Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Living off the Land
Tuesday, April 28, 1998
Boll weevil update
By REX D. FRIESEN, Ph.D.
I attended a "pow-wow" of Extension IPM agents and
Entomology specialists from the Plains and Far West Texas
last week where we compared notes and discussed a number of
One issue in particular was a report by the folks from the
Plains on the exceptionally high overwintering boll weevil
survival they have been observing this spring. They have
been monitoring this for the past 20 years or so, and this
year is the highest year ever, with figures reaching 50
percent or more!! Considering how many weevils they saw by
the end of last season, that translates into a lot of
This is definitely not a good sign. Because the Plains are
different than our area, we don't know how our weevil
mortality stacks up to theirs, but it is probably safe to
say that our very mild winter has allowed many more to
survive than would have if we had a hard or even a medium
winter. I think we can be very thankful we treated even as
much as we did last fall, because whatever our numbers are
this spring, I believe they would have been worse without
the treatments. This brings me to the next topic.
Early Season Boll Weevil Management
The consensus of the weevil experts at the "pow-wow" is that
early season management is absolutely essential for keeping
weevils from eating up your field. This is not to say go out
and treat regardless, but it does mean that if you have them
in your fields early, you cannot afford to ignore them.
THE KEY is to not let them newly emerging overwintering boll
weevils to begin to lay eggs in your field if you wait even
a few days too long to act, you have missed it and can
probably count on a weevil fight.
The critical point in time is when your field begins to have
one-third grown squares present (the size needed for egg
Two methods are typically used to assist in early season
boll weevil management decisions: trap monitoring and field
inspection. If you have traps (more then the one per 40
acres we will be monitoring), finding an average of 1 or
less weevils per trap per week = do not treat.
If you find an average of one to four weevils per trap per
week, consider treating if your field is approaching
one-third grown squares and has signs of weevil presence in
field (see below), or, total weevils caught the week prior
to pinhead squares totals 10 or more weevils.
If you catch more than four weevils per trap per week,
treatment is probably justified. To base treatments on field
inspection alone, check your fields frequently and regularly
for signs of weevil presence, especially when first pin-head
squares are appearing, then watch them closely.
How to check: inspect at least 100 plants for the presence
of adult boll weevils. They are usually in the tops of the
plants, BUT, they have a good vision, are very sensitive to
plant vibrations, and will drop to the ground and "play
dead" if you are careless as you approach your sample plants
- you will not find them on the ground once they fall.
Another sign of their presence, especially in very young
cotton where no fruit is present for them to feed on, is
"black flagging," or, dry burning tips of terminals that
they have fed on.
I am now in the process of contacting as many cotton
growers as possible to find out exactly where you intend on
putting your cotton and how many acres - if you haven't
heard from me by April 24, please give me a call.
Thorough trapping is vital to getting an accurate picture
of our local situation - we can't effectively deal with them
if we don't know what we're up against. I am awaiting the
arrival of new traps for this season, which should arrive
soon, but they will be going out as soon as I get them.
I am expecting to put out about the same number as last
year (i.e., about 400 traps), so please be patient if you
don't see them immediately in your fields. We will be
putting out one trap per 40 acres as last season.
Consider ordering additional traps of your own to better
monitor your individual fields. Four traps per field - one
on each side, is the minimum recommended to be effective for
early season management decisions; large blocks require more.
I am happy to assist you with the trapping procedure should
you have any questions. Traps are available through
Gempler's Supplies at $4.50 apiece (1-99 traps) or $3.50 per
trap (100+ traps). Pheromones (to replace every two weeks)
are $13 per package of 10 (for 1-4 packages).
You can order by phone at 1-800-551-1128. Save money by
going in together with your neighbors for bulk purchase.
Boll Weevil Meeting -
A major boll weevil meeting is to be held in Pecos on April
30th, at 1:30 p.m. at the Ready Room, at the Texas-New
Mexico Power Company, at 1126 Stafford Blvd.
This will be an excellent, very informative meeting. Please
spread the word to your fellow cotton producers to put this
meeting on their calenders.
Field scouting for cotton and alfalfa
I am now taking requests for field scouting services for
the 1998 season. Cotton = $7 per acre (twice weekly);
Alfalfa = $2.50 per acre (once per week). Please respond by
no later than May 15. Full payment is required by June 1.
