OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of agricultural sciences

Hundreds of woodland owners expected at OSU's 'Tree Schools'

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Organizers with the Oregon State University Extension Service expect more than 800 woodland owners to attend its three Tree Schools around the state this spring as the forestry sector emerges from a challenging recession.

Woodland owners, arborists, forestry advocates and students will network and gain new skills at Tree School Clackamas on March 22 in Oregon City. Tree School Umpqua will take place March 27 in Roseburg and Tree School East will return to Baker City on April 26.

"Word has gotten out – it’s one of the few opportunities of its kind in the region, and forestry is big in Clackamas County," said Extension forester Glenn Ahrens, who coordinates the event in Oregon City.

Ahrens sent the Tree School Clackamas course catalog to 13,500 private family forest landowners in six counties in the northern Willamette Valley. Those landowners collectively manage more than 400,000 acres of forestland, he said.

The Tree Schools come as the economic outlook has improved for forest products since the industry's low point in 2007, said Michael Bondi, who founded Tree School Clackamas and now directs OSU's North Willamette Research and Extension Center. During 2007 and 2008, attendance hovered around 545. But as the economy slowly turned around, partly thanks to a boost in export markets, more woodland owners returned to the event, he said.

In 2011, harvest volume across all ownerships was 3.65 billion board feet, just 16 percent below pre-recession harvest levels, according to the 2012 Forest Report commissioned by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) at http://theforestreport.org.. More than 75 percent of this harvest came from private land, according to OFRI's report.

Nearly 60 volunteers and 64 instructors will help organize 70 workshops for Tree School Clackamas, which will be held March 22 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Workshops will include weed management, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, a truffle dog demonstration and chainsaw safety. Registration for Tree School Clackamas closes Feb. 21. A schedule is at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/clackamas/forestry. You can register online or call the OSU Extension office at 503-655-8631. Registration costs $45 for Clackamas County residents and $60 for others. Youth ages 13-18 pay $25.

For Tree School East, the OSU Extension Service will offer 24 classes taught by 40-50 instructors. It will take place at Baker High School in Baker City. Classes will include management of weeds, diseases and insects; chainsaw operation; wolves in northeast Oregon; pioneer skills such as flint knapping and Dutch oven cooking; Oregon Trail history; and solar energy. Registration opened Feb. 3 and you can register by calling the Extension office at 541-523-6418 and requesting a booklet. Registration costs $50 for adults and $20 for high school students.

Tree School Umpqua will feature 24 classes taught by 20 instructors at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Workshops will include restoring forests for fire resiliency; beekeeping; identifying native Oregon shrubs; commercial truffle production; enhancing wildlife habitat; and using Google Earth to map woodlands. The event averages about 100 attendees each year. Register by calling the OSU Extension office at 541-672-4461 or visiting the website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/douglas/treeschool. Registration costs $50 for an individual or $90 per couple.

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Glenn Ahrens, 503-722-6718;

Bob Parker, 541-523-6418;

Steve Bowers, 541-672-4461

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Participants learn how to safely operate equipment at the Oregon State University Extension Service's annual Tree School in Oregon City. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Behavior of man's best friend shaped by breed and hunting instincts

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A dog's breed can determine how well it follows human commands, according to a new study from Oregon State University.

The study, which was published this month in the journal Animal Behaviour, found that dogs bred for predatory traits are better at following some human gestures.

"The more we know about the predatory behavioral tendencies of dogs, the better we can predict how successful they might be with humans in different home and working environments," said Monique Udell, an animal scientist at OSU and lead author of the study. “This may allow us to make better placement, ownership and training decisions in the future.”

"We can set dogs up to succeed by capitalizing on each breed's inherent strengths instead of treating all dogs as if they came from the same mold," she added.

OSU tested three breeds of dogs used for specific purposes: hunting, herding and livestock-guarding. In an experiment, dogs watched a researcher point to one of two identical empty cans. If the dog then approached that same can, food was placed on it. The test was repeated 10 times.

