Identifying Climate-resilient Warm Season Food and Forage Species in Western Oregon

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2024: $74,792.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Shayan Ghajar
Oregon State University
Dr. Lucas Nebert
Oregon State University


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. annual), sorghum (milo), other
  • Fruits: other
  • Nuts: other
  • Vegetables: other
  • Additional Plants: other
  • Animals: other
  • Animal Products: other
  • Miscellaneous: other


  • Crop Production: drought tolerance
  • Production Systems: dryland farming, integrated crop and livestock systems

    Proposal abstract:

    Despite its reputation as part of
    the rainy Pacific Northwest, western Oregon has a Mediterranean
    climate with a distinct and extended summer dry season–a season
    which is becoming less predictable and more extreme as climate
    change accelerates. The timing of the start of the dry season is
    increasingly variable and the levels of heat and
    evapotranspirative stress on crops are intensifying. Producers
    need crops which are better adapted to climate extremes than
    current common species. Similarly, the increasing population and
    concomitant increases in water demand necessitates crops with
    higher water use efficiency to reduce irrigation use. Crop
    species from regions with a long history of adaptation to
    climatic conditions analogous to Oregon’s future could be
    essential. Many such species are also multipurpose in their
    regions of origin, serving as food for humans and fodder for
    livestock, which can expand producers’ management options and
    products. This study proposes to evaluate several multipurpose
    species for their productivity as livestock forage, cover crops,
    and human-suitable food in dry-farmed (i.e. unirrigated)
    production systems. Eight species will be tested individually and
    in two mixes on several sites in western Oregon in 2024. We
    anticipate three primary outcomes: 1) Producers in western Oregon
    will have a wider variety of climate-resilient forage, food, and
    cover crops with reduced water inputs. 2) The combination of
    on-farm trials, producer-centered outreach and networking will
    facilitate adoption of useful novel species in local and regional
    production systems. 3) Networking and outreach will also generate
    new ideas for future trials and evaluation.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Overall Objective: To expand the number of agronomically
    viable multipurpose food & forage species capable of growing in
    Oregon’s increasingly hot and dry summers.

    Research Objectives:

    1)    Evaluate
    novel, warm-season crop species for suitability as
    dual-or-multi-use human food, cover crops, and/or livestock
    forage in western Oregon under dry farmed conditions.

    2)    Evaluate
    mixes of novel warm-season crops for dual use as cover crops and
    livestock forage under dry farmed conditions.

    3)    Determine
    the primary factors that predict a given site’s suitability for
    dry farmed warm season crops in western Oregon.

    4)    Collect
    feedback on the relative economic advantage or disadvantage of
    incorporating species/mixes onto participant farms.

    Educational Objectives:

    1) Establish Dry Farm Forages focus group for producers in
    Western Oregon.

    2) Increase the accessibility of information for dry farm forages
    research and education.

    3) Educate producers & consumers about culinary uses and market
    opportunities for warm-season food-and-forage crops.

    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.