college of agricultural sciences

Washington County 4-H receives $25,000 memorial gift

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Generations of Washington County youth will continue to have access to programs teaching valuable leadership and life skills, thanks to a $25,000 memorial gift.

The gift, made in honor of Margaret P. Hesse from her family, increases the county's 4-H endowment by more than 40 percent, providing a perpetual stream of income to support 4-H programs. Hesse, who died in 2007, had a 30-year history of volunteer service to Washington County 4-H.

"She had a passion for sewing and teaching children and started her first 4-H sewing club soon after she married my dad, Louis F. Hesse, in 1951," said daughter Ann Hesse Gosch, a trustee of the Oregon 4-H Foundation.

Louis and Margaret had first met as Washington County 4-H'ers at a 4-H corn club banquet in 1942 and had their first date at 4-H Summer School (now called Summer Conference) in 1945. The two graduated from Hillsboro High School and then from Oregon State College (now Oregon State University) in 1950 and '52, respectively – he in agriculture and she in home economics.

"When I was old enough to join 4-H in 1964 my mom started another sewing club for my friends," Gosch said, "and later yet another club for a group of younger neighbor girls." Hesse also served as a county and state fair judge for many years.

In recent years Washington County 4-H has gained national recognition through programs such as Tech Wizards, an afterschool, small-group mentoring program for youth in grades 4 -12, which has been replicated in 22 states.

"Washington County has long been known as a leader of 4-H programming in the state of Oregon," said Roger Rennekamp, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Private support like this allows 4-H to continue creating programs that make a lifelong impact on Oregon youth. We are grateful to the Hesse family for creating such a fitting tribute in honor of one of our treasured volunteers."

Oregon 4-H seeks to establish and strengthen endowments designed to expand the reach of 4-H within each of the state's 36 counties. This gift is part of The Campaign for OSU, the university's first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Guided by OSU's strategic plan, the campaign has raised more than $800 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen Oregon communities, and conduct research that changes the world.


Media Contact: 

 Roger Rennekamp, 541-737-1737

Oregon tree names keep people guessing

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Many people are aware that despite its name, Douglas-fir is not a true fir. It's also not a pine, not a spruce and not a hemlock. Outside of the United States, it is often called Oregon pine, also a misnomer.

What is a Douglas-fir, then?

It's a unique species, in a class by itself, according to the newly revised Oregon State University publication, "Understanding Names of Oregon Trees," (EC 1502). The publication is available only online at http://bit.ly/OSUESec1502 .

"It's little wonder that people are confused by tree names," said author Scott Leavengood, director of the Oregon Wood Innovation Center at OSU. "Foresters often name trees by physical appearance, while the wood products industry may name trees based on characteristics of the wood. Botanists name trees based on anatomical characteristics and evolutionary relationships to other trees."

The publication outlines quirky naming devices. For example, you can usually distinguish a "true tree" if its names are not hyphenated or run together. For example Atlas cedar is a "true cedar" whereas western redcedar and Port-Orford-cedar are "false cedars."

Scientists use Latin names to avoid confusion. The first word in the scientific name refers to the genus and the second is the species. "Trees in the same genus are closely related and have similar characteristics," Leavengood said. Trees of the same species can be interbred.

"If you want to know if a tree is a fir, pine, cedar or other type of tree, check the genus name," Leavengood suggested. "For example, unless a tree is in the genus Abies, it is not a true fir, and unless a tree is in the genus Cedrus, it is not a true cedar."

Oregon does have six native, true firs: White fir, California red fir, Grand fir, Pacific silver fir, Noble fir and Subalpine fir.

Check out the OSU publication for more information on Oregon trees, such as cedars, western juniper, mountain-mahoganies, poplar and myrtlewood.

Also available from OSU is a full-color field guide, "Trees to Know in Oregon" (EC1450), in the OSU Extension online catalog: http://bit.ly/TreesToKnow . This 60th anniversary edition includes more than 70 new color photos and costs $18.


Scott Leavengood, 541-737-4212

OSU to host 2012 Hyslop Farm Field Day on May 30

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Extension Service specialists and researchers from OSU's Department of Crop and Soil Science will host the annual Hyslop Research Farm Field Day on Wednesday, May 30. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Field day topics will focus on cereal and seed crops, and will be presented in both morning and afternoon sessions. The public is invited, and people should plan to stay all day to hear presentations in all sessions. The OSU Crops Club will prepare no-cost lunch at noon sponsored by the Oregon Seed Council and the Oregon Wheat Growers League.

