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Organic vegetable trials help breeders create new seed varieties at reseearch center near Wilsonville

PHOTO: CREDIT KIMBERLY JACOBSEN NELSON  - Vegetable Variety Field Day participants rate harvested vegetable varieties for appearance, flavor, texture and overall satisfaction. Before you ever crunch into that crispy bell pepper a lot of research and science goes into making sure its appearance, texture and flavor are the best it can be. It starts with the seed and research at Oregon State University's North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC)in Aurora, where a Vegetable Variety Field Day was held on Sept. 11.

Seed companies and breeders provide seeds to NWREC that are grown on organic land. Once a year those seed companies, organic plant breeders, farmers and the public gather at NWREC to discuss and evaluate the performance of a wide range of vegetable crops and varieties.

"The goal is to find those varieties and breeding lines that do very well in an organic system so that our organic farmers can be more successful," said Lane Selman, Agricultural Researcher with OSU.

Participants walked through rows overflowing with ripe vegetables from 14 crops as seed company reps shared information about each variety. After the tour they moved to the tasting tent where vegetables harvested from the trial were scored on appearance, flavor, sweetness, sugar-acid balance, aftertaste and skin thickness.

"Fresh market vegetable farmers and chefs are looking for interesting new varieties with unique characteristics that you can't buy at the supermarket," according to Nick Andrews, OSU Organic Extension Agent. "Our work is helping those farmers identity those new varieties."

This is the 5th year that the vegetable demonstration trial has taken place at NWREC and every year it grows. This year 10 local and national seed companies sponsored the trial, as well as donating seeds for 207 different vegetable varieties.

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