Despite an extreme drought in South Texas, there will be some wheat and oilseed harvested in the coming weeks that grew on very limited stored moisture from last fall.The Texas AgriLife Extension Service of Nueces County has some variety trials of wheat, safflower, and flax that will be of interest to farmers in the Coastal Bend. A Field Tour will be conducted on Monday, April 13, 2009 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Faske Farm site located eight miles west of Driscoll off Farm-to-Market Road 665, and then north on County Road 95. Jerry Faske cooperated with Texas AgriLife Extension Service and planted 14 wheat varieties which will be evaluated and discussed at the tour.

Following the wheat tour, the group will travel to the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Clarkwood on Hwy. 44 to view seven safflower and five flax varieties. Safflower, used for its oil and the birdseed industry, has a very aggressive taproot that can penetrate 8 to 10 feet, making it a very drought tolerant crop. Flax on the other hand, is an old crop that was grown here some 50 years ago and then not produced. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in flax from the human consumption stand point, for its high dietary fiber and omega-3 oils, and with this interest new markets are developing.

Participants in the tour activities will be awarded 1 CEU for their participation.

This seminar is being sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Nueces County and local Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Private applicator training and testing date set

The Nueces County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service will conduct a Private Pesticide Applicator Training on Friday, April 24, 2009, at the Nueces County Extension Office located in the Calderon Bldg. at 710 E Main in Robstown, Texas. The training will begin at 8 a.m. followed by testing administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

A Private Applicator is defined by law as a person who uses or supervises the use of a restricted-use or state-limited use pesticide for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity.

Participants in the training should secure a study manual from their local Extension Office prior to the training.

The study manual is $25. Furthermore, participants in the training are encouraged to bring a pencil and calculator for the exam. Reviewing the study manual prior to the training and test will improve ones performance on the exam. For additional information about the training contact Jeff Stapper, County Extension Agent - Agriculture and Natural Resources at (361) 767-5223.

Commissioner Staples urges landowners to comply with state cotton laws

The lack of soil moisture has presented many challenges for farmers, and now some producers are dealing with more than 20,000 acres of late-germinating cotton seeds that will soon grow cotton plants in fields where other crops have been planted. These plants, which are grown in fields not normally scheduled for treatment by the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF), pose a threat to boll weevil eradication efforts since the plants act as hosts for the pests. In an effort to protect Texas' $2.1 billion cotton industry, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is requesting that allnon-commercial cotton be destroyed immediately in order to reduce the risk of boll weevil infestation and spread.

"Texas leads the nation in cotton production, and we want to keep it that way," Commissioner Staples said. "Our state has invested millions in successful boll weevil eradication efforts, but we must eliminate non-commercial cotton as it can become a major breeding ground for this harmful pest."

Texas law prohibits the growth of non-commercial cotton in any boll weevil eradication zone except under a special permit issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Permits are only given for cotton grown for research, demonstrations or education. Commercial cotton fields, however, are monitored and treated when necessary. Producers can destroy non-commercial cotton through cultivation or with herbicides.

For more information, contact Robert Crocker, TDA coordinator for pest management programs, at (512) 463-6332.

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.