Cereal topics will include Pacific Northwest winter wheat varieties, presented by both public and private wheat breeders; management of wheat diseases, including stripe rust, in the Willamette Valley; and discussion on winter barley varieties available for a variety of end uses. Faculty from Linn Benton Community College will also be on hand to discuss their new biofuel crops program.

Seed crop topics will include advances in meadowfoam breeding; fiber flax planting date and weed management studies; the use of plant growth regulators in red clover seed production; updates on alternatives to the use of diuron in carbon-seeded perennial ryegrass; and updates on barley yellow dwarf virus in perennial ryegrass seed production.

Hyslop Farm is located six miles northeast of Corvallis on Granger Road, just off of Highway 20. Watch for signs.

For more information, contact Mike Flowers, OSU Extension cereals specialist, at 541-737-9940; or Andy Hulting, OSU Extension weed management specialist, at 541-737-5098. A detailed agenda of the field day and maps to Hyslop Farm can be found at: http://cropandsoil.oregonstate.edu/


Andy Hulting 541-737-5098

OSU names Dan Arp as dean of Agricultural Sciences

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Dan Arp, a longtime microbiology researcher and science educator who has led the University Honors College program at Oregon State University since May of 2008, has been appointed as the Reub Long Dean of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station at OSU.

Arp will assume the responsibilities of former dean Sonny Ramaswamy, who last month was named by President Obama to lead the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Arp’s initial appointment is expected to last for two years.

Arp’s studies have focused on agriculturally and environmentally relevant microorganisms, nitrification, the biology of bacteria and bioremediation. He is one of a handful of OSU faculty members to carry the prestigious title “distinguished professor,” and he is an affiliate of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing on campus.

Before taking on the role of dean in the University Honors College, Arp was named the L.L Stewart Professor of Gene Research in 2002, and two years later became chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Arp began his career at the University of Erlangen in West Germany, where he was research director and a NATO postdoctoral fellow. He also has been on the biochemistry faculty at the University of California-Riverside.

“President Ray and I are delighted that Dr. Arp has agreed to lead the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president. “Dan is well-known for his strong leadership, administrative ability and academic credibility. He will approach his new role with a combination of collaboration and innovation, looking to position the college as a transformative agriculture and natural resources enterprise for the future.

“Dan will work with faculty and stakeholders to ensure that the college continues to have a strong and positive impact on scientific research and outreach to agricultural industry in Oregon and beyond,” Randhawa added.

The College of Agricultural Sciences is Oregon’s principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. Agricultural programs at OSU represent an $85 million enterprise. The college includes 15 academic departments, an Agricultural Experiment Station with 11 branch stations around the state, and more than 1,600 students who pursue bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees.

The college’s research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.

Randhawa noted that OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences has a long and rich history. As the state’s Land Grant university, Oregon State was created to serve the needs of the people. Beginning in 1870 as Corvallis College, agricultural and natural resources programs were offered and have been a vital component ever since.

Media Contact: 

Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

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Dan Arp
Dan Arp

OSU annual Earth Day Hoo Haa is April 22 near Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The public is invited to enjoy free food and live music at the 10th annual Earth Day Hoo Haa Sunday, April 22, from noon to 5 p.m. just east of Corvallis. The theme for this year's event is "Sunday Skool - Hoo Haa!"

The festivities, sponsored by Oregon State University's Organic Growers Club, will be on the grounds of the student-run organic farm on the outskirts of Corvallis. Attendees are welcome to bring a turning fork to help till the ground and plant beets, greens, lettuce and 10,000 onions.

Participants can tour the two-acre farm, view displays from local organizations and student groups, watch a bubble artist, learn about soil and see how chickens in mobile coops are used to till the earth. Face painting will be available for children of all ages.

A variety of local musical talent will be showcased, as well as readings by nationally renowned poet Michelle Anderson.

For dinner, vegetarian chili made largely from the club’s own produce will be served. People are encouraged to bring their own bowl and silverware.

Organizers also ask visitors to leave their dogs at home.

Starting at noon, free shuttle vans to the farm will depart from the OSU Beaver Store (formerly OSU Book Store) approximately every 15 minutes. It will stop along the way at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, where other Earth-friendly activities will be featured.

To drive to the farm, take Highway 34 east after crossing the Willamette River, then turn left onto Electric Road just past the Trysting Tree Golf Club. Head north and turn right at the Peach Place, continue and turn right at the end of the road (south). Look for the circus tent on your left.

For more information, go to the OSU Organic Growers Club website or Facebook site.