When choosing between the two cans, the researchers believe each breed drew on its natural predatory tendency to eye, stalk, chase and ultimately consume food triggered by movement – a pointing human hand, in this case.

Border collies, the herding dogs used in the test, chose the correct can more than 85 percent of the time. Researchers credit their success to the fact that border collies have been bred for exaggerated eye-stalk-chase behavior, hunting traits which dogs inherited from their wolf ancestors.

Airedale terriers also performed well, showing 70 percent success in tests. The hunting dogs have predatory instincts most similar to wolves and are extremely responsive to movement and inclined to follow it.

"These breeds are perceived to have an uncanny ability to read people, like when they anticipate owners taking them for a walk," said Udell, who is also the director of the OSU Human-Animal Interaction Lab and an assistant professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “What people are picking up on is a predisposition in these dogs to watch for movement and respond accordingly.”

Anatolian shepherds, the livestock guarding dogs in the tests, initially responded to human gestures less than 50 percent of the time on average — not a single individual performed above chance.

This finding is consistent with their breeding, said Udell, because Anatolian shepherds have been bred for the absence of predatory traits to encourage them to protect instead of chase livestock. With additional training, however, Anatolian shepherds were able to learn to follow human pointing.

Although researchers are confident that breed helps predict the success of dogs in following human commands, they also note that it is only one factor among many.

"Behavior is not fixed,” Udell said. “A dog’s breed may simply signify a different starting point. If dog owners want their pets to behave in a way that is uncharacteristic of their breed, it is often possible, but may take more training and time. You can teach dogs – young and old – new tricks."

The study is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_DogBehaviorStudy.

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Monique Udell, 541-737-9154

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Border collie

Border collies, which are trained to herd sheep and other animals, show a strong ability to follow human commands because of predatory instincts inherited from wolves. (Photo by Lora Withnell.)

Eliminating grazing won't reduce impact of climate change on rangeland, scientists say

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Eliminating grazing won't reduce the impact of climate change on rangeland, according to nearly 30 scientists in the western United States.

The researchers, who work for nine universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made this argument in a journal article in response to a debate over whether grazing on western public lands worsens ecological alterations caused by climate change.

"We dispute the notion that eliminating grazing will provide a solution to problems created by climate change," the 27 authors wrote in the peer-reviewed paper, which was a summary of scientific literature that was published online this month by the journal Environmental Management. "To cope with a changing climate, land managers will need access to all available vegetation management tools, including grazing."

Some scientists argue that livestock, deer, elk and wild horses and burros exacerbate the effects of climate change on vegetation, soils, water and wildlife on western rangelands. As a result, they claim that removing or reducing these animals would alleviate the problem.

In this latest paper, however, the authors argued that grazing can actually help mitigate some of the effects of climate change. Climate change, they said, is likely to increase the accumulation of flammable grasses and increase the chance of catastrophic wildfires unless those grasses are managed.

"Grazing is one of the few tools available to reduce the herbaceous vegetation that becomes fine fuel on rangelands," said co-author Dave Bohnert, the director of Oregon State University's Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns.

Globally, grazing is used for a variety of vegetation management objectives, in addition to fine fuel reduction, said lead author Tony Svejcar, a research leader at the USDA's office in Burns who also has a courtesy appointment in OSU's Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department.

The scientists also said that it's unclear how removing grazing would overcome the effects of large-scale climatic changes such as reduced snow packs.

The authors also pointed out that some criticism of grazing has been based on decades-old studies, when the scars of unfettered foraging were still fresh on the landscape. They added that in some places it's hard to tell if impacts from grazing are from current practices or if they are left over from the homesteading era when grazing was unregulated.

"Before the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, it was a first-come, first-served competition, with the winners taking as much of the forage as they could because if they didn’t someone else would," said Bohnert, who is a beef cattle specialist with the OSU Extension Service and a professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “Since then, we've learned more about the ecology and management of rangelands. Ranchers are constantly looking at ways to be more sustainable in their grazing practices.”

