Skip to main content

Three Idaho-based grants support potato, wine and barley innovation

Three new grants aligned with Boise State’s Food and Dairy Innovation Center at Boise State will pave the way for innovation in three of Idaho’s agricultural sectors: potatoes, wine, and barley. The grants are from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program and the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) Commerce program.

The new Idaho awards focus on climate effects pertaining to the potato industry, the utilization of pulsed electric field technology (PEF) to benefit the wine industry, and PEF system application in the barley malting process with the aim to increase processing efficiency and resource conservation in breweries.

The $125,000 “smoke potato” grant funded by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant (ISDA SCBG) program will support a diverse team of researchers including: Professor Mike Thornton of the University of Idaho Parma Research and Extension Center; University of Idaho Economics Professor Emeritus Joe Guenther; Director of the Caldwell-based University of Idaho Food Technology Center, Josh Bevin; McCain Foods USA Manager of Agronomy, Addie Waxman; and Boise State University Professor and Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Owen McDougal.

The team will grow different varieties of potatoes under conditions simulating rangeland and forest fire smoke, harvest the potatoes for storage and processing, conduct chemical analysis and quality value assessment, and determine the economic impact of climate-induced smoke on the Idaho potato industry.

Funding from a second ISDA SCBG grant for $164,783 will fund McDougal’s partnership with Jim Gratzek at Food Physics Group to optimize PEF treatment of white and red grapes grown at Lanae Ridge Vineyard, Sawtooth Vineyard, and Williamson Orchards and Vineyard, with the intent to improve quality (i.e., color, clarity, body, aroma, flavor, etc.) in wines produced by Cinder Wines, Telaya Wine Company, and Split Rail Winery.

The third award, funded by the IGEM Commerce program, will provide $160,357 to demonstrate the enhancement to barley germination rate and efficiency, water conservation and energy reduction, achieved using PEF system technology. The partnership between McDougal and Gratzek will serve to benefit the industry partner, Anheuser Busch, the largest processor of malted barley in the United States.