Adapting to the “New Normal”

By: Beth Ann Luedeker Soil and Crop Sciences faculty and staff weigh in on the impact of COVID Change is inevitable, but this year it has been extreme. The COVID19 pandemic disrupted our personal and professional lives, creating an avalanche of change. Faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences will see a much different semester this fall. Teaching faculty has been scrambling to provide remote options to classes that will remain in place even after face-to-face instruction resumes. Updated classrooms now include the… Read More →

Sorghum producers see less damage by sugarcane aphids

By: Adam Russell Grain sorghum producers are reporting sugarcane aphids in the High Plains, but the pest has made little impact on the Texas crop during 2020, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. But forage sorghum, an increasingly popular silage option, has experienced more significant losses, as producers and Texas A&M AgriLife scientists and specialists search for effective and efficient treatment methods. Those fields bound for forage production were not hard hit so far this year. Pat Porter, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension entomologist, Lubbock, said sugarcane aphids… Read More →

Three Big Country Wheat webinars set for August

By: Susan Himes The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be presenting the annual Big Country Wheat Conference as webinars this year. The free event will run on three consecutive Thursdays starting Aug. 13 from noon to 1 p.m. each day. “We feel these online events will provide area producers with valuable information heading into the upcoming wheat planting season,” said Steve Estes, AgriLife Extension agent for Taylor County. “This series offers something for everyone regarding the new crop, whether it be pricing strategies, managing risk, picking the… Read More →

Student recaps summer internship with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension water programs

By: Beth Ann Luedeker For ten weeks this summer, Chase Murphy, a junior majoring in ecological restoration, participated in a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension internship program in water resource protection and restoration. He recently discussed his experiences with faculty, staff and students via Zoom. A main component of the internship, and a favorite part for Murphy, was sampling water quality in the Mill Creek Watershed near Bellville. Through a contract with Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), he participated in two sampling runs, and had the opportunity to use… Read More →

Prominent researcher to lead Semi-Arid Agricultural Systems Institute

By: Chip Chandler A regional native and nationally prominent researcher in plant breeding has been hired as the director of the Semi-Arid Agricultural Systems Institute at West Texas A&M University in Canyon. Craig Bednarz, Ph.D., an Idalou native, began May 1 in a joint appointment by West Texas A&M, Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Amarillo and the Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Bednarz will serve as an associate professor of plant, soil and environmental sciences at West Texas A&M. He will lead and expand… Read More →

Fast, accurate way to check peanut plants for healthy traits

By: Olga Kuchment The lengthy process of breeding better peanut plants can be sped up by using a biophysics technique, Raman spectroscopy. Texas A&M AgriLife biophysicists and plant breeders have demonstrated the use of Raman spectroscopy to quickly scan the levels of oleic acid in peanuts. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated oil, lends peanuts a longer shelf life. The oil is also healthy for the heart. They also used the method to determine how resistant plants are to nematode pests. Using Raman spectroscopy is quicker, cheaper and more portable… Read More →

Two Texas A&M students named Borlaug Scholars by plant breeders association

By: Beth Ann Luedeker Two students from the Texas A&M University’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Tia Dunbar and Ammani Kyanam, were among those named as Borlaug Scholars for 2020 by the National Association of Plant Breeders, NAPB. “Both Tia and Ammani’s resumes reveal outstanding students with the potential to follow closely in the footsteps of Dr. Norman Borlaug in relieving hunger and poverty through plant breeding,” said Don Jones, chair, NAPB Borlaug Scholars committee. The NAPB Borlaug Scholarship awards are given to exceptional students aspiring to… Read More →

The future look of urban Texas landscapes

By: Kerry Halladay The Texas landscape is changing and becoming more urban. In her new role in Dallas — one of the fastest-growing cities in the country — Dr. Becky Bowling hopes to see that urban landscape become more water efficient and uniquely, beautifully Texan in the future. “I would say conservation is my passion,” Bowling said. “And I’m really interested in it from an urban perspective.” Bowling is an assistant professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and a Texas A&M AgriLife… Read More →

Texas cotton farmers adjusting in wake of court ruling on dicamba

ByL Kay Ledbetter The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service stands ready to advise producers on agronomic alternatives and options in the wake of a June 3 ruling from the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to immediately vacate the registrations of three dicamba products, Xtendimax, FeXapan and Engenia. Approximately 80% of the state’s cotton has been planted, and an estimated 60-80% is XtendFlex cotton – a dicamba-tolerant cotton that would have allowed the application of available registered dicamba herbicide products for weed control. Producers are working… Read More →

Texas A&M AgriLife brings wheat field tours to producers online

By: Kay Ledbetter Texas A&M AgriLife wheat research and variety trials did not take a break during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it was not possible to conduct a traditional May wheat field tour, so Texas A&M AgriLife faculty across the state are bringing fields to producers – virtually. The 2020 Virtual Wheat Tour is a combination of videos from across the state that allow producers to view the field trials and hear the latest in research, said Fernando Guillen, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service statewide small grains… Read More →