Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

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 station.

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 crop.

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 cappress@charter.net.

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted
material  herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have
expressed  a  prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit
research and  educational purposes only. For more information go to:






Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved