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News

AgriLife Extension opens new plant disease diagnostic lab in Amarillo

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Ken Obasa, 806-677-5600, ken.obasa@ag.tamu.edu

Dr. Ken Obasa, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist, holds two plates of fungal pathogens isolated from plant samples with disease symptoms diagnosed in the laboratory. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

AMARILLO – A new Texas High Plains Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory will be housed in the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Blvd. West, Amarillo.

The new lab is one of two National Plant Diagnostic Network, NPDN, labs in Texas – the other is in College Station. It is also one of nine Great Plains Diagnostic Network, GPDN, labs in the Great Plains region of the U.S., and 51 in the country.

Wheat samples for disease diagnostics

Two wheat samples with the completed submission form for each is received at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo for disease diagnosis by the Texas High Plains Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Dr. Ken Obasa, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist, is in charge of the lab and has spent the past six months building it to the national network standards.

Obasa, who started this position in late September, brought experience with plant pathogens and multiple crop species, including cowpea, corn, rice, soybean, turfgrass and sugar beets. His program in Amarillo is designed to address ongoing and emerging disease issues in a wide variety of crops.

Sequence-based diagnostic equipment

Newly purchased machines used as part of the sequence-based diagnostic approach for plant pathogens in the laboratory. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

“Coming into this job, my priority was to get to know what fungal, viral and bacterial diseases are affecting the major crops of wheat, corn, sorghum and cotton here in the High Plains of Texas,” Obasa said. “My next priority was to build a lab that met all the NPDN standards to benefit the producers, crop advisers and county agents who are faced with those issues in their fields in this region.”

With the new lab comes new testing methods, especially for bacterial and fungal pathogens. Additionally, mycotoxin analysis and genetically modified organism, or GMO, test services are available. Obasa said he also can test urban plants for disease-related issues, but his primary focus will be on crops.

“We are able to test for four different wheat viruses: wheat streak mosaic, barley yellow dwarf, triticum mosaic and high plains virus,” Obasa said. “We will also be able to test for fumonisin, aflatoxin and deoxynivalenol in corn.”

Another service offered is seed testing for a fee of $50 per sample batch per pathogen. A single sample batch must include 300-500 seeds.

There is a $35 routine diagnostic charge that covers bacterial and fungal testing. This is for triage, microscopy, culturing and other basic tests as necessary, as well as diagnostic reports and management suggestions, he said.

The complete breakdown of tests and fees, as well as a copy of the submission form and guidelines, can be found at https://thppdd-lab.tamu.edu/.

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Saurav Kumar joins Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at El Paso

Writer: Susan Himes, 325-657-7315, Susan.Himes@ag.tamu.edu

Contacts: Dr. Saurav Kumar, 915- 859-9111, saurav@tamu.edu

Dr. Ping Sheng, 915- 859-9111, zsheng@ag.tamu.edu

Dr. Saurav Kumar has joined AgriLife Research El Paso,

EL PASO– Dr. Saurav Kumar has joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at El Paso as a water specialist and associate professor.

Kumar’s research program, Water System Dynamics and Resilience, will focus on holistic water resources systems dynamics modeling by integrating remotely sensed data in water quality and quantity simulation framework.

Kumar’s research emphasis will be regional hydrological systems and the development of resilient water management practices. His past research includes water resources data acquisition, water quality and quantity modeling, Total Maximum Daily Loads and presentation of information for actionable decision-making.

“Dr. Saurav Kumar’s education and recent research experience in the region have well prepared him to develop and lead a successful research program in hydrological system dynamics and resilience,” said center director Dr. Zhuping Sheng. “ This program will directly contribute to the strategic vision and priority goals for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the El Paso Center and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.  I am confident that Dr. Kumar will be an outstanding team member in successfully addressing the complex system issues related to water, natural resources, agriculture, ecosystem integrity and economic sustainability to benefit Texas, the nation and beyond.”

Kumar received his doctorate in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. He earned his master’s degree in environmental science and engineering through a joint partnership program between Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Stanford University.

