UK study examines climate change effects on tall fescue, endophyte

By Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

The way tall fescue and its fungal endophyte react to future climate change will depend on the genetics of each organism, according to researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Then UK graduate student Marie Bourguignon, UK agroecologist Rebecca McCulley and Randy Dinkins, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forage-Animal Production Research Unit, looked at the potential effects of warmer and wetter conditions on four different genotypes of KY 31 tall fescue, one of the most common grasses used in pastures in Kentucky and the Southeast. Their U.S. Department of Energy-funded study looked at climate change effects on the common endophyte, a fungus found in most tall fescue that helps the plant grow better and tolerate stressful conditions. The fungus is also an insect deterrent, but it can be toxic to livestock. About 75 percent of all tall fescue in the United States is infected with the common strain of the endophyte. Continue reading

Sugarcane aphid is already devastating Texas grain sorghum

In Southwest Farm Press

by Rod Santa Ana, Texas AgriLife

It may be hard to spot, but the tiny sugarcane aphid is racking up tens of millions of dollars in losses in just the four South Texas counties evaluated so far, according to a report by an economist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

And the losses would have been much higher had grain sorghum growers not followed the advice of AgriLife Extension experts, according to Dr. Samuel Zapata, who conducted the study from the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco. Continue reading

Fill holes in trees so mosquitoes can’t breed

In Insects in the City

It seems you never know what interesting places and topics pest control will lead you. This week’s rabbit trail for me was a discussion on how best to “fill tree holes” that are a common mosquito breeding site.

With the heightened interest in mosquito control and Zika virus this summer, tree holes are a significant problem. When a limb dies back or fails on a tree, the result is often a pocket in the tree that is capable of holding water. It turns out that such water-filled tree holes are perfect breeding sites for some mosquitoes, including Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, the two potential Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Continue reading