9/29/2015 8:24:39 AM
In the small towns of northeast Louisiana, it’s usually not hard to tell whether farmers are having a good year or a bad year. When the harvest is bountiful and commodity prices are good, nearly everyone – farmer or not – seems to have a little more money to spend.
3/13/2015 11:30:00 AM
Olivia McClureRice, sugarcane and sweet potatoes are staple crops around the world. Here at home, they’re signatures of Louisiana cuisine and culture. Together, those three crops annually contribute about $1.5 billion to the state’s economy — a sizeable impact that wouldn’t be possible without the LSU AgCenter. Much of the rice, sugarcane and sweet potato acreage in Louisiana is planted in varieties developed by the AgCenter. New varieties of soybeans and corn, for example, are typically bred and owned by large companies that sell seeds nationwide. Crops like sugarcane, however, are significant in Louisiana but not in many other states. That’s where the AgCenter comes in. Louisiana farmers need varieties that are viable in both the state’s unique environmental conditions and the marketplace. At 17 research stations around the state and in laboratories on LSU’s campus, AgCenter scientists are working to meet those needs. THE TREASURE HUNT A plant breeder’s job is never quite done because even the best varieties don’t last forever. New diseases and insect pests arise, and new varieties surpass the yields and quality of old ones. One characteristic of all good varieties is good yields. “Increased yield is the easiest thing to help farmers because it gives them more profit,” said Don LaBonte, AgCenter sweet potato breeder and director of the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences. “But sometimes that also means developing resistance to diseases that reduce yield.” The challenge in sweet potatoes has been finding something better than the successful Beauregard variety, which the AgCenter released in 1987. Even today, the Beauregard dominates Louisiana sweet potato acreage because it provides high yields. It tastes good, making it a consumer favorite. But the Beauregard is not perfect. The newer Orleans variety is gaining popularity because its taste and appearance is similar to the Beauregard — but it produces more uniformly shaped potatoes, which translates to a higher marketable yield, LaBonte said. The Beauregard also can’t tolerate some herbicides, and it’s not resistant to insects such as the sweetpotato weevil. “For almost two decades, we’ve been making improvements, but not at a level to reduce insecticide use yet,” LaBonte said. Those improvements are slow but important. Chemicals cost money, and growers want to be confident in their crop. In general, breeding a new sweet potato variety takes six to eight years. It takes longer if breeders have to hunt for genes that provide specific traits, such as resistance to insects and herbicides. “If you’re developing a source of resistance, that can take 15 years, and then you have to cross it with other varieties so you get it in a form that growers like,” LaBonte said. “You might look at what cells from this plant can tolerate this herbicide, and keep adding to see which ones survive.” LaBonte likens that process to a treasure hunt. “You pick and choose puzzle pieces to get something better than what you have now,” LaBonte said. “You’re taking what’s out there and recombining it.” SWEET ENDEAVORS If sweet potato breeding sounds difficult, consider sugarcane. Unlike row crops that are planted and harvested every year, sugarcane is perennial and allows three to four harvests from a single planting. That means sugarcane varieties must be able to withstand potential hurricane winds and cold winter weather. Breeding takes a long time — usually 12 years — because sugarcane is genetically complex. AgCenter molecular biologist Niranjan Baisakh said sugarcane has eight to 10 copies of each gene, whereas other crops have one to a few copies. “It is difficult to combine all the traits you want, so often a variety comes with one or two flaws,” said AgCenter sugarcane breeder Collins Kimbeng. For example, a variety may have good sugar content, but not yield well after the first harvest, or have poor disease resistance. The sugarcane breeding process begins with about 100,000 single seedlings that are carefully selected based on data and observations. “We look for plants with vigorous growth, disease resistance, a good number of stalks and good height,” Kimbeng said. “It’s a tedious process, but you know the right plant when you see it.” Each of the 100,000 seedlings is hand-planted in flats, then transplanted into the field. Over the next several years, various tests and trials across southern Louisiana help the breeders choose about 40 plants. After undergoing intense scrutiny from the AgCenter, U.S. Department of Agriculture and American Sugar Cane League, just one variety usually emerges as a winner and is released. “We won’t know if the seedlings planted this April will go commercial until 2027,” said AgCenter sugarcane breeder Michael Pontif. “It’s a big difference from other crops. It takes a long time.” Technology