Catching Up with CALS — March 20, 2019
Dean's Message — Being There
Members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, officially called the APLU, gathered in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to strategize and discuss the needs of higher education related to the mission of the Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension.
Members to the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) also traveled to the capital during this week. The University of Idaho’s CARET representatives, Mary Hasenoehrl of Lewiston and Pat Purdy of Picabo, represent Idaho’s diverse agricultural interests while advocating for the importance of agricultural research and Extension.
Mary serves on the Idaho Potato Commission and her resumé includes elective office as a Port of Lewiston commissioner and experience as a grain farmer. Pat, until recently, served on the Idaho Barley Commission and continues his involvement with the family’s livestock and farming operations.
Their knowledge and experience as leaders make them respected voices as we met with members of Idaho’s Congressional delegation, U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and staffers for Reps. Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher.
The APLU provides an important forum for discussions among agricultural college deans. I had the chance to meet the new deans from Oregon State and Montana State universities for the first time. We met with our neighbor Washington State ag dean André-Denis Wright with whom we share a number of joint programs, then met with the larger Western Division group that included California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Alaska.
The gathering is important for land-grant universities and the agricultural communities we serve. It is critical that we are there to represent our states and the work we do. We need to tell our stories clearly and often to build public support.
The visit to the Capitol gave us a chance to talk about the great things we are doing for Idaho agriculture statewide including our new Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center; the new office/classroom facility at the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center; a new Germplasm Seed Potato Facility; plans to expand the Parma Research and Extension Center; and of course exciting developments regarding the Idaho Center for Agriculture Food and the Environment (CAFE) in the Magic Valley.
We also had the opportunity to build support for a Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases on the Idaho campus. Congress appropriated funds to enable the nation to better address disease threats by mosquitoes and ticks, and we have submitted a proposal to establish this at the U of I’s Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem (CHHE).
The center would encourage collaboration among nine major universities, state health agencies and mosquito and vector control agencies in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska. Historically, CALS and U of I have not had much strength in this area, but that has changed. Through this newly established Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem, we are becoming national leaders in this area.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
165,000,000 pounds of hops swelled the storehouses of brewers, growers and dealers on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Growers and dealers accounted for 130,000,000 pounds, and brewers' inventories totaled 35,000,000 pounds, both down slightly from 2018 inventories. This year’s total is nearly 18 percent higher than 2 years ago.
Our Stories — Seed Potato Production Shifts to Hydroponics
Things are looking a lot different in the seed potato greenhouses at Parker Farm east of Moscow these days.
A new hydroponic seed potato production system is nearing completion in the main greenhouse that has produced the beginnings of Idaho’s most famous crop for decades.
Heavy-duty steel frames, industrial-scale ABS trays and a large reservoir for nutrient solution are in place. The final steps will involve filling containers with perlite, adding the precisely controlled solution of water and nutrients and transplanting tiny plantlets grown from disease-free tissue culture.
The process upgrades the production process for disease-free seed potatoes pioneered by Lorie Ewing, who retired four years ago from the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station.
Jenny Durrin, seed potato germplasm program director, and Matthew Roth, the greenhouse manager, began the changeover to gain greater control over growing conditions and boost yields.
The hydroponic system can yield three crops a year of tubers about as big as a 50-cent piece and valued by commercial seed-potato producers for their vigor and disease-free status.
The CALS-based operation responds to grower orders, which range from a selection of russets prized as baking or French fry potatoes to fingerling varieties.
By manipulating the mix of plant nutrients in the hydroponic solution, the system encourages the potato plants to put on luxurious green growth. Additional manipulations to the nutrient solution’s composition encourage the plants to begin producing tiny tubers, as many as a pound or more in each gallon pot.
Reflecting the expertise and costs needed to produce the disease-free spuds and their value to growers, the harvest fetches $35 a pound.
Each subsequent generation by seed growers adds more value until commercial potato farmers deliver their harvests to packing sheds and processing plants to meet global demand for one of humanity’s favorite vegetables.
Wine and Cheese Gala Adds Fashion April 5
The annual CALS Wine and Cheese Gala will feature locally produced beer, wine, cheese and Vandal Brand Meats April 5 from 4-7 p.m. in Moscow’s 1912 Center at 412 E. Third St.
Guests will also enjoy a parade of fashions from decades past as some two dozen models display clothing from the Leila Old Historic Costume Collection. The collection’s more than 10,000 items, which include Vandal gear, are curated and housed in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Gala proceeds benefit CALS student groups.
The gala is open to all ages with $15 tickets for those who do not want wine and beer. For those who do plan to imbibe, tickets are $25 apiece or $45 for two. Tickets are available online.
Beer will be provided by Hunga Dunga Brewing Co. of Moscow. Wines will be provided by Clearwater Canyon Cellars of Lewiston and Colter’s Creek Winery of Juliaetta, which also operates a tasting room in Moscow. Other wineries are expected to participate.
Brush Creek Creamery of Deary will provide its cheeses made with milk from the U of I Dairy for sampling to galagoers.
More information is available from Amberly Beckman, 208-885-4038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faces and Places
A retirement party is planned April 27 for Kimberly Research and Extension Center superintendent Don Morishita, who has served as a weed scientist for 33 years. The party will be held at the Turf Club in Twin Falls from 4-7 p.m.
- March 25-28 — UI Extension Annual Conference, Shilo Inns Idaho Falls
- March 26 — Dr. Jose M. Hernandez, “From Migrant Farmworker to NASA Astronaut,” Farmworker Awareness Week, Bruce M. Pitman Center International Ballroom, 6 p.m.
- April 5 — CALS Wine and Cheese Gala, 1912 Center, 412 E. Third St., Moscow. 4-7 p.m.
- April 5 — CALS Awards nomination deadline by 5 p.m.
- April 19 — CALS Alumni and Friends Awards nomination deadline
- April 23 — All CALS Meeting, Vandal Ballroom, Bruce M. Pitman Center, Moscow, 8:30 a.m. PDT
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