Open house showcases fruit, veggie research

2010-07-15T22:53:00Z 2010-07-18T23:19:10Z Open house showcases fruit, veggie researchBy Rachel Beck, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

Leonardo da Vinci would probably feel right at home at Oregon State University's Lewis-Brown Horticultural Research Farm.

Like da Vinci, researchers at the farm are dedicated to studying, learning from and possibly improving the natural world.

"It's really exciting working with the crops that we do and having this assignment for genetic diversity," said Kim Hummer, research leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Clonal Germplasm Repository on Peoria Road. The Corvallis facility - one of 30 seed banks around the nation set up to preserve agricultural crops and wild plants - works in partnership with OSU and has research fields at the farm.

Saturday, da Vinci Days festival-goers can take a shuttle to the farm for an open house hosted by the National Clonal Germplasm Repository and the OSU horticulture department.

Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about studies being done on blueberries, cherries and vegetables, talk to researchers and even sample some of the fruits of their labors.

"This information is open to all," Hummer said.

As she walked down a row of blueberry plants Thursday, Hummer said there aren't as many ripe berries in the USDA Blueberry Gene Bank this year as there were last year.

"It's been a really odd year because of the weather," she said. Pointing out the many yet-to-color berries on one bush, she added, "We're not quite up to the ripening season."

But there should still be plenty of berries ready to sample Saturday. The farm has some of the most popular varieties of blueberries - Bluecrop, Duke and Elliott - as well as unusual types "from all over the world," Hummer said.

They have low-growing "short bush" varieties and towering "high bush" types, a raspberry-flavored blueberry and a variety that comes from the Azores, a chain of islands about 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal.

"We're trying to grow blueberries where they were never grown before," Hummer said. "The mind is boggled with the possibility of unusual types of plants that could happen."

However, some of the best come from right here.

"No one can grow blueberries better than we can in Oregon," Hummer said. "I've been all over the world, and really, conditions are perfect in Oregon."

Blueberry production in the state can come in at around 20 tons per acre. David Bryla, an OSU research horticulturist, is studying how irrigation can perhaps bump that number up.

"He is finding that if you put basically lots of water on your blueberries, you can really size them up and get higher production," Hummer said.

His research will be on display Saturday, along with stations on vegetable breeding and a new "tunnel" method of growing cherries.

Anyone who can't make it out to the farm can check out a booth hosted by USDA's Agricultural Research Service and OSU in the Green Town section of da Vinci Days.

And yes, there will be samples.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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