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Not just animal feed: Sorghum packs nutritious punch for people

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact; Lizabeth Gresham, 806-373-0713, lizabeth.gresham@ag.tamu.edu

AMARILLO – “How many of y’all eat sorghum?”

Lizabeth Gresham, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent in Potter County, discusses the nutritional value of grain sorghum at a field day. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

That’s the first question Lizabeth Gresham, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service family and community health agent in Potter County, asked a group of producers and seed representatives at a recent sorghum field day west of Amarillo.

Gresham spoke at the field day to share the message of AgriLife Extension’s new Path to the Plate program, designed to help producers and consumers understand the relationship between agriculture and their health.

“Many producers see sorghum as being primarily for animal consumption, but it is for human consumption as well,” she said. “We produce a lot of sorghum up here in the Texas Panhandle, but many of us may not be utilizing the grain in our daily diet.”

The sorghum berries provide a nutritious alternative for people. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Sorghum is extremely high in B vitamins, magnesium, iron and fiber, Gresham said. It is an antioxidant and considered a whole grain because it has all three parts of the kernel intact: the germ, the bran and the endosperm.

“With sorghum grown in large quantities in Texas, we need to think about market availability and education on how to consume and utilize sorghum in our daily diet,” she said. “It’s great for your blood pressure and controlling cholesterol and keeping us healthy.”

Popped sorghum. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Sorghum is a gluten-free grain, so it is celiac safe to use in baked goods, Gresham said. It has a nutty, earthy flavor and crunchy texture that can add versatility to many dishes.

“You can even pop it just like popcorn for a great snack.”

Packages of whole-grain sorghum and sorghum flour are currently available for purchase in area supermarkets, Gresham said. Sorghum can also be found in other products to include gluten-free mixes, cereals and snacks.

Whole grain sorghum. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Sorghum cooks like rice, but it has more protein than rice and corn, she said. When cooking, sorghum is a denser grain and should be used at a 3-to-1 ratio, 3 cups of water to 1 cup of sorghum. It can be used like risotto or Spanish rice with spices added to it, or for breakfast like a porridge in the morning.

The flour is easy to use, just like white flour, Gresham said. But because the gluten is missing, it can change the texture of baked goods. When making waffles, pancakes, muffins and breads, she suggested adding bananas, fruit or applesauce to provide a moisture texture.

Whole-grain sorghum flour. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

“If you don’t mind the crumbly texture, you don’t have to add anything,” she said.

Gresham said when cooked, sorghum will double or triple in volume like other grains, so a small serving can feed the whole family and provide them with an excellent source of energy and whole grains.

“Sorghum packs a lot of nutritional value and is a great versatile grain that can be enjoyed for any meal of the day.”

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AgriLife Today 2018-09-21 09:26:34

Farm Tour, veteran agriculture program slated Oct. 19-20 in San Angelo area

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

Contacts: Erin Kimbrough, 979-847-6185, Erin.Kimbrough@ag.tamu.edu

Makenzie McLaurin, 979-862-1913, Makenzie.McLaurin@ag.tamu.edu

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service helps current and former military service members with information and resources on farming and ranching. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

SAN ANGELO – The Texas AgrAbility Program and Battleground to Breaking Ground Project of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will host a farm tour and agricultural business workshop Oct. 19-20 in the San Angelo area for veterans, individuals with disabilities, and beginning farmers and ranchers.

“The tour and workshop are both free and open to anyone in the area interested in starting an agriculture-related business,” said Erin Kimbrough, AgriLife Extension specialist in family and community health.

Lunch is included in the Oct. 20 workshop, sponsored by Farm Credit Bank of Texas.

Kimbrough said both the farm tour and agricultural business program will be held at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 7887 U.S. Highway 87 in Grape Creek, just outside San Angelo.

The center tour and networking event will be from 4-7 p.m. on Oct. 19.

“Dr. Travis Whitney, livestock nutrition specialist, will be putting together some hands-on learning activities and a farm tour of the center,” Kimbrough said. “Participants can vote for the specific topics to be discussed when they register. These topics include livestock parasite management, range management, cultivated crops, and feeds and feeding. Attendees will also have the opportunity to mingle and discuss topics of mutual interest.”

