June 27, 2007

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The new Texas Pierce's Disease Research and Extension Program facility had its official opening on June 14. Officials with Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas Agricultural Experiment Station hope the new facility will provide solutions toward mitigating Pierce's disease, which is the leading threat to wine-grape production in Texas and throughout the U.S. (Texas Cooperative Extension photo by Paul Schattenberg)

  Fredericksburg facility will address top wine industry threat

By Paul Schattenberg
Texas Cooperative Extension

The newly opened Texas Pierce's Disease Research and Extension Program facility in Fredericksburg may yield solutions for mitigating the single-greatest threat to the Texas wine industry, experts said.

The 3,200-square-foot facility, which opened June 14, is operated by Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Cooperative Extension, both entities of the Texas A&M University System. It includes a main building, three 30 ft. x 48 ft. greenhouses and an adjacent 1-acre research and demonstration vineyard. Laboratory equipment at the facility includes growth chambers, incubators and field cages for capturing insects.

"This is a dedicated research and education facility built specifically for the purpose of finding out more about how to mitigate this disease which costs the Texas wine industry millions of dollars," said Dr. Jim Supak, Experiment Station director for the Pierce's Disease Research and Extension Program.

The new facility was built with the cooperation of private individuals, state and local government, academia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Texas and California wine industries and many others, said Supak.

Experts in various scientific disciplines, including entomology, molecular biology, and plant pathology and physiology, will collaborate on research and education related to Pierce's disease. While most of the facility's researchers are part of the Texas A&M University System, researchers from the University of Texas-Tyler, the University of Houston-Downtown and Texas Tech University will also participate in and contribute to research and education efforts through the facility.

"Our research and education efforts through the facility will focus on host plants, how Pierce's is transmitted from location to location, and how to best detect and control it," said Jim Kamas, an Extension fruit specialist in Fredericksburg.

The new test vineyard at the facility will enable researchers to learn more about how the disease is transmitted, said Kamas, who will oversee research activities at the vineyard. It will also provide a more "scientific context" in which to learn more about wine-grape root stock susceptibility to the disease and how certain environmental factors may affect overall wine-grape quality and production.

"The facility provides something that has been needed for a long time — an infrastructure for studying this disease in the very heart of Texas wine country," he said.

Previous research has demonstrated that Pierce's disease is caused by the xylella fastidiosa bacterium which is spread from plant to plant by small insects called sharpshooters, said Isabelle Lauziere, an Experiment Station research entomologist who will work from the new facility.

"We're hoping the new facility will help us answer some questions about why these sharpshooters seem to prefer certain plants over others," Lauziere said. "And we hope to identify the natural enemies of these sharpshooters and use the greenhouses help identify — and raise — these natural enemies."

The facility will also help researchers get more in-depth information about plant and insect genetics related to Pierce's disease, and about the relationship between the disease and the insects that transmit it, she said.

Cord Switzer, CEO of Fredericksburg Winery, who attended the opening of the new facility, said mitigating the effects of Pierce's disease was "vital to the economic security of the industry."

Switzer, who produces about 7,000 cases of wine annually from wine-grapes bought from eight area vineyards, said support for new facility was key to the industry's future.

"This really is a multiple-state, multiple-industry issue," Switzer said. "And we need to not only have a facility like this, but we need to get funding in place to address this disease on a national level."

Switzer will travel to Washington, D.C. later this month as the Texas wine industry representative on a team discussing funding for Piece's disease with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials and congressional appropriators.

"We have state-related legislation in place to address the issue, but now we need national funding for efforts related to Piece's disease," he said. "And this year, for the first time, Texas has a place at the table during those discussions."

Switzer said mitigating the disease would also benefit agri-tourism stemming from vineyard and winery tours and help the economy of multiple communities in wine-producing areas of the U.S.

While the Texas wine industry has an annual economic impact to the state of more than $1 billion, Pierce's disease is definitely not just a Texas problem, said Dacota Julson, executive director of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

"The disease doesn't have borders, and it affects the California wine industry and the wine industries in other states," Julson said. "That's why it's important that groups come together to share research and vision, like they have done with the new facility in Fredericksburg."