He also has a research background in  hydroinformatics and is the developer of the online water data sharing platform OccViz. His current research program will build on his past collaborative research projects involving experts from soil sciences, horticulture, agricultural and civil engineering, computers science, social science and other disciplines.

In his new position Kumar said he aims to maintain this diversity in research through collaborations across various colleges and departments. He will also be affiliated with Texas A&M University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

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AgriLife Extension, NFPA offer tips on grilling safety

Grilling steaks

Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-467-6575, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contact: Joyce Cavanagh 979-845-3859, jacavanagh@ag.tamu.edu

Grilling steaks

Now that grilling season is here, Texas A&M AgriLife Extensi0n Service and the National Fire Protection Association have some tips on safe outdoor cooking. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

COLLEGE STATION – The Memorial Day weekend is often considered the unofficial beginning of grilling season, and a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert and a fire protection organization have some advice on outdoor grilling safety.

“While grilling is an enjoyable seasonal outdoor activity, people need to be aware of its potential dangers,” said Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension family and community health specialist, College Station. “The most typical type of injury is a contact-type burn, which occurs when someone bumps into or touches a hot grill or coal. A grilling accident can also cause external fires that can injure people and cause serious property damage.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association. or NFPA, the months of May, June, July and August are the most active for grill fires, with July being at the top of the list. Additionally, NFPA data shows from 2013-2017, an average of 19,000 people per year went to emergency rooms due to injuries sustained from grills.

Outdoor grilling fire safety tips offered by AgriLife Extension experts and NFPA include:

– Setting up the grill on a concrete surface or the ground where grass and vegetation in the area are trimmed and where no dry leaves, brush, mulch piles or other combustibles are nearby.

– Placing the grill in an open area away from deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches or other potentially combustible surfaces.

– Checking gas grills for leaks and making sure hose connections are tight.

– Setting the grill at least 10 feet away from any building, and do not grill in a garage or under a carport or other surface that might catch fire.

– Keeping young children and pets at least 3 feet from the grill.

– Removing any grease or fat buildup from the grill and/or in the trays below the grill.

— Keeping charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

– Never leaving the grill unattended once the fire has been lit.

– Never moving a hot grill.

– Keeping a multi-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach.

– Using flame-retardant mitts and grilling tools with long handles instead of household forks or short-handled tongs.

– Letting coals completely cool before disposing of them, and using a metal container for disposal.

“Using some vigilance and precaution, you can help ensure you and your family will have safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend,” Cavanagh said.

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Community Planning for Hazards workshop slated for June 4-5 in La Marque

“Community Planning for Hazards: Training for Local Officials” is slated for June 4-5 in La Marque. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

GALVESTON – The Texas Citizen Planner initiative will present the Community Planning for Hazards: Training for Local Officials workshop June 4-5 in La Marque.

The workshop will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on June 4 and from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 5 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office for Galveston County, 4102-B Main St. in Carbide Park.

Registration is open for this program, which is designed to help local elected officials and municipal staff learn about the connections between good planning, hazard mitigation and environmental stewardship through first-person perspectives and case study examples from Texas.

Cost is $79 and includes presentation materials and lunch. Space is limited, and group rates are available.

To register, go to https://citizenplanner.tamu.edu/registration/.

“Texas Citizen Planner is an innovative program for community leaders to learn about integrating hazard mitigation approaches with local planning practices,” said Steven Mikulencak, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist with the Texas Community Watershed Partners. “The art of good planning is about injecting long-term considerations into near-term actions.”

Mikulencak said communities that integrate hazard mitigation principles and factor long-term risks into their existing plans stand to make their communities more resilient and less prone to disasters.

“These courses will give municipal or elected and appointed officials and staff members the knowledge to shape community development for the better,” he said. “The courses are designed specifically for municipal officials, but registration is also open to the general public.”