James Cassidy, 541-737-6810

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Attendees of the 2009 Earth Day Hoo Haa transplant onions at Oregon State University's student-run organic farm. (Photo by Tiffany Woods.)

OSU network for minorities wins regional and national awards

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University student chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) has won the Region VI Outstanding Chapter Award for the seventh time and was one of the top three chapters in the country to continue in the competition.

The national second place award for Chapter of the Year was presented to the OSU chapter at the annual career fair and training conference in Atlanta, Ga.

In addition, three students received national research awards. Sarah Wright took third place in oral undergraduate research, Tiffany Harper took second place in oral undergraduate research, and Vananh Nguyen took second place oral graduate research.

Tiffany Harper was elected undergraduate vice president for Region VI.

"The national MANRRS mission is to promote academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences,” said Wanda Crannell, the group's adviser. Membership is open to all students at all levels from high school to graduate school and who come from a variety of colleges and departments, although more than half are from the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Many students rate high academically but being in good standing is all that's required," Crannell said "A sense of belonging and working together on shared activities is important for the vast majority who are the first in their family to pursue higher education." Each student is mentored by upper classmen, professionals from industry or faculty members from OSU or the 70 college chapters across the country.

"The OSU MANRRS chapter is the most diverse and actively engaged in professional development, leadership and community service projects in the nation," Crannell said.

"We provide mentoring and networking opportunities, connect students to available resources, conduct workshops for professional development to help students define and achieve their goals, provide community service opportunities to promote active citizenship, and support the College of Agricultural Sciences in meeting its diversity related goals.”


Wanda Crannell, 541-737-2999

USGS/OSU study: Invasive barred owls interfere with spotted owls

CORVALLIS, Ore. – High densities of invasive barred owls appear to be outcompeting the threatened northern spotted owl for critical resources such as space, habitat, and food, according to a study released today by Oregon State University.

The three-year study – conducted in western Oregon through a research partnership including the U.S. Geological Survey and OSU – also confirms that barred owls not only use similar forest types and prey species as spotted owls, but also that a high density of barred owls can reduce the amount of those resources available to spotted owls. 

"Interactions between invasive and native species can be multifaceted and complex, with the stakes being even higher when the native species is already threatened with extinction," explained USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Careful scientific observation and analysis can tease out the critical areas of conflict or competition, the first step in finding solutions." 

The northern spotted owl was designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. In recent years, the barred owl has expanded its range from eastern into western North America, where its geographic range now overlaps the entire range of the northern spotted owl. 

Barred owls also have become more common than spotted owls in the forest of western Oregon, according to David Wiens, the USGS author of the study, who conducted the research as part of his doctoral studies at OSU. Within the study area at least 82 pairs of barred owls were identified but only 15 pairs of spotted owls.  The probability that spotted owls survived from one year to the next was 81 percent compared to 92 percent for barred owls, and barred owls produced more than six times as many young as spotted owls.

The value of old forest habitat for spotted owls was further demonstrated by the study.  Both species frequently used patches of old conifer forest or stands of hardwood trees along streams while hunting for food and roosting, and both species survived better when there were greater amounts of old conifer forest within their territories. 

The study occurred in the central Coast Range of western Oregon where barred owl populations have steadily increased over the past two decades. Of all of the owls identified in the study area, Wiens captured a sample group and outfitted 29 spotted owls and 28 barred owls with radio transmitters. He monitored the interactions among the radio-marked owls and how the two species used resources.

The forested area where the study occurred included 52 sites that were formerly occupied by pairs of spotted owls. 

"Despite two decades of dedicated management efforts, northern spotted owl populations have continued to decline throughout much of their range," said Eric Forsman, a U.S. Forest Service researcher who also participated in the study. "This study suggests that conservation of old forest habitat is still a critical need for spotted owls, so we will continue to work with our research and management partners to collect information and explore options for management." 

This information is the result of a research partnership led by the U.S. Geological Survey.  In addition to OSU, the partnership included other agencies of the U.S. Department of the Interior – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management – as well as the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Boise State University.

In February 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft Environmental Impact Statement that outlines options for experimental removal of barred owls from certain areas throughout the spotted owl's range to test the effect of such removal on spotted owl population trends. The agency is considering combinations of both lethal and non-lethal (capturing and relocating or placing in permanent captivity) methods for removing barred owls.

The full report, Competitive Interactions and Resource Partitioning between Northern Spotted Owls and Barred Owls in Western Oregon, is available as an Oregon State University doctoral dissertation.