PLEASE NOTE: Late entries will not be considered. If you
have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at
By Oscar Mestas
SAVE TIME, WATER & MONEY
Spring fever is setting in, this is the time of year that
we get that itch to run out to our local nursery and buy
that tree, shrub, or bedding plant to add shade, interest or
color to our yards. After spending a good amount of our hard
earned pay we take our plant home and get busily to work,
digging, tilling, adding soil amendments, fertilizing,
planting, and watering. But a practice that has somehow been
lost or forgotten but is very, and I can't emphasize VERY
enough important is the application of mulch around our
plants. Especially for newly planted trees, mulch will give
your tree a head start in life that you can actually see and
measure in added growth compared to trees that are not
mulched. What is mulch you ask?
Mulch (mulch) n. A protective covering as of leaves,
manure, or hay, placed around plants to prevent evaporation
of moisture and freezing of roots.
This definition only describes organic mulches; many other
things can be used as mulch. Mulch can be organic (i.e.
leaves, bark, hay) or inorganic (i.e. rock, plastic,
fiberglass batting), the type of mulch you use usually
depends on the project and personal preference. What are the
benefits of mulch? A three to four (3-4) inch thick layer of
mulch covering the root-ball of your newly planted tree will
do several things.
Conserve moisture reducing evaporation and competition from
weeds which helps save water.
Help control weeds the thick layer of mulch prevents
sunlight from reaching weed seeds keeping them from growing
and weeds that do grow in the mulch are easier to pull.
Moderate soil temperature keeping soils cooler in the
summer and warmer in the winter which encourages a root
development almost year round.
Increase soil fertility and structure by providing an
environment directly beneath the mulch layer which
encourages biological activity. Earthworms and microorganism
actively improve soil structure by providing better
aeration, water movement, and increasing nutrient
availability, particularly if organic mulches are used.
These little creatures are nature's tillers, fertilizers and
all around good guys.
Reduce soil compaction and erosion distributing weight more
evenly from foot or vehicle traffic and by lessening
raindrop and sprinkler impact. During our infrequent but
sometime heavy downpours, mulch will keep water from flowing
away quickly, allowing it to soak into the soil benefiting
Reduce salt buildup reducing evaporation of water high in
soluble salts, this is very important in areas with shallow
and saline water tables.
Mulch can be applied anytime, but preferably mulch should
be applied at the time of plant installation, the sooner the
better. The type of mulch you have selected will determine
on how often you will need to replace it. If you use rock as
mulch it should last a lifetime, whereas composted leaves
will probably need replacing once maybe twice a year. When
selecting the mulch you think is right for you remember
this. While rock mulches are a popular choice in the
Southwest and rock is easy to get, as time will show dirt
and seed blow in and settle between the rocks and weeds
start growing. Leaves and other plant material which fall
from trees, shrubs or are blown in, do not blend in and make
the rock look unattractive and are hard to rake up. White
rock reflects too much light and black or dark rock absorbs
too much heat both will cause added stress to your plants.
If using rock as mulch select neutral colors like light
brown, grays, and reds.
Please do not use plastic under your mulch, this prevents
water and oxygen from reaching the roots and most of you
water ends up out in the sidewalk as runoff.
Organic mulches usually need to be upgraded once a year but
as leaves and another plant material fall into the mulch
they blend in and are less noticeable and add to the mulch,
there is no need to rake them out. My favorite mulch to use
is a wood or bark chips, they have an excellent resistance
to compaction, are attractive, stay put when the wind blows,
are available from most nurseries and garden centers,
Christmas tree recycling programs and sometimes at you local
There are a few things to watch out for when applying mulch
is be sure not to incorporate the mulch into the soil, it is
supposed to be placed on top of the soil. Mixing mulch into
the soil especially fresh or green material can cause a
nitrogen deficiency. Don't pile mulch too deep or against
the trunk of trees, more is not better, mulch layers thicker
than 4 inches can actually keep the soil too cool and slow
down root development. Some mulch such as pine needles or
straw can become a fire hazard when they dry out, so it is
not wise to use them near the house.
Mulching benefits far outweigh any problems, and the
problems that arise are easy to overcome. Mulching will
reduce the time you spend on your hands and knees pulling
weeds and dragging hoses around the yard watering. Mulch
will help conserve water, which means you should be saving
money on your water bill. Remember a 3-4 inch layer of mulch
should save you time, money and improve the health of your
soil which benefits the health of the tree.
Using Pheromone traps to manage pecan nut casebearer
By C.W. ROBERTS
Pheromone-baited traps can be used to determine when to
begin scouting for first generation casebearer eggs. The
casebearer pheromone is the unique chemical the female moth
releases to attract the male moth. The pheromone is
synthesized and place inside a trap where it attracts male
casebearer moths to the trap. Emergence of male casebearer
moths can be detected and monitored by periodically
recording trap catch. This information can be used to
anticipate when eggs will be laid and when egg hatch and nut
entry will occur.