has sped things a bit. Since 2007, Pontif and Kimbeng have used infrared technology to measure sugar content earlier on the breeding timeline. Those tests once required “very involved wet chemistry,” Pontif said. Breeders, however, will always have to contend with sugarcane’s complex nature. LCP 85-384, an AgCenter variety that was once grown on 91 percent of Louisiana sugarcane acreage, was a good variety, Pontif said — but crosses made from it did not produce similarly good results. “The genes just didn’t match up the same way,” Pontif said. “You got something different every time.” LCP 85-384 became popular because it was initially resistant to brown rust disease, which is a major problem. That resistance faded over time. Brown rust can often adapt quickly because only one resistance gene, Bru1, has been identified in the past 20 years. The disease only has to overcome one source of resistance. Baisakh, the molecular biologist, is looking at varieties of sugarcane and related wild species that don’t contain Bru1, but still have resistance qualities. He is trying to identify those genes and combine them with Bru1 to create “gene pyramids,” which would give sugarcane varieties multiple defenses against brown rust. “The genes may have small effects, but together, they are stronger and can resist several strains of fungus,” he said. As Baisakh makes discoveries about plant genes, breeders can make better decisions. CLEAR FIELDS AND BETTER YIELDS Baisakh is applying the same gene pyramid concept to rice as he works to make it salt and drought tolerant. Several genes control that tolerance, so it will take time to identify them all and breed varieties with multiple tolerance genes. New rice varieties are bred in five to seven years, said Steve Linscombe, AgCenter rice breeder and director of the Rice Research Station. Rice breeding typically begins by making a cross, the progeny of which is planted and selected for several generations. The first generation of plants is uneven, showing traits from both parents. During the selection process, breeders pick out the plants they like and grow those seed, concentrating desirable genes with each generation, Linscombe said. The plants also become more uniform, or pure, over time. One of the AgCenter’s biggest contributions to the rice industry has been the Clearfield rice system, which was introduced in the early 2000s and tolerates herbicides that kill the difficult-to-control red rice weed. Several Clearfield varieties have been released and successfully grown over the years. While the conventional tactics that made Clearfield rice possible remain viable, the AgCenter is also exploring newer approaches, such as hybrid breeding. Hybrid rice is grown from the seed from the initial cross of two lines. Although grain quality is usually lower, the advantage of hybrids is a 10 to 15 percent increase in yield — meaning more profit for farmers — and sometimes better disease resistance, Linscombe said. The AgCenter hasn’t released a hybrid variety yet, but hopes to do so in the next year or two. AgCenter breeders are also using marker-assisted selection technology to pinpoint genes that are resistant to blast disease, which causes lesions on plants and threatens yields. The process involves taking a small amount of leaf tissue from a young rice plant and mapping where resistance genes are in the plant’s DNA, Linscombe said. That saves time that would normally be spent growing the variety and waiting to see how it performs in the field. Technology, however, cannot replace variety trials and the time scientists spend walking fields, looking for signs of disease, pests, poor plant growth and other issues. Fortunately, AgCenter breeders can continue that work year-round at a winter nursery in Puerto Rico. It once took eight years to release a new variety, but the nursery has helped reduce that time to five to seven years. “It expedites the work because it extends the research season,” Linscombe said. “You have to go through a number of generations to get a variety.” Being able to complete that process a bit faster is helpful because problems like diseases can arise and change quickly. “If a variety lasts five or six years in the industry, that’s doing good,” Linscombe said. “If we can improve the variety and offer a higher yield, but keep the same inputs, that helps the industry.” IMPACT Linscombe said the impact of the AgCenter’s breeding programs can be seen across Louisiana. “Much of what we grow in Louisiana are AgCenter varieties,” he said. “The industry is dependent on variety development at the AgCenter. In the case of rice, if we didn’t have our breeding program, we might not have much of a rice industry.” But the value of the AgCenter’s work stretches beyond Louisiana’s borders. LaBonte said the innovation that takes place here is valuable worldwide. “Feeding a growing world population is a reality today,” he said. Louisiana farmers play an important role in doing just that — and the AgCenter is committed to supporting them through research and outreach. Olivia McClure is a graduate assistant with LSU AgCenter Communications.
