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Combined Research and Extension Annual Report – 2008

2008 CSREES Colorado State University
Combined Research and Extension
Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results

This executive summary highlights research and extension outcomes that are illustrative of the scope of programs and their impact, the breadth of challenges and response to stakeholders and others, and the collaborative, integrated and interactive efforts from Colorado State University research and extension programs. Integral to these and other outcomes is Colorado State University’s commitment to research and extension programs that address economic viability, environmental sustainability and social acceptability of outcomes impacting agriculture, natural resources and consumers and other end-users.

Of the seven programmatic areas incorporated in this report, five reflect integrated and interactive research and extension planning and execution while two are solely Extension programs (4-H Youth Development and Strong Families, Healthy Homes). These five programs are:

  • Nutrition and Food Safety
  • Animal Production Systems
  • Plant Production Systems
  • Natural resources and Environment, and
  • Community Resource Development

It should be noted that although programs reflect broad categorization, programs are cross-cutting and reflect the complex nature of research and extension activities.

Colorado Wheat Industry. Research and extension programs incorporate breeding, variety trials, certified seed increases, and crop management systems to provide new cultivars, cropping systems and best management practices for the industry. This information is communicated through web-sites, scientific publications, technical reports, workshops conducted by faculty and extension personnel and through an extraordinary positive working relationship with the Colorado Wheat Growers Association and the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee.

Development of improved wheat cultivars serves the wheat industry in Colorado by reducing wheat production costs, reducing pesticide use, and providing improved marketing options. CSU-bred wheat cultivars account for nearly 60% of Colorado’s 2.4 million acres (2008 crop) with the remaining acreage planted mostly with cultivars from university breeding programs in adjacent states. Since 1963, average wheat grain yields in Colorado have more than doubled with at least 50% of this increase attributed to improved cultivars. With regard to quality, estimates from Colorado wheat industry leaders indicate that end-use quality enhancements from cultivars developed at CSU provide an average of $20 million per year increased income for Colorado wheat producers (83 million bushels x $0.25 per bushel price increase; 2003 dollars). See Project COL00795 – PI: S. Haley

In fall 2008, experimental line CO03W239 was released as an improved cultivar named Thunder CL. Thunder CL is an awned, white-glumed, hard white winter wheat. Thunder CL has shown superior grain yield under both non-irrigated and irrigated production conditions in eastern Colorado. Thunder CL carries the Als1 gene conferring tolerance to imazamox herbicide, shows moderate resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus, stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis Westend.) and stem rust (caused by Puccinia graminis Pers.:Pers f. sp. tritici Eriks. & E. Henn), and shows superior milling and bread baking quality. Thunder CL is the only yield-competitive, dryland-adapted hard white Clearfield* wheat cultivar available in the Great Plains.

Certified seed usage in Colorado reached a new high in Fall 2007, with 30.4% of wheat acres. Recent increases are attributed to the adoption of Hatcher and to the reputations of the CSU Variety Testing Program and the local seed grower businessmen. Seed growers grew 850 acres of Registered seed production of the new CSU-developed wheat variety “Bill Brown”. This will allow for fast adoption of this new hard red winter wheat and further increases in acreage planted to certified seed. The new high yielding and high quality variety Hatcher was planted on 22% wheat acreage in 2008 by comparison to 7% in 2007.

We have documented limited irrigation cropping systems water conservation as much as $350 mm yr-1 compared to fully irrigated corn while maintaining similar on-farm economic returns. These benefits have been realized for about 1,500,000 acres in CO that have been converted from wheat-fallow to wheat-summer crop-fallow. This conversion increased net return by $22,275,000 per year under normal precipitation conditions.

Livestock Production, Marketing, Distribution, and Education. Animal agriculture is the leading agricultural activity in Colorado. In 2006, live meat animal sales in Colorado were valued at $4.062 billion and the value of dairy production was $327 million. Livestock and livestock products accounted for 72% of crops and livestock sales in the state.

We have developed decision support systems for the cow/calf producer that are designed to be used by producers to evaluate sire selection decisions based on the impact those sires’ progeny might have on the profitability of the specific producers operation. Currently, there are seven participating breed associations that have contributed expected progeny differences for use in the decision support system. Additionally, we are developing breed-wide selection indexes using this system for release to entire breeds and their customers. These will be simultaneously released with the expected progeny differences twice per year. Given that this single association transfers over 6500 bulls in a single year, assuming bulls are used for 3 breeding seasons, each of these animals could produce upwards of 75 progeny for a total of nearly 500,000 offspring. If use of this system results in the selection of bulls whose progeny are more profitable, the result would be a considerable improvement for the customers of this breed. Magnified over 6 additional breeds and the results become more important. Given the 700,000 plus cows in Colorado, an improvement of $10 per head would result in an improvement of 7 million dollars net revenue. Additionally, we continue to disseminate information on beef production systems through the CSU Beef Team comprised of faculty and extension personnel and through the website. See Project COL00607 – PI: R. Enns.

