Texas Rice: Dr. Mo Way Retires After Stellar Career

Dr. Mo Way. Photo: Texas AgriLife Extension

Congratulations to Dr. Michael “Mo” Way on his retirement last month from the Texas A&M AgriLife Beaumont Research and Extension Center after a stellar career spanning 39 years. While his official title was “research entomologist,” Way wore many more hats serving the Texas, U.S., and international rice industries. He received his Ph.D. under Dr. Al Grigarick at the University of California, Davis, prior to joining the faculty at the Beaumont Center.

There are innumerable highlights to Way’s long career, including development of economic injury levels for rice water weevil, rice stink bug, and chinch bug. In 1988, he discovered the Mexican rice borer in the Texas Rice Belt, after one moth was found in a pheromone trap in Calhoun County, and helped develop management practices for this stem borer.

He also helped develop management practices to control the rice seed midge attacking water-seeded rice, and, in 2015, found rice planthoppers attacking ratoon rice and developed a management program for this exotic pest.

He’s probably best known by farmers for helping gain labels for numerous insecticides invaluable to the rice industry. He worked to keep granular carbofuran (Furadan) to control the rice water weevil available for farmers until a replacement was labeled, and then helped gain labels for Furadan replacements to control rice stink bugs and stem borers.

Way was also a great cooperator and worked closely with research scientists from Texas A&M, Louisiana State University (LSU), Mississippi State, the Universities of Arkansas, California, Florida, and Missouri, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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A favorite story Way tells about his career was the time he traveled to North Korea in 1991 to help researchers in control efforts of a newly introduced pest, the rice water weevil. When his two-week stint providing all the information necessary to control the insect was up, he found out he couldn’t leave the country before paying homage to Kim Il-sung by purchasing a bouquet of flowers and setting it in front of a huge statue of “The Great Leader” in Pyongyang.

“I have known Mo for a long time as someone who was devoted to the field of entomology,” said Dr. Steve Linscombe, former director of the Rice Research Station at the LSU AgCenter, now with USA Rice. “He is willing to share his expertise with any and all, and contributed much while serving on numerous USA Rice committees. In summary, Mo’s reputation for hard work, dedication, and perseverance was of immeasurable value to the rice industry, and we wish him well in retirement.”

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