Collaborators on the paper are from OSU, the University of Arizona, Brigham Young University, the University of California-Davis, the University of Idaho, Montana State University, the University of Nevada-Reno, Utah State University, the University of Wyoming and the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

Media Contact: 
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Dave Bohnert, 541-573-8910;

Tony Svejcar, 541-573-8901

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Dave Bohnert

Animal scientist Dave Bohnert works with cattle at Oregon State University's Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns. Bohnert is a co-author of a paper that says that eliminating grazing isn't the fix-all solution to protecting land affected by climate change. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Cattle grazing

Cattle graze near Prineville, Ore. Grazing is one way to reduce the risk of large wildfires, according to scientists from nine universities. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Braunworth named as head of OSU Department of Horticulture

CORVALLIS, Ore - Bill Braunworth has been selected to head the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University, following a national search.

Since 1992, Braunworth has served OSU as the program leader of the Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Extension Program. As program leader, he developed greater budget capacity and flexibility and worked to preserve the Extension horticulture program in Multnomah, Lane, Linn and Lincoln counties.

In 2001, he led a 30-member team of scientists from three universities that reported the impacts from reallocation of water in the Klamath Basin.

Braunworth, who earned a doctorate in horticulture from OSU in 1986, has worked as an agronomist on water use and management in Egypt and as a horticultural researcher in Malawi.

He served as the interim department head in horticulture after Anita Azarenko left the department in 2012 to become associate dean of OSU’s graduate school.

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Bill Braunworth, 541-760-1317

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Bill Braunworth

Bill Braunworth is the new head of the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. (Photo courtesy of OSU.)

OSU uses satellite images to detect underwater volcanic eruptions

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University scientists have discovered how to pinpoint the time and place of underwater volcanic eruptions using satellite images.

Volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor can spew large amounts of pumice and fine particles, as well as hot water that brings nutrients to the surface, resulting in plumes of algae. The plumes are picked up as shades of green in satellite images.

"Some volcanic eruptions take place hundreds of feet below water and show no changes to the sea surface to the naked eye," said Robert O'Malley, an OSU research assistant in botany and plant pathology in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “It's amazing an orbiting satellite can detect color changes that indicate an eruption has taken place. Many times you can't spot an eruption if you were floating over it in a boat.”

Underwater volcanic eruptions are rarely detected, so little is known about them, according to Mike Behrenfeld, an OSU expert in marine algae and and one of the researchers on the project.

"Satellite measurements of the planet are made every day,” Behrenfeld said, “so this new method provides another tool for spotting these dramatic events that affect life in the oceans."

O'Malley and Behrenfeld developed a process for analyzing low-resolution images to show evidence of eruptions, which can extend over thousands of square miles, by matching five known eruptions with data from NASA satellites.

"We measured sunlight going into the ocean interacting with particles consistent with underwater volcanic eruptions," said O'Malley. “From there, we found we could connect color data with documented eruptions. Now we have a better idea of what to look for in the data when we don't know about the eruption first."

Next, the researchers plan to test how well their method works as eruptions are happening. Further study will also focus on the depth at which eruptions can be detected.

The research was funded by NASA's Ocean Biology and Geochemistry Program.

The study was published in the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment and can be found online at http://bit.ly/OSU_VolcanoStudy.

Media Contact: 
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Robert O'Malley, 541-737-2316;

Mike Behrenfeld, 541-737-5289

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Oldest trees are growing faster, storing more carbon as they age

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In a finding that overturns the conventional view that large old trees are unproductive, scientists have determined that for most species, the biggest trees increase their growth rates and sequester more carbon as they age.

In a letter published today in the journal Nature, an international research group reports that 97 percent of 403 tropical and temperate species grow more quickly the older they get. The study was led by Nate L. Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center. Three Oregon State University researchers are co-authors: Mark Harmon and Rob Pabst of the College of Forestry and Duncan Thomas of the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The researchers reviewed records from studies on six continents. Their conclusions are based on repeated measurements of 673,046 individual trees, some going back more than 80 years.

