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Friday, March 10, 2017

Panhandle Wildfires


  We've gotten a fair amount of rain lately, and I know many of you have been planting between showers. Dr. Mcginty shared a couple of weed control guides that may come in handy. They cover a number of herbicides and when to use them. For the cotton guide, go to this website, for the sorghum guide, check out this one. The corn weed guide is currently under construction, but many of the same burndown herbicides in cotton can be used in both corn and sorghum (like Roundup, Gramoxon, Liberty, 2 4-D, Clarity, Valor, and Sharpen).

  The Texas panhandle has been in the news lately due to the wildfires raging all across the plains. I even saw a weather update advising residents to "beware of flaming tumbleweeds". The fires have destroyed homes, killed livestock and wildlife, consumed hundreds of thousands of acres of rangeland and cost human lives. Several producers in the panhandle have stood by this area when hurricanes and floods have accosted the region. If you would like to donate feed or funds to wildfire relief for the panhandle, please check out the flier below.

  Have a good weekend, everyone.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Storm Damaged Trees and Fever Tick Map


  The tornadoes, high winds, and thunderstorms we've had around lately left the area with damaged buildings, vehicles, and trees. If you have damaged trees, make sure you keep a few points in mind when assessing the damage. 
  • Is the tree creating a hazard with any broken branches, the proximity to buildings and or power lines?
  • Aside from the storm damage, is the tree healthy?
  • Are major limbs broken? Has the leader (main upward) branch been damaged?
  • Is at least half of the crown (branches and leaves) still intact?
  • How big are the wounds in the tree? The larger the wound the longer it will take to heal.
  Once you've assessed your tree, make a decision. If it's a keeper, prune the broken branches, repair torn bark or rough edges around wounds, and let the tree begin to heal.
  • A mature shade tree can usually survive the loss of one major limb. The broken branch should be pruned back to the trunk, and large wounds should be closely monitored for signs of decay for the next few months.
  • Young trees can sustain a great deal of damage and still recover. If the leader is still intact and the structure for future branching remains, removed damaged limbs and allow the tree to recover.
  • Resist the temptation to prune heavily and remove only the damaged limbs to give the tree the best chance at survival.
  • If the tree looks borderline and is not an immediate hazard, don't be afraid to wait a little while to see what happens. Prune the damaged limbs and give it time to see if it recovers.
  When pruning a damaged tree, cut all damaged branches at the nearest lateral branch, bud, or main stem- not in the middle of the branch. If you can't save the tree, or the damage is too severe for you, contact an arborist for help.
  For more information on repairing storm damaged trees, visit these two websites I used for parts of this blog article- agrilife.org and texashelp.tamu.edu.

  Our livestock and veterinary extension entomologist shared the most recently updated map for those of you following the cattle fever tick outbreak. Please read over this newest report below.
  Give us a call at our office, send me an email, or stop by if you have any questions or concerns. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Kate Harrell

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sulfoxaflor, Cattle Fever Ticks, and Twitter Texts


The growing season is almost on us, I know many of you are in the field either treating weeds or fertilizing currently. Once I start scouting again this season, I plan on using twitter to post short updates while I am in the field. If you do not follow me on twitter, or do not have a twitter, but would still like the updates, you can subscribe to text message updates on your cell phone. If you would like to receive the text updates, text "follow uppercoastipm" to 40404 on your phone, as shown to the right.

We recently received notice that sulfoxaflor (Transform) was granted the section 18 emergency exemption by the EPA for control of sugarcane aphid on grain sorghum again. Management of the sugarcane aphid would be increasingly difficult with only one option in our toolbox, it's good to know we'll have two options again.

I would also like to share the following update on the Texas cattle fever tick below.

