Rice Field Notes 2012

John K. Saichuk  |  7/31/2012 1:42:42 AM

In this article:
2005 AgOutlook Conference Set
Add Fragrance To Cool-Season Flower Beds
Arkansas Students Take Lead In Weeds At LSU AgCenter Contest
Artificial Breeding On Horizon For Aquaculture Industries
Artificial Breeding On Horizon For Aquaculture Industries
Audubon Sugar Open House Set For Aug. 31
BEST Students Teachers Trade Summer Fun For Biotech Skills
Calhoun Field Day Highlights Forestry Turfgrass Research
Cicada Killers Appear Threatening But Theyre Not
Crop Damage From Rains Could Total $207 Million
Dangerous Soybean Rust Found In Louisiana
Dangerous Soybean Rust Found In Louisiana
December
Deep South Fruit Vegetable Growers Conference Set For Dec. 8-10
Dont Be Your Plants Worst Enemy
Doves To Be Topic Of Aug. 28 Field Day
Educators Getting Ready To Teach About Finances
Efforts Offering HOPE To Delta Region
Experts Predict Lower Pecan Crop Higher Prices
Experts Predict Lower Pecan Crop Higher Prices
Experts Say Forestry Is Good Investment
Experts Say Forestry Is Good Investment
Experts Say Water Quality Big Challenge For Nursery Businesses
Experts Say Water Quality Big Challenge For Nursery Businesses
Fall Armyworms Invading Causing Problems
Fall Great Time To Plant Parsley Other Herbs
Field Day Covers Forages Forestry Dairy Beef
Field Day Covers Forages Forestry Dairy Beef
Follow These Tips On Harvesting Winter Vegetables
Follow These Tips On Harvesting Winter Vegetables
Forage Grassland Council Schedules Annual Meeting Dec. 10 In Alexandria
Forage Grassland Council Schedules Annual Meeting Dec. 10 In Alexandria
Freshen Tired Flower Beds
Get it Growing
Headline News
Horse Industry Representatives Meet Look For Unity
Horse Industry Representatives Meet Look For Unity
Its Best Time For Planting Trees Shrubs
La. Dairy Farmers Taking Proactive Stance
Louisiana 4-Hers Named National Champions At Poultry Egg Conference
Louisiana 4-Hers Named National Champions At Poultry Egg Conference
Louisiana Farms Serve As Models For Others
Louisiana Hosts Regional 4-H Horse Show; State Youth Fare Well
Low Rice Yields Resulting From Unusual Weather This Year
LSU AgCenter Agent Works To Stop Water Pollution With Litterbags
LSU AgCenter Announces Annual Pecan Station Field Day
LSU AgCenter Announces Sweet Potato Research Station Field Day
LSU AgCenter Crop Field Day Set For Aug. 26
LSU AgCenter Expert Says Hunting Safely Is Top Priority
LSU AgCenter Expert Says Hunting Safely Is Top Priority
LSU AgCenter Gets Research Grants From Board Of Regents
LSU AgCenter Helping Poultry Producers Fight Fire Ants
LSU AgCenter Helping Poultry Producers Fight Fire Ants
LSU AgCenter Hosts Small Forest Landowner Workshop
LSU AgCenter On-Farm Demonstration Programs Enhanced
LSU AgCenter On-Farm Demonstration Programs Enhanced
LSU AgCenter Professor Heading International Council
LSU AgCenter Providing Compost Training To Parishes Towns
LSU AgCenter Researcher Searching For Killer Gene To Control Formosan Termites
LSU AgCenter Researching Functional Foods; Natural Compounds Could Reduce Disease Risks
LSU AgCenter Rice Field Day Shows Off Latest Projects To Help Farmers
LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day Set
LSU AgCenter Unveils New Facility At Clinton
LSU AgCenter Working To Make Healthy Lifestyles Fun For Youth
LSU AgCenters Audubon Sugar Institute Shares $500000 Federal Grant
LSU AgCenters Poinsettia Open House Set For Dec. 9-10
LSU AgCenters Poinsettia Open House Set For Dec. 9-10
Marsh Maneuvers Provides Adventures Education For Young People
Master Cattle Producer Program Set For Lafayette
New Form Of Mastitis Found In State; Experts Testing Herds
New Regulations Should Boost Oyster Harvest Economy
News You Can Use
Northeast La. Rice Soybean Field Day Set For July 22
Nutritionists Work To Draw Attention To Diabetes
Nutritionists Work To Draw Attention To Diabetes
Officials Break Ground For New Louisiana Emerging Technologies Center
Parasite Offers Hope For Controlling Fire Ants
Parts Of State Suffer Wettest Months In 75 Years; Rain Taking Toll On Crops Livestock
Pathologist Stalks Plant Disease Known As Sudden Oak Death
Patriotic Crawfish Found? Red White Blue Varieties Seen
Plant Materials Conference Set For Dec. 2 In Baton Rouge
Plant Materials Conference Set For Dec. 2 In Baton Rouge
Prune Roses Now For Beautiful Fall Flowers
Rains Drought Put Damper On Sweet Potato Crop
Rains Drought Put Damper On Sweet Potato Crop
Rapides-Dean Lee Field Day Set Aug. 26
Recent Storms Had Little Effect On States Citrus Crop
Regional Pecan Meeting Set For July 27
Researchers Investigating Ways To Manage Dairy Wastewater
Rice Farmers Told To Be On Guard For Pests
Rice Harvest Disappointing For Many Farmers
Rooting Cuttings One Way To Share Plants
Scientists Battling Mites Devastating Honey Bees
Scientists Verify More Soybean Disease In Louisiana
Scientists Verify More Soybean Disease In Louisiana
Tomato Shortage Means Higher Prices For Producers
Tomato Shortage Means Higher Prices For Producers
Water Use Policies Important To Economic Development
Watermelons Add Sweetness To Summer
Workshop To Focus On Forest Management Wildlife

2005 AgOutlook Conference Set

News Release Distributed 10/27/04

Louisiana farmers and agribusiness leaders will address ways to keep Louisiana’s agriculture and forestry competitive at the 2005 AgOutlook Conference Jan. 12-13 in Baton Rouge.

This third annual conference is an outgrowth of what was originally called an Ag Crisis Summit in 2003 and then continued addressing the future of agriculture in a similar meeting in 2004.

The 2005 event will operate under the theme of "Keeping Louisiana’s Agriculture and Forestry Competitive" and will be held at the Cook Conference Center and Hotel on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

"We started this conference after storms and other problems in 2003 meant many of the state’s farmers faced one of their worst years ever," said LSU AgCenter Chancellor William B. "Bill" Richardson. "But what we’ve found is that many in the industry are very interested in coming together to plan for the future, and these conferences give us a chance to do that."

The 2005 AgOutlook Conference will feature a variety of national and international experts in foreign trade, agricultural policy and commodity futures.

It will open with a reception from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Lod Cook Alumni Center on the LSU campus and continue with a full day of educational sessions and discussions on Jan. 13.

There is no fee for participating in the conference, but advance registration is required. Registration details, hotel information and directions are available on the Web at www.lsuagcenter.com/2005agoutlook.  Additional information also may be obtained by phoning Jamie Segar at (225) 578-0388 or e-mailing jsegar@agcenter.lsu.edu.

The conference is sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

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Contact:
Frankie Gould at (225) 578-2263 or fgould@agcenter.lsu.edu              
Jamie Segar at (225) 578-0388 or jsegar@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:  
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Add Fragrance To Cool-Season Flower Beds

Get It Growing image file

Get It Growing News For 11/19/04

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Now is the perfect time to plant cool-season bedding plants that will brighten our landscapes over the next five or six months.

Of course, while you’re at it, don’t make the mistake of many gardeners and forget that some cool-season bedding plants are wonderfully fragrant.

Color always seems to be the dominant factor when selecting these plants, and providing color to the landscape really is their primary function. But it is so enjoyable to walk out on a mild winter or spring day and catch the honey fragrance of sweet alyssum drifting in the air.

Fragrant cool-season annuals should be planted where they can best be appreciated.

Concentrate these plants at commonly used entrances to your house – whether it’s the front door, side door, back door or all three. In such a location you, your family and guests will be able to appreciate the sweet scent of these plants whenever leaving or arriving at your home.

Another ideal location is around your patio, deck or outdoor living area. There will be many days when mild weather will allow you to spend time sitting on the patio, and the sweet smell of fragrant flowers can make it that much nicer.

The addition of fragrant bedding plants in the immediate area of entrances and outdoor living areas – either in beds, containers or even in hanging baskets (no bending over to smell the flowers) – adds immeasurably to our enjoyment of those spaces.

One of the most outstanding fragrant cool-season annuals is stock (Matthiola). These plants produce spikes of double (occasionally single) flowers in shades of magenta, rose, purple, pink and white from a basal rosette of green or silvery leaves. The fragrance is very intense. Depending on the cultivar, stock can range in height from 10 to 30 inches. The shorter types, such as ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Midget,’ are excellent for bedding or containers, while the taller types are exceptional for cutting.

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is very useful in the cool-season garden for its low, spreading growth habit. It is excellent when used in the front of flowers beds as an edging or when planted on the edges of raised planters, containers and hanging baskets where it will cascade beautifully over the sides. Sweet alyssum literally covers itself with small flowers in shades of white, pink, rose, lavender or purple. The pleasant fragrance is reminiscent of honey and permeates the air, especially on warm days in enclosed spaces.

Dianthus, or pinks, produce a sweet, spicy fragrance often compared to cloves. Fragrance is highly variable among different types, so smell the flowers at the nursery and look for at least a light scent. The common bedding dianthus generally are cultivars of Dianthus chinensis, and many are fragrant. ‘Telstar’ produces a light scent and is the best performer. Cultivars of Dianthus plumarius, such as ‘Sonata’ with its double carnation-like flowers or ‘Loveliness’ which produces single flowers with lacy fringed petals, are especially fragrant. Both produce longer stems that make them useful as cut flowers.

Nicotiana is related to tobacco and is commonly called flowering tobacco. It produces a rosette of hairy, medium-green leaves with taller stems loosely adorned with flaring five-petaled bells. As with dianthus, the fragrance of nicotiana varies from one type to another. Some types of hybrid nicotiana, such as the ‘Sensation’ strain, do have a sweet fragrance.

Finally, you simply could not have a fragrant cool-season flower garden without sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus). This vining annual produces the most outstanding fragrance of all, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. The flowers are good for cutting, come in an astounding array of colors and are as beautiful as they are fragrant. Seeds should be planted now in well-prepared soil in a location that receives some shade in the afternoon. Of course, you will need to provide something for them to climb on. If temperatures in the low 20s or teens threaten, cover them, if possible. Flowering generally begins in March, with the peak occurring in April and ending with the heat of May

Of course, lots of other cool-season annuals can be planted into the garden now. Check your local nurseries and garden centers for transplants or seeds of the following: alyssum, annual baby’s breath, annual candytuft, annual phlox, bachelor’s button, calendula, dahlberg daisy, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, English daisy, forget-me-not, geranium, hollyhock, larkspur, nasturtium, nemophila, nicotiana, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunia, poppies, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, toadflax and viola.

Although many cool-season bedding plants prefer part sun to full sun (about six hours to eight hours of direct sun a day), the following will do well in or even prefer shade to part shade (about two hours to four hours of direct sun): alyssum, cyclamen, forget-me-not, lobelia, nasturtium, nicotiana, pansy, primrose and viola.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

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Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu 

Arkansas Students Take Lead In Weeds At LSU AgCenter Contest

weed contest relay

News Release Distributed 08/10/04 

BATON ROUGE – Weed science graduate students from across the southern United States competed in a series of challenges recently at the LSU AgCenter.

The top three teams were the University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University and Clemson University, in that order.

The other schools represented by the 24 students were Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee. Students from Louisiana State University helped to host the conference and therefore did not compete.

"The contest is designed to take classroom study to a practical application of weed science," said Dr. Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist and chairman of the Southern Weed Society’s contest committee. "The biggest loss in crop yield in the South is generally due to weeds.

"Each student should bring or take away from the contest knowledge of how to use weed science at the field level," Webster said. "The contestant should take what was learned in the classroom and apply that knowledge in the real world. I have always felt it is the best teaching tool we have in weed science."

The first event required contestants to identify, with common and scientific names, 35 weeds and 15 seeds. Many of the plants were seedlings.

Also in the competition was a problem-solving event that gave students two scenarios with angry farmers who demanded a solution for their failed crops.

At one of the stations, Dr. Jason Bond, an LSU AgCenter agronomist, and Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter’s Southwest Region, posed as rice farmers whose rice had failed to make a stand despite two plantings, and they were blaming their problems on the use of a herbicide. Bond complained to one student that the only thing he had in his field was discolored weeds.

"Big white grass," he shouted indignantly. "You could put it in a flower arrangement."

Between contestants, Bond later admitted, having once competed in a similar event, that thinking rationally is difficult with someone yelling about his or her crop.

Students also had to calibrate a herbicide sprayer at a sugarcane field, and they were required to identify what herbicides caused damage to crops.

The final event was a relay race. They had to run through a flooded, muddy field to get buckets containing three weeds and bring them back to their team. Once all the buckets were retrieved, the contestants had to identify the plants.

Students said the day provided a good learning experience.

Paula Steptoe of the University of Georgia said the problem-solving event was the most difficult.

"I had never seen rice, and I had never seen sugarcane," she said.

Prashart Jha of Clemson said it was tough to identify the seedlings in the identification phase.

"I have a lot to learn," he said.

"It was a pretty good contest," said Brandon Fast of Oklahoma State, adding, "A pretty difficult contest."

"Challenging, to say the least," remarked Jason Walton of Mississippi State.

The Arkansas contingent has won 18 of 22 contests since 1983.

###

Contact: Eric Webster at (225) 578-5976 or ewebster@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Artificial Breeding On Horizon For Aquaculture Industries

News Release Distributed 11/24/04

A half-century-old practice used to produce superior cattle is on the threshold of contributing to improved production in aquaculture thanks to research at the LSU AgCenter.

About 50 years ago, scientists developed methods for freezing sperm – called cryopreservation – so traits from superior males could be passed on to numerous offspring through large numbers of females.

Although the technology was developed for many species, a significant industry developed with cattle and other mammals while work with fish and other aquatic species remained in research laboratories.

"The beef and dairy industries already had the genetics background with breeders’ clubs for super sires," says Dr. Terry Tiersch, a researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Aquaculture Research Station. "The technology fit an existing model."

Tiersch says that model now is ready to be adopted by aquaculture industries.

"Commercial fish culture has only recently grown enough to need genetic improvement," Tiersch says. "Now, with global competition, we need better animals. Cryopreservation for aquatic species is in demand."

While aquaculture is larger than beef production globally, aquaculture still is often using animals not much different from wild stocks, the researcher says.

Tiersch currently is working with hybrid catfish using a channel catfish for the mother and a blue catfish for the father.

"The hybrid is recognized throughout the industry as a superior fish," Tiersch says. "And we can produce them in one generation."

Tiersch says because they behave differently, channel catfish and blue catfish don’t naturally spawn together. To overcome this challenge, sperm are collected from the blue catfish to fertilize the eggs from channel catfish.

Cryopreservation allows scientists to focus on the females and babies, he says. "The biggest benefit is freezing the blue catfish sperm," the LSU AgCenter researcher explains.

At the LSU AgCenter’s Aquaculture Research Station near Baton Rouge, Tiersch and his research team condition channel catfish in artificially warmed ponds, which allow the fish to spawn in winter – months before normal springtime spawning – and produce a predictable supply of females.

"The lengthened spawning season gives more opportunity to develop breeding stock," Tiersch says. "By controlling the water temperature, we can schedule the spawn."

Tiersch’s catfish research is supported by grants from the Louisiana Catfish Promotion and Research Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center.

"Our goal is to make catfish into a modern livestock industry," Tiersch says. "Cryopreserved sperm is the way best to do it."

Tiersch has taken advantage of the earlier work in the dairy industry to freeze and preserve the sperm by working with the LSU AgCenter’s T.E. Patrick Dairy Improvement Center.

"They’re commercial," Tiersch says. "They do this for a business."

By adopting these techniques, Tiersch says, "Louisiana can become a national and global center for this kind of work."

"In some ways, we’re fortunate that this cryopreservation industry for aquatic species is still small and poised for rapid growth," he says. "We can look at other livestock commodities to learn how to do it right."

In addition to his work with catfish, Tiersch also is applying cryopreservation techniques to striped bass and oysters. His work with these species is conducted in cooperation with private companies, which are funded by USDA Small Business Innovation Research grants.

The USDA operates the grant program to encourage small business to explore their technological potential by providing incentives to commercialization. Individual businesses contact research institutions and develop partnerships for research and development. Then the partners apply for an SBIR grant, which is awarded to the company, and the company contracts with the research institution for the research.

Tiersch is working with two companies.

Kent SeaTech, with locations in San Diego and in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, Calif., raises hybrid striped bass in concrete tanks covering nearly 160 acres. A world leader in the aquaculture of hybrid striped bass, the company joined with the LSU AgCenter to develop cryopreservation techniques for its operations.

Another leading aquaculture company, Taylor Shellfish, raises oysters, clams, mussels and geoducks, large saltwater clams (native to the northern Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States) in several locations surrounding Puget Sound and on the Pacific Coast of Washington. The Taylor family has been growing shellfish for more than 100 years and is vertically integrated, cultivating shellfish from larve through maturity.

"They have enlisted the LSU AgCenter to work on an SBIR grant to improve oyster production to create an industry for frozen sperm from oysters that produce offspring with good meat yields year round," Tiersch says. "This technology also is being developed for Louisiana oysters."

###

Contact: Terry Tiersch at (225) 765-2848 or ttiersch@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

Artificial Breeding On Horizon For Aquaculture Industries

News Release Distributed 11/24/04

A half-century-old practice used to produce superior cattle is on the threshold of contributing to improved production in aquaculture thanks to research at the LSU AgCenter.

About 50 years ago, scientists developed methods for freezing sperm – called cryopreservation – so traits from superior males could be passed on to numerous offspring through large numbers of females.

Although the technology was developed for many species, a significant industry developed with cattle and other mammals while work with fish and other aquatic species remained in research laboratories.

"The beef and dairy industries already had the genetics background with breeders’ clubs for super sires," says Dr. Terry Tiersch, a researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Aquaculture Research Station. "The technology fit an existing model."

Tiersch says that model now is ready to be adopted by aquaculture industries.

"Commercial fish culture has only recently grown enough to need genetic improvement," Tiersch says. "Now, with global competition, we need better animals. Cryopreservation for aquatic species is in demand."

While aquaculture is larger than beef production globally, aquaculture still is often using animals not much different from wild stocks, the researcher says.

Tiersch currently is working with hybrid catfish using a channel catfish for the mother and a blue catfish for the father.

"The hybrid is recognized throughout the industry as a superior fish," Tiersch says. "And we can produce them in one generation."

Tiersch says because they behave differently, channel catfish and blue catfish don’t naturally spawn together. To overcome this challenge, sperm are collected from the blue catfish to fertilize the eggs from channel catfish.

Cryopreservation allows scientists to focus on the females and babies, he says. "The biggest benefit is freezing the blue catfish sperm," the LSU AgCenter researcher explains.

At the LSU AgCenter’s Aquaculture Research Station near Baton Rouge, Tiersch and his research team condition channel catfish in artificially warmed ponds, which allow the fish to spawn in winter – months before normal springtime spawning – and produce a predictable supply of females.

"The lengthened spawning season gives more opportunity to develop breeding stock," Tiersch says. "By controlling the water temperature, we can schedule the spawn."

Tiersch’s catfish research is supported by grants from the Louisiana Catfish Promotion and Research Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center.

"Our goal is to make catfish into a modern livestock industry," Tiersch says. "Cryopreserved sperm is the way best to do it."

Tiersch has taken advantage of the earlier work in the dairy industry to freeze and preserve the sperm by working with the LSU AgCenter’s T.E. Patrick Dairy Improvement Center.

"They’re commercial," Tiersch says. "They do this for a business."

By adopting these techniques, Tiersch says, "Louisiana can become a national and global center for this kind of work."

"In some ways, we’re fortunate that this cryopreservation industry for aquatic species is still small and poised for rapid growth," he says. "We can look at other livestock commodities to learn how to do it right."

In addition to his work with catfish, Tiersch also is applying cryopreservation techniques to striped bass and oysters. His work with these species is conducted in cooperation with private companies, which are funded by USDA Small Business Innovation Research grants.

The USDA operates the grant program to encourage small business to explore their technological potential by providing incentives to commercialization. Individual businesses contact research institutions and develop partnerships for research and development. Then the partners apply for an SBIR grant, which is awarded to the company, and the company contracts with the research institution for the research.

Tiersch is working with two companies.

Kent SeaTech, with locations in San Diego and in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, Calif., raises hybrid striped bass in concrete tanks covering nearly 160 acres. A world leader in the aquaculture of hybrid striped bass, the company joined with the LSU AgCenter to develop cryopreservation techniques for its operations.

Another leading aquaculture company, Taylor Shellfish, raises oysters, clams, mussels and geoducks, large saltwater clams (native to the northern Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States) in several locations surrounding Puget Sound and on the Pacific Coast of Washington. The Taylor family has been growing shellfish for more than 100 years and is vertically integrated, cultivating shellfish from larve through maturity.

"They have enlisted the LSU AgCenter to work on an SBIR grant to improve oyster production to create an industry for frozen sperm from oysters that produce offspring with good meat yields year round," Tiersch says. "This technology also is being developed for Louisiana oysters."

###

Contact: Terry Tiersch at (225) 765-2848 or ttiersch@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

Audubon Sugar Open House Set For Aug. 31

News Release Distributed 08/23/04 

The LSU AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute will hold an open house at its new facility in St. Gabriel from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 31.

The $5.4 million facility, which includes a 27,000-square-foot laboratory building and 4 acres of land on River Road south of Baton Rouge, formerly was the Research and Development facility of Syngenta Crop Protection. The corporation donated the facility to the LSU AgCenter.

"This is the single largest donation ever given to the LSU AgCenter," said Dr. William B. "Bill" Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "This will help us expand our research in sugar processing and technology transfer. The Audubon Sugar Institute contributes to the sustainability of the sugar industry in our state."

The institute has been the center of sugar research since it was first established in the 1890s in what is now Audubon Park in New Orleans, said Dr. Peter Rein, director of the Audubon Sugar Institute.

For most of the past century, the institute had been housed in a sugar factory on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge that was built in the 1920s. That facility is being converted into other uses, Rein said.

"We were sorely in need of new space," Rein said. "We had outgrown the old factory."

Research projects at the institute focus on improving efficiency in sugar processing and discovery of value-added products from sugarcane. An example is a patented product used to control bacteria in dental equipment.

The institute also provides expertise to the 15 sugar mills in the state, offers professional development short courses in sugar technology and provides expertise and laboratory space for courses in sugar engineering through LSU’s College of Engineering.

The institute includes four full-time and one half-time faculty members.

Dignitaries from the Louisiana sugar industry and the LSU System are expected to attend the open house. Rein said. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has been instrumental in obtaining substantial federal grant money for the institute, has committed to attend and speak at the opening ceremony.

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Contact: Peter Rein at (225) 642-0135 or prein@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu

BEST Students Teachers Trade Summer Fun For Biotech Skills

News Release Distributed 7/22/04  

Forget hanging out at the mall or lounging by the pool. Six Louisiana high school student-teacher pairs spent six weeks of their summer in biotechnology labs, doing such things as extracting termite guts and taking skin biopsies from goats.

They are part of the LSU AgCenter’s BEST – Biotechnology Education for Students and Teachers, a program in its third year and dedicated to preparing future scientists.

Holden High School science teacher Kay Gersch applied for the program because she wanted to take a more hands-on approach in her biology classes.

"The students are interested. They hear about DNA. They hear about how crime scenes are investigated, and they want to know about that kind of thing," Gersch said. "I had taught about cloning. But it was through discussion and reading papers. There was no hands-on work."

This summer she and her student helper, Holden High junior Casey Davidson, learned such techniques as how to characterize bacteria in the guts of Formosan subterranean termites.

Gersch and Davidson worked in the lab of Dr. Claudia Husseneder, an LSU AgCenter entomologist who studies termites.

"We provide the supervision, with teaching and the background, but they do exactly what we do normally," Husseneder said.

In that lab "normal" means pulling the guts out of termites and cloning the bacteria found there. The researchers – and in this case, the BEST participants – then create DNA sequences to determine what species of bacteria live in the termite.

This wasn’t just busy work for the pair to get their biotechnological feet wet. This research has implications for controlling this devastating pest.

"One avenue to controlling the termite is to use bacteria," Hussender said. "We need to find out first what are the bacteria living in the guts, what are they good for and can the termite live without them."

At the LSU AgCenter’s Embryo Biotechnology Laboratory in St. Gabriel, Welch High School senior Kasey Hardy worked with horses, learned about cloning and created a cell line from goat biopsies.

"It’s been a different kind of summer," he said. "Otherwise, I would be at home working as a janitor. Here I get to learn things that can help me with a career."

Hardy wants to major in biology and plans a career in the medical profession.

His teacher, Tonna Meche, said her experience inspired her to think about taking a sabbatical and coming back to LSU to finish her master’s degree.

"I can take the practical application of the scientific method and the cloning process back to my community," Meche said.

The BEST summer program for high school students and teachers is just one part of the BEST effort. It also includes postdoctoral fellowships, graduate fellowships and undergraduate research opportunities.

"The goal of BEST is to enhance the quality of science education in the state and encourage science as a career," said Dr. Richard Tulley, the program director. "The researchers benefit as well."

For Husseneder, it was helpful to have two extra eager hands working in her lab.

"We enjoy seeing people get excited about our research," she said. "For us it is just routine. But for them, light bulbs go off. It’s a great experience."

The four other pairs of students and teachers involved in the summer program included:

–Baker High School teacher Wiley Iverstine and student David Wistrand, who also worked at the Embryo Biotechnology Lab.

–Teacher Paul Morein and his student Lyrone Moore from Valley Park Alternative High School in Lafayette, who worked in the LSU AgCenter’s Veterinary Science lab.

–Barbe High School teacher Jason Van Metre and student Michael Kingrey from Lake Charles, who also worked in the Veterinary Science lab.

–Teacher Nabila Qasem and student Doha Ezzir from Brighter Horizon School in Baton Rouge, who conducted research on nutrition signaling with Dr. Roy Martin, director of the LSU AgCenter’s School of Human Ecology.

"We were shocked," Qasem said in describing the results of their project. They found a high level of satiety using cells from mice that simulated the popular low-carb diet.

Tulley said the results from the BEST program won’t be known for another 10 to 15 years. The five-year program was funded with a $2.5 million grant from the Gordon A. Cain Foundation. But Tulley is seeking funds to continue BEST beyond that time.

"It keeps getting better," said Dr. William Hansel, a scientist with both the LSU AgCenter and Pennington Biomedical Research Center and one of the writers of the BEST grant request.

###

Contact:
Richard Tulley at (225) 578-7879 or rtulley@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writers:
Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5649 or tblanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu
Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu

Calhoun Field Day Highlights Forestry Turfgrass Research

News Release Distributed 10/27/04

CALHOUN – Soil is an important factor in the forest ecosystem, and participants in a field day held recently at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station learned how to use good forest management practices to maintain the soil on their property.

Bill Patterson, a professor at the Louisiana Tech University’s School of Forestry who spoke during the Oct. 21 field day, said soil properties govern how soils drain or hold water, as well as how they hold and supply nutrients. These factors determine what trees and plants will grow in an area, how productive they will be and how the trees will support or limit forest and wildlife management, he said.

"Site productivity is determined to a large extent by soils and by our management of these soils," Patterson said. "Good forest management maintains the soils in providing rooting, aeration, water supply, nutrition and protection of water quality."

Long-term site and soil productivity can be sustained by following best management practices, he said.

Nutrient cycling in loblolly pine plantations was another topic discussed at the field day. Dr. Michael Blazier, a researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station in Homer, discussed the effects of fertilization and the removal of organic matter on pine tree stands.

"On nutrient-deficient soils, fertilization through inorganic and/or organic sources is a viable management option for forest owners," Blazier said. "Repeated applications, however, may induce changes in the nutrient cycling processes of the soil. Likewise, pine straw raking can increase revenues from forests but alter nutrient cycling processes."

According to Blazier, many forests in the Ark-La-Tex grow on soils that are low in nutrients. Landowners wishing to increase the value of their timber can increase nutrient availability to their trees by applying "modest investments" of fertilizer – either commercial fertilizer or animal waste, he said.

"Similarly, forest owners who wish to supplement their timber harvest revenues may rake pine straw," Blazier said. "However, both of these management practices, if done annually, may alter the nutrient capital and cycling processes of the soils.

Forest landowners also can make extra money by raising livestock in their tree stands, according to the experts.

This practice called "silvopasturing" combines trees with forage and livestock production. The trees are managed for high-value sawlogs and at the same time provide shade and shelter for livestock and forage – reducing stress on the animals and sometimes increasing forage production.

"With this practice, we’re finding we can do more with less land," said Steve Hotard, an LSU AgCenter area forester. "This will help producers get more use out of their land by allowing them to produce more than one crop on the same plot."

Turfgrass was another topic covered at the field day. Dr. Tom Koske, an LSU AgCenter agronomist, said proper variety selection and proper maintenance will provide an attractive and sustainable lawn.

"People often choose the wrong grass for a difficult site and do not adopt appropriate best management practices," Koske said. "The environment can be modified to suit the variety of grass, or the grass can be replaced with another variety.

"The best management practices selected should suit both the variety and the environment. By doing this, homeowners will have the best turf cover and minimize extra costs, efforts and pollution, as well as stress on the environment."

In addition to information about selection and care of turfgrass, other presentations included discussions on the most common lawn weeds, insects found in turfgrass, turfgrass diseases and the care and maintenance of lawn equipment.

Research in turfgrass is a new area of emphasis at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station. Researchers will be directing their studies toward turfgrasses used by both homeowners and professional turfgrass managers.

For more information, or to get a copy of the summaries of the presentations given at the field day, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/inst/research/stations/calhoun/.

###

Contacts:
Michael Blazier at (318) 927-2578 or mblazier@agcenter.lsu.edu              
Steve Hotard at (318) 644-2662 or shotard@agcenter.lsu.edu               
Tom Koske at (225) 578-2222 or tkoske@agcenter.lsu.edu              
Allen Nipper at (318) 644-2662 or anipper@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Cicada Killers Appear Threatening But Theyre Not

News Release Distributed (08/26/04) 

Summer afternoons often are filled with sounds of cicadas singing. This song is music to the cicada killers’ ears.

The cicada killer is a large wasp-like insect, and in some areas it’s showing up in large numbers and worrying homeowners.

"People call in and say they’ve got flying hornets in their yards, and they’re scared about their kids and pets," explains LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Dale Pollet, who says in most cases the pests people have spotted are cicada killers.

The LSU AgCenter entomologist also says the cicada killer looks more menacing than it actually is.

"Actually they’re very gentle," Pollet explains, stressing that principle applies unless you are another male cicada killer.

These insects are not aggressive toward humans and pets, but the males can be seen, sometimes by the hundreds, chasing other males away from their nests in the ground. That is the sight that has homeowners so alarmed, according to Pollet.

Male cicada killers can grow to 2.5 inches long. They have black bodies with yellow markings. And the wings, head and legs are a rusty brown.

While the males hover around the nest sites, the females are busy living up to their name.

"The female catches cicadas and paralyzes them," Pollet said. "She has several cells at the base of her tunnel where she places the cicada."

The female will then lay eggs on the cicadas. And those cicadas provide food for the developing larvae.

Female cicada killers also can sting.

"They will sting you only if you step on them with a bare foot or if they get caught in your clothes or hair," Pollet explains.

Since cicada killers are not harmful, the entomologist says there is no reason for homeowners to try to control cicada killer populations in their yards.

"Cicadas live on small branches in trees, causing them to break off," Pollet explains, adding, "So the cicada killer performs a service and helps you maintain your trees."

Cicada killers prefer yards with sandy soil, thick ground covers and shady areas.

They will be around as long as cicadas are here, according to Pollet, who says both usually start disappearing around the end of October.

###

Contact: Dale Pollet at (225) 578-2370 or dpollet@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer: Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5649 or tblanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu

Crop Damage From Rains Could Total $207 Million

News Release Distributed 07/09/04 

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana agricultural producers could see as much as $207 million in economic damages from rains that pelted the state in May and June.

This loss affects an estimated 1.61 million acres, said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson during the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation general session Friday (July 9).

"The estimate of 1.61 million acres represents nearly 49 percent of the total 3.3 million acres of row crops in Louisiana," Richardson said. "The estimate of $207 million in economic damages represents the LSU AgCenter’s best estimate of current economic difficulties faced by Louisiana producers, but we won’t know the exact total until harvest."

A report on preliminary damage estimates for 46 parishes released by the LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Economics Department Friday (July 9) shows the figures do not include estimates of quality damage that potentially could develop as a result of adverse weather for commodities other than wheat, hay, fruits and vegetables. The report also states that "future weather patterns and resulting changes in disease and insect pressure could dramatically alter the extent of this damage."

During the middle and latter parts of May, regions of the state experienced rain in amounts ranging from 10 inches to well over 20 inches. While the excessive rains in May caused some damage in certain geographic locations in the state, it was not thought to be widespread, and the total economic impact was relatively minor compared to previous periods of weather-related production difficulties. But persistent rains through much of June are thought to have affected a much larger portion of the state and to have generated considerably higher economic damages.

"With many commodities still in the early stages of crop development, the ability to accurately project yield damage is extremely limited," Richardson said. "This is particularly true when attempting to access quality damage issues. The exact nature of the damage will be largely dependent on weather conditions over the next month."

Louisiana producers definitely need the rain to stop, said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Odom.

"The rain has damaged our crops," Odom said. "Some producers have planted and have lost everything. Other producers haven’t been able to plant. We need the rain to stop so our producers can do what is required to get crop insurance to pay."

Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson, who traveled the state the last week of June surveying crop damage, said farmers might see a dramatic drop in crop quality as well as yield.

"We had a great crop before all the rains began," Anderson said. "Now farmers are going to have to work hard to get an average harvest at best. It's a shame to see the condition of these crops. Farmers had the crop in the palms of their hands, but Mother Nature had other plans."

###

Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Dangerous Soybean Rust Found In Louisiana

News Release Distributed 11/10/04

A costly and potentially devastating plant disease has been discovered in Louisiana – its first occurrence in the United States, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Known as Asian soybean rust, the fungal disease was confirmed to be in South Louisiana fields this week. Before that, it had been found in all major soybean growing areas of the world except the United States, and experts had predicted it would eventually make its way here.

The disease poses potentially devastating consequences in terms of soybean yields, but it poses no threat to the food supply.

Officials believe spores of the disease may have been carried into the area on winds associated with the active hurricane season of 2004. It has existed in South America since 2000, and speculation is that a storm picked up spores in Colombia and carried them here.

"We’re going to have some of our plant pathologists and extension agents examining other fields over the next few days to determine if they find more symptoms of the disease," said Dr. David Boethel, the LSU AgCenter’s vice chancellor for research.

Boethel said the LSU AgCenter will cooperate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and others in the ongoing investigation of this problem.

Symptoms of the disease – generally tan or brown lesions on the plant – were first spotted in a research field late last week by Dr. Ray Schneider, an LSU AgCenter soybean researcher. Samples were sent to the USDA’s laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and officials there confirmed it as Asian soybean rust Tuesday.

Since that time, work has begun to organize scouting teams from APHIS, the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LSU AgCenter. The teams will search fields across South Louisiana for more symptoms of the disease.

"The discovery in our research field demonstrates how vigilant our faculty members have been in watching for any symptoms of this disease," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "Those fields help us to see the first signs of any insects or diseases that may have invaded."

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said his department is going to work closely with the USDA's response team and LSU AgCenter personnel to determine if soybean rust has spread to other fields within the state.

"To best serve our soybean producers and help them in planning for next year's season, it is imperative that we know how extensive this outbreak of soybean rust is," Odom said. "My main concern right now is how this will affect the global markets and how they will react.

"Although other soybean-producing countries have this disease, just talking about it being in the United States could have an impact on the market," Odom said. "The financial ramifications of this disease have the potential to devastate our soybean industry. We have to be able to get our beans on the market. It is up to our trade officials to reassure those who import our beans that this fungus is not spread on the bean itself."

Asian soybean rust is an aggressive fungal disease that can reduce soybean yields by as much as 80 percent in an individual field if growing conditions are favorable for its spread. Fortunately, for this year’s Louisiana crop, more than 90 percent is harvested and therefore won’t face significant damage from the outbreak.