On June 4, attendees will hear first-person perspectives about strategic approaches other Texas communities have used to link risk management with their ongoing community planning and vision. Speakers and presentations on that day will include:

  • Mike Babin, education/oversight specialist, Windstorm Inspection Program, Texas Department of Insurance.
  • Matt Festa, professor of law, South Texas College of Law Houston.
  • David Jackson, state hazard mitigation officer, Mitigation Section administrator, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • Dr. Earthea Nance, associate professor, Department of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University.
  • Texas General Land Office mitigation funding discussion, lunch presentation.

On June 5, participants will collaborate over a live table-top interface and use local mapping data to plan hypothetical growth scenarios. Real-time feedback will allow participants to see the consequences of their planning decisions.

Participants in CHARM activity on Texas Gulf Coast. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Yu Wen Chou)

“The planning support tool, Community Health and Resource Management, or CHARM, encourages collaborative problem solving and no GIS experience is needed,” Mikulencak said. “Attending the CHARM portion of the workshop is necessary in order to receive a certificate of completion.”

This project is funded in part by a Texas Coastal Management Program Grant approved by the Texas Land Commissioner pursuant to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award.

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Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contacts: Steven Mikulencak.281-984-7085, smikulencak@tamu.edu

Celina Gauthier Lowry, 281-560-3970, celina.lowry@tamu.edu

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WT, AgriLife announce $1 million Texas A&M Chancellor’s Research Initiative

National search begins for water-focused researchers

WRITER: Brittany Castillo, 806-651-2682, bcastillo@wtamu.edu

CONTACT: Dr. Angela Spaulding, 806-651-2731 aspaulding@wtamu.edu;
Dr. Kevin Pond, 806-651-2550, kpond@wtamu.edu;
Dr. Emily Hunt, 806-651-5257, ehunt@wtamu.edu

Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, helps announce the new Texas A&M Chancellor’s Research Initiative at West Texas A&M University. (West Texas A&M University photo)

CANYON — Officials from The Texas A&M University System, TAMUS, announced a Chancellor’s Research Initiative, or CRI, between two agency members – West Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife on May 23 in West Texas A&M’s Legacy Hall.

Texas A&M AgriLife’s commitment will involve both Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

With the economic value of the Texas Panhandle doubling in the last 20 years, the university system created the CRI to bring together human resources to secure the sustainability of the region through efficient water irrigation and agricultural methods.

The initiative focuses on building a new body of research to investigate the use of the Ogallala Aquifer and develop engineering systems for the inevitable depletion of those water resources. Currently, the region produces $5.7 billion of agricultural products annually and supports 51,590 jobs in the local agribusiness sector.

The initiative includes $1 million from CRI funds to assist West Texas A&M and Texas A&M AgriLife in leveraging current water-optimized agriculture resources and to purchase laboratory and field equipment to build a water engineering program for graduate students, research associates and recruited scientists and engineers.

“Texas A&M AgriLife and West Texas A&M University share common interests in addressing the needs of local stakeholders through cutting-edge research and excellence in education,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor, dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M AgriLife and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

“We value the ability to partner with System universities to extend our reach, leverage existing expertise in natural resource management and precision agriculture, and thus address the needs of all Texans,” Stover said.

The first step will be hiring two nationally prominent researchers with expertise in water engineering and water-optimized agriculture to build a water engineering team based in Canyon.  

The researchers will be associate professors, and both will have a 50/50 joint appointment with West Texas A&M and another TAMUS partner to ensure sound scientific collaboration.

The selected associate professor of agriculture will work closely with the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, or PECANS, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research as the director of the Dryland Agriculture Institute. This position will emphasize applied research in and synthesis of cropping and integrated crop-livestock systems, agronomy, crop improvement, pest management, plant physiology and soil science.

The associate professor of water resources engineering will work closely with the School of Engineering, Computer Sciences and Mathematics, SECSM, and Texas A&M’s department of biological and agricultural engineering, BAEN, with funding through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program within BAEN. This position will emphasize applied research in water engineering and may be supported by a research assistant and an extension program specialist to facilitate development, demonstration and implementation of advanced technologies.

