May 7, 2008

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A pecan orchard near Beaumont, Texas. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Jay Cockrell)

  Pecan growers can turn to on-line resource to manage pests

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Pecan growers can now use a new Web site to predict insect pest activity in their orchards and track activity across the state, said entomologists with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

AgriLife Extension entomologists have developed the PNCforecast System, an on-line model that uses pheromone traps and temperature to predict when pecan nut casebearers will be active in pecan orchards in the spring, said Dr. Allen Knutson, an entomologist with the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.

The new system is available from AgriLife Extension at, he said.

The pecan nut casebearer, or PNC, is the most damaging pest attacking pecans in Texas, Knutson said. A single, well-timed insecticide application in the spring is usually sufficient to prevent crop loss. However, knowing when to make this application is the challenge.

The PNCforecast system helps growers anticipate the appearance of this annual pest and plan management activities, he said. The system uses the pheromone traps to determine when the first pecan nut casebearers begin to fly.

The PNCforecast system then uses that "first moth" date and historic weather data for the local site to predict when casebearer moths will be depositing eggs in the orchard and when larvae will begin to tunnel into nutlets.

"Knowing these time periods is critical to managing this pest," Knutson said. "Based upon the PNCforecast output, we know when to begin scouting the orchard to determine if casebearer infestations exceed the threshold."

An insecticide treatment, if needed, should be most effective if applied just prior to the date when the first larvae begin tunneling into the nutlets, he said. The PNCforecast System predicts this date, helping pecan growers plan.

"However, remember that the PNCforecasts are only forecasts," said Dr. Mark Muegge, an AgriLife Extension entomologist at Ft. Stockton. "Growers must base management decisions on actual assessment of casebearer infestations as determined by orchard scouting."

Knutson and Muegge developed the PNCforecast System based on field data collected over 10 years from orchards in north central and west Texas, they said.

To use the PNCforecast system, growers need to know when casebearer moths are first captured in their orchards, the entomologists said. The growers also need access to historic temperature data for their locations to make predictions. Many growers monitor traps, but access to temperature data and the PNCforecast model was a challenge.

"To make the PNCforecast system accessible, we developed a Web site that allows pecan growers to enter their own trap data, then select from a menu the weather station data nearest their orchard," Knutson said.

Once this information in entered, the PNCforecast model generates a forecast unique to that orchard, he said.

"Currently, the Web site has weather data from over 50 locations in Texas," said Robin Williams, Web designer with the Texas A&M University department of entomology.

Williams and Dr. John Jackman, an AgriLife Extension entomologist in College Station, worked with Knutson and Muegge to develop the PNCforecast model and Web site.

"Because the PNCforecast system uses the moth capture date and local temperatures, the results have proven more accurate than previous methods," Muegge said.

"Also, pecan growers can update their PNCforecasts one to two weeks later by inputting actual high and low daily temperatures. This further increases the accuracy of the forecast."

Pecan growers can also see pecan nut casebearer activity reported from other orchards in Texas and Oklahoma. These forecasts are based upon data collected by county agents and entomologists with AgriLife Extension and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Master Gardeners and volunteer pecan growers working with Extension.

The garden reader:
Rare and at-risk Texas native plants

By William Scheick
University of Texas at Austin

Rare Plants of Texas, By Jackie M. Poole, William R. Carr, Dana M. Price and Jason R. Singhurst, Texas A&M University Press, 2007. $35.00. 640 pp.

Little Big Bend: Common, Uncommon, and Rare Plants of Big Bend National Park, By Roy Morey, Texas Tech University Press, 2008. $34.95. 329 pp.

Endangered, Threatened, or Protected Native Plants of Texas was published in 1987. It was the first major effort to identify imperiled Lone Star floral species.

Since then the list has grown longer — to more than 225 species. Even so, "the flora of Texas remains poorly understood," report the authors of Rare Plants of Texas. This is so because "field botanists have had access to little of [our state's] surface area."

The list of endangered plants doubtless will continue to expand, especially in relation to the wall under construction along our state's southwestern border, the trans-Texas highway planned to run from Laredo to Texarkana and the steady influx of newcomers who are projected to increase local human populations by more than 50% during the next 25 years.

Whether you support or oppose any of these developments, the fact is they will have a substantial impact on the Lone Star environment, where habitat transformation or even fragmentation exerts enormous pressure on the survival of native plant species.

And, if Rare Plants of Texas and Little Big Bend are at all prophetic, this future impact will take a particularly dramatic toll in the Trans-Pecos region.

Merely glancing at the distribution maps for the species included in Rare Plants of Texas reveals a striking fact: that West Texas is home to a startling number of uncommon or threatened plants. These are the species particularly vulnerable to sudden changes in their habitats.

Little Big Bend reinforces this impression. Of the 252 species profiled in this excellent book, 142 are listed as sensitive, vulnerable, imperiled or critically imperiled.

Roy Morey's introductory comments in Little Big Bend emphasize the fragility of these plants' survival. There has been a long history of deliberate human alteration of landscape in West Texas. Its biodiversity has also been reduced by the spread of non-native plants and the diminishment of groundwater. "By far the biggest hazard now," Mr. Morey contends, "is air pollution," which potentially interferes with maintaining plant diversity.

