AgCenter News for Summer 2018

New sugarcane variety featured at July field day

A new sugarcane variety available for Louisiana farmers to plant this year was highlighted at the 36th annual sugarcane field day at the LSU AgCenter Sugar Research Station on July 18.

The variety, L 11-183, was released this year by the LSU AgCenter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and the American Sugar Cane League.

L 11-183 can be classified as a medium-to-late-maturing variety, said AgCenter sugarcane breeder Collins Kimbeng. It is resistant to smut and moderately resistant to leaf scald, sugarcane yellow leaf virus and ratoon stunting disease, he said.

Averaged across all plant cane, first stubble and second stubble crops, L 11-183 produced 4 percent less cane yield — tons of cane per acre — than L 01-299, the leading variety in the Louisiana sugar industry. But sucrose content — pounds of sugar per ton of cane — was comparable.

Rick Bogren

Master Gardener training goes more digital

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LSU AgCenter extension associate Chris Dunaway, left, demonstrates how to identify problems in turfgrass and the proper use of pesticides during a Master Gardener class at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. This was one of nine weekly face-to-face classes held this summer during this experimental training, which allows students to become certified Master Gardeners without having to commit to the traditional schedule of two three-hour classes for eight weeks. The students can take the rest of the classes online in the comfort of their own homes or wherever they have access to a computer. AgCenter horticulture agent Anna Timmerman said this new style of teaching is called the “flip classroom” model, and it is intended to allow a broader range of people to participate in the Master Gardener program. “The plan is to offer more of these classes around the state,” Timmerman said. Johnny Morgan

Two ag agents win top Louisiana awards

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The Louisiana County Agricultural Agents Association honored members for outstanding achievement at the 72nd annual meeting held in June. LSU AgCenter Iberia Parish extension agent Blair Hebert, at left, received the Distinguished Service Award for career achievement focusing on sugarcane, livestock and row crops. William Afton, horticulture agent in St. Tammany Parish, was honored with the Achievement Award for Excellence for his work with commercial growers, homeowners and the Louisiana Master Gardeners in fruit, vegetable and ornamental plant production. Karol Osborne

Livingston Parish 4-H'er elected state president

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Livingston Parish 4-H’er Westin Cobb, left, was elected state 4-H president at the 104th annual 4-H University June 19-22 on the LSU campus. Runners-up were Heather Gross and Sarah Hammonds. Nearly 1,500 4-H’ers from across the state participated in this event, which includes competition for educational trips and awards and participation in classes and workshops. Olivia McClure

Drusini named 4-H Agent of the Year

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Adriana Drusini, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in St. Mary Parish, has been named the Louisiana 4-H Agent of the Year. She will be formally honored on Nov. 3 at the Louisiana 4-H Volunteer Conference. Drusini works with 32 clubs in the parish with more than 1,000 students. “She makes an extra effort to know her volunteers and to provide them with meaningful roles,” said Lanette Hebert, 4-H regional coordinator. Kathy Landry, a volunteer leader in the parish who nominated Drusini, said she sees the potential in youth. “She welcomes kids. She’s encouraging, and she respects them,” Landry said. Bruce Schultz

Cater, Smith named as regional directors

Melissa Cater was named the new director for the LSU AgCenter Northeast Region, effective Aug. 1. She replaces Tara Smith, who moved to the Central Region to take over the directorship from Boyd Padgett, a plant pathologist who has gone back to doing research and extension work. The LSU AgCenter has five regions all together. The other three are: Northwest, Southwest and Southeast. Regional directors oversee all the AgCenter programs in 4-H, nutrition, agriculture and natural resources in their respective areas.

Cater, a 22-year AgCenter veteran, has been an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation. She was responsible for assessing the effectiveness of AgCenter extension program. She was previously a 4-H and family and consumer sciences agent and parish chair in Catahoula Parish. She is originally from Concordia Parish.

Smith, who took over her new job responsibilities July 1, has been with the AgCenter for 12 years, serving as the director of the Northeast Region for five years and as director of the Sweet Potato Research Station in Chase, Louisiana, and sweet potato extension specialist before that. Smith will continue in her role as the primary point of contact for the sweet potato industry. She is originally from Alexandria, Louisiana. Karol Osborne and Olivia McClure

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Melissa Cater

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Tara P. Smith

Free trade agreement generates rice research funds

Funds resulting from the Colombian Free Trade Agreement have paid for long-term improvements at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station as well as funding a $1 million endowed chair for rice research in the LSU AgCenter, said Jackie Loewer, president of the Louisiana Rice Research Board.

Last year, the Colombian funds generated $1.8 million for Louisiana rice research, and the trade agreement allowed U.S. rice to be sold in Colombia duty-free, Loewer said at the annual AgCenter rice field day at the research station on June 20. Roughly 350 people attended the field day.

Loewer presented a check for $1.5 million from farmer checkoff funds used for rice research to Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture. Don Groth, resident coordinator at the Rice Research Station, said the checkoff funds paid by farmers is crucial to work conducted at the station.

Bruce Schultz

Cold winter hurts salvinia growth, but also the weevils that devour it

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Charles Wahl, an LSU AgCenter entomology research associate, drops weevil-infested salvinia into a hole he cleared in a mat of giant salvinia in Big Fork Bayou in St. Martin Parish on Aug. 1. The severe winter in Louisiana caused much of the giant salvinia in the state to die off, especially in the northern part of the state. However, the weather caused a drastic reduction of a weevil being used to control the waterway-clogging plant. Wahl said few requests for weevils to help combat giant salvinia in north Louisiana have been made this year. He believes the biomass of the invasive plant has been knocked back from the cold and delayed issues caused by it in south Louisiana.

Because the giant salvinia appeared later this year, control of the plant through weevil introduction will also be delayed. It takes the weevils two to three months to show signs of controlling giant salvinia.

Craig Gautreaux and Olivia McClure

Bain family donation benefits sugarcane research

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In an area in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes, considered the northernmost point in the world for growing sugarcane, the Bain family has been raising the sweet stuff for four generations.

“We are doing the impossible here,” said Sterling Bain Jr., at right, the oldest sibling in the Bain family. “There shouldn’t be cane this far north.”

Bain said his family can successfully grow sugarcane because of research at the LSU AgCenter — research that has led to cold-tolerant sugarcane varieties and management practices that allow the crop to thrive in that area.

The Bain family has endowed an LSU AgCenter professorship and LSU College of Agriculture graduate scholarship that will support research on sugarcane. The gifts are in memory of their father, Sterling Bain Sr.

Family members pictured are, left to right: Will Bain, Roger Bain, John Bain, Mary Lou Bain, Edgar Bain, Tommy Webb and Sterling Bain Jr. Tobie Blanchard

11/28/2018 5:07:10 PM
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