1/16/2015 8:30:00 AM
Louisiana’s dairy industry contributes about $131 million to the economy every year. A tough business climate, however, has caused many Louisiana dairy farms to shut down in recent years. There are now only 125 dairy herds left in the state, most of which are in the Florida Parishes region.
9/29/2014 3:00:00 PM
Now in its 20th year, the Louisiana Master Gardener program continues to grow, helping the LSU AgCenter reach gardeners across the state with research-based horticulture information.
8/20/2014 10:00:00 AM
4-H is a youth development organization that emphasizes learning by doing. Members develop a diverse, lifelong skill set they can use to serve others, said Mark Tassin, LSU AgCenter program leader for 4-H youth and family development. Louisiana has about 250,000 4-H'ers.
6/11/2014 2:00:00 PM
Agriculture is essential to the life of every person in every country of the world. Through its International Programs office, the LSU AgCenter takes its mission of innovating, educating and improving lives worldwide while improving research and extension efforts here at home.
2/27/2014 1:00:00 PM
The LSU AgCenter Food Incubator is a one-stop resource center for people looking to break into the food business and put sellable, high-quality products on store shelves. The incubator puts within reach of entrepreneurs the tools to test, produce, package and market foods.
8/13/2013 8:00:00 AM
It is not unusual for healthy habits to take a back seat to summer activities. Youngsters may stay up later and sleep in more. When and what they eat may change. But with schools in session again, LSU AgCenter nutritionist Denise Holston-West says parents should reestablish consistent patterns for eating breakfast, family meals and bedtime. Holston-West said youngsters need at least nine hours of sleep and parent should stick to the child’s bedtime routine even on the weekend. “Sleep deprivation affects their mood. It affects their ability to concentrate, and that is especially important in school,” she said. Making sure your child gets a healthful breakfast is another way to help their school performance and their disposition, according to Holston-West. “We know that breakfast eaters miss school less. They are less tardy. They concentrate more and are better able to problem-solve,” she said. A child who skips breakfast may have headaches and stomachaches and may seem distracted, she said. A healthful breakfast will help sustain a child until lunch. Quick and easy ideas for breakfast include whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh fruit. Many schools offer breakfast programs, and parents can take advantage of these. Holston-West said parents should check the school menu and help children make good choices at breakfast and at lunch time. Parents who pack their child’s lunch should include a whole-grain, a fruit, a vegetable, a lean protein and a low-fat dairy item. Having variety will keep children from getting bored, Holston-West said. She suggested parents keep on hand different fruits and vegetables to pack in the lunch and rotate whole-grain bread with a whole-grain pita or whole-grain crackers. Snacks after school can include yogurt, fruit, cheese cubes with crackers, baked chips, pretzels or plain popcorn. Holston-West also said children need to receive an adequate amount of physical activity each day. Children will likely receive some in school, but not the full recommended 60 minutes. This can be broken up into bouts of activity. “This is a perfect opportunity for families to be physically active together,” the nutritionist said. “They can take the family pet for a walk or go on a bike ride after dinner.” She said regular amounts for physical activity improve a child’s mood and help with their physical development. Holston-West also reminded parents to see that their children stay hydrated. “It is still very hot outside, so it is important for kids to have proper fluid intake,” she said. Parents should give their youngsters water when they return home from school and encourage them to drink from the water fountain at school, she said.
7/25/2012 9:30:00 AM
It only takes one sick plant to spoil your home landscape or garden. But before you attempt to treat, you need to find out exactly what's going on from an expert in plant diagnostics. And that's when you want to turn to the LSU AgCenter’s own "plant doctor," Raghuwinder Singh.Singh heads up the Plant Diagnostic Center, which is a one-stop-shop for all plant health-related problems in home gardens and landscapes. Whether it’s an insect, a weed, a nematode or a disease, the center can provide the answers, Singh says. The center provides an accurate and rapid diagnosis of plant health problems for Louisiana residents and is supported by the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology.“I have a plant pathology background, an entomology background, as well as soil science and weed science,” said Singh, who is known as the plant doctor. “So if a plant comes in, I work like a human doctor to try to find what’s wrong with it.” Whether it’s a plant pathogen or a soil-related problem, the center has the expertise to find the answer to what’s ailing most plants. “I try to diagnose all the problems that come in, but if I can’t, I send it to someone who can,” he said. The center has an excellent team of specialists that include plant pathologists, nematologists, entomologists, horticulturists and weed scientists. “Our diagnostic center is here to diagnose plant health problems, and we are open to the public,” he said. “If you suspect there’s a problem, you can bring a sample to your local LSU AgCenter county agent, or you can contact us directly, and we’ll make a diagnosis.” The cost of having a routine diagnostic test run at the center is $20, and the costs of more advanced tests usually range from $40-$100. At AgCenter-sponsored garden shows and some field days around the state, visitors have an opportunity to meet the staff of the center and get answers to their plant health-related questions. “We try and advertise the center in as many areas as possible,” Singh said. “At the various garden shows we also look at the plants some of the attendees bring in to diagnose their problem.” There are several common problems like leaf spots on ornamentals, phytophthora root rot, large patch of turfgrass, bacterial wilt of tomatoes, early blight of tomatoes, bacterial leaf scorch. If the homeowners suspect the plant to be diseased they should dispose it off properly. Compositing diseased plants or plant parts may not be a good practice. Some pathogens, especially soil-borne, may survive for longer periods in the absence of a host and infect the susceptible host under favorable conditions. In addition to the center being a place for consumers and businesses to bring their plants for diagnosis, it’s also on the front line in the nation’s fight against bioterrorism. To maintain national security, there are five regional plant diagnostic centers. In the southern region of the country, 13 states are connected to be regional plant diagnostic center where all samples are sent after diagnosis. The information on these samples is also sent to the national plant diagnostic center. “We are part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network, which has as its mission national agricultural security, which prevents bioterrorism,” Singh said. “Once I diagnose a problem, I send the results to the client, but I also send that information to the national plant diagnostic database so we have a record of all activity.”Learn more about the Plant Diagnostic Center.Here's how to collect a sample. Impact Achievements at the plant diagnostic center are helping both commercial and homeowners identify and solve problems: –The number of routine diagnostic samples increased from 351 in 2011 to 402 in 2012. –The center now provides a paid internship in summer for undergraduate students interested in plant health diagnostics.. –The center is a member of the Citrus Clean Plant Network, which includes Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii and Texas. The goal of this network is to detect pathogens such as Citrus tristeza virus and citrus greening disease.–The Plant Diagnostic Center is a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network. The mission of this network is to enhance national agricultural security by quickly detecting and identifying introduced pests and pathogens. The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing rural areas and the environment, and improving the quality of life through its community, family and 4-H youth programs.
