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Texas: Guar Workshop, Field Tour, Lubbock, Aug. 15

Ernst Undesser
By Steve Byrns, Texas AgriLife Extension August 4, 2017

Texas: Guar Workshop, Field Tour, Lubbock, Aug. 15

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo

Guar, a multi-use, drought-resistant crop in the bean family, will take center stage during an Aug. 15  workshop and field tour in Lubbock, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist at Lubbock said.

Dr. Calvin Trostle said he and his colleague, Dr. Mark Burow, Texas A&M AgriLife Research peanut breeder at Lubbock, have received a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture planning grant for guar work.

“The proposal that was funded and is making current activities possible is entitled ‘Guar Improvement and Utilization in the U.S. Southwest:  A Research and Extension Planning Proposal,’” he said. “It enables us to bring together interested parties to plan for a full proposal to be submitted likely sometime this fall. With that in mind we’re inviting anyone interested in Texas and U.S. Southwest guar production to a full day of events.”

Trostle said the 8 a.m.-6 p.m. program, which is free and open to the public, will begin with research reports from various investigators through 2 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Stress Lab at 3810 4th Street. Lunch will be provided. At about 2 p.m., tour vans will depart to a growing field and then to Guar Resources for a look at their new guar processing plant followed by dinner.

“As guar is about as heat- and drought-tolerant a crop as you can grow in Texas, it is drawing significant interest,” Trostle said. “To the extent that climate change may affect cropping in the U.S. Southwest, guar is the kind of crop that could help maintain viable cropping into the future. I joke that if guar were a person with a choice between an 85-degree day and a 105-degree day, it would opt for the latter; it’s that tough.”

Trostle said historically, commercial guar production started in Texas in the 1950s. The most common use for the gum found in the seeds is in oilfield fracking services, but there are many other uses including in foods as an emulsifier and thickener, in cosmetics, personal care products and industrial applications.

“Most guar is grown in India and Pakistan and to some extent they exert control over the world market,” Trostle said. “We found one reference from USDA in 2011, that the value of guar gum and guar byproducts imported through the Port of Houston that year was $1.1 billion at historical prices. We would like to keep some of that money home.”

Trostle said research and extension staffs from Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are participating in the meeting. Following the meeting, the group will draft an outline for the next round of potential USDA funding he said could bolster regional research in plant breeding, weed and disease control and agronomy, as well as legume Rhizobium inoculation to provide nitrogen to the plants.

For more crop information on guar, see here.

Trostle has also hosted farmer “listening meetings” in Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma to gather feedback from growers on their need for research to improve the economic competitiveness of the crop.

“As a legume, guar is an excellent rotation crop because it is a nitrogen fixer, nitrogen being something most other crops deplete, so it would complement Texas cotton rotations,” Trostle said.  “Farmers often tell me they can tell to the exact row where they grew guar the year before in their subsequent cotton crop due to the vigor of the plants.”

For further information, contact Trostle at 806-746-6101, or ctrostle@ag.tamu.edu .

Ernst Undesser
By Steve Byrns, Texas AgriLife Extension August 4, 2017