To register for the farm tour/networking event, go to http://txagrability.tamu.edu/event/san-angelo-farm-tour/.

The Battleground to Breaking Ground agricultural workshop for veterans and others will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 20.

“Battleground to Breaking Ground agriculture workshops are designed for veterans with or without disabilities, their spouses, small-scale producers and anyone else interested in starting an ag business,” Kimbrough said.

Workshop sessions will include agriculture business start-up, business plan development, possibilities for farming/ranching with a disability, financial funding sources for farming and ranching, and marketing and other resources available to support agriculture business operations.

To register for the workshop, go to http://txagrability.tamu.edu/event/battleground-free-ag-workshop/.

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AgriLife Extension entomologists: Fire ants, mosquitoes to be more prevalent after rains

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

Contact: Dr. Robert Puckett, 979-458-0853, rpuck@tamu.edu

Dr. Sonja Swiger, 254-968-4144, slswiger@ag.tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – With recent rains subsiding in many parts of the state and the re-emergence of warmer, drier weather, Texans should expect to see a proliferation of fire ants and mosquitoes, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists.

According to Dr. Robert Puckett, AgriLife Extension entomologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, the typical ant colony has one or more egg-laying queens, along with worker ants and a number of winged reproductive males and females.

“To establish new colonies, the winged males and females leave the colony for mating flights,” he explained. “These winged ants, capable of reproducing, leave their nest in search of mates. The males die soon after mating as do most of the females, but the surviving females go on to establish new nests.”

As recent rains subside,  Texans likely will again begin to see the familiar mounds of red imported fire ants. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo)

Puckett said during rain events, while the fire ants are underground in their nests, water percolates through their colony and collapses many of their tunnels or chambers, so they have to rebuild.

“In doing so, they push the soil back out and create the mounds of various sizes that we see on our lawns,” he said. “But on the positive side, after this activity, the fire ants are no longer hidden or inconspicuous.”

He noted this would be an excellent time of year to consider using the “Two-Step Method” of fire ant control.

“We recommend that in the fall homeowners make a broadcast application of granular fire ant bait if their fire ant mound densities warrant it,” he explained. “This wider application will allow greater coverage and serve to reduce the ant load once spring comes around. If any of the mounds reemerge in the spring, then we suggest direct treatment by a contact insecticide or granular baits.”

Puckett suggested using a granular bait specifically labeled for the control of red imported fire ants.

“Rain can be a further complicating factor in applying the granular bait,” he noted. “We recommend you find a time when at least 72 hours of dry weather are expected after application. Water will dilute the bait and contribute to ‘bait failure’ or a lesser ability of the bait to kill the ant. Also, the bait will absorb the water and make it less palatable to your ants.”

For more information on the Two-Step Method recommended by AgriLife Extension, go to https://fireant.tamu.edu/controlmethods/twostep/.

If dealing with fire ants isn’t enough, Texans will also see a significant increase in mosquito activity, according to Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Stephenville.

“The floodwater mosquito species are what we’re primarily seeing now,” Swiger said. “These are the species that primarily breed in ponds, ditches, marshes and other open-water locations. These species don’t pose any significant health threat, but they are a nuisance and will bite you pretty much anytime.”

Aedes mosquitoes are the principal vector for many diseases, including Zika. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Mike Merchant)

Swiger said as conditions dry, Texans can expect to see more “container breeder” species such as the Aedes mosquitoes, which have a much greater potential for spreading disease.

The Aedes mosquitoes have been identified as vectors for a number of diseases, including Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and eastern equine encephalitis.

“Also, during late summer and fall is when we tend to see a greater number of instances of West Nile, for which the Culex mosquito is a vector.”

Swiger said the best means to defend against any mosquito-borne illness is to eliminate the vector.

“Attack the mosquitoes at the larval stage by removing standing water and using mosquito dunks in areas where they might breed,” she said. “The ingredients in dunks are also available in granular form, which makes it easier to treat smaller areas of standing water.”

Mosquito dunks, which contain naturally occurring bacterium, can prevent larvae from growing and spreading diseases. They do not pose a threat to people, pets or plants.

