COARC Researchers operate out of two facilities in the area. The main site is at Madras, which is the center of COARC seed production research programs; and the Powell Butte location, where potato variety development is the primary focus. The Madras location was established in 1991, with the Powell Butte location built in 1986.
The city of Madras is located in Jefferson County, at the center of 60,000 acres of irrigated crop land. High value, specialty crops provide the core of this progressive agricultural community.
Powell Butte is located east of Redmond with a cooler climate, and surrounded by hay and pasture production. The Powell Butte location serves as the hub of the tri-state potato variety development program. Other research at this site largely centers on hay production.
Major central Oregon crops include carrot grown for hybrid seed, Kentucky bluegrass grown for seed, peppermint grown for oil or tea leaf, garlic grown for seed, and specialized potatoes. Other widely grown crops in the region are alfalfa hay, grass hay and wheat.
It is estimated that 85 percent of hybrid carrot seed used in the United States is produced in Jefferson County. When you eat "baby carrots" from the grocery store, the seed was likely produced locally. World wide, it is estimated that 70 percent of the hybrid carrot seed comes from Jefferson County.
The major grass seed crop is Kentucky bluegrass used for lawns. Jefferson county is also the primary production area for rough bluegrass, used in warm season climates to over-seed turf areas in the winter. This provides a green lawn when the warm season grasses have gone dormant and the lawns would otherwise be brown.
Peppermint in central Oregon has historically been grown for oil used in chewing gum, toothpaste and candy. More recently production has shifted to tea leaves used for peppermint tea, an alternative to traditional tea drinks. Much of this product goes to Europe, where the drinking of hot tea is more popular.
To learn more about the Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center, read our Research Success Stories.