"Asian soybean rust is a potentially damaging disease, because its severity can double about every 10 days, depending on environmental conditions," LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Ken Whitam explained. "Although most people were not predicting it would enter the United States for another couple of years, there already have been some studies that indicate it could cost U.S. soybean producers anywhere from $240 million to $2 billion annually."

Those costs would come from yield losses and from the additional expenses of applying the fungicides necessary to try to protect soybean crops against the disease, explained Dr. Clayton Hollier, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist and principal investigator for the Southern Pest Detection Network.

Asian soybean rust was first reported in Japan in 1902. It later moved through Asia, Australia and Africa before it was discovered in South America in 2000. The disease had been moving through South America since that time but had only been discovered as far north as 5 degrees North latitude in Colombia before the confirmation in Louisiana this week.

Experts predict the disease will be more devastating in the southern portion of the country, because of general weather conditions that would allow it to survive over winter here, the longer growing season and the variety of other plants that also can serve as hosts for the disease.

"All soybean-growing areas of the United States are at risk," Hollier said. "It’s just that the weather in the northern growing areas won’t be as favorable for the fungus to over-winter, so those areas may be reinfected by spores that travel from the South."

Hollier also said the most favorable weather conditions for problems with the disease during the growing season, based on 30-year averages, are in the Mississippi Delta region and the Midwest. The disease thrives in warm, moist climates.

"Although there are some people who predict even greater losses, most risk analyses seem to show that yield losses of 10 percent or so are possible in any U.S. soybean-growing region, and losses of up to 50 percent could be seen in the southeastern coastal states," Hollier said, adding, "Of course, this all depends on weather conditions during the growing season."

Another consideration is the approximately 20 species of plants that can "host" the disease. Those include such weeds and legumes as sweet peas, yellow sweet clover, vetch, medic, green beans, kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and kudzu.

"It’s going to be vital for people to not only remove the soybean plants that might serve as a host to this disease over the winter but also to remove other host plants," Whitam said. "They also will want to keep those host plants away from soybean fields during the growing season."

Many of Louisiana’s other agricultural crops – such as sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn and other grain crops – are not hosts to Asian soybean rust.

Symptoms of the disease are tan, dark brown or reddish-brown lesions on a soybean plant. These lesions are most abundant on leaves, particularly on the underside of the leaves.

The disease destroys the photosynthetic tissue of the plants – causing premature defoliation, early maturation and lower yields.

Experts say the long-term hope for controlling the spread of the disease – and its devastating effects – will be the development of soybean varieties with resistance to it.

In the meantime, producers are urged to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease and to clear their fields of any plant material, such as "green" soybeans that were abandoned, which could host the disease. Soybean growers also should begin investigating options for fungicides that may help them prevent the disease during the coming growing season.

"We will be ready with LSU AgCenter recommendations for next season for the grower meetings this coming January and February," Whitam said.

Additional general information on the disease can be obtained by visiting www.soybeanrust.info.

###

Contacts:
Clayton Hollier at (225) 578-1464 or chollier@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ken Whitam at (225) 578-2186 or kwhitam@agcenter.lsu.edu
David Boethel at (225) 578-4181 or dboethel@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ray Schneider at (225) 578-4880, or rschneider@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:    
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Dangerous Soybean Rust Found In Louisiana

News Release Distributed 11/10/04

A costly and potentially devastating plant disease has been discovered in Louisiana – its first occurrence in the United States, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Known as Asian soybean rust, the fungal disease was confirmed to be in South Louisiana fields this week. Before that, it had been found in all major soybean growing areas of the world except the United States, and experts had predicted it would eventually make its way here.

The disease poses potentially devastating consequences in terms of soybean yields, but it poses no threat to the food supply.

Officials believe spores of the disease may have been carried into the area on winds associated with the active hurricane season of 2004. It has existed in South America since 2000, and speculation is that a storm picked up spores in Colombia and carried them here.

"We’re going to have some of our plant pathologists and extension agents examining other fields over the next few days to determine if they find more symptoms of the disease," said Dr. David Boethel, the LSU AgCenter’s vice chancellor for research.

Boethel said the LSU AgCenter will cooperate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and others in the ongoing investigation of this problem.

Symptoms of the disease – generally tan or brown lesions on the plant – were first spotted in a research field late last week by Dr. Ray Schneider, an LSU AgCenter soybean researcher. Samples were sent to the USDA’s laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and officials there confirmed it as Asian soybean rust Tuesday.

Since that time, work has begun to organize scouting teams from APHIS, the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LSU AgCenter. The teams will search fields across South Louisiana for more symptoms of the disease.

"The discovery in our research field demonstrates how vigilant our faculty members have been in watching for any symptoms of this disease," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "Those fields help us to see the first signs of any insects or diseases that may have invaded."

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said his department is going to work closely with the USDA's response team and LSU AgCenter personnel to determine if soybean rust has spread to other fields within the state.

"To best serve our soybean producers and help them in planning for next year's season, it is imperative that we know how extensive this outbreak of soybean rust is," Odom said. "My main concern right now is how this will affect the global markets and how they will react.

"Although other soybean-producing countries have this disease, just talking about it being in the United States could have an impact on the market," Odom said. "The financial ramifications of this disease have the potential to devastate our soybean industry. We have to be able to get our beans on the market. It is up to our trade officials to reassure those who import our beans that this fungus is not spread on the bean itself."

Asian soybean rust is an aggressive fungal disease that can reduce soybean yields by as much as 80 percent in an individual field if growing conditions are favorable for its spread. Fortunately, for this year’s Louisiana crop, more than 90 percent is harvested and therefore won’t face significant damage from the outbreak.

"Asian soybean rust is a potentially damaging disease, because its severity can double about every 10 days, depending on environmental conditions," LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Ken Whitam explained. "Although most people were not predicting it would enter the United States for another couple of years, there already have been some studies that indicate it could cost U.S. soybean producers anywhere from $240 million to $2 billion annually."

Those costs would come from yield losses and from the additional expenses of applying the fungicides necessary to try to protect soybean crops against the disease, explained Dr. Clayton Hollier, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist and principal investigator for the Southern Pest Detection Network.

Asian soybean rust was first reported in Japan in 1902. It later moved through Asia, Australia and Africa before it was discovered in South America in 2000. The disease had been moving through South America since that time but had only been discovered as far north as 5 degrees North latitude in Colombia before the confirmation in Louisiana this week.

Experts predict the disease will be more devastating in the southern portion of the country, because of general weather conditions that would allow it to survive over winter here, the longer growing season and the variety of other plants that also can serve as hosts for the disease.

"All soybean-growing areas of the United States are at risk," Hollier said. "It’s just that the weather in the northern growing areas won’t be as favorable for the fungus to over-winter, so those areas may be reinfected by spores that travel from the South."

Hollier also said the most favorable weather conditions for problems with the disease during the growing season, based on 30-year averages, are in the Mississippi Delta region and the Midwest. The disease thrives in warm, moist climates.

"Although there are some people who predict even greater losses, most risk analyses seem to show that yield losses of 10 percent or so are possible in any U.S. soybean-growing region, and losses of up to 50 percent could be seen in the southeastern coastal states," Hollier said, adding, "Of course, this all depends on weather conditions during the growing season."

Another consideration is the approximately 20 species of plants that can "host" the disease. Those include such weeds and legumes as sweet peas, yellow sweet clover, vetch, medic, green beans, kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and kudzu.

"It’s going to be vital for people to not only remove the soybean plants that might serve as a host to this disease over the winter but also to remove other host plants," Whitam said. "They also will want to keep those host plants away from soybean fields during the growing season."

Many of Louisiana’s other agricultural crops – such as sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn and other grain crops – are not hosts to Asian soybean rust.

Symptoms of the disease are tan, dark brown or reddish-brown lesions on a soybean plant. These lesions are most abundant on leaves, particularly on the underside of the leaves.

The disease destroys the photosynthetic tissue of the plants – causing premature defoliation, early maturation and lower yields.

Experts say the long-term hope for controlling the spread of the disease – and its devastating effects – will be the development of soybean varieties with resistance to it.

In the meantime, producers are urged to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease and to clear their fields of any plant material, such as "green" soybeans that were abandoned, which could host the disease. Soybean growers also should begin investigating options for fungicides that may help them prevent the disease during the coming growing season.

"We will be ready with LSU AgCenter recommendations for next season for the grower meetings this coming January and February," Whitam said.

Additional general information on the disease can be obtained by visiting www.soybeanrust.info.

###

Contacts:
Clayton Hollier at (225) 578-1464 or chollier@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ken Whitam at (225) 578-2186 or kwhitam@agcenter.lsu.edu
David Boethel at (225) 578-4181 or dboethel@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ray Schneider at (225) 578-4880, or rschneider@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:    
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

December

Deep South Fruit Vegetable Growers Conference Set For Dec. 8-10

News Release Distributed 11/17/04

LSU AgCenter experts will be among those sharing their expertise at a meeting of vegetable growers from across the South next month in Mobile, Ala.

Fruit and vegetable growers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will gather for the Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Trade Show at the Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile Dec. 8-10.

"This is the seventh time that the growers from the three states have joined together to put on a meeting and trade show," said LSU AgCenter vegetable production specialist Dr. James Boudreaux. "The meeting has grown each year, and 500 people are expected to attend this year’s meeting with a trade show of more than 30 vendors."

Educational programs on bioterrorism and food safety will be presented at the conference’s opening session the afternoon of Dec. 8. Other educational sessions that evening will focus on programs of interest to new vegetable and blueberry growers.

Other topics to be covered during the meeting and a variety of concurrent educational sessions include agritourism, value-added sales of fruits and vegetables, organic farming, alternative crops, and a wealth of production information on blueberries, citrus, peaches, strawberries, other fruit crops, greenhouse tomatoes and other vegetable crops.

The sessions will be presented by university faculty from the three host states as well as Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas. In addition, growers and agricultural officials from various parts of the country also will share their experience.

A trade show made up of 30 vendors also will run the three days of the meeting. Exhibitors at the show will display the latest development in fruit and vegetable equipment, vegetable varieties, fruit trees, chemicals, fertilizers, drip irrigation, labor acquisition and boxes.

"This is an excellent time for growers to visit with suppliers of the latest information," Boudreaux said.

All growers are encouraged to register for the meeting before Nov. 25. Fees for registration on or before that date are $50 for an individual and $35 for each spouse or additional person connected the same farm. After Nov. 25, those fees increase to $60 and $45.

Registration can be sent to the Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference. P.O. Box 231, Crystal Springs, MS 39059. Registration also can be accomplished on the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Web site at http://www2.netdoor.com/~mfvga

Hotel reservations can be made at the Riverview Plaza Hotel by phoning (866) 749-6069 or (251) 438-4000. Be sure to mention you are attending the conference to get the $63 single and $73 double rate.

Additional information on the meeting can be obtained from Bill Evans at (602) 892-3731 or wbe@ra.msstate.edu or through the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Web site.

Contact: James Boudreaux at (225) 578-2222 or jboudreaux@agcenter.lsu.edu

Dont Be Your Plants Worst Enemy

Get It Growing News For 08/13/04

You can be one of your plants’ worst enemies – unless you’re cautious with mowers and string trimmers, avoid damaging roots and exercise care when using pesticides and fertilizers.

Avoid Mower, String Trimmer Damage

String trimmers that use a monofilament line for cutting down weeds and grass can be very damaging to young trees.

Young trees have relatively thin bark. If the line is allowed to hit the trunk, part of the bark will be removed with each contact of the line. If you are not careful, you might even remove an entire ring of bark all the way around the trunk – thus girdling the tree.

Even more, mowers pushed hard or dragged around the base of young trees can be almost as damaging.

To explain why this damage is such a problem, the part of a tree’s circulatory system that carries food manufactured by the leaves to the roots (which can make no food for themselves) lies just under the bark.

Damage that occurs when mowers or string trimmers remove patches of bark interferes with the tree’s ability to send food to its roots. As the roots are deprived of food, they become stunted and function poorly, and this leads to a stunted, unhealthy tree. If you remove a complete ring of bark, you may cut off food to the roots altogether, leading to the death of the plant.

In addition to interfering with food movement, the open wounds created by mowers and trimmers can provide entry points for disease organisms that can cause decay.

Many sickly, stunted trees that were planted years ago but haven’t grown well have been damaged in this way. Look at the base of their trunks, and you will often see scars and callus growth from repeated injury done to the base of the tree.

To prevent these problems, do not allow grass to grow close to the base of young trees for the first three to five years after planting. Keep an area at least a foot out from the trunk grass free. A mulch 2- or 3-inches thick spread evenly over the area, but pulled back slightly from the trunk, will help a lot. Any stray weeds can be pulled or killed with a quick spray of glyphosate, if necessary.

Shrubs are generally planted in beds, so they are less at risk. But I have seen this problem occasionally when ground covers, such as Asiatic jasmine, are trimmed away from the base of shrubs with string trimmers.

Whether you maintain your landscape yourself or pay someone to do it for you, don’t let this kind of needless damage happen to your trees and shrubs.

Don’t Damage Roots

Trees also are vulnerable to root damage from construction and/or filling. If you plan on doing construction – whether building a new home, adding on to an existing one or even putting in a patio or repairing driveways or sidewalks – tree roots will likely be an issue.

Tree roots extend well beyond the reach of the branches, and most feeder roots (those that absorb the water and minerals from the soil) are located in the upper 8 inches to 12 inches of the soil. This makes them much more vulnerable to damage than most people realize.

If you will be doing construction or filling around valuable existing trees, consider consulting with a licensed arborist before the work is done to make sure the trees are damaged as little as possible.

Be Careful With Pesticides, Fertilizers

Another way gardeners damage landscape plants is to use pesticides and fertilizers improperly. These products are useful and sometimes necessary in maintaining a healthy attractive landscape. But if they’re misused, they can do more harm than good.

Pesticides commonly used in the landscape include insecticides (to control bugs), fungicides (to control diseases caused by fungus organisms) and herbicides (to control weeds). Landscape plants can be damaged by all three, but most damage occurs from insecticides, because we use them more often than other types, and herbicides, because they are designed to kill plants.

You can avoid damaging plants with pesticides by reading and following label directions carefully. I know the print can be very fine, but do like me and get out the magnifying glass if you need to. Without complete information on how to use a product, your efforts may be wasted, because applying the pesticide incorrectly does not control the pest, and you may even injure the plants you were trying to help.

Insecticides will list on their label which plants may be damaged by them and any temperature limitations (some insecticides will damage plants if applied during hot weather). Many insecticides also will burn or damage plants if you mix them too strong. You can see how important it is to know of these potential problems and avoid them by following label directions.

Since herbicides are designed to kill plants, we must be particularly careful when using them around desirable ornamentals. Again, read the label to make sure the herbicide will do the job you need it to do – and to understand how to use it properly.

Many people also damage plants with fertilizers or plant food. Gardeners often think if a little is good, more is even better; but fertilizers should never be applied stronger than label recommendations. You may apply less than is recommended, but mixing fertilizer stronger or applying more than is recommended on the label can lead to serious damage to your plants.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

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Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Doves To Be Topic Of Aug. 28 Field Day

News Release Distributed 08/12/04 

The LSU AgCenter will host a workshop on managing of mourning doves in Louisiana Aug. 28.

Sponsored in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the field day/workshop will be held at the LSU AgCenter’s Idlewild Research Station located just south of Clinton on Highway 67.

Dr. Dearl Sanders, resident director at the Idlewild Research Station, said this is an opportunity for hunters and others to learn about land management and laws concerning feed plots.

"Mourning doves are such common birds in many agricultural areas that it’s easy to assume they are abundant everywhere," Sanders said, explaining, however, that like all wildlife, their success is tied directly to land management activities that favor their needs.

LSU AgCenter wildlife expert and associate professor Dr. Don Reed said some of the presentations during the field day will include a report on the status of doves in Louisiana from Dr. Mike Olinde, biologist and program manager with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; information on managing small grain plantings and native grass plantings from Sanders and Reed; and details about the legality of planting and manipulating crops where dove hunting is involved from Phillip Siragusa of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service and Major Keith LaCaze of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The half-day workshop will begin with registration at 8 a.m. and a welcome at 8:30. It will conclude with lunch at 11:30 a.m.

There is no fee for participating in the field day or for lunch, but participants are asked to pre-register, so meal plans can be made. To obtain additional information or to pre-register, phone the Idlewild Research Station at (225) 683-5848.

###

Contacts:
Dearl Sanders at (225) 683-5848 or dsanders@agcenter.lsu.edu
Don Reed at (225) 683-5848 or dreed@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Educators Getting Ready To Teach About Finances

News Release Distributed 7/22/04  

Elmer Hunley says he is ready to start teaching his students about personal finance – thanks to the LSU AgCenter.

Hunley, a free-enterprise teacher from Huntington High School in Shreveport, and other free-enterprise teachers across Louisiana are facing a state mandate requiring them to teach such lessons in the coming school year.

To assist Louisiana teachers with the new lessons, LSU AgCenter faculty members are conducting summer workshops across the state. These workshops are designed to help Hunley and others like him to obtain the tools they need to teach their students about income, money management, spending and credit, and saving and investing.

A state law passed in 2003, and taking effect this school year, requires teachers to teach lessons on personal finances as part of the free-enterprise courses taught in Louisiana high schools.

LSU AgCenter personnel are conducting these workshops around the state, using the National Endowment for Financial Education’s High School Financial Planning Program.

Dr. Jeanette Tucker, an LSU AgCenter family economist, said the teachers are learning how to teach teen-agers about real life concepts.

"Young adults leave home desiring the same quality of life they have enjoyed as dependent youth," Tucker said. "Most lack the skills to develop a spending plan to live within their means, select and use credit wisely, set goals and save to reach those goals. Developing these critical skills will affect students’ financial well-being throughout their entire lives."

Recent studies show the average teen-ager in the United States spends about $103 each week – meaning teen expenditures total more than $175 billion a year. About 21 percent of youth ages 12-19 have their own credit card, and one in three have their own ATM card.

Studies also show today’s rising personal bankruptcy rates, combined with consumer credit delinquencies and inadequate retirement savings, suggest a critical need to teach financial literacy in the high schools, the experts stress.

"A 2004 national survey shows Louisiana high school seniors answered just 46 percent of the questions correctly on a survey that measured the students knowledge of personal finance basics," said Dr. Ann Berry, an LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist. "This is a critical area that should be addressed early in a person’s life."

Hunley and other teachers agree.

"Some young people don’t know what to expect when the leave their parents’ homes," Hunley said. "They don’t know about saving money for a summer vacation or buying a house or buying food."

"Yeah," said Mike O’Rear, a teacher from Green Oaks High School in Shreveport, who was another of the participants at one of the LSU AgCenter workshops in Shreveport. "Many young people just have things handed to them. Then they have to step out one day and go to work and make their own money. It’s a real eye-opener for some people. But if they learn about financial literacy before they get out of high school, they will be more prepared."

Tommy Traveler is from the Shreveport Job Corps. He also attended the workshops because he teaches at an alternative school for high-school dropouts. "I’ve learned more about how to teach effective financial planning by attending these workshops," Traveler said. "I believe that I am gaining valuable knowledge that will be beneficial to my students."

Traveler said he believes the state mandate to teach financial literacy is a good idea.

"All students should learn these life skills," he said. "Now that state law requires it be taught, they will."

In addition to the knowledge they gain, teachers who complete the one-day training receive a $110 stipend from the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

The workshops are just one of the variety of programs offered by the LSU AgCenter to help young people be more prepared to handle their personal finances and to plan for their futures.

For example, two popular interactive programs for middle-school and high-school students that have been offered to young people across the state are "The Reality Store," and "Welcome to the Real World." For information on these and other programs offered through the LSU AgCenter, contact your parish AgCenter Extension office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com

###

Contacts:
Ann Berry at (225) 578-2633 or aberry@agcenter.lsu.edu
Jeannette Tucker at (225) 578-3329 or jtucker@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 715-2264 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Efforts Offering HOPE To Delta Region

News Release Distributed 10/27/04

OAK GROVE – Childhood obesity is one of the most critical health issues today, and the LSU AgCenter is working with universities in two other states to combat that problem across the Mississippi Delta Region.

Through a program dubbed "Delta HOPE," the Cooperative Extension Services of the LSU AgCenter, the University of Arkansas and Mississippi State University are conducting an educational initiative designed to fight childhood obesity in the region.

Leaders from the three universities recently toured elementary schools in the three states to raise awareness about the ongoing programs, which are based on educational tools known as the OrganWise Guys, Body Walk and Take 10! All the programs focus on teaching young people about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity in overall health.

"The goal of this tri-state project is to conduct educational programs designed to teach healthy behaviors that contribute to healthy lifestyles and healthy habits for children," said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for Extension. "The Lower Mississippi Delta Region is an area where education relating to diet and exercise can be of great benefit. Healthy children today will grow into healthy adults of tomorrow."

The program known as Delta HOPE – which stands for "Healthy Options for People Through Extension" involves educational outreach and evaluation by Extension agents from all three universities. But it is just part of an active statewide childhood obesity initiative in Louisiana, according to Dr. Ellen Murphy, associate director of the LSU AgCenter’s School of Human Ecology.

Murphy said such initiatives are critical, because childhood obesity has doubled in the past 20 years and adolescent obesity has tripled. Increases in other childhood diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, growth acceleration and psychological problems also have been seen.

"About one in three Louisiana school-aged children is overweight or obese," Murphy said. "One in four obese children has early signs of type 2 diabetes. Spontaneous activity declines 50 percent between age 6 and age 16. Lifestyle choices made at early ages have a direct impact on adult health."

Obesity-related diseases account for almost half of Louisiana’s healthcare budget, Murphy said. Nationally, annual hospital costs for obesity-related disorders in children and adolescents are estimated to be about $127 million. Experts have said that the prevention of obesity is easier than treatment.

"In order to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity, healthful behaviors must be introduced, modeled and reinforced early in childhood," Murphy said. "Healthy eating and physical activity are important life skills that help children grow and prevent them from developing health problems, such as obesity, later in life."

To help teachers with resources they need to increase nutrition knowledge, improve eating skills and increase the physical activity of elementary school students, faculty from the three universities in the Delta HOPE project conduct educational programs designed to teach healthy behaviors that contribute to healthy habits and healthy lifestyles for children. This is done by using the OrganWise Guys program, as well as the BodyWalk and Take 10! programs.

The OrganWise Guys program features such characters as Hardy Heart, Madame Muscle, Windy the lungs, Peri Stolic the intestines, Sir Rebrum the brain, Peter Pancreas, Pepto the stomach, the Kidney Brothers, Luigi Liver and Calci M. Bone. They are part of a program developed by Wellness Inc. and the International Life Sciences Institute Center for Health Promotion in Atlanta. It is designed to teach the fundamentals of human physiology and how the body responds to different foods and lifestyles.

The Take 10! program promotes physical activity without taking time away from academics. Teachers conduct multiple 10-minute periods of physical activity in the classroom while maintaining the all-important focus on academics. Take 10! is a unique approach to academic instruction that addresses multiple learning styles, enhances academics and motivates children to be physically active – all at the same time! The activities are tied to the Louisiana standards and benchmarks for language arts, math, social studies and science.

For example, the students can do jumping jacks while repeating their multiplication tables or spelling their vocabulary words. Research shows learning is increased and test scores improve when children participate in physical activity.

The Body Walk is a 35- to 40-foot simulated tour of the human body. Children in K-5 grades enter a giant head through the ear and learn about brain waves. Students learn what foods are healthy for them and what foods are not. And physical activity is encouraged as a way to maintain a healthy body.

Officials say the programs definitely are working already.

"Schools participating in the programs reported an increase in students’ knowledge of healthy foods," Murphy said, adding, "For example, there was an increase in the number of students who knew that oranges were a good fruit choice for a healthy snack. Students also were reported to request doing some of the exercises in the Take 10! program if they had not been done on a certain day."

In addition, teachers involved in the program indicated they would continue to use these initiatives in their classrooms the next school semester.

Penny Hale, a teacher from Pioneer Elementary School in West Carroll Parish where the Delta HOPE tour stopped in Louisiana, said she believes the program is beneficial.

"They really like it," Hale said of the students participating in the OrganWise Guys program. "It’s great when you can get them to do something they enjoy doing, especially when it’s something that teaches them to exercise and eat right."

Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, who was among the community leaders and government officials participating in the awareness tour, was impressed with the program.

"I think this is a great collaborative effort among our three states to address childhood obesity," Barham said. "I commend all who are involved in helping teach our children about living a healthy life. The earlier we can reach them, the better chance they have of preventing obesity in their adult life."

For more information on these programs, contact your local LSU AgCenter office or go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083 or pcoreil@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ellen Murphy at (225) 578-6794 or empurphy@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Experts Predict Lower Pecan Crop Higher Prices

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

SHREVEPORT – Rains in May and June seem to have hampered Louisiana’s 2004 pecan crop, and September hurricanes on the Gulf Coast greatly reduced the crop in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Dr. Randy Sanderlin, a plant pathologist at the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research Station near Shreveport, said early harvest reports indicate Louisiana growers probably will bring in fewer pecans than originally predicted for this year.

"This year’s crop was moderate in size," Sanderlin said. "But now it’s down because of the rains, which caused an increase in pecan scab disease."

Louisiana producers report finding a lot of scab disease in their orchards, according to LSU AgCenter experts.

"They couldn’t get in their orchards to spray disease preventive fungicides because of the rain," Sanderlin said.

Scab disease is caused by a fungus. It is the most economically significant disease of pecan trees and can infect leaves, stems and nuts. Infected nuts generally are either dropped before maturity or low in weight.

The chances of scab disease occurring increases with frequent rainfall and high humidity in an orchard – although pecan varieties vary in their susceptibility to infection by the scab pathogen.

While rains in May and June and the subsequent diseases they brought were bad for the 2004 pecan crop in Louisiana, the September hurricanes that blew in along the Gulf Coast were disastrous for the overall crop, as well.

Despite those problems, Sanderlin said there is some good news for pecan producers.

"Prices are expected to be higher," Sanderlin said. "It’s the old supply and demand rule – if supplies are down and demand is high, prices will be high."

The Louisiana pecan crop was up in 2003 – with producers harvesting 17.7 million pounds of pecans. That crop exceeded the state’s five-year annual average by 2.1 million pounds and resulted in a total economic value of nearly $18.7 million.

For more information on pecans and other topics related to agriculture and natural resources, as well as information on health, finances, economics and more, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Randy Sanderlin at (318)797-8034 or rsanderlin@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Experts Predict Lower Pecan Crop Higher Prices

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

SHREVEPORT – Rains in May and June seem to have hampered Louisiana’s 2004 pecan crop, and September hurricanes on the Gulf Coast greatly reduced the crop in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Dr. Randy Sanderlin, a plant pathologist at the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research Station near Shreveport, said early harvest reports indicate Louisiana growers probably will bring in fewer pecans than originally predicted for this year.

"This year’s crop was moderate in size," Sanderlin said. "But now it’s down because of the rains, which caused an increase in pecan scab disease."

Louisiana producers report finding a lot of scab disease in their orchards, according to LSU AgCenter experts.

"They couldn’t get in their orchards to spray disease preventive fungicides because of the rain," Sanderlin said.

Scab disease is caused by a fungus. It is the most economically significant disease of pecan trees and can infect leaves, stems and nuts. Infected nuts generally are either dropped before maturity or low in weight.

The chances of scab disease occurring increases with frequent rainfall and high humidity in an orchard – although pecan varieties vary in their susceptibility to infection by the scab pathogen.

While rains in May and June and the subsequent diseases they brought were bad for the 2004 pecan crop in Louisiana, the September hurricanes that blew in along the Gulf Coast were disastrous for the overall crop, as well.

Despite those problems, Sanderlin said there is some good news for pecan producers.

"Prices are expected to be higher," Sanderlin said. "It’s the old supply and demand rule – if supplies are down and demand is high, prices will be high."

The Louisiana pecan crop was up in 2003 – with producers harvesting 17.7 million pounds of pecans. That crop exceeded the state’s five-year annual average by 2.1 million pounds and resulted in a total economic value of nearly $18.7 million.

For more information on pecans and other topics related to agriculture and natural resources, as well as information on health, finances, economics and more, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Randy Sanderlin at (318)797-8034 or rsanderlin@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Experts Say Forestry Is Good Investment

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

ALEXANDRIA – Central Louisiana landowners heard that managing forest resources is a good investment during a gathering here late last month.

The landowners and industry leaders attended an Oct. 23 LSU AgCenter forestry workshop to learn about the latest timber marketing concepts, tax issues, estate planning, timber production techniques and environmental issues.

"Managing forest resources is a good investment," said LSU AgCenter forester Barry Crain. "And when properly managed, the land will return income similar to other long-term financial investments."

Many small forest landowners harvest their trees only once or, at most, a few times during a lifetime, so it is hard for them to remember or keep up with the latest marketing techniques and obtain a fair market price for their timber.

"This workshop was planned to help the small landowner maximize his or her profit and reduce environmental impact to the land," said Crain.

In one method that might help area landowners, C.A. "Buck" Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, told the group of 57 participants additional investment opportunities will be available soon. Vandersteen said the Roy O. Martin Lumber Co. is building an orientated strand board mill near Oakdale where they plan to manufacture 600 million square feet of orientated strand board per year.

"Forest product companies will locate where there is an excitement in growing trees," Vandersteen said, adding, "And they will buy your trees."

The new plant locating in the area will provide more incentives for small landowners to plant and intensively manage additional resources, he said.

The experts said it also is important for non-industrial landowners to begin to manage their timber resources for more profit by developing accurate timber inventories, tree counts, volumes of different tree species, quality of timber, timber value and timber marketing resources.

To illustrate the historical viability of forests as an investment, LSU AgCenter forest economist Dr. Mike Dunn discussed long-term real increases in softwood and hardwood sawtimber prices in Louisiana.

"Planning is the key," said Dunn. "The most important decisions are made at planting, so landowners should get professional help, prepare the site and plant good trees."

The LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, forestry consultants and timber companies will help landowners with their forestry needs, said Donald Baker, a consulting forester.

"Forest landowners should take advantage of the services available to them to improve profit margins by using forest incentive programs," said Baker.

Landowners and consultants need to work together to develop a written management plan that will include timber production and environmental considerations, Baker said. They also should implement strategies to include best management practices and reduce soil erosion, he said.

In addition, Baker said many landowners want to include multiple uses in the plans for their property and still manage for timber production, wildlife diversity and other recreational opportunities.

"When selling timber, be sure to mark trees, develop an inventory and have a good understanding of what is being sold," said Baker. "Then make sure you are getting top dollar for the trees being cut."

Bob Johnson, a private landowner from Glenmora, said it pays to have a good forestry consultant to market your timber. And he explained that a good consultant can help find good markets for the timber, mark trees for cutting, inventory forest products, professionally supervise harvest operations, control burn, apply herbicides and perform many other tasks related to growing trees.

For example, Johnson pointed out that using fire as a cultural practice to control the litter from trees in the forest is a problem for small landowners because of the liability involved. On the other hand, he said that, for a fee, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and consultants can assist property owners with prescribed burning on their forestland.

Using such professional services can greatly reduce the risk associated with fire and smoke – and can help ensure that the fire is used correctly to help enhance the land, Johnson said.

Another topic that generated numerous questions at the workshop was the legal and tax session conducted by Paul Spillers, a forest landowner and lawyer. The range of issues covered included settling estates, problems in clearing titles, dividing property ownership, writing a will, writing a timber contract, settling boundary disputes and a variety of tax issues.

The workshop was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Forestry Association and the Mississippi Extension Service through a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

Two similar meetings were held in northwestern Louisiana and southeastern Louisiana earlier in the year. The final workshop in the series was held last month in Grambling.

For more information on issues related to agriculture, forestry and natural resources – or a variety of other topics ranging from nutrition to youth development – visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Barry Crain at (318) 767-3968 or bcrain@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Mike Dunn at (225) 578-0344 or mdunn@agcenter.lsu.edu
C. A. "Buck" Vandersteen, (318) 443-2558 or jtompkins@laforestry.com 
Writer:
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu 

Experts Say Forestry Is Good Investment

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

ALEXANDRIA – Central Louisiana landowners heard that managing forest resources is a good investment during a gathering here late last month.

The landowners and industry leaders attended an Oct. 23 LSU AgCenter forestry workshop to learn about the latest timber marketing concepts, tax issues, estate planning, timber production techniques and environmental issues.

"Managing forest resources is a good investment," said LSU AgCenter forester Barry Crain. "And when properly managed, the land will return income similar to other long-term financial investments."

Many small forest landowners harvest their trees only once or, at most, a few times during a lifetime, so it is hard for them to remember or keep up with the latest marketing techniques and obtain a fair market price for their timber.

"This workshop was planned to help the small landowner maximize his or her profit and reduce environmental impact to the land," said Crain.

In one method that might help area landowners, C.A. "Buck" Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, told the group of 57 participants additional investment opportunities will be available soon. Vandersteen said the Roy O. Martin Lumber Co. is building an orientated strand board mill near Oakdale where they plan to manufacture 600 million square feet of orientated strand board per year.

"Forest product companies will locate where there is an excitement in growing trees," Vandersteen said, adding, "And they will buy your trees."

The new plant locating in the area will provide more incentives for small landowners to plant and intensively manage additional resources, he said.

The experts said it also is important for non-industrial landowners to begin to manage their timber resources for more profit by developing accurate timber inventories, tree counts, volumes of different tree species, quality of timber, timber value and timber marketing resources.

To illustrate the historical viability of forests as an investment, LSU AgCenter forest economist Dr. Mike Dunn discussed long-term real increases in softwood and hardwood sawtimber prices in Louisiana.

"Planning is the key," said Dunn. "The most important decisions are made at planting, so landowners should get professional help, prepare the site and plant good trees."

The LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, forestry consultants and timber companies will help landowners with their forestry needs, said Donald Baker, a consulting forester.

"Forest landowners should take advantage of the services available to them to improve profit margins by using forest incentive programs," said Baker.

Landowners and consultants need to work together to develop a written management plan that will include timber production and environmental considerations, Baker said. They also should implement strategies to include best management practices and reduce soil erosion, he said.

In addition, Baker said many landowners want to include multiple uses in the plans for their property and still manage for timber production, wildlife diversity and other recreational opportunities.

"When selling timber, be sure to mark trees, develop an inventory and have a good understanding of what is being sold," said Baker. "Then make sure you are getting top dollar for the trees being cut."

Bob Johnson, a private landowner from Glenmora, said it pays to have a good forestry consultant to market your timber. And he explained that a good consultant can help find good markets for the timber, mark trees for cutting, inventory forest products, professionally supervise harvest operations, control burn, apply herbicides and perform many other tasks related to growing trees.

For example, Johnson pointed out that using fire as a cultural practice to control the litter from trees in the forest is a problem for small landowners because of the liability involved. On the other hand, he said that, for a fee, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and consultants can assist property owners with prescribed burning on their forestland.

Using such professional services can greatly reduce the risk associated with fire and smoke – and can help ensure that the fire is used correctly to help enhance the land, Johnson said.

Another topic that generated numerous questions at the workshop was the legal and tax session conducted by Paul Spillers, a forest landowner and lawyer. The range of issues covered included settling estates, problems in clearing titles, dividing property ownership, writing a will, writing a timber contract, settling boundary disputes and a variety of tax issues.

The workshop was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Forestry Association and the Mississippi Extension Service through a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

Two similar meetings were held in northwestern Louisiana and southeastern Louisiana earlier in the year. The final workshop in the series was held last month in Grambling.

For more information on issues related to agriculture, forestry and natural resources – or a variety of other topics ranging from nutrition to youth development – visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Barry Crain at (318) 767-3968 or bcrain@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Mike Dunn at (225) 578-0344 or mdunn@agcenter.lsu.edu
C. A. "Buck" Vandersteen, (318) 443-2558 or jtompkins@laforestry.com 
Writer:
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu 

Experts Say Water Quality Big Challenge For Nursery Businesses

News Release Distributed 11/05/04

LAFAYETTE – The quality of water, not the quantity, is a problem for anyone who considers venturing into the nursery business in Louisiana.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings explained the water problem at a workshop for approximately 50 people considering starting businesses related to horticulture held recently in Lafayette.

"We’re seeing more and more problems with poor or low quality water," Owings said during the workshop Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Most water in Louisiana is too alkaline, he said, and that’s not good for most plants.

As a general rule, the LSU AgCenter expert said, groundwater south of Interstate 10 is not acceptable for nurseries – although he said a treatment system can be used to reduce alkalinity.