She said homeowners should put their efforts toward finding, draining and, if practical, removing any items that might provide a mosquito breeding ground, such as containers, bird baths, toys, tires, bottles and cans.

“It is generally a waste of time, money and effort for the average homeowner to try and control mosquitoes at the adult stage, but if you’re going to have an outdoor event there can be a temporary solution,” Swiger said. “There are some over-the-counter yard application methods, but these last 24-48 hours at most and only kill the mosquitoes that are present. However, there’s no residual, so it won’t have any effect the next round of mosquitoes.”

Swiger said at the adult stage the best possible way to defend against mosquitoes is by using “the four Ds — Dress, Drain, Dusk/Dawn and Defend.

“Dress in long, loose-fitting, light-colored pants and shirts, drain any standing water from around the home, reduce outdoor activity during dusk and dawn and defend yourself with an insect repellent approved by the CDC and EPA,” she said.

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Olson, Jarvis inducted into Ag Economics Honor Registry

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

COLLEGE STATION – Mark Olson (’71) and Britt Jarvis (’85) are the newest inductees into the Texas A&M University Department of Agricultural Economics Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry.

The Honor Registry is named after Tyrus R. Timm, who led the department for 20 years during its rise to prominence in teaching, research and extension. Timm was a 1934 graduate of the department in agricultural administration.

“We are extremely pleased to honor these former students who have not only excelled professionally, but have exhibited leadership and outstanding achievement in both business and local communities,” said Dr. Mark Waller, acting department head. “They exemplify what this registry is all about and reflect the core values of Texas A&M: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.”

Olson’s career has been in the financial services industry. He currently serves as a management consultant to the securities, banking and insurance industries. He began his career in 1978 as a registered representative with Shearson Lehman in Amarillo.

He later became national sales director at Kemper Financial Services. Olson advanced to become chairman and president at Invest Financial Corporation before joining Allstate as vice president of distribution. He held positions of executive vice president of Allstate Financial Services and national sales director of Allstate Life Insurance and CEO of AFS LLC, Allstate’s broker/dealer.

Later in his career, he became president of Brewer Investment Group, a Chicago-based financial services company before retiring from the company in 2010.

Olson and wife, Linda, reside in The Villages, Fla.

Britt Jarvis (’85) was recently inducted into the Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry in the department of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. Also pictured (left) is Dr. Bob Whitson, interim associate director for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and Dr. Mark Waller, acting head of the department of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Blair Fannin)

Jarvis, of Spearman, is a lawyer and operates various agricultural enterprises in the Panhandle. In his law practice, he specializes in estate planning for clients and assisting with planning of agricultural operations. A U.S. Army veteran, he received a Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement while serving in Vietnam.

He is a longtime supporter of many youth programs, including Boy Scouts of America, a 30-year member of Spearman Lions Club and a longtime supporter of the Hansford 4-H Club. He and his wife, Linda, received the District Services Award for their dedication to the program.

Jarvis attends Aggie Muster every year and assists with the organization of the event.

For more information about the Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry and its honorees, visit the website at http://tyrustimmregistry.org/ .

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Williamson County Crops Conference slated for Oct. 16 in Taylor

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

Contact: Tyler Coufal, 512-943-3300, tyler.coufal@ag.tamu.edu

TAYLOR – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Williamson County will present its Crops Conference Oct. 16 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2201 4th St. in Taylor.

The cost is $15 with breakfast and lunch provided.

Day-of registration begins at 7:15 a.m. with the program scheduled from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Conference preregistration is requested. To preregister, go to http://williamson.agrilife.org and click on ‘Program Registration’ or call the AgriLife Extension office at 512-943-3300.

The Williamson County Crops Conference will be Oct. 16 in Taylor. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“This program is meant to be the culmination of the year, bringing producers together and discussing where they are and what’s ahead,” said Tyler Coufal, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent, Williamson County.

“Program topics have been identified by the Williamson County Crops Committee, which is made up of a variety of producers from diverse agricultural operations. The goal is to address those issues that directly affect the bottom line of local operations.”

Conference topics will include weed control in cotton, drift management, timing of practices, rotation issues, nitrogen and protein in wheat, and integrated pest management. There will also  be a current market outlook.

