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WSU Whatcom County Extension Celebrates 100 Years of Service

Volume 6 Issue 5


Chris Benedict (

May 2017 marks 100 years since the offices of Washington State University Whatcom County Extension office opened in downtown Bellingham. A lot has changed since then both within the agricultural community and within the WSU Whatcom County Extension office. Since 1917, twelve agricultural agents and a number of assistant agents have operated within Whatcom County supporting horticulture crops, dairy and poultry farms. Below is a bit of a timeline highlighting the observations of these agents, in their own words.

We look forward to serving the agricultural community for the next 100 years.


WSU Extensionagents1917


“I found the county to be quite well organized, there being seventeen Granges, one Equity Society, four Co-operative Creameries, three privately owned Creameries, two Condensaries, and three Fruit Canneries.”

“The principle line of farming in Whatcom County is dairying, the last tax roll showing 16,170 milk cows, and 10,780 yearlings. Other than dairying, fruit growing and poultry raising are the more important agricultural industries.”

“The principle crops grown in the county are oats, peas, vetch, wheat, barley, spelts (Emmer), corn, legume hay, timothy hay, mangels, potatoes, and garden truck. A large acreage is planted each year for silage.”

– Harry B. Carroll, 1917

Read the 1917 Report from Harry B. Carroll – 1917_Report



“Much of the farm crop work done was in the nature of office calls of farmers who desired information on plant identification, uses of fertilizers and weed control methods. The acreage of reeds canary grass and alfalfa has increased in the county in the past year”

“A serious outbreak of bean rust threatened to take the entire crop of beans this year. Through the cooperation of the Extension office, the Western Washington Experiment Station and the Kale Canning Company, the disease was controlled by dusting the vines with two parts Sulphur to one part hydrated lime early in the morning when the dew is still on the plants. As a result of quick action on the part of the cannery and the growers, the bean crop was not seriously damaged.”

– Fred W. Frasier, 1936

Read the 1936 Report from Fred W. Frasier – 1936_Report



“The potato yield for the years of 1939 through 1940 had been set at 250 bushels per acre in addition to the potato acreage listed, it was estimated that there was 2157 acres of potatos which were harvested by operators who normally grow potatos on different farms from one year to the next.”

“Whatcom County has been very active in the Food for Defense program. The County Defense Board attended a meeting in Seattle relative to the all-out needs for increased food production in order to the win the war…At present the indications are that the farmers of Whatcom county will cooperate most heartily with the program.”

“A great deal of interest has been manifested in Whatcom county relative to the production of flax for fiber.”

“The small fruit industry represents a very important segment of the county’s economy. Several thousand young folks are given summer employment when the horticultural crops are productive…a grave situation had developed in the strawberry industry of the county, which had become very prevalent. Four years ago it was noted that there was an indication of an excessive amount of root disorder in the Northwest variety…It was also quite evident that red steele was not the major factor. On account of the decline, approximately three hundred acres of strawberries were prematurely plowed under.”

“The acreage of raspberries has increased until it has been estimated there are over 1000 acres in production. The growers greatest concern at the present time is the picking situation. At the schools, the growers were very much interested in picking machines. A commercial picking machine was used on one farm. The grower was satisfied with the operation of the machine. After the hand pickers had gone through the rows, the machine was used to determine the efficiency of the pickers. It was determined that the machine salvaged a sufficient tonnage of berries to make the operation very profitable.”

– Leverne N. Friemann, 1941

Read the 1941 Report from Leverne N. Friedmann – 1941_Report


“The winter of 1968-69 was the most severe in memory of growers in the county and gave the variety trials an extreme test for winter hardiness. 800-acres of the Northwest variety and 50-acres of Puget Beauty were frozen out. This winter completely wiped out the commercial strawberry industry in Whatcom County.”

“Mastitis is still a serious problem for the many dairymen in the county as indicated by the large number of high leucocyte-count notices received by over 100 dairymen in Whatcom county during the year…The various dairy fieldmen, as well as the Extension agents, have worked very closely with these dairymen on an individual basis and in many cases have been able to help these dairyman get cleaned up so that they can get back on Grade A and maintain a low leucocyte count in their milk.”

– Nolan B. Sevoss, 1969



“The small fruit industry in Whatcom County consists of commercial production of blueberries, strawberries, and red raspberries. Strawberry acreage has remained near 550 acres for the past several years and will probably not increase significantly in the near future. Blueberry production has shown a small increase in acreage each of the past three years and is presently near 200 acres. Red raspberries have enjoyed a very favorable price situation for the past three years. Acreage of raspberries has almost doubled in the past few two years and now stands at 1800 acres…Lack of available harvest labor and low prices are the major reasons strawberry acreage has declined. The lack of labor is the main reason raspberry growers have moved rapidly into mechanical harvesting during the past four years.  

– Craig MacConnel, 1979

“Local dairymen became more interested in more intense management of their herds using DHI records. As a result of training dairymen are now able to better and more fully utilize the information in their production testing.”

– David Grusenmeyer, 1979