Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kissing Bug and Chagas Disease in Texas

The Kissing Bug and Chagas Disease has received significant attention by the news media. Although this disease has little to do with horticulture, it is worth mentioning to increase public awareness and because gardeners are more aware of insects around their gardens.
Chagas Disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a inflammatory, infectious disease cause by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The protozoan is transmitted by the kissing bug within the genus Triatoma sp. and family Reduviidae. There are three species of kissing bugs found in Texas (see photo). The kissing bug transmits the protozoan by biting then subsequently defecating near the site of the bite. The disease affects humans and other mammals. There are multiple symptoms of Chagas Disease. Find out more at the Center for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic. 

Preventing exposure to the insect is an important step to disease prevention. It important to take steps to controlling the insect in and around your home. Eliminating habitat for the kissing bug is first step to preventing exposure to the insect and disease. Destroy trash and debris piles, bird and animal nests and remove animal burrows. Control rodents and other animal pest around the home. Inspect your home and seal places that pest could enter your home. Consider using a licensed, qualified pest control professional to treat the home and assist with other integrated pest management strategies.

There are numerous resources available by Texas A&M and other governmental agencies. The Texas A&M Veterinarian and Biomedical Science Department has created a website to assist with understanding the issue and identification of the insect. Visit the site for more information http://kissingbug.tamu.edu/

Other resources:

Insects in the City (Extension Urban Entomology)
Texas Department of State Health Services
Interactive Map of kissing bug occurrence in Texas

Written by Greg Church, Ph.D, Horticulture Agent

Monday, November 16, 2015

Citrus Canker found in South Texas

Citrus Canker Disease has been found in south Texas on October 16th, 2015, the first time since the 1940s. This disease can be devastating to health of the citrus crops, but also has significant implications on the trade and shipment of citrus out of Texas. This is bad news considering citrus producers, state and federal officials have already been working to eradication another exotic disease called Citrus Greening over the past few years.

Florida fought to eradicate citrus canker for almost 100 years before giving up in 2006 after the historic hurricane seasons of 2004 (by the way I lived through it). Texas had eradicated the disease nearly 70 years ago, but now faces another battle of keeping this disease quarantined.

Citrus Canker 1 mile plain.pdfLet's hope that Texas can learn valuable lessons from Florida, about what works and what doesn't work. Florida spent ~$1 billion and removed 16.5 million citrus trees over ten years trying to eradicate the disease, but later gave up on their eradication efforts. Quarantine and eradication is the best first step, but spending time and money on research to develop disease resistance and other control strategies is also a wise choice. Extension education programs are important to raise awareness and understanding of Citrus Canker and other exotic diseases.

For addition information visit the following links:

 Valley Morning Star - Citrus Canker News

Texas A&M AgriLife Today - Citrus Canker News


Citrus Canker Information from American Phytopathological Society 

Citrus Canker Information at Florida Dept of Agriculture

Written by Greg Church, Ph.D, Horticulture Agent - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Roses losing the battle with Rose Rosette Disease

Roses have been losing the battle with Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) all over Collin County. As a plant pathologist I had seen and worked with this disease in the past, but never have I seen this level of disease pressure, infection rate, and wide spread infection. There are lot of theories on how and why this has happened, but likely they will just remain theories. At our recent Rose Rosette Disease Seminar held at Collin College, we heard from a rose breeder, plant diagnostician, and virologist. They presented research information about this disease and strategies for managing the problem. There were several new discoveries presented that shed some light on the disease and how it is spread.

In late 2014 the Rose Rosette Eradication Alliance (RREA) was formed in an effort to educate the landscape industry, property managers, government officials, homeowners, and the general public. During 2015, the RREA has organized numerous conferences, seminars, and presentations to help increase the availability of information about this disease and how to manage it. The RREA has helped to develop publications, videos, and recommendations for RRD, and assisted with getting out message out.

There is no cure for this viral disease of roses. The management strategy relies heavily on removing roses exhibiting symptoms of the disease so the spread of disease is limited. The virus that causes the disease is spread by a microscopic mite. In North Texas there are countless landscape beds densely planted with roses, which has made it easy for the disease to spread. Landscapes should be designed with a diverse species of plants to prevent the spread of RRD, as well as other disease and insect problems.

New information presented at the recent seminar was the incubation period for this disease is much longer than we previously thought. The incubation period is the time between when the plant is infected and symptoms develop. Current data suggest this can be from 2 weeks to 18 months. A longer incubation period makes managing the disease more difficult, because roses could be a source of infection for a long time before the symptoms develop. Meaning that a healthy rose can be infected, but we just don't know it yet. Therefore removing symptomatic roses, while still very important, won't have as quick of an impact on controlling the spread of the disease as we once hoped. Gardeners should remain vigilant with the community wide effort to remove RRD symptomatic roses.

We have compiled information about Rose Rosette Disease and posted it our our Collin County Master Gardener website. You can watch the following 5 minute video or visit our YouTube channel. New videos from our recent seminar are posted at: Dealing with Rose Rosette Disease - Dr. Kevin Ong.