Large numbers of finished beef cattle now are marketed on grid-based pricing systems. Carcasses that do not conform to mainstream specifications generally do not achieve full value due to failure to achieve premium prices. Research was conducted to evaluate beef carcass ribeye area at the 12th and 13th rib interface (LMA) and its relationship to portion sizing acceptability of other muscles in the carcass. A nationwide survey was conducted with foodservice chefs and retail meat merchandisers to evaluate acceptability of portion sizes and dimensions of individual muscle cuts. Many muscles were still acceptable to retail merchandisers and foodservice chefs in portion size, even though carcass LMA was outside the range of commercially acceptable sizes. This study demonstrates that carcass LMA is not an accurate determinant of the size, and subsequent acceptability, of other muscles in the carcasses and may not be a good determinant of the remaining value of the beef carcass; it will be used by industry to modify current beef pricing practices. See Project COL00214B – PI: K. Belk.

Improving the competitive position and sustainability of independent livestock producers and sustaining the economic and environmental health of the rural communities that depend upon them requires the development of educational programs to reach students and appropriate clientele groups. The Western Center for Integrated Resource Management graduate program will continue to be the primary emphasis with more attention to the outreach/distance education component. We offered two courses online during Fall 2008. Our enrollment in these two courses, which include our hallmark introductory course (AGRI 630) and our animal resource course (AGRI 633), have attracted eight and three students, respectively. This enrollment has been accomplished without marketing or promotion, merely by student inquiry, so we expect the program to grow as we work with Colorado State’s Continuing Education unit to promote these courses. We have experienced significant interest in our online degree program. That program will eventually include all 11 of our courses. Two additional courses will be offered online this spring, and another two next fall. With a total of six of our courses online next fall, we will have achieved our goal of providing international access to our courses. A cooperative agreement is being negotiated through the College of Agriculture to offer our distance program through 12 other universities, allowing graduate students from those other institutions to access our courses and receive credit through their home institutions. This program is now tentatively named AG-IDEA, and details are available at See Project COL00614 – PI: G. Niswender.

Colorado Potato Industry. Potato Virus Y has been an ongoing disease threat and problem for both seed and commercial producers in Colorado. This disease is especially problematic in cultivars such as Russet Norkotah. PVY can reduce yields and size of tubers harvested and is instrumental in the majority of rejections from the Colorado certification program. Currently, 45% of the certified seed acreage in Colorado is grown to Russet Norkotah selections, about 2800 ha. This research impacts over 1700 ha of seed which is annually rejected for certification. Findings of the PVY research indicate that certain cultivars such as Russet Norkotah tend to have a higher variance regarding PVY infection in the Post Harvest Testing than other less susceptible cultivars. Roguing infected plants from lots with higher levels of PVY tended to mechanically spread the virus to other nearby plants resulting in a situation where for each three infected plants rogued, there were an additional two plants infected but not visually evident. Finally, PVY symptom expression in Russet Norkotah was found to be transient, not latent, and expression occurred throughout the season. This trait by this cultivar makes it virtually impossible to effectively rogue out all PVY positive plants and leaves between 10-25% of the infected plants in the field after roguing is finished to act as late season inoculum sources within the field. Improved management of PVY can reduce rejections and result in additional $2.5 to 3.5 million in revenue to the certified seed growers. See Project COL00710 – PI: R. Davidson.

Release of new potato cultivars requires addressing production management problems and providing producers with Cultural Management Profiles and Guides associated with new cultivars. Each potato cultivar has its own unique set of cultural management requirements. To realize the yield and quality potential of any cultivar, optimum management guidelines for that cultivar need to be followed. Canela Russet is a potato that produces quality tubers. The major drawback that prevented easy adoption of this cultivar was the long tuber dormancy and late field emergence. Results from 2008 studies indicated that reconditioning of the tubers between 10 to 13 degrees celcius for 14 days before planting enhanced field emergence; and cutting the seed to a size of 85-100g increased tuber yield. With these findings, growers of Canela Russet are able to harvest the crop earlier than before, and therefore avoid the potential of frost damage due to late harvest. Increased tuber yields have also been realized by growers. See Project COL00711 – PI: S. Essah.

Results of these research and extension programs are communicated to industry through workshops, industry meetings and conferences, scientific and technical publications and interaction with the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee and Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association.