The best water is located around the Forest Hill area of Rapides Parish and in the Florida parishes, Owings said. Nurseries are plentiful in both areas, with more than 250 in Rapides Parish and more than 150 in the Florida parishes.

He said municipal water is especially bad for plant irrigation, because high alkalinity is bad for growing azaleas.

Owings also stressed getting into the nursery business can’t be done on a shoestring budget.

"You’re probably looking at $50,000 to get started," Owings said.

Starting a successful retail nursery will be a major challenge because of lower prices offered by chain stores, he said, advising new horticulture businesses to find a specialty product that larger retail centers don’t have.

Greenhouses offer the chance to grow specialty plants, Owings said, but heat control in Louisiana is a major problem.

On the other hand, several other plant-related businesses have potential for success, such as landscaping and wholesale nurseries, he said.

Dr. Carlos Smith, another LSU AgCenter horticulturist, cautioned against expecting to have a profitable business too soon.

"You need to be realistic as to what your goals are," he said.

Finding a reliable work force is difficult, Smith said, and the Forest Hill nurseries rely on imported labor from Mexico.

It’s not necessary to have formal education to get into the nursery business, Smith said, explaining that only four people among all the Forest Hill nurseries have college degrees in a horticulture-related field.

Smith said Southern Living magazine drives much of the nursery business, because the publication highlights specific plants, and the magazine gives nurseries advance notice of what will be featured in coming months.

"You want to grow what Tom and Mary want to grow, because that’s what Southern Living told them," Smith said.

Smith also said it’s difficult to be profitable with a hydroponics nursery, although a few in Louisiana have survived.

Tony Gauthier of Hessmer attended the workshop with hopes of getting ideas for a new venture for the day when he retires from teaching.

"My son and I are getting into the wholesale nursery business," Gauthier explained.

His son, Wesley Gauthier, has a landscaping business in Lafayette but hopes to return to Avoyelles Parish in a few years.

Tony Gauthier said he got several good ideas from the sessions.

"It was very informative," he said.

###

Contacts:
Allen Owings at (225) 578-2222 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu
Carlos Smith at (318) 253-7526 or csmith@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Experts Say Water Quality Big Challenge For Nursery Businesses

News Release Distributed 11/05/04

LAFAYETTE – The quality of water, not the quantity, is a problem for anyone who considers venturing into the nursery business in Louisiana.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings explained the water problem at a workshop for approximately 50 people considering starting businesses related to horticulture held recently in Lafayette.

"We’re seeing more and more problems with poor or low quality water," Owings said during the workshop Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Most water in Louisiana is too alkaline, he said, and that’s not good for most plants.

As a general rule, the LSU AgCenter expert said, groundwater south of Interstate 10 is not acceptable for nurseries – although he said a treatment system can be used to reduce alkalinity.

The best water is located around the Forest Hill area of Rapides Parish and in the Florida parishes, Owings said. Nurseries are plentiful in both areas, with more than 250 in Rapides Parish and more than 150 in the Florida parishes.

He said municipal water is especially bad for plant irrigation, because high alkalinity is bad for growing azaleas.

Owings also stressed getting into the nursery business can’t be done on a shoestring budget.

"You’re probably looking at $50,000 to get started," Owings said.

Starting a successful retail nursery will be a major challenge because of lower prices offered by chain stores, he said, advising new horticulture businesses to find a specialty product that larger retail centers don’t have.

Greenhouses offer the chance to grow specialty plants, Owings said, but heat control in Louisiana is a major problem.

On the other hand, several other plant-related businesses have potential for success, such as landscaping and wholesale nurseries, he said.

Dr. Carlos Smith, another LSU AgCenter horticulturist, cautioned against expecting to have a profitable business too soon.

"You need to be realistic as to what your goals are," he said.

Finding a reliable work force is difficult, Smith said, and the Forest Hill nurseries rely on imported labor from Mexico.

It’s not necessary to have formal education to get into the nursery business, Smith said, explaining that only four people among all the Forest Hill nurseries have college degrees in a horticulture-related field.

Smith said Southern Living magazine drives much of the nursery business, because the publication highlights specific plants, and the magazine gives nurseries advance notice of what will be featured in coming months.

"You want to grow what Tom and Mary want to grow, because that’s what Southern Living told them," Smith said.

Smith also said it’s difficult to be profitable with a hydroponics nursery, although a few in Louisiana have survived.

Tony Gauthier of Hessmer attended the workshop with hopes of getting ideas for a new venture for the day when he retires from teaching.

"My son and I are getting into the wholesale nursery business," Gauthier explained.

His son, Wesley Gauthier, has a landscaping business in Lafayette but hopes to return to Avoyelles Parish in a few years.

Tony Gauthier said he got several good ideas from the sessions.

"It was very informative," he said.

###

Contacts:
Allen Owings at (225) 578-2222 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu
Carlos Smith at (318) 253-7526 or csmith@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Fall Armyworms Invading Causing Problems

armyworm

News Release Distributed 08/16/04 

Fall armyworms are invading the state, and LSU AgCenter specialists say they expect the worms to hang around until cool weather comes in.

"I think they’re worse this year than they have been in the past few years," said Dr. Jack Baldwin, an LSU AgCenter entomologist. "It’s a statewide problem, and I expect them to be a problem until the first frost comes in."

Armyworms are pests that invade fields, pastures and lawns. Populations can build very quickly and can devastate the grass on a field over night.

The pests can reoccur about every 30 days, so their numbers can rise and descend throughout the summer and fall. But Baldwin said he isn’t sure why the population is so heavy this year.

"There is no one thing to point to," the entomologist said. "It seems like the last epidemic was during a dry year – and this year hasn’t really been all that dry."

Matthew Stephens, an LSU AgCenter area agent in Northeast Louisiana, said the worms have been destroying hay fields.

"One hay field was ready to be cut when the worms came in," Stephens said. "One day it was a beautiful field, and the next day there was nothing to it. This field was expected to produce 1.5 tons per acre, and, at $60 a ton, that’s a lot of money gone."

The worms can be spotted early in the morning or late evening, Stephens said. High bird populations feeding early in the morning or late in the evening on fields are indications of a population of armyworms, the experts said.

"If I see an excessive number of cattle egrets or crows in a field, I take a close look at the grass in that field," Stephens said.

Baldwin said the best way to detect armyworms is to "just look for them." He said to use a sweep net or give the forage a visual inspection.

How much damage is done depends on what stage the worms are in when they attack a field or lawn.

"When the worms are in their early stages, they are real small and don’t consume a lot of foliage," Baldwin said. "But when they get large, they can consume a whole lot (of foliage) in a short time and, thus, do a lot of damage."

Baldwin said sprays with Sevin, Confirm, Lannate, or Methyl Parathion will stop the armyworms quickly.

For more information on controlling insect pests in your lawn or field, contact the LSU AgCenter office in your parish or visit to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Jack Baldwin at (225) 578-2369 or jbaldwin@agcenter.lsu.edu
Matthew Stephens at (318) 644-5865 or mstephens@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Fall Great Time To Plant Parsley Other Herbs

Get It Growing image file

Get It Growing News For 11/05/04

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Fall is an outstanding time to plant many of the hardy culinary herbs, and one of the most popular is parsley.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a member of the Umbelliferae family along with dill, cilantro, fennel and celery, which also can be planted now.

Especially rich in chlorophyll, parsley is an excellent breath freshener, which is why it was originally served with a plate of food. It was meant to be eaten after the meal to freshen the breath rather than just sit on the plate and look nice.

Both the common (curly) and Italian (flat-leaf) parsleys are excellent for cooking, although the flat-leaved Italian or plain types generally are considered to have the stronger flavor. The curly types are popular for their ornamental as well as culinary uses.

Typically, parsley plants spread 12 inches across or more from a central crown and grow about 8 to 10 inches tall. When they bloom the flower stalk can reach 2 feet to 3 feet.

In Louisiana parsley is best grown as a cool-season annual. Seeds can be planted now through early March either directly in garden beds or in pots for transplants. Plants purchased at area nurseries can be planted now through early April. Best harvests generally are achieved from plants or seeds planted in the fall.

Grow parsley in a bed where the soil has been enriched with generous amounts of compost, aged manure or other organic matter and a moderate application of fertilizer. Choose a spot that gets full sun, although parsley will produce fairly well with as little as four hours of direct sun. A location that gets some shade in the afternoon will allow the parsley to last longer into the summer.

Growing parsley from seeds can require patience, since they often are slow to germinate. You can speed germination by soaking the seeds overnight before planting them or by freezing the seeds for a few days before planting.

To directly sow the seeds into the garden, trace a shallow indentation in the soil of a well-prepared bed with a stick or the handle of a garden tool. Sow the seeds by dribbling them through your thumb and forefinger into the indented row and cover them with about ¼ inch of soil.

The seeds should come up in 10 to 14 days, but can take as long as three weeks (especially if they were not soaked or frozen). During this time it is critical to keep the seed bed moist with regular – even daily – watering. When the seedlings have grown several leaves, thin them to a spacing of 10 to 12 inches.

Plant young transplants you grew yourself or purchased from a nursery spaced 10 to 12 inches apart into well-prepared beds. Do not plant them any deeper than they were growing in the container, or the crown may rot.

When you purchase plants at the nursery, there often are a number of seedlings in one pot. Ideally, pinch off all but the largest, strongest plant in the container and then plant it. Or separate the seedlings into individual pots, grow them for a week or two to recover from transplant shock and to achieve more size and then plant them into the garden.

Parsley grows very well in containers, alone or combined with other herbs or flowers. Choose at least a 1-gallon container for one plant, and use larger containers for combination plantings. Make sure the containers you use have drainage holes. Fill the container with your favorite potting soil or soilless mix to within an inch or two of the container’s top, add some slow-release fertilizer and you’re ready to plant.

Begin harvesting parsley when the plants have grown to about 6 inches across. Harvest the larger leaves at the outside of the plant and leave the new interior shoots to mature. Don’t take more than one-third to one-half of the foliage at one time.

Store freshly picked leaves in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Freeze chopped leaves in plastic freezer bags for up to six months. You also may dry parsley, although it doesn’t compare to the flavor of fresh or frozen parsley.

Flowering often occurs in May or early June, especially on parsley planted in the fall. This signals the end of production, but leave blooming plants in the garden anyway, since the small flowers are attractive to tiny parasitic wasps that help control insects. On the other hand, plants that do not bloom may survive the summer and produce for another season.

If you see a brightly striped caterpillar feeding on your parsley, be aware that it is the larva of the black swallowtail butterfly. To preserve both it and your parsley, move it to another plant in the same family – such as fennel, carrots or dill – that you can spare, so it can continue feeding. Or call a friend who has a butterfly garden and let your friend move the caterpillar to that garden.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

###

Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu  

Field Day Covers Forages Forestry Dairy Beef

News Release Distributed 10/22/04

HOMER – Participants in the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station field day learned how to increase the value of their timber stands, how to reduce soil acidity and how to use improved sires without creating calving problems during the event held here last week.

Those were just some of the topics covered during the Oct. 14 field day that covered dairy and beef cattle, forages and forestry.

Dr. Michael Blazier, an LSU AgCenter researcher at the Hill Farm Research Station, told participants how they can grow strong tree stands on soils that are low in nutrients.

"We have many forests here in the Ark-La-Tex region grown in soils that are low in nutrients," Blazier said. "This may be because of prior use of the soil or due to the geology of the soils. Whatever the case may be, landowners who wish to increase the value of their timber will want to increase the nutrient availability to their trees."

Increasing the nutrient availability to trees can be made through modest investments in management tools such as the use of fertilizers, herbicides and/or prescribed burning, Blazier said. The value of loblolly pine plantations as wildlife habitat can be increased by the use of understory control and fertilizer treatments, he said.

In addition to increasing soil nutrients, Blazier also talked about using good planting and thinning strategies to optimize the timber production of loblolly pine stands.

"Allowing crop trees to compete for nutrients, water and light reduces yields of loblolly pine stands," he said. "The most inexpensive way to reduce pine-on-pine competition and to optimize sawtimber growth potential is to keep stand densities low enough to allow the trees to grow."

Planting fewer trees per acre allows the trees to grow without competition, Blazier pointed out.

"We found that keeping the stands between 100 and 200 trees per acre, between the ages of 21 and 31, optimizes tree growth within a stand," Blazier said. "The thinning schedule that provided the best sawtimber volumes and rates of return consisted of thinning the plots planted at 200 trees per acre down to 100 trees per acre at age 21. This is followed by thinning at age 26 and 31 down to 50 and 25 trees per acre."

In other reports during the field day, Dr. Bill Owens, a microbiologist in the LSU AgCenter’s mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station, gave an update on the mycoplasma mastitis program. This program is a cooperative effort among the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, dairy corporations, dairy producers and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.

"This is a statewide program designed to monitor the state’s dairies for mycoplasma mastitis along with other more common types of mastitis," Owens said, explaining the program, which started in March 2004, calls for monitoring all dairies in the state monthly for one year.

Under the program, bulk milk samples are collected and sent to the mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station – where they are tested for mycoplasma and other forms of mastitis.

"So far, just five herds have tested positive for mycoplasma mastitis," Owens said, adding that it was first detected in Louisiana during 2003.

But mycoplasma mastitis is not a threat to humans, Owens stressed.

In addition to hearing about forestry studies at the research station, field day participants also heard about how new environmental regulations will affect forage producers, how soil tests should be used to determine lime and nutrient requirements, and how forage production from annual ryegrass differs depending on land preparation prior to planting.

Other topics at the field day included research on how the mating of crossbred cows to Simmental sires with high weaning weights does not result in increased problems with calving, the LSU AgCenter’s Master Cattle Producer program, how nitrate levels in the diet of cattle can affect reproduction and information about some of the most toxic plants to livestock in the area.

###

Contact:
Michael Blazier at (318) 927-2578 or mblazier@agcenter.lsu.edu
Bill Owens at (318) 927-2578 or wowens@agcenter.lsu.edu
Allen Nipper at (318) 644-2662 or anipper@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:  
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Field Day Covers Forages Forestry Dairy Beef

News Release Distributed 10/22/04

HOMER – Participants in the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station field day learned how to increase the value of their timber stands, how to reduce soil acidity and how to use improved sires without creating calving problems during the event held here last week.

Those were just some of the topics covered during the Oct. 14 field day that covered dairy and beef cattle, forages and forestry.

Dr. Michael Blazier, an LSU AgCenter researcher at the Hill Farm Research Station, told participants how they can grow strong tree stands on soils that are low in nutrients.

"We have many forests here in the Ark-La-Tex region grown in soils that are low in nutrients," Blazier said. "This may be because of prior use of the soil or due to the geology of the soils. Whatever the case may be, landowners who wish to increase the value of their timber will want to increase the nutrient availability to their trees."

Increasing the nutrient availability to trees can be made through modest investments in management tools such as the use of fertilizers, herbicides and/or prescribed burning, Blazier said. The value of loblolly pine plantations as wildlife habitat can be increased by the use of understory control and fertilizer treatments, he said.

In addition to increasing soil nutrients, Blazier also talked about using good planting and thinning strategies to optimize the timber production of loblolly pine stands.

"Allowing crop trees to compete for nutrients, water and light reduces yields of loblolly pine stands," he said. "The most inexpensive way to reduce pine-on-pine competition and to optimize sawtimber growth potential is to keep stand densities low enough to allow the trees to grow."

Planting fewer trees per acre allows the trees to grow without competition, Blazier pointed out.

"We found that keeping the stands between 100 and 200 trees per acre, between the ages of 21 and 31, optimizes tree growth within a stand," Blazier said. "The thinning schedule that provided the best sawtimber volumes and rates of return consisted of thinning the plots planted at 200 trees per acre down to 100 trees per acre at age 21. This is followed by thinning at age 26 and 31 down to 50 and 25 trees per acre."

In other reports during the field day, Dr. Bill Owens, a microbiologist in the LSU AgCenter’s mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station, gave an update on the mycoplasma mastitis program. This program is a cooperative effort among the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, dairy corporations, dairy producers and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.

"This is a statewide program designed to monitor the state’s dairies for mycoplasma mastitis along with other more common types of mastitis," Owens said, explaining the program, which started in March 2004, calls for monitoring all dairies in the state monthly for one year.

Under the program, bulk milk samples are collected and sent to the mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station – where they are tested for mycoplasma and other forms of mastitis.

"So far, just five herds have tested positive for mycoplasma mastitis," Owens said, adding that it was first detected in Louisiana during 2003.

But mycoplasma mastitis is not a threat to humans, Owens stressed.

In addition to hearing about forestry studies at the research station, field day participants also heard about how new environmental regulations will affect forage producers, how soil tests should be used to determine lime and nutrient requirements, and how forage production from annual ryegrass differs depending on land preparation prior to planting.

Other topics at the field day included research on how the mating of crossbred cows to Simmental sires with high weaning weights does not result in increased problems with calving, the LSU AgCenter’s Master Cattle Producer program, how nitrate levels in the diet of cattle can affect reproduction and information about some of the most toxic plants to livestock in the area.

###

Contact:
Michael Blazier at (318) 927-2578 or mblazier@agcenter.lsu.edu
Bill Owens at (318) 927-2578 or wowens@agcenter.lsu.edu
Allen Nipper at (318) 644-2662 or anipper@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:  
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Follow These Tips On Harvesting Winter Vegetables

Get It Growing image file

Get It Growing News For 11/26/04

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

The vegetables we grow here during the cool season are some of the most delicious and nutritious that our home gardens can produce.

Better yet, many of the vegetables we planted in late summer and early fall are ready to harvest – or they will be soon.

Since it’s important to harvest vegetables at the proper stage for best quality, here are a few guidelines for some common cool-season crops.

Root crops are harvested when the root is the proper size. Usually, the top of the root is readily visible at ground level, but, if not, it is easy enough to brush aside the soil at the base of the leaves to check on the size of the root.

Harvest radishes and carrots when the root is about an inch across. Also, be sure to harvest radishes while they are young. On the other hand, carrots can be left in the ground once they are mature and harvested as needed, and the tops can be used as a parsley substitute. Harvest turnips when they are 2-3 inches and rutabagas (a close relative) when they are 4-5 inches in diameter. Beets are best harvested at 2-3 inches and parsnips at 1½-2 inches.

Incidentally, to get good production, these plants must be spaced properly in the garden. When the seeds that you plant come up, it is very important to thin the seedlings at least as far apart as the width of the mature root in order to get good production. Leaving the seedlings too crowded is a common reason that root crops produce small or misshapen roots.

Moving to another cool-season crop, broccoli heads are not harvested based on the size of the head. Instead, they are harvested when the largest individual flower buds are about the size of a kitchen match head. Do not allow the heads to remain on the plant so long that some of the buds open to produce a yellow flower. Remember that smaller side heads will develop after the main head has been harvested, so leave the plant in place for additional harvest.

Harvesting cauliflower also depends more on the appearance of the head rather than its size. The curds of the head should be relatively smooth – very much like the cauliflower you buy in the supermarket. If allowed to stay on the plant too long, the head will begin to separate and lose quality. If you did not blanch your cauliflower by covering the head with the plant’s leaves, it may have a purple, green or yellow tint to it. This does not greatly affect the quality of the head.

Leafy crops such as mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, collards and turnips should be harvested frequently by breaking off the lowest, largest leaves (this is called cropping). Harvest the entire head of semi-heading varieties of lettuce such as bibb, buttercrunch and romaine when the head is fully developed.

Cabbage is ready to harvest when the head is solid and hard. Cabbage is one of the few crops that may be left in the garden after they are ready to harvest, although the heads may split. If you are going to leave fully formed heads in the garden, rotate the entire plant one-half turn to prevent splitting (this slows water uptake by breaking some of the roots).

Snow peas and edible podded peas are productive, delicious and well worth growing. Harvest snow peas when the pods are full size but still quite flat. Edible podded peas, such as Sugar Snap peas, should be harvested when the pods are full and round but before the peas inside the pod have fully developed. Both types of peas should be checked daily and harvested frequently.

Bunching onions and green shallots can be harvested anytime during the winter when the tops are large enough. Dig up the entire clump and separate half to three-quarters of the bunch. Then replant the rest to continue to grow and divide for future harvesting.

Cold Protection for Winter Vegetables

Although winter vegetables generally are hardy, new plantings may need to be protected from hard freezes – as will certain vegetables at or near harvest stage.

If temperatures below 30 degrees F are predicted, young seedlings should receive special attention. Completely cover them with a 4- to 6-inch layer of loose mulch like leaves or pine straw. The mulch may remain over the plants for a few days, but remove it as soon as the freezing episode is over. Plastic covering supported off of the plants, fabric sheets or floating row coverings also may be used.

Although the plant itself is quite hard, the heads of broccoli and cauliflower are prone to cold injury if temperatures below 30 degrees occur. The leaves, flowers and pods of peas also may be damaged by hard freezes. Rather than trying to provide protection, the gardener should consider harvesting all mature and nearly mature produce before the freeze.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

###

Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Follow These Tips On Harvesting Winter Vegetables

Get It Growing Image File

Get It Growing News For 11/26/04

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

The vegetables we grow here during the cool season are some of the most delicious and nutritious that our home gardens can produce.

Better yet, many of the vegetables we planted in late summer and early fall are ready to harvest – or they will be soon.

Since it’s important to harvest vegetables at the proper stage for best quality, here are a few guidelines for some common cool-season crops.

Root crops are harvested when the root is the proper size. Usually, the top of the root is readily visible at ground level, but, if not, it is easy enough to brush aside the soil at the base of the leaves to check on the size of the root.

Harvest radishes and carrots when the root is about an inch across. Also, be sure to harvest radishes while they are young. On the other hand, carrots can be left in the ground once they are mature and harvested as needed, and the tops can be used as a parsley substitute. Harvest turnips when they are 2-3 inches and rutabagas (a close relative) when they are 4-5 inches in diameter. Beets are best harvested at 2-3 inches and parsnips at 1½-2 inches.

Incidentally, to get good production, these plants must be spaced properly in the garden. When the seeds that you plant come up, it is very important to thin the seedlings at least as far apart as the width of the mature root in order to get good production. Leaving the seedlings too crowded is a common reason that root crops produce small or misshapen roots.

Moving to another cool-season crop, broccoli heads are not harvested based on the size of the head. Instead, they are harvested when the largest individual flower buds are about the size of a kitchen match head. Do not allow the heads to remain on the plant so long that some of the buds open to produce a yellow flower. Remember that smaller side heads will develop after the main head has been harvested, so leave the plant in place for additional harvest.

Harvesting cauliflower also depends more on the appearance of the head rather than its size. The curds of the head should be relatively smooth – very much like the cauliflower you buy in the supermarket. If allowed to stay on the plant too long, the head will begin to separate and lose quality. If you did not blanch your cauliflower by covering the head with the plant’s leaves, it may have a purple, green or yellow tint to it. This does not greatly affect the quality of the head.

Leafy crops such as mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, collards and turnips should be harvested frequently by breaking off the lowest, largest leaves (this is called cropping). Harvest the entire head of semi-heading varieties of lettuce such as bibb, buttercrunch and romaine when the head is fully developed.

Cabbage is ready to harvest when the head is solid and hard. Cabbage is one of the few crops that may be left in the garden after they are ready to harvest, although the heads may split. If you are going to leave fully formed heads in the garden, rotate the entire plant one-half turn to prevent splitting (this slows water uptake by breaking some of the roots).

Snow peas and edible podded peas are productive, delicious and well worth growing. Harvest snow peas when the pods are full size but still quite flat. Edible podded peas, such as Sugar Snap peas, should be harvested when the pods are full and round but before the peas inside the pod have fully developed. Both types of peas should be checked daily and harvested frequently.

Bunching onions and green shallots can be harvested anytime during the winter when the tops are large enough. Dig up the entire clump and separate half to three-quarters of the bunch. Then replant the rest to continue to grow and divide for future harvesting.

Cold Protection for Winter Vegetables

Although winter vegetables generally are hardy, new plantings may need to be protected from hard freezes – as will certain vegetables at or near harvest stage.

If temperatures below 30 degrees F are predicted, young seedlings should receive special attention. Completely cover them with a 4- to 6-inch layer of loose mulch like leaves or pine straw. The mulch may remain over the plants for a few days, but remove it as soon as the freezing episode is over. Plastic covering supported off of the plants, fabric sheets or floating row coverings also may be used.

Although the plant itself is quite hard, the heads of broccoli and cauliflower are prone to cold injury if temperatures below 30 degrees occur. The leaves, flowers and pods of peas also may be damaged by hard freezes. Rather than trying to provide protection, the gardener should consider harvesting all mature and nearly mature produce before the freeze.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

###

Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Forage Grassland Council Schedules Annual Meeting Dec. 10 In Alexandria

News Release Distributed 11/12/04

The Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council will address several different aspects of forage production at its 2004 annual conference Dec. 10 in Alexandria.

The conference, which will be held in the Brumfield-Caffey Annex of the Student Union Building on the campus of LSU at Alexandria, will feature presentations by LSU AgCenter faculty and other experts in the field.

"This is a good opportunity for producers to learn about the latest developments in producing forage and cattle," said LSU AgCenter forage specialist Dr. Ed Twidwell.

The speakers at the conference will include Dr. Wink Alison, an LSU AgCenter associate professor in agronomy, who will discuss the performance of hybrids and seeded Bermudagrass varieties; Dr. Alan Deramus from the University of Louisiana, who will talk about the role of forages in land stewardship; LSU AgCenter Master Cattle Producer coordinator Dr. Jason Rowntree and AgCenter associate Donna Morgan, who will explain the Louisiana Master Cattle Producer Program and the development of model farms; Twidwell, who will highlight the importance of the American Forage and Grassland Council; LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Dr. Don Reed, who will explain the establishment of wildlife food plots and hunting leases; and Dr. Richard Watson from Mississippi State University, who will discuss using forage for profitable livestock operations.

Registration and viewing of commercial exhibits will begin at 9 a.m. The morning session will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at noon – when lunch will be served and several awards will be presented. The afternoon session will begin at 1:15 p.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m.

The $10 registration fee includes lunch, and the public is invited to attend.

Participants also are invited to join the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council at the meeting site for $25, but membership is not required to attend the conference.

"Anyone interested in forage production and management is invited to attend," Twidwell said.

The LSU at Alexandria campus is located about 7 miles south of Alexandria off US Highway 71.

For more information on the meeting, contact Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or etwidwell@agcenter.lsu.edu.

###

Contact: Dr. Ed Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or etwidwell@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: John Chaney at (318) 473-6589 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

Forage Grassland Council Schedules Annual Meeting Dec. 10 In Alexandria

News Release Distributed 11/12/04

The Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council will address several different aspects of forage production at its 2004 annual conference Dec. 10 in Alexandria.

The conference, which will be held in the Brumfield-Caffey Annex of the Student Union Building on the campus of LSU at Alexandria, will feature presentations by LSU AgCenter faculty and other experts in the field.

"This is a good opportunity for producers to learn about the latest developments in producing forage and cattle," said LSU AgCenter forage specialist Dr. Ed Twidwell.

The speakers at the conference will include Dr. Wink Alison, an LSU AgCenter associate professor in agronomy, who will discuss the performance of hybrids and seeded Bermudagrass varieties; Dr. Alan Deramus from the University of Louisiana, who will talk about the role of forages in land stewardship; LSU AgCenter Master Cattle Producer coordinator Dr. Jason Rowntree and AgCenter associate Donna Morgan, who will explain the Louisiana Master Cattle Producer Program and the development of model farms; Twidwell, who will highlight the importance of the American Forage and Grassland Council; LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Dr. Don Reed, who will explain the establishment of wildlife food plots and hunting leases; and Dr. Richard Watson from Mississippi State University, who will discuss using forage for profitable livestock operations.

Registration and viewing of commercial exhibits will begin at 9 a.m. The morning session will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at noon – when lunch will be served and several awards will be presented. The afternoon session will begin at 1:15 p.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m.

The $10 registration fee includes lunch, and the public is invited to attend.

Participants also are invited to join the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council at the meeting site for $25, but membership is not required to attend the conference.

"Anyone interested in forage production and management is invited to attend," Twidwell said.

The LSU at Alexandria campus is located about 7 miles south of Alexandria off US Highway 71.

For more information on the meeting, contact Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or etwidwell@agcenter.lsu.edu.

###

Contact: Dr. Ed Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or etwidwell@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: John Chaney at (318) 473-6589 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

Freshen Tired Flower Beds

Get It Growing News For 08/06/04

Forlorn flower beds past their prime and overrun with weeds are an all too familiar sight in late-summer landscapes. But there are ways you can freshen up those "tired" beds.

Our long growing season and abundance of insect and disease problems generally make it unreasonable to expect all bedding plants to hold up from the beginning of summer in early May until its end.

Unfortunately, many gardeners give in to the attitude that it is too hot to plant anything now anyway – and they allow their flower beds to remain unattractive eyesores in the landscape.

Well, I’m here to take away your excuses for those pitiful-looking beds. The nurseries are still well stocked with colorful, heat-tolerant bedding plants that will grow vigorously from now through late October or early November (when we will plant cool-season bedding plants).

To replant your beds, start by removing the old plants and putting them in your compost pile. Avoid putting any weeds that have set seeds in the compost. Dig them out and throw them away. You also could spray the weeds with glyphosate (various brands) to kill them before removing them. This is especially recommended if you are dealing with tough weeds, such as bermudagrass, torpedograss or dollar weed.

Next, spread a 1-inch to 2-inch layer of organic matter, such as compost, bagged or aged manure, landscape soil conditioner, grass clippings or peat moss, over the bed. Sprinkle a light application of any general-purpose fertilizer (following label directions) over the organic matter. Then thoroughly incorporate everything into the soil of the bed. Rake it smooth, and the bed is ready to plant.

Try to do this work early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it is cooler, and drink plenty of fluids. The heat is no reason not to refurbish your flowerbeds, but you should still be careful when working outside while the temperatures are high.

When planting late in the growing season, choose well-established plants in 4-inch pots or larger. Make sure the plants you purchase are healthy and vigorous and have been cared for properly. Avoid plants that look wilted, leggy, have poor color or show signs of insect or disease problems. This is not the time of year to nurse struggling plants back to health. Start off with the highest quality plants you can find.

When planting, we often rip or pull apart the roots of bedding plants slightly if they are root bound. This encourages the roots to grow into the surrounding soil and helps the plant get established. Do this very carefully or not at all when planting this time of year. Plants’ roots must absorb water rapidly to supply their needs when temperatures are high, and transplants will not be able to tolerate much damage to their roots now.

In addition, be careful to plant the bedding plants at the proper depth. The top of the rootball should be level with the soil of the bed. Planting transplants too deep makes them more susceptible to root rot or crown rot. The fungal organisms that cause these diseases are very active in the moist, hot weather of late summer, so make sure plants are not planted deeper than recommended.

When planting is finished, mulch with an inch or two of your favorite mulch and water the bed thoroughly. Watering is the trickiest part of planting this time of year. You may need to water the bed fairly frequently until the plants send roots out into the surrounding soil. Watch the plants carefully for wilting, and water when needed.

There are lots of choices for planting now. For sunny beds or containers, choose periwinkle, melampodium, blue daze, purslane, portulaca, pentas, torenia, perennial verbena, salvias, sun-tolerant coleus, lantana, zinnia, marigold, abelmoschus, globe amaranth, cosmos, balsam and celosia. For shady and partly shady beds and containers, choose impatiens, begonias and coleus. I’m sure you are likely to see other great choices available, as well.

Tropical plants also could be planted now. Tropicals love the heat and are not stressed by it like so many other plants. Feel free to plant tropical hibiscus, cannas, gingers, elephant ears and other tropicals in the landscape now. Depending on where you live in the state, tropical plants may or may not reliably survive the winter. Keep this in mind when deciding how many and where to use them.

If you don’t feel up to replanting flowerbeds at this time, you can still improve the appearance of your landscape. Remove the old, unattractive plants, control the weeds and then apply a thick (at least 4 inches) layer of mulch over the area.

An empty but neat and mulched bed is far more attractive than one full of weeds and dead flowers. The heavy mulch will keep the bed weed free and ready for you to prepare it and plant colorful, cool-season bedding plants in late October or November.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

 

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Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Get it Growing

Headline News

Horse Industry Representatives Meet Look For Unity

News Release Distributed 11/15/04

"We have to become a business," Diana Boudreaux of Abbeville said of the Louisiana horse industry, stressing, "We have to come together."

Boudreaux was one of about 60 participants at the Louisiana Equine Industry Forum held last week (Nov. 9) at the Lod Cook Conference Center on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

The forum, sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, brought together people from all aspects of the horse industry to discuss common interests, said Dr. David Morrison, associate vice chancellor for research in the LSU AgCenter.

Dr. Bill Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, said AgCenter economists estimate the Louisiana horse industry generates $1 billion or more in economic activity each year in the state. He said the meeting will address the future of the industry and where it’s going.

Industry representatives have been discussing whether some sort of check-off program for the horse industry. Observers said a check-off could be placed at a few cents for each bag of horse feed sold in the state, and the money would be allocated to supporting the industry.

"Before we go to the legislature, we have to have some understanding of what you want – if you want anything," Ronnie Anderson, president of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, told the meeting.

John Boudreaux, Diana’s husband and chairman of the Farm Bureau’s equine advisory committee, presented an analysis of funding opportunities and sources, including a check-off program.

Explaining more about how the industry could go to the Louisiana Legislature and seek a referendum, Anderson said, "The horse industry in Louisiana has a huge impact on the economy of the state. Come to us with some good direction, and we’ll be glad to help you."

During the rest of the meeting, participants heard LSU AgCenter economists present background information on the current status of the horse industry in Louisiana and then met in small groups to identify what they see as major industry issues.

Industry unity, promotion and marketing, and education and research emerged as the leading issues.

"We’ve got some problems as an industry that we can overcome by getting together to talk about them," said Dianne Morrill of Prairieville, who was representing the Louisiana Arabian Horse Association.

"We need one voice to speak to the Legislature," she said.

Diana Boudreaux, who with her husband owns horses, agreed.

"I see the importance of it for the state of Louisiana and for us as horsepersons," she said.

Nicholas Cole of the Louisiana FFA Association said he was attending the forum to represent the educational portion of the industry.

One of the challenges facing the industry is labor, and the FFA has started a pilot program in St. Landry Parish to teach about maintaining horses and horse facilities, he said.

"I’m here to learn about the industry and the role we can play," Cole said.

According to Dr. Steve Henning of the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, the horse industry, including recreational, competition and racing horses, has an economic impact of more than $1.5 billion on the Louisiana economy.

The LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 2003 reports the gross farm value of horses sold and services provided totaled nearly $325 million.

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Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

Horse Industry Representatives Meet Look For Unity

News Release Distributed 11/15/04

"We have to become a business," Diana Boudreaux of Abbeville said of the Louisiana horse industry, stressing, "We have to come together."

Boudreaux was one of about 60 participants at the Louisiana Equine Industry Forum held last week (Nov. 9) at the Lod Cook Conference Center on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

The forum, sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, brought together people from all aspects of the horse industry to discuss common interests, said Dr. David Morrison, associate vice chancellor for research in the LSU AgCenter.

Dr. Bill Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, said AgCenter economists estimate the Louisiana horse industry generates $1 billion or more in economic activity each year in the state. He said the meeting will address the future of the industry and where it’s going.

Industry representatives have been discussing whether some sort of check-off program for the horse industry. Observers said a check-off could be placed at a few cents for each bag of horse feed sold in the state, and the money would be allocated to supporting the industry.

"Before we go to the legislature, we have to have some understanding of what you want – if you want anything," Ronnie Anderson, president of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, told the meeting.

John Boudreaux, Diana’s husband and chairman of the Farm Bureau’s equine advisory committee, presented an analysis of funding opportunities and sources, including a check-off program.

Explaining more about how the industry could go to the Louisiana Legislature and seek a referendum, Anderson said, "The horse industry in Louisiana has a huge impact on the economy of the state. Come to us with some good direction, and we’ll be glad to help you."

During the rest of the meeting, participants heard LSU AgCenter economists present background information on the current status of the horse industry in Louisiana and then met in small groups to identify what they see as major industry issues.

Industry unity, promotion and marketing, and education and research emerged as the leading issues.

"We’ve got some problems as an industry that we can overcome by getting together to talk about them," said Dianne Morrill of Prairieville, who was representing the Louisiana Arabian Horse Association.

"We need one voice to speak to the Legislature," she said.

Diana Boudreaux, who with her husband owns horses, agreed.

"I see the importance of it for the state of Louisiana and for us as horsepersons," she said.

Nicholas Cole of the Louisiana FFA Association said he was attending the forum to represent the educational portion of the industry.

