Field Day at Tetonia Research Farm Focuses on Barley, Potatoes

Friday, July 19 2013

TETONIA – Idaho’s barley and potato growers will gather at the University of Idaho’s Tetonia Research Station to review variety development and research and recognize the station’s importance to Idaho agriculture during a field day July 25.

The University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Idaho Barley Commission and Idaho Potato Commission will co-host the field day at the research station, which is located 7.5 miles northwest of Tetonia along Idaho Highway 33. The event will begin at noon and conclude about 2 p.m.

“The Barley Commission is very pleased to welcome our growers to this first-ever Tetonia field day showcasing the important research that their check-off dollars are supporting,” said Dwight Little, IBC chairman and malting barley grower from Teton.

“The barley commission did not hesitate three years ago to step forward and help fund the Tetonia research farm operations when state funds were cut from the University of Idaho’s research and extension budget,” Little said. “We felt there was a strong need, and we were confident that growers would want their dollars put to good use to continue the important research that directly benefits them.”

Barley Commission and Potato Commission representatives; Donald Burnett, University of Idaho interim president; John Foltz, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean; Donn Thill, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station director; and others will gather at Tetonia, which begins with a noon barbecue lunch.

Idaho Barley Commission members will announce their establishment of an endowment to support university research on the crop. Barley generated more than $300 million in projected receipts for Idaho growers in 2012, a 32 percent jump from 2011 figures. Idaho is the nation’s top barley producer.

The commission is funded by an assessment barley growers collect from themselves to support research, marketing and other activities.

The Tetonia Research Station is nestled in southeastern Idaho’s barley country where most of the state’s crop is produced.

Pat Purdy, IBC Vice Chairman and malting barley grower from Picabo, is a stronger supporter of strengthening our barley research capacity within the University of Idaho and Agricultural Research Service, noting that in an era of declining public budgets growers can’t expect to maintain a high level of independent scientific research without grower involvement.

“As an Idaho barley grower, I know we are constantly faced with new challenges that are putting pressure on our bottom line profit,” Purdy said. “These challenges include rising input costs such as fuel, seed and fertilizer and diseases such as Fusarium Head Blight and pest pressure like wire worm.”

To help growers face these challenges, we need the research efforts and field work that only a dedicated barley scientist with the University of Idaho can provide, and this endowment will guarantee that such a position is permanently in place,” Purdy said.

“Tetonia is the front yard for the barley industry,” Thill said. “The station’s role in variety development and finding ways to produce more barley more efficiently is important to the industry’s success.”

The growing environment at Tetonia allows researchers to expose new varieties to challenging environmental conditions and keeps insects and diseases in check.

Tetonia provides a unique high-elevation, short growing season environment for research on grains and potatoes. “Every new potato variety developed in the Pacific Northwest is tested at Tetonia before it is available to growers,” Thill said.

Idaho’s potato, barley and wheat commissions have provided critical financial support to the station’s operations in recent years, Thill noted.

“Tetonia station supports essential activities of the entire Tri-State potato variety development process,” said Andy Jensen, research director for the Idaho, Oregon and Washington potato commissions. “Tetonia is one of many essential sites scattered throughout the potato producing regions of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon that all work together to produce improved varieties of potato.”