Coufal said the conference will touch on every corner of the agricultural crops industry as it pertains to Williamson County. He said the program will also feature vendor booths and attendees will be given sufficient time to speak with industry representatives and suppliers.

Three Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units — one laws and regulations, one integrated pest management and one general – are available to attendees.

“There will also be information on result demonstrations and what crop varieties may be valuable to local producers,” Coufal said. “Attendees will be presented with a lot of information that we hope they can apply to their own agriculture or agribusiness operation.”

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Producer participation requested in AgriLife Extension predator survey

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

Contact: Bill Thompson, 325-657-7306, w-thompson@tamu.edu

SAN ANGELO – The 2018 Predator Survey by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will paint a more accurate picture of real returns for the state’s livestock operations in numbers and economic losses.

Coyote crossing field at night

The 2018 Predator Survey by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will paint a more accurate picture of real returns for the state’s livestock operations in numbers and economic losses. To access the survey, visit https://tinyurl.com/PredatorSurvey. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“Predators cause economic hardship on Texas livestock producers annually,” said Bill Thompson, AgriLife Extension economist based in San Angelo. “When you tally the losses annually across all sectors of livestock, whether it’s lambs, goats or calves, the dollars add up quickly.”

Thompson said the last comprehensive survey was conducted about 10 years ago.

“These were done primarily by paper and were costly when factoring in postage expense and compilation of data,” he said. “With this new survey, producers can go online at their convenience and provide their responses. This is a statewide survey and we are hoping to get a complete assessment of how much predators are costing Texas livestock producers.”

To access the survey, visit https://tinyurl.com/PredatorSurvey. Thompson said the survey aims to answer the following:

  • What predators are causing losses?
  • What livestock are primary predator targets?
  • What control measures are being used?
  • How much are control measures costing producers?

Thompson said federal surveys, while important, do not include county estimates and other specific loss estimates.

“This survey will also give us a more comprehensive, accurate picture of the real returns for Texas livestock operations,” Thompson said. “Paper copies are available, but we prefer all responses be done online.”

For a paper copy of the survey, call Thompson at 325-657-7306 or email w-thompson@tamu.edu.

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Women’s land stewardship conference offered Oct. 1-2 in Fredericksburg

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Larry Redmon, 979-845-4826, l-redmon@tamu.edu

FREDERICKSBURG – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will offer a two-day land stewardship conference, “Empowering Women – New Stewardship Traditions,” Oct. 1-2 at the Inn on Barons Creek in Fredericksburg.

The conference, funded in part by the Ruth and Eskel Bennett Trust, is an effort to reach women landowners who want to learn more about stewardship of the land, said Dr. Larry Redmon, AgriLife Extension program leader and associate head, Texas A&M University soil and crop science department in College Station.

Cost of the two-day conference is $75 and includes the opening breakfast as well as all other meals, break refreshments and tour transportation. Hotel rooms are available at the Inn on Barons Creek for $99 per night with the Bennett-TAMU group code.

Tina Buford, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board member from Harlingen, is the invited keynote speaker. She is also president of Texan by Nature, director of the Sand County Foundation and an advisory board member for the Texas Agricultural Land Trust. She previously served as president of both the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Wildlife Association Foundation. She and her family own the H. Yturria Land and Cattle Company.

Also this year, in addition to the traditional wildlife and land management speakers, Redmon said they will be offering a look at environmental stewardship on a smaller scale with a lawn management presentation by AgriLife Extension turfgrass specialist Becky Grubbs from College Station.

Other topics and speakers on this year’s agenda include:

– Small Ruminants in the Hill Country, Lisa Brown, AgriLife Extension agent, Menard.

– Beekeeping, Molly Keck, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Bexar County.

– Horses and Your Property, Jennifer Zoller, AgriLife Extension horse specialist, College Station.

– Birding in the Texas Hill Country, Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agent, Val Verde.

– What Women Need to Know About Finances? Jae Thompson, Capital Farm Credit, Uvalde.

– Agriculture Laws Every Landowner Needs to Know, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist in Amarillo.

– The Old, The New and The Wild, Dr. Megan Clayton, AgriLife Extension range specialist, Corpus Christi.