Texas cattle fever ticks are back with a vengeance

Cattle fever tick quarantine road sign in South Texas.
(Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

by Steve Byrns, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
COLLEGE STATION– Texas cattle fever ticks, which made Texas longhorns the pariah of the plains in the late 1800s, are once again expanding their range with infestations detected in Live Oak, Willacy and Kleberg counties, said Texas A&M AgriLife experts.
As of Feb. 1, more than 500,000 acres in Texas are under various quarantines outside of the permanent quarantine zone.
Dr. Pete Teel, Texas A&M AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station, said the vigilance and cooperation of regulatory agencies, namely the Texas Animal Health Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Service, in collaboration with the livestock and wildlife industries are needed to detect, contain and eliminate cattle fever ticks.
Because there is no cure for tick fever, a series of quarantine levels are used to prevent animal movement and the spread of a fever tick infestation, and to permit animal treatments for tick elimination. For an explanation of these quarantines see http://bit.ly/2jkqTNX.  For the current situation report, see http://bit.ly/2l3hhba.
“We’ve been responding to calls for several weeks now stemming from this outbreak,” said Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension veterinary entomologist at Stephenville.
“Most of Texas has been shielded from this problem for so long that there is little memory of what it took to be able to enjoy the benefit,” she said. “Now when producers are confronted with the issue without knowledge of the history and biology and risks associated with cattle fever, they are overwhelmed.”
Teel said the historic cattle drives from Texas to railheads in Missouri and Kansas in the late 1800s brought unwanted attention when local cattle died of a strange fever associated with the arrival of Texas cattle.
Southern cattle tick, Boophilus microplus. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

“Texas cattle fever was ultimately linked to ticks brought along by the Texas longhorns,” Teel said. “These ticks were appropriately named Texas cattle fever ticks, due to their ability to transmit a fever-causing agent from infected to uninfected cattle.”
By 1906, Teel said, it was determined these ticks and Texas cattle fever were found throughout 14 southern states and were limiting the economic development of the region. It was also discovered that procedures separating cattle from these ticks was essential to disease prevention and tick elimination.
“State and federal eradication programs with industry support began in 1906 and slowly eradicated the disease by eliminating these specific ticks from the eastern seaboard to the Texas-Mexico border, a task declared completed in the 1940s,” he said. “A permanent buffer zone was created and has been maintained ever since along the international border from Del Rio to the mouth of the Rio Grande to prevent re-establishment of ticks from Mexico where both ticks and pathogens remain.”
Since the 1970s, there have been periodic incursions of these ticks into Texas. One such incursion is happening now, requiring quarantine and eradication to prevent their spread, he said.
“Decades of changes in land-use, brush encroachment, expansion of native and exotic game, diversification of animal enterprises and variation in climatic cycles are contributing to new challenges in keeping this problem at bay.”“However, the success of this program has protected our cattle industry from the risks of disease outbreaks by preventing contact with the tick vector for so long that most people do not remember the tremendous effort and significant benefits, and are often unaware that this risk still exists,” Teel said.
Cattle tick in hand. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)
How risky is the disease? Teel said the Southern Region of the U.S. is home to more than 400,000 cattle operations producing a third of all fed cattle in the country. This region is the original distribution location of these ticks before the eradication program, and climate modeling indicates it would still support these ticks today.
Mortality in cattle without prior exposure to the disease is estimated to range from 70-90 percent. There are no protective vaccines and no approved drugs to treat sick animals in the U.S., he saidThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that if eradication of these ticks had not occurred, cattle industry losses across the southern U.S. today would be about $1 billion annually.  
The technical name for Texas cattle fever is bovine babesiosis, a name related to the organisms that infect the red blood cells of cattle. It is their destruction of the red blood cells that results in anemia, fever and death, Swiger said.
“There are two closely related tick species capable of transmitting these pathogens, one called ‘the cattle tick,’ Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus, and the other called ‘the southern cattle tick,’ R. microplus,” she said. “Both of these tick species and associated pathogens were introduced to the Western Hemisphere on livestock brought by early explorers and settlers from different parts of the world.”
The origin of the cattle tick is the Mediterranean area where climates are relatively temperate, while the southern cattle tick is from the tropics of the Indian sub-continent. Thus, they were both successful in adapting to the southern climates of the U.S., as well as similar climates in Mexico, Central and South America, Teel said.
Teel said fever ticks remain on the same animal through their larval, nymphal and adult stages all the way through until the blood-engorged females drop off the host animal. Once off the host, females lay from 2,500-4,000 eggs, and then die. The males remain on the animal to mate with more females. It takes 20 days from the time the larvae arrive on the host animal until the first females start dropping off with the most females leaving the host at about Day 25. So, animal movement during this period allows ticks to be dropped into new locations.
“A successful hatch depends on moderate temperatures and high relative humidity more common to tree and brush covered areas than to open meadow or grass habitats,” Teel said. “If ticks pick up the pathogen from their host during blood feeding, the pathogen is passed through the egg to the larvae of the next generation. No other tick species in the U.S. are capable of transmitting the pathogen of Texas cattle fever.
“Cattle are the preferred host and back when cattle were basically the only host, the ticks were much easier to control,” he said. “Today white-tailed deer and several exotic ungulates including nilgai antelope serve as hosts. Nilgai, an imported exotic species that have naturalized in much of South Texas, are native to India and were historically noted as a host animal for the southern cattle tick in India. So what we’ve done is bring both the ticks and nilgai together again.”
While there are many challenges to optimizing tick suppression where there is a mix of cattle, wildlife and feral ungulate hosts, Teel said research and technology development are providing new tools to meet these challenges.
“AgriLife Research and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are collaborating to discover new and improved methods of detecting and eliminating cattle fever ticks,” he said. “These efforts include mining sequences of the DNA of both tick species to discover sites to disrupt functions such as tick feeding or egg laying, to identify targets for new pesticides, or genetic approaches for tick suppression or prevention of pathogen transmission.
“There is evidence that the manure of tick-infested cattle contains detectable differences in chemical makeup compared to non-infested animals and may provide for improved methods of tick detection,” he said. “And, the complex interactions of tick-host-habitat-climate relationships through simulation modelling are currently being investigated to improve tactics and strategies for tick elimination where both wildlife and cattle are involved.”
To learn more, Teel and Swiger recommend using Tick App, a free smartphone application available at http://tickapp.tamu.edu, and the Texas Animal Health Commission’s website at http://www.tahc.texas.gov/regs/code.html for information on tick treatment options, tick quarantine and associated regulations, as well as the latest updates on current quarantines.

