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Mini mint still is ready for research
Published September 1,
By DD BIXBY
"We stay minty fresh all day long," joked Todd,
the Klamath County extension agent for forages,
cereal crops, and natural resources.
The $40,000 piece of equipment was purchased with
funding from the Klamath Basin Agriculture
Enhancement Endowment, overseen by Oregon State
University, after local mint growers applied.
"This is an unusually good example of cooperation
between the OSU, U.C. and the Basin growers," said
Harry Carlson, Intermountain Research and
Extension Center experiment station supervisor in
Modoc and Siskiyou County. "We're pretty
The dramatic difference in size also decreases the
time involved in the whole process - another
reason the mini still is so attractive for
A third reason the small still is an effective way
to test is the amount of fuel it burns.
The still was made from FDA-grade stainless steel
and glass and can be used to test any other crop
as needed, but for the most part it will be used
for mint and will stay in the Klamath Basin.
With the industry growing, farmers are feeling
pressure to improve and have the stats to prove
the quality of the oil they send out. They hope
this test still will help give them that edge.
Carlson said the local farmers have been using
techniques and practices from the mint farmers in
the Columbia Basin and added that one of the
biggest differences in the Klamath Basin is the
disparity between the really warm days and really
Among the tests Carlson and Todd discussed were
irrigation scheduling, cutting scheduling,
pesticide management, stress tests and fertilizer
Todd noted some of the producers had said the mint
produced more when it was stressed a little. The
growers have also changed harvest dates since they
However, the growers and extension agents are
interested in finding out exact times and
increments to avoid guess work and the negative
outcome of trial-and-error experiments.
"That's the kind of test that could cost a grower
a lot of money," he said. "Some of our experiments
are going to be complicated and would be extremely
hard to do at a grower's field, so those will have
to be done at the (experiment) station."
Simpler experiments, like weed control, can be
conducted in the grower's field because results
can be found without yield tests.
While the tests will start on small plots or
sections of a grower's field Carlson hopes the
positive results will eventually be practiced on a
Carlson explained that California and Oregon were
leaders in agriculture techniques because the high
rate of results from testing grounds adopted into
Friday afternoon the group of producers, extension
agents and manufacturers were setting up the still
and doing the first tests to measure it against
the big machine.
Once the machine's yields are calibrated and other
important baseline figures known, it will go down
to the University of California to conduct the
test plot experiments.
"The amazing thing is with all this science it still comes down to taste and smell," Carlson said.
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