The second day will include tours that concentrate on plant identification, tracking and identifying wildlife scat, skeet shoot and Bow Pros archery shooting demonstration. The tour will continue to Bridget’s Basket in Hunt for lunch and a tour.

For more information, go to the website, https://agrilife.org/bennetttrust/ ,or contact Redmon at l-redmon@tamu.edu, or Matt Brown, matthew.brown@tamu.edu, or an AgriLife Extension agent in the region.

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Study shows ‘precision nutrition’ may help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Texas A&M, Central Texas Veterans Health Care Systems, others collaborate on study

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

Contacts: Dr. Chaodong Wu, 979-458-1521, cdwu@tamu.edu

Dr. Gianfranco Alpini, 254-743-1044, galpini@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – A study led by researchers from the Texas A&M University System and Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, or CTVHCS, shows how a protein known as STING could be a therapeutic target for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.

The study, “Expression of STING Is Increased in Liver Tissues from Patients with NAFLD and Promotes Macrophage-mediated Hepatic Inflammation and Fibrosis in Mice,” was recently published online in the journal Gastroenterology. It can found online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30213555.

Dr. Chaodong Wu,  Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist in Texas A&M’s nutrition and food science department. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

The study included participation from Baylor Scott and White Health in Temple and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital of Texas A&M University in College Station.

“The study showed nutrition intervention that would target STING to suppress inflammation could be a novel approach for prevention of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” said Dr. Chaodong Wu, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist in the nutrition and food science department at Texas A&M in College Station.

Wu said transmembrane protein 173, also called TMEM173 or STING, functions as a major regulator of the innate immune response to viral and bacterial infections by means of macrophage signaling. Macrophages are cells of the immune system that detect, surround and destroy bacteria and other harmful organisms.

“However, if there is nutrition stress, macrophages function differentially from those responding to an infection, contributing to hepatic steatosis, which is an unusual buildup of fat in the liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” he explained.

Wu said the purpose of the study was to discover if STING would also regulate diet-induced activity in hepatic steatosis, inflammation and liver fibrosis.

“To test this hypothesis, we used mice in which we disrupted the STING gene, mice without disruption of this gene and mice with STING disruption only in myeloid cells,” he explained. “The mice were fed a standard chow diet, a high-fat diet of 60 percent fat calories or a methionine- and choline-deficient, or MCD, diet.”

Study results showed non-parenchymal liver cells – those which interact with hepatocytes and with each other by soluble mediators and direct cell-to-cell contact — from patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease had higher levels of STING than liver tissues from patients without the disease.

Dr. Gianfanco Alpini, distinguished professor in the department of medical physiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Temple. (Texas A&M College of Medicine photo)

“STING mice and mice with STING disruption only in myeloid cells developed less severe hepatic steatosis, inflammation and/or fibrosis following a high-fat or MCD diet than control mice,” said Dr. Gianfranco Alpini, distinguished professor in the department of medical physiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Temple and research career scientist at the CTVHCS. “Biochemical markers of inflammation were significantly lower in liver tissues from STING mice as compared to control mice after being fed these two types of diet.”

Alpini said transplantation of bone marrow cells from control mice to STING mice further confirmed this response by restoring the severity of steatosis and inflammation following a high fat diet.

“Macrophages from control mice, but not STING-disrupted mice, had increased markers of inflammation in response to the STING activators we used to elicit an inflammatory response,” Alpini said. “Hepatocytes and stellate cells co-cultured with STING macrophages in the presence of the STING agonist DMXAA, or incubated with the medium collected from these macrophages, had decreased fat deposition and markers of inflammation compared to hepatocytes incubated with control macrophages.”

Dr. Shannon Glaser, professor of medical physiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Temple and a Veterans Administration investigator, said results showed increased levels of STING in liver tissues from patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and mice with a high fat diet-induced steatosis. In mice, the loss of STING from liver macrophages reduced the severity of fibrosis and the inflammatory response.

“These validate a deleterious role for STING in development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Glaser said.

Dr. Heather Francis, associate professor of medical physiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Temple and a Veterans Administration investigator, stressed the importance of the study’s finding that STING stimulation also directly increases the activation status of hepatic stellate cells.

“This implicates a detrimental role for STING in liver fibrosis and indicates targeting STING using either small molecules or specific microRNAs may lead to important patient therapies,” Francis said.

