangzhou, China.
She was one of 16 leading international experts invited to the conference to address issues in global spinach production, spinach breeding, disease and pest management and genomics. Industry representatives included seed growers, producers and shippers; researchers; extension agents; and pest management professionals.
“Northwest Washington and the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon are critical for the United States and the rest of the world with regard to seed production,” du Toit said. “These are the only places suitable for seed production because of the unique climatic conditions — cool, dry summers and long summer days — needed to grow high-quality commercial seed.”
She credited the research of Emily Gatch, who earned a Ph.D. this year after working with du Toit for several years on a project aimed at managing Fusarium wilt in spinach seed crops. Fusarium wilts are common vascular wilt fungal diseases that affect a wide range of plant species around the world.
“The work we have been doing prior to and as part of Emily’s Ph.D. showed that we can do more — perhaps double — seed production in Washington state,” du Toit said.