One of the challenges facing the industry is labor, and the FFA has started a pilot program in St. Landry Parish to teach about maintaining horses and horse facilities, he said.

"I’m here to learn about the industry and the role we can play," Cole said.

According to Dr. Steve Henning of the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, the horse industry, including recreational, competition and racing horses, has an economic impact of more than $1.5 billion on the Louisiana economy.

The LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 2003 reports the gross farm value of horses sold and services provided totaled nearly $325 million.

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Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

Its Best Time For Planting Trees Shrubs

Get It Growing image file

Get It Growing News For 11/12/04

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

I wish more gardeners understood that fall is a primary planting season in Louisiana.

For years horticulturists have tried to get the word out that November through February is the ideal time to plant hardy trees and shrubs in the landscape.

Planting in late November and early December is especially good, since trees and shrubs planted now benefit in several ways.

The plants are dormant during this time and are less likely to suffer as much from transplant shock. In addition, the cool weather and regular rainfall typical during the winter here allow the new plantings to settle in and adjust with little stress (and less work for you watering them). Better yet, hardy trees and shrubs are not damaged by normal winter freezes, even if newly planted.

The roots of trees and shrubs will actively grow during the fall and early winter, so planting in fall allows them to become well established prior to spring growth. By May of next year, trees and shrubs planted over the next six weeks will have developed better established root systems than those planted next spring, and this will increase their ability to absorb water and survive that first stressful summer after planting.

Selecting Trees For The Landscape

When selecting trees to plant, keep in mind there is no one perfect tree. All trees have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the planting location and desired characteristics.

To help you make the best choices, here are some points you need to consider:

–Select a tree that will mature at the appropriate size. A small patio might benefit from a small 25 foot tall tree planted nearby but would be completely overwhelmed by a large tree. Planting a tree that will grow too large for its location is one of the most common mistakes people make (along with planting too many trees). Find out the mature size a tree will achieve before you plant it.

–Think about the purpose of the tree and why it is needed. This will help you determine what characteristics the tree should have such as its shape, size and rate of growth. Ornamental features, such as flowers, attractive berries, brightly colored fall foliage or unusual bark, also should be considered.

–Decide if you want a tree that retains its foliage year-round (evergreen) or loses its leaves in the winter (deciduous). Deciduous trees are particularly useful where you want shade in the summer and sun in the winter. Small to medium-size evergreen trees are useful as sound barriers or privacy screens.

–Choose trees that are well adapted to our local growing conditions. They must be able to tolerate long, hot summers and mild winters. Those conditions make a variety of northern species you might see in catalogs unsuitable for our area. Trees that are not completely hardy are not good choices either.

–Don’t forget to check the location of overhead power lines, and if you must plant under them, use small, low-growing trees. Also consider walks, drives and other paved surfaces that may be damaged by the roots of large trees. Locate large trees at least 15 feet away from paved surfaces and your house.

Tree Planting Guidelines

Planting trees properly is not difficult, but it can make the difference between success and failure.

Whether the tree is balled and burlapped or container grown, dig the hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the height of the root ball. When placed into the hole, the root ball should sit on solid, undisturbed soil.

Remove a container-grown tree from its container and place the tree gently in the hole. A root ball tightly packed with thick encircling roots indicates a root-bound condition. Try to unwrap or open up the root ball to encourage the roots to spread into the surrounding soil.

Place a balled and burlapped tree gently in the hole with the burlap intact. Once the tree is in the hole, pull out nails that pin the burlap around the root ball, remove any nylon twine or wire supports that may have been used and fold down the burlap.

The top of the root ball should be level with or slightly above the surrounding soil. It is critical that you do not plant the tree too deep.

Thoroughly pulverize the soil you dug out of the hole and use this soil – without any additions – to backfill around the tree. Add soil around the tree until the hole is about half full. Then firm the soil to eliminate air pockets, but do not pack it tight. Finish filling the hole, firm again and then water the tree thoroughly to settle it in.

Generally, we do not fertilize newly planted trees, but slow-release fertilizer may be added to the upper 6 inches of soil when filling the hole.

If the tree is tall enough to be unstable, it should be staked. Otherwise, that’s not necessary.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

###

Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu 

La. Dairy Farmers Taking Proactive Stance

News Release Distributed 07/01/04 

Dairy farmers across the state of Louisiana are going back to class to ensure that their industry weathers the latest storms.

They, along with farmers from other segments of the agricultural industry, are participating in the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program – which teaches them how to make the most of their resources while also protecting the environment.

Dr. Brian LeBlanc, an LSU AgCenter associate professor of watershed management, recently conducted a Master Farmer class for more than 30 dairy producers in southeastern Louisiana to help them to address non-point source pollution issues related to their operations.

"Today, we’re talking about environmental policy and introducing best management practices," LeBlanc said. "We’re also trying to make the farmers aware of environmental stewardship as a part of the Master Farmer program."

The session was part of the educational component in the three-phase Master Farmer educational program.

As part of the LSU AgCenter effort, farmers first spend eight hours in the classroom learning about such concepts as BMPs and environmental stewardship. Then during the second phase they visit a model farm which has implemented those practices for a specific commodity. And, finally, the participants develop and implement comprehensive management plans for their own operations – in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Although participation in the program is voluntary, it is not without its advantages for agricultural producers. Increased efficiency in their operations and protecting the environment are some of those advantages, but a 2003 act of the state legislature also offered incentives.

"What the act says is that if these farmers went through the Master Farmer program and got and maintained the certification, they would be presumed in compliance with the environmental laws of the state," LeBlanc explained.

To date, more than 1,300 agricultural producers from across the state – representing crops ranging from cattle to cotton – have enrolled in the program. But LeBlanc said dairy producers in Southeast Louisiana have even more reasons for enrolling.

"The Department of Environmental Quality has designated some of the rivers and streams in the area as not meeting the standards for fishing or swimming, and they are considered impaired," LeBlanc said, explaining that participating in the Master Farmer effort may help them to learn new ways to protect those waterways.

In addition, earlier in the spring, the group of dairy farmers participating in the latest Master Farmer class got together to form a new organization so they will be able to speak with one voice. Dr. Ronnie Bardwell, an LSU AgCenter area agent working with dairy producers, said the farmers formed the Association of Louisiana Milk Producers as a way to improve their bargaining position.

"This newly formed group has members from across the state and already has over 200 members," Bardwell said, adding that he and LSU AgCenter county agent Aubrey Posey of Washington Parish helped facilitate the formation of the group.

"The dairy industry in Louisiana has been on the decline over the past few years, and this group hopefully will be able to help address the serious challenges still facing the dairy industry," Bardwell said.

He said the association wants to educate consumers about the vital part that the dairy farmers play in the Louisiana economy.

"Also, we want the association to work closely with Farm Bureau and the Department of Agriculture to address some of the issues of the industry," Bardwell said, adding, "This is now a $60 million industry that 10 years ago was a $125 million industry – when you look at the money received by producers for milk."

Mike Miller, president of the Association of Louisiana Milk Producers, said he’s optimistic about prices over the next six months, "but since Louisiana producers are now competing in the world market, nobody can be sure."

Although milk was produced in 20 Louisiana parishes in 2003, most of the production comes from the southeastern Louisiana area known as the New Orleans Milkshed. More than 91 percent of the 510 million pounds of milk produced in the Louisiana last year came from four of the state’s parishes – DeSoto, St. Helena, Tangipahoa and Washington – and those areas also dominated the $183 million total contribution to the state’s economy made by the dairy industry.

For additional information on the state’s dairy industry or a variety of other topics, contact your local LSU AgCenter office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contacts:
Ronnie Bardwell at (225) 222-4136 or rbardwell@agcenter.lsu.edu
Brian Leblanc at (985) 543-4129 or bleblanc@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:    
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Louisiana 4-Hers Named National Champions At Poultry Egg Conference

News Release Distributed 11/23/04

Five Louisiana 4-H’ers were among those winning national championship honors last week in Louisville, Ky.

In all, nine 4-H’ers represented Louisiana at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in Louisville Nov. 17-18 – which saw the Louisiana 4-H Poultry Judging Team win national championship honors and an Allen Parish 4-H’er win the national championship for a demonstration.

The Louisiana judging team – Katie Authement, Sandi Cortez, Angelle Martin and Jenna Martin, all of Lafourche Parish – was named the 2004 national champion in the overall judging contest. The team and its individual members also won a variety of other honors during the poultry and egg conference, which is held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition.

In addition to that championship, 4-H’er Charlie Earl of Allen Parish was named the National Champion in the egg preparation demonstration contest. Earl, who was coached by LSU AgCenter agent Drusilla LeVrier, was judged on her presentation skills and on the dish she prepared (Eggtraordinary Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake).

As for the Louisiana poultry judging team, it also placed first in the egg production judging, first in the market egg judging and second in market poultry judging portions of the competition.

Individual members of the judging team were honored, as well.

Cortez was the second-place individual finisher in the overall contest, the fifth high individual in egg production judging, the eighth high individual in market poultry judging and the eighth high individual in market egg judging.

Authement was the third highest scoring individual in the overall contest, the second high individual in egg production judging and the second high individual in market egg judging.

Angelle Martin was the seventh highest scoring individual in the overall contest and the second-place individual in market poultry judging.

Jenna Martin was the 12th high individual in the overall contest, the fourth high individual in market poultry judging and the ninth high individual in market egg judging.

The Louisiana 4-H poultry judging team was coached by LSU AgCenter agent David Boldt.

Other Louisiana winners included Dawn Jason, a 4-H’er from West Baton Rouge Parish, who placed third in the national turkey barbecue contest.

The Louisiana 4-H Avian Bowl Team placed 10th in the National Avian Bowl contest. The team members were Cortez, Chris Head and Ryan Saucier, all from Lafourche Parish.

In addition, Meghan Wiggins of St. Charles Parish represented Louisiana in the National Chicken Barbecue contest.

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Contact: Theresia Lavergne at (225) 578-2219 or tlavergne@agcenter.lsu.edu

Louisiana 4-Hers Named National Champions At Poultry Egg Conference

News Release Distributed 11/23/04

Five Louisiana 4-H’ers were among those winning national championship honors last week in Louisville, Ky.

In all, nine 4-H’ers represented Louisiana at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in Louisville Nov. 17-18 – which saw the Louisiana 4-H Poultry Judging Team win national championship honors and an Allen Parish 4-H’er win the national championship for a demonstration.

The Louisiana judging team – Katie Authement, Sandi Cortez, Angelle Martin and Jenna Martin, all of Lafourche Parish – was named the 2004 national champion in the overall judging contest. The team and its individual members also won a variety of other honors during the poultry and egg conference, which is held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition.

In addition to that championship, 4-H’er Charlie Earl of Allen Parish was named the National Champion in the egg preparation demonstration contest. Earl, who was coached by LSU AgCenter agent Drusilla LeVrier, was judged on her presentation skills and on the dish she prepared (Eggtraordinary Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake).

As for the Louisiana poultry judging team, it also placed first in the egg production judging, first in the market egg judging and second in market poultry judging portions of the competition.

Individual members of the judging team were honored, as well.

Cortez was the second-place individual finisher in the overall contest, the fifth high individual in egg production judging, the eighth high individual in market poultry judging and the eighth high individual in market egg judging.

Authement was the third highest scoring individual in the overall contest, the second high individual in egg production judging and the second high individual in market egg judging.

Angelle Martin was the seventh highest scoring individual in the overall contest and the second-place individual in market poultry judging.

Jenna Martin was the 12th high individual in the overall contest, the fourth high individual in market poultry judging and the ninth high individual in market egg judging.

The Louisiana 4-H poultry judging team was coached by LSU AgCenter agent David Boldt.

Other Louisiana winners included Dawn Jason, a 4-H’er from West Baton Rouge Parish, who placed third in the national turkey barbecue contest.

The Louisiana 4-H Avian Bowl Team placed 10th in the National Avian Bowl contest. The team members were Cortez, Chris Head and Ryan Saucier, all from Lafourche Parish.

In addition, Meghan Wiggins of St. Charles Parish represented Louisiana in the National Chicken Barbecue contest.

###

Contact: Theresia Lavergne at (225) 578-2219 or tlavergne@agcenter.lsu.edu

Louisiana Farms Serve As Models For Others

News Release Distributed 07/28/04 

Louisiana farmers are entering the second phase of the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer program and are creating environmentally friendly farms that will be models for others around the world to follow.

A total of 12 farms have been chosen as model farms for the Louisiana Master Farmer program, according to Carrie Castille Mendoza, Master Farmer Program coordinator for the LSU AgCenter. They were selected to represent the state’s various major watersheds and the crops grown here.

"The purpose of these model farms is to allow farmers to show others in their watershed how certain practices can be implemented and how those practices can benefit their farming operations and the environment," Mendoza explained.

The model farms are spread across five of Louisiana’s priority watersheds, Mendoza said, adding that those include the Mermentau, Vermilion-Teche, Calcasieu, Ouachita and Red River watersheds.

"We had many innovative producers apply to become part of the model farm program, but we could select only 12 farms to represent the commodities grown and practices implemented in the watersheds," Mendoza said.

The next step for the model farms will be setting up water quality monitoring stations to collect data on how selected best management practices implemented on the model farms affect the runoff and the water bodies in surrounding areas.

The LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer program was implemented in 2001 as a means for agricultural producers to learn more about protecting the environment, reducing nonpoint source pollution and improving the profitability of their operations.

To date, Master Farmer courses have been offered across more than half of the state, and about 1,600 farmers participate in the program. The program also is beginning to be offered to producers in the remaining Louisiana watersheds, and model farms also are being developed in those watersheds.

Brian Howard of Lake Providence owns one of the model farms in the Ouachita Watershed. Howard farms row crops of soybeans, corn, cotton and wheat – and he is a graduate of the LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Leadership Development Program.

"I started using conservation tillage practices about eight years ago," Howard said. "I really liked it, so I continued to use it."

Conservation tillage is a no-till method that reduces soil erosion by protecting the soil surface and allowing water to infiltrate instead of running off. Reducing soil erosion is important, because erosion removes the productive layer of topsoil, reducing crop yields and land value. Soil removed from fields eventually ends up as sediment in streams, rivers or lakes – and that sediment collects and reduces their water-holding capacity. Some crop nutrients and pesticides also attach to soil particles and are carried and deposited in waterways along with the soil.

In addition to reducing soil erosion, Howard said he has found other advantages to using the conservation tillage method.

"I’m able to do more (work) with less labor," he said. "For us to stay profitable, no-till was the answer."

Howard said that because the amount of runoff from his fields has been decreased, water bodies on his property have become clearer.

"It has been very rewarding to see the changes that have taken place," he said. "In addition to clearer water, the population of earthworms also is increasing. And earthworms are useful because they aerate the soil."

Coupled with those advantages, Howard said he also been able to reduce the use of machinery for tilling on his farm.

"We do have to do some tilling," Howard said, explaining, however, that the amount is greatly reduced. "I don’t like doing it, but sometimes I have to till to maintain the quality of my fields, so I do just what has to be done."

In addition to being environmentally friendly, using the no-till method has other advantages.

"Now that I don’t till that much anymore, I have more time to be with my family," Howard said. "I get to go to school functions and other things that I once couldn’t go to because now I’m not tied to practices that are so time consuming. It’s definitely a lifestyle change for the better."

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, supports the LSU AgCenter's Master Farmer program and said she will continue to do so in the future. Louisiana’s model farms got a boost with monies made possible by Landrieu.

"I worked hard to include funding for the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program," Landrieu said. "It allows Louisiana farmers to demonstrate that while they are among the most efficient and productive farmers in the country, they also lead the way in conservation. This program is a shining example to the nation of our farmers' ability to meet the daily challenges of weather, disease and competition in a global market – and still be good stewards of their environment."

LSU AgCenter Chancellor Dr. Bill Richardson agrees with Landrieu.

"No other state that we know of has an environmental education program statewide and as comprehensive as this one," Richardson said. "Louisiana is No. 1 with our Master Farmer program."

Donna Morgan, an LSU AgCenter extension associate working with the Master Farmer program, said the money the senator helped to obtain helps with the use of state-of-the-art equipment to conduct water quality research on these model farms.

Additional money for the program also was received through the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s 319 Program, Morgan said.

In addition to Howard’s farm, other model farms in the Ouachita Watershed are Jay Hardwick’s, Edgar Raymond’s and Tim Wart’s.

Model farms in other watersheds are: Jim Dupont’s in the Calcasieu Watershed, Errol Lounsberry’s and Craig Adam’s farms in the Mermentau Watershed; Gary Lirette’s farm in the Red River Watershed; and Ronnie Gonsoulin’s, Jeff Durand’s, Kenneth LaHaye’s and Robert Thevis’s farms in the Vermilion-Teche Watershed.

"We will continue to teach phase one of the program, which includes eight hours of environmental stewardship education," Mendoza said. "Now, with the model farms up and running, producers also can move on to phase three, which is the development and implementation of comprehensive conservation plans with NRCS and their local soil and water conservation districts at any time."

The NRCS is a federal partner with the LSU AgCenter in this endeavor, Mendoza said.

Information learned from the model farms will be presented at LSU AgCenter Master Farmer conservation field days that are being planned for 2005. A congressional tour of the farms also will be held, Mendoza said.

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Contacts:
Carrie Castille Mendoza at (225) 578-2906 or cmendoza@agcenter.lsu.edu
Donna Morgan at (318) 473-6521 or dsmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Louisiana Hosts Regional 4-H Horse Show; State Youth Fare Well

News Release Distributed 08/12/04 

WEST MONROE – About 500 4-H’ers from across the South rode into the Ike Hamilton Expo Center here recently for the 2004 4-H Southern Regional Horse Show.

The 4-H’ers, who previously had won honors at shows in their home states, came from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Hosted this year by the LSU AgCenter, the show ran from July 28 through Aug. 1, and a number of the Louisiana participants were among those winning honors in the regional event.

The annual event, which rotates among the states involved, is designed to let youth show off their talents with horses and in horse-related activities, as well as in such areas as public speaking.

"Participating in these activities has benefits for young people ranging from helping them to learn responsibility to giving them a chance to participate in something with their families," LSU AgCenter horse specialist Dr. Clint Depew said. "But a show like this also has an economic benefit for the area – which surveys show could be around $3 million to $4 million."

Louisiana winners in the regional competition, listed by parish, were:

Acadia Parish – Sean Dubose, 7th place in Stock Type Mares; Cameron Miller, 2nd place in Stocking Type Geldings; and Mallory Hornsby, 6th place in Western Riding.

Ascension Parish – Grant Smith, 7th place in Breakaway Roping and 7th place in Calf Roping.

Concordia Parish – Jamie Lynn Huffman, 3rd place in the Stakes Finals and 5th place in the Barrels Finals.

Iberia Parish – Bethany Elder and Grace Leleaux, 6th place in Team Demonstration.

Lafourche Parish – Luke Dufrene, 3rd place in the Breakaway Roping and 4th place in Calf Roping, as well as Reserve High Point Winner in Calf Roping; Jordan Allemand, 10th place in Breakaway Roping and 6th place in Calf Roping; and Jena Martin, Katie Authment, Sara Thibodaux and Rebecca Blanchard, 6th in Horse Judging Team.

Lafayette Parish – Kaitlyn Landry, 10th place in Stock Type Mares; Lindsey Theriot, 7th in Barrel Racing; and Gentry Pickett, 9th place in Public Speaking.

Lincoln Parish – Gwin Hedgepeth, 7th place in Western Riding.

Livingston Parish – Julie Hardy, 2nd place in the Stakes Race and 8th place in Barrel Racing.

Madison Parish – Dana Rinicker, 4th place in the Stakes Race, 5th place in Pole Bending and 4th place in Barrel Racing.

Orleans Parish – Braxton Laughlin, 3rd place in Calf Roping.

Rapides Parish – Morgan Williams, 9th place in Stock Type Mares and 9th place in Showmanship/Western Attire, and Casey Moses, 10th place in Stocking Type Geldings.

St. Mary Parish – Caroline Minvielle, 5th place in Western Riding.

St. Tammany Parish – Katie Brandner, 7th place in Western Pleasure; Marie Luke, 8th place in Western Pleasure; and Victoria Chiri, 9th place in Western Pleasure.

St. John Parish – Ashley Reine, 3rd place in Reining.

Winn Parish – Tori Adams, Danny Howell, Lindsey Weeks and Katlyn Chandler, 5th in Horse Judging Team.

Other Louisiana 4-H’ers, who were winners at the state show in July and earned the right to participate in the 4-H Southern Regional Horse Show were Andy Causey of Caldwell Parish; Katie Barber and Brandy Green, East Baton Rouge Parish; Alexandra Donaldson and Christopher Stevens, Iberia Parish; Kells Castille, Lacey Guilbeau, Brittany Hernandez, Brooke Lynn Miller and Kylie Payne, Lafayette Parish; Sarah Willie, Orleans Parish; Ellis Dufresne, St. James Parish; Katie Reine, St. John Parish; Melinda Parrish, St. Martin Parish; Katie Borne, Elise Breaux and Rachel Petroff, St. Tammany Parish; Kaitlen Emfinger, Tensas Parish; and Kristen Morrison, Vernon Parish.

To learn more about 4-H and the variety of youth programs and other activities offered through the LSU AgCenter, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contact: Clint Depew at (225) 578-2219 or cdepew@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writers: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Low Rice Yields Resulting From Unusual Weather This Year

rice harvest

News Release Distributed 07/29/04 

Too much rain and not enough sunshine – both at the worst times – are being blamed as the culprits that stole a bountiful rice harvest.

"The rain was in the right place at the wrong time," said LSU AgCenter plant physiologist Dr. Richard Dunand.

The problems started in mid-May, when most rice plants were at green ring stage where the panicles from which the rice grains will form start to develop. Dunand said several days of rain and heavy cloud cover resulted in an inadequate amount of sunlight vital for photosynthesis.

"The plants were under stress," Dunand said.

When that happens, he explained, a plant’s natural reaction is to limit the amount of energy it can direct toward reproduction, and it will produce fewer florets, the small flower-like reproductive structures in the panicles. At stressful times, plants will produce fewer grains that may also be smaller, he said. In addition, he said the plants generated fewer tillers, resulting in fewer panicles.

After that setback came the heavy rainfall of mid-June – with several days of consecutive rainfall exceeding more than 20 inches in some areas. Most of the rice was in the process of pollination, and the heavy rain may have interfered with that crucial step, Dunand said.

Rice is a self-pollinating plant, Dunand explained, so it doesn’t use insects or wind for reproduction. The florets open, and the pollen cases dry and open, releasing pollen that falls onto the stigma for fertilization with the ovary, he said.

Dunand said pollination occurs within a small time-frame, with the florets opening between 10 a.m. and mid-afternoon. Rain falling on the florets can interrupt the process, he said.

Generally, not all florets on a panicle open simultaneously, he said. As a rule, florets on the top third will open the first day of pollination, followed by the middle florets and the bottom third on the last day. Roughly, rice plants in a field have a 10-day window for pollination, he said.

High winds during thunderstorms also could be a factor that interferes with pollination, said Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder.

Heavy rainfall also set the stage for diseases, such as sheath blight, that thrive under moist conditions, said Dr. Don Groth, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist.

"The plant canopy never dried out," Groth said.

Frequent rain kept the plant canopy wet and may have washed away fungicides before they had a chance to be effective, Groth explained, adding that the wet plants provided an ideal environment for disease to thrive.

Linscombe said heavy rains interfered with schedules for applications of fertilizers and pesticides, since pilots couldn’t fly during inclement weather and the fields may have been too wet to use ground spraying rigs.

A common method of fighting rice water weevils, whose larvae eat the tender roots of developing rice plants, is to drain rice fields to dry the soil. But Linscombe said saturated ground made that impossible for many farmers.

It’s a common misconception that rice thrives in tropical weather, Linscombe said. While the plant can withstand heavy amounts of rain, he said, "It doesn’t like as much as we got this year."

Early numbers from the field indicate a harvest far below last year’s record yield.

"We’re not going to hear a lot of bragging on this year’s yields," said LSU AgCenter rice specialist Dr. Johnny Saichuk.

Saichuk said a farmer in Vermilion Parish, Ted Girouard, cut 36 barrels an acre Tuesday – where he had predicted a 41-barrel yield.

"It was real disappointing," he said. "We’re probably running three barrels (per acre) under last year’s yields, or about 500 pounds an acre."

The Loewer brothers in Acadia Parish have started their harvest, and they’re also not excited with what they’ve seen so far.

James Loewer said a field cut Wednesday produced slightly more than 40 barrels an acre.

"It should have made 45," he said.

Another field yielded only a little more than 35 barrels, he said.

Eddie Eskew, an LSU AgCenter county agent for rice in Jefferson Davis, Allen, Cameron and Calcasieu parishes, said maturity is inconsistent. Even in the same field, the rice isn’t maturing at the same time, Eskew said.

Many farmers planted fields at different times, so harvest could be spread out over several days, Eskew said, but that planning may have been in vain.

"It appears all the rice is going to be ready at the same time," Eskew said.

By late July, he said, harvest should be 50 percent to 60 percent complete under normal circumstances, but only a fifth of the crop had been cut as of the last week of July this year.

Some of the crop will remain in the field beyond the LSU AgCenter’s recommended deadline of Aug. 10 for a second crop, he said.

Eskew said the mood of the agricultural community now is opposite of what it was earlier this year before planting.

"There was so much optimism in February with high prices," he said. "If you go out in the farming community now, there is a lot of disappointment out there."

###


Contacts: 
Richard Dunand at (337) 788-7531 or rdunand@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Don Groth (337) 788-7531 or dgroth@agcenter.lsu.edu
Steve Linscombe (337) 788-7531 or slinscombe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Johnny Saichuk (337) 788-7547 or jsaichuk@agcenter.lsu.edu  
Eddie Eskew (337) 824-1773 or eeskew@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Agent Works To Stop Water Pollution With Litterbags

News Release Distributed 7/28/04  

Putting litterbags on boats to stop pollution is one of the best ideas to come along in years, according to officials with the LSU AgCenter, who say such measures also give every boater a chance to pitch in to help clean up our waters.

Louisiana has an abundance of water bodies, but LSU AgCenter fisheries agent Mark Schexnayder says the idea of providing Louisiana boaters with litterbags actually came to him while he was on vacation in Arkansas a few years ago.

"We were overnight camping, and when we rented canoes, we were given these reusable litterbags to bring back any recyclables and any trash that we would generate during the trip," Schexnayder explains.

Schexnayder said he had never seen anything like it in Louisiana, but he thought it would be a neat idea. The litterbag idea got stuffed away in his offices as he moved around for the next few years and had little time to start any new projects.

But he never completely forgot about bringing such bags to Louisiana to help clean up our lakes and streams. Then, when Brad LaBorde, an LSU AgCenter and LSU Sea Grant intern from the University of New Orleans, came to work with Schexnayder, he saw the opportunity to pursue the project.

"After Brad came on board, I asked him if he would be interested in taking on this project – and he agreed," Schexnayder explained about the recent developments.

Now, as the result of a little work, the litterbags are being made available through a variety of sources and at a variety of locations.

Schexnayder and LaBorde began the work by checking to see who might be interested in a program like this in the state.

"We knew that Wildlife and Fisheries had a program that dealt with clean marinas. We also went to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and they put up some funds. So the project took off pretty fast," Schexnayder said, adding, "Others involved in the litterbag program include the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and the USDA CSREES Southern Regional Water Quality Program."

Of course, starting such a project wasn’t without obstacles, Schexnayder says, explaining one of those was figuring out where to get the right bags.

"We weren’t sure where we could get the right size bags until I talked to one of our LSU AgCenter specialists, who was doing onion research, about where he got onion sacks," Schexnayder explained. "Almost instantly, we had 5,000 bags, so then the question was how to get the word out quickly."

The pair decided to locate all the canoe vendors, canoe rental operations and boat rental locations in the state – as well as to make contact with other agencies, such as the Atchafalaya Basin Foundation.

After sending sample bags, information and requests to consider participating in the program to facilities across the state, half of those already have agreed to participate in the program. More of the bags were sent out before Memorial Day to those vendors who agreed to participate to make sure that they were available at the beginning of the summer season.

Schexnayder and his colleagues also asked the participants if they would work with him on a follow-up survey, so he could judge the effectiveness of the bags.

Now that the bags are out in locations across the state, the LSU AgCenter agent said the survey will be sent this fall to see how well the program is working.

"We want to know if the bags are used, but we also want to know if they were too big, too small or if they want more description on it – those types of things," Schexnayder said.

Schexnayder said that the whole purpose of this campaign is to make sure the state’s rivers and streams are kept clean, so people who use them can actually see their beauty.

###

Contact: Mark Schexnayder at (504) 838-1170 or mschexnayder@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Announces Annual Pecan Station Field Day

News Release Distributed 08/11/04 

SHREVEPORT – An update on using "trap crops" to keep stinkbugs out of pecan orchards is among the topics to be discussed at the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research and Extension Station Annual Field Day Aug. 27.

LSU AgCenter pecan entomologist Dr. Michael Hall is looking at cow peas and soybeans as possible trap crops to keep stink bugs from entering pecan orchards. This is the fourth year Hall has been studying these techniques for use in pecan orchards.

"Stink bugs move into pecan orchards from the time the shuck splits and stay through harvest," Hall said. "The bugs leave black spots that are very bitter on the kernels. This damage cannot be detected until after the nut is cracked, and, by that time, a lot of work already has gone into harvesting and shelling the pecans."

Hall said stink bugs find crops such as cow peas and soybeans more appealing than pecan trees. He and other researchers are looking at what happens if plots of these crops are planted near pecan orchards, and they say growing trap crops could prove beneficial for owners of small pecan orchards, as well as people who want to grow their pecan crops organically.

In addition to Hall’s presentation, other topics to be discussed at the field day include fungicide test results and a planting and grafting schedule. There also will be a discussion on Pecan Bacterial Leaf Scorch.

The field day is designed to appeal to Louisiana growers and those from other states in the region. Paul and Pasty Hawkins, owners of the Bogard Pecan Orchard in Foreman, Ark., recently agreed it is useful to all growers.

"Our family has always gotten information from researchers at the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Station," Patsy Hawkins said. "These scientists and their research are vital to our industry."

Dr. Jere McBride, regional director for the LSU AgCenter in Northwest Louisiana, said the information provided at this year’s field day will be useful to pecan growers all over the South.

"We invite growers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas to come and hear what research is being done that can help them grow profitable pecan crops."

The field day is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 27 at the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research-Extension Station, 10300 Harts Island Road, in Shreveport.

Because lunch will be served, those planning to attend are asked to register by Aug. 20. But there is no fee for participation.

To register or for more information, call (318) 797-8034 ext. 2305.

###

Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Announces Sweet Potato Research Station Field Day

News Release Distributed 7/28/04  

CHASE – Two herbicides that received crisis registration this year for use in sweet potato fields will be among the topics covered during an Aug. 12 field day at the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station.

Sandea and Valor are the two herbicides that will be discussed during the field day at the Chase facility. The events get under way with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. and field tours beginning at 8:30 a.m.

In addition to the discussions on Sandea and Valor, other stops on the tour include a research plot that deals with an integrated pest management study with a sweet potato insecticide, as well as plots that feature ongoing sweet potato breeding program seedling evaluations, said Dr. Mike Cannon, director of the Sweet Potato Research Station for the LSU AgCenter.

"Stops also will take place at other weed control plots where new herbicides are being tested for use in sweet potatoes," Cannon said. "Producers will find this and other research being done at the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station very informative."

Among the field tour activities, Dr. Arthur Villordon, an LSU AgCenter horticulturist at the Sweet Potato Research Station, will lead participants through plots where he is conducting sweet potato cultural practice studies. Among Villordon’s studies are fertilizer research to evaluate split application of nitrogen to improve fertilizer efficacy, continuing research on optimum potassium and phosphorus rates, a comparison of the effect of size of transplants on survivability and yield, effects of row height on yields and the effect of subsoiling on yields and quality.

The field tour also will include stops at plots that deal with a crop rotation study to determine the effect of different crops on sweet potato yield and quality and an evaluation of genetic stability of Beauregard mericlones.

After the tour, participants will gather to hear comments from a variety of LSU AgCenter administrators, and a lunch will be served.

For more information, call the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station at (318) 435-2155.

###

Contact: Mike Cannon at (318) 435-2155 or mcannon@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Crop Field Day Set For Aug. 26

News Release Distributed 08/11/04 

ALEXANDRIA – The LSU AgCenter will host a field day at its Dean Lee Research Station Aug. 26.

Known as the Rapides Parish/Dean Lee Crop Field Day, this third annual event is slated to start at 3 p.m. Aug. 26 at the research station south of Alexandria.

The field day will feature two concurrent tours of fields where LSU AgCenter research is being conducted – one focusing on cotton research and the other on feed grain studies.

Presentations on cotton defoliation by LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dr. Sandy Stewart and on feed grain variety developments and the soybean verification program by feed grain specialist Dr. David Lanclos will be included on both tours.

In addition, the cotton tour will include talks on plant population and Pix research by Stewart and graduate student Jonathan Siebert, on cotton varieties and late-season insect management by Stewart and LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Ralph Bagwell and on cotton weed control with herbicides and their development by research station resident coordinator Roy Vidrine and research associate Derek Scroggs.

The feed grain tour also will include discussions on double cropping wheat and soybeans by Lanclos, weed control and herbicide development by Vidrine, and corn and soybean breeding programs to develop improved varieties by LSU AgCenter plant breeder Dr. Steve Moore.

The two groups will reconvene at 6 p.m. for dinner and general presentations by Dr. David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for research, and Dr. John Andries, director of the Louisiana Boll Weevil Eradication program with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Donna Morgan with the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program also will give an update on the environmental education program being developed in the state.

The field day is open to anyone interested in learning about the latest developments in the cotton, soybean and grain crop production.

The LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research Station is located adjacent to the LSU-Alexandria campus off U.S. Highway 71 south of Alexandria.

For more information on the field day, contact Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6522, (318) 308-6525 or sstewart@agcenter.lsu.edu  or Matt Martin at (318) 473-6605 or mmartin@agcenter.lsu.edu.  A program can be downloaded by selecting Crop Field Day Info. under News You Can Use at www.lsuagcenter.com/parish/rapides

###

Contact: Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6522 or sstewart@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Expert Says Hunting Safely Is Top Priority

News Release Distributed 11/12/04

With hunting season in full swing, an LSU AgCenter expert says it’s a good time to remember that safety should be everyone’s top priority.

Dr. Don Reed, an LSU AgCenter wildlife and hunting safety specialist, said taking a hunter education course is an excellent way to keep safety at the forefront of your hunting activity.

"That’s especially if you were born on or after Sept. 1, 1969," Reed said. "State law mandates everyone born on or after this date to successfully complete a hunter education course before he or she can buy a hunting license."

Those persons going out of state to hunt should check state regulations in the state where they plan to hunt, Reed said. All 50 states now require some form of hunter education certificate prior to issuing a license.

Hunter education courses are taught in Louisiana by certified instructors with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. For information on these courses, contact your local Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries office.

Deer season is one hunting season that is getting a lot of attention right now in the state. According to Reed, any person hunting deer on public land is required to wear at least 400 square inches of "hunter orange" on his or her head, chest and/or back.

"Anyone hunting on privately owned, legally posted land may wear a hunter orange cap or a hat in lieu of the 400 square inches," Reed said.

Reed said those provisions do not apply to people hunting deer from elevated stands on property that is privately owned and legally posted. They also don’t apply to archery deer hunters on legally posted lands where firearm hunting is not permitted by agreement of the landowner or lessee.

"But anyone hunting deer on such lands where hunting with firearms is allowed is required to display the 400 square inches or a hunter orange cap or hat while walking to and from elevated stands," he said. "But while a person is hunting from an elevated stand, the 400 square inches or the cap or hat may be concealed."

The LSU AgCenter expert stresses that wearing "hunter orange" clothing or caps will not scare the deer away, but it will help in an effort to keep hunters safe.

"Deer are color blind," Reed said. "They can’t see if you’re wearing orange. Another person, however, can see orange, so wearing orange could save your life."

Deer season runs through Jan. 31, 2005, in many areas of the state. In addition to information about wearing "hunter orange," Reed has a variety of other safety tips to follow when hunting.

"These include never crossing a fence with a loaded gun," he said. "Also, use pull ropes to raise and lower firearms in and out of deer stands. And never run with a loaded gun."

Reed said always treat a firearm as if it were loaded and never shoot a firearm if you believe the barrel has an obstruction in it.

"Never use the scopes as binoculars, either," he said.