Alpini said study findings will help improve understanding of the disease pathophysiology.

“More importantly, this study has validated the feasibility of STING as a target for management of the disease,” he said.

Wu said the study is an example of how “precision nutrition” as advocated by Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M, can be effective in the treatment of disease.

This work was supported by the resources of CTVHCS, Texas A&M University and AgriLife  Research.

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Food managers certification, training set Oct. 11-12 in Lubbock

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Kay Davis, 806-775-1740, kay.davis@ag.tamu.edu

LUBBOCK – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Lubbock County will offer a Professional Food Manager Certification Training Course Oct. 11-12 at the agency’s office, 916 Main St., Suite 401, Lubbock.

Under the Texas Department of State Health Services jurisdiction, each food establishment is required to have one certified food manager employed by that establishment, said Kay Davis, AgriLife Extension family and community health agent for Lubbock County.

The training will run from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day and will cost $125. The fee includes training, materials and a national food manager certification examination. The food manager’s certification will be valid anywhere in the state of Texas for five years.

The “Food Safety: It’s Our Business” course book is offered in English, Spanish or Chinese/Mandarin. Attendees must bring photo identification to take the exam.

This program is designed to not only prepare foodservice managers to pass the certification examination; it will provide valuable education regarding the safe handling of food, Davis said.

By attending the course, foodservice managers will learn about:

– Identifying potentially hazardous foods and common errors in food handling.

– Preventing contamination and cross-contamination of food.

– Teaching and encouraging personal hygiene for employees.

– Complying with government regulations.

– Maintaining clean utensils, equipment and surroundings.

– Controlling pests.

For more information about the course, visit our website at http://foodsafety.tamu.edu/ or contact Davis at 806-775-1740.

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Texas Crop and Weather Report – Sept. 18, 2018

Producers, homeowners battling armyworms

OVERTON – Hay and forage producers and homeowners around the state are battling armyworms following rains and cooler weather, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.  

The fall armyworm is a common pest of Bermuda grass and many other crops in Texas, Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton, said. Given their appetite, numbers and ability to move, fall armyworms can consume entire fields or pastures in a few days. 

Late summer rains are often followed by fall armyworm outbreaks in pastures and hay fields. Much of the regions around Texas have reported armyworm activity during the past few weeks. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“I highly, highly recommend producers scout their pastures,” she said. “We’ve been dry and recently received rain, and that combination is a sign that armyworms will follow. Nine out of 10 calls I’ve received in the last several days were regarding armyworms, so producers need to be diligent and protect their pastures.”

Corriher-Olson said limited forage and hay production this summer makes protecting hay fields and winter pasture seedlings critical.

Armyworm caterpillars are picky eaters that prefer high-quality, fertilized forage typically found on fields maintained for hay production or pasture, she said. They are a common pest of Bermuda grass, sorghum, corn, wheat, rye grass and many other crops in north and central Texas.

Producers should scout each morning for armyworms, she said. Armyworms are night feeders that try to avoid daytime temperatures.

Armyworms are green, brown or black in color and can be identified by the white inverted Y on their head. They can grow up to 1 inch in length when mature. The pest got its name because they appear to march across hay fields, consuming the grass in their path.

Improved hay pastures with dense canopies and vigorous growth are often more susceptible to armyworm infestations than less fertilized fields, Corriher-Olson said. Irrigated fields are also susceptible to infestations, especially during drought conditions.

“Look for fall armyworms feeding in the crop canopy during the late evening and early morning and during cool, cloudy weather,” she said. ‘When fields are wet with dew, armyworms can stick on rubber boots while walking through the field.”

The key to managing fall armyworms is frequent inspection of fields to detect infestations, she said. Armyworm moths can lay up to 2,000 eggs that hatch in two to three days, according to a 2018 report by AgriLife Extension entomologist Dr. Allen Knutson, based in Dallas. There are four to five generations per year.

The threshold for insecticide spray treating a pasture is three or more armyworms per square foot, Corriher-Olson said. Armyworms in those numbers should be treated immediately because armyworm caterpillars consume 85 percent of their diet in the last two to three days of their larvae stage.  