Over the past five years, much progress has been made toward identifying how Pierce's disease is transmitted and how to manage it, said Joy Johnson, chairwoman of the Texas Pierce's Disease Growers' Advisory Board.

"We've already come a long way in addressing this disease," said Johnson, co-owner of Granite Hill Vineyards. "And while it doesn't affect wine quality, it can be devastating — and costly — from a grower's standpoint. We need to find newer and better ways to manage this disease so we can educate the vineyard owners on how to achieve the best possible wine-grape quality and quantity."

A well-focused research and educational effort, such as the one conceived through the new Fredericksburg facility, can help make that a reality, said Phil Garcia, regional director for the agriculture department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

"When you've got people from government, industry, academia and local businesses and organizations working together to find practical solutions, a lot can be accomplished," Garcia said. "I think the facility will certainly make a serious contribution toward a national effort to find a solution to the problem of Pierce's disease."

There's no room to hang clothes now that gourds have taken over this clothesline. (Photo by Beverly Nord)
  Gourds hung out to dry

By Beverly Nord
Freelance Writer

My friend, Avi, decided to grow some gourds on her trellis. The independent gourds decided to grow to her roof instead. Maybe they were trying to be Jack and the beanstalk? Fortunately, Avi had an unused clothesline nearby and rerouted the gourds. The gourds seem happy there. We hope to make martin houses from the gourds after they have been dried out.

  Gardening tips

"You can water, fertilize, clean and drain houseplants all at the same time by placing them outside during a lingering light rain," writes Cindy Pierce. "Your plants will love the added nutrients found naturally in rainwater and will benefit from the cleansing soak of their leaves. If your interior plants are in pots with saucers, or are housed in ceramic pots, leave the saucers off and/or take the plants out of the ceramics during the rain bath to allow for the needed drainage of the build-up of salts, etc. Just be sure to bring your plants in when the sun peeks out!"

Have a favorite gardening tip you'd like to share? Texas Gardener's Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will seed you a free Texas Gardener T-shirt. Here's a chance to get published and be a garden stylist as well! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.

  Did you know...

Hold that fly swatter. Not all flies are a nuisance. Helpful flies include tiny aphid midges and yellow and black striped hoverflies. Both of these flies eat thousands of aphids and deserve a place on our "Most Wanted" list.


  Upcoming garden events

Victoria: Victoria Master Gardeners will hold its Summer Garden Symposium July 14 from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Victoria Regional Airport 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive. Admission is $30 and includes lunch, door prizes, refreshments and a silent auction. Topics are: Container Gardening, Water Gardening, Attracting and Managing Wildlife in Your Garden, and Herbs for the Patio. All topics are taught by qualified trainers. Registration deadline in July 2. For more information, contact Liz Andres at (361) 575-1746.

San Antonio: As part of Contemporary Art Month and Texas Uprising, the San Antonio Botanical Society and Blue Star Contemporary Art Center will host Art in the Garden, a sculpture exhibition featuring the work of James Surls, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston Place, San Antonio, beginning with a reception on Thursday, July 26 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The exhibition will be open daily beginning July 27 and will run for one year. For more information, call (210) 829-5100 or visit www.sabot.org.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners will be sponsoring training classes  August 22 through December 5. Classes will meet every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Texas Cooperative Extension Building, 210 East Live Oak, Seguin. Application deadline is July 31. Enrollment is limited to 30 paid students. For more information and application forms, visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org or call the Guadalupe County Extension Office at (830) 379-1972.

