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Alternative crop trials part of OSU field day

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

During the Malheur County experiment station's annual Summer Farm Festival and Field Day Jul 9, Oregon State University researchers will discuss field trials of camelina grown without irrigation. The annual event also includes an onion production tour and the latest research into controlling weeds in sugar beets and potatoes.

ONTARIO, Ore. — A presentation on alternative crop trials will be a highlight of the Malheur County experiment station’s annual Summer Farm Festival and Field Day on July 9.

One of the most promising alternative crops Oregon State University researchers here have experimented with this year is camelina grown without any irrigation.

Employees of the OSU research station near Ontario were harvesting the camelina, a potential biofuel crop, June 30 and researchers said the crop looks good.

“It looks like it’s going to work,” said research station director Clint Shock.

Researchers will also present the results of trials involving other alternative crops such as quinoa, pumpkin seed, wildflowers and native plants for seed.

The field day has grown from less than 200 people to close to 300 the past three years since an industry trade fair and youth tour that teaches kids about agriculture were added.

Shock said the youth tour has been an important way to get the community involved in the field day, along with growers and industry representatives.

“The whole idea of having a field day, of course, is to exchange information with growers and field men,” he said. “But it’s also important that the community at large know what we’re doing and for youth to understand something about agriculture.”

During the field day — which is free, takes place from 9 a.m. to noon and includes lunch — the latest research on local weed control in potatoes and sugar beets will be discussed.

“Weed control is an ongoing problem and it will be interesting for growers to see” the latest research, said OSU researcher Erik Feibert.

Researchers will also discuss preliminary results of a new trial started this year that is evaluating the use of insecticides to control potato psyllids, which can spread the zebra chip disease in potato fields.

OSU researcher Joel Felix will discuss the results of his field trials that are looking at the feasibility of growing sweet potatoes in the valley. Felix began the trials in 2011 and he said they have shown that sweet potatoes can be grown here with yields comparable to those achieved in California.

The field day includes the annual onion production tour where researchers will discuss thrips control, E. coli, fertigation, fungicides and irrigation management.

During lunch, farmer Bill Johnson will speak about a local “Poverty to Prosperity” initiative that focuses on training youth in the agriculture and natural resource industries.

This year’s field trip will feature an insect identification workshop that will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required for this workshop and can be done by calling Bobbi Howell at (541) 881-1417.



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