5/14/2012 1:00:00 PM
“Gentlemen, remember that whenever humanity broods over a problem, sooner or later it will be solved. Combine and concentrate your efforts in a first-class experiment station, and you will find the difficulties now encountered in sugar making, before its investigations,‘melting away, like streaks of morning light, into the infinite azure of the past.’” – William Carter Stubbs, 1885 This is a quote from a speech given by Stubbs in May 1885 before the Louisiana Sugar Planters Association. The group wanted to improve their ability to produce sugar from sugarcane and get ahead of the growing competition from Europe’s beet sugar. Sugarcane had been planted in Louisiana since 1795, when Etienne de Boré and Antoine Morin were able to granulate sugar from sugarcane on de Boré’s plantation in New Orleans. Later that summer of 1885, the planters hired Stubbs, who had been working at the Alabama Experiment Station, as director of the newly formed Sugar Experiment Station. This action officially launched agricultural research in Louisiana. The station’s purpose was “to develop and improve the agricultural interests and resources of Louisiana, especially the cultivation of sugarcane and rice by scientific and agricultural and chemical experiments and to disseminated information connected therewith.” In February 1886, the Louisiana Board of Agriculture established an experiment station on Louisiana State University property in Baton Rouge. To placate concerns of the north Louisiana legislators, the Calhoun Experiment Station was also established. By the summer of 1886, Stubbs had signed a contract with the commissioner of agriculture in which he was appointed official state chemist, director of the State Experimental Stations and professor of agriculture at LSU. Stubbs would remain in New Orleans and manage a budget that included local support from sugar planters, state funds and federal funds from the Hatch Act of 1887, which provided federal funds to states for their agricultural experiment stations. This three-way partnership would pay dividends for many years to come. The work of the Sugar Experiment Station again came to the forefront in the 1920s as a part of a continuing three-tiered research front. The American Sugar Cane League was chartered on September 28, 1922, by the consolidation of the Louisiana Sugar Planters Association, American Cane Growers Association, and the Producers and Manufacturers’ Protective Agency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture established a Sugarcane Research Laboratory in Houma, La., in 1923. Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station scientists Preston Dunkleman and Richard Breaux initiated recurrent selection sugarcane breeding methods in the mid-1950s that led to the development of high sucrose varieties, such as L 60-25, L 62-96 and L 65-69. The L in the name stands for Louisiana. Strains of the mosaic virus were becoming increasingly problematic. Pathologists and breeders devised a basic sugarcane breeding program in an effort to capture disease-resistance from wild sugarcane clones. Dunkleman joined the USDA to lead that effort, which continues to pay dividends for today’s sugarcane breeders in Louisiana. Freddie Martin, a researcher who went on to become director of the School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences before his retirement in 2010, led a team effort for the development of LCP 85-384, which was released in 1993. The CP in the name stands for Canal Point, Fla., the location of another sugarcane research facility. LCP 84-384 was a high-yielding, cold-tolerant variety that gave a tremendous boost to the Louisiana sugarcane industry. This progress continued under Kenneth Gravois and Keith Bischoff, both students of Martin, as they ushered in a return of L varieties into the Louisiana sugar industry. Gravois is now the LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist; Bischoff retired in 2010. In addition to producing new varieties for sugar content, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station scientists also develop new high-fiber, low-sugar varieties for use as an alternative fuel. Research is under way to develop an economical method for turning “energy” cane into ethanol, butanol and other industrial products.Research Milestones · In 1893, William Carter Stubbs brought to Louisiana 500 sugarcane seedling varieties from overseas to try to increase sugar yield, which he did. This was the beginning of the concept of continual variety development through crossing to sustain the agricultural industry in Louisiana. · One hindrance to sugarcane breeding in Louisiana was the plant’s lack of flowering because of low fall temperatures. St. John P. Chilton, plant pathologist and sugarcane breeder for the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, established artificial photoperiod schedules that would allow sugarcane to flower in Louisiana. This groundbreaking research in the 1940s and 1950s was carried out in photoperiod facilities on the LSU campus. This meant sugarcane crossing could be conducted locally instead of relying on facilities in Canal Point, Fla. · In the 1970s, Freddie Martin, agronomist, began evaluating use of glyphosate as a sugarcane ripener to increase sugar production per acre. Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station research continues on the use of ripeners, which have increased sugar yields substantially. · Jeff Hoy, plant pathologist, helped reduce the incidence of ratoon stunting disease, the most important disease of sugarcane, from 51 percent in 1997 to less than 1 percent today through a public and private sector partnership to produce healthy planting material for farmers. The Sugarcane Disease Detection Laboratory was established.The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.
