Barley group to spend more on research

Sean Ellis
The Idaho Barley Commission will spend $322,507 on a variety of research projects in fiscal year 2015, a 5.7 percent increase over 2014.

BOISE — The Idaho Barley Commission will spend $322,507 on research projects in fiscal year 2015, an increase of 5.7 percent from 2014.

Of that total, $266,507 will go to help fund research at the University of Idaho, an increase of $21,000 from last year.

IBC members agreed to fund a variety of research projects, from the evaluation of advanced barley lines to discovering ways to control barley pests.

The commission unanimously approved the research funds Feb. 19 after a morning spent hearing proposals from researchers working on various projects.

“I think this is some of the best money we can spend, personally,” said IBC Chairman Pat Purdy, a farmer from Picabo. “The research proposals we saw today were very compelling.”

Two proposals that generated a lot of discussion among commissioners involved research aimed at helping Idaho barley producers deal with two pests that can reduce yields.

The commission will give UI researchers $15,540 to conduct a survey of wireworm species in central and eastern Idaho and to evaluate various control methods.

Researchers don’t know a lot about wireworms, Juliet Marshall, a UI Extension cereal pathologist who will help conduct the research, told commissioners.

Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles, can cause growers a lot of economic harm, said Teton farmer Dwight Little.

“This is a situation that really affects growers. It’s a bottom-line, out-of-pocket (cost),” he said.

The commission also approved spending $11,000 to help UI researchers try to find ways to control cereal cyst nematode, a growing problem for barley producers in east Idaho.

CCN damage is widespread in that area and is causing a lot of damage, Marshall said. Each cyst, which is a hard, dried egg cage, has about 400 eggs.

“It’s resistant to a lot of chemicals because of that hard outer covering,” she said.

The largest chunk of the money, $200,000, will go toward funding a $1 million research endowment at UI that funds a scientist who specializes in barley agronomics and soil fertility.

The commission also provided UI researchers $16,000 for an ongoing project studying the long-term impacts of manure application on various crops, and $4,025 to help support the evaluation of advanced barley lines in north Idaho.

The IBC will provide $14,672 to support the nurseries around the state where UI Extension staff study newly released varieties or those getting ready to be released to see how they perform.

“We have very diverse climate and production conditions across the state,” said IBC Administrator Kelly Olson. “We try to test in as many locations as we can afford to so we know how … these barley varieties are going to perform for producers.”

The commission also agreed to provide $51,000 to support barley breeding research being conducted at the USDA Agricultural Research Service station in Aberdeen and $5,000 to help support Oregon State University’s new double haploid barley laboratory.