“The collaboration between PECANS, SECSM and AgriLife is to establish this region as a hub for water and energy research,” said Dr. Angela Spaulding, vice president of research and compliance and dean of the Graduate School at West Texas A&M.

“This includes the development of a research team to aggressively address known challenges to the primary components of the rural Texas Panhandle region such as a declining aquifer, agricultural production/profitability, and oil, wind and solar energy,” Spaulding said. “We’re excited to announce the first steps toward building this team with the two open positions created for water and energy researchers.”

Although water engineering research will be a new emphasis at West Texas A&M, current university developments, such as existing patented solutions for sustainable energy storage and links to water-related research in the Ogallala Aquifer Program through associated faculty members, support this initiative.

The CRI will strengthen this region’s water-related priorities as well as build the foundation for a future doctoral program in water engineering, which aligns with the mission for WT to reach doctoral status by 2035 as described in WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

Impending work for the program will include projects that regenerate soils to enhance rainfall capture; reduce water demand of regionally appropriate field crops; optimize groundwater extraction for agricultural profitability; capitalize on unmanned aerial technologies for remote sensing of cropland and rangeland health status; and demonstrate management approaches that capitalize modern breeding and genetics programs in wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton and vegetables.

While specialized, water engineering research will not be limited to agriculture and engineering. The CRI supports cross disciplines by influencing integral big data, social science and policy development through research and interpretation of water irrigation. This field of research will invite collaboration and cooperation across campus and the region and lead to effective practices that relate to water conservation, and ultimately help sustain the Panhandle region.

The national search for two researchers with expertise in water engineering and water-optimized agriculture will start immediately.

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Water resources institute to host training on implementing watershed plans June 4 in Austin

A Texas Water Resources Institute training related to implementing watershed plans will be held June 4 in Austin. (Texas Water Resources Institute photo by Ed Rhodes)

AUSTIN -The Texas Water Resources Institute, or TWRI, will host its Implementing Watershed Plans Training June 4 in Austin for watershed coordinators and water and natural resource professionals.

The training is from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 12100 35 Park Circle, Building B, Room B201A.

Nathan Glavy, TWRI’s extension program specialist, College Station, said the training costs $50 and includes all materials, a catered lunch and a certificate of completion.

Registration is required by May 30. Participants can register online at http://bit.ly/2HaETYH or by email to nathan.glavy@ag.tamu.edu.

Glavy said the training includes an overview and case studies on implementation strategies, sources of funding, keeping stakeholders engaged, outreach programs, tracking implementation and evaluating progress.

“This training is the next step for those who have attended the institute’s Watershed Planning Short Course in the last several years,” Glavy said. “If you are working on watershed planning, this training would be great for you.”

Instructors for this course will include experts with watershed planning experience in different watersheds throughout Texas.

Glavy said the training is part of TWRI’s Texas Watershed Planning Program, designed for individuals interested in or responsible for watershed protection and restoration. This includes employees and volunteers with federal, state, county and local agencies; soil and water conservation districts; universities; consulting firms; non-governmental organizations; and watershed groups.

More information can be found at http://bit.ly/2HexPJv or by contacting Glavy at nathan.glavy@ag.tamu.edu.

This training is part of TWRI’s Texas Watershed Planning Program funded through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Contact: Nathan Glavy, 979-458-5915, nathan.glavy@ag.tamu.edu

 

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Texas A&M AgriLife unveils plans for state-of-the-art robotic greenhouse facility

A rendering of the new Automated Precision Phenotyping Greenhouse at Texas A&M University. The project is being led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. (Texas A&M AgriLife)

Media contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M AgriLife unveiled plans May 21 for a multi-million dollar Automated Precision Phenotyping Greenhouse that will utilize advanced sensor technology to enhance agricultural crops in the areas of crop health, yield, nutrition, temperature, drought stress and other environmental conditions.