Plant Select and Native Plant Master Programs. Colorado is an urban state, with 80% of the population living in urban areas. The green industry of Colorado comprises a significant part of Colorado agriculture; it has been recognized as “agriculture” by the Colorado General Assembly. The industry includes production, wholesale, and retail sales for floriculture, nursery, and tree crops, garden supplies, irrigation equipment, outdoor equipment, and development and care services for landscapes, such as golf courses, landscape design and construction, and landscape maintenance for homes, businesses, and public gardens and cemeteries. Colorado expenditures on garden-related products, landscape and lawn service, and other related green industries (irrigation, botanical gardens, and outdoor equipment) have averaged 10 percent annual growth since 1993, resulting in $1.67 billion in direct sales. (This generates an economic impact of $2.1 to $5.0 billion depending on the economic multiplier used.) The landscape-related industries of Colorado employ nearly 34,000 positions (6 percent average annual growth) with a payroll of $825 million annually (18 percent average annual growth). Thirty percent of industry revenues are generated from domestic and international sales.

Through the Plant Select Program, specific performance results from annual herbaceous and woody plant trials help determine which new and superior annual flowers and herbaceous perennial varieties growers throughout the state and region should be grown and marketed. In 2008, seven plant species were recommended or introduced by Plant Select. Over ninety demonstration gardens are displaying Plant Select plants throughout Colorado. Plant Select plants which are either introductions or recommendations throughout the state and region means marketing more profitable plants for growers and retailers throughout the state and region. In 2008, over 1.8 million Plant Select labeled plants were sold. See Project COL00713 – PI: J. Klett.

The mission of the Native Plant Education team is to educate the public about native plants in order to foster stewardship, sustainable landscaping and management of weeds that threaten native ecosystems. In 2008, 37 Native Plant Master courses (three four-hour sessions) were taught; 396 persons taught (those going on to volunteer and those choosing not to enter volunteer program). 74 percent reported beginning or increasing weed control efforts; 76 percent began planting or increased planting of native plants. 84 percent educated others about the value of native plants for landscaping and 80 percent went on to educate others about the impact of weeds on native plants. Over 1.1 million acres of land have been the target of weed control efforts.

Water Quality, Quantity and Issues. Agriculture, industry, homeowners and agencies look to Colorado State University to provide research-based information and educational programs on water quality, water quantity, water policy, and other water resource issues. Through CSU Extension’s partnership with the Northern Plains and Mountains Regional Water Program (, two mini-grants were funded with regard to private wells and septic systems. Attendees had their wells tested to ensure water was potable and to screen for heavy metals and other contaminants that can impair human health. These two mini-grants reported impact on 240 private wells with 40 percent reporting that they will increase monitoring of water quality of their wells. After the workshop participants also understood how septic functions and how to maintain them to prevent large economic costs for replacement due to failure or for contaminating the groundwater. Because of this program, increasing knowledge of testing increases the likely hood of testing private wells and detecting potential issues with water quality.

Accurate estimates of water availability, demand, use, and augmentation requirements play an essential role in keeping Colorado agriculture competitive, in developing rural communities, and in promoting harmony between agriculture and the environment. CSU, being a credible impartial party in water issues, is able to develop methodologies and software that build consensus on water issues and prevent costly legal battles. The SPMAP tools, including the Augmentation Accountant, IDSCU, Aquifer Water Accounting System (AWAS) have a proven track record with water managers dealing with the complex issues pertaining to water scarcity and high demand. We continue to very actively work with the water community to enhance the tools to meet the ever increasing set of complex problems facing agricultural water users. AWAS was adopted by the State Engineer as the program to use for estimating the impacts of depletions or accretions to the river. This means that most or all augmentation plans that are being processed by the state are using tools that we have developed as part of this process.

In cooperation with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Extension developed guidelines to help Colorado crop producers employ Best Management Practices (BMPs) that protect the state’s water resources while allowing producers to remain economically competitive.

Energy. In order to develop a set of simple tools for Colorado dairy producers to make preliminary assessments on the feasibility of installation of anaerobic digesters, a digester was installed at an organic dairy near Platteville, Colorado. Based on a previously-reported study on alternative energy, this feasibility study included a determination of biochemical methane potential for various waste streams generated on and nearby the dairy and an assessment of appropriate technologies. While installation of an anaerobic digester at the dairy facility investigated was determined to be technically feasible, an economic analysis showed that installation would not be economically viable. Further, several technical barriers were identified. Based on lessons learned from this feasibility study, a protocol has been developed and documented for future feasibility studies on anaerobic digester installation at animal feeding operations. This will help producers and their advisers to go through the preliminary steps of a feasibility study, thus improving their ability to make informed decisions. A report was provided to the dairy and to the Governors Energy Office detailing findings from the feasibility study. See Project COL00696 – PI: S. Sharvelle.

The Clean Energy Strategic Initiative Team (CESIT) includes seven subcommittees gathering relevant information about clean energy industries or opportunities within the CSU research and extension community. The topic areas for the seven subcommittees include: Solar; Wind; Biomass & Biofuels; Geothermal & Hydropower; Homes & Community; 4-H & Schools; Grants & Funding. Each CESIT subcommittee will be creating both printed material and educational workshops about their topic.