Pheromone lures and traps can be purchased from several
distributors of pecan supplies. The following guidelines
describe how pheromone traps can be used with scouting for
eggs and nut entry to determine the need to apply an
insecticide to prevent economic damage from pecan nut
1. Pheromone lures and traps are commonly sold together as
kits. There are many different trap designs but kits sold
for pecan nut casebearer use either the Pherocon 3 Delta
trap, the Pherocon 1C wing trap, or the Intercept-A trap.
All three trap designs are effective in determining the
pattern of moth activity. The Intercept-A trap has a
removable liner which makes it easier to use than the
Pherocon 1C or similar wing-style trap. Pheromone lures
should be kept frozen until used. Lures should be replaced
every 6-8 weeks and removed from the orchard and discarded.
2. Three pheromone traps are sufficient to determine the
pattern of moth activity in a given location. As a general
guide pending further research, consider 3-5 traps for
orchards less than 50 acres in size and five or more traps
for orchards larger than 50 acres. Additional trapping
locations should be considered where orchard conditions vary
such as between river bottom sites and upland sites.
3. Traps at a location should be separated by at least
several trees. Place traps near the terminal of a
nut-bearing limb at a convenient height. Traps placed in the
lower canopy provide an accurate reflection of moth
activity. Although data indicate that traps placed at
greater heights in the canopy capture more moths, the
pattern of activity is the same and thus the extra effort to
place traps high in the canopy is not rewarded.
4. Place pheromone-baited traps in the orchard four weeks
prior to the expected spray date. Traps must be in the
orchard before the moth flight begins to be sure that the
date of the first moth capture represents the beginning of
moth activity. In south Texas, traps should be in the
orchard by April 1, in Central Texas by April 15 and in
North Texas by May 1.
5. Traps should be monitored at least every 3-4 days and
three times a week if possible. Frequent monitoring is
necessary to detect the first flush of moth activity. Each
time the trap is checked, the number of captured casebearer
moths should be counted and recorded. The trap location and
sample date should also be recorded. All moths, other
insects and any leaves or twigs should be removed from the
trap. Do not confuse pecan nut casebearer moths with pecan
bud moths and other impostors which are sometimes captured
in pheromone traps. Replace traps or trap liners when the
sticky material becomes covered with scales, dust or other
debris. Transfer the pheromone lure to the new trap or liner
using forceps or the tip of a pocket knife blade to avoid
contaminating the lure.
6. Begin scouting the orchard for casebearer eggs 7-10 days
after the first pecan nut casebearer moths are captured in
the pheromone traps. The first casebearer male moths are
typically captured two weeks before the optimum time to
apply an insecticide. During this time, trap catches will
typically increase and then begin to decline over a 2-3 week
period. There may be a temptation to apply an insecticide
during peak moth capture, but such an application would be a
week or more before a properly timed treatment, if needed,
should be applied. Current research indicates that numbers
of captured moths accurately reflect patterns of moth
activity. Trap catches can not at this time be used to
predict the threat of damage by casebearer larvae or the
need to apply an insecticide. For this reason, it is
necessary to closely scout nutlets for eggs and nut entry to
determine if a damaging infestation is present that will
justify an insecticide application.
7. Pheromone traps can also be used to monitor flights of
later casebearer generations. A second moth flight can be
detected about six weeks after the first spring flight and
follows a similar pattern of increase and decline during a
2-3 week flight. Nut entry, and thus optimum timing of an
insecticide application for second summer generation
casebearer, if needed, will occur about 12-16 days after the
second flight begins. As with the first summer generation,
the decision to treat the orchard should be based on the
presence of eggs and larvae and not the number of moths
captured. The pheromone trap is very attractive and will
capture casebearer moths even when an economic infestation
of larvae does not develop. Pheromone traps will continue to
capture moths of the third and fourth generations throughout
the summer into November. However, these later generations
are rarely a threat to nut production.
Pray for rain
Local ranchers face tough fight with weather, market
By GREG HARMAN
When assistant to Congressman Henry Bonilla's office,
Tamara Daniel, asked to hear area ranchers' and growers'
concerns earlier this month she got an earful. Daniel,
legislative assistant for the Agricultural Appropriations
Committee, came to Pecos for an 8:30 a.m. meeting on
Tuesday, April 14, and told the group of about 20 that she
did not come prepared to give a speech but to "answer your
questions and relay your concerns to Congressman Bonilla."