Corriher-Olson recommends insecticides labeled for armyworm control in pastures and hayfields. She said applicators should always follow all label instructions on pesticide use and restrictions.

For more information about armyworms, go to https://bit.ly/2xlWpDP.

“Armyworms have been a problem and will continue to be a problem,” she said. “Producers just need to make scouting, especially following any rain event, part of their routine. The key is to be ready to treat for armyworms as soon as they are present because they can cause serious damage in a short amount of time.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

CENTRAL: Pastures greened up following recent rains. Temperatures were warm, but mornings were cooling off. Producers might get one more hay cutting before temperatures get too cool for grass to grow. Pecan trees were loaded, and the Pawnee variety will be harvested soon. Alfalfa farmers expect to get one more cut, possibly a clipping as well. Armyworms were in small grain fields and Coastal Bermuda grass fields. Livestock were in good condition. Cotton was a disaster in some counties. Stock tanks and ponds along with other area bodies of water returned to normal levels. Some livestock producers continued to plant small grains for winter grazing. Most counties reported good soil moisture. Overall crop, livestock, rangeland and pasture conditions were good in a majority of counties.

ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions were favorable for producers during the reporting period. Some areas received very beneficial rainfall with totals up to 10 inches. Rains replenished soil moisture levels and filled stock tanks. Rains helped pastures and rangeland green up and produce forage for cattle. Although pastures were looking better, producers continued to supplement feed and search for hay as reserves had dwindled. There were several reports of armyworms in pastures. With the recent moisture, producers were busy preparing and sowing wheat fields. Cotton acres were in poor to good condition. Area producers were hopeful the recent rains would help set bolls and take them to harvest.

COASTAL BEND: Large amounts of rain fell across the area with 15-plus inches in various places and some flooding reported in low-lying areas. Many fields were in standing water from end to end. Soil profiles were reported to be saturated. Significant rainfall was detrimental to cotton farmers, as they were trying to complete cotton harvest. Pastures greened up from rainfall. Armyworms were an issue on pastures and hay fields. One more hay cutting should be possible for many producers. Fallow fields needed to be worked as soon as equipment can access them. Cattle remained in good condition.

EAST: Forage conditions throughout the district rapidly improved with recent rainfall. Marion County ponds still had low water levels, and some producers were having to water their livestock. Trinity County reported widespread rain replenished stock water for most producers. Producers in all counties, apart from Jasper County, hoped for a late-season cutting of hay since grass became green and started growing again. Marion County reported many producers continued to feed hay and have it hauled in from other states. Pasture and rangeland conditions were very poor in Trinity County and poor in Harrison, Smith, Wood and Marion counties. Good pasture and rangeland conditions were reported in Cherokee, Polk, Rusk and Sabine counties, and all other counties reported fair conditions. Jasper County reported surplus subsoil conditions. Houston and Trinity counties reported very short subsoil conditions and Harrison, Wood and Marion counties reported short subsoil conditions. Adequate subsoil conditions were reported by Cherokee, Henderson, Panola, Polk, Rusk, Sabine, Smith and San Augustine counties. Very short topsoil conditions were reported by Houston and Trinity counties, while Polk and Jasper counties reported surplus topsoil conditions. Smith, Wood and Marion counties reported short topsoil conditions, and all other counties reported adequate topsoil conditions. Livestock were in fair to good condition throughout the district. Houston County cattle prices leveled out due to increased buyer demand following recent rains. Wild pigs were rampant in Henderson, Trinity and Wood counties due to the rainfall. Severe armyworm infestations were reported in Cherokee, Henderson, Houston, Marion, Smith and Trinity counties that affected pastures, hay meadows and even lawns.

SOUTH PLAINS: Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels remained fair to adequate. Area crops continued to finish out. Producers continued pest and weed management. Irrigated cotton still looked good. Beetles damaged some wheat and hay crops. Pastures and rangelands benefited from recent rainfall and were in fair to good condition. Cattle were in good condition.

