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Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Logo

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Giant Conifer Aphids and Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles


  There's been a picture circling the internet again of a dog with lady beetles in its mouth. There is a great deal of misinformation on most of the posts I've had a couple of phone calls with questions. Xandra, the IPM agent stationed in Hill county has an excellent article on this, check it out here.
  I would like to share a really neat article Mike Merchant's put together on Giant Conifer Aphids. Check it out here! He also covers a few other pests that can be accidentally brought in with a Christmas tree. Have a Merry Christmas everyone!


Kate Harrell

Friday, December 2, 2016

Grain Indemnity Referendum, Blog Evaluation, and CEU Opportunities


  I am currently evaluating the blog's performance and would really appreciate it if you could fill out this short survey. It's only a few multiple choice questions, and will take very little time. Thank you!

  Below I have posted a news release Corrie Bowen (Wharton County Ag Agent) put together for the grain indemnity referendum. Your local extension office is the place to stop by and vote. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to give us a call, or stop by the office.

Voting on Producer Referendum to Establish State-Level Grain Indemnity Fund Scheduled December 5 through December 9

By Corrie Bowen
County Extension Agent
Wharton County

The Texas Legislature has acted to allow the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture to conduct a referendum whether to establish a grain indemnity fund for the state of Texas, statute available at http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/AG/htm/AG.41.htm#41.201.  What is the Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Fund?  The purpose of the fund is to indemnify corn, grain sorghum, wheat, and soybean producers as a result of the failure of a grain buyer. If passed, producers of these four crops would pay 0.2% of the gross sales price of grain to the Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Board.  Assessments would begin February 1, 2017.  And, if passed, The Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Board will establish an indemnity fund program that will mitigate 85% of all verified financial losses suffered by producers of corn, sorghum, soybeans and wheat when a financial failure prevents grain buyers from paying for purchased/contracted grain or delivering unsold grain.

Who is Eligible to Vote?  Any grain producer regardless of age who has sold grain in Texas anytime between December 5, 2013, and December 5, 2016, is eligible to vote.  Eligible grain producers are persons, including the owner of a farm on which grain is produced or the owner’s tenant or sharecropper, engaged in the business of producing grain or causing grain to be produced for commercial purposes.  A producer may be an individual or legal business entity, such as a corporation, LLC, LLP, or LP.  Each producer (individual and/or legal business entity) may only vote once. Youth younger than 16 years of age must have a parent or guardian co-sign the ballot. I had one of my first questions today regarding the Grain Indemnity fund.  The question was:  Who verifies if the producer has produced grain in the last 36 months?  The answer provided by Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is:  The producer self certifies that he has produced grain at least once in the previous 3 years.  Texas Department of Agriculture personnel will count and review the ballots. They will have the discretion to randomly audit or specifically check any ballot(s) to maintain the integrity of the referendum.  TDA can require a voter to prove production in the previous 36 months before the ballot is counted.

Where Will Voting Take Place?   Voting will be held at local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension County offices during normal business hours from December 5 through 9, 2016.  The Wharton County Extension Office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from noon – 1p.m. for the lunch hour)  Monday – Friday.  If you are unable to access an AgriLife Extension Office, a ballot may be requested from TDA by calling (800) 835-5832. In order to be valid, all ballots cast must be mailed to TDA and must be postmarked no later than December 9, 2016.  Ballots will be counted at TDA Headquarters by Department staff and the Commissioner of Agriculture will certify results.

Where Can I Get More Information?  More information on the Grain Indemnity Fund Referendum is available from the Texas Department of Agriculture, either by contacting Stuart Strnad, Director for Agriculture Commodity Programs-Texas Department of Agriculture at (512) 463-3285, or visiting their website, https://texasagriculture.gov/Home/ProductionAgriculture/TexasGrainProducersIndemnityBoard. Information is also available from the Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Board, (806) 763-0327 or their website, http://www.texasgrainindemnity.org/

Tele-Town Halls are also available.  Join one of the times listed on the attached file to learn more about the Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Fund.  The Tele-Town Halls will discuss the fund basics, voting procedure and allow producers to participate in a Q&A session with TGPIF Board Members.


  Mike Hiller (Jackson County Ag Agent) is hosting a 5 hour CEU event at the Jackson county services building auditorium. Registration starts at 8:00 am and the program begins at 9:00 am. The program is posted below. 

  The Plant Protection Conference is also going on next week. The theme for this year is Advanced Technologies for Texas Agriculture, and the conference will be held at the Brazos Center in Bryan, TX. Registration for producers is $25, $25 for students, and $100 for everyone else. They will be offering a total of 11 TDA CEUs and 13.5 CCA CEUs. This will take you to the conference website, and this will take you to the conference agenda.

  Last week I got to go to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving, so this week's insect is one that I found near Liberia in Costa Rica, but can also be found here in Texas- the firefly. If the name of an insect is two words, it falls in that group. For example, a horse fly is a fly, but a dragonfly is not a fly. Fireflies are a type of beetle, not a fly. Firefly larvae tend to be voracious predators, and often glow like the adults. The chemical reaction many members of this family of insects uses to give off light is remarkably cold, and nearly 100% of the energy is given off as light. For comparison, electric lights only give off 10% of their energy as light, the other 90% is given off as heat. The chemical used in the reaction is luciferin, and in the presence of an enzyme called luciferinase, it oxidizes almost immediately and gives off light. They control the pattern of their flashes by admitting air into the tracheal system of the light producing organs in the abdomen. The flashing is generally used to attract the opposite sex, and each species uses a different flash pattern to attract a mate. However, some species will use a flash pattern of a different species to attract dinner rather than a mate. (Triplehorn, Johnson, Borror, 2005)

Firefly larvae, Aspisoma sp
Photo: Kate Harrell
Firefly larvae, Aspisoma sp
Photo: Kate Harrell

Firefly, Aspisoma sp
Photo: Kate Harrell

  Feel free to email or call me if you have any questions, and have a great weekend.


Kate Harrell

Triplehorn, Charles A., Norman F. Johnson, and Donald J. Borror. Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole, 2005. Print.