On that note, those concerns of area ranchers quickly took
the forefront of conversation. Was the congressman aware of
the dire situation in West Texas?
Daniel said that he was, but had no solutions to offer.
Beef cattle contribute billions of dollars into the Texas
economy and provide thousands of jobs. Texas leads the
nation in cattle production, with 14.3 million head of
cattle and calves and 2.8 million feeder cattle.
According to Rick Perry, agriculture commissioner of Texas,
without the beef industry "our economy would suffer a
significant blow. Agricultural receipts would dwindle by
Officials at Texas A&M estimate that the business of cattle
and cattle feeding generates as much as $16 billion per year
in the state economy.
But in West Texas, now entering its seventh year of
drought, the market is threatened. While an ailing beef
industry isn't confined to West Texas alone, ranchers out
here, where heat and sun seem the only interested elements
in this withering scrubland, are suffering on a number of
West Texas ranchers must not only attempt to compete in a
market that is just beginning to recover from its five-year
market slump, convince a public which continues to shy away
from red meat in favor of other sources of protein, but must
also battle the physical environment that has stopped up
rain and the resulting food crops.
According to the world outlook board of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, while meat consumption is expected to reach
an all-time high this year, beef consumption is taking a
dive. A recent report issued by the USDA says that while the
average American is expected to consume 229.8 pounds (retail
weight) of meat in 1998, up 6.5 pounds from 1997, don't
count on it being beef products that they are eating.
Pork consumption is expected to increase 2.2 pounds this
year, reaching 51.8 pounds; broilers may go up 3.6 pounds,
to 76.5; turkey is expected to hit 18.1 pounds, up 0.3 from
last year; and fish should remain constant at 14.5 pounds.
Beef, to ranchers' dismay, is the only meat forecasted to
drop, from 66.6 pounds to 66.2.
Asked about possible federal aid programs, [area
agricultural extension agent] C.W. Roberts said that "the
government can do anything it wants to, but it won't make a
bit of difference until it rains. It's going to take an act
Roberts estimated that there were about 10-12,000 head of
cattle in Reeves and Loving counties at present, but these
numbers won't hold out for long, he warned.
"If doesn't rain," he forecast, "70 percent of our cattle
will be gone in six months." That, in turn, may put a lot of
ranchers out of work.
"The government could start its feed project again," he
offered, "but the market has got to get better, and we need
it to rain."
Without the rain, ranchers are having little success
breeding their cattle: the lifeblood of the business. Even
successful breeders often run into trouble because of high
feed costs. Many producers are being forced to sell their
calves at weaning to one of the local feed lots, including
Reeves County Feeders, Balmorhea Feeds and Pecos Beef.
Scott Grote, a Balmorhea rancher, said that with enough
rain ranchers would make it even with a bad market. "Now we
have stronger market, but with no rain it doesn't look good."
In comparison with the total population ranchers are
relatively few, but when it comes to land usage up to 90
percent of West Texas tierra firma is dominated by the hoof.
At an April 6 meeting, more than 2,400 beef cattle
producers were told of the changing face of the beef market
at the recent Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association's
121st annual convention.
"The successful ranchers of the future will be those who
start concentrating beyond just the retailer," said Barry
Wishner, a leading authority on the future of the industry.
"Your group has to do more than it's ever done before in
packaging your product. You have to turn the commodity into
Wishner advised ranchers to focus on the advertising and
"positioning" of their products in the marketplace. "A
product is made in the factory. A brand is made in the mind
of the consumer," he said. "You have to stop selling it as
beef and sell it as a brand. It's brand reliability people
are looking for in today's marketplace."
But without rain, it is likely that local ranchers won't
have a product to position. As Kirby Vanover, a feeds
supplier, said, "Agriculture products are the only products
that you take to the buyer and say, `What will you give us
for it?'" Compounding this problem, he said, is the fact
that the market is dominated by three colossal buyers, known
by ranchers as the "big three".
Vanover argued that the costs involved in the slaughter and
feed business include formidable price tags for complying
with regulatory standards. This, he said, make it difficult
for people to get into the business.
Concerned for the future of agriculture in general, he
asked, "In 10 years who'll be running these places? We need
incentives to bring young people back into the ag industry.
It's a shame we can't make living providing food for
Drilling permits issued in Reeves County
Jan.: Burlington Resource Oil and Gas Co.
Feb.: Arco Permian
Pitts Energy Co.
Seaboard Oil Co.
Texaco E&P Inc.
Reeves TXL Fee Unit
Union Oil Company of CA
Mar.: Sahara Operating Co.
Titan Resources I, Inc.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise