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Klamath team prowls for new crops
By TAM MOORE Oregon Staff Writer
OSU agronomist Rich Roseberg, lead
scientist on the Klamath Experiment Station’s
new crop development, reports at the 2004
Field Day in August.
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – There’s a transition in the
research team at Klamath Experiment Station, but
there’s no letup in the drive to find new crops
that might make money for Klamath Basin farmers.
Oregon State University and Klamath County did the
transition thing this year at the experiment
station. Longtime superintendent Ken Rykbost
retired, then signed on to work part time
continuing his old job that concentrates on potato
breeding and management.
OSU sent agronomist Rich Roseberg to Klamath from
its Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center,
near Medford. Roseberg brought with him research
on hybrid poplars, forage grasses and related
crops. He took over Klamath experiments initiated
by Don Clark, an agronomist who left the Klamath
station two years ago.
The constant at Klamath is Brian Charlton, a
senior research assistant. Rykbost turned over to
Charlton much of the detail work on potatoes. As
Roseberg picked up the reins, he found Charlton’s
hands in a series of alternative crop trials.
Rykbost said Charlton is always thinking of new
crops. In the winter he pulls down data from the
Internet. He oversees plots, many of them arranged
in a row where they can be checked on the way to
work on the more mainstream tests at the Klamath
Three that made it to the 2004 Klamath Field Day
include garbanzo beans, the warm-season grass Teff
and milkthistle. In addition, there are rows of
oca, a tuber from the high Andes of South America.
Charlton said oca is cultivated commercially in
Mexico and New Zealand. In South America it is the
second most widely cultivated tuber crop behind
the potato. This marks the first year for
evaluating oca in the Klamath Basin.
Teff, a native of Ethiopia, has grown here two
seasons. Rykbost said reports from a hay buyer
indicate the annual grass is highly palatable to
horses. The grain is nearly gluten-free, giving a
potential as an alternate grain for people toxic
to flour with gluten. At Klamath, the trial points
toward growing Teff for livestock forage. Its seed
is similar to that of timothy, the specialty hay
The garbanzos at Klamath are also in line as a
forage crop for livestock. Roseberg said the
potential for garbanzo is as a dairy forage,
carrying high nutrient values.
Roseberg began testing poplars while in the Rogue
Valley as part of a way to use treated sewage
effluent. He said in Klamath, where trees were
established six years ago, growth potential is a
bit less than the warmer Medford sites. But he
counts a dual purpose for the fast-growing tree.
It can provide wildlife habitat, shade riparian
zones and offer a potential as wood fiber. Neither
the Medford nor the Klamath poplar plantations has
reached harvest size, which will allow Roseberg to
sample potential markets for wood fiber.
Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail
address is email@example.com.
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Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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