Austin: The Fifteenth Annual Texas Bamboo Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26 at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin. Sponsored by the Texas Bamboo Society, the event will celebrate the wonders of bamboo with presentations, demonstrations and education information, including Bamboo 101, a Bamboo Kite Making Workshop led by Greg Kono, and Bamboos of Southeast Asia presented by Harry Simmons. Bamboo plants and crafts will be for sale. For additional information, call (512) 929-9565 or visit www.bamboocentral.net.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Botanical Garden is sponsoring a trip to Italy September 4 through 15, featuring Italy's villas and gardens. Escorted by Bob Brackman, the Director of the Garden, an exceptional itinerary has been designed for lovers of leisurely travel and beautiful homes and gardens. Famous for their gardens, Italians still build on their ancestors' legacy with the creation of exquisite country villas surrounded by terraced, fountain-filled gardens that have become symbolic of Italian style. Experience the rich cultural heritage of Italy. Visit special gardens, famous museums, the important cities of Florence and Rome, plus the Lake District, and the small villages which make Italy so charming, such as Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita and Tuscan villages. Feast on fabulous Italian cuisine and enjoy la dolce vita. Land cost per person sharing is $3550 plus air, which includes a $100 tax deductible donation, most meals and gratuities. For more information, contact Marianne Martz of Fuller Travel at (210) 828-6311 or marianne@fullertvl.com.

Tyler: The Smith County Master Gardener Association will sponsor its annual Fall Gardening Conference at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, 400 Rose Park Drive, Tyler, on Saturday, September 8, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. A plant sale and expo will be held at Harvey Hall and Convention Center following the conference, from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Conference speakers are Steven L. Chamblee. chief horticulturalist for Chandler Gardens in Weatherford, and Keith Kridler, cultivator and merchant of daffodil varieties including antique daffodils that are no longer or not commonly produced. Admission to the conference and to the plant sale is free. For additional information, call (903) 590-2980.

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association “Hidden Gardens Tour & Fall Plant Sale” will be held Saturday, September 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Hidden Gardens Tour and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Fall Plant Sale at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Get your tickets and maps at Green Acres for this one-day event in addition to purchasing those much-wanted plants that you can’t find anywhere. The maps will lead you to wonderful Hidden Gardens in both Aransas County and San Patricio County. Be sure to take the time to wander through the demonstration gardens at Green Acres, which are continuously being updated and maintained by the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association. Admission is $10.00. For pre-registration tickets and/or questions contact the Aransas County Texas Cooperative Extension, Rockport, at (361) 790-0103.

Fort Worth, Dallas: Visit America's very best, rarely seen, Private Gardens. The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program has been opening the gates to America's best private gardens since 1995. The 2007 season features more than 350 gardens across 21 states. Learn about gardens participating in your area through the Open Days Directory, an annual publication listing open gardens with garden descriptions, open dates and hours, and directions. To purchase a Directory or for more information, call (888) 842-2442 or visit www.opendaysprogram.org. The $5 admission fee supports the expansion of the Open Days Program around the country and helps build awareness of the Garden Conservancy's work of preserving exceptional American gardens such Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead. 2007 Texas Open Days: Fort Worth: October 14; Dallas: October 20.

St. Francisville, La.: The 2007 Southern Garden Symposium will be held October 26 and 27 in St. Francisville, La. Friday workshops held at Afton Villa Gardens include "Creating Interior Focal Points through Floral Design," led by Dr. James DelPrince; "Pruning for Plant Health," led by Martha Hill; "21st Century Gardening: Plants, Products and Practices," led by Nellie Neal; and "Timeless Tips for Fool Proof Landscapes," led by Mary Palmer and Hugh Dargan. The Friday evening cocktail buffet will be held at Live Oak Plantation. Saturday lectures held at Hemingbough include "Hot New Flowers and Captivating Combinations," led by Norman Winter; "Furnishings for the Garden: 1750-1900," led by H. Parrot Bacot; and "Garden Design Inspirations: Seeing Art Design Elements in Nature and Applying them to Southern Garden Designs," led by Edward C. Martin. $60 per person, per day admission includes lunch. Admission to the Friday evening cocktail buffet is $35 per person. For registration and additional information, contact Lucie Cassity at (225) 635-3738 or write to Southern Garden Symposium, P.O. Box 2075, St. Francisville, LA 70775.

