OSU names new extension cereals scientist

Ryan Graebner, the new Oregon State University Extension cereals scientist at the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center in Pendleton.

Oregon State University announced April 18 it has hired Ryan Graebner, who just a week earlier obtain his Ph.D. in crop science, as extension cereals scientist.

Graebner will work out of the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center in Pendleton. His predecessor, former OSU Extension Cereals Specialist Mike Flowers, worked on the Corvallis campus.

Flowers left OSU last September after a dozen years at the university to take a position with Limagrain Cereal Seeds.

“We are excited to have Ryan,” said Jay Noller, head of the Department of Crop and Soil Science. “With Ryan and other new faculty that we have brought on, and others we will be announcing soon, we are looking for an even brighter future for our agricultural sector in Oregon.”

Noller said the department expects to fill three field crops extension positions in coming weeks, including two in the Willamette Valley and one in Malheur County.

Graebner holds a master’s degree in crop science specializing in barley breeding, and a Ph.D. with a specialty in potato breeding. He obtained both degrees from OSU.

Noller said Graebner’s background in plant breeding should serve him well in his new position.

“We anticipate great synergy between Ryan and (OSU wheat breeder) Bob (Zemetra),” Noller said.

Mary Corp, director of the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center, said she is delighted with the change in location of the cereal variety program from Corvallis to Pendleton and in having Graebner take over the program’s leadership.

“I think he has the skills and training to do a great job, and I know he is committed to the region and to the growers,” Corp said.

Corp said OSU consulted wheat growers before deciding to move the position to Pendleton. “We talked to the wheat growers about if it made more sense to move the program to where we grow the most wheat in the state, and they were very supportive of the idea,” she said. “I think it is going to be a great fit.”

With the help of faculty research assistants, Graebner will conduct trials in wheat growing regions throughout the state, Noller said, including in the Willamette Valley, where he will work closely with Zemetra and plant pathologist Chris Mundt, both of whom are stationed on campus.

OSU Extension field crops agent Nicole Anderson, who recently moved her office from McMinnville to the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, also will do some wheat research, Noller said.

Noller noted that OSU has changed the statewide cereals extension position from tenure track, as it was under Flowers, to professor of practice, a change that relaxes some of the position’s academic publishing requirements in exchange for more outreach and applied research.

Flowers’ position also included some teaching responsibilities, which Graebner will not have.

Graebner, who was stationed in Hermiston while working on his Ph.D., said he is excited over his new position.

“I like the crop, I like the place and I like the growers,” Graebner said. “I am excited to be working with Oregon wheat.”

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