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    Mo Way on Texas Rice: Hot, Dry Weather Brings Smut, Stink Bugs

    Rice Stink Bug

    It’s been hot and dry since the end of June which is good for harvest. However, I’m a little concerned about panicle blight which can be associated with high night time temperatures during flowering, but I have not received any reports of this problem. On the other hand, I have received reports of severe kernel smut south and west of Houston. Also, it seems rice stink bug populations are on the increase which does not surprise me.

    Please check your fields for rice stink bug—use a sweep net and apply an insecticide only if populations are above threshold levels. I have swept some fields lately that did not warrant treatment, so scouting fields can help your pocketbook and the environment!

    I want to talk some about the value of college interns to my project—and I’m sure my research/extension colleagues from Texas A&M and other universities will agree—interns contribute significantly to the mission of scientists in Land Grant institutions. This year, I hired 3 college interns—Carra Curtice and Caleb Marshall in the Environmental Science program in the Department of Biology at Lamar University and Brayden Meloncon in the Plant and Soil Science Department at Sam Houston State University.

    My interns are paid and are required by their institutions to gain hands-on experience working in an environment related to their major. In my project, the above interns helped conduct research and extension activities in 4 commodities—rice, soybeans, sorghum and sugarcane. They began work in my project after classes let out in May and will continue until classes resume in late August. All my interns are motivated and mature—they are focused on getting a degree and entering the work force prepared and motivated.

    My interns perform many tasks related to research—below is a brief and probably incomplete list of these tasks essential to conducting scientific investigations:

    • Collecting and processing plant/insect samples from small plot experiments and commercial fields
    • Irrigating, fertilizing and hand-weeding plots
    • Applying pesticides
    • Calibrating and cleaning spray rigs
    • Weighing and packaging seed and fertilizer
    • Installing barriers for post-flood treatment applications
    • Collating data
    • Maintaining equipment and vehicles
    • Hand-harvesting plots
    • Cooperating with other projects as needed
    • Traveling off-Center to help collect field samples
    • Helping host field days, visiting scientists,  graduate and outreach students
    • Operating large equipment such as tractor-pulled roterras and pipe harrows.

    In addition to these tasks, they must keep a journal of their daily activities to submit to their supervisor at their respective colleges. Finally, I evaluate their work at the end of the internship.

    In short, I am very pleased with the work my interns perform—without their help, I could not possibly fulfill the mission of my position which is to help the farmers of SE Texas produce better crops with higher yields/quality while maintaining a healthy, safe environment. I truly thank Brayden, Carra and Caleb for their help and dedication—and I know my clientele salute you too!




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