Hunting fatalities involving firearms have gone down in recent years. As many as 20 hunting-related fatalities were reported in Louisiana during 1983, but only three were reported last year (2003).

Reed credits this drop to the hunter education courses, which state law mandated in 1984.

While there are hunting accidents that involve firearms, there are also many accidents that happen with people climbing in and out of elevated deer stands. These can be avoided by using a "little common sense," Reed said.

"Always use precaution when climbing in and out of elevated deer stands," he said. "Use solid ladders, sturdy platforms and safety harnesses to reduce the chance of injury."

Reed also says to use caution when hunting waterfowl, especially when two or more hunters are using the same blind.

"Sharing a blind can be safe if hunters establish ‘zones of fire’ whereby ducks flying around the blind will have a pre-determined shooter as to who will fire the shot in what area," Reed said.

For more information on hunting safely or a variety of other topics ranging from natural resources to 4-H youth development, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Don Reed at (225) 683-5848 or dreed@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Expert Says Hunting Safely Is Top Priority

News Release Distributed 11/12/04

With hunting season in full swing, an LSU AgCenter expert says it’s a good time to remember that safety should be everyone’s top priority.

Dr. Don Reed, an LSU AgCenter wildlife and hunting safety specialist, said taking a hunter education course is an excellent way to keep safety at the forefront of your hunting activity.

"That’s especially if you were born on or after Sept. 1, 1969," Reed said. "State law mandates everyone born on or after this date to successfully complete a hunter education course before he or she can buy a hunting license."

Those persons going out of state to hunt should check state regulations in the state where they plan to hunt, Reed said. All 50 states now require some form of hunter education certificate prior to issuing a license.

Hunter education courses are taught in Louisiana by certified instructors with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. For information on these courses, contact your local Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries office.

Deer season is one hunting season that is getting a lot of attention right now in the state. According to Reed, any person hunting deer on public land is required to wear at least 400 square inches of "hunter orange" on his or her head, chest and/or back.

"Anyone hunting on privately owned, legally posted land may wear a hunter orange cap or a hat in lieu of the 400 square inches," Reed said.

Reed said those provisions do not apply to people hunting deer from elevated stands on property that is privately owned and legally posted. They also don’t apply to archery deer hunters on legally posted lands where firearm hunting is not permitted by agreement of the landowner or lessee.

"But anyone hunting deer on such lands where hunting with firearms is allowed is required to display the 400 square inches or a hunter orange cap or hat while walking to and from elevated stands," he said. "But while a person is hunting from an elevated stand, the 400 square inches or the cap or hat may be concealed."

The LSU AgCenter expert stresses that wearing "hunter orange" clothing or caps will not scare the deer away, but it will help in an effort to keep hunters safe.

"Deer are color blind," Reed said. "They can’t see if you’re wearing orange. Another person, however, can see orange, so wearing orange could save your life."

Deer season runs through Jan. 31, 2005, in many areas of the state. In addition to information about wearing "hunter orange," Reed has a variety of other safety tips to follow when hunting.

"These include never crossing a fence with a loaded gun," he said. "Also, use pull ropes to raise and lower firearms in and out of deer stands. And never run with a loaded gun."

Reed said always treat a firearm as if it were loaded and never shoot a firearm if you believe the barrel has an obstruction in it.

"Never use the scopes as binoculars, either," he said.

Hunting fatalities involving firearms have gone down in recent years. As many as 20 hunting-related fatalities were reported in Louisiana during 1983, but only three were reported last year (2003).

Reed credits this drop to the hunter education courses, which state law mandated in 1984.

While there are hunting accidents that involve firearms, there are also many accidents that happen with people climbing in and out of elevated deer stands. These can be avoided by using a "little common sense," Reed said.

"Always use precaution when climbing in and out of elevated deer stands," he said. "Use solid ladders, sturdy platforms and safety harnesses to reduce the chance of injury."

Reed also says to use caution when hunting waterfowl, especially when two or more hunters are using the same blind.

"Sharing a blind can be safe if hunters establish ‘zones of fire’ whereby ducks flying around the blind will have a pre-determined shooter as to who will fire the shot in what area," Reed said.

For more information on hunting safely or a variety of other topics ranging from natural resources to 4-H youth development, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Don Reed at (225) 683-5848 or dreed@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Gets Research Grants From Board Of Regents

News Release Distributed 07/12/04 

The LSU AgCenter recently received research grants totaling nearly $1.4 million from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Awards for 2004 included $440,000 in the Regents’ Industrial Ties Program, $549,000 in the Enhancement Program and $392,000 in the Research Competitiveness Program.

The grants are funded by the Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund, which received approximately $540 million from the oil and gas settlement. The Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund receives 75 percent of the interest from the trust fund and that money is divided between the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Regents.

"We’re pleased the LSU AgCenter has fared so well under these competitive conditions," said Dr. David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of research. "We feel we’ve done exceedingly well considering the number of our faculty who submitted proposals. Our rate of success was among the highest of the campuses in the LSU System."

From 1987 through 2003, the Board of Regents awarded the LSU AgCenter more than $5.6 million in enhancement grants and more than $6.3 million in research and development grants.

The LSU AgCenter grants for 2004 included nearly $472,000 for sugarcane research, nearly $106,000 for forest products research and nearly $127,000 in food science research.

Research competitiveness funding, directed to new faculty, was awarded to researchers studying value-added processing for the rice industry, Louisiana watersheds, Formosan subterranean termites and families and parenting.

The Board of Regents supports several programs. The research competitiveness program funds basic research from investigators who are at the threshold of becoming competitive for federal funds. It is intended to help them enhance their competitive status and garner federal research money for Louisiana.

The industrial ties program "funds applied research with significant near-term potential for development and diversification of Louisiana’s economy." It requires that proposals have support from industry or out-of-state public agencies and that the research will result in establishing new businesses or enhancing established businesses in Louisiana.

The enhancement program focuses on enhancing "the infrastructure of academic, research or agricultural departments or units and to promote economic development."

The affect of a proposed project on the enhancement of departments and units – and on the state's economy – may be subtle, indirect and delayed, or pronounced, direct and immediate.

The Board of Regents gives special consideration to projects that pursue opportunities not otherwise available, those that will be funded in part by an external agency or will have a broad impact on the infrastructure of departments and units.

###

Contact: David Boethel at (225) 578-4181 or dboethel@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Helping Poultry Producers Fight Fire Ants

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

JONESBORO – The LSU AgCenter is working with Louisiana poultry producers to help them reduce the economic damage caused by fire ants.

Those efforts are part of an overall program designed to help citizens try to banish the pests from parks, lawns and other areas where people or animals may be affected.

One example of the work with poultry producers is in Jackson Parish, where LSU AgCenter county agent Eddie White has been working with producers on a variety of tests concerning products to use to fight the ants.

Billie Gaines is one poultry producer who said the products being tested seem to be working. Tests have been done at Gaines’ operation since April 2003.

"It’s unbelievable," said Gaines, who has been raising poultry for about 25 years. "When we started, one house had 70 (fire ant) mounds, and another house had 90 mounds. About six weeks after the product was put out, the number of mounds went to almost zero."

Fire ants in poultry houses can pose economic threats to producers, Gaines said, explaining that the ants can affect the health and growth of the animals, as well as create a variety of other problems.

"Before we started treatments, the birds couldn’t get to the sides of the houses because of the ants," he said. "They would crowd in the middle to get away from the ants. I was losing birds because of this. They would smother, or they wouldn’t grow because they couldn’t reach the feeders and waterers."

In addition to causing the birds to crowd, the ants would collect on dead birds in the houses and make it difficult for producers to remove the dead birds.

The fire ants also were causing problems by getting into the electric circuits and breakers to the houses.

"The ant population just kept building and building," Gaines said. "I was having to replace electric breakers, because fire ants would get in them and mess them up."

Before he started working with the LSU AgCenter’s experts, Gaines said he would go to the store, buy fire ant spray and spray his houses.

"It maybe would’ve knocked them out for a day or two," he said, "But then they would be right back."

Then the LSU AgCenter came in. Dr. Dale Pollet, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, said one product being tested is a growth regulator.

"This sterilizes the queen and stops reproduction," Pollet said. "Because of this, the mound gradually dies."

It takes about six to seven weeks for the product to work, he said.

In the tests the LSU AgCenter is conducting, each poultry house is treated along its perimeter with a product to kill existing ant populations within 10 feet of the house. Then, a growth-regulating product is broadcast over the entire acreage of the farm to achieve long-term control.

In addition to controlling fire ants in poultry houses, the products also can be used on lawns and other areas where the people or animals may be.

Consequently, the LSU AgCenter’s tests extend well beyond those involving poultry producers. Experts across the state are working with local officials and neighborhood residents to orchestrate efforts to reduce the population of red imported fire ants.

For example, White said town officials in Jonesboro heard about the work with Jackson Parish poultry producers and wanted to start similar programs in areas where they wanted to "get rid of fire ants."

"These included places such as parks, right of ways and places like that," White said. "We provided them with information on the product and a spreader to put it out with."

But Jonesboro was far from the first area to consider such work.

The LSU AgCenter was involved in instituting and studying a number of neighborhood efforts to control fire ants. And those efforts, which started in the late 1990s in Baton Rouge’s Spanish Town, now have spread across the state.

"We have neighborhoods where people go together and buy a bag (of the product) to use on lawns and other places," Pollet said. "This keeps individual costs down and everyone benefits."

The neighborhood programs – when coordinated where residents all try to apply the material at the same time – also keep them from simply chasing the fire ants from one yard to the next, Pollet said.

For more information on fire ant control or on a variety of topics ranging from agriculture and natural resources to community life and economic development, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Dale Pollet at (225) 578-2370 or dpollet@agcenter.lsu.edu
Eddie White at (318) 259-5690 or ewhite@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Helping Poultry Producers Fight Fire Ants

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

JONESBORO – The LSU AgCenter is working with Louisiana poultry producers to help them reduce the economic damage caused by fire ants.

Those efforts are part of an overall program designed to help citizens try to banish the pests from parks, lawns and other areas where people or animals may be affected.

One example of the work with poultry producers is in Jackson Parish, where LSU AgCenter county agent Eddie White has been working with producers on a variety of tests concerning products to use to fight the ants.

Billie Gaines is one poultry producer who said the products being tested seem to be working. Tests have been done at Gaines’ operation since April 2003.

"It’s unbelievable," said Gaines, who has been raising poultry for about 25 years. "When we started, one house had 70 (fire ant) mounds, and another house had 90 mounds. About six weeks after the product was put out, the number of mounds went to almost zero."

Fire ants in poultry houses can pose economic threats to producers, Gaines said, explaining that the ants can affect the health and growth of the animals, as well as create a variety of other problems.

"Before we started treatments, the birds couldn’t get to the sides of the houses because of the ants," he said. "They would crowd in the middle to get away from the ants. I was losing birds because of this. They would smother, or they wouldn’t grow because they couldn’t reach the feeders and waterers."

In addition to causing the birds to crowd, the ants would collect on dead birds in the houses and make it difficult for producers to remove the dead birds.

The fire ants also were causing problems by getting into the electric circuits and breakers to the houses.

"The ant population just kept building and building," Gaines said. "I was having to replace electric breakers, because fire ants would get in them and mess them up."

Before he started working with the LSU AgCenter’s experts, Gaines said he would go to the store, buy fire ant spray and spray his houses.

"It maybe would’ve knocked them out for a day or two," he said, "But then they would be right back."

Then the LSU AgCenter came in. Dr. Dale Pollet, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, said one product being tested is a growth regulator.

"This sterilizes the queen and stops reproduction," Pollet said. "Because of this, the mound gradually dies."

It takes about six to seven weeks for the product to work, he said.

In the tests the LSU AgCenter is conducting, each poultry house is treated along its perimeter with a product to kill existing ant populations within 10 feet of the house. Then, a growth-regulating product is broadcast over the entire acreage of the farm to achieve long-term control.

In addition to controlling fire ants in poultry houses, the products also can be used on lawns and other areas where the people or animals may be.

Consequently, the LSU AgCenter’s tests extend well beyond those involving poultry producers. Experts across the state are working with local officials and neighborhood residents to orchestrate efforts to reduce the population of red imported fire ants.

For example, White said town officials in Jonesboro heard about the work with Jackson Parish poultry producers and wanted to start similar programs in areas where they wanted to "get rid of fire ants."

"These included places such as parks, right of ways and places like that," White said. "We provided them with information on the product and a spreader to put it out with."

But Jonesboro was far from the first area to consider such work.

The LSU AgCenter was involved in instituting and studying a number of neighborhood efforts to control fire ants. And those efforts, which started in the late 1990s in Baton Rouge’s Spanish Town, now have spread across the state.

"We have neighborhoods where people go together and buy a bag (of the product) to use on lawns and other places," Pollet said. "This keeps individual costs down and everyone benefits."

The neighborhood programs – when coordinated where residents all try to apply the material at the same time – also keep them from simply chasing the fire ants from one yard to the next, Pollet said.

For more information on fire ant control or on a variety of topics ranging from agriculture and natural resources to community life and economic development, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Dale Pollet at (225) 578-2370 or dpollet@agcenter.lsu.edu
Eddie White at (318) 259-5690 or ewhite@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Hosts Small Forest Landowner Workshop

News Release Distributed 08/20/04 

SHREVEPORT – "Money Does Grow On Trees!"

At least that’s the basic message to be presented at an LSU AgCenter workshop designed to help forest landowners determine if they are missing out on great opportunities.

The Small Forest Landowner Workshop is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the LSU AgCenter’s Caddo Parish Extension Office, located at 2408 E. 70th St. in Shreveport.

Ricky Kilpatrick, an LSU AgCenter forestry agent, said the workshop will provide forest landowners with information on how they can profit from their timber crops.

"We will have a discussion about ownership issues, such as wills, clear title and contracts, with information presented by a local attorney," Kilpatrick said. "I will discuss forestland values, and some landowners will give their personal stories on issues such as things to avoid, what to look out for, tips of the trade and so forth.

"In addition, we will discuss timber theft – how to avoid it, what to do in case of a theft and so on – with information presented by a Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry enforcement officer."

Information on technical assistance and cost-sharing programs for forest landowners also will be available at the workshop.

There is no cost to attend the workshop, but advance registration is requested, because space is limited and a headcount is needed for lunch, Kilpatrick said.

For information or to register, call (318) 965-2326 by Sept. 8.

###

Contact: Ricky Kilpatrick at (318) 965-2326 or rkilpatrick@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter On-Farm Demonstration Programs Enhanced

News Release Distributed 11/05/04

ALEXANDRIA – Thanks to LSU AgCenter faculty, farmers this year can use data collected from the largest on-farm demonstration trials ever conducted in Louisiana to select what they plant next year.

The demonstration projects were conducted during the 2004 growing season on corn, grain sorghum and soybeans and are available to farmers for the 2005 growing season.

"This is a giant step forward for our crop demonstration program in the state," said LSU AgCenter soybean, corn and grain sorghum specialist Dr. David Lanclos. "We planted replicated variety trials on large acreages throughout the state and were able to post the results to the Web site within three days of harvest."

By posting the variety information on the LSU AgCenter Web site, experts give farmers the chance to study the data before they order seeds for the upcoming crop season. The information can be accessed at www.lsuagcenter.com by clicking the crop and livestock link on the left side of the page.

"Most farmers book their seeds by mid-December for the following crop year," Lanclos said, adding that producers now can study the latest information – including the LSU AgCenter’s recommended varieties from commercial trials and the results from these demonstration projects – to make variety selections.

"The selection of a variety to plant is one of the most important production decisions a farmer makes in producing a grain crop, and it is often one that is overlooked," Lanclos said.

To make a variety selection, experts recommend that farmers consult professionals including LSU AgCenter county agents and agribusiness personnel, study production data, consider the soil type and determine the resistance of the variety to insects, diseases and herbicides, Lanclos recommends.

The experts also stress selecting a variety to plant is one of the few decisions farmers make about a crop without being forced to react to elements outside their control – such as weather, prices, insect problems, diseases and, many other environmental issues.

In 2004, grain producers cooperated in these large-scale trials by allowing LSU AgCenter personnel to conduct grain variety demonstrations at 55 sites on more than 300 acres across the state.

"The response by farmers has been outstanding," said LSU AgCenter county agent Keith Collins in Richland Parish, adding that the data collected from the large plots on different farms yields good information about soil types and cultural practices under different farming methods.

These enhanced studies are readily accepted by farmers and industry leaders, because they are larger than traditional research plots and planted on commercial farms throughout the state, experts say.

"We only plant varieties in these replicated core blocks that make the LSU AgCenter recommended list," Lanclos said. "And the recommended varieties have been extensively tested in small plots at research stations in the state for a minimum of two years."

The core blocks planted in the state this year consisted of eight hybrids of grain sorghum, 11 of corn and 24 varieties of soybeans. The core blocks of each crop were replicated at a total of 55 different sites located throughout the grain-producing areas of the state.

Since the varieties in a core block are replicated over a number of locations, the data can be analyzed with statistical validity and data grouped by soil type, planting date, row spacing, plant population, irrigation, region of the state and other cultural practices, experts point out.

Participants in the on-farm variety research trials this year included farmers in the parishes of Acadia, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Point Coupee, Rapides, Richland, St. Landry, Tensas and West Carroll.

"This program is a win-win situation," Lanclos said, adding, "The program depends on the cooperation of farmers, seed companies and county agents and adds a local flavor to research being conducted by LSU AgCenter research stations."

LSU AgCenter experts plan to continue expanding the crop demonstration program for next year.

In 2003, the production of soybeans and other feed grain crops returned more than $537 million dollars to the state’s economy, according to the Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Forestry published by the LSU AgCenter.

For more information on agricultural production and a variety of other topics ranging from nutrition to economic development, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or dlanclos@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer: John Chaney at (318) 473-6589 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter On-Farm Demonstration Programs Enhanced

News Release Distributed 11/05/04

ALEXANDRIA – Thanks to LSU AgCenter faculty, farmers this year can use data collected from the largest on-farm demonstration trials ever conducted in Louisiana to select what they plant next year.

The demonstration projects were conducted during the 2004 growing season on corn, grain sorghum and soybeans and are available to farmers for the 2005 growing season.

"This is a giant step forward for our crop demonstration program in the state," said LSU AgCenter soybean, corn and grain sorghum specialist Dr. David Lanclos. "We planted replicated variety trials on large acreages throughout the state and were able to post the results to the Web site within three days of harvest."

By posting the variety information on the LSU AgCenter Web site, experts give farmers the chance to study the data before they order seeds for the upcoming crop season. The information can be accessed at www.lsuagcenter.com by clicking the crop and livestock link on the left side of the page.

"Most farmers book their seeds by mid-December for the following crop year," Lanclos said, adding that producers now can study the latest information – including the LSU AgCenter’s recommended varieties from commercial trials and the results from these demonstration projects – to make variety selections.

"The selection of a variety to plant is one of the most important production decisions a farmer makes in producing a grain crop, and it is often one that is overlooked," Lanclos said.

To make a variety selection, experts recommend that farmers consult professionals including LSU AgCenter county agents and agribusiness personnel, study production data, consider the soil type and determine the resistance of the variety to insects, diseases and herbicides, Lanclos recommends.

The experts also stress selecting a variety to plant is one of the few decisions farmers make about a crop without being forced to react to elements outside their control – such as weather, prices, insect problems, diseases and, many other environmental issues.

In 2004, grain producers cooperated in these large-scale trials by allowing LSU AgCenter personnel to conduct grain variety demonstrations at 55 sites on more than 300 acres across the state.

"The response by farmers has been outstanding," said LSU AgCenter county agent Keith Collins in Richland Parish, adding that the data collected from the large plots on different farms yields good information about soil types and cultural practices under different farming methods.

These enhanced studies are readily accepted by farmers and industry leaders, because they are larger than traditional research plots and planted on commercial farms throughout the state, experts say.

"We only plant varieties in these replicated core blocks that make the LSU AgCenter recommended list," Lanclos said. "And the recommended varieties have been extensively tested in small plots at research stations in the state for a minimum of two years."

The core blocks planted in the state this year consisted of eight hybrids of grain sorghum, 11 of corn and 24 varieties of soybeans. The core blocks of each crop were replicated at a total of 55 different sites located throughout the grain-producing areas of the state.

Since the varieties in a core block are replicated over a number of locations, the data can be analyzed with statistical validity and data grouped by soil type, planting date, row spacing, plant population, irrigation, region of the state and other cultural practices, experts point out.

Participants in the on-farm variety research trials this year included farmers in the parishes of Acadia, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Point Coupee, Rapides, Richland, St. Landry, Tensas and West Carroll.

"This program is a win-win situation," Lanclos said, adding, "The program depends on the cooperation of farmers, seed companies and county agents and adds a local flavor to research being conducted by LSU AgCenter research stations."

LSU AgCenter experts plan to continue expanding the crop demonstration program for next year.

In 2003, the production of soybeans and other feed grain crops returned more than $537 million dollars to the state’s economy, according to the Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Forestry published by the LSU AgCenter.

For more information on agricultural production and a variety of other topics ranging from nutrition to economic development, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or dlanclos@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer: John Chaney at (318) 473-6589 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Professor Heading International Council

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

An LSU AgCenter professor recently began serving as the president of the American Forage and Grassland Council.

Dr. Ed Twidwell, a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Environmental Management, moved into that role during the council’s annual meeting in mid-June.

Twidwell, who has been with the LSU AgCenter for nine years, had been a member of the Forage and Grassland Council’s executive committee for the past two years – senior vice-president in 2002 and president-elect in 2003. He will serve as its president for the coming year.

In his new role, Twidwell will oversee the council, which is an international organization made up of 27 affiliate councils in the United States and Canada with a total membership of more than 3,000. The primary purpose of the council is to advance forage agriculture and grassland stewardship.

That fits well with Twidwell’s LSU AgCenter duties, which find him serving as the state’s forage expert.

"I think I get the greatest satisfaction from providing information to livestock and forage producers that is relevant to them and that they can use on their farm or ranch.," Twidwell said of the rewards of his LSU AgCenter work. In that work, he is actively involved in the production of publications, group meetings, field days and field demonstration plots for livestock and forage producers in the state.

Twidwell has been active in American Forage and Grassland Council since 1985. He has been chairmen of several committees and served as the annual meeting chairman when the AFGC annual meeting was held in Lafayette during 2003.

On the state level, Twidwell is the executive secretary of the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council, which is affiliated with American council. AFGC.

Contact: Ed Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or etwidwell@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Providing Compost Training To Parishes Towns

compost piles

News Release Distributed 07/30/04

The LSU AgCenter recently held the first-of-its-kind, two-day, large-scale composting workshop in Metairie for parishes and municipalities in the New Orleans area.

Dr. Bill Carney, LSU AgCenter associate professor and coordinator of its Callegari Environmental Center, said the training was for those who were composting much more than any homeowner ever would consider.

"We brought our two-day training to this area to share with neighboring parishes and the municipalities of this part of the state," Carney said of the workshop, which was designed to show parish and city governments that composting is becoming both environmentally and economically attractive as a good way to get rid of solid waste.

"Composting can be value-added in that the compost can be sold back to the public," Carney explained. "It can also be used in parks and recreation areas. Or they can, as some do, give it back to the taxpayers."

Carney explained that this was the first time the center has presented the large-scale composting workshop away from its demonstration and training location near the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. He has, however, conducted workshops about backyard composting for homeowners in Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette, Crowley, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.

"I guess Lake Charles is the only large metro area that we haven’t been to," Carney said. "But the large-scale composting workshop is normally held on-site in Baton Rouge, because the needed equipment is there."

On the other hand, Carney said he is open to taking the workshop to other areas around the state, if requested.

The LSU AgCenter’s Callegari Environmental Center is located on an 8-acre site at the LSU AgCenter’s Central Research Station south of Baton Rouge. The facility includes an 8,500-square-foot building that houses the Organic Degradation Research Laboratory, offices, a meeting room and storage area. Next to the building is a 3-acre composting pad.

The Callegari Environmental Center’s mission involves research and educational programs related to concerns about the environment. Among its activities are research and training on large-scale composting, organic byproduct recycling and beneficial uses for products that were once thought to be nothing more than waste. The center also conducts extensive solid waste management training for municipalities, agriculture and industrial organic waste generators.

"Typically municipalities will be working with what we call green wastes, which include tree trimmings, plant materials and all the kind of stuff that you’d see at the curbside being picked up by the city," Carney said about municipal composting efforts. "Some municipalities will also use food products in their compost."

Virginia Fortson, an LSU AgCenter agent in Jefferson Parish, said one of the reasons for the workshop in that area was to encourage dialogue among the local governments in the hope of spurring them to start talking about the possibility of regional composting.

"From our strategic planning meetings with Jefferson Parish, we were asked to look for ways to reduce the solid waste stream," Forston said.

Mark Schexnayder, another LSU AgCenter agent in Jefferson Parish, said the workshop brought nearly 50 participants from five different parishes, local large-scale composting companies and other area universities.

"I thought that the participation was excellent and that the group, as a whole, felt that the time is right to move toward some type of regional composting effort," he said, adding, "I’m looking forward to the LSU AgCenter helping achieve that goal."

Not only are cities and parishes interested in composting, but also Wiley McCormick, an investor from New Orleans, may get in on the action.

"Composting and waste management is going to be a profitable business for someone who gets in there early," McCormick said. "I was intrigued to hear that some operations in other states have the product sold before they even started the composting operation."

Others interested in composting were Wynecta Fisher, deputy director of Environmental Affairs for the City of New Orleans, and Nancy Brennan, the owner of Laughing Crow Worm Farms in Lafayette.

"The City of New Orleans, along with Jefferson Parish, is looking for ways to do a regional composting center," Fisher said. "Nothing has been finalized, but we do know that we have a lot of green waste here."

Fisher also explained that New Orleans is a prime place to export the product. So this could be a business venture.

In addition, Brennan said she is already creating compost from coffee grounds.

"What I want to do is produce better compost that I can mix with the worm castings and market that product," she said.

For additional information on composting, contact the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center at (225)578-6998 or the LSU AgCenter agent in your parish. You also can obtain more information on the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center and its programs by visiting the LSU AgCenter’s Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contacts:
Bill Carney at (225) 578-6998 or bcarney@agcenter.lsu.edu
Virginia Fortson at (504) 838-1170 or vfortson@agcenter.lsu.edu
Mark Schexnayder at (504) 838-1170 or mschexnayder@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Researcher Searching For Killer Gene To Control Formosan Termites

News Release Distributed 08/16/04

Although termites feed on wood and other cellulose products, they depend on bacteria in their digestive tracts, or gut, to actually digest the wood fibers and get the nutrients they need.

Dr. Claudia Husseneder, a researcher in the LSU AgCenter, has come up with a way of transferring genetically modified bacteria into termite populations and is looking for a killer bacterium to squelch Formosan subterranean termite colonies that are eating their way through Louisiana cities.

Believed to have entered Louisiana and other Southern coastal states in wooden crates returned from the Pacific Rim during and after World War II, the insects have steadily increased in number and destructiveness over the past 55 years.

Formosan subterranean termites 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 some areas of north and central Louisiana.

"To help understand what’s going on, we need to understand the biology of termites," Husseneder says. "It provides information to approach control better."

What Husseneder wants to do is engineer bacteria that are found exclusively in the termites’ gut to produce substances that would be toxic only to Formosan subterranean termites. The termites don’t have any natural enemies in the United States.

Husseneder says one advantage of using bacteria is that they naturally multiply and don’t dilute like chemicals as they’re passed around a colony.

"Each worker termite has a stable microbial community in its gut, which is naturally exchanged between colony members through social interactions, such as grooming and feeding each other," Husseneder says. "Therefore, we felt that natural gut microbes would be excellent tools for termite control."

Using what she terms a "bacteria shuttle system," Husseneder is using "microbes as tools and targets for termite control."

Her initial work was done with bacteria isolated from the termite gut and engineered to produce fluorescent protein, which causes bacteria to glow under ultraviolet light, to see if the process would work. And it does.

Husseneder’s laboratory work has shown termites can be easily infected by feeding them with the engineered bacteria.

"They’re able to survive in the termite gut and are rapidly transferred among colony members," she says. "Even a few termites infected with ‘glowing’ bacteria can infect a whole laboratory colony within one week."

Like a "Trojan horse," the bacteria can serve as a shuttle to introduce and spread a killer gene into a termite colony, Husseneder says. Now, she’s looking for that killer.

In collaboration with scientists from the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Veterinary Sciences and other AgCenter entomologists, Husseneder has identified proteins that destroy the three species of protozoa on which the termites depend for digesting wood.

"We are now in the process of measuring the activity of these protozoa-killing proteins by injecting them directly into the termite hindguts," she says.

The next step is to genetically engineer termite gut bacteria to produce the most-efficient, termite-killing proteins.

"To reduce the risk of environmental contamination, we will use specific bacteria that are not able to survive outside the termite gut as our shuttles," Husseneder says. "Ultimately, we hope to develop a self-replicating, self-perpetuating product that will kill termites rapidly plus be cost effective and target specific."

Husseneder’s research is funded by state money earmarked for termite research, as well as a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents and funds from Dow AgroSciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s termite program in the New Orleans French Quarter and the Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture Research program.

###

Contact: Claudia Husseneder at (225) 578-1819 or chusseneder@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Researching Functional Foods; Natural Compounds Could Reduce Disease Risks

News Release Distributed 07/01/04 

Scientists are uncovering evidence that components in our everyday foods can reduce risks of chronic diseases and promote improved health, according to Dr. Sam Godber, a researcher in the LSU AgCenter’s Food Science Department.

Dubbed functional foods, these natural components in foods are believed to be factors in reducing risks of cancer and other diseases. And as scientists identify them, the presence of functional components in foods may shift the fulcrum in a balanced diet.

Godber, who’s had a personal experience with colon cancer, has become increasingly interested in health-promoting factors in foods.

"The cancer brought into focus how food can affect your life," the LSU AgCenter scientist said.

Functional foods are defined as foods that provide health benefits beyond nutritional value and can affect a person’s susceptibility to contracting heart disease, cancer, diabetes or other chronic diseases.

Nutrients are essential, Godber says. The lack of these food components – vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids – can lead to a variety of acute diseases.

"They’re essential because they can be obtained only through diet," Godber said. "For example, the body can’t synthesize vitamin C, which is necessary for good health."

Although a lack of nutrients in the diet can have negative consequences, scientists believe other food components in addition to nutrients can prevent or help avoid getting chronic diseases.

"Essential nutrients prevent diseases," Godber said. "But the relationships between functional foods and diseases aren’t as clear-cut."

The researcher said scientists don’t exactly know what’s functional in foods, and sometimes interrelationships within food products may be as important as the individual components themselves.

"We can’t always see immediate effect," Godber said. "These components seem to have long-term effects."

Functional food research is primarily epidemiological, Godber said. Scientists look at the incidence and distribution of diseases and then assess the relationships between food components and health.

"Fruits and vegetables contain compounds that haven’t been totally defined in their role in the diet," Godber said.

Researchers are looking at flavonoids – a naturally occurring group of compounds that include many plant pigments – and phytosterols – solid alcohols present in the fatty tissues of plants.

In addition to evaluating apparent links between diets and diseases, researchers investigate how cancer cells react to food components in laboratories.

When they identify foods they believe may provide specific health benefits, researchers "purposefully introduce into diets what they’re seeing," Godber said. "Many of the foods not considered highly edible are turning out to be sources of some of the functional foods."

In the LSU AgCenter, researchers are looking at rice bran and bran oil, which contain several compounds that have been shown to lower serum cholesterol and potentially prevent certain types of cancers. Other researchers are working with muscadine grapes, which are high in flavonoids associated with blue and purple fruits.

The LSU AgCenter provided startup funds for these and other research projects in anticipation that the initial research could lead to additional funding from other sources.

"There are literally people in every department of the AgCenter working on functional foods," Godber said.

###

Contact: Sam Godber at (225) 578-5192 or sgodber@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Rice Field Day Shows Off Latest Projects To Help Farmers

rice field day- disease stop

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

CROWLEY – Approximately 500 people attended the annual field day Thursday (July 1) at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station to learn about new projects to help farmers.

For many farmers, it was a chance to get new ideas, see old friends and focus on something other than the excessive moisture brought by all the recent rains.

Farmer John Carbolan Jr. of Elton said he was pleased to learn that researchers are testing granular pesticides to kill rice water weevils. He consulted with Dr. Boris Castro, LSU AgCenter entomologist, for ways of dealing with the pest with the current pyrethroid insecticides.

Carbolan also said he was impressed with the new varieties presented on the field tour by breeders.

"They look really good," Carbolan said.

For farmer Paul Zaunbrecher of Acadia Parish, it was a chance to see what is under way to develop new varieties. He said he is eager to try a new version of Clearfield – and new medium- and long-grain varieties.

"All those look promising," he said.

Kevin Berken of Lake Arthur said he’s interested in the new Clearfield variety, which is to be numbered 131.

Berken also said the field day offers good advice on general topics such as disease treatment and fertilizers.

"To keep us up to date, it’s a good refresher," he said. "It’s stuff you forget, and it keeps you on top of your game."

Farmer Todd Fontenot of Evangeline Parish said he was glad to hear new long-grain varieties with earlier maturity could be released next year.

"That’s something we always want more of," he said.

Fontenot said the discussion about timing applications of fungicides also was helpful.

"It’s always good to be updated on when to apply and when not to apply," Fontenot said.

On the field tour, Drs. Steve Linscombe, Qi Ren Chu and Xueyan Sha, all LSU AgCenter rice breeders working at the station, discussed new varieties in development. Those include an aromatic long-grain rice comparable to Thai Jasmine, a high-yielding medium grain, a very early long grain and a semi-dwarf very early Clearfield long grain, all possibly available for planting in 2005.

In other parts of the field tour:

–Dr. David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, talked about methods to decrease fungal diseases, such as aerial blight, and the use of desiccants to get the crop ready for harvest.

–Matt Baur, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, detailed methods of combating stink bugs.

–Drs. Donald Groth and Rick Cartwright talked about fungal diseases becoming widespread this year because of heavy rainfall. Groth advised higher concentrations of fungicides should be used for earlier applications. Cartwright, a rice pathologist from the University of Arkansas, discussed his extensive research on kernel smut and false smut, diseases that are becoming more prevalent in Louisiana.

–Drs. Michael Stout and M.O. Way talked about insect pests. Stout, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, said two granular products are being tested for rice water weevils, and new seed treatments show promise. Way, an entomologist from Texas A&M, talked about monitoring possible migration of the Mexican stem borer, now found in East Texas.

–Dr. Eric Webster, an LSU AgCenter weed scientist, highlighted new herbicides available to deal with weeds and grasses. He said some grasses aren’t controlled by chemicals, including Brooks Paspalum and Peruvian water grass, a problem vegetation found in Vermilion Parish canals.

–Dr. Jason Bond, LSU AgCenter agronomist, said research is under way to determine the effectiveness of rolling stubble in preparation for the ratoon crop.

Several speakers addressed the crowd after the field tour.

Among their comments, LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Lawrence "Gene" Johnson offered a mixed bag in his forecast for the rice market, which he called "positive, but not quite as positive as it was two months ago."

Johnson said the higher acreage in rice and the expected high yield – a record harvest of more than 223 million hundredweight – will drive prices down.

Prices have fallen with the recent release of a June U.S. Department Agriculture report that increased rice acreage to 3.35 million acres, including 550,000 in Louisiana. That’s a 5 percent increase from the March forecast and an 11 percent increase from last year’s crop.

U.S. rice is selling for $425 a ton, almost double the world market price. That price spread will affect U.S. producers’ ability to compete in the global market, Johnson said.

Total U.S. stocks will be roughly 260 million hundredweight after harvest, Johnson said, and it’s unlikely the domestic consumption will increase. The overseas market doesn’t have any definite new buyers at present, Johnson said, but positive signs from the overseas market include depletion of China’s rice stocks.

Without catastrophic weather, Johnson said the rice market will strengthen, but not dramatically.

In another report, Jackie Loewer of Branch, a rice farmer and member of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, said the industry has several challenges ahead. They include increased regulations for fuel and chemical storage on farms, possible loss of some pesticides and uncertainties with Farm Bill in 2006.

The momentum on Capitol Hill is shifting from commodity supports to conservation programs, Loewer said.

Efforts also are under way to redefine the family farm and limit farm payments. At the same time, government payments to rice farmers could come under attack by Brazil before the World Trade Organization the same way Brazil is challenging U.S. payment supports to cotton farmers, he said.

"That’s probably the biggest threat to our industry right now," Loewer told the crowd, adding that the Central American Free Trade Agreement has potential to increase foreign markets for rice, Loewer said.

Loewer also said American farmers stand to benefit from genetically modified crops to be more competitive with foreign producers.

To help with such research, the Louisiana Rice Research Board has invested $25 million to $30 million for rice research at the station during the past 30 years, LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson pointed out.

LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil also told the gathering that the quality of work by scientists at the station and by county agents "only exists because you demand it," and AgCenter Vice Chancellor David Boethel pointed out that other states also rely heavily on rice varieties developed at the Rice Research Station.

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Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day Set

News Release Distributed 07/01/04  

Two new sugarcane varieties will highlight the LSU AgCenter’s annual sugarcane field day July 21 at its Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel.

The new releases, Ho95-988 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sugarcane Research Station in Houma and L97-128 from the LSU AgCenter, are promising new varieties for Louisiana sugarcane growers.

"With more than 90 percent of the state’s acreage in LCP 89-384, there’s a lot of anticipation in new varieties," said Dr. Kenneth Gravois, resident coordinator of the LSU AgCenter’s sugarcane station.

Other stops on the field tour will include updates on ripeners, weed control and tillage, Gravois said.

Following the field tours, Brian Breaux, associate commodity director with the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, will give an update on sugar allotments and proportionate shares, and Jim Simon, president and general manager of the American Sugar Cane League, will give an update from Washington, D.C.

Registration for the July 21 event will begin at 8 a.m., and field tours will start at 9 a.m.

The LSU AgCenter’s Sugar Research Station is located on the property of its St. Gabriel Research Station on Louisiana Highway 30, 11 miles south of Tiger Stadium or 9 miles north of Gonzales.

A sponsored lunch will be provided at noon. Further information may be obtained by calling the station at (225) 642-8105.

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Contact: Kenneth Gravois at (225) 642-8105 or skgravois@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Unveils New Facility At Clinton

News Release Distributed 10/27/04

Programs to support Louisiana wildlife and forestry got a boost Wednesday (Oct. 20) when the LSU AgCenter officially dedicated its new research and extension center at the Idlewild Research Station at Clinton.

The Idlewild Station already was part of a statewide network of research facilities operated by the LSU AgCenter. But the new facilities will house a variety of LSU AgCenter research and extension faculty. They also mark a move toward greater emphasis on programs dedicated to forestry and wildlife at the facility.

The research station, under the direction of Dr. Dearl Sanders, encompasses 1,800 acres, including 300 acres in improved pasture, 150 acres in open grass, 70 acres in lakes and ponds, 1,100 acres in woodlands, 50 acres in tree fruit research and 50 acres in deer impoundments.

Research includes work with peaches and other tree fruit, beef cattle, weed control and wildlife, Sanders said. The station features a herd of 220 captive whitetail deer and 58 captive red deer.

"Our research in wildlife and forestry is critical for the entire state," said Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor and director of extension with the LSU AgCenter.

Coreil cited the work LSU AgCenter state wildlife specialist Dr. Don Reed does with hunting clubs on deer management as important for Louisiana outdoor activities.

Reed is one of several research and extension specialists at Idlewild.

The facility will continue to house the staff of the LSU AgCenter’s research station as well as become the new home of the East Feliciana Parish Cooperative Extension Service offices, according to Dr. Pam Hodson, LSU AgCenter regional director.

"This is one of the first facilities to merge the research and extension activities," Hodson said. "This will allow us to maximize our resources and bring information from our researchers and our extension agents."

Coreil said he expects the LSU AgCenter personnel to retain their close association with local government as part of the federal, state and local partnership in extension.

"It’s critical for our existence," he said.

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Contact:
Dearl Sanders at (225) 683-5848 or dsanders@agcenter.lsu.edu
Pam Hodson at (985) 543-4129 or phodson@agcenter.lsu.edu
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083 or pcoreil@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:  
Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenter Working To Make Healthy Lifestyles Fun For Youth

students at Butler Elementary School identify organs

News Release Distributed 07/29/04 

LSU AgCenter agents across the state are teaching children the importance of eating healthfully and exercising, and characters known as the OrganWise Guys are helping with those efforts.

Charla Branch-Moore, an LSU AgCenter agent in Jefferson Parish who is part of the educational efforts, explains, however, that the OrganWise Guys aren’t actually "guys" at all.

"What I do is make visits to the summer programs at various schools and teach the students how to keep themselves healthy through diet and exercise," Moore said, explaining that her job is made easier by her trusty companion, a doll named Organ Annie. "The OrganWise Guys are Annie’s internal organs and are known as Hardy Heart, Madame Muscle, Windy the Lungs, Peri Stolic the Intestines, Sir Rebrum the Brain, Peter Pancreas, Pepto the Stomach, the Kidney Brothers, Luigi Liver and Calci M. Bone."

The OrganWise Guys curriculum is part of a program developed by Wellness Inc. of Atlanta. It’s designed to teach children how the body responds to different foods and lifestyles and is used by LSU AgCenter agents across Louisiana as one part of a statewide plan to fight childhood obesity, according to Dr. Ellen Murphy, state program leader for the AgCenter’s family and consumer sciences educational programs.

"Our goal is to educate young people about eating more healthfully and increasing physical activity, and we thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce the OrganWise Guys to the young people," Murphy said, explaining that one part of the effort focuses on integrating the wellness educational programs into some of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program.

Moore recently took the OrganWise Guys program to more than 350 children at Butler Elementary’s Summer Camp, Aimes Elementary’s Summer Camp and at Second Zion Baptist Church’s Summer Camp in Jefferson Parish – where the children experience a hands-on demonstration.

"This program is designed to teach the kids to take care of their bodies, and it also helps them to improve physically, mentally and academically," said Stacey Harris, the activity instructor at Butler Elementary, who explained that her Advant program is the result of a grant that is shared by several schools. Moore and Harris have been cooperating to bring the OrganWise Guys and other wellness education programs to the students this summer.

Harris explained the Advant program is operated at three different sites in Jefferson Parish, with more than 300 children involved during the summer.

"This is a six-week program, and we’re trying to keep the students engaged during the summer so that they are ready to learn when school opens in the fall," she said, explaining, however, that the overall Advant program isn’t just for the six-week summer program. It’s actually a year-round effort that is part of the after-school tutoring program.

In addition to the use of the OrganWise Guys, the LSU AgCenter’s Moore said she also teaches the students about the basic food groups in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid and how those groups play into making healthy food choices.

The children in the summer program range from kindergarten through sixth grade.

For more information on this and other health-related topics, as well as a variety of other information on subjects ranging from lawns and gardens to family life, visit www.lsuagcenter.com  or contact your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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Contact:
Charla Branch-Moore at (504) 838-1170 or cmoore@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ellen Murphy at (225) 578- or emurphy@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenters Audubon Sugar Institute Shares $500000 Federal Grant

News Release Distributed 07/12/04 

The LSU AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute and the Michigan Biotechnology Institute have been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The award, announced July 1, provides first-year funding for a four-year project to produce value-added products from bagasse and molasses, according to Dr. Peter Rein, head of the Audubon Sugar Institute.

Bagasse, the fibrous material that remains after sugar is pressed from sugarcane, currently is burned as fuel in sugarcane mills, but the researchers hope to increase the value of what is now considered a waste product.

"The focus is adding value to cane biomass," Rein said. "This will allow the processors to get revenue from something other than the sugar."

The cooperative venture with the Michigan Biotechnology Institute, a nonprofit spinoff of Michigan State University, came about because that organization has a process for treating bagasse and other vegetative residues to convert them to sugars – which then can be fermented into ethanol, an alternative to gasoline.

"We believe there are other products with more value than ethanol," Rein said.

The federal government has targeted agricultural byproducts as resources for energy, said Dr. Donal Day, a researcher at the Audubon Sugar Institute.

"They’re putting up the money to get ethanol off the ground," he said. "And sugarcane is the most efficient converter of solar energy to biomass."

Rein said biorefining can convert bagasse into fermentable sugars that produce higher-level alcohols and organic acids.

"The challenge is economics," he said. "We can do it in the lab. The technology is there, but the economics aren’t there yet to be commercially viable."

Rein said one advantage of bagasse as a source of biomass is it’s already being delivered to sugar mills. Other products, such as corn stalks, have to be collected from the field.

"Six mills in the Jeanerette area can produce one-half million tons of surplus bagasse and 150,000 tons of molasses every year," he said.

Day said the Audubon Sugar Institute has the capacity to move research from the laboratory to a pilot plant and eventually work with industry to bring the process into full production.

"Over the years, we’ve developed the equipment and the expertise," Rein added.

If the research proves fruitful, the process could result in establishing an industry that could produce annual revenues in the range of $250 million with $23 million worth of raw products from Louisiana sugar mills, the experts say.

Rein estimates commercialization of the process would require initial investments of around $140 million.

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Contact: Peter Rein at (225) 642-0135 or prein@agcenter.lsu.edu
Donal Day at (225) 642-0135 or dday@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSU AgCenters Poinsettia Open House Set For Dec. 9-10

News Release Distributed 11/19/04

The LSU AgCenter has scheduled its 2004 Poinsettia Open House for Dec. 9-10 on the campus in Baton Rouge.

The annual event provides poinsettia growers and the public with an opportunity to view some of the latest poinsettia varieties and to see results of LSU AgCenter research with the plants.

The open house will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Dec. 9 and from 9 a.m. until noon Dec. 10 in the Nelson Memorial Building adjacent to the Parker Agricultural Coliseum on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

"More than 90 poinsettia varieties from five major suppliers are being evaluated this year," said LSU AgCenter horticulture research associate Patricia Branch. "Over the past five to 10 years, many new varieties have entered the market – including plants with new foliage characteristics, bract colors and improved growth characteristics."

Branch points out that poinsettias remain one of the top greenhouse-grown floricultural crops produced in the United States, and approximately 100 Louisiana growers produce about a million or so poinsettia plants each year.

For additional information about this year’s poinsettia open house, contact Branch at (225) 578-1041 or pbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu

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Contact: Patricia Branch at (225) 578-1041 or pbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu.  

LSU AgCenters Poinsettia Open House Set For Dec. 9-10

News Release Distributed 11/19/04

The LSU AgCenter has scheduled its 2004 Poinsettia Open House for Dec. 9-10 on the campus in Baton Rouge.

The annual event provides poinsettia growers and the public with an opportunity to view some of the latest poinsettia varieties and to see results of LSU AgCenter research with the plants.

The open house will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Dec. 9 and from 9 a.m. until noon Dec. 10 in the Nelson Memorial Building adjacent to the Parker Agricultural Coliseum on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

"More than 90 poinsettia varieties from five major suppliers are being evaluated this year," said LSU AgCenter horticulture research associate Patricia Branch. "Over the past five to 10 years, many new varieties have entered the market – including plants with new foliage characteristics, bract colors and improved growth characteristics."

Branch points out that poinsettias remain one of the top greenhouse-grown floricultural crops produced in the United States, and approximately 100 Louisiana growers produce about a million or so poinsettia plants each year.

For additional information about this year’s poinsettia open house, contact Branch at (225) 578-1041 or pbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu

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Contact: Patricia Branch at (225) 578-1041 or pbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu.  

Marsh Maneuvers Provides Adventures Education For Young People

News Release Distributed 7/23/04  

GRAND CHENIER – Young people from various areas of Louisiana are venturing to coastal Louisiana again this summer for the adventures and education provided by the LSU AgCenter’s Marsh Maneuvers program.

The four-day Marsh Maneuvers camps provide 4-H youth and others with the opportunity to witness and study the life and diversity of coastal organisms, as well as how those creatures and plants depend on each other for survival, in the wetlands of Southwest Louisiana.

The young people who participate in the program each summer learn about the life cycles of marine organisms, witness the diversity of fish and wildlife species, study the economic and environmental importance of the species found in the coastal zone and learn about job opportunities created by coastal commerce. It’s done by literally letting them "get their feet wet" in the coastal waters on such adventures as netting fish and discussing the species or planting marsh grasses to try to stem coastal erosion.

Held this year at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier near the coast in Cameron Parish, the Marsh Maneuvers camps were conducted for a different group each week in July.

Each Marsh Maneuvers session brought together 16 students from four different parishes of the state – meaning more than 60 young people from 16 parishes got to participate this year. The camps operate on a schedule that rotates parishes that get to participate each year, and it tries to mix students from both urban and rural parishes.

The intensive educational experience involves in-field sessions taught by faculty from the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

"Coastal wetlands and marshes are the breeding grounds for most recreational and commercial fish species in the Gulf of Mexico," said LSU AgCenter fisheries agent Mark Shirley. "We are teaching these young people about life cycles, habitat requirements and management of these fisheries resources."

The 4-H members also learned to test water for salinity and dissolved oxygen and witnessed how these parameters affect aquatic life. And they studied the coastal water and wind currents and learned how they cause soil to be deposited in some locations on the coast while other areas lose ground.

In addition, the students participated in a beach restoration project near Johnson Bayou by planting grass along the beach to trap windblown sand. The resulting sand dune will then help protect the beach and the coastal highway from washing away.

"These grasses were planted on Earth Day, and notice how they are holding sand and building beaches," LSU AgCenter watershed agent Kevin Savoie said while pointing out some previously planted grass and explaining the importance of the work Marsh Maneuvers participants were doing this summer.

"These coastal grasses are unique because they catch sand as the wind blows," Savoie explained, adding, "As the sand accumulates on the roots, the plants continue to grow new roots and leaves and offer even more protection for the marshes."

Savoie told participants they were planting another row of coastal grasses to catch sand, build beaches and protect the coastal marshes from salt water.

"I liked planting marsh grass to prevent erosion," said Josh Gooding from Lafayette.

While returning from grass planting and waiting on the ferry to cross the Calcasieu Ship Channel, the group witnessed a large number of ships and boats transporting products to support the commerce of southwestern Louisiana. The vessels transport products to support the oil, fish, petrochemical and other industries in the area.

"It is important for young people to know the importance of maintaining a balance between the environment and commerce," Shirley said of the experience. "The vessels operating in the ship channel represent a lot of jobs for the people in the coastal parishes."

Another adventure for the group was learning about the recreational fishing opportunities, diversity of fish populations and shore birds near the coast.

It is truly amazing to watch these young people eat crabs as they follow the instructions of Shirley, a professional crab peeler. Consuming fish from the marsh is another adventure of the Marsh Maneuvers experience.

"I liked riding the air boat and getting close to the fish and wildlife," said Austin Burns from Caldwell Parish "I saw lots of alligators, birds, rabbits, deer and fish."

Participants were tested at the beginning of each Marsh Maneuvers session on their knowledge of coastal ecology and environmental issues. Then, the same test was given after the four days of studying the marsh – to determine the knowledge gained from the educational experience. Test scores improved about 12 percent, according to instructors.

This summer students from Avoyelles, Caldwell, Iberia, Jefferson, Lafayette, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Natchitoches, Orleans, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Tammany, Tensas and Vermilion parishes participated in Marsh Maneuvers.

"The opportunity to attend Marsh Maneuvers is rotated among all parishes so 4-H members from throughout the state have a chance to learn about life on the coast," said Shirley.

Marsh Maneuvers is sponsored by a grant from the Louisiana Fur and Alligator Council and is operated by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Sea Grant Program.

For more information on Marsh Maneuvers, contact Shirley at (337) 898-4355 or call your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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Contacts:
Mark Shirley at (337) 898-4355 or mshirley@agcenter.lsu.edu
Kevin Savoie at (337) 263-2880 or ksavoie@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

Master Cattle Producer Program Set For Lafayette

News Release Distributed 07/14/04 

The LSU AgCenter has announced the first in a series of educational programs for beef cattle producers in Louisiana.

The first 10-week session in the Master Cattle Producer Program will begin on July 26 in Lafayette, according to Dr. Jason Rowntree, the LSU AgCenter state specialist responsible for the program.

Each course, which meets for three hours a week, will provide cattle producers with the tools they need to improve their environmental stewardship and production efficiency, Rowntree said.

"We have something for every level of producer," Rowntree said.

Certification as a Master Cattle Producer also requires completion of the first eight hours of the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program and completion of the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association’s Beef Quality Assurance program, Rowntree said.

The Lafayette sessions will be held at the LSU AgCenter Extension office in the parish government building in downtown Lafayette on consecutive Monday evenings – except for Labor Day.

Each session will run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. with a meal provided. Cost will be $100 for all the sessions.

In addition to the Lafayette sessions, the LSU AgCenter has scheduled Master Cattle Producer sessions for Port Allen and Hammond starting in September. Other sessions will be conducted at additional sites across the state in the near future.

For more information, contact Rowntree at (225) 578-3345 or the LSU AgCenter county agent in your parish. You also can obtain more information on the Master Farmer and Master Cattle Producer programs by clicking on Master Farmer link listed under Features on the LSU AgCenter’s Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com

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Contact: Jason Rowntree at (225) 578-3345 or jrowntree@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

New Form Of Mastitis Found In State; Experts Testing Herds

News Release Distributed 08/20/04

HOMER – A form of mastitis previously unreported in the state has been detected in Louisiana dairy cows and could prove costly to the state’s $72 million dairy industry if it’s not contained.

Dr. Bill Owens, an LSU AgCenter microbiologist in the AgCenter’s mastitis lab at the Hill Farm Research Station, said the disease is called "mycoplasma mastitis." While it poses no threat to humans, it is highly contagious for dairy cows and could be economically devastating to dairy farmers, according to the experts.

The LSU AgCenter, in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, has been testing every dairy herd in the state since March. The tests will continue until March 2005.

"Milk is the most regulated food we have," Owens said. "Because of this, it is also the safest food. One benefit of this test is that the farmer gets a monthly report that shows the status of mastitis in the herd. The results also are available online."

Louisiana dairy farmers pay $15 for the test, which tests for mycoplasma mastitis, as well as other forms of mastitis. Each bulk tank sample is tested for all mastitis pathogens, and this information is made available to the dairy farmer through the LSU AgCenter’s agents.

As a result, even dairies with no mycoplasma mastitis benefit from the program by receiving monthly mastitis reports on their herds, which they can use to control all forms of mastitis and improve their profitability, Owens said.

Milk from cows with severe mastitis is not allowed in the milk that is sold to the public, said Dr. Gary Hay, an LSU AgCenter dairy expert, who says about 829 million pounds of milk were sold by Louisiana milk processing plants in 2003.

"This mycoplasma monitoring program is strictly an animal health issue," Hay said. "The state Livestock Sanitary Board wants to make sure herds that may have cattle infected with mycoplasma don’t spread the disease to other herds, because this disease can be devastating to the economic health of a dairy."

Dr. Maxwell Lea, state veterinarian with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said so far mycoplasma mastitis has been found in only four of Louisiana’s 312 dairy herds since testing began in March.

"I don’t have a number of cows that have been culled (removed)," Lea said. "The decision to cull is left up to the individual dairy owners."

The spread of mycoplasma mastitis can be greatly reduced if good milking procedures are followed, Owens said. Using teat dips is one method that can be used.

"Each cow’s teats should be dipped before and after milking," he said. "Farmers should also disinfect the milking units between cows."

Another way to prevent the spread of mycoplasma mastitis is to test prospective cows before buying them and putting them into a herd, he said, adding that it takes about a week to receive the results from a mycoplasma mastitis test.

"There are about 100 different types of mastitis," Owens said. "This particular type has been found in other areas of the United States and just recently became a problem in Louisiana."

There is no treatment for mycoplasma mastitis, which is primarily spread from cow to cow during the milking process.

"It can also be passed from the mother cow to her female calf," Owens said. "And, it can be spread by nasal secretions."

Detection and control of mycoplasma require testing of all milk herds in Louisiana.

"Bulk samples are taken from each herd and tested each month," Owens said. "We test the milk samples here, at the mastitis lab, and if we find any mycoplasma, we send it to the mastitis lab at the University of California at Davis for confirmation."

If mycoplasma mastitis is detected, a new sample is gathered, and the herd is checked again, Owens said. Two samples must test positive before it is determined there is a problem, he said.

"If we get two positive tests from a bulk sample, we will go out and check each individual cow in the herd," he said. "The infected cow or cows, once identified, generally are sold for meat. Usually, not every cow in a herd is infected, and, if the infected cow(s) is taken out, the herd can be saved."

Herds that have had cows infected with mycoplasma mastitis must get clear test results for six months before their cows can be sold as milk cows.

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Contacts: Bill Owens at (318) 927-9654 or wowens@agcenter.lsu.edu
Gary Hay at (225) 578-2214 or ghay@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

New Regulations Should Boost Oyster Harvest Economy

News Release Distributed 10/22/04

CAMERON – New regulations could boost the local economy by encouraging fishermen to harvest more oysters from the lower Calcasieu Lake.

More than 70 fishermen and industry leaders recently filled the Cameron Parish Police Jury meeting room for an Oct. 13 meeting designed to help them learn about the new oyster regulations. Many of them also took part in an Oct. 14 fishing tour designed to show the potential for oysters from the lake and to acquaint oyster buyers with local fishermen.

Both events were coordinated by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with a variety of agencies and groups, including the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, local government officials, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Sea Grant program and others involved in the oyster industry.

The new oyster regulations – Louisiana Act 479 from the 2004 state legislative session – were passed to allow fishermen to harvest oysters by dredging. The new regulations also increased the sack limit to 15 sacks per day.

"Dredging will help fishermen increase their oyster harvest and provide more time for culling and grading, which will increase the product quality," said LSU AgCenter natural resources agent Kevin Savoie. "And the increase in sack limits from 10 to 15 sacks per day will increase the economic benefits for the fishermen."

Stock assessments conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries show abundant populations of oysters in the lower Calcasieu water bodies – although the harvest has continued to decrease in the past few decades. The harvest has fallen from more than 100,000 sacks per year to 18,000 sacks in the 2003-2004 season.

"Increasing the harvest through dredging should increase the quality of oysters in the lake," said Savoie, adding that dredging helps to cultivate the reef by breaking up clusters and hooked mussels.

About 60 percent of Louisiana oysters are sold on the half-shell, said Ewell Smith with the Louisiana Seafood, Promotion and Marketing Board, and oysters measuring 3 inches to 4 inches in diameter are preferred.

Louisiana leads other states in supplying oysters to consumers in this country. In 2003, the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources reports the oyster harvest returned more than $60 million to fishermen in the state.

During the meetings this month, Tracy Mitchell with the Louisiana Oyster Task Force discussed the promotional programs the organization is using to market oysters in this country and abroad. She explained the cooking contests, trade shows, legislative events and promotional activities the group is sponsoring.

Mike Voisin, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, also assured fishermen there is a market for oysters.

"We can sell the oysters you catch, but we need good quality," Voisin said.

Recent hurricanes and tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico have damaged some oyster reefs and reduced the fishing area.

The U.S. government is providing $9 million to repair the damage to the oyster reefs and to reseed the oyster beds damaged by Hurricane Ivan. About $1.5 million is marked for Louisiana, Voisin said.

"This is a good year to fill the voids in the market," said Voisin, adding that buyers need good quality oysters and in truckload quantities (350 to 400 sacks per truck).

Three large oyster buyers attended the meeting to visit with fishermen and learn about the potential oyster harvest from the Calcasieu Lake.

The oyster harvest season in the lower Calcasieu Lake runs from mid-October to the end of April with closures when the water level in the Calcasieu River exceeds 13.5 feet at Kinder and of the West Clove area of the lake when the water level rises to 7 feet.

The water level at Kinder was established by extensive testing of the water quality in the lake and correlating the data with river levels, according to Bruce Champion, shellfish water quality manager with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

He said fishermen are encouraged to call (800) 256-2775 to learn about the status of the openings and closure of the lake.

Oysters are filter feeders that sit on the bottom of a water body and pick up bacteria and pathogens from the water when feeding.

Naturally occurring bacteria in oysters, Vibrio vulnificus, may be harmful to at-risk consumers. People with certain health conditions such as diabetes, immune disorders, liver problems and other health problems are urged to consume only fully cooked oysters or those oysters that have been processed to reduce the bacteria to non-detectable levels.

"This is an opportunity for local fishermen to cooperate and rebuild the oyster fisheries and markets for Calcasieu Lake oysters," said Savoie.

For more information on the development of the fisheries industry or water quality issues, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contact:
Kevin Savoie at (337) 491-2065 or ksavoie@agcenter.lsu.edu
Mike Voisin at 985-868-7191 or mike@theperfectoyster.com
Writer:  
John Chaney at (318) 473-6589 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

News You Can Use

Northeast La. Rice Soybean Field Day Set For July 22

News Release Distributed 07/01/04 

RAYVILLE – The LSU AgCenter’s annual Northeast Louisiana Rice and Soybean Field Day is set for July 22 at Woodsland Plantation in Richland Parish.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with a rice tour. Topics to be discussed on that toor include rice varieties and fertility, insects, weed control and rice diseases, as well as an overview of this year’s rice crop from LSU AgCenter rice specialist Dr. Johnny Saichuk.

The soybean tour will include a demonstration of Group 4 soybean varieties, a discussion of soybean diseases and an overview on this year’s soybean crop from LSU AgCenter expert Dr. David Lanclos.

Representatives from various companies also will be on hand to talk about their rice and soybean varieties.

The field day ends at noon with a sponsored lunch.

Woodsland Plantation is located off La. Highway 15 West in Richland Parish. For more information on reaching the plantation or other details about the field day, contact LSU AgCenter agent Keith Collins at (318) 728-3216 or kcollins@agcenter.lsu.edu

This event is free and open to everyone interested in learning more about the research and extension programs conducted by the LSU AgCenter.

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Contact: Keith Collins at (318) 728-3216 or KCollins@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or DCoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Nutritionists Work To Draw Attention To Diabetes

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

LSU AgCenter faculty members are working to increase awareness about the potentially devastating effects of diabetes and how to recognize its symptoms, and they have developed a new educational program to assist in those efforts.

The LSU AgCenter diabetes awareness program titled "Help a Friend, Help Yourself - Learn the Signs of Diabetes" is targeted primarily toward young people involved in the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H program.

But it also was used as part of another recent statewide event, and plans call for it to become part of a larger educational effort about diabetes offered in schools and communities statewide.

Dr. Beth Reames, an LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist and president of the Baton Rouge Dietetic Association, used the material recently to discuss the symptoms of diabetes and provide information about nutrition and diabetes at a Baton Rouge pharmacy. Her appearance was part of the observance of "Brad’s Day" – a diabetes education and screening event held Oct. 30 at 75 participating pharmacies across the state.

The event was named in memory of Brad Bella, an 11-year-old boy from Baton Rouge who died from unrecognized diabetes symptoms in 2001. Brad was the son of former state Fire Marshal V.G. Bella and his wife Grace.

"The family never knew Brad had diabetes and now have become advocates for raising awareness about the disease and symptoms," Reames said, stressing the importance of recognizing the symptoms of this potentially life-threatening condition.

That’s one of the thrusts behind the LSU AgCenter’s "Help a Friend, Help Yourself" educational program. It gives the students information about the signs of diabetes, such as extreme thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, drowsiness, weakness, abdominal pain and nausea. The program also explains the two main kinds of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Reames says that in Type 1, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, the pancreas can’t make insulin. Insulin is the hormone the body needs to move glucose (sugar) from the blood into body cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar levels get too high. Type 1 diabetes makes up 5 percent to 10 percent of all diabetes cases.

"It can’t be prevented, but it can be treated with insulin by injection or an insulin pump," Reames said.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin or the body can’t use insulin properly.

"Type 2 diabetes formerly was seen mainly in adults, usually after age 40, but it’s occurring increasingly in children because of their weight and sedentary lifestyles," the nutritionist said, adding, "Type 2 diabetes now makes up 90 percent to 95 percent of all diabetes cases."

Reames stresses that Type 2 diabetes can possibly be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

"The treatment for Type 2 diabetes generally includes maintaining a healthy weight by eating nutritiously and being physically active," Reames said, noting, "That may be enough to delay the onset or keep it under control – or people may also need to take oral medication or use insulin."

According to the American Diabetes Association, 18.2 million Americans have diabetes, and about 151,000 young people under 20 years of age have diabetes.

"Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States," Reames said, pointing out, "It affects every organ system in the body and is one of the most costly health problems in America."

She added that some people are at higher risk for diabetes. These include people who have family members with diabetes, certain ethnic groups, including native Americans, blacks, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific islanders and people with some other health problems, such as being overweight.

Reames and LSU AgCenter agent Marie Lemoine, both registered dietitians, wrote the "Help a Friend, Help Yourself" curriculum.

Other curriculum team members included LSU AgCenter agents Debbie Melvin of Lafourche Parish, Kate Ordeneaux of Lafayette Parish and Sarah Williams of the AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development department in Baton Rouge. Additional curriculum team members included Alice Carroll and Ann Wilson from the Louisiana Department of Education, Peggy Bourgeois at the Diabetes Center of the Baton Rouge General Medical Center, LaVonne Smith and Dr. Stewart Gordon of the LSU Health Sciences Center and Susan Earley of the Lafourche Parish school system.

###

Contact: Beth Reames at (225) 578-3929 or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

Nutritionists Work To Draw Attention To Diabetes

News Release Distributed 11/03/04

LSU AgCenter faculty members are working to increase awareness about the potentially devastating effects of diabetes and how to recognize its symptoms, and they have developed a new educational program to assist in those efforts.

The LSU AgCenter diabetes awareness program titled "Help a Friend, Help Yourself - Learn the Signs of Diabetes" is targeted primarily toward young people involved in the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H program.

But it also was used as part of another recent statewide event, and plans call for it to become part of a larger educational effort about diabetes offered in schools and communities statewide.

Dr. Beth Reames, an LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist and president of the Baton Rouge Dietetic Association, used the material recently to discuss the symptoms of diabetes and provide information about nutrition and diabetes at a Baton Rouge pharmacy. Her appearance was part of the observance of "Brad’s Day" – a diabetes education and screening event held Oct. 30 at 75 participating pharmacies across the state.

The event was named in memory of Brad Bella, an 11-year-old boy from Baton Rouge who died from unrecognized diabetes symptoms in 2001. Brad was the son of former state Fire Marshal V.G. Bella and his wife Grace.

"The family never knew Brad had diabetes and now have become advocates for raising awareness about the disease and symptoms," Reames said, stressing the importance of recognizing the symptoms of this potentially life-threatening condition.

That’s one of the thrusts behind the LSU AgCenter’s "Help a Friend, Help Yourself" educational program. It gives the students information about the signs of diabetes, such as extreme thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, drowsiness, weakness, abdominal pain and nausea. The program also explains the two main kinds of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Reames says that in Type 1, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, the pancreas can’t make insulin. Insulin is the hormone the body needs to move glucose (sugar) from the blood into body cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar levels get too high. Type 1 diabetes makes up 5 percent to 10 percent of all diabetes cases.

"It can’t be prevented, but it can be treated with insulin by injection or an insulin pump," Reames said.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin or the body can’t use insulin properly.

"Type 2 diabetes formerly was seen mainly in adults, usually after age 40, but it’s occurring increasingly in children because of their weight and sedentary lifestyles," the nutritionist said, adding, "Type 2 diabetes now makes up 90 percent to 95 percent of all diabetes cases."

Reames stresses that Type 2 diabetes can possibly be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

"The treatment for Type 2 diabetes generally includes maintaining a healthy weight by eating nutritiously and being physically active," Reames said, noting, "That may be enough to delay the onset or keep it under control – or people may also need to take oral medication or use insulin."

According to the American Diabetes Association, 18.2 million Americans have diabetes, and about 151,000 young people under 20 years of age have diabetes.

"Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States," Reames said, pointing out, "It affects every organ system in the body and is one of the most costly health problems in America."

She added that some people are at higher risk for diabetes. These include people who have family members with diabetes, certain ethnic groups, including native Americans, blacks, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific islanders and people with some other health problems, such as being overweight.

Reames and LSU AgCenter agent Marie Lemoine, both registered dietitians, wrote the "Help a Friend, Help Yourself" curriculum.

Other curriculum team members included LSU AgCenter agents Debbie Melvin of Lafourche Parish, Kate Ordeneaux of Lafayette Parish and Sarah Williams of the AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development department in Baton Rouge. Additional curriculum team members included Alice Carroll and Ann Wilson from the Louisiana Department of Education, Peggy Bourgeois at the Diabetes Center of the Baton Rouge General Medical Center, LaVonne Smith and Dr. Stewart Gordon of the LSU Health Sciences Center and Susan Earley of the Lafourche Parish school system.

###

Contact: Beth Reames at (225) 578-3929 or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

Officials Break Ground For New Louisiana Emerging Technologies Center

News Release Distributed 08/25/04

Calling it a "significant event in our evolution and development," William Jenkins, president of the LSU System, and several other dignitaries officially "broke ground" today for the new Louisiana Emerging Technologies Center already under construction on the LSU AgCenter’s campus.

MAPP Construction of Baton Rouge began work several weeks ago on the facility, which will be part of a statewide network of three "wet lab business incubators" partially funded through the Louisiana Department of Economic Development.

"That’s not the most attractive terminology," Jenkins said of the term wet lab.

Thus, the LSU System Research and Technology Foundation, which oversees the facility in Baton Rouge, named it the Louisiana Emerging Technologies Center (LETC). The other two wet labs are in Shreveport, already underway, and New Orleans, still in the planning stages.

The Baton Rouge center will include state-of-the-art laboratories, offices, access to business services and a network of business advisors for start-up technology companies. The LETC will be a three-story, 60,000-square-foot structure in the Italian renaissance design called for in LSU’s Master Plan, according to Paula Jacobi, formerly director of intellectual properties at the LSU AgCenter and now foundation CEO.

The center, at the corner of East Parker and West Lakeshore, is on the site where barns used by the LSU AgCenter for its annual Livestock Show were located. These barns were torn down several months ago, and the show, which occurs every February, has been moved to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

The LETC is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005 for an estimated cost of $12 million. In eight years, the center hopes to help start 50 companies, said Arthur R. Cooper, newly hired as the center’s executive director.

"The center will be a significant piece of the economic landscape of Louisiana," Cooper told the group of about 50 people gathered for the ceremony. "My job is to see that there’s a return on the state’s investment."

Though overseen by LSU System Research and Technology Foundation, the LETC will be accessible to all Louisiana universities and other entrepreneurs, Jenkins said. The center will work closely with other business incubators, including the Louisiana Business and Technology Center, also on the LSU campus.

Jenkins and Kevin Reilly Sr. are co-chairmen of the foundation board, which also includes William B. Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter; John Rock, chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans; and Claude Bouchard, executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

Contact: Paula Jacobi at (225) 578-8233 or pjacobi@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer: Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu 

Parasite Offers Hope For Controlling Fire Ants

fire ants harveting

News Release Distributed 08/11/04 

It may be a while before their work bears fruit, but researchers at the LSU AgCenter and others across the South are investigating how to assist the spread of a microscopic parasite that could reduce the number of red imported fire ants.

The parasite, called "microsporidia Thelohania," was first discovered in fire ant colonies from Brazil in the 1970s, according to Dr. Jim Fuxa, an insect pathologist with the LSU AgCenter and part of the Red Imported Fire Ant Management Task Force.

Now, LSU AgCenter researchers are investigating ways to use this biological agent to control red imported fire ants in Louisiana and across the South.

Fuxa says social insects such as ants have defenses against spreading diseases, so the introduction of any pathogen must be "very subtle." Microsporidia, a type of parasite of arthropods and fishes that invades and destroys host cells, "is not devastating but weakens the colony."

At one site, infected colonies had about 900 ants while uninfected colonies had about 5,000 ants, Fuxa says. If the scientists are successful, introducing Thelohania will lower the number of colonies and reduce their strength.

"Red imported fire ant colonies can have well into the tens of thousands of ants, and the effects of Thelohania are variable," he says.

Once queens become infected, the disease spreads to all their offspring, Fuxa says. Eventually, whole colonies become infected and weakened.

A weakened ant colony is more susceptible to chemical treatments or to dying out in harsh winter weather, the LSU AgCenter scientist says, cautioning, however, "But it takes a lot of study to utilize microsporidia to the best advantage."

The parasites weren’t identified in the United States until 1998 and were common in Florida and Texas by 2000. Now, they’re turning up in Louisiana. "We’re finding it does occur in Louisiana, but only in limited spots," Fuxa says.

Fuxa says microsporidia Thelohania probably came into Louisiana with ants from Texas and Florida and that it is slowly spreading – although "very, very slowly."

LSU AgCenter researchers are "trying to speed it up a bit," Fuxa says.

Their research began by sampling 165 Louisiana locations – at least one in each parish – and up to 10 ant colonies in each location. They now have data on almost 1,600 colonies.

The researchers have found that some fire ant colonies have a single queen while others have multiple queens, but single-queen colonies are much harder to infect than multiple-queen colonies.