Waco: The Texas Gourd Society presents its 12th annual Lone Star Gourd Festival October 27 and 28, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, at the Waco Convention Center, 100 Washington Ave., Waco. Featured will be gourd artists and crafters, demonstrations, seminars and much more. Admission is $5 for adults; children under 12 are free. For additional information, visit www.texasgourdsociety.org.

Belton, Temple, Killeen: The Bell County Master Gardener Association will host the Fall Glory garden tour Saturday, October 20, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Gardens in Belton, Temple and Killeen will be showcased. Admission is $5 for adults. For additional information, contact Sue Morgan at (254) 698-8668.

Galveston: Festive sights and sounds will fill Moody Gardens at the sixth annual Festival of Lights November 17 through January 5. This whimsical celebration will kick off the holiday season on November 17, with Santa Claus parachuting in to switch on the lights. Festival of Lights is celebrated Thursday through Sunday November 17 through December 16, and daily beginning December 17. Transforming its lush tropical garden setting into a winter wonderland, Moody Gardens will be adorned with more than a million twinkling lights and dozens of light displays. In addition to experiencing the lights, guests can also strap on a pair of skates and glide across the ice at the Outdoor Ice Rink at Moody Gardens. Indoors, visitors can take pictures with Santa or even gaze upon a giant poinsettia tree. Moody Gardens will feature a variety of holiday-themed films during the Festival of Lights. Three films will be playing at the IMAX 3D theater and two films will be playing at the Ridefilm theater. The Garden Restaurant will feature a delectable holiday buffet, offered from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Group rates of $20 per person are also available for groups of 20 or more, and include admission to Festival of Lights and the holiday buffet. Admission into the Festival of Lights is $5.95, and tickets to additional attractions including the Rainforest Pyramid, holiday IMAX 3D film, holiday Ridefilm, Outdoor Ice Rink and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, can be purchased for only $4.00 each. For more information, call Moody Gardens at (800) 582-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.org.

Garland: The Garland Organic Club meets the first Sunday of each month in the little red school house at 1651 Wall St., Garland. All interested gardeners are invited to attend. For more information, call (972) 864-1934 or (800) 864-4445.

Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the little blue-gray house located at 102 N. Allen Dr., Allen. For more information, visit www.allengardenclub.org.

Austin: Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

Rockport: An herb study group founded in March 2003 meets the second Wednesday of every month at the ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including the historical uses of the herbs and tips for successful propagation and cultivation.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels (corner of Funston & N. New Braunfels). For more information on programs, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

Dallas: The Rainbow Garden Club of North Texas meets the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Meetings are held at member's homes and garden centers around the area. For more information, visit www.RainbowGardenClub.com.

Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Forth Worth meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month except July and December at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens main building. Refreshments are served. For more information, call (817) 274-8460.

Dallas: The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 6:45 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Fretz Park Recreation Center, located at the corner of Hillcrest and Beltline Road in Dallas. For more information, call (214) 824-2448 or visit www.dogc.org.

Arlington: The Arlington Organic Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month (except November and December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact David at (817) 483-7746.

If you would like your organization's events included in "Upcoming Garden Events," please contact us at Garden Events.

  The Vegetable Book answers your questions

Why do your onions fail to bulb? Why do your tomatoes stop producing in July? What can you do about garden pests?

Whether you're a newcomer to Texas or have gardened here your entire life, you may be filled with questions about growing vegetables in Texas.

Dr. Sam Cotner, retired head of the department of horticulture at Texas A&M, spent more than 20 years working with commercial vegetable growers and providing statewide leadership for the Texas Extension Service's home gardening program, and he answers all of your questions in The Vegetable Book: A Texan's Guide to Gardening.

$26.63 plus shipping*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

 *Mention Texas Gardener's Seeds when ordering by phone during the month of July and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

  Fiber row cover valuable year-round

Grow-Web encourages plant growth and development, and also provides protection from insects, birds, diseases and frosts. It is also air and water permeable and allows for ventilation. Grow-Web provides excellent protection to seedlings when applied directly to the seedbed.

 $30.64 per 12.3' x 32.8' roll (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020. Not available through on-line bookstore.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)


Texas Gardener's Seeds
is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2007. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

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