Twilight Tour at Aberdeen R&E Center Offers Food, Fun and Ag Education

Friday, July 19 2013

ABERDEEN – Updates on agricultural research, a free barbecue and purslane potato salad will be among the highlights Wednesday, July 24, during the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center Twilight Tour.

The Twilight Tour is planned Wednesday, July 24, from 5 – 8 p.m. It is co-hosted by the center, which is operated by the UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, which conducts small grains and potato research at the site.

The center is located at 1693 S 2700 W near the Hazard Creek Golf Course off Idaho Highway 39.

The Twilight Tour welcomes the public to have some fun and learn more about agriculture on the shady lawn of the 102-year-old research center that was founded through the support of Aberdeen’s leaders.

Sponsors provide the barbecue, and a band provides the music. Horse-drawn carriage rides recall Aberdeen’s history, and visitors learn the latest about potato and small grains research, weed management and similar topics.

Don Burnett, University of Idaho interim president, and John Foltz, UI CALS dean, will be among those celebrating the center’s efforts and the community support for them.

University of Idaho Extension weed scientist Pamela Hutchinson will oversee one of the displays. In addition to illustrating Aberdeen-based weed management research, the display will outline how an herbicide is developed.

The story of how an herbicide goes from laboratory testing to commercial and home applications, and the label that determines such uses, will help people understand the detailed process better, she said.

“It can take eight to 10 years to go from the discovery of a chemical’s potential as an herbicide to field use. Tests have to show us how to use it, what plants it can kill, how much to use. Most of the effort goes into understanding potential environmental impacts,’ Hutchinson said.

Even then, most of the work focuses on major crops like corn, soybeans and wheat. Idaho’s most famous and valuable crop is often neglected in the herbicide development arena. “That’s been the challenge for us,” Hutchinson said.

Potato growers always need better ways to control weeds that threaten the state’s nearly $800 million crop, and UI efforts at Aberdeen and elsewhere test herbicides to win the approvals necessary for their safe use.

In addition to the herbicide display and a weed identification challenge, Hutchinson plans to offer a couple of taste tests of edible weeds in common foods, namely, purslane potato salad and salsa with common lambsquarters.

A new event will offer tour goers a test of strength: a potato-sack weightlifting contest with men’s and women’s divisions.

Visitors will also tour the Aberdeen R&E Center’s native plant test garden that features colorful wildflowers from around the state undergoing testing by horticulture researcher Steve Love.