“Global population growth coupled with consumer demands for more nutritious food calls for new advancements in the agriculture food system and new technologies to keep up with this change,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor of agriculture and life sciences with Texas A&M AgriLife and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “As Texas A&M AgriLife focuses on the importance of revolutionizing our food systems and enhancing  the traits of our produce to nourish the world, this greenhouse will be a key component for our crop industry and advance both urban and row agriculture.”

Texas A&M AgriLife held a groundbreaking May 21 at the AgriLife Center for a multi-million dollar Automated Precision Phenotyping Greenhouse.
(Left)Dr. Alex Thomasson, Texas A&M AgriLife Research engineer and professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M; Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor of agriculture and life sciences with Texas A&M AgriLife and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research; John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System; Shay Simpson, AgriLife Research associate program director with corporate relations; and David DeLeon, director of facilities and construction with Texas A&M AgriLife. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

The facility will be located at the intersection of F&B Road and Agronomy Road in College Station, north of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory.

The project, expected for completion by summer 2020, is being led by AgriLife Research and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Both AgriLife Research scientists and faculty will use the facility for experimental trials as well as a teaching platform for undergraduate and graduate students.

The facility is funded by the Chancellor’s Research Initiative Award and matched by the Governor’s University Research Initiative Award. Additional robotic equipment is funded by a Research Development Fund Award. The facility has a construction budget estimated at $3.5 million.

Two 2,400 square foot greenhouses for physicists, biochemists and engineers will work alongside a 3,813-square-foot headhouse with field scientists working in soil, plant, microbe, insect and other disciplines.

The facilities are expected to be completed by June 2020.

The robotic system includes a gantry beam that will transit the entire length of the greenhouse. On the gantry is a rolling truck with a robotic arm capable of long reach to perform a variety of research activities such as plant health and movement.  A sensor head will include a multispectral camera and a Raman spectrometer.

In conjunction with advanced genomics and big data collection, the greenhouse technology can identify specific chemical compounds, accelerate crop plant improvement through breeding and genetics, maximizing productivity and stress tolerance.

This will open new opportunities for the study of plant nutritional phenotypes, according to researchers.

“Multiple research institutions have built sophisticated greenhouses with various sensing equipment, but the APP Greenhouses will have the advantage of maximum flexibility in configuration of plants in the greenhouses, in positioning of sensors relative to the plants, and in the types of sensors used,” said Dr. Alex Thomasson, AgriLife Research engineer and professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M. “These capabilities will make research in the APP Greenhouses truly unique worldwide, helping position Texas A&M as the leader among peer institutions in this exciting area of discovery.”

The organizations represented among the investigators involved include AgriLife Research, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Science, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, and the College of Engineering.  Departments represented include biological and agricultural engineering, soil and crop sciences, plant pathology and microbiology, biochemistry and biophysics, physics and astronomy, mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science and engineering.

 

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Child Care Conference set June 22 in Hereford

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Wendy Case, 806-251-5120, wendy.case@ag.tamu.edu
Amalia Mata, 806-364-3573, asmata@ag.tamu.edu
Chelsey Tillman, 806-267-2692, Chelsey.tillman@ag.tamu.edu

HEREFORD – The Child Care Conference, hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offices in Parmer, Deaf Smith and Oldham counties, will be June 22 at the AgriLife Extension office, 903 14th St. in Hereford.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with the training session from 9 a.m. to noon. There is a $20 fee, and refreshments will be provided.

This training is aimed at licensed childcare providers and will offer 2.5 clock hours of continuing education.

Attendees will learn about social and emotional development as it applies to the guidance of early childcare from Dr. Dawn Browder, assistant professor of early childhood education at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico.

They will also receive information and updates on licensing from Texas Health and Human Services Department officials in Amarillo.

Healthy snack creations and food safety education will be provided by Amalia Mata, Wendy Case and Chelsey Tillman, AgriLife Extension family and community health agents in Deaf Smith, Parmer and Oldham counties, respectively.