Pest Management. A long-term weed shift study in irrigated crops including corn shows that slow, subtle changes in weed dynamics occur when the same control method, such as only glyphosate use in Roundup Ready crops, is used year after year. We demonstrated that use of a reduced rate of a preemerge herbicide in such systems can improve both total weed control, crop yield, and economic return. Many corn producers have re-integrated soil applied herbicides into their production plans for two reasons. First, it greatly reduces early season weed competition and gives growers a wider time window in which to make the post emergence glyphosate applications. Second, the net return to the grower, after subtracting the added cost of the soil applied herbicide, is in the range of 25 to 50 dollars additional income per acre. For producers with large corn acreage, this represents a considerable boost in income on an annual basis. Results of this research project are shared with crop producers, crop consultants, and other interested parties via extension workshops, scientific and technical publications and presentations at professional meetings.

Small Acreage Issues and Opportunities. The Census of Agriculture reports decreasing numbers of mid- and large-sized farms and a significant increase in the number of small farms; the latter category of individuals frequently do not have much agricultural and business knowledge. CSU research and extension programs are addressing small acreage producers’ needs through research and educational programs including plant selection, production systems, supply and marketing chains, product differentiation, consumer product marketing, risk and financial management tools and rural entrepreneurship.

As a result, a worldwide hop shortage that began in 2007, there has been a keen interest from both growers and brewers alike. Microbrewers need a consistent quality and economic source of hops from growers. Twenty different hops varieties, commonly used by craft breweries, were evaluated to determine the commercial potential for organic production under irrigated conditions. Results indicate that approximately ten varieties produce a sufficient quantity and quality of hops to be commercially viable in the arid inter-mountain west. In 2008, ten acres were planted and harvested for commercial production and an estimated 50 acres will be added in 2009. A hops production workshop, with an emphasis on organic production, was organized and held in Hotchkiss, Colorado, in July of 2008 and was attended by 70 participants. Approximately half of the attendees were brewery owners and/or brewers, mostly from Colorado but also from several neighboring states with interest in establishing hops production and supply agreements with area growers.

4-H Youth Development. A workforce strong in science, technology, engineering and math is essential for Colorado to compete in the national and global economy. 4-H’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative reaches more than five million youth nationwide with hands-on learning experiences that encourage discovery, develop young minds and fill the pipeline of young leaders proficient in science. 4-H is strategically positioned with CSU Extension’s direct connection to the cutting-edge research and resources of Colorado State University and the nation’s 106 land-grant universities and colleges. Nationally, 4-H has set a goal of preparing one million new young people to excel in science, technology, engineering and math by 2013.

Strong Families, Healthy Homes. Communities struggle to develop and maintain resources: human, financial, physical, social, environmental, and political. They also are challenged to provide the organizational capacity to assess, plan, and implement activities to address resource development and management. These issues especially are acute in smaller rural communities. Our family and youth programs are experiencing change. Local citizens are increasingly looking to Extension for expertise in managing resources, including family and business finances. Healthy living, money matters, nutrition on a budget and snack ideas for children are just a few of the ways Extension helps stretch precious personal, family and business resources:

  • Because raising children is the most challenging job anyone can have, CSU Extension provides parenting classes, childcare provider workshops and other human development training for both families and professionals in Colorado.
  • Direct costs (medical care) plus indirect costs (lost productivity/premature death) of diabetes in Colorado is estimated at $1.4 billion. Extension family and consumer sciences agents partner with Colorado agencies, organizations and businesses to provide diabetes education through a regional Diabetes Health Fair and other workshops, seminars and activities.
  • Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. According to EPA radon level maps, Northeast Colorado may have some of the highest levels in the country. To educate the public and promote testing, expanded efforts by CSU Extension provide certification will allow home and business radon mitigation for those in need.
  • Approximately 76 million food borne illnesses occur in the U.S. each year. New pathogens, changes in food production and food supply, increased demands for ready-to-eat food and foods eaten outside the home, along with a decline in food safety awareness and insufficient employee training are just a few of the challenges today’s consumers face.
  • ServSafe is a partnership program of Extension and local health departments. This nationally recognized food safety education program, offered to food service employees and managers in a variety of establishments, increases awareness and promotes positive changes in practices—safer food and a decrease in food borne illnesses is the result.

New and Emerging Issues. The use of the Internet to obtain information continues to rise. To accomplish a goal of reaching traditional as well as new audiences with the latest information, in a timely manner, in 2008 CSU Extension communications and IT staff, along with researchers from the Journalism and Technical Communication (JTC) department, conducted usability testing on a website redesign. They followed protocol outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services research-based web design and usability guidelines. ( The website ( went live October 1, 2008, and templates for use in the counties are being adapted in local areas.

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