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Hurricane destroys variety trials, valuable information for growers

Hurricane Hanna demolishes Lower Rio Grande Valley cotton crop along with variety field trials.

Shelley E. Huguley, Editor

September 2, 2020

In the last six weeks, U.S. crops have taken a hit from hurricanes Laura and Hanna and storms like the Midwest derecho. Producers have suffered heavy crop and structure loss. But they've also lost valuable information generated from Extension field trials.   

Hear what Agronomist Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Corpus Christi, has to say about the effect Hanna had on the Lower Rio Grande Valley cotton crop and the agency's field variety trials.

McGinty, who conducts field trials with IPM Agent Danielle Sekula, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Weslaco, says they lost four of their five cotton variety trials in the Lower Rio Grande Valley after Hanna.

"A variety that works well on one farm, one trial, can tell you a little bit, but it doesn’t tell you as much as having a whole region’s worth of data, which is what we try to deliver down there every year,” McGinty says.

According to early estimates, Hurricane Hanna caused more than $366 million in lost agricultural production and associated business activity across a 32-county area, said Samuel Zapata, AgriLife Extension economist, Weslaco.

Since the storm, LRGV cotton producers have focused on destroying their cotton stalks with either tillage or chemicals. As McGinty and Sekula move forward, he says they’ll continue to conduct trials to identify the best herbicide or tank mix partner for effective stalk termination.

"Hopefully, we'll find a silver bullet, something that's easier to use and more effective. But we're going to keep working on it and find something better as we move forward," McGinty says.

To hear more from McGinty about effective stalk destruction, click here.  

To learn more about Hurricane Hanna and its impact on Texas agriculture, click on the following links:

To learn more about Hurricane Laura, click on the following links:

To learn more about derecho wind storm, click on the following links:

About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife, she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such as Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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