According to this story that appeared in a recent edition (November 9th) of the Oregonian newspaper, they do.  The streaked horned lark, a bird that is indigenous in the Pacific Northwest, has been proposed for listing as a threatened species under the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

Here’s a link to the article:

Streaked horned lark

But an interesting passage in the article caught my attention:

The Willamette Valley’s contingent, perhaps 900 to 1,300 birds, appears relatively stable, largely due to farms, says Hannah Anderson, with the Center for Natural Lands Management in Olympia, Wash. Farming can destroy nesting grounds. But it keeps out shopping malls and subdivisions and gives the birds a place to winter.

“If there were not grass seed and Christmas tree farms in the Willamette Valley,” Anderson says, “there may not be (streaked horned) larks.”

This news follows a story in the recent past that suggested that grass seed fields in the valley are also good fish habitat.

Who knew?

Thomas G. Chastain

The Willamette Valley has experienced very dry late summer and early fall conditions to date and long-range projections are for more of the same coming in the middle and late parts of fall.  How dry has it been?  Rainfall for the July through September period has been 0.87 inches at Hyslop Farm or 37% of the normal 2.35 inches for the period.  Only 10 years in the past 123 years have been this dry or drier in the Willamette Valley.   In these dry years, rainfall in October has averaged 2.11 inches or 66% of normal.  When it gets this dry in July through September, dry Octobers typically follow.  Thus, no relief from the dry conditions in the near term can be expected given either the forecasts or the historical records observed in past drought periods. Continue reading

A new publication on residue management has just been released by OSU’s grass seed production research and extension team.  The publication is titled Postharvest Residue Management for Grass Seed Production in Western Oregon (EM 9051) and is a product of many years of  field work in grass seed crops by the members of the research and extension team.

Residue management equipment used in OSU field studies. The equipment was transported to on-farm research plot sites throughout the state. (click to enlarge)

The publication summarizes the results of these field studies and adds new insights on how grass seed crop residue management influences nutrients and nutrient management decisions.  The photo above shows the rakes, flail mowers, vacuum-sweepers, propane flamer, weigh wagons (for determining seed yield), and the vehicles used to move the team’s equipment.

The publication can be obtained by following the link below:

Postharvest Residue Management for Grass Seed Production in Western Oregon EM 9051

Here’s a link to a story by Mitch Lies of the Capital Press on the research and extension team as well as their approach to the problem:

Burning decrease changed valley farming

Thomas G. Chastain

Even the small and seemingly calm world of seed production is not free from controversial issues.  There’s been a general failure in our society to achieve civil public discourse on matters of science and public policy.  Winning the day at all costs trumps development of meaningful solutions to vexing problems.  Unfortunately, winning the war of words is too often of paramount importance to activists and advocates and so truth and its scientific basis is often sacrificed in the cause of victory.

Perennial ryegrass spikelet (T.G. Chastain photo)

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Thomas G. Chastain

There are two lodging control agents (plant growth regulators) available for grass seed producers in Oregon.  Palisade (trinexapac-ethyl) and Apogee (prohexadione-calcium) plant growth regulators (PGRs) are acylcyclohexanedione inhibitors of the 3-β hydroxylation of GA.  The known effects of the acylcyclohexanedione PGRs currently in use on grass seed crops are as follows:

  • Increased seed yield
  • Increases number of florets produced
  • Increased number of seeds produced
  • Reduced crop height and lodging
  • Reduced leaf length
  • Reduced vegetative biomass
  • Increased harvest index

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Thomas G. Chastain

A resolution to the long-disputed prohibition of canola production in the Willamette Valley is near with the announcement that a temporary rule is set to go in effect on August 10th.  The Oregon Department of Agriculture has determined that canola production will be allowed in specified portions of the Willamette Valley.  A permanent administrative rule governing canola production in the region is expected to be in place prior to the expiration of the temporary rule.

Winter canola flowers and buds (T.G. Chastain photo)

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