Spudman January 2023 - 42

determining yield impacts of missing
plants on tuber yield and quality were
a major focus of his early career with
McCain. His greatest impact to McCain
and the North American potato process
industry came from his work with
Shepody. Rykbost first evaluated F69016
(clone number of Shepody before
variety release) in 1978 and was amazed
at its size and shape for making french
fries. However, the clone performed
poorly in multiple locations throughout
the Maritime Region and was discarded
from the program because of tendencies
for misshapen tubers.
Rykbost spent several years researching
how to manage this clone for optimum
yield, tuber size and shape uniformity for
processing. In addition, he researched
best management practices for seed
production, as tubers tended to get very
large. His efforts and research results
played a major role in the eventual
release of the variety as Shepody.
Rykbost's work with McCain
prepared him for his job with Oregon
State University. In 1987, Ken was
named superintendent of the Klamath
Experiment Station (KES; now the
Klamath Basin Research and Extension
Center) and served in that role until
his retirement in 2003. In addition to
station superintendent responsibilities,
he was responsible for the potato
research program in the Basin.
Rykbost's contributions to the Pacific
Northwest potato industry actually
began before he assumed the position
of superintendent of KES. The Treasure
Valley of Eastern Oregon and Western
Idaho was having significant problems
with sugar ends in Russet Burbank.
He networked with Clint Shock,
who was superintendent at the OSU
Malheur Experiment Station, to begin
evaluating Shepody, as it is less sensitive
to environmental stresses related to
temperature and moisture extremes
common to the area. Early evaluation
was quite successful, and Shepody
eventually expanded in acreage. It
has been said that the introduction of
Shepody saved the processing potato
industry in the Treasure Valley, and in
some circles, Rykbost is best known as
the " Shepherd of the Shepody. "
The Tri-state Potato Program was
initiated about three years before
Rykbost became superintendent at
KES. He was extremely active in this
program and initiated a red-skinned
selection program in the Klamath Basin,
evaluating material from Joseph Pavek
at USDA-ARS in Aberdeen, Idaho, and
Robert Johannsen at North Dakota
State University. His efforts resulted in
the release of Modoc, which has been a
major fresh market red variety the past
several years.
Rykbost was quite active in other
disciplines of traditional research related
to potato production. He investigated
nitrogen fertilizer impacts; he explored
the impacts of micronutrients; he looked
at the effect of mulches. He ventured
into issues of pest control - diseases
and nematodes, did variety and cultural
management by variety trials, and
was a speaker on potato agronomic
practices at professional and producer
conferences in Canada, Maine, Oregon,
Washington, Idaho, California, England
and Scotland. He did collaborative work
with colleagues at KES on forages and
cereal grains.
While Rykbost was peer- and producer-
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recognized for his agronomic work
and insights, his greatest contributions
in Oregon were likely in the area of
providing a voice for agriculture and
common sense in the water wars that
ensued in the early 1990s in the Klamath
Basin. Salmon populations in the
Klamath River were fluctuating wildly,
and suckers in Upper Klamath Lake were
listed as endangered. The solutions that
fish and wildlife managers proposed all
seemed simple from a fish standpoint -
keep more water in Klamath Lake while
sending more water down the Klamath
River - but these were impractical, if
not impossible, from the perspective of
maintaining an agricultural industry
in the Basin, and in maintaining the
federal waterfowl refuges that also exist
in the area.
Rykbost was a scientist and tried
to explain with facts and figures the
challenges that the local communities
faced. He was a frequent editorial writer
to the local paper and was sought as an
information source by other scientists
who were trying to find a solution to
the water crisis in the Basin.
The following are the ending
paragraphs of an editorial Rykbost
Spudman * January 2023

Spudman January 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Spudman January 2023

Spudman January 2023 - 1
Spudman January 2023 - 1A
Spudman January 2023 - 2A
Spudman January 2023 - 2
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