For more information, contact Case at 806-251-5120 or wendy.case@ag.tamu.edu; Mata, 806-364-3573, asmata@ag.tamu.edu; or Tillman, 806-267-2692, Chelsey.tillman@ag.tamu.edu.

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Water resources institute to host urban best management training May 30

A program focused on urban best management practices related to watershed planning will be held May 30 in Dallas. (Texas Water Resources Institute photo)

DALLAS — The Texas Water Resources Institute, or TWRI, will host an Urban Best Management Practices for Watershed Planning Training May 30 in Dallas for watershed coordinators and water professionals.

The training will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas, 17360 Coit Road.

Coordinators said the training is part of TWRI’s Texas Watershed Planning Program, designed for individuals interested in or responsible for watershed protection and restoration. This includes employees and volunteers with federal, state, county and local agencies; soil and water conservation districts; universities; consulting firms; non-governmental organizations; and watershed groups.

The training costs $50 and includes all materials, lunch and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Registration is required by May 24. Register online at http://bit.ly/2WAvtL9 or by email to nathan.glavy@ag.tamu.edu. Also contact Glavy for more information on the training.

Nathan Glavy, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist at TWRI, College Station, said urban best management practices are measures that help reduce the volume and pollutants carried by surface stormwater runoff into rivers and lakes.

“This course will cover typical urban management measures used in watershed planning,” he said.

Dr. Fouad Jaber, AgriLife Extension program specialist at the Dallas center, will discuss green infrastructure for stormwater and low-impact development, or LID.

A rain garden (shown here) is one of a variety of low-impact development options. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“LID refers to practices such as bio-retention, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and permeable pavement that manage stormwater in an urbanized setting in a way that minimizes environmental impact while increasing cost-effectiveness and sustainability, he said.

Staff from the city of Dallas will cover how they use ordinances to prevent and control pollution as well as encourage implementation.

David Batts, director of system solutions at EcoServices, will discuss effective ways to promote LID to get land developer buy-in, including its benefits and providing examples of multifunctional design and maintenance requirements.

Training will also include a tour of LID and green infrastructure at the Dallas AgriLife Center.

Glavy suggested participants dress casually and comfortably as they will be walking in the field in the afternoon for the LID tour.

The Texas Watershed Planning Program is managed by TWRI and is funded through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Contacts: Nathan Glavy, 979-458-5915, nathan.glavy@ag.tamu.edu.

Dr. Fouad Jaber, 972-952-9672, Fouad.Jaber@ag.tamu.edu

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Texas Crop and Weather Report – May 21, 2019

Carryover hay supplies tight with 2019 season off to slow start

COLLEGE STATION – Texas’ carryover hay supplies are low, and production is off to a slow start due to spring rain delays, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.

Hay producers in East Texas found a brief window to get pastures cut, cured and baled before storms this weekend. Many producers weren’t so lucky and continue to deal with delays. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Adam Russell)

Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist, College Station, said a cold winter in 2017 and drought conditions in 2018 led to declining hay supplies. Texas hay supplies are 50 percent lower than they were this time in 2017, according to the May 1 Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association hay stocks report.

“Producers used up a lot of hay to get through winter 2017, and drought hindered production this last growing season,” he said. “Then you had a long, wet winter for a lot of the state’s production areas. It’s no wonder we’ve seen declines.”

Despite the declines, Anderson said hay stocks are better now than in 2018. But supplies are also 18 percent below Texas’ 10-year average.

“Those years include 2006-2007, which were dry years and of course major drought years of 2012 and 2013,” he said. “So that indicates some really thin supplies.”

Prices around Texas throughout the winter reflected low supplies. In a Texas Crop and Weather Report from July 2018, Anderson said round bales that sold for $50-$65 in early July 2017 were selling for $70-$90.

AgriLife Extension agent reports in some areas of Texas reported prices beyond $100 per round bale later that year.

Hay inventories are also tight, down more than 50 percent, in surrounding states — Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri — compared to 2017.