"It’s easier to infect a multiple-queen colony, but it’s easier to destroy a single-queen colony," says Fuxa, who was first to discover and document an epidemic in a population of single-queen colonies.

"Now we know for certain we can infect single-queen colonies. It happens in nature," he says. "If you know there’s a target, you know you can do it."

One of the challenges the researchers face is that Thelohania lives only inside fire ants.

"The microsporidia have to live inside the cells of hosts," Fuxa says. "They’re very host specific."

Thelohania’s life cycle and transmission are complex, he adds. Understanding these factors – the key to using the microsporidium – is a prime objective of Fuxa’s research.

To get the disease into existing ant colonies, researchers are trying to introduce immature, infected ants into uninfected colonies. Then, it can spread slowly until it reaches the queens.

Using infected ants they maintain in their laboratory, Fuxa and his colleagues – researchers Dr. Julia Sokolova and Dr. Maynard Milks, technician Art Richter and graduate student Casey Barocco – have successfully introduced Thelohania into three sites with multiple-queen colonies.

The first was near St. Joseph in June 1998, and the researchers have been monitoring that site since then.

Only one colony was infected until the spring of 2002, Fuxa says, "Then, there were two to three dozen."

Now well-established, the parasite has spread about 100 yards from the initial St, Joseph colony. A release at Clinton, on the other hand, spread 200 yards in two years.

"It could take decades on its own," Fuxa says of the speed the parasite spreads. "We’re trying to speed up the process."

The researchers have tested Thelohania against other ants and found it’s only effective against red and black imported fire ants – not native ants.

Funding for Fuxa’s research has come from the Louisiana Legislature’s earmarked fire ant research funds along with grants from the state of Texas for cooperative work with Texas A&M and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for cooperative work with Florida.

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Contact: Jim Fuxa at (225) 578-1836 or jfuxa@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

Parts Of State Suffer Wettest Months In 75 Years; Rain Taking Toll On Crops Livestock

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

May and June were the wettest months in 75 years in some parts of Louisiana and LSU AgCenter climatologist Jay Grymes said it’s hard to tell if the "unusual" weather patterns will continue.

The excessive rainfall is creating a variety of problems for the state’s crops and livestock – as well as creating landscape problems for homeowners.

According to Grymes, 15 to 20 inches of rain fell in North Louisiana, and 20 to 30 came down on South Louisiana during the period.

"Some areas of the state have had six months of rain in eight weeks," Grymes said. "Will it continue? This type of weather pattern is not easy to forecast. The mechanisms generating these storms are unusual."

LSU AgCenter experts say the rain is taking a toll on crops ranging from cotton to watermelons – and even rice. It’s also creating headaches for homeowners who can’t even seem to find days dry enough to mow their lawns.

LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dr. Sandy Stewart said cotton is just one crop being affected.

"We have remained saturated and flooded in some fields," Stewart said. "This has resulted in a continued decline in the root system. We now have a lot of cotton that is blooming. When cotton blooms, it has a high nitrogen and water demand. The shallow root system we have now has less ability to mine the nutrients and absorb water."

That means the crop will have very little drought tolerance and may need some supplemental nitrogen in some cases when the rain does stop, Stewart said, adding that to make matters worse, the cloudy, rainy weather, as well as some plant bug activity, has significantly reduced fruit retention in many fields.

Similar problems with insects and diseases aggravated by the wet weather also have been cited by producers of other crops and livestock across the state.

"There is no magic formula to fix all of this," Stewart said. "We need drier weather, and we also need some sunlight. Because of the shallow root system, we will also be dependent on timely rainfall and irrigation to produce an acceptable yield.

"All potential is not lost, but we are now left with a situation in which several things will have to fall in place for the crop to rebound."

The rain also has cut the state’s corn crop. Dr. David Lanclos, an LSU AgCenter corn specialist, said this year’s crop started out to be one of the biggest crops ever until the rains came.

"Now, much of the crop has suffered nitrogen loss," Lanclos said. "We’re also seeing a lot of root pruning in the corn crop."

Despite the potential problems those situations present for the corn crop, Lanclos said Louisiana farmers have more than 500,000 acres devoted to corn this year – slightly more than last year but still a little below the 2002 level.

The state’s tomato crop also has been affected. Sandra Benjamin, LSU AgCenter county agent for Tangipahoa Parish, said the rains have prevented spraying for disease and insect control.

"We’ve been getting so much rain that farmers have not been able to get into their fields to spray for disease, because, with all this rain, the plants get a lot of disease," she said, stressing, "When the plants are not healthy, you don’t get a good crop of tomatoes."

Anthony Liuzza, a Tangipahoa strawberry and tomato farmer who has 35 acres of tomatoes, said the rain has cut his production in half.

"Due to the amount of rainfall, we’ve got about a 50 percent production, and with the amount of rain since May, it has not been good," Liuzza said. "I’ve had four plantings of tomatoes. The first crop was a total disaster. The second planting, we harvested all of those tomatoes. The third planting, we’re on it now, and it has serious damage because of the rain. The fourth planting, I don’t think we’ll get much out of it, because of the amount of rain we’ve had."

The effects of the excessive rain aren’t limited to any one area or to agricultural crops. They’re taking a toll on homeowners, too, said Denyse Cummins, an LSU AgCenter area horticulturist in Northwest Louisiana.

"The rain is preventing property owners from cutting their grass," Cummins said, characterizing the problems as "just horrible."

"It’s also causing root rot and fungal diseases," she said.

Fungal diseases cause trees and shrubs to defoliate. To try to prevent them, Cummins said property owners are being forced to spend more money to buy fungicides.

"The rain also is interfering with pollination in vegetable gardens," she said. "This is slowing the ripening of fruits and vegetables."

As for good news, the state may get a little reprieve from the rain. Reports show the rain is expected to slack off this weekend and on into next week.

For more details on observations from the LSU AgCenter’s network of weather stations at its research facilities across the state, visit www.lsuagcenter.com/nav/weather.asp

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Contacts: 
Sandra Benjamin at (985) 748-9381 or sbenjamin@agcenter.lsu.edu
Denyse Cummins at (318) 741-7435 or dcummins@agcenter.lsu.edu
David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or dlanclos@agcenter.lsu.edu
Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6522 or sstewart@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writers:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu
Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5649 or tblanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Pathologist Stalks Plant Disease Known As Sudden Oak Death

News Release Distributed 08/23/04 

A relatively new disease of trees and ornamental plants has found its way into Louisiana, and officials are keeping watch to make sure it doesn’t spread.

One of those watching is LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Jeff Hoy, whose laboratory screened nursery plants from Louisiana retail nurseries for signs of Sudden Oak Death disease.

Hoy found the disease in plants from five retail nurseries that received wholesale plants from California, where the disease is believed to have originated. It was identified in camellias and viburnum plants that were shipped from one of the largest nurseries in the country.

The federal government has quarantined selected plants from California, and the Louisiana officials imposed a quarantine on all California nursery plants.

Hoy says the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry collected samples from plants with suspicious symptoms – dying leaves and dying growth tips – and sent the samples to his laboratory.

"We use very specific protocols," Hoy says. His laboratory uses two separate tests to look for the pathogen – known as "phytophthora ramorum." If both tests are positive, the samples are then sent to a national U.S. Department of Agriculture lab in Maryland to verify the diagnosis.

Hoy, who operates a pathology lab that serves Louisiana sugarcane growers, is familiar with testing for phytophthora. It’s common in agriculture.

"Phytophthora is a type of pathogen that’s responsible for a wide variety of important diseases in plants," Hoy says. "It generally lives in the soil."

Hoy tested plants from 20 nurseries, and five had infected plants, which were destroyed. The nurseries in question were all in the southern part of the state.

"Almost certainly infected plants have been sold, and there’s no way to trace them," the pathologist said.

Because the pathogen lives in the soil, it can be spread by splashing irrigation water or rainwater or through contaminated pots, tools, machinery and people’s clothes and shoes.

Hoy says the disease thrives in cool, wet conditions, so it won’t show up in the hot Louisiana summer.

"It may not be a problem under Louisiana conditions," he says, adding, "This may turn out to be a nursery problem and not a homeowner problem."

The LSU AgCenter plant pathologist says there are many potential hosts for the disease, and he points out that although it’s called Sudden Oak Death disease, it came to Louisiana on camellias.

The U.S. Forest Service has examined trees in Louisiana forests and not found any sign of the disease.

"Likely, this was the first introduction of the pathogen to Louisiana," Hoy says.

The plant pathologist also says no one really knows which plants may be susceptible to the disease. In fact, he’s not sure if the live oaks in Louisiana would be affected.

"Because of the many varieties of oak trees, some may be susceptible, and others may not," Hoy says.

Hoy says the disease is active on leaves at the junction of healthy tissue and damaged or dead tissue. He cautions, however, that the disease can’t be diagnosed by observing the symptoms. Lab tests are the only way to confirm its presence.

Unlike many other phytophthoras, Sudden Oak Death won’t necessarily kill the plants – despite its name, Hoy says.

Hoy’s involvement with Sudden Oak Death arose out of his expertise with phytophthora, according to Dr. Gerard Berggren, head of the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Plant Pathology.

"He had the lab and facilities to handle the diagnostics," Berggren said.

Hoy’s work was augmented by others in the South through the Southern Pest Detection Network, Berggren said.

"It was a team effort among several individuals and agencies who got together to expedite the process," he said.

Berggren said the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Plant Pathology has developed a plant disease diagnostic clinic to identify plant diseases throughout Louisiana.

"We’re currently in the process of hiring a diagnostician for the clinic, who’ll have the support of experts like Dr. Hoy for diagnoses," he said.

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Contact:
Dr. Jeff Hoy at (225) 578-1464 or jhoy@agcenter.lsu.edu
Dr. Gerard Berggren at (225) 578-1464 or gberggren@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

Patriotic Crawfish Found? Red White Blue Varieties Seen

red, white, and blue crawfish

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

Few people know crawfish come in several colors besides the traditional red or brown.

Dr. Ray McClain, a crawfish researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station in Crowley, said he had heard of pure white and has seen a few sky-blue crawfish over the years.

But then some white crawfish found near Iota and some blue ones located near Mowata were brought to him earlier this year.

"The blue is rare. And the white is even more rare," McClain said.

John Sonnier, research assistant to McClain, tried to line up the crawfish in the order of red, white and blue for a photo. But the white and blue started fighting.

"It was very difficult to shoot a photo of all three," he said. "I tried about 50 or 60 times."

Sonnier has just mated the two unusually colored females with ordinary crawfish males and is anxious to see the color of the babies, which won’t be born until sometime in the fall.

McClain said there is a species of crawfish called white river. But they are more of a light tannish brown than white. Most crawfish in Louisiana are of the red swamp species.

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Contact: Ray McClain at (337) 788-7531 or rmcclain@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Linda Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu

Plant Materials Conference Set For Dec. 2 In Baton Rouge

News Release Distributed 11/10/04

"Green industry" professionals will have a chance to learn the latest about plants available for use in the state at the 10th annual Louisiana Plant Materials Conference Dec. 2.

The conference, which is sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and other organizations, will be held in the Ione E. Burden Conference Center at AgCenter’s Burden Center on Essen Lane in Baton Rouge.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings says a variety of topics will be addressed at this year’s conference. Among those will be keynote presentations from Rand Hopkins with Monrovia Growers and Ken Tilt from the horticulture department at Auburn University.

In addition, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Carlos Smith will speak about "Southern Heritage Plants." Richard Odom from Country Pines Nursery in Forest Hill will introduce the new Crimson series azaleas. And Michele Andre from Ball Seed and Joel Cape will talk about patents and trademarking. Other presenters will include Owings and Todd Ellefson and Buddy Mobley from Windmill Nursery in Folsom.

Owings says all Louisiana "green industry" professionals are invited to the program. The registration fee is $29 per person and includes printed materials, refreshments and a catered lunch. Advance registration is encouraged to assist with planning meals and printing.

The program begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. and concludes about 3:30 pm. Co-sponsors are the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association and Louisiana State Horticulture Society.

For additional information on the conference, contact Owings at (225) 578-2417 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu  or Anthony Witcher at (225) 578-2415 or awitcher@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Contact: Allen Owings at (225) 578-2417 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu

Plant Materials Conference Set For Dec. 2 In Baton Rouge

News Release Distributed 11/10/04

"Green industry" professionals will have a chance to learn the latest about plants available for use in the state at the 10th annual Louisiana Plant Materials Conference Dec. 2.

The conference, which is sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and other organizations, will be held in the Ione E. Burden Conference Center at AgCenter’s Burden Center on Essen Lane in Baton Rouge.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings says a variety of topics will be addressed at this year’s conference. Among those will be keynote presentations from Rand Hopkins with Monrovia Growers and Ken Tilt from the horticulture department at Auburn University.

In addition, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Carlos Smith will speak about "Southern Heritage Plants." Richard Odom from Country Pines Nursery in Forest Hill will introduce the new Crimson series azaleas. And Michele Andre from Ball Seed and Joel Cape will talk about patents and trademarking. Other presenters will include Owings and Todd Ellefson and Buddy Mobley from Windmill Nursery in Folsom.

Owings says all Louisiana "green industry" professionals are invited to the program. The registration fee is $29 per person and includes printed materials, refreshments and a catered lunch. Advance registration is encouraged to assist with planning meals and printing.

The program begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. and concludes about 3:30 pm. Co-sponsors are the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association and Louisiana State Horticulture Society.

For additional information on the conference, contact Owings at (225) 578-2417 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu  or Anthony Witcher at (225) 578-2415 or awitcher@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Contact: Allen Owings at (225) 578-2417 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu

Prune Roses Now For Beautiful Fall Flowers

Get It Growing News For 08/27/04

We are so fortunate that our everblooming roses produce two really great seasons of bloom.

The first outstanding season occurs in spring and early summer from April to early June. The roses continue to bloom through the summer, but the flowers produced in mid- to late summer generally don’t have the quality of the flowers produced earlier.

On the other hand, another outstanding rose blooming period will occur in October and November – when mild weather conditions will once again be ideal for quality flowers.

Although most of us pruned our rose bushes in early spring, they have been in active growth since then, which means many look overgrown, leggy and less attractive now – particularly the popular hybrid teas and grandifloras. A second, less-severe pruning is recommended in late August or early September to get rose bushes in shape for the fall blooming season.

The tools you will need include a sharp bypass hand pruner and a pair of leather gloves. You might also need bypass loppers if you have to cut woody canes larger than one-half inch in diameter. Remember, proper tools make the job easier, and you’ll be less likely to damage your rose bushes or scratch your hands on the thorns.

Before beginning, examine the bushes carefully. Look for dead canes and weak growth. Check the height and overall shape of the bush. Is it overgrown and leggy? Is the present shape acceptable, or does it need reshaping?

Then consider the following recommendations, which are primarily for hybrid tea and grandiflora roses.

First, all the dead growth should be removed. Make your cuts well into the healthy part of the canes just above a leaf or dormant bud, or remove the dead cane entirely back to its point of origin. You may need your loppers for this job.

Next, weak, spindly canes the diameter of a pencil or smaller should be removed, particularly those growing in the interior of the plant. Cut them off at their point of origin, making sure you do not leave a stub. If you see any sprouts originating from the root stock (below the large, knobby graft union), they also should be pruned off. Do not, however, remove any strong new shoots growing from the graft union.

The major part of the pruning involves shortening the remaining vigorous canes. This will produce a fuller, more attractive bush with larger, better quality flowers in October. This pruning needs to be done even if there are flowers on the bush now (Be brave!). When you are finished, use the cut flowers in arrangements inside, and they won’t go to waste.

Cut the canes back to about 30 inches from the ground. Ideally, try to make each cut just above a bud that faces outward, away from the inside of the bush. The cuts should be made about 1/4 inch above the bud at a slight angle slanting away from the bud. Don’t leave a large stub sticking up above the bud or you will encourage stem rot, and don’t cut too close to the bud or you will kill it.

Clean up and dispose of all leaves and prunings and fertilize the roses to encourage vigorous new growth. Use your favorite rose fertilizer per label directions or use general-purpose fertilizer appropriate for your area.

Everblooming old garden roses, shrub roses, landscape roses and other groups also may be pruned now, but the pruning required is generally less severe and is done mostly to shape the bush or to control the size of more vigorous cultivars. Use your best judgment when it comes to pruning these roses.

With old garden roses, you really have to look at the situation and how the rose is growing, and then prune accordingly, based on how you want the rose to look.

I even know a few gardeners who prune their bushier roses with hedge trimmers. This is a particularly effective technique if you have planted a long hedge of roses that would take a long time to prune with hand pruners. On the other hand, this clipped appearance may not be suitable for roses growing in garden beds.

Some roses, including many climbing roses, ramblers and old roses, bloom only once in spring and early summer. They should not be pruned back now, since they will produce their flowers next year on the growth they made this summer. Cutting them back now, or anytime before they bloom next year, will reduce the number of flowers they produce.

Many gardeners approach pruning with apprehension. There always is a fear that if it’s not done correctly, dire things may happen to a plant. With some exceptions, pruning shrubs is more like getting a haircut. Even a really bad haircut eventually will grow out and look better.

Carefully consider what you are trying to accomplish before you start pruning, and have clear goals and objectives. But, really, the only way to get comfortable and confident about pruning is just to do it and watch what happens. Roses are very forgiving about how they are pruned, and they make great plants to build up your confidence.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

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Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Rains Drought Put Damper On Sweet Potato Crop

News Release Distributed 11/19/04

CHASE – As farmers work to complete harvesting this year’s sweet potato crop in Louisiana, an LSU AgCenter expert predicts overall production for 2004 will be down significantly because of a mixture of excessive rains and drought conditions.

Dr. Mike Cannon of the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station near Chase said he expects 2004 production to be about 65 percent to 70 percent of the normal crop.

"This is because we had a lot of rain in May and June, and then we had drought conditions that hit the southern part of the state after the rains stopped in June," Cannon said. "The excessive rain delayed planting and resulted in fewer acres being planted this year."

Officials estimate that about 14,000 acres of sweet potatoes were planted in Louisiana this year. That’s down substantially from the 2003 acreage, which was logged at more than 19,000 acres, according to the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. Since 2003’s acreage was off by more than 1,700 acres from 2002, this year’s acreage is only about two-thirds of what was planted just two years ago.

Most of the 2004 crop was planted in July, which is not the optimum time to plant sweet potatoes, according to the experts, who say planting of sweet potatoes generally begins in late April or early May. Harvesting in Louisiana normally begins in mid-August and can last into early December.

"Late plantings usually result in lower yields," Cannon said. "The May and June rains had a dramatic effect on yield and quality. Some areas of the state received as much as 20 inches or more of rain. This tends to lower yield and quality."

Rain also causes the soil to become compacted, and that means the shape of the sweet potatoes is not as smooth – which reduces their grade.

The northeastern section of the state, where the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station is located, received excessive rainfall in May and June but didn’t suffer from drought as South Louisiana did. Because of this, the yield and quality of sweet potatoes in Northeast Louisiana are somewhat better than those in South Louisiana.

"A large percentage of growers in Northeast Louisiana have the ability to irrigate, and most did during the later part of the growing season," Cannon said. "Insect pressure seemed to be considerably less than normal, which may have resulted in a few dollars being saved in production costs."

Cannon also said a new insecticide and three new herbicides were allowed for emergency use this year, and one of those – Valor – is likely to receive general approval for use with sweet potatoes before the 2005 growing season.

"Valor performed quite well when used in combination with the Command herbicide, – the only labeled pre-emergence herbicide for sweet potatoes," Cannon said. "Valor gave good control of pigweeds, morning glory and several other broadleaf weeds. It also seems to have some activity in controlling yellow nutsedge and rice flatsedge."

As for the price Louisiana growers can expect to receive for their sweet potatoes, Cannon said it will probably be low this year.

"North Carolina had a bumper sweet potato crop," he said. "When they have a large crop, the prices received by Louisiana shippers and growers decrease."

Cannon said movement of this year’s crop has been brisk for Thanksgiving – with at least one shipper packing 24 hours a day.

"Because of fewer acres and a shorter than normal crop in Louisiana, most Louisiana shippers will likely be finished shipping this season’s crop by Easter 2005," Cannon said. "There are, however, a few shippers who will likely have sweet potatoes to ship through next summer."

Having the ability to ship potatoes all year is important for brokers to be able to maintain their markets, the LSU AgCenter expert pointed out.

The Beauregard sweet potato variety is the variety grown most in Louisiana. This variety, which was developed through research at the LSU AgCenter, also is grown across most of the nation’s sweet potato producing areas – accounting for about 70 percent of the sweet potato acreage grown in the United States.

For more information on this and other agriculture-related issues, as well as information on finances, health and other issues, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Mike Cannon at (318) 435-2155 or mcannon@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu  

Rains Drought Put Damper On Sweet Potato Crop

News Release Distributed 11/19/04

CHASE – As farmers work to complete harvesting this year’s sweet potato crop in Louisiana, an LSU AgCenter expert predicts overall production for 2004 will be down significantly because of a mixture of excessive rains and drought conditions.

Dr. Mike Cannon of the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station near Chase said he expects 2004 production to be about 65 percent to 70 percent of the normal crop.

"This is because we had a lot of rain in May and June, and then we had drought conditions that hit the southern part of the state after the rains stopped in June," Cannon said. "The excessive rain delayed planting and resulted in fewer acres being planted this year."

Officials estimate that about 14,000 acres of sweet potatoes were planted in Louisiana this year. That’s down substantially from the 2003 acreage, which was logged at more than 19,000 acres, according to the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary: Agriculture and Natural Resources. Since 2003’s acreage was off by more than 1,700 acres from 2002, this year’s acreage is only about two-thirds of what was planted just two years ago.

Most of the 2004 crop was planted in July, which is not the optimum time to plant sweet potatoes, according to the experts, who say planting of sweet potatoes generally begins in late April or early May. Harvesting in Louisiana normally begins in mid-August and can last into early December.

"Late plantings usually result in lower yields," Cannon said. "The May and June rains had a dramatic effect on yield and quality. Some areas of the state received as much as 20 inches or more of rain. This tends to lower yield and quality."

Rain also causes the soil to become compacted, and that means the shape of the sweet potatoes is not as smooth – which reduces their grade.

The northeastern section of the state, where the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station is located, received excessive rainfall in May and June but didn’t suffer from drought as South Louisiana did. Because of this, the yield and quality of sweet potatoes in Northeast Louisiana are somewhat better than those in South Louisiana.

"A large percentage of growers in Northeast Louisiana have the ability to irrigate, and most did during the later part of the growing season," Cannon said. "Insect pressure seemed to be considerably less than normal, which may have resulted in a few dollars being saved in production costs."

Cannon also said a new insecticide and three new herbicides were allowed for emergency use this year, and one of those – Valor – is likely to receive general approval for use with sweet potatoes before the 2005 growing season.

"Valor performed quite well when used in combination with the Command herbicide, – the only labeled pre-emergence herbicide for sweet potatoes," Cannon said. "Valor gave good control of pigweeds, morning glory and several other broadleaf weeds. It also seems to have some activity in controlling yellow nutsedge and rice flatsedge."

As for the price Louisiana growers can expect to receive for their sweet potatoes, Cannon said it will probably be low this year.

"North Carolina had a bumper sweet potato crop," he said. "When they have a large crop, the prices received by Louisiana shippers and growers decrease."

Cannon said movement of this year’s crop has been brisk for Thanksgiving – with at least one shipper packing 24 hours a day.

"Because of fewer acres and a shorter than normal crop in Louisiana, most Louisiana shippers will likely be finished shipping this season’s crop by Easter 2005," Cannon said. "There are, however, a few shippers who will likely have sweet potatoes to ship through next summer."

Having the ability to ship potatoes all year is important for brokers to be able to maintain their markets, the LSU AgCenter expert pointed out.

The Beauregard sweet potato variety is the variety grown most in Louisiana. This variety, which was developed through research at the LSU AgCenter, also is grown across most of the nation’s sweet potato producing areas – accounting for about 70 percent of the sweet potato acreage grown in the United States.

For more information on this and other agriculture-related issues, as well as information on finances, health and other issues, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Mike Cannon at (318) 435-2155 or mcannon@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu  

Rapides-Dean Lee Field Day Set Aug. 26

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

ALEXANDRIA – The third annual LSU AgCenter Rapides Parish/Dean Lee Research Station Field Day is set for Aug. 26 at the Dean Lee Research Station south of Alexandria.

The field day will feature two different tours of fields where LSU AgCenter research is being conducted – one focusing on cotton research and the other on feed grain studies. In addition, the cotton defoliation and soybean variety studies will be presented for both tour groups.

Other research to be discussed includes studies on cotton plant populations, use of growth regulators, cotton varieties, late-season cotton insect management, weed control, double-cropping wheat and soybeans, aflatoxin in corn, breeding of hard-seeded soybean and the soybean verification program.

The field day will conclude after dinner is served about 6 p.m. and updates are presented on the research situation in the state, the Louisiana Boll Weevil Eradication Program and the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program.

The field day is open to the anyone interested in learning about the latest developments in the production of cotton, soybeans and other field crops.

The Dean Lee Research Station is located adjacent to LSU-Alexandria off U.S. Highway 71 south of Alexandria.

For more information on the field day, contact LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dr. Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6522, (318) 308-6525 or sstewart@agcenter.lsu.edu or LSU AgCenter county agent Matt Martin at (318) 473-6605 or mmartin@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Contact: Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6522 or sstewart@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

Recent Storms Had Little Effect On States Citrus Crop

News Release Distributed 10/22/04

The violent storms of the past two months devastated Florida’s citrus crop, but Louisiana hasn’t seen that sort of damage so far this year, according to Dr. Wayne Bourgeois, resident coordinator for the LSU AgCenter’s Citrus Research Station near Port Sulphur.

"The damage that we’ve seen in the area is not much more than on a normal year. We’ve had some wind, but most of our damage has been from excess rain," Bourgeois said, adding, "With excessive rain the peel of the fruit can’t grow fast enough for the increased water, and this has caused some splitting of fruit."

Bourgeois said the only hurricane to come near the area this year –Ivan – had little impact on the Citrus Research Station and the citrus-growing area of the state.

"With 1.05 inches of rain and maximum winds of 60 miles per hour recorded, there was minimal crop damage," he explained.

Speaking to those who attended a field day at the LSU AgCenter research station this week (Oct. 20), Bourgeois said overall there seems to be a good crop on the trees. He said satsumas are starting to come in now, and that the satsuma harvest will reach its peak around Christmas.

LSU AgCenter county agent Alan Vaughn of Plaquemines Parish also reported that grant money from the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry is being used to help raise awareness about citrus grown in the state and to let consumers know when Louisiana citrus is available.

According to Vaughn, in addition to the satsumas, navel oranges also will be in good supply and will be harvested in large numbers after Thanksgiving.

Statewide, citrus is grown in 15 parishes on more than 1,300 acres, according to figures from the LSU AgCenter, which show the gross farm value of Louisiana citrus crops last year was nearly $8 million.

Vaughn said most of the state’s 800 citrus growers have operations with only about 1 acre to 3 acres. Their crops include satsumas, grapefruit, navel oranges, lemons and kumquats.

Other topics covered during the field day included citrus pests, how growers can make fruit more orange in color and calibrating spray equipment used with citrus.

A highlight of the field day was an update on research concerning Formosan subterranean termites that also is being conducted at the station.

Dr. Ramsey Smith, an LSU AgCenter professor of wood science and technology who works in its Louisiana Forest Products Development Center, said this research is unique because it involves work both in his lab on campus in Baton Rouge as well as a research plot "in the wild" at the Citrus Research Station.

"What we’re doing is looking at the effects termites have on different types of wood products," Smith said, adding that the research is being conducted at the Citrus Station because Formosan termites already existed in that area.

"We’ve been working diligently for the past two years, and we’re at a point right now where new products are coming on the market and we can turn out results in some cases in two years rather than in five years like we used to," Smith said of the research.

Smith explained that Formosan subterranean termites are not native to the area but are believed to have been brought into the area by shipping crates used to return equipment after World War II.

The LSU AgCenter professor said Formosan termites, unlike the native species, will live in trees. "They use a tree as a base, build their carton nest, then go out into our homes and other areas. They have greatly affected the trees in New Orleans."

Smith also said these termites can eat through PVC piping, rubber gaskets and even thin sheets of metal. "Where the native termite colony is about 400,000, the Formosans average about 2 million, and there is a suspected colony in Lake Charles with approximately 70 million individuals."

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Contacts:
Wayne Bourgeois at 985-564-2467 or wbourgeois@agcenter.lsu.edu
Alan Vaughn at (985) 564-2467 or avaughn@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ramsey Smith at (225) 578-4131 or wsmith@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Regional Pecan Meeting Set For July 27

News Release Distributed 07/16/04 

Louisiana pecan producers are invited to a regional pecan meeting slated for July 27 at the Bogard Pecan Orchard near Foreman, Ark.

Several LSU AgCenter specialists will be guest speakers at the meeting, which is being conducted by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Participants will gather at 10 a.m. in the Bogard Pecan Orchard where Dr. Michael Hall, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, will speak on late-season insect identification and monitoring.

Other speakers will include Dr. Randy Sanderlin, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, who will speak on disease control, and Dr. Charlie Graham, an LSU AgCenter horticulturist, who will speak on pecan orchard fertility.

In addition, the topic of crow and predator control will be covered by John House and Chris Youngblood, biological science technicians from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

After lunch, Dan York of York Pecan Co. will speak on pecan marketing.

There is no charge for attending the meeting, but advance registration is requested to assist with lunch preparation. For more information, or to register, call Hall at (318) 797-8034, Extension. 2320, or email at mhall@agcenter.lsu.edu.

To get to the Bogard Pecan Orchard from Ashdown, Ark., go west on Hwy. 32 approximately 14 miles to County Road (LR) 51 S. Look for signs for the workshop and the Wallace Baptist Church. Turn left and go south 3.5 miles. The orchard will be on the left.

If coming on Hwy. 41, go east 2.5 miles on Highway 32 and turn right at County Road (LR) 51 S. Go south 3.5 miles, and the orchard will be on the left. If coming north on Hwy. 41 you can turn right on County Road (LR) 4. In about 2 miles the road dead-end into County Road (LR) 51 S. Turn right and go about 1.5 miles south. The orchard is on the left.

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Contact: Michael Hall at (318) 797-8034 or mhall@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Researchers Investigating Ways To Manage Dairy Wastewater

News Release Distributed 08/20/04 

Scientists at the LSU AgCenter’s Southeast Research Station in Franklinton are beginning a research project designed to help dairy farmers with wastewater management.

Dr. Vinicius Moreira, an LSU AgCenter researcher, said the project includes the construction of two primary lagoons, two secondary lagoons and six simulated wetlands areas at the research station that will allow different management practices to be compared.

"We will release the wastewater from the dairy barns into the primary lagoons for anaerobic fermentation," Moreira explained, adding, "Then it will flow into the aerobic lagoons and finally into the wetlands area."

The project is designed to determine if the different plants used to absorb nutrients will produce water safe enough to release into rivers and streams after it moves through the wetlands stage of the process.

Moreira is working with fellow researcher Dr. Jerry Ward and LSU AgCenter colleague Dr. Brian Leblanc on the project. All three have worked on designing the wastewater system and overseeing its construction. They also will work cooperatively on the tests.

LeBlanc, who works in the Lake Pontchartrain watershed area, said the system they are constructing is different from what dairy farmers typically use now, because of the second set of lagoons and the wetlands area.

"The main purpose of this study is to look at other options to treat dairy waste," LeBlanc said, adding, "Dairy farmers normally pump their waste into one lagoon, and the longer it stays in there, the more treatment occurs.

"Hopefully our constructed wetlands will prove to be a cost-effective alternative to take out the excessive nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen."

The LSU AgCenter research project is funded in part by an initiative started by Congressman David Vitter that is known as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program.

"This study could have a direct impact on rivers and streams in our area by providing the dairy industry with more options to treat dairy waste," LeBlanc stressed.

He said phosphorus and nitrates in all wastewater can contribute to the algae blooms in waterways. Those, in turn, can deplete the oxygen and result in death of fish and other aquatic life.

LeBlanc said pickerelweed and bull tongue are plant species that will initially be used in the project to abate these nitrates.

"These plants will be evaluated in the first phase of the research," LeBlanc said. "Then later as the effectiveness of these plants become understood, others will be evaluated."

The experts say these plants will have to be removed occasionally, because of the biomass that is produced over time. "We could potentially make compost out of these plants and use them as garden or field fertilizers," LeBlanc said.

Moreira said the first lagoon should take care of most of the pathogens. The secondary lagoon should take care of the odor compounds in the wastewater, and then the wetland area will filter the nutrients.

"At that point, we should be able to release this water into lakes and streams if the quality is good enough," he said. "If not, we will spread it on pastures and fields to recycle the remaining nutrients."

The researchers have been planning this project for some time. While construction of the initial facilities is under way, they say the research is expected to be a long-term project to look at the various types of treatments that could work best for dairy producers.

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Contacts: Brian LeBlanc at (985) 543-4129 or bleblanc@agcenter.lsu.edu
Vinicius Moreira at (985) 839-2322 or vmoreira@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Rice Farmers Told To Be On Guard For Pests

News Release Distributed 07/21/04 

MAMOU – Rice farmers are being advised not to let their guard down as pests continue to threaten their maturing crops.

Farmers got management updates on this year’s rice crop from LSU AgCenter experts during field tours last week (July 13 and July 15) in Acadia and Evangeline parishes.

LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Don Groth warned farmers that rice is vulnerable to blast disease, which could cut yield by up to 90 percent and affect milling quality.

The danger from blast occurs after rice has headed 50 percent to 70 percent, Groth said, but it can be treated with fungicides such as Gem, Quadris and Stratego.

Groth said recent rainy weather made conditions ripe for sheath blight.

Some bacterial diseases, such as bacterial leaf blight, are afflicting plants, too, but there are no treatments for those diseases, Groth said.

Keith Fontenot, an LSU AgCenter county agent in Evangeline Parish, also told farmers that rice stink bugs are becoming more widespread and are causing damage to maturing rice. The bugs are feeding more actively in the early morning and late afternoon, he said, so the most effective application of pesticides is made either late or early in the day.

Another LSU AgCenter county agent, Ron Levy of Acadia Parish, said whorl maggots, which first were incorrectly identified as leaf miners, are infesting some fields in Acadia, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion parishes.

To prevent some problems and help the crop, LSU AgCenter rice specialist Dr. Johnny Saichuk urged farmers to hold water in their fields as long as they can. Heavy clay soils should be drained three weeks prior to harvest, and fields with lighter soils can be drained later, he said.

As for other problems, Dr. Eric Webster, an LSU AgCenter weed scientist, said herbicides are available for most weeds, but some, such as Brook paspalum and Peruvian water grass, seem unaffected by spraying with chemicals.

Turning to the financial situation, LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Gene Johnson said indications are that the healthy rice market should continue, because China and India have produced less rice than they consumed last year.

"It could be a very good market if things stabilize," he said.

Currently, most rice sold in South America is from Thailand, and Saudi Arabia buys most of its rice from Thailand, he said. Brazil bought 5 million tons of U.S. rice last year, but that’s not expected this year, he said.

Johnson said the possibility exists for selling U.S. rice to Iraq later this year, and the decision will be made by the Iraqi Grain Board. Earlier this year, the United Nations Food Aid program bought Southeast Asian rice to fill a 160-ton order for Iraq, Johnson said.

American rice is more expensive, Johnson said, selling for roughly $415 a ton, compared to $230 a ton for Thai rice.

During the field days, farmers also heard an overview of rice varieties in development, and they saw several test plots at the farm of Kody and Larry Biebers.

Dr. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder and regional director for the LSU AgCenter in southwestern Louisiana, said a new version of Clearfield is in development. That variety could mature three to four days earlier, with more lodging resistance and better yield than Clearfield 161, he said.

The LSU AgCenter has experimental plots at the Acadia Parish field of Keith Rockett near Mowata. Linscombe, who also supervises the AgCenter’s Rice Research Station at Crowley, said that during heavy rainfall early in the summer, the new Clearfield plants were submerged and he was doubtful that the plants would survive.

"I wouldn’t have given you a plug nickel for them," he said. "As you can see, it has come back wonderfully."

LSU AgCenter plant physiologist Dr. Richard Dunand said heavy rainfall could interfere with pollination, which usually occurs for a few mid-day hours. Panicles may mature with uneven grain filling, he said.

Dr. Xueyan Sha, an LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said he also is developing an aromatic Jasmine variety that may be available next year for seed production, and Dr. Qi Ren Chu said he has 10 lines of long grain rice under development.

