While Texas Coastal Bend cotton and grain sorghum producers will have the advantage of improved soil moisture to help them this year, they need to get up to speed on other issues that could be problematic, said Texas A&M AgriLife experts.
To help address those issues, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Nueces and San Patricio counties will host a Field Crop Symposium from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi, said Jason Ott, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Nueces County. The center is located at 10345 State Highway 44
A participation fee of $25 will be charged to attendees, which includes a catered lunch. Because seating is limited, attendees are asked to RSVP to the AgriLife Extension office in Nueces County at 361-767-5223 by Jan. 23.
“Our weather pattern has put some much needed moisture back into the soil profile and has us on a much better footing going into the 2015 growing season,” Ott said. “But with the current market conditions, growers will need to focus on best management practices to address insect, disease and weed management strategies to help preserve profitability.”
The symposium will provide growers with essential information as they make their pre-plant preparations, and allow them to earn Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units for both pesticide applicators and certified crop advisors, he said.
The event will provide growers with site-specific information on alternative crops and tillage systems, unmanned scouting, pest management strategies, disease control, pre-plant considerations, fertilization, finances and pesticide laws and regulations.
“Of special interest to growers will be a presentation by Dr. Juan Landivar on cropping systems for the Coastal Bend,” Ott said. “His discussion will include his extensive research on alternative crops and tillage systems for our area. He’ll also discuss the very interesting and futuristic work being conducted on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in crop production scouting.”
Landivar is a crop physiologist and resident director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension centers in Weslaco and Corpus Christi.
“Dr. Robert Bowling, our AgriLife Extension entomologist at the Corpus Christi center, will present an update on the latest pest management strategies for key crop pests, including the sugarcane aphid on grain sorghum,” Ott said. “Because of its relatively sudden, widespread and extensive damage, the aphid is forefront on growers’ minds, but several other pests require scouting as well.”
Dr. Tom Isakeit, an AgriLife Extension plant pathologist in College Station, will address disease issues in Coastal Bend cotton and grain sorghum production.
“Cotton root rot is an endemic problem for our cotton producers, and while TopGuard, a fungicide, has been extremely useful in control, growers can benefit from a better understanding of its use and application methods,” Ott said. “Tom will give us an update on his ongoing research with TopGuard, as well as information on other disease issues of concern to both cotton and sorghum producers.”
Also on the agenda are Dr. Josh McGinty, an AgriLife Extension agronomist, Dr. Levi Russell, an AgriLife Extension agricultural economist, both headquartered in Corpus Christi, and Dr. Larry Unruh with American Plant Food.
“Dr. McGinty will discuss important considerations that should be made prior to planting cotton and grain sorghum,” Ott said. “Dr. Russell will compare planting options and demonstrate a tool developed to help growers determine breakeven costs for various crops. And Dr. Unruh will discuss the state of the fertilizer industry and how to optimize fertilizer management.”
The symposium will conclude with a presentation on pesticide laws and regulations. Participants can receive five Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units – one in laws and regulations, one in integrated pest management and three general. Certified crop advisors will also be eligible for continuing education units.