Short hay supplies statewide are compounded by demand from a  growing beef cattle herd. Texas’ herd is now 4.65 million head, up almost 750,000 since the major drought ended.

So far, too much rain has hindered producers’ ability to maximize production via fertilization and weed control, but Anderson is optimistic the moisture will translate into a bumper crop for 2019.

Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton, said she worries the delays may be too much for hay producers to overcome over the season.

The first cutting of hay, to clear cool-season forages, especially volunteer ryegrass, typically is done by April, she said. Many producers in Southeast and East Texas are just now cutting and baling the first cutting. Some still can’t access their pastures because of soggy conditions.

The first cutting is important to clear the pasture canopy to promote Bermuda grass emergence and reduce competition for soil nutrients, moisture and sunlight, she said.

“Because it’s late May, we may not get the first cutting of Bermuda grass until late June,” she said. “That fact, unfortunately, could lead to lower hay production over the growing season as a whole.”

Corriher-Olson said other areas in the state may have fared better than Southeast and East Texas, and that overall Texas’ soil moisture levels are better at this point in the year than almost a decade. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Seasonal Drought Outlook showed Texas completely clear of drought conditions.

The 90-day outlook was also promising regarding moisture for the state.

But Corriher-Olson said more than anything, hay producers need sunshine and the ability to access fields.

“The biggest challenge for producers now is getting into their fields to fertilize or treat weeds, to cut and bale or all of the above,” she said. “They need dry conditions to do that. It takes three days to cut, windrow and bale hay, and high humidity makes that more difficult. That will continue to be a challenge if we receive intermittent rains into July.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

CENTRAL: Some areas received heavy rains with flooding in low areas. Freestone County reported more than 7 inches of rain during one rain event. Farmers could get into some sandy fields by the end of the week, but more rain was in the forecast. Farmers were unable to plant cotton due to wet conditions in areas. Cotton planted before the last big rain will probably need to be replanted. Brush and weed control were done throughout Erath County. Livestock were in good condition. Corn was growing due to rain and was starting to silk in some areas. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture. Overall crop, pasture and rangeland conditions were good in most counties.  

ROLLING PLAINS: Producers reported favorable weather conditions as temperatures warmed. Soil moisture levels were good. Some area producers baled wheat hay while others prepared for grain harvest. Some wheat yields were expected to be affected by rust. Cattle producers reported good weight gains on cattle as they were pulled off wheat. Native rangelands and improved pastures continued to improve and were in good condition across the district. Cotton producers continued to prepare fields, and some began planting.

COASTAL BEND: Scattered showers were reported in some areas while other areas reported no rainfall. Soil moisture was mostly ample, and temperatures were seasonal. Cotton was starting to grow and square. Corn and sorghum looked good. Some rice was yet to be planted. Herbicides to control grasses and weeds were applied. Pastures were lush. First hay cuttings were expected to have high yields when conditions dry. Cattle remained in excellent condition.

EAST: Cherokee County reported severe flooding after receiving up to 7.5 inches of rain. Several other counties reported rain amounts of 1-6 inches, while Harrison County reported dry conditions. Many gardens and vegetable fields were a total loss due to heavy rains. Some hay cutting and baling was done. Producers in Smith County were trying to get fertilizers out. Wet conditions made it impossible for producers in some counties to get equipment in hay fields. Houston County producers turned cattle out on ryegrass fields meant for hay. Cattle conditions were improving. Prices on heavy calves were lower while lighter calves were a little higher. Shelby County reported a solid cattle market, but numbers were down due to rain giving producers trouble getting cattle out. Brewster County reported a high daytime temperature of 96 degrees.