4/26/2012 2:30:00 PM
The LSU AgCenter is charged with conducting research and extending it to people in a useful form. Those efforts help keep Louisiana’s $12.7 billion agriculture industry going strong. But what happens when that research reveals something truly revolutionary — something that could change the industry if it was put into everyday practice? The LSU AgCenter is one of the nation’s best examples of how an institution of higher education can use its research to stimulate economic growth. Twelve companies and countless technologies exist today because of research done at the AgCenter. Established in 1991, the AgCenter’s Office of Intellectual Property has grown to be the leader in commercialization of intellectual property within the LSU System and, in fact, within higher education in Louisiana. The crown jewel of its achievements is a licensing agreement with international chemical company BASF to produce the herbicide-resistant line of Clearfield rice varieties. Inventors receive 40 percent of the income from royalties. The LSU System receives 10 percent. The remaining 50 percent goes back into the AgCenter’s research funds. “It is the goal of the AgCenter’s Office of Intellectual Property to remake technology transfer on our campus,” said Wade Baumgartner, director of the Office of Intellectual Property. “We will continue the traditional functions of technology transfer — patenting, material transfers and licensing — but more importantly, we want to build a community among our researchers, Louisiana businesses and investors, and small businesses and entrepreneurs.” The practicality of the AgCenter’s research — how to better grow crops and raise livestock in Louisiana — can sometimes make commercialization natural. It is a type of research that requires close attention to the needs of its clientele, which fosters useful relationships with business and industry that can advance the adoption of new technology. Fourteen licenses were executed in 2014, bringing the AgCenter’s total of active licenses to 68. Together, they generated more than $9.2 million. Clean Chemistry recently licensed biocidal compositions that oxidize biofilms that were developed by Don Day, a professor at the AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute. The compositions can be used to destroy microorganisms that can contaminate water or the machinery used to treat it. Three sweet potato varieties — Evangeline, Bonita, and Murasaki-29 — developed at the AgCenter continued to show commercial success and generate licenses in 2014. The Orleans sweet potato, made commercially available in 2013, also began to generate licenses shortly after its release. The four varieties generated six licenses in 2014 alone. Two patents were issued to AgCenter inventors in 2014. Thirty Material Transfer Agreements were executed in 2014, allowing potential commercial partners to share material and research. Twelve start-up companies resulting from AgCenter licensing agreements are still operational, including one that formed in 2014. Some notable examples are: EsperanceEsperance Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a Baton Rouge-based biopharmaceutical company that develops novel targeted anticancer agents based on patented technologies from the LSU AgCenter, Pennington Biomedical Research Center and LSU A&M. Hole Pluggers/TigerBulletsTigerBullets are a new type of plastic-and-wood composite that prevents lost circulation in oil drilling wells. The technology was licensed from the LSU AgCenter by the Louisiana startup company Hole Pluggers. The company has entered into a worldwide distribution agreement with MI Swaco, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Delta Land ServicesDelta Land Services is a varied company that has partnered with the LSU AgCenter to develop a marsh remediation and coastal restoration technology. Delta is a local Louisiana company commercializing the LSU AgCenter technology under the trade name Shore Links to deliver a low-cost solution for coastal wetland protection and restoration. BASF/Clearfield RiceClearfield rice is a herbicide-resistant rice developed by the LSU AgCenter and grown around the world under exclusive license to BASF. This technology revolutionized the rice industry. It allows farmers to make considerable progress against the red rice weed. Because Clearfield is herbicide-resistant, farmers can use herbicides to kill the red rice without harming the commercial rice. The technology allows farmers to drill-seed rice into dry soil instead of water-seeding from the air, which is more expensive and can lead to more soil loss from the fields.Olivia McClure The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research and extension programs that contribute to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through nutrition education and 4-H youth, family and community programs.