Media Contact: 

David Wiens, 541-750-0961

Oregon posts record $5.2 billion in agricultural sales in 2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon's farmers, ranchers and fishing industry grossed a record $5.2 billion in 2011 – thanks to higher commodity prices, according to a report by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Sales were up 19.1 percent from a revised $4.4 billion in 2010, the largest percentage increase since a 20.6 percent jump in 1979, said Bart Eleveld, the OSU Extension Service economist who compiled the report. It contains estimates for gross farmgate sales for 2011 and revised numbers for 2010 and 2009.

The last sales record was set in 2008 when sales were $4.9 billion. They plunged 15.1 percent in 2009, marking the biggest percentage drop in more than 30 years. Sales rebounded 5.8 percent in 2010.

"After two difficult years, Oregon agricultural sales have recovered from the impacts of the recession," said economist Bill Boggess, the executive associate dean of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. "It was a much needed good year for the state’s farmers and ranchers, who play an increasingly vital role in Oregon’s economy and also keep food on our plates."

Of the 89 commodities identified in the report, 66 increased in sales compared with 2010.

Cattle was again the top commodity, with sales rising 12.8 percent to $799.8 million as droughts in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas decreased the amount of grass for grazing and forced ranchers in those states to cut back their herds, said Chad Mueller, an OSU cattle expert in Union, Ore. Although U.S. inventories dropped, demand from consumers continued, so prices rose, he said.

Dairy products advanced from third place into the No. 2 slot at $523.9 million with a gain of 10.8 percent, fueled by rebounding milk prices, said Troy Downing, the dairy specialist with the OSU Extension Service.

Wheat moved from fourth place into third place with sales of $521.5 million, up 47.3 percent on a combination of increased acreage and yields, said OSU's wheat breeder, Bob Zemetra.

"It was an excellent year for wheat in terms of weather," Zemetra said. "It was also an excellent year for stripe rust disease, but farmers who applied fungicides or used varieties resistant to it had good crops. Yields were probably 30-40 percent higher than normal in parts of eastern Oregon."

Nursery crops moved down two notches to fourth place, but still managed to eke out a slight 0.7 percent increase to $516.4 million. Continued weakness in new home sales curbed the demand for landscaping, said economist Robin Cross, an OSU research associate who tracks the nursery industry.

Alfalfa hay again finished fifth with a 54.9 percent jump to $272.2 million thanks to higher prices for it, said Mylen Bohle, an agronomist with the OSU Extension Service in central Oregon. He added that with stronger milk prices, dairies were able to afford better quality – and thus more expensive – alfalfa hay.

For the first time, the report included commercial fishing sales, which were $91.5 million and were No. 13 on the list. If they hadn't been included, total sales would have increased 17 percent instead of the 19.1 percent but still would have set a record.

Marion County again led the state, reporting the most sales at $616.9 million, up from $568.2 million in the previous year.

Harvested land statewide totaled 3,184,326 acres in 2011 compared with 3,141,071 acres a year earlier. Of the 2011 total, grains accounted for 1,096,529 acres and hays and forage made up 1,025,764 acres.

The report, "2011 Oregon County and State Agricultural Estimates," is funded by the OSU Extension Service and is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_SR790-11.

The publication and many more estimates, including detailed historical and countywide data from 1976 onward, also are online via the Oregon Agricultural Information Network at http://oain.oregonstate.edu.

To compile the data, each year more than 70 OSU faculty members across the state estimate production based on observations and conversations with producers and others in agricultural businesses.

Media Contact: 

Bart Eleveld, 541-737-1409

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Oregon cattle

A cow from Oregon State University's Harvey Ranch is herded outside Paisley, Ore. Oregon's ranchers sold $799.8 million of cattle in 2011, up 12.8 percent from the prior year, according to new report by the OSU Extension Service. Cattle was again the top agricultural commodity in terms of farmgate sales. (Photo by Aimee Brown)

Oregon dairy cows
Cows walk through a field at the Double J Jerseys organic dairy farm near Monmouth, Ore. Gross sales of Oregon dairy products increased 10.8 percent to $523.9 million in 2011 compared with the prior year, according to a new report by the Oregon State University Extension Service. Diary products were the second most important agricultural commodity in terms of farmgate sales in 2011. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

Economists say that high gas prices triggered the housing crisis in 2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oregon State University suggests that the U.S. housing crisis that started in 2007 and eventually led to a worldwide financial crisis was triggered by rapidly rising gas prices.

Economic bubbles have a long history – from the Dutch tulip mania in the 1600s to this latest housing bubble – and many factors can cause them to inflate, the researchers say.