Don't hesitate to give us a call or drop by the office if you have any questions or concerns.



Friday, January 27, 2017

EPA Comment Period, 5 CEU Event, Weed control, Mosquitos


I'd like to share this release I received regarding the EPA comment period open for pyrethroid insecticide use. This is something that could have a significant impact on us depending on which way it goes. Please check it out below.

Comments due by Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET

ALL pyrethroid insecticides (bifenthrin, Warrior/Karate, Mustang Max, Baythroid, Asana, Permethrin, etc.) are currently undergoing registration review at EPA. Nine are specifically being evaluated, but serve as surrogates for all 19 active ingredients.

The preliminary evaluation shows that all pyrethroids exceed “Levels of Concern” for exposure to aquatic invertebrates. THIS IS MAJOR. If LOCs are exceeded, the exposure must be mitigated. This can be done in a variety of ways, but generally means loss of uses, reduced rates, reduced number of applications, or other use restrictions.

The current deadline is Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m. (ET). EPA particularly needs to know why and specifically how producers use pyrethroid insecticides.

Your comments should include:

·        Who you are and why you are commenting (grower, consultant, etc.; acres grown and other pertinent information as to your qualifications).
·        Why pyrethroids are important to you (why you use them over other products; why alternatives are not adequate or preferred; etc.)
·        YOUR USE PATTERNS (be very specific if at all possible): For EACH crop (and possibly season) indicate which pyrethroid(s) you use, the pest(s) targeted, the use rate, number of applications, re-treatment interval, and preharvest interval (particularly if a short PHI is necessary).
·        The general importance of pyrethroids is important (about the only broad spectrum products we have left), but the specific use information is needed to adjust the exposure estimates.
To comment, click on the following link:
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0480-0019 (Regulations.gov webpage); the summary does not mention pyrethoids, but this is the place (pyrethroids are in the table at the bottom of this document); click the “Comment Now!” button on the upper right of page and follow the instruction.

A user friendly option is the Pyrethroid Working Group site:|
Go to https://www.votervoice.net/PWG/campaigns/48706/respond  and follow their instructions. This site includes a template and suggestions for the information submitted.

It is a very good idea to compose and review your comments in a WORD document (or other program) before submitting them to EPA.