Linscombe said testing at the station continues on Liberty Link rice, a genetically modified variety resistant to the Liberty herbicide. The technology is proven and safe, he said, yet delays are blocking its commercial production. Public perception of transgenic crops is holding back the use of Liberty, he said.

"The big problem we have right now is acceptability," Linscombe said. "Every time we have a foot in the door, somebody slams it shut."

A Bayer CropScience representative said earlier this year that the corporation is attempting to get European Union approval for the transgenic rice, a process that could take two years.

Dr. Jason Bond, an LSU AgCenter agronomist, said research is being conducted at the station to test new products, including an additive to urea to inhibit breaking down of the fertilizer.

Research discussed Tuesday is partially funded by rice producers through checkoff funds administered by the Rice Research Board.

In other reports during the field days, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Dr. David Lanclos said some acreage in the state’s soybean crop has been lost recently. Some farmers have replanted as many as three times because of excessive rainfall.

"Now we are having situations where farmers are abandoning fields," he said.

Heavy rainfall had been preventing insect pests from reproducing, Lanclos said, but with the current dry spell their populations will increase.

Hot weather also will increase aerial blight disease, he said.

Plants that grew during excess moisture developed shallow roots near the soil surface, Lanclos said, and that is leading to leaf scald problems. He said the remedy is to irrigate, using poly pipe.

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Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Rice Harvest Disappointing For Many Farmers

News Release Distrubuted 08/26/04

LACASSINE – Farmer Donald Berken of Lacassine had anticipated that his rice crop would bring a handsome yield this year.

But the harvest for Berken and many others has been anything but a bumper crop. Average yields from last year appear to be down, while production costs were up, according to LSU AgCenter experts.

"I was hoping it would be good, but it’s not panning out that way," Berken said between hauling loads off a 57-acre field, explaining that one field brought in just 31 barrels an acre – below the current state average and well off last year’s record pace for the state.

By last week, Berken had harvested about 75 percent of his crop and said he would try to make up for some of the lost yield on this crop with a second crop.

"On most of the earlier harvested fields, we will," Berken said.

Eddie Eskew, an LSU AgCenter county agent in Jefferson Davis Parish, said the average yield appears to be about 34-36 barrels an acre. That’s 15 percent less than last year’s record harvest, he said, adding that this year’s costs of production were 30 percent higher.

"It’s disappointing and discouraging," Eskew said. "The yields are off, but we’re still attributing it to the stress of all the rain in May and June – and the lack of sunshine."

Inadequate sunlight from cloudy weather reduced the amount of carbohydrates produced by rice plants, Eskew said, adding that rainfall in June also interfered with pollination.

For a few farmers, yields were excellent – in the mid-40s – but they were dismal for others, Eskew said.

The expert also pointed out that harvest is 10 days behind most years, which could prevent some fields from being put into a second crop.

Ron Levy, an LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia Parish, said harvest in that area is almost 95 percent done, with yields 10 percent off from last year. That could signal a less-than-average yield for the ratoon, Levy said.

Keith Fontenot, LSU AgCenter county agent for Evangeline Parish, said it’s a different picture in his area.

"Yields are pretty good," he said, explaining they are averaging around 37 barrels with three-fourths of the crop harvested.

Some farmers in Evangeline Parish are reporting yields of 40-45 barrels an acre, according to Fontenot.

"Some of this later-planted rice is pretty good," he said. But the earlier rice was marked by uneven maturity, Fontenot said.

In Vermilion Parish, the harvest is off by 3 barrels to 4 barrels an acre, according to Howard Cormier, an LSU AgCenter county agent there. Many farmers who usually harvest more than 40 barrels an acre have reported cutting in the mid-30s, he said.

Cool weather early in the season probably played a role in the less-than-average crop, Cormier said.

"I think most of them will try a second crop to recoup their costs," Cormier said.

As for good news, the dry fields from no rain recently enabled farmers to harvest without rutting up their fields, he said.

"Many farmers were able to drive the 18-wheelers into the field," he said.

Further complicating the economic situation, not only are rice yields down, so are rice prices and the amounts paid for government supports, according to LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Gene Johnson.

"This year, what’s happening is that the world market price is increasing and the Loan Deficiency Payment is shrinking," he said.

So buyers are waiting to see how the market moves, he said,

"The rice market seems to be stalled and needs a jump start of demand to spark the market," Johnson said.

The LSU AgCenter economist said the U.S. Department of Agriculture could stimulate the market by executing commitments to sell 81,000 metric tons under the PL 480 program.

"The paddy market continues to be a situation of offsetting pressures of low supply and light demand. Thus the result is a market that continues in the doldrums," Johnson said.

The Texas harvest is behind schedule, and the yields are about 10 percent below average, similar to the yield in Louisiana, Johnson said, while the harvest has yet to start in Arkansas – biggest rice-producing state in the United States.

The overseas market is dominated by Thailand, which is likely to get the next Iraqi tender for 100,000 metric tons, Johnson said, explaining that other countries don’t have rice supplies for export and that Thailand’s rice is cheaper than U.S. rice.

So when should a farmer sell his rice?

"That’s a tough one to call," Johnson said. "It just depends on the situation."

The economist said it might be a good idea to wait on a sale if a farmer has adequate drying and storage capability.

Johnson said he generally urges farmers to sell their crop in stages, similar to diversifying stock investments.

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Contact: Gene Johnson at (225) 578-4566 or gjohnson@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Rooting Cuttings One Way To Share Plants

Get It Growing News For 08/20/04

When gardeners get together, and a plant is complimented, it is not unusual for the admirer to be offered a "piece" to take home and root.

Sharing plants is one of the pleasures of gardening. Getting that piece – or cutting, as it’s known – to survive and grow into a new plant is the challenge.

A cutting is a piece of a plant that is cut off, placed into conditions where it regenerates the missing parts and grows into a new, independent plant.

For most plants, the best type of cutting to use is a stem cutting, although some plants also are propagated by leaf cuttings (African violets, for example) or root cuttings (acanthus). When a stem cutting is taken, it generally has leaves and a stem, and it must generate a new root system.

Stem cuttings taken from some plants root rapidly and easily, while others are more of a challenge. Success depends on taking the cuttings properly and at the right time of the year and then providing them with the right conditions for rooting. The cutting must survive until the new roots form.

A common mistake made by gardeners is trying to root large cuttings in an effort to get big plants quickly. Cuttings generally should be no more than 3 inches to 6 inches long. Cuttings that length can be taken from the ends of branches (tip cuttings), or longer shoots can be cut off and sectioned into shorter cuttings.

The cut at the lower end of the cutting always should be made just below the point on a stem where a leaf or pair of leaves are attached. Take cuttings in the cool, early morning hours when plant tissue is full of water, and immediately put them in water or wrap them in a moist cloth. Keep the cuttings out of direct sun, and plant as soon as possible.

When preparing to plant the cutting, make sure it is not too long, and trim if necessary. Remove the leaves on the lower half of the stem. If the remaining leaves are large, such as is the case with hydrangeas, they may be cut by about half to reduce their size. But do not remove all of the leaves.

Products containing root-promoting hormones are available at local nurseries and should be applied following label directions to the cuttings before planting the cuttings. These products are effective in making cuttings root faster and more reliably.

The material, or medium, you plant the cuttings into also is very important. A good rooting medium must be loose enough to provide the base of the cuttings with plenty of air but needs to retain enough water to keep the cuttings from drying out. It also should be free from pathogenic fungi that could cause the cuttings to rot.

A classic rooting mix is made from one part sharp builders’ sand to one part peat moss or shredded sphagnum moss. I often use a half-and-half mixture of vermiculite and perlite, since these materials are readily available, sterile and fairly inexpensive. Other combinations, such as sand and vermiculite, should work well, as would even a light potting mix.

To plant, fill a container with pre-moistened rooting medium. Make a hole in the rooting medium and insert the cutting one-half its length into the medium. Firm the medium around the cutting. Several cuttings can be planted fairly close together in a container at this stage. When all the cuttings are planted, they should be watered in.

Cuttings root more reliably in high humidity. To achieve this, place containers in old aquariums covered with glass, or cover pots with wide mouth glass jars, plastic soft drink bottles with their bottoms cut off, plastic bags or other materials that are clear (cuttings need light). If you use something like plastic bags, support the plastic off of the cuttings with small sticks (pencils or chopsticks work well).

Place the cuttings in total shade outside or a bright window indoors that does not receive direct sun. Water often enough to keep the rooting medium moist but not soggy.

The time required for rooting varies, depending on the type of plant. Three to six weeks is typical. Check the cuttings periodically by gently pulling on them. When you feel resistance, rooting is under way. Check the root length by gently lifting a cutting from the medium about a week after you feel resistance. Rooted cuttings are ready to plant into individual pots when the roots are about an inch long.

Once they’ve rooted, plant cuttings into individual small pots of potting soil. Keep the newly rooted cuttings in the shade for about a week. Then gradually move them into the type of light the plant prefers. At this stage you may fertilize occasionally with a soluble fertilizer.

Many shrubs can be propagated by cuttings taken now. Woody plants require patience when grown from cuttings. It may be two years or more before the plants are large enough to plant in the landscape.

Herbaceous plants (non-woody plants, such as begonias, impatiens, coleus, many hardy perennials and many houseplants) root easily and quickly from stem cuttings taken anytime they are in active growth.

Be prepared for some failures when rooting cuttings, but do consider giving it a try. The satisfaction of propagating your own plants is hard to beat.

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.  A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.

###

Contact: Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Scientists Battling Mites Devastating Honey Bees

News Release Distributed 08/16/04 

A tiny pest brought the U.S. honey bee industry to its knees, but a Louisiana scientist found a remedy in remote Russia.

Two different types of mites were detected in American honey bees starting in the mid-1980s.

"Tracheal mites only showed up in 1984. Then shortly after that we had varroa mites," said professional beekeeper Charlie Harper of Carencro. "Before that time, beekeeping was a whole lot easier."

For a few years, pesticides could successfully control varroa populations – the biggest threat to honey bees – but eventually the mites became immune to chemicals, Harper said, while using graphic but effective terms to describe how varroa mites harm bees.

"A varroa mite on you would be like a tick the size of a rat sucking your blood," Harper said. In addition, the beekeeper said varroa mites transmit diseases to bees.

Varroa mites are capable of 10 to 15 generations in a year, according to Dr. Tom Rinderer, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bee Lab in Baton Rouge and an adjunct LSU AgCenter entomology professor.

"People were losing 80 percent of their colonies during the winter," Rinderer said.

LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Dale Pollet said honey bees have a significant role in agriculture, providing roughly $400 million in pollination in Louisiana, $4 million in honey production and roughly $300,000 in sales of apiary supplies.

"About 60 percent of the food you eat is directly or indirectly due to bees," Pollet stressed of the bees’ roles in pollination and honey production.

The demand for a solution prompted Rinderer to find an area where honey bees had adapted to mites. He knew of a Siberian area of Primorsky in Russia where Ukranian emigrants brought bees with them when they migrated there in the mid-1800s.

Originally the bees weren’t exposed to varroa mites until being moved to their Siberian home, Rinderer said. The bees that could survive the harsh winters and endure varroa mites were the only ones to prosper, he said, and beekeepers probably used no breeding techniques.

"I think there was an opportunity for natural selection to take place," he said.

After the USSR was formed, the Primorsky naval port of Vladivostok was closed to outsiders because of its military activities there, Rinderer said, but military officers assigned to the seaport enjoyed beekeeping as a hobby.

After the USSR collapsed, Rinderer ventured to Primorsky to explore the possibility of bringing Russian honey bees to the United States as a possible solution to the varroa problem.

The Primorsky beekeepers didn’t seem to be worried about the mite problem, Rinderer said.

"They were much more casual about it," he said.

But getting the honey bees from Russia to Rinderer’s lab in Baton Rouge wasn’t a casual endeavor.

"It took two years just to get bees in Vladivostok to a bee yard here," he said.

After that, experimental colonies were established at an isolated location in Louisiana near Grand Isle. Breeding was aimed at taking only the best colonies before releasing a line of queens.

The breeding program is even more intensive now, Rinderer said, with selections made to obtain the best queens.

Russian queens are being produced in Iowa to subject them to harsh winters, and in Mississippi and Louisiana, with the best chosen for breeding lines.

"That will be a continuous effort," Rinderer said. "It’s got huge potential left. It’s not a finished project."

Beekeepers are making the transition from Italian bees to Russians, but the change takes some adjustment.

"They’re a different bee," Rinderer said. "They look pathetic in the springtime."

After winter, the colony is small – with no brood being produced until late spring, he explained. "They look like they’re on the verge of death."

The Russians aren’t fooled by the sudden warm-ups of Louisiana’s early spring, he said, but once the pollen flow begins, the Russian bees shift into high gear.

"They sit back until it’s obvious spring is here," Rinderer said.

In fact, beekeepers have to prepare extra hive space for expansion, he said.

Russian bees suffer only a third to half of the mites that plague Italian hives, Rinderer said, and the new lines have enabled some beekeepers in New York to forego using chemicals to control mites.

"I have some confidence in the next few years we will be producing bees that don’t need chemicals at all," he said.

Harper said his beekeeping operation depends less on chemical defenses.

"I’m going without chemical treatment on the Russian hives I have," said Harper, vice president of the Louisiana Beekeepers Association.

Harper sells Russian breeder queens to other queen bee breeders. This year he shipped queens to New York, California, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, both Carolinas and Georgia.

After Canada opened its border for U.S. queen shipments, he sent an order there for six queens.

To make a queen, a larva is placed in a plastic cell, positioned vertically in the hive, unlike the other cells in a hive that are horizontal, and worker bees feed the larva royal jelly.

The queen mates with drones, then starts laying up to 2,000 eggs per day.

"That’s all a queen is – an egg-laying machine," Harper said.

His customers will use the $500 breeder queens to produce new queens that will be sold for $10-$15 each to beekeepers.

The Russians are immune to tracheal mites that block bees’ airways, and they have resistance to parasitic varroa mites.

Russian hives also aren’t as conducive for mites to reproduce.

Pollination from honey bees is essential for many agricultural crops that aren’t self-pollinating. Harper said the almond industry in California relies heavily on honey bees, and almond farmers had to cope with a bee shortage this year. Crops such as pears, cherries, apples, melons and cucumbers also require pollination.

In southern Louisiana, honey bees get most of their honey from tallow trees, also known in some areas as chicken trees, he said. "A lot of people don’t realize tallow trees are good for something," Harper said.

All honey bees in the New World were imported, Rinderer said, with Italian bees becoming the preferred breed.

The Bee Act of 1911 prohibited importation of honey bees into the United States, but someone apparently violated that law, inadvertently introducing the varroa mites into American hives, Rinderer said.

A study conducted by the USDA Bee Lab indicates Louisiana may be spared from the spread of Africanized bees, commonly known by the exaggerated name of "killer bees." The study indicates that in more than a decade the bees have not been able to migrate to areas with more than 55 inches of annual rainfall.

"Africanized bees seemed to have reached their limit of spreading," Rinderer said. "They seem to be stuck in East Texas, and the ones that are stuck there are hybridized and not anything like pure African."

Contacts:
Tom Rinderer at (225) 578-1634 or trinderer@agcenter.lsu.edu
Dale Pollet at (225) 578-2370 or dpollet@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:    
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Scientists Verify More Soybean Disease In Louisiana

News Release Distributed 11/16/04

Three of four samples tested from an inspection tour in Louisiana Thursday (Nov. 11) were confirmed as Asian soybean rust, a potentially devastating plant disease, today (Nov. 16) by officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The samples from three Louisiana parishes provide evidence that this fungal disease, which is spread by wind-borne spores, arrived in this country from South America via Hurricane Ivan, which struck the state about seven weeks ago.

"The sample locations indicate a path that matches the wind patterns of Hurricane Ivan," said Dr. Clayton Hollier, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist and its principal investigator for the Southern Pest Detection Network.

The disease has been in South America, which is a major soybean-producing area, since 2001.

All evidence of the disease was found on soybean plants. The teams, which included scientists from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and its Agricultural Research Service, also looked at kudzu – an invasive plant prevalent in Louisiana that can serve as a "host" for the fungus that causes the disease.

"It was just a matter of time before we found the disease in this country," said Dr. David Boethel, vice chancellor for research in the LSU AgCenter. "We were the last major soybean-producing country that didn’t have it."

Asian soybean rust is a fungal disease that interferes with photosynthesis. The plant cannot grow, so yields can be severely restricted.

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said he is confident Louisiana’s soybean producers will work with state and federal officials to minimize the effect on soybean yields next growing season.

"Our producers are concerned about this fungus and the effects it will have on their industry," Odom said. "We’ve always maintained a good relationship with the soybean-growing community and are going to continue to provide education and information about this disease and the fungicides that can be used to reduce its effects.

"My department will take the necessary steps to protect the growers and comply with all federal guidelines. We’ve all been working together the past week to identify the scope of this disease and are going to carry on the LDAF, USDA, LSU AgCenter team effort."

A USDA plant pathologist said the early discovery of the disease was unusual.

"The LSU AgCenter is to be commended for diligence in finding this disease," said Dr. Russ Bulluck, a plant pathologist in the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "It is amazing to find this at such an early stage."

Signs of the disease were discovered on Nov. 6 by Dr. Ray Schneider, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, during a tour of a production field at the LSU AgCenter’s research farm near Baton Rouge. The disease was confirmed as Asian soybean rust on Nov. 10 by the USDA laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

"In Brazil, yields on individual fields have been reduced by as much as 80 percent because of the disease," said Dr. Ken Whitam, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist.

The Louisiana parishes where samples were confirmed were Iberia, St. John and St. Mary.

"If it had to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time of year," said Craig Roussel, director of horticulture and quarantine programs with state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and one of two coordinators of the search effort. "More than 95 percent of the soybeans have already been harvested, so yields were not affected."

The other search coordinator was Bill Spitzer, state plant health director for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

"Our focus now is on keeping this disease under control so it doesn’t hurt U.S. soybean production," Spitzer said.

Already, teams in other states are searching for evidence there, Spitzer said.

"Finding Asian soybean rust in this country means farmers will have to make changes in their soybean management practices," Whitam said. "They will have to be diligent in early scouting of the disease and use more fungicides, which will increase their production costs."

LSU AgCenter extension specialists will hold meetings with all the state’s soybean growers over the next couple of months to go over new recommendations concerning soybean production in Louisiana.

###

Contacts:
Clayton Hollier at (225) 578-2186 or chollier@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ken Whitam at (225) 578-2186 or kwhitam@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ray Schneider at (225) 578-4880 or rschneider@agcenter.lsu.edu 
David Boethel at (225) 578-4181 or dboethel@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer:    
Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu 

Scientists Verify More Soybean Disease In Louisiana

News Release Distributed 11/16/04

Three of four samples tested from an inspection tour in Louisiana Thursday (Nov. 11) were confirmed as Asian soybean rust, a potentially devastating plant disease, today (Nov. 16) by officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The samples from three Louisiana parishes provide evidence that this fungal disease, which is spread by wind-borne spores, arrived in this country from South America via Hurricane Ivan, which struck the state about seven weeks ago.

"The sample locations indicate a path that matches the wind patterns of Hurricane Ivan," said Dr. Clayton Hollier, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist and its principal investigator for the Southern Pest Detection Network.

The disease has been in South America, which is a major soybean-producing area, since 2001.

All evidence of the disease was found on soybean plants. The teams, which included scientists from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and its Agricultural Research Service, also looked at kudzu – an invasive plant prevalent in Louisiana that can serve as a "host" for the fungus that causes the disease.

"It was just a matter of time before we found the disease in this country," said Dr. David Boethel, vice chancellor for research in the LSU AgCenter. "We were the last major soybean-producing country that didn’t have it."

Asian soybean rust is a fungal disease that interferes with photosynthesis. The plant cannot grow, so yields can be severely restricted.

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said he is confident Louisiana’s soybean producers will work with state and federal officials to minimize the effect on soybean yields next growing season.

"Our producers are concerned about this fungus and the effects it will have on their industry," Odom said. "We’ve always maintained a good relationship with the soybean-growing community and are going to continue to provide education and information about this disease and the fungicides that can be used to reduce its effects.

"My department will take the necessary steps to protect the growers and comply with all federal guidelines. We’ve all been working together the past week to identify the scope of this disease and are going to carry on the LDAF, USDA, LSU AgCenter team effort."

A USDA plant pathologist said the early discovery of the disease was unusual.

"The LSU AgCenter is to be commended for diligence in finding this disease," said Dr. Russ Bulluck, a plant pathologist in the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "It is amazing to find this at such an early stage."

Signs of the disease were discovered on Nov. 6 by Dr. Ray Schneider, an LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, during a tour of a production field at the LSU AgCenter’s research farm near Baton Rouge. The disease was confirmed as Asian soybean rust on Nov. 10 by the USDA laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

"In Brazil, yields on individual fields have been reduced by as much as 80 percent because of the disease," said Dr. Ken Whitam, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist.

The Louisiana parishes where samples were confirmed were Iberia, St. John and St. Mary.

"If it had to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time of year," said Craig Roussel, director of horticulture and quarantine programs with state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and one of two coordinators of the search effort. "More than 95 percent of the soybeans have already been harvested, so yields were not affected."

The other search coordinator was Bill Spitzer, state plant health director for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

"Our focus now is on keeping this disease under control so it doesn’t hurt U.S. soybean production," Spitzer said.

Already, teams in other states are searching for evidence there, Spitzer said.

"Finding Asian soybean rust in this country means farmers will have to make changes in their soybean management practices," Whitam said. "They will have to be diligent in early scouting of the disease and use more fungicides, which will increase their production costs."

LSU AgCenter extension specialists will hold meetings with all the state’s soybean growers over the next couple of months to go over new recommendations concerning soybean production in Louisiana.

###

Contacts:
Clayton Hollier at (225) 578-2186 or chollier@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ken Whitam at (225) 578-2186 or kwhitam@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ray Schneider at (225) 578-4880 or rschneider@agcenter.lsu.edu 
David Boethel at (225) 578-4181 or dboethel@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer:    
Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or lbenedict@agcenter.lsu.edu 

Tomato Shortage Means Higher Prices For Producers

News Release Distributed 11/05/04

BOSSIER CITY – "Lucky is the tomato grower who has tomatoes for sale now," said Dr. H.Y. Hanna of the LSU AgCenter.

Hanna was referring to a nationwide tomato shortage that has hit the United States – more than doubling the price of tomatoes. The shortage is a result of hurricanes that hit Florida in August and September, destroying tomato crops that were expected to be sold this month.

Hanna, whose research at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station focuses on growing greenhouse tomatoes, said most of the field-grown tomatoes sold in Louisiana come from Florida and Mexico, and most greenhouse tomatoes come from Colorado and Canada – although some of them are produced here, as well.

"Most of the tomatoes grown in Louisiana are produced and sold locally during the May to August months," Hanna said. "The rest have to be shipped in."

The average consumer eats about 20 pounds of tomatoes annually, according to Hanna. Based on the latest population figures for the state from the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana’s 4.5 million citizens probably eat close to 90 million pounds of tomatoes each year.

"That’s a lot of tomatoes," Hanna said.

Although Louisiana has a growing tomato industry, which produced nearly 20 million pounds of tomatoes in 2003, that still falls short of the state’s consumption.

"As you can see, consumption is more than production here," Hanna said. "The price for tomatoes right now is very high. This is good for the producer, but bad for the consumer."

A number of LSU AgCenter faculty members work on research and educational efforts to support the state’s tomato industry and to help growers maximize production here.

The LSU AgCenter’s 2003 Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources shows a total of 19.79 million pounds of tomatoes worth approximately $15 million were grown in fields and greenhouses here last year.

Hanna predicts the current nationwide shortage of tomatoes could be over by December.

Meanwhile, he says there’s one place where tomato prices haven’t risen. That’s at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station near Bossier City.

Hanna grows tomatoes in greenhouses at the research station as part of his work on finding the most economical and productive methods for commercial growers. What’s produced there also is sold to the public to support the research work.

The fall harvest of the tomatoes at the research station is under way, and Hanna said one variety, Quest, is doing "very well." Geronimo is another variety that is showing promise, according to Hanna.

"Geronimo is a new variety that we’re testing," Hanna said. "This is the first year that we’ve planted it. In a consumer taste test of 23 people, 17 people rated it No. 1 as far as taste and six people rated it No. 2 as far as taste is concerned."

Shelf life – the amount of time from harvest that a fruit or vegetable stays marketable – is another characteristic of Geronimo that looks good, the researcher said.

"It has a shelf life equal to Quest," Hanna said. "The shelf life is one week. That is good for producers."

Tomatoes for sale at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station are available at the front office. For information, call (318) 741-7430.

For more information on the research and educational efforts of the LSU AgCenter – which cover topics ranging from nutrition and family life to agricultural production and community economic development – visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: H.Y. Hanna at (318) 741-7430 or hhanna@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Tomato Shortage Means Higher Prices For Producers

News Release Distributed 11/05/04

BOSSIER CITY – "Lucky is the tomato grower who has tomatoes for sale now," said Dr. H.Y. Hanna of the LSU AgCenter.

Hanna was referring to a nationwide tomato shortage that has hit the United States – more than doubling the price of tomatoes. The shortage is a result of hurricanes that hit Florida in August and September, destroying tomato crops that were expected to be sold this month.

Hanna, whose research at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station focuses on growing greenhouse tomatoes, said most of the field-grown tomatoes sold in Louisiana come from Florida and Mexico, and most greenhouse tomatoes come from Colorado and Canada – although some of them are produced here, as well.

"Most of the tomatoes grown in Louisiana are produced and sold locally during the May to August months," Hanna said. "The rest have to be shipped in."

The average consumer eats about 20 pounds of tomatoes annually, according to Hanna. Based on the latest population figures for the state from the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana’s 4.5 million citizens probably eat close to 90 million pounds of tomatoes each year.

"That’s a lot of tomatoes," Hanna said.

Although Louisiana has a growing tomato industry, which produced nearly 20 million pounds of tomatoes in 2003, that still falls short of the state’s consumption.

"As you can see, consumption is more than production here," Hanna said. "The price for tomatoes right now is very high. This is good for the producer, but bad for the consumer."

A number of LSU AgCenter faculty members work on research and educational efforts to support the state’s tomato industry and to help growers maximize production here.

The LSU AgCenter’s 2003 Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources shows a total of 19.79 million pounds of tomatoes worth approximately $15 million were grown in fields and greenhouses here last year.

Hanna predicts the current nationwide shortage of tomatoes could be over by December.

Meanwhile, he says there’s one place where tomato prices haven’t risen. That’s at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station near Bossier City.

Hanna grows tomatoes in greenhouses at the research station as part of his work on finding the most economical and productive methods for commercial growers. What’s produced there also is sold to the public to support the research work.

The fall harvest of the tomatoes at the research station is under way, and Hanna said one variety, Quest, is doing "very well." Geronimo is another variety that is showing promise, according to Hanna.

"Geronimo is a new variety that we’re testing," Hanna said. "This is the first year that we’ve planted it. In a consumer taste test of 23 people, 17 people rated it No. 1 as far as taste and six people rated it No. 2 as far as taste is concerned."

Shelf life – the amount of time from harvest that a fruit or vegetable stays marketable – is another characteristic of Geronimo that looks good, the researcher said.

"It has a shelf life equal to Quest," Hanna said. "The shelf life is one week. That is good for producers."

Tomatoes for sale at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station are available at the front office. For information, call (318) 741-7430.

For more information on the research and educational efforts of the LSU AgCenter – which cover topics ranging from nutrition and family life to agricultural production and community economic development – visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: H.Y. Hanna at (318) 741-7430 or hhanna@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Water Use Policies Important To Economic Development

News Release Distributed 08/20/04 

NATCHITOCHES – More than 60 people gathered here this week to discuss water issues facing citizens of the area, and one of the key messages was that policies on water use are important to economic development.

Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the Aug. 17 meeting at Northwestern State University provided a forum for participants to interact and exchange ideas with leading water management experts from Louisiana, according to Mimi Stoker, coordinator of the meeting and an LSU AgCenter watershed educator for the Red River and Sabine watersheds.

"The summit was planned to inform the public about the current water situation and the water projects being conducted in the state," said Stoker.

State Rep. Taylor Townsend said navigation on the Red River through northwestern Louisiana holds many economic opportunities for the area.

Also, as an outdoorsman, he emphasized the need for landowners to consider enrolling marginal crop land in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s environmental programs. These programs can help landowners enhance conservation efforts and develop the wildlife habitats on the land.

Townsend also stressed that the state Legislature depends on scientists and professionals to help write public policy that addresses water issues.

"Water is important in economic development," said LSU AgCenter water specialist Dr. Bill Branch, adding, "It is needed to grow crops, process food commodities, support industrial growth, for navigation, household use and many other uses.

Branch also pointed out that people enjoy living near water bodies – citing evidence of the migration to and homebuilding in areas like Toledo Bend Lake and Poverty Point Reservoir.

These water impoundments also provide storage for water during heavy rainfall, thus reducing the impact of flooding, assisting in recharging aquifers and providing numerous recreational opportunities for citizens.

Three major aquifers are being overdrafted – even though 84 percent of the water used in Louisiana comes from surface water resources such as rivers, lakes and bayous according to the latest USGS survey.

"We have an abundant supply of surface water and need to find additional ways to use it," said Branch, adding, "This will help conserve the ground water and provide additional resources to support economic growth."

Surface water can be lifted from an impoundment for less than one-half the cost of lifting water 50-60 feet from a well, said Branch, and most community wells are much deeper than that.

The two largest agricultural industries in the state, forestry and poultry, need high-quality water to wash their products and to use in manufacturing processes.

The use of water is important to the forest industry in the manufacturing of various products and in preserving raw products from harvest until being processed. The forest industry is the largest agricultural segment and the second largest manufacturing industry in the state. It returned more than $3.7 billion to the state in 2003.

Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, said more than 90 percent of the loggers and landowners use the best management practices adopted by the industry and approved by the state and federal agencies. These practices help landowners manage their forestry lands in an environmentally friendly way and improve the water quality.

"The roots of trees in the soil on forest lands help filter water as it moves across the land and improves the water quality," he said.

Vandersteen said Louisiana also is first in cooperation on water quality and conservation issues. He said government leaders, industry representatives, universities and private landowners fully cooperated to develop the first Master Logger Program – which teaches forest professionals how to maximize both environmental conservation and profitability. Today, there are more than 1,200 master loggers in the state.

The poultry industry is the second largest agricultural industry in the state and returned $1.2 billion last year.

Pilgrim’s Pride, which has plants in Natchitoches and Farmerville, uses water to wash the birds and carry byproducts to other locations in the plant. They need high quality water to produce a high-quality food product.

Tim Wier, director of environmental engineering at Pilgrim’s Pride, said the company uses about 2.5 million gallons of water per day to operate the processing facilities. But the company has reduced the amount of water required to process a bird from 9 gallons to 4 gallons in the past 15 years and continues to work on further reductions.

In other comments during the summit, LSU AgCenter water quality specialist Dr. Fred Sanders discussed the LSU AgCenter’s Master Farmer Program. That program, which now is being copied by other states, follows a similar model to the Master Logger program and is designed to teach producers of other commodities how to operate in the most environmentally friendly manner.

Sanders and other LSU AgCenter specialists said developing plans for water conservation and use are important to the state.

"The development and implementation of a comprehensive water strategy are important in the economic development of the state," said Branch.

For more information on the use of water in the state, contact Bill Branch at (225) 578-6919 or bbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu.  Or call your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

###

Contact: Mimi Stoker at (318) 256-3406 or  
              mstoker@agcenter.lsu.edu
              Bill Branch at (225) 578-6919 or
              bbranch@agcenter.lsu.edu 
              Fred Sanders at (225) 578-6998 or
              fsanders@agcenter.lsu.edu 
              Taylor Townsend at (318) 357-7048
              Buck Vandersteen at (318) 443-2558 
Writer:    John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or
              jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

Watermelons Add Sweetness To Summer

watermelon eating

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

Some people say summer is sweet – or at least that’s the opinion when it comes to watermelons.

And those tasty melons that make the summer heat and humidity in Louisiana a little more tolerable also contribute to the state’s economy.

Watermelons are produced across the state in at least 15 different parishes, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter, and the crop contributes more than $3 million to Louisiana’s economy.

Most of the production occurs in four parishes – Washington, Bienville, Beauregard and Ouachita – where the income to farmers last year was more than $2.4 million, according to the latest figures from the LSU AgCenter.

Washington leads the state with 75 watermelon producers who cultivated 750 acres of watermelons and generated more than $810,000 last year. It’s followed by Beauregard with 50 producers on 500 acres and $525,000 in farm income; Bienville with 12 producers on 500 acres and $750,000 in income; and Ouachita with 11 producers on 165 acres and $324,000.

Other parishes where watermelons are produced commercially include Morehouse, Richland, Union, Vernon, Webster, Winn, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, Red River, St. James and St. John.

Watermelons are a summertime treat in Louisiana – particularly around the Fourth of July – and LSU AgCenter county agent Henry Harrison of Washington Parish says that while recent rains delayed the crop, things are looking up.

Harrison said this season started off looking good, but recent rains have not been good for the crop.

"The melons are normally being pulled by mid-June, but the rain has set them back a couple of weeks this year," Harrison said in late June. "You may see a big watermelon, but it’s not ripe yet."

On the other hand, he said the melons started to come in around the first of July.

Harrison, like many LSU AgCenter agents, works to help rural families find ways to make the most of their resources.

In one such case, he’s working with Harvey and Missy Bienvenu. It’s their first year as watermelon growers after they decided they needed to find an alternative to dairy farming.

The Bienvenus said they are looking forward to selling some of the melons in their 20-acre patch.

Harvey Bienvenu said he was able to get out of the dairy business through a buyout program last year and that he’s looking forward to the melon business being a success. "My wife is also ready for me to bring in some real income," he said.

Missy Bienvenu is a freelance journalist who has won national awards for magazine feature writing, but lately she’s also been very involved in the farm, putting lots of time and energy into helping to market and advertise the melons.

She designed their business cards and fliers and painted the sign in front of their house. "She's also called on several businesses in Washington and St. Tammany parishes to tell them about our watermelons. She's my all-purpose assistant, bookeeper, secretary and so forth, too," Harvey Bienvenu said.

It looks like the next couple of weeks will be good for the Bienvenus. He said the produce buyer from Rouse’s Supermarket was interested in buying a load for the Fourth of July holiday. Other than the supermarket, Bienvenu hopes to sell lots of melons to roadside vendors.

Harrison said that the LSU AgCenter has been a promoter of watermelon production and marketing in Washington Parish since 1983, when a group of watermelon and vegetable producers met to establish a vegetable growers association and a watermelon festival.

As a result of those efforts, 123 farm families are growing 15 different vegetables and fruits in the area, and the income to farmers totals nearly $1 million from watermelon sales alone.

For more information on the work of the LSU AgCenter or the value of agricultural crops, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contact: Henry Harrison at (985) 839-7855 or hharrison@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Workshop To Focus On Forest Management Wildlife

News Release Distributed 07/02/04 

The LSU AgCenter and others are sponsoring a workshop in Alexandria July 21-22 that is designed to help forest landowners get the most from managing their land while also keeping thriving wildlife populations.

Sponsored by the AgCenter, the Louisiana Forestry Association and the Louisiana Society of American Foresters, the two-day workshop is dubbed "Integrating Wildlife and Intensive Forest Management. It will be held at the Louisiana Convention Center in Alexandria.

"The trend in forest management in the Southeast for the past two decades has been toward more intensive management of southern pines," said LSU AgCenter forestry professor Dr. Charles Shilling. "Although landowners want the investment returns that come with intensive forest management, many of them are reluctant to manage in a way that reduces wildlife numbers or quality.

"This workshop will focus on how to get the most returns from intensive management of the forest and still have abundant, healthy wildlife populations," said Shilling,

Shilling said the short course is designed for forest consultants, wildlife biologists, forest managers, landowners and other forestry professionals with an interest in pine plantation management.

It will feature two professors from the University of Georgia’s Daniel B. Warnell School of Forest Resources – Dr. Bruce E. Borders and Dr. Carl V. Miller. It will cover such topics as why intensively managing pine stands is important, basics of wildlife management, herbicide use in forest management, managing wildlife food plots and much more.

The deadline to register is July 15, and the $225 registration fee includes participation in the course, as well as some meals and breaks. For more details or to register, contact Shilling at (225) 578-4192 or cshilling@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Contact: Charles Shilling at (225) 578-4192 or cshilling@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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