But little is known about what actually triggers a bubble to burst.

"The key word is, 'triggered,'" said JunJie Wu, an OSU economist and one of the authors of the paper. "This theory recognizes the role of subprime mortgages and lax lending practices as inflating the housing bubble, but high gasoline prices provided the trigger that burst the bubble."

According to Wu and his fellow authors, Steven Sexton and David Zilberman, both economists from U.C. Berkeley, there is general agreement that the collapse of the housing market initiated the 2007 financial crisis. But there is no consensus on what prompted the housing market collapse.

In their study, the authors show how low gas prices during the housing boom, in combination with easy access to credit and new mortgage products, made suburban houses affordable to a new class of homeowners characterized by low incomes, high leverage, low credit worthiness and long work commutes.

"As a result," Wu said, "housing markets were vulnerable."

When oil prices more than doubled between late 2006 and 2008, sending gas prices to $4.15 per gallon, the calculus of suburban living changed, according to the researchers. High commute costs made suburban homes less valuable and mortgages less affordable for low-income homeowners. Some households could no longer meet mortgage obligations and others walked away from mortgage debt that exceeded the deflated market values of their homes.

"The real-estate mantra is 'location, location, location,'" Wu said. "If you find yourself in a location that is far from your work and transportation costs rise suddenly, that location can lower the value of your house."

The housing boom that began in the late 1990s, and the half-century of suburbanization that preceded it, produced a housing stock that by 2006 was particularly vulnerable to gas price shocks, according to the authors. Cheap and easy credit made owning a home possible for more households of limited means than at any other time in U.S. history.

Many suburban homes were located away from business centers and they tended to be in excess supply. Exurban areas grew twice as fast as metropolitan areas and as a consequence, commute durations grew. From 1970 to 2006, average vehicle miles traveled climbed 177 percent.

The researchers contend that a doubling of gas prices relative to historic averages made mortgage payments unaffordable for some, particularly for low-income households, and that mortgage default rates were higher in commuter towns.

The researchers considered only the impact of rising U.S. gasoline prices in this analysis, and they are quick to recognize many complex influences on the price of gas, including the global rise of the middle class and political unrest in oil-producing nations.

Does their research have implications for the current rise in gas prices?

"I expect that high gas prices will slow the economic recovery in general and the recovery of housing markets in particular," Wu said, "especially for communities tied to high transportation costs."

The paper, "How High Gas Prices Triggered the Housing Crisis: Theory and Empirical Evidence," was published in February 2012 by the University of California Center for Energy and Environmental Economics. View it at: http://www.uce3.berkeley.edu/WP_034.pdf.

Media Contact: 

JunJie Wu, 541-737-3060

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JunJie Wu is an economist at Oregon State University. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

Oregon students receive state 4-H scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sixteen high school students from across Oregon received state 4-H scholarship awards in March through the Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development Program.

More than 80 Oregon 4-H members competed for the scholarships, which range from $500 to $4,500. They were evaluated on their high scholastic achievement, 4-H projects and achievements, and personal essay describing their growth in 4-H.

A group of 10 4-H agents and volunteers from counties across the state, led by Mary Arnold, 4-H specialist in research and program evaluation, selected the scholarship winners.

Recipients of the 2012 State 4-H Scholarship Awards are listed below:

 Colton: Heidi Axmaker, Klein-Youngberg Family, $1,250;

Corvallis: Joshua Edwards, CHS Foundation, $1,000; Meredith Truax, Hofer, $1,500;

Eagle Creek: Kayla Cochran, Theiss Memorial, $1,000;

Gold Beach: Denise Craig/Parry, A. Lois Redman, $500;

Grants Pass: Caleb Lennon, Dietz Memorial, $500;

Heppner: Rebecca Jepsen, Myers Memorial, $1,000;

Hillsboro: Matthew Ferguson, O.M. Plummer, $500;

Imbler: Emilee Patterson, Klein-Youngberg Family, $1,250;

Independence: Emma Miller, Oregon 4-H Foundation Memorial, $1,000;

Lake Oswego: Colleen Moore, Martha MacGregor, $4,500; Olivia Vollan, Ellwood Miller Memorial, $1,000;

Madras: Kristin Jasa, Duane Johnson, $500;

Medford: Nicholas Morales, Klein-Youngberg Family, $1,250;

Roseburg: Sarah Gordon, Leeson Memorial, $1,000;

The Dalles: Carly Lowe, Minnick Memorial, $1,000.

 More information about the OSU 4-H Youth Development Program is available at http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/


Helen Pease, 541-737-1314