-Copied from Growing Georgia-

5-CEU Pesticide and CCA Recertification Program offered in Wharton County

By Corrie Bowen
County Extension Agent
Wharton County

The Wharton County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is proud to announce an opportunity for pesticide license holders to earn five continued education credits (CEUs) toward their TDA pesticide applicators license.   The Wharton County Office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will hold their annual 5-CEU program on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at the Wharton County Fairgrounds – Crescent Hall in Crescent, TX.  Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.  Program begins at 9:00 a.m.   2-IPM, 2-Laws and Regulations, and 1-General CEUs will be offered.  Five CCA credits will be awarded to Certified Crop Advisors.   Guest speakers at this year’s pesticide recertification conference include:  Dr. Don Renchie with a  TDA Laws and Regulations Update; Mr. Rob Brooks, Dow AgroSciences will speak on Herbicide Application Methods and Modes of Action; Mr. Greg Baker, TDA Pesticide Inspector will address the  Worker Protection Standard law;  Mr. Peter Woods, Extension Program Specialist will address Aquatic Plant Management; and Dr. Megan Clayton will speak on controlling huisache, flatsedge, macartney rose, and other weeds.  Cost is $35.00 payable to the Wharton County Row Crops Committee.  A lunch is included.  Please register by January 31, 2017 through the AgriLife Extension Wharton County Office at 979-532-3310, or download a flyer and registration form online at http://wharton.agrilife.org

The rain lately has been good for the ground, and I know many of you are gearing up for this years crop season. Dr. Mcginty shared a couple of weed control guides that may come in handy soon. They cover a number of herbicides and when to use them. For the cotton guide, go to this website, for the sorghum guide, check out this one. The corn weed guide is currently under construction, but many of the same burndown herbicides in cotton can be used in both corn and sorghum (like Roundup, Gramoxon, Liberty, 2 4-D, Clarity, Valor, and Sharpen).

This week I also noticed mosquito larvae living in my dog's water dish and in the miniature lake in my backyard. Now is a good time to be thinking especially about the first "D" of the "4 Ds of Mosquito Prevention", which is to drain or dump any standing water if you can. I can't drain my mini lake, but I did put a mosquito dunk in there. Mosquito dunks are easy to find at a feed store or Walmart. They are an excellent option for larval mosquito control since they are non toxic to pets and fish. They use BTI, a bacteria toxic specifically to mosquito larvae. Check out this website for more do- it- yourself backyard mosquito management techniques.

As always, feel free to email me or give us a call if you have any questions or concerns.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Feed Grain and Cotton Conference and Stored Grain Pest PPT


  This week we had the Rice conference and the Grain Handlers meeting. Dr. Robert Bowling and I gave a presentation at the Grain Handlers meeting, and I have the presentation available here. During that presentation we had a few copies of a publication on some of the main pests the USDA put together. You can access the publication here. We also talked about a dichotomous key available online, if you need access to that for insect identification, it can be found here.

 The Feed Grain and Cotton Conference will be held in Crescent hall of the Wharton County Fairgrounds on January 26. Registration will be at 8:30am and the program will start at 9:00. Check out the flyer below for more information.

  As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns, and feel free to call or stop by our office.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fever Ticks and Primary Screwworm


I recently received an email from our Veterinary/ Medical Extension Entomologist. She shared a news article on fever ticks and some information on the primary screwworm, both of which can be found below.

Primary screwworm was detected on a stray dog on January 6 on the mainland of Florida, near Homestead (south of Miami). All previous reports of this insect were limited to the Keys. Efforts on sterile male release programs and treatment on animals are currently under way to control this insect. It has been 40 years since screwworms were seen in full force in Texas, and it is vital everyone knows what to look for. Please check out this link with information on this insect.

