Evaluating Different Value-added Grains for Lassen County

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 04/01/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G317-21-W8613
Grant Recipient: Sunset Ranch
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Traphagan
Sunset Ranch


  • Agronomic: barley, oats, wheat


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, food product quality/safety, nutrient management

    Proposal summary:

    For decades in Lassen County, California the primary agricultural product produced by farmers in the region has been alfalfa rations intended for dairy farmers. Alfalfa has consistently done well in the dry, high-altitude climate of Northeastern California. However, demand from dairy farmers has steadily decreased due to multiple factors which have resulted in economic challenges for Lassen County growers. Thomas Traphagan, owner of Sunset Ranch, will conduct a field research study to identify an alternative crop for human consumption that could improve profits for Lassen County farmers and provide a high-value direct to consumer product. The research project will focus on four objectives including:

    1) Evaluating the performance six grain seed species for the soil and climate of Lassen County; 2) Developing recommendations for optimal organic soil management and irrigation management to incorporate top performing grain crops well-suited for the region.

    3) Evaluate the unique the flour and baking qualities of these grains.

    4) Educate local growers through multiple outreach activities to encourage the adoption of these recommendations to improve the economic conditions in Lassen County.

    This data does not currently exist for the Lassen County region and the results of this research project could provide valuable and actionable information for farmers to adopt the recommendations and produce a new, organic primary crop in an environmentally sustainable way and improve economic conditions for local growers.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Evaluate six grain seed species and varieties and identifying the top performing grain seed for Lassen County. Varieties include Durum wheat, oats and barley.
    2. Assess the optimal organic fertility management, irrigation management, and nutrition budget needs for grain seeds suited for Lassen County’s climate and soil composition.
    3. Research six grain seed species and varieties’ flour and baking qualities.
    4. Educate local growers on how to incorporate alternative high-market value organic grain seeds for human consumption into their practice to improve profitability and stewardship of natural resources.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.