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Citrus grower education program slated for May 9 in Mission, TX

An educational program for Rio Grande Valley citrus growers on the practical aspects of new water conservation technologies will be held from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. May 9 at the Lone Star Citrus Growers headquarters, 9625 N. Moorefield Road, Mission.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at the citrus growers’ packing house. The program is co-hosted by the Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University-Kingsville Citrus Center and the Texas Water Development Board.

The event is free, but attendees are required to preregister by May 5 at http://twri.tamu.edu/irrigation.

Dr. Lucas Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute research scientist, College Station, said the program will start in the Lone Star Citrus Growers’ orchard with a discussion on recent advances and demonstrations of water-conserving irrigation technologies.

“The field session will emphasize producer perspectives on the advantages of drip irrigation and practical methods for using narrow border flood,” he said. “Growers will also be able to make preliminary observations on raised beds, with and without plastic mesh.”

Gregory said producers who have implemented some of these technologies will provide relevant insights to other producers and answer questions about how the technologies have affected their operations.

He said the program will move into the packing house mid-morning for discussions on water savings and the economics of each water conservation practice.

Dr. Shad Nelson, interim dean, Texas A&M University-Kingsville College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences, said local scientists and economists will highlight recent research conducted by the Citrus Center and Texas A&M AgriLife.

“Findings presented from citrus field demonstrations will show water savings and economic benefits that can be expected when these practices are implemented,” Nelson said. “A grower panel discussion will also highlight local experiences using alternative irrigation strategies.”

Brad Cowan, AgriLife Extension agent for Hidalgo County, said an update on some key citrus issues will be given after lunch.

“Pest management issues relative to water management strategies and financial assistance opportunities for producers will be covered,” he said.

One Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education unit in the general category will be offered due to the disease- and entomology-related issues and mitigation strategy presentations, Cowan said.

“Information about funding opportunities for producers to defray some of the implementation costs will conclude the day,” he said.

Funding for the event is provided by the Texas Water Development Board through an Agricultural Water Conservation Grant to AgriLife Extension.

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