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OUR VIEW: MANAGE FORESTS, OR WATCH THEM BURN
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017
VOLUME 90, NUMBER 37
“After harvest starts, within two to three weeks, I’m a thousand deep in test requests.”
Anita Holman, Oregon State University faculty research assistant
Passing the test
Seed growers, researchers
screen grass straw to protect
livestock from fungus
By ALIYA HALL
ORVALLIS, Ore. — On a typical
summer day, Anita Holman, an Ore-
gon State University faculty research
assistant, will have around 1,000 tall
fescue or perennial rye grass sam-
ples waiting in the laboratory for her and 11 stu-
dent workers to test.
Their goal: to check if there is a toxic level of
endophytes in the grass straw.
“After harvest starts, within two to three
weeks, I’m a thousand deep in test requests,”
Holman works at the OSU Endophyte Ser-
vice Laboratory, one of the few labs in the world
that test for the poisonous alkaloids in endo-
phytes. An endophyte is a fungus that can live
within a grass plant. It helps protect the plant
from drought and pests. But the same bioactive
compound that keeps pests away can also be
harmful to animals that eat too much of it.
Past problems with overdoses of endophyte
sickening livestock have sparked a heightened
awareness among grass seed growers about the
importance of testing the straw byproduct of
their seed production before using it for live-
stock feed. The industry has now reached a bal-
ance by working together to protect animals and
keep costumers happy, along with developing
innovative new methods of controlling the toxin.
Straw bales sit in a ﬁ eld in the Willamette
Valley in August.
Carl Sampson/Capital Press
Aliya Hall/Capital Press
Anita Holman, Oregon State University fac-
ulty research assistant, stands by the ma-
chine that generates the data a technician
uses to calculate the amount of a speciﬁ c
alkaloid in a grass straw sample.
Three diseases are caused by endophyte al-
kaloids: ryegrass staggers, fescue toxicosis and
ergot toxicosis. The ryegrass staggers cause
muscle weakness, tremors and spasms in horses
Turn to STRAW, Page 12
Majority of Washington falls into drought
California, Oregon set August heat records
By DON JENKINS
Washington’s hottest August on record
worsened precipitation deﬁ cits, leading to
more than half the state being classiﬁ ed
Thursday as in “moderate drought,” ac-
cording to climatologists.
California and Oregon also sweltered
through record-hot Augusts, but they were
wet compared to Washington. An unusual
and persistent atmospheric condition off
the coast has blocked the Evergreen state
from getting its normal summer splash of
moist and cool air, Washington State Cli-
matologist Nick Bond said.
“I think we’re seeing it kind of fade away.
I say that with some hesitancy because the
atmosphere has a lot of tricks up its sleeves
and doesn’t always play fair,” he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospher-
ic Administration on Sept. 7 released its
August review of U.S. weather, while the
U.S. Drought Monitor issued its weekly
report on drought conditions.
Washington’s average temperature for
the month was 5.2 degrees above normal,
while Oregon’s was 5.9 degrees. Califor-
nia’s average temperature was 4.1 degrees
above normal, tying August temperatures
from 1967 and 2012. Idaho saw its 11th
hottest August on record.
Some 19 percent of Idaho and 8 per-
cent of California were in drought, little
changed from the week before.
Turn to DROUGHT, Page 12
Don Jenkins/Capital Press
Washington’s hottest August on record worsened precipitation
deﬁ cits. California and Oregon also sweltered through record-hot
Augusts, but they were wet compared to Washington.
GOP invites Inslee to get into well issue
Senator to governor: Time to lead
By DON JENKINS
Courtesy Washington Governor’s Ofﬁ ce
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee sits on a panel discussing cli-
mate change March 23 at the United Nations in New York.
OLYMPIA — Senate Re-
publicans pressed Washington
Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday to get
more active in negotiating leg-
islation to reopen rural parts of
the state to well drilling, seizing
on a new study that asserts the
state risks losing $6.9 billion a
year in economic activity.
Republicans said the report,
commissioned by the Building
Industry Association of Wash-
ington, was evidence they are
right to refuse to pass a $4 bil-
lion capital budget until Dem-
ocrats agree to blunt the state
Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.
“Both bills are vital to our
state,” according to a letter to
Inslee signed by 21 senators.
“However, rural families seek-
ing to build a home on their
property should take prece-
dence over investment in gov-
ernment buildings. A real Hirst
solution must come ﬁ rst.”
Turn to WELL, Page 12
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