Spread of fever tick spooks Texas cattle industry

Fever ticks are turning up farther north of the border, alarming inspectors

January 14, 2017

The dreaded cattle fever tick, carrier of a blood disease that once nearly wiped out the U.S. cattle herd, has landed farther north in the Texas interior, worrying state and federal inspectors that the once-eradicated pest is no longer under control.
Texas animal health inspectors recently found new fever ticks Nov. 30 on a bull on a Live Oak County farm, about 110 miles north from the Mexico border where they were thought to have been permanently quarantined. Since then, the ticks have been found on seven neighboring premises, prompting the Texas Animal Health Commission to set up a temporary "Control Purpose Quarantine Area." It's the fourth such quarantine zone, following ones set up in Willacy, Kleberg and Jim Wells counties.
There are more than 450,000 acres in Texas under various types of fever tick quarantines that have been set outside of the permanent quarantine zone since the ticks started showing up farther inside U.S. territory in 2014. The most recent quarantine zone has grown by nearly 45,000 acres in the past six weeks as more fever ticks have been found, and now covers 57,541 acres.
Inspectors are using genetic tests and epidemiological investigations to try to pinpoint how the ticks ended up in Live Oak - from transporting animals from quarantine areas near the border or from wildlife such as white-tailed deer and nilgai antelope carrying them farther into Texas. The latter is the biggest concern, indicating that previously successful efforts to contain the ticks to the border region are failing.
The ticks are carriers for bovine babesiosis, a blood disease that in the 1800s wiped out much of the U.S. cattle herd and caused Kansas and other states to shun or restrict cattle from Texas.
In 1943, the ticks were declared eradicated from the U.S. save for a permanent quarantine zone along the Rio Grande established to control ticks that find their way across the river from Mexico. But during the past few years, the ticks have increasingly been found outside that zone, prompting expanded quarantine zones in border counties and temporary quarantine zones in three counties farther north.
"I don't want to jump to conclusions," Schwartz said of the possibility the ticks are migrating north on the backs of wildlife such as nilgai, a non-native antelope that's become a nuisance carrier of the tick. "The concerning thing is we haven't determined the source of those ticks yet."
While cattle owners in quarantine areas are required to round up, inspect and treat cattle for ticks, the Live Oak County discovery was unexpected. A veterinarian called to examine the sickly bull called a state livestock inspector to check some of the ticks he found on the animal's skin.
"That day she tentatively identified those as fever ticks, that's the day we sprang into action there," Schwartz said of the inspector.
The bull likely was anemic from all the ticks drawing his blood, Schwartz said, but did not suffer from babesiosis.
While babesiosis is still an issue for cattle south of the border, it has not shown up in U.S. cattle for decades, he said.
"I think it's a tribute to the success of the program to have kept the fever ticks, the hot fever ticks with babesiois, out of the country," Schwartz said. "We've had some fever tick incursions, but none of them have been carrying babebiosis."
As in other quarantine zones, cattle in the Live Oak area must be "dipped" in a treatment solution every 10 to 14 days or injected with a vaccine every 25 to 28 days, which in either case usually involves costly helicopter roundups that are stressful to cattle. Hunters also are required to call inspectors to check any harvested deer for the ticks.
Once hunting season is over, state and federal officials also plan to set up feeders full of deer corn treated with a poison that kills the ticks and is aimed at preventing them from spreading from the infested ranches. Nilgai, which aren't native to the U.S., have become particularly worrisome in South Texas as they travel long distances and can easily jump fences, but they are not believed to have strayed as far north as Live Oak County.
Ron Gill, head cattle extension specialist at Texas A&M University, said the Live Oak County discovery worried ranchers who thought that as long as they followed protocol the fever tick wouldn't spread.
"It periodically jumps out of the quarantine zone but not that far out," he said. "Normally it will be one of the adjacent counties and they'll fight it back into the quarantine zone. So I think the thing that's got everybody more vocal about it now is it jumped a little further than usual."
Coleman Locke, who runs cattle in affected areas in Kleberg and Willacy counties, fears the tick could once again threaten the entire Texas cattle industry.

"It concerns me as a cattleman," he said. "We've got to get it under control. … A lot of Texas cattle go to feed yards in Kansas and Nebraska to feed out. We need our Texas cattle to be able to go anywhere."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Upcoming Events and Rabies

Howdy and happy new year!

  We have several events coming up soon. The Western Rice Belt Conference and the Texas Rice Council Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 18 at the El Campo Civic Center.
  On Thursday, January 19, the Grain Handler's meeting will be going on at the El Campo Civic Center.
  Also on January 19, from 6 to 8 pm at Praseks Hillje Smokehouse in El Campo, Monsanto will have a training for growers interested in planting and spraying Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans. Chemical retailers will be sending out invitations to growers soon as well.
  The Feed Grain and Cotton Conference will be taking place on Thursday, January 26 at Crescent hall at the Wharton County Fairgrounds.
  On February 2, the 5 hour CEU event will be at the Wharton County Fairgrounds in Crescent hall as well.
  Please feel free to give us a call to RSVP or if you have any questions on these events. The flyers for each event are below.

  Also, please check out this excellently written article Mike Merchant put together about his experience with rabies here.