Texas entomologists warn residents about new tick species

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife University

Confirmed reports of the longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, in six states have prompted a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist to alert Texans to its possible arrival.

Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension veterinary/medical entomologist at Stephenville, said the longhorned tick isn’t named for the iconic bovine symbol of the Lone Star State, but rather for the distinctive, but underrated “horns” sprouting from a portion of its head. Continue reading

AgriLife Research cotton pathologist pursues a mystery

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Dr. Terry Wheeler and her colleagues are embroiled in a mystery.

Wheeler, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist at Lubbock, and her cohorts Dr. Jason Woodward, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist at Lubbock, and Dr. Tom Isakeit, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist, College Station, have been getting calls from cotton growers across the Southern Rolling Plains and High Plains about a problem thought to have been resolved 40 years ago. Continue reading

Resistant cotton varieties are best way to control bacterial blight

In Southwest Farm Press

Bacterial blight is like that really bad case of the flu you had one time years ago: It doesn’t happen often — but you never forgot it. In cotton, it can be just that bad.

It is an opportunistic plant disease in cotton, says Jason Woodward, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension pathologist at Lubbock. “The pathogen has been reported in every country where cotton is grown,” he said at the Red River Crops Conference at Childress, Texas. Continue reading

Two new scientists at Texas A&M target mosquitoes to halt Zika risks

by Steve Byrnes

Today’s news is flooded with reports on Zika; none of them good…until now.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research has fielded a Zika team led by two scientists who joined the department of entomology at Texas A&M University on Aug. 1, said Dr. David Ragsdale, department head at College Station. Continue reading

Annual Wheatheart Wheat Conference set for Aug. 11 in Perryton

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

The 18th annual Wheatheart Wheat Conference will be Aug. 11 at the Ochiltree County Expo Center, 402 Expo Drive, Perryton.

The event is hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offices in Hansford, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Roberts and Ochiltree counties. Continue reading

Fly season begins – protect your cattle

by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife

Springtime conditions are increasing fly activity and cattle producers should take steps to protect animals and reduce losses, said Jason Banta, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist at Overton.

Horn flies, stable flies and house flies are the most common fly pests in Texas. Flies may be viewed by some as a nuisance to their animals but they also cost cattle producers statewide hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Continue reading

Texas A&M AgriLife offers mosquito control seminars

From Insects in the City blog

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the remarkable step of elevating its Zika response to the highest emergency (Level 1) priority outbreak.  For a virus not even established in the U.S., this illustrates the respect and fear health officials have for this previously unheard of virus.

So what’s the story behind the Zika virus?  How do you recognize the mosquitoes that might transmit it? What’s the difference between managing mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and those that carry Zika? If you don’t know all the answers to these questions, it might be time for an update. Continue reading

AgriLife Extension offers management options for sugarcane aphids in the High Plains

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists are trying to help producers prepare for the likelihood of the sugarcane aphid on the Texas High Plains in 2016.

Dr. Ed Bynum, AgriLife Extension entomologist in Amarillo, said after 2015’s infestation, the agency’s entomologists in areas impacted by sugarcane aphid got together to determine what needed to be done to prevent as much damage as possible. Continue reading

Farmer-saved wheat seed quality should be checked before planting

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Producers across the Rolling Plains and Central Texas who have not planted winter wheat or those who are seeing spotty stands in earlier-planted wheat might consider their seed quality, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.

Dr. Emi Kimura, AgriLife Extension agronomist in Vernon, and Dr. Clark Neely, AgriLife Extension small grains specialist in College Station, are advising producers as they move into planting season in those regions that farmer-saved wheat seed from the 2014-15 crop might have had some quality issues that could cause problems with the 2015-16 wheat crop.

The costs associated with using saved, low quality seed can be higher than purchasing certified seed, they warned. Continue reading

With organic rice in demand, scientists help farmers improve production

Organic rice is increasingly desired by U.S. consumers, but farmers know that growing the grain chemically free can mean providing a feast for insects, diseases and weeds.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has put $1 million on a multi-state team of scientists with a track record of battling pests toward the goal of making organic rice profitable for farmers and more available for consumers. The grant also establishes the first Center of Excellence for organic rice research in the U.S.

“Organic rice is important to the U.S., and most of the organic rice acreage is located in the southern growing region and California,” said Dr. Xin-Gen “Shane”” Zhou, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Beaumont and project leader. “Organic rice acreage has increased to about 50,000 acres in the nation. In contrast, conventional rice acreage is on the decline. Continue reading