This study would not have been possible, Harmon said, without long-term records of individual tree growth. “It was remarkable how we were able to examine this question on a global level, thanks to the sustained efforts of many programs and individuals.”

Extraordinary growth of some species, such as Australian mountain ash – also known as eucalyptus –  (Eucalyptus regnans), and the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), is not limited to a few species, the researchers said. “Rather, rapid growth in giant trees is the global norm and can exceed 600 kg (1,300 pounds) per year in the largest individuals,” they wrote.

“In human terms, it is as if our growth just keeps accelerating after adolescence, instead of slowing down,” said Stephenson. “By that measure, humans could weigh half a ton by middle age, and well over a ton at retirement.”

The report includes studies from the Pacific Northwest. Harmon and his colleagues worked in forest plots – some created as early as the 1930s – at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest east of Eugene and Mount Rainier National Park. Researchers measured growth in Douglas-fir, western hemlock, Sitka spruce, western red cedar and silver fir. The National Science Foundation and the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the USDA Forest Service provided funding.

Under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Tropical Forest Science, Thomas and colleagues in Africa established a 123-acre forest research site in Cameroon in 1996. They measured growth in about 495 tree species.

“CTFS does very important work facilitating collaboration between forest ecologists worldwide and therefore enabling us to gain a better insight into the growth of trees and forests,” Thomas said. “This model for collaboration was the basis of the Nature study.”

While the finding applies to individual trees, it may not hold true for stands of trees, the authors cautioned. As they age, some trees in a stand will die, resulting in fewer individuals in a given area over time.

The study was a collaboration of 38 scientists from research universities, government agencies and non-governmental organizations in the United States, Panama, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Colombia, Argentina, Thailand, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Spain.

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Mark Harmon, 541-737-8455; Duncan Thomas,  541-752-5211

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Photo by Duncan Thomas
Korup canopy
Photo by Duncan Thomas

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Photo by Al Levno

Hundreds of small farmers to gather at annual OSU conference

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Hundreds of farmers from throughout Oregon will gather in Corvallis this winter to improve their skills and get inspired for the next growing season. The 14th annual Oregon Small Farms Conference will take place Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Oregon State University.

Michael Ableman, a nationally known farmer, author and photographer, will present the keynote address. For the first time, organizers are offering a special series of workshops in Spanish for Latino farmers. In the past the conference has provided translators for particular workshops already offered in English. Also new is a workshop on profitability for small farms.

Registration costs $45 per person until Feb. 2, then increases to $65 per person from Feb. 3-14 and $100 per person on the day of the conference – if space is still available. Organizers will cap attendance at 800 people. In the past, the popular conference has surpassed 800 attendees, said Garry Stephenson, the coordinator of OSU's Small Farms Program, which organizes the event.

"I think there's a huge social aspect to the conference – for a lot of people, this is the only time of year they get to see each other, so there's a lot of interaction and networking," said Stephenson. "We also bring in speakers who challenge people to think differently and offer a variety of workshops."

This year, attendees can register for specific workshops. The conference features 24 workshops in three concurrent sessions, as well as a lunch prepared with locally produced food. Workshops include financing a farm, growing quinoa in the Northwest, selling produce to schools and hospitals, transitioning to organic agriculture and health insurance options for farmers.

The conference is geared toward farmers, agriculture professionals, food policy advocates, students and managers of farmers markets.

For more information and to register, go to http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfc.

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Garry Stephenson, 541-737-5833

Consumers like bread with less salt, says OSU taste test

PORTLAND, Ore. – Consumers can't tell the difference between regular bread and bread with 10 percent less salt, according to taste tests by Oregon State University.

Researchers at OSU's Food Innovation Center in Portland asked nearly 200 people to sample slices of whole wheat sandwich bread made with normal salt levels as well as ones with 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent less salt.