Written by Greg Church, Ph.D., Horticulture Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Stressed Trees Lead to Disease and Insect Problems

Understanding Tree Stress

Diseases - HYPOXYLON CANKERQuestions about trees are by far the most common questions we get at the Extension Office. Trees that are showing symptoms of problems can also be the most difficult to diagnosis. The health of trees is directly related to stress. So what causes stress in trees? In my experience, water issues are the most common stresses. Drought stress has plagued many of our trees in North Texas. Trees are among the toughest plants on Earth but they don't always give us clues they are struggling until it is too late. Other environmental conditions can cause stress on trees and reduce their ability to defend themselves against diseases and insect damage. There are numerous diseases and insects that cause problems with trees. However, two pests tend to attack tree more often during stressful conditions. Hypoxylon Canker is a fungal disease that will kill a tree that is stressed. Wood-boring insects are the most common insect we see killing trees in Collin County. The most important thing you can do to protect the health of your tree is to prevent trees from becoming stressed. Learn more at the Texas A&M Forest Service - Forest Health website.

Watering a Tree

During times of drought, I recommend watering a tree at least once per month by irrigating the top 6 inches of soil within the drip line of the tree (area under the canopy). Most homeowners believe a tree gets enough water from a lawn sprinkler system, but these type of irrigation systems are designed to irrigate turfgrass, not trees. Trees require a irrigation method that allows the water to slowly penetrate deep within the soil profile. The majority of the tree roots are within the top 6 or 12 inches of the soil, so when we irrigate we need to water that profile. Hand watering trees is practical, but if you use a irrigation system then select drip tubing, bubblers, and other device specifically designed for trees. The Texas Forest Service has great video on how to water your tree.

Tree Selection and Planting
Trees are an important part of our landscapes and the natural environment. Fall is a great time of the year to plant a tree. A tree planted in the fall has a better chance of getting established, than any other time of the year. If you are going to plant a new tree or you are replacing a dead tree, there are many important things to consider. The Collin County Master Gardeners provide resources on selecting the proper tree. The Texas A&M Forest Service has educational videos and Tree Planting website that help make your next tree planting a success. 

Removing a Tree

Trees provide countless benefits to humans and the environment. The loss of a tree within your landscape can be difficult. It is important to understand the risk that dead, damaged, or weak trees can have to your neighborhood and surrounding property. The Texas A&M Forest Service publication provide information on Liability of Hazardous Trees. During the process of removing a tree, one of the most importance considerations is selecting a Tree Care Professional to remove the tree. This publication provides advice on how to select a professional. I recommend using a Certified Arborist that has the proper insurance, professional references, and recommendations from trusted sources. You can find a Certified Arborist at the International Society of Arboriculture

Written by Greg Church, Ph.D. - Horticulture Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall is great time to plant Fruits and Nuts

Fresh fruits and nuts are a delicious addition to any meal or snack. Fruits and nuts offer countless health benefits and are an essential part of any diet. Although North Texas isn't the ideal growing condition for many fruits and nuts, with a little planning gardeners and producer can be successful. The fall is an ideal time to install these plants. Proper planning and design of a fruit garden or orchard can pay dividends later when they start producing. These crops are perennials and start producing years after planning, therefore your investment in money and time is greater than with annuals like vegetables. Selecting recommend varieties is essential for success. Below is a list of varieties recommended for North Texas. Visit the Aggie Horticulture site for details on growing fruits and nuts. Here is a video on Fruit Gardening in North Texas:

Recommended Varieties for North Texas

Monday, November 9, 2015

Garden Wise Gazette

The Collin County Master Gardener help create an outstanding newsletter that covers all sorts of interesting gardening topics. Check out the latest issue below or read up on past issues at the Collin County Master Garden Website

2015 Nov-Dec Issue Garden Wise Gazette

Earth-Kind Environmental Stewardship

Earth-Kind Annual, Perennial, and Grape Research Gardens at Myers Park 
The Earth-Kind Environmental Stewardship program is a major part of Extension Horticulture education in Collin County. The basis of what we teach is based on research. We are proud of the Earth-Kind research that we have conducted in Collin County. With the help of many partners we have been able to conduct a significant amount of research. Research is great, but if you are unable to extend that information out to public, then it is almost like you never did it. The adoption of those research-proven practices by the public is our goal. I believe that through efforts in Collin County, we have been able to properly educate the public on Earth-Kind practices. It is our hope that if you visit the Earth-Kind Gardens you will adopt the practices we have demonstrated as effective.