1/26/2012 12:30:00 PM
In 2012, we celebrated 125 years of research excellence at the LSU AgCenter through the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, which was established in 1887. That was the year Congress passed the Hatch Act, which provided federal funding to support agricultural experiment stations at the nation’s land-grant colleges.
1/23/2012 9:00:00 AM
Not only do Louisiana strawberries taste good. They’re good for the state’s economy. And this year Louisiana strawberry growers once again are producing a delicious crop.
5/5/2011 3:30:00 PM
LSU AgCenter scientists continue to add weapons to their arsenal as they battle the spread of the Formosan subterranean termite in Louisiana. This pest voraciously consumes wooden structures and trees and causes millions of dollars in damages. Believed to have entered Louisiana and other Southern coastal states in wooden crates returned from the Pacific Rim during and after World War II, Formosan subterranean termites have steadily increased in numbers. They have moved north from New Orleans and Lake Charles and now have been found in all parishes south of I-10 and I-12 as well as in north Louisiana. The LSU AgCenter has developed programs in research and education to help Louisiana battle this odious pest. Read about these programs:Under Attack by Termites by Gregg Henderson, research entomologistEconomics of Formosan Subterranean Termite Control Options in Louisiana by Krishna Paudel, ag economistUsing DNA Profiling to Assess Formosan Termite Control in the New Orleans French Quarter by Claudia Husseneder, research entomologistManagement of the Formosan Subterranean Termite in the New Orleans French Quarter by Dennis Ring, extension entomologistNew Orleans French Quarter ProgramManagement of the Formosan subterranean termites became so difficult in the French Quarter in the 1990s that some pest management companies stopped treating for termites. Local officials would receive 20 to 30 calls about swarming termites per swarm season from people in the Upper Pontalba Apartments near Jackson Square. One person reported sleeping in a pup tent inside his structure during swarm season to prevent termite alates from falling on him at night and waking him up. Buildings in the French Quarter experienced structural damage on an ongoing basis resulting in a continuous cycle of damage and repair. The situation was bleak. In response to this problem, an areawide integrated pest management program was begun in the French Quarter in 1998 with a goal to reduce the numbers of Formosan subterranean termites.The LSU AgCenter was part of an areawide integrated pest management effort called the French Quarter Program in New Orleans called Operation Full Stop, a nationwide termite management program. Its focus is a community-based plan using a management strategy to reduce the densities of Formosan subterranean termites. The program is a cooperative effort including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board.Effective April 15, 2011, Congress eliminated federal funding for Operation Full Stop. The LSU AgCenter is now seeking ways to find funds to continue the research and extension program. French Quarter property owners were informed that federal payments for termite treatments by private pest control operators for individual properties would be stopped effective April 15. Any contracts with pest control operators after April 15 will be the responsibility of the property owners. “It’s unfortunate the program is ending,” said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson. “Since 1998 the AgCenter has been an active partner in the effort to suppress Formosan subterranean termites in New Orleans.” In addition to the pest management contracts, the AgCenter has been providing inspection service to building owners in the French Quarter along with inspectors from the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The AgCenter has been monitoring more than 600 in-ground stations and 100 sticky cards to track termite populations in the French Quarter. The monitoring program could continue until August 2012, based on funds that already have been distributed. “This will allow for monitoring and follow-up to determine the results of the elimination of the pest control operator contract program,” Ring said. During the time Operation Full Stop has been in existence, Formosan subterranean termite infestations have been reduced in the French Quarter, Ring said. “They’re not gone, but the population has been drastically reduced,” added LSU AgCenter entomologist Alan Morgan, who has been working on the project since its inception. “Even without federal help, people need to continue to follow the program,” Morgan said. “We hope we’ll be able to continue to provide education program to address termite problems in New Orleans.” The federal termite initiative is one of many AgCenter programs that may be curtailed as a result of budgetary limits, said LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil. “We’re going to have to look carefully at what we’re going to be doing in the future.” In addition to the French Quarter monitoring program, the AgCenter has been conducting several research programs to determine how to find and control termites, said John Russin, LSU AgCenter interim vice chancellor for research. The most recent research involves a team in the AgCenter Department of Entomology that is using DNA profiles to detect individual termite colonies, determine the number of colonies infesting an area and identify the colonies producing swarming termites each year in the French Quarter, Russin said. Their research has shown that: – Termite colonies survived flooding following Hurricane Katrina. – Up to 18 different colonies can infest a single building over a four-year period. – Colonies can be eliminated with proper treatment. – The number of colonies has been reduced by 85 percent over the last eight years, in all likelihood due to the persistent treatment effort. The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.