PANHANDLE: Conditions were warm and windy. Moisture was needed throughout the district. Cooler temperatures and wet weather was beneficial for crops, forage and rangeland. Cotton bolls were continuing to open, but cooler temperatures were slowing maturation. Rainfall was beneficial in finishing crops and continued grass and forage growth. Planted wheat started to sprout, and producers were busy planting wheat. Some early planted wheat was replanted. Silage trucks were running as some producers waited on sorghum silage to mature. Pasture and cattle conditions improved. Cotton and peanuts looked good with some fields looking excellent. Corn harvest began and the soybean harvest was expected to start soon.

NORTH: Most counties received rain, which improved topsoil and subsoil moisture levels.  Pastures and meadows were greening and returning to normal. Cotton and soybean fields did not look good, and wet conditions hampered cotton defoliation. Planting of wheat and oats was slow due to the moisture. Cattle continued to look good, and some producers continued to feed hay. Hay producers were optimistic about having produced enough hay to get those needing it through the winter. Armyworms were a problem in some counties, and feral hog activity was high in Kaufman County.

FAR WEST: Temperatures were in the lower 90s with lows in the 60s. Rainfall averaged from a trace to 5 inches. Cooler temperatures continued along with heavy cloud cover. Recent rains met and exceeded annual rainfall amounts in most of the district, which was a welcome change after significant drought conditions over the summer. Cotton made significant progress in the past few weeks. The recent showers pushed maturity of the crop forward. Bolls began opening quickly. Corn and sorghum harvests were complete. Hay was being cut in between rain showers. Pecans were maturing nicely, although overall yields appeared to be down due to insects. Planted oats and wheat were progressing. Fall pre-emergent weed control needed to be applied. Pastures were greening up. Producers continued to feed livestock and wildlife.

WEST CENTRAL: Another week of scattered rain showers has saturated the soil profile. Some producers were able to get oats and wheat in ahead of rains, and those fields were off to a good start and establishing well. Winter pastures should really take off with dry, warm conditions forecasted. Other producers were waiting on fields to dry out enough to start planting. Bermuda grass fields started growing again, and some hay producers with well-managed fields hoped to get another cutting toward the end of the month. Pastures were muddy enough that many ranchers put off shipping calves. Stock tanks caught much needed runoff water, but most were still not full. The demand for cattle was extremely strong with the stocker steers selling $10 higher per hundredweight and heifers $5-$10 higher. Feeder steers were $3 higher per hundredweight, and feeder heifers sold $3-$4 higher. Packer cows and bulls were steady. Pairs and bred cows were higher as well.

SOUTHEAST: Conditions were cloudy for most of the week in Chambers County. Rice harvest should continue if growers find storage facilities to take their rice. Most local dryers were filled up and stopped taking rice. Fall armyworms attacked hay fields that had grass above the water. Most hay producers were not able to spray because of wet conditions and standing water. In Fort Bend County, livestock were in good condition with plenty of moisture for grass growth. Cotton picked prior to the rains averaged 2 bales per acre. Recent heavy and repetitive rains will likely cause decreased fiber and seed quality and possibly some sprouting. The increased moisture levels will encourage fall annual grass planting. Moisture was also supporting a widespread hatch of fall armyworms in turf and pastureland. Feral hogs were actively moving. In Brazos County, defoliated cotton plants showed sprouting seeds. Pastures were in very poor to good condition, and livestock looked healthy. Soil moisture levels ranged from adequate to surplus with adequate being most common.

SOUTHWEST: Rain continued to fall in most counties, but every county needed it. The rain rejuvenated rangeland and pasture conditions. Producers will wait for their ground to dry out before preparing fields for winter wheat and oats. Livestock were in good condition.

SOUTH: Wet conditions were reported throughout the district with northern, eastern and western parts of the district reporting adequate to surplus moisture and southern areas reporting short to adequate moisture levels. Rain amounts were 3-12 inches. Excess rains caused issues with dirt roads and some flooding. Soil moisture and stock tank levels improved. A small amount of cotton still needed to be harvested, and the rain was affecting quality and access to fields. Some peanuts were ready for harvest as disease pressure was starting to rise with constant wet, cool and damp environment. Pasture and rangeland conditions improved due to recent rainfall, but livestock supplemental feeding continued in some areas. Body condition scores on cattle remained fair. Once conditions allow field work to resume, wheat, cabbage and spinach planting was expected to be very active. Producers were monitoring for armyworms.

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