People tasted a difference in the 20 percent and 30 percent reductions but they still liked the appearance, texture, smell and taste the same as the normal bread, which was made with 104 milligrams of salt per slice.

They also said they would be willing to buy a loaf of any of the four samples.

"It's surprising that reducing sodium by nearly a third did not negatively affect how much consumers wanted to buy bread," said Ann Colonna, who manages the sensory science program at the center. "The results suggest consumers would not be able to detect small, incremental cuts to sodium in bread over time."

“Small reductions are also feasible to manufacturers,” Colonna added, “and wouldn't require much reformulation to existing recipes."

Sodium chloride, or salt, is often added to foods to enhance flavor. Bread is one of the largest contributors of sodium in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke – together the leading cause of death in Oregon and the United States, Colonna said.

OSU researchers aim to establish baselines that show the level at which U.S. consumers can detect less sodium in bread. The few existing studies on sodium reduction in bread are from overseas and cannot be applied to the United States because taste preferences vary by country, said Colonna, a food scientist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"The U.S. marketplace and consumers are unique, and food companies need detailed data to reference when potentially reducing sodium levels in the future," she said. "We're trying to get the ball rolling."

This fall, the results of the study were presented to Franz Bakery, also known as United States Bakery, the largest manufacturer of bread in Oregon.

A CDC grant awarded to the Oregon Department of Health Division funded the taste test.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled out new nutrition standards for school breakfast and lunch, and for the first time ever, there is a sodium limit. It will be difficult for schools to comply with new sodium requirements without procuring reduced-sodium bread, said Kim La Croix, a policy specialist for the Oregon Health Authority.

The Food Innovation Center is a branch of the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station and is a joint venture between OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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Ann Colonna, 503-872-6677

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Ann Colonna, OSU researcher at the Food Innovation Center in Portland

Ann Colonna, of OSU's Food Innovation Center, conducted taste tests showing consumers like bread with less salt. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Food Innovation Center

OSU researchers at the Food Innovation Center in Portland help turn culinary innovations into commercial products with a wide range of services. (photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Online access to spotted wing drosophila genome could accelerate research

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University hopes to aid research on the fruit-damaging spotted wing drosophila by providing online access to the fly's newly sequenced genome.

OSU anticipates that scientists will use its new SpottedWingFlyBase website to develop ways to combat the invasive pest. Since its launch in November, spottedwingflybase.oregonstate.edu has been used by researchers in dozens of countries, said Vaughn Walton, an entomologist with the OSU Extension Service.

"Scientists from all over the world are interested in knowledge locked inside the fly's genetic material," he said. "Genes will help reveal the pest's behavior, pesticide resistance and other biological attributes that will point the direction for future research."

The fly's genome was sequenced by at the University of California at Davis by Joanna Chiu, David Begun and Frank Zalom. The sequencing is the subject of a paper in the December issue of the journal G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics. OSU’s Walton is a co-author.

Oregon State's website allows researchers to compare the genetic differences between the spotted wing drosophila and closely related drosophila species.

In the process, scientists hope to pinpoint odors and tastes attractive to the fly, potentially leading to the creation of new pheromone-based baits to trap it. They will also try to match the biology of the fly with pesticides that will be more effective.

The genome may also eventually aid American fruit exports, especially to countries fearful of invasion from the pest. By finding genetic markers unique to the fly, scientists hope to craft a DNA test that quickly determines if larvae found in fruit ready for shipping are spotted wing drosophila.

Native to Asia, the fly was first detected in the United States in 2008 and has since spread across the continent. It lays eggs in ripe and ripening fruit, which its larvae eat, causing blemishes that ruin the fruit's value. Significant losses to fruit crops have been reported in the U.S., Canada and Europe, said Walton, who an assistant professor in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Horticulture.

OSU is leading a collaborative multi-state, multi-agency effort to study the fly through a $5.8 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

The SpottedWingFlyBase website was co-developed by Chiu of UC Davis.

More information on the fly is available at www.spottedwing.org.

