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Painting The Big Picture In Texas

painting the big picture in texasMike Lovelace
Field Scientist, Dow AgroSciences
Lubbock, Texas

As with other farming regions, Texas growers are faced each year with a host of agronomic challenges, unpredictable weather and pest outbreaks that can impact their crops – and their profit potential. Texas cotton production is as big and diverse as the state itself, and it’s challenging to paint a picture with just one stroke of the paintbrush.

A key part of my job is to work closely with university Extension, crop consultants and growers around the state to learn about the unique agronomic issues that are being faced and how Dow AgroSciences technology offerings fit into managing those issues. Because Texas is so diverse, I work with different specialists in each region to gain perspective on the unique challenges – and opportunities – in each of these areas.

Water Challenges Continue In High Plains
Water management is the No. 1 issue facing growers in the High Plains region. Developing a comprehensive water management plan is a necessity. Furthermore, weed management is a critical component for water management as weeds steal water from crops and rob yields. As water levels have declined, the number of acres affected by glyphosate-resistant pigweeds has continued to increase. Pending regulatory approval, Dow AgroSciences anticipates the launch of its Enlist Weed Control System in cotton in 2016 to help farmers fight these resistant weeds – leaving more water for the crop and, thus, resulting in higher yields.

Although growers in the High Plains are faced with serious water issues, they may only see more serious insect pest outbreaks – fleahoppers or aphids – every three to five years. When these pests occur, Transform WG insecticide offers an excellent, cost-effective control option.

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Pest Pressures Can Come On Quickly

While the water situation in central and south Texas is not as dire, growers in this region are faced with more consistent early season fleahopper and aphid pest pressure from year to year. Aggressive scouting of these insects in cotton as well as sugarcane aphids in sorghum will help growers identify when thresholds are reached, leading to the most timely and effective applications of Transform. Fortunately, at the request of Texas and other states, Transform was granted Section 18 Emergency Exemptions where it was needed most and helped many grain sorghum growers save their crops. In some areas, it was applied on more than 80 percent of grain sorghum acres and quickly became the standard for fighting the aphid. Transform was recently granted a Section 18 Emergency Exemption for the 2015 season in Texas as well as several other states.

The work that goes into field research and developing solutions for the challenges growers face is only one step in the process. Sharing that information with state and university cooperatives, consultants and our own Dow AgroSciences sales representatives and licensed retailers will only help drive growers to achieve better management practices.