Vegetable growers welcome OSU move to hire extension specialist

Eric Mortenson

Capital Press

Published on October 28, 2016 10:35AM

Mike Bondi

Mike Bondi

Ending a long hiring drought, Oregon State University is advertising for a vegetable and vegetable seed specialist to work at its North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Ore.

The position is part of a continued expansion of OSU Extension staff statewide and at the North Willamette center in particular, much of it made possible by increased funding approved by the Legislature in 2015.

In the past year, NWREC alone has hired Nik Wiman, an orchard crops specialist; Lloyd Nackley, a nursery production and management faculty member; and is negotiating to hire a pesticide registration specialist. The vegetable extension agent position has been vacant since Bob McReynolds, who was highly regarded by growers, retired in 2012.

Canby, Ore., grower Ed Montecucco said hiring a vegetable specialist will be most welcome by vegetable and vegetable seed farmers. Growers several years ago formed an endowment fund to help pay for the position, and the fund has reached $330,000.

Montecucco said McReynolds helped assemble data to win approval for chemicals that improve yield and control pests, and advised growers on farming practices.

The new person will need to be knowledgeable about raising organic and conventional vegetables and controlling pests in both, Montecucco said. He grows conventional and organic fresh market root crops, rhubarb and corn and beans.

NWREC administrator Michael Bondi said growers need help with pest control, irrigation efficiency, soil health and food safety regulations, among other things.

“There are a lot of unmet needs, that’s for sure,” he said.

Oregon’s fresh and processed vegetable industry has an annual farm gate value of $100 million, and the Willamette Valley is one of the nation’s primary vegetable, flower and herb seed production areas, Bondi noted in a news release.

Applicants must have a Ph.D. in horticulture or a related field. The closing date for applications is Nov. 20. A job description is at


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