Excerpts from Dan Barney’s Research Reports – Early 2009

January 20, 2009

I’m still here. Officially, I leave on 1 April. When I actually can get into the Sawtooth depends on the snow levels. Between now and April 1, I will also be taking 10 days off for annual leave. It’s either use it or lose it and I can use the time to get ready for my trip.

As for the interviews, probably sooner than later would be best and Fridays are tentative.

Thanks for the invitation; I can join the wild huckleberry group any time, just let me know what I need to do.

As for what is up, you may have heard that the UI and all other state universities and agencies are faced with major cuts. We have already had a 13% budget cut in operations and are facing more. Hopefully, we’ll survive. I have quite a few plants started for spring 2010 distribution to cooperators. I was able to do a rather thorough job of evaluating
fruit last summer and a few selections appear to be superior, in terms of fruit size and yields.

I am preparing a grant proposal to establish huckleberries, bilberries, and beargrass onto private forest ground near Sandpoint. This would be a great site for workshops as it has a nice building that is being remodeled for educational programs. I’ll be using what we already know and what I learn this year to base the trials on. The idea is to refine our management strategies for wild huckleberries and bilberries, with an eye to sustainable commercial harvests.

I also have been developing a plan for an organic and sustainable research & Extension Center near our existing farm. The budget crisis has put crimps into that, but I am hoping to get some outside grants that will cover the cost of developing the new farm. Organically-grown huckleberries and bilberries will be one of the main research projects.

Hope all is well for you.

February 5, 2009

Last week, the University of Idaho College of Agricultural & Life Sciences announced that at least 2 of the 13 Research & Extension Centers statewide will be closed due to expected state budget cuts. I’ve attached the official press release.

Because Sandpoint is one of the two smallest stations, we are a likely candidate for closure. At this time, the College does not plan to fire tenured faculty. Those affected, however, may have to relocate to Moscow or one of the other centers. How this will affect our huckleberry research, I do not know. I do know that the soils, climate, and location at Sandpoint make it an ideal place to study wild and domestic huckleberries. At present, we have plants in our nursery that should be ready for shipping in the spring of 2010 to cooperators. For those stations that are closed, we do not know yet how quickly they will be closed following the final decisions, which should come in mid May 2009.

I am requesting that my sabbatical leave to study wild huckleberries and bilberries be postponed for one year. I was supposed to be on leave in the berry fields of Washington from April-September 2009. I’ll need to be here to assist in the evaluation and selection process, act as a contact point for clientele and the public, and close the station, should that be necessary.

If you believe that this information would be of interest to the International Wild Huckleberry Association, I encourage you to pass this message along to the members. Decisions on which stations will be closed will partly depend on stakeholder input. If the members believe that our work has benefitted them and the industry, I would appreciate their
making that known to Dean Hammel and participating in the stakeholder process.

Thanks for the support you have provided over the years.

April 21, 2009

The blue ribbon panel convened to decide which R&E Centers will be closed met last weekend. Now it’s in the Dean’s court to make the final decisions. We should know by May 15 of this year. Lots of things could happen, one or two of them even good.

For now, I am working feverishly to establish new selections in vitro and back up all plants with multiple copies. I also started the breeding for 2009 today, planning on 31 crosses this year. I have many F1 seedlings from 2005-2006 crosses. Those seedlings are one year old and in the greenhouse. I want back up seed for all of the crosses between our best selections, just in case we have to move or shut down the UI program. I believe the last possibility is remote, but I’m not taking any chances. I’ll also be making more seed collection trips this summer to fill in gaps and replace aging seed from our first collections from sources that have proven good. We have about 4,000 seedlings from
2004-2006 crosses and open pollinated seedlings from wild collections in the greenhouse. More are in the bark beds and we have plants ready to go for a fall 2009 or spring 2010 distribution to growers.

I have tentative plans to offer two workshops at Sandpoint this summer, about the second or third week of July. The first workshop will be huckleberry cultivation for home gardeners. The second will be cultivation for commercial production. Until we know for sure what is going to happen here, the plans are tentative.

Depending on where or if I will be working for UI, the prospects are excellent for a large grant to study introduction of huckleberries, bilberries, and beargrass into forest areas where those plants are no longer found. It will be a great opportunity to test our model management systems for wild huckleberries. If things are a go, funding could start as early as this summer.

May 21, 2009

I am buried in research right now trying to preserve our most important germplasm and selections in case my station is closed. Although the controlled pollinations are done for the year, we are just starting tissue culture and cutting propagation, and will move from that into harvesting breeder trials and replacing old seed collections in the core germplasm collection.

Best wishes,

Danny L. Barney, Ph.D.
Professor of Horticulture
Superintendent
University of Idaho
Sandpoint Research & Extension Center
1904 North Boyer Avenue
Sandpoint, ID 83864
Phone: 208-263-2323
Fax: 208-263-4470
Email: dbarney@uidaho.edu
Website: http://www.ag.uidaho.edu/sandpoint/index.htm

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