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Vaughn Walton, 541-737-3485

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Peter Shearer and spotted wing drosophila

OSU entomologist Peter Shearer holds a test tube of spotted wing drosophila larvae. With the fly's genome now mapped, researchers will be able to better understand its biology and develop new methods to control it. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Blueberry tree research could help growers branch out

AURORA, Ore. – An Oregon State University researcher aims to lower production costs for growers by creating a new kind of blueberry that develops as a tree instead of the traditional bush. 

Wei Qiang Yang, blueberry agent for the Oregon State University Extension Service, has tested a grafted blueberry "tree" that grows on a single stem on a research plot at OSU's North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora every year since 2009. Yang is collaborating with researchers who are testing other blueberry varieties grafted onto rootstocks at land-grant universities in California and Florida as part of a multi-state effort.

"The first rootstock that will come out of this research for commercial use will significantly change the way blueberries are currently produced and harvested," said Yang, a horticulture professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The research could benefit an industry that's economically important to Oregon. The blueberry industry contributed $107.5 million in sales to Oregon's economy in 2012, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension. Growers produced 72 million pounds of blueberries on nearly 8,000 acres.  

Growers use machine harvesters with catch plates to collect blueberries, but because blueberry bushes have multiple stems, the catch plate cannot fully encircle each stem of the bush. So growers must bear about a 15-25 percent loss in terms of the fruit that the catch plate misses, according to Yang. But cultivating a blueberry bush in a tree form would change that, he said.

"This work isn't just academically important, but it's valuable from a practical standpoint in that it will be very significant for improving machine harvesting efficiency and the adaptability of blueberry plants to different soil conditions," Yang said. "The wild-grown species is better-adapted to nutrient-poor and relatively high-pH soil. If we're successful, this is going to change the way we raise blueberries."  

To make the grafts, Yang started with seeds from a wild-growing blueberry plant commonly known as sparkleberry, which originated in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. In the wild, some plants grow on a single stem to heights of up to 10 feet. But their tiny berries are full of seeds and the fruit has a bad taste, Yang said. He then grafted three popular highbush blueberry varieties – Liberty, Aurora and Draper – onto the wild-growing plants. He wanted a blueberry plant that had a similar yield to its domestic cousins and had a good taste.

So far, yields of the grafted plants have compared favorably to their domesticated cousins, with the exception of Liberty. A grafted Liberty plant yielded an average of approximately 1.03 pounds of fruit per single tree, compared to an average of 1.68 pounds per single bush on a domesticated Liberty plant. A grafted Draper plant yielded an average of approximately 0.60 pounds of fruit per single tree, while a domesticated Draper plant yields an average of 0.55 pounds per single bush. A grafted Aurora yielded an average of 1.07 pounds of fruit per single tree, while a domesticated Aurora yields an average of 0.88 pounds of fruit per single bush. Taste has also compared well.

Yang must still analyze results of data collected on fruit quality factors such as firmness, size and total acidity. This is the first year researchers were able to collect data on yield for the project in Oregon. Yang will investigate future yield projections and machine harvesting potential next. If results continue to show promise, the blueberry tree could be ready for release to nurseries in approximately five years for commercial use and about three years for gardeners.

Though some people have tried grafting blueberry trees on a small-scale basis in the past, Yang said this is the first major collaborative research effort to graft a blueberry tree that is viable for commercial growers.

Yang receives funding for the research from the Oregon Blueberry Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crops Research Initiative.

For more information, go to the website for OSU's NWREC at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/NWREC.

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Wei Qiang Yang, (503) 678-1264 ext. 126

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By growing blueberries on a single stem instead of on a bush with multiple branches, OSU researcher Wei Qiang Yang hopes to improve machine harvesting efficiency for growers. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

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Grafted blueberry trees are lined up in test plots at Oregon State University's North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Oregon. Research to develop the plant could benefit an industry that contributed $107.5 million in sales to Oregon's economy in 2012, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)