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Drought stress relief is possible for vegetable plants and gardeners
May 19, 2011 | 928 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Agricultural news from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service- Karnes County

Growing vegetables in a drought can be stressful not only for the plants but for gardeners. But there are some solutions.

This year in Texas, we are facing a drought, and people are asking about stressed plants. And of course this year, lack of rain is the issue.

A rule of thumb for raising vegetables is about 1 inch of water a week either from rainfall or irrigation.

But when it’s been so dry for so long, we forget that we need to irrigate more frequently to keep the soil profile moist and the plants healthy and never stressed. Good production comes from a situation where the plants never undergo any kind of water stress.

Home gardeners often forget that plants need even more water as they grow bigger. While plants may need a half an inch in May, in July they may need an inch or more because the plants are bigger, and the soil and air temperatures are warmer.

The problems of lack of moisture can be easily fixed by using soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Set a watering system to run in the morning for half hour and a half hour in the afternoon early in the season or maybe an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, every day, later in the season.

These recommendations can be adjusted for local soil type and conditions.

For commercial growers, a drought means a losing operation. But for a homeowner who can manage water, even if you get one-third of the yield, it’s still enjoyable, and still tastes great and is still very nutritious. Just adapt to the weather conditions and water more regularly.

Drip irrigation is the way to go in Texas. Even on a regular, normal year drip irrigation is best because it’s more efficient. Ninety percent of the drip irrigation water is used by the plant, compared to 40 percent to 60 percent of surface irrigation. So you can use half the amount of water with drip irrigation and get the same yields as with flood irrigation. Drip irrigation for a homeowner with a vegetable garden is the only way to be successful.

Texas wildfire agricultural losses estimated at $20.4 million

Texas wildfires during April have caused an estimated $20.4 million in agricultural losses, destroying fences, buildings, grazing pastures and resulting in livestock deaths, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

These estimates are preliminary since not all the damages have been reported yet for all fires. The preliminary financial loss estimates do not include forestry.

The damage estimates to ranch and industry infrastructure represent the largest portion of fire costs, which includes fences and agricultural buildings such as barns, livestock holding facilities and other structures.

Approximately 1,200 miles of fence have been estimated destroyed, and a recent AgriLife Extension report indicates four- to six-wire fences with steel posts cost an average $10,000 per mile to build. Fencing can be more expensive depending on the location and the terrain.

Fencing in a livestock operation is one of the primary necessities and is one of the most costly expenditures in ranching.

Meanwhile, the amount of grazing land that has been lost to the state’s wildfires has also been a financial hardship on Texas ranching operations.

Lost grazing for the year is the second-largest financial loss category. More than 2 million acres have burned during this fire season. This, coupled with the lack of hay and grazing availability, is forcing many cattle to be taken to market.”

Livestock losses are estimated using market values, he said. Livestock losses are expected to be underestimated due to later death loss from injuries incurred from the fires.

So far, financial loss totals are still being calculated, Anderson said. These estimates also don’t include additional costs from moving livestock and securing other property to graze.

More than 500 cattle, horses and sheep have been reported killed by this spring’s fires.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is calling on Texans to lend a helping hand by making a donation to the State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund, or STAR Fund. To assist farmers or ranchers who have suffered losses from the wildfires, monetary donations can be made to the fund by visiting http://www.TexasAgriculture.gov.

“These raging wildfires are catastrophic in nature, destroying homes, killing livestock and devastating the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers who dedicate their lives to supplying us with food, clothing and other essential daily needs,” Staples said.

“As these fires sweep through rural Texas, fences are dismantled and cattle and other livestock are left to roam. Through the STAR Fund, we can help our fellow Texans reestablish their lives, rebuild fences and restore basic operations that will ultimately assist in keeping the public safe.”

Upcoming Programs:

Forage Management of Haying Systems

Sponsored by: Hlavinka and Tuttle Equipment

Falls City Community Hall

May 18, 2011

Cost: $10.00, includes catered meal sponsored by your South Texas Case IH Dealers.

Please RSVP at Karnes County Extension Office 830-780-3906

Personnel from our South Texas Case IH dealers will be on hand to present the latest hay equipment and are sponsoring a meal with the program. Dr. Mark McFarland, State Extension Soil Specialist, and Dr. Dan Fromme, Extension Agronomist, will discuss forage management for grazing systems for cattle and horses. They will concentrate on proven management systems and focus on various fertility systems. 1 Gen and 1 IPM CEU will be offered.

Lone Star Healthy Streams

Sponsored by: Capital Farm Credit

Falls City Community Hall

May 25, 2011

Cost: $10, includes free catered meal sponsored by Capital Farm Credit.

Please RSVP at Karnes County Extension Office (830)780-3906

Management of our water resources is a hot topic in Karnes and Wilson Counties. Dr. Dianne Boellstorff will present this program on Riparian Area Management as it relates to grazing cattle, State Extension Water Specialist Dr. Diane Boellstorff will be on hand to discuss management of this critical resource. 1 General and 1 IPM will be offered for this program.

Weed of the Week:

Twisted Acacia (Acacia schaffneri)

Description: Twisted acacia is a spiny, spreading, multi-stemmed shrub of the Legume family. It can reach 4 to 12 feet tall. Its stems have many spines that are paired, pinlike and pale or blackish.

The leaves are twice compound, and the flowers are round and yellowish to orange.

Twisted acacia is sometimes confused with huisache but can be distinguished from huisache by its round growth habit, longer and narrower legumes, and the petiolar (leaf stem) gland located between the lowermost pair of leaf branches.

Several species of wildlife make use of twisted acacia. It is browsed by white-tailed deer, and the fruit is eaten by javelina, feral hogs and some birds. It is also used for loafing, nesting and protective cover by birds and small mammals.

Habitat: Twisted acacia grows in various soils in mixed-brush stands and root-plowed areas.

Control: Late spring to mid-summer with mature, dark green leaves. Surmount, Grazon P+D and Remedy Ultra all have labels for twisted acacia.
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