SOUTH PLAINS: Parts of the district received trace amounts of rain up to 2 inches. More rain was forecast, with potential for severe weather. Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels improved with recent rains. Conditions allowed farmers to plant cotton, haygrazer and sorghum. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat improved due to the moisture. Small-grain silage harvest neared completion. Stock tanks had water, but many were not full. Cattle were in good condition.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were warm with little moisture received. Rangelands and pastures were green. Conditions were good to plant, and producers were productive. Winter wheat progressed with many fields headed to blooming. Cotton germination was behind due to above-average moisture received. Soil moisture conditions remained excellent.

NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to surplus in most counties with 1 to 3 inches of rainfall reported across the district. Some hay harvesting was done before rains arrived. Warm-season grasses were slow to emerge due to cool nights and low soil temperatures. Coastal Bermuda grass should come on strong once producers cut winter grasses and nights get warmer. Winter wheat was doing well. Corn on higher ground was doing well. Corn in low-lying areas was affected by standing water. Sorghum was taking off, with few problems reported other than a few armyworms. Moisture was expected to interfere with the drying process in grains and may cause delays for working fields. Some cotton and beans were planted. The rest of forage sorghum was planted. Livestock were in great condition as pastures thrived. Weekend storms did cause stress in livestock. Horn flies were already a huge problem this season.

FAR WEST: Temperature averaged in the upper 90s with lows in the mid-50s. Precipitation for the region has varied from trace amounts up to 5 inches. Heavy winds, rains, hail and even a few tornadoes were reported and affected crops, trees and outbuildings. Cotton and alfalfa were planted. Pecan trees were still dropping tassels. Trees were being sprayed due to pecan nut casebearers numbers. Rangelands were in good condition and producing adequate forage for livestock. Shipping of lambs continued.

WEST CENTRAL: Conditions were warm and dry. Winter wheat fields were nearing maturity and mostly in good to excellent condition. Producers who planned to bale wheat for hay were unable to due to rains. Some wheat acreage was past the optimum growth stage for baling. Cotton planting was on hold due to wet field conditions. Grain and forage sorghums were in mostly good condition. Rangelands and pastures were in excellent condition. Livestock were in good condition. The cattle market was active with lower condition stocker steers and heifers selling steadily. Feeder heifers were $2 lower. Packer cows and bulls were $3 higher. Fleshy to fat calves were $3-$5 lower per hundredweight. Feeder steers were steady. Pairs and bred cows were steady.

SOUTHEAST: Moisture levels were still surplus in many areas of the district. Conditions dried some, but rain was in the forecast. Several counties reported wet conditions in low-lying areas. Producers started the first hay cutting on higher ground and drier parts of the district. Wet conditions kept farmers from planting, but farmers were going to make a last push to get rice planted soon. Rangeland and pasture ratings were excellent to poor with good being most common.

SOUTHWEST: Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to improve with recent rains. Bermuda grass pastures were beginning to do well. Weed and fertilizer applications continued. Some counties started to harvest wheat, while others were waiting for conditions to dry. Rivers were flowing good, and previously dry creeks had flowing water. Livestock were in great condition aside from flies on cows.

SOUTH: Northern parts of the district reported mild weather and adequate soil moisture levels. Western parts reported mild weather conditions with short to adequate soil moisture levels. Eastern parts of the district reported wet weather with short to adequate soil moisture levels. Wet weather was also reported in the southernmost parts of the district, but soil moisture levels remained short. Most counties reported good growing conditions. Maverick County reported some rain, up to 1 inch in some areas. Cotton planting was winding up. Early planted cotton was starting to square. Peanut plantings started and were expected to pick up soon. Wheat and potato harvests were in full swing. Strawberry harvest was winding down. Corn fields were silking. Excellent yield potentials were reported for earlier-planted corn and sorghum. Bermuda grass was cut and baled for hay. Watermelons and cantaloupes were in good condition. Cabbage harvest resumed, and onion harvest was active and expected to end soon. Livestock were in good condition. Native rangeland and pastures responded well to recent rainfall. Forage production was good to excellent. Pecan producers were clearing weeds and grasses. Dimmit County reported needing runoff-producing rains to fill tanks. Some producers were still hauling water and supplemental feeding in some areas.

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