8/2/2007 1:30:00 PM
Yards and gardens generally look a little frayed by this time of the year. The final really hot days that usually come at the end of a long, hot summer are especially hard on plants, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.
8/2/2006 10:00:00 AM
Improving the lives of Louisiana families and children has long been a goal of the LSU AgCenter. The “Be Child Care Aware!” educational campaign is one example of that work.
8/2/2006 9:30:00 AM
The "Be Child Care Aware!" initiative involved many activities including training sessions for child-care providers. The following photos show some of these sessions held across the state. For more information about the initiative, contact Becky White or Cheri Gioe in the School of Human Ecology.
7/27/2006 1:00:00 PM
From pre-K through college, LSU AgCenter experts offer advice about preparing for and making sure of a successful school year. Getting ready involves more than students. It’s important to the family, the community and, ultimately, our society.Read the 2009 back-to-school press releases.Steps to School SuccessThe first step is mental preparation, says Diane Sasser, family life educator at the LSU AgCenter. Don't wait until the last minute. Stay calm and get organized. Get a business planner or just an ordinary notebook and use it everyday to mark down events to attend and tasks to accomplish. You can also find organizers online. Go to Household Notebook. "Calm back-to-school chaos through organization"Manage Your MoneyBack-to-school time brings the smell of newly sharpened pencils, fresh crayons and money. But don't get carried away with spending. Get yourself a budget and stick to it, says LSU AgCenter family economist Jeanette Tucker. Get the kids involved in the planning. For help go to an online back-to-school budget calculator."Teach money management when shopping for school supplies"College Kids' CreditAnd don't forget the kids going off to college need money management skills to. Credit card companies prey on them relentlessly. Tucker says teenagers can unwittingly mount up huge credit card debt that they end up spending their young adult life trying to pay off. Discuss with your college-bound teen the responsibilities of credit card ownership."Include credit card talk in college preparations"Pack a Safe Lunch, Drink Plenty of WaterWhether you're going back to school as a student or a teacher, be extra careful in packing your take-along lunch if it sits a long time between the time you make it and eat it. LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames warns about the danger of food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or toxins that grow in food. You may suffer from upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. She also warns against children becoming dehydrated in this hot weather – especially young athletes. "Don’t pack foodborne illness along with your lunch""Athletes risk life when dehydrated"Get Back on ScheduleThis applies to all age groups. During the summer months students may not have had to get up so early or go to bed at a definite time. They need to get enough sleep to perform at their best during classes. "Reassure your anxious grade-schooler""High school years are less stormy than thought"Parents: Get InvolvedParents can help their children be successful in school by getting involved in school activities. Parents should play an active role in understanding their children’s homework and helping them establish good work habits, advises Sasser. Check your child’s backpack or school bag for assignments and other communication from teachers. Understand what he or she is working on and help set up an appropriate work environment. Be an important part of the child's life outside of school, too, she says. "Success in school depends on life outside school"The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.(This AgCenter Lead was updated on July 29, 2009, by Linda Benedict.