Current Earth-Kind Projects in Collin County:
  1. Earth-Kind Perennial Research Garden
  2. Earth-Kind Annual Research Garden
  3. Earth-Kind Rose Research Garden
  4. Earth-Kind Crape Myrtle Research Garden
  5. Earth-Kind Vegetable Research Garden
  6. Earth-Kind Grape Research Vineyard
  7. Earth-Kind Dwarf Shrub and Dwarf Ornamental Grass Research Garden (Prosper)
  8. Earth-Kind Shrub, Perennial, Annual Research and Demonstration Garden (Allen)
  9. Earth-Kind Rain Water Harvesting Demonstration
  10. Earth-Kind Demonstration Potager Garden
  11. Earth-Kind Demonstration Landscapes
  12. Earth-Kind Demonstration Rain Gardens
  13. Earth-Kind Demonstration Garden at Environmental Learning Center (Rucker Elementary, Prosper)

 Future Gardens at Myers Park and Event Center:
  1. Earth-Kind Demonstration Shade Garden (2016)
  2. Earth-Kind Herb Research Garden (2016)
  3. Earth-Kind Turfgrass Research (2016)

Collin County Wildlife Blog

Wildlife are a natural resource that can be both beneficial and destructive. Feral Hogs (aka Wild Hogs) have become a pest in many parts of Texas and the Southeast. In Collin County wild hogs are increasing in population and destructiveness. Visit our Collin County Wildlife page to watch educational videos to learn more about wild hogs and their control. https://collinwildlife.wordpress.com/

Watch out for the first freeze of the season

In the fall we anticipate the first freeze of the season. The average first freeze is November 15 and can affect a number of plants here in Collin County, Texas. The freeze can be negative depending on the type of plant and its stage of development. The freeze shouldn't be considered a negative event, if you and your plants are prepared. If you are growing tropical plants the freeze can be a death sentence, but if you are growing cold hardy plants recommended for your hardiness zone there are no worries. For warm season vegetables, the freeze will likely kill the plants. However, with our cool season vegetable and annuals the freeze shouldn't damage the plants. The first freeze will cause many herbaceous perennials to die back to the ground, but as long as it is adapted to your cold hardiness zone, it will come back in the spring. It is important to realize that November 15th is just an average. The NWS gives you idea of the different extremes dates that we have seen in the past: NWS Earliest Freeze Dates It is recommended that you monitor the forecast and provide protection for plants that can be damaged by freezing weather. For more information on plants for Collin County visit the Collin County Master Gardeners.

Renew your Texas Agricultural and Timber Registration

State Government is getting the word out to agriculture and timber producers about the renewal of the registration. This program is administered by the State Comptroller's Office and allows producers to purchase certain items for their operation without paying sales tax.  As you may recall, several years ago producer's had to obtain a registration number to get the sales tax exemption.  All of these initial registrations will expire on December 31, 2015 and must be renewed for continued use.   It is my understanding that everyone who currently holds a registration number will receive information by mail for renewal.  Here is an article with more information and links for renewal information https://www.morningagclips.com/renew-ag-sales-tax-exemptions/. Here is the renewal information http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/agriculture/renewNumber.html. More information on the Ag and Timber number and renewal http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/agriculture/. Information on how to get a number if you do not have one  http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/taxpubs/ag_timber_exemption.html

EPA Proposed Changes to Re-certification for Pesticide Applicators

The Federal Government is changing regulations on pesticide applicators. They are requesting comments from the public on these changes. The deadline to comment on the proposed EPA regulation changes is November 23th, 2015.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal to revise the "Certification of Pesticide Applicators" rule. The link below will provide direct access to the EPA website where interested parties can review the FRN, Proposed vs. Current C&T Regulation Comparison Table and the Preamble document.  The Preamble document provides detailed information on the proposed changes, the rationale for the changes, and procedures for you to submit comments directly to EPA concerning the C&T Regulations during comment period. EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until November 23, 2015. For more information and to comment on the proposed legislation, visit this link to the EPA website.

New Cotton Root Rot Control for Grapes

Cotton Root Rot is blamed for the death of many plants on the heavy clay soils of Texas. This disease is particularly devastating in Vineyards. A recently discovered fungicide that controls Phymatotrichopsis omnivora, the causal agent of the disease, is now available for use in Texas vineyards. The fungicide is called flutriafol. To find out more read this article: Researchers discover control for devastating disease in Texas vineyards

Turfgrass Trial goes National

In Texas, Texas A&M is well known for the research and extension program in the area of Turfgrass. In the last several years Extension has recruited several outstanding Turfgrass Extension Specialists to help serve the people of Texas.  Dr. Casey Reynolds and Dr. Matt Elmore are testing the performance of turfgrass in College Station and Dallas. They are now participating in a National Turfgrass Evaluation Program. Find out more in this recent AgriLife Today article: There’s more to picking a good grass than just green

National Turfgrass Evaluation program

New Horticulture Blog

Welcome to AggieExtension Horticulture Blog. This is my first post to my blog. This blog will provide information about all things Horticulture and topics related to plant science, agriculture, environmental science, irrigation, water, natural resources, and more. I will post educational information and announcements. I will be re-posting information from the Extension Service and other organizations. Okay, enough said, let's get started...
Myers Park and Event Center
Myers Park and Event Center