At least there are a few Texas organizations, including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the San Antonio Botanical Garden, engaged in conserving some of these rare plants. The Mercer Arboretum, for instance, helped reintroduce Texas trailing phlox to the Big Thicket.

Although the authors of these books do not take up the subject, it would be interesting to know whether there is any conservational role Texas gardeners might play in growing at-risk plants in their home landscapes.

Rare Plants of Texas is a big book that could not be done better. Each profiled plant is represented by field-guide information, a distribution map, a drawing (usually) and at least one sharply detailed photograph.

No less useful as a field guide, Little Big Bend is also a photography-lover's dream book. It includes more than 300 opulent images printed on glossy pages — close-up shots which are simply stunning.

Each of these gorgeous books is obviously a labor of love. Each gives us a chance to see — and see brilliantly — what few of us would likely ever encounter in the wild. Unlike other wildflower guides, these two books offer extraordinary peeks into nature's more secret floral splendor in our state.

Gardening tips

If you catch too many rays while working in the garden this spring and summer, there are several traditional sunburn remedies that are worth trying. The ancient Greeks found that rose petals steeped in astringent vinegar make a soothing sunburn reliever. Russian peasants grated potatoes in oil and used the mixture as a sunburn lotion. The B-complex vitamins contained in the potato were very beneficial to the damaged skin. Of course, nothing works like a large brimmed straw hat, similar to the ones crafted by our ancestors, to keep the sun off in the first place.

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 send 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...

In one year an average tree produces enough oxygen for a family of four. One tree can also absorb the CO2 output from four cars every year. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide, trees have far reaching effects on the air and water quality in our communities. Shade trees can help lower utility costs. Trees can also increase our property values, and make our neighborhoods and public spaces more attractive. Research shows that having a greener environment can even have a positive effect on our moods and our health.

Upcoming garden events

San Antonio: The Gardening Volunteers of South Texas will host "Why is Their Grass Greener Than Mine?" a presentation by Tom Harris, on Wednesday, May 7, at Lion's Senior Center, 2809 Broadway (Broadway & Mulberry), San Antonio. A mixer begins at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation begins at 7 p.m. Tom Harris, Ph.D., also known as "The Hill Country Gardener," is a Master Gardener and the author of 52 Weeks of Gardening. A $5 donation is requested at the door. For additional information, call (210) 522-9220.

El Paso: Visit five private gardens in El Paso through The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 10. At the Wiseman Garden — La Casa Que Canta (924 Cherry Hill Lane), features include a unique blend of native desert landscaping mixed with mounds of lush green grass, a Colonial Spanish courtyard with an Old World fountain, and a breathtaking view of the Franklin Mountains and Coronado Golf Course. The lush and textural Duncan Garden (500 Thunder Crest Lane) overlooks a huge arroyo and includes city views, Xeriscape gardens with more than 100 different kinds of plants, and a 50-foot waterfall. The Enriquez Family Garden, at the base of Franklin Mountain (553 Canyon Springs) includes a children's play space surrounded by fruit trees and greenery, a grotto which invites meditation, and a gazebo used for entertaining family and friends. The must-see Nash Gardens (269 Fountain Road) includes a variety of gardens on one-and-one-half-acres. Visitors will meander through rose, water, tropical, traditional, topiary, and Xeriscape gardens. At the Ventana Garden (5500 Ventana Del Sol), enjoy the views nature has provided of the Franklin Mountain arroyo, and admire the large outdoor fireplace and man-made waterfalls and ponds that attract colored finches, doves, and sparrows. Visitors may begin the tour on May 10 at any of the participating gardens, all open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to each private garden is $5, Open Days are rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Discounted admission tickets (5 for $20) are available at Nash Gardens, 150 East Sunset Road. For more information, call (888) 842-2442 or visit A portion of the proceeds collected at each garden will benefit the El Dedon Verde Garden Club and Master Gardener Association.

Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club will host its annual Spring Garden Tour on Saturday, May 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour, which makes a great Mother’s Day activity, showcases eight lovely gardens in the Sugar Land area. A wide variety of styles and designs will be featured including a Monet-inspired theme; cottage, topiary and tropical styles; and an Asian garden with a Koi pond. Club members will be available at each location to share gardening tips and to answer questions. Tickets are $10 for the entire tour or $2 each for a single garden, and are available for purchase at any of the gardens on the day of the tour. For recommended starting locations or a map of the gardens, visit or call (281) 565-4658.

Denton County: The Denton County Master Gardener Association presents the 2008 Walk Through the Gardens Tour of private gardens in Southern Denton County on Saturday, May 10, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information, call (940) 349-2883 or visit

Amarillo: The Amarillo Area Master Gardeners will present The “how-to and with what” of container gardening, 10 a.m. to noon, May 17. Bring your container (minimum 12-inch diameter), buy items from their plant collections and create a beautiful, original container garden. Soil is provided. Class will be held at the Potter County AgriLife Extension Office, 3301 E. 10th (Tri-State Fairgrounds), Amarillo. To register, or for more information, call (806) 373-0713. Registration deadline May 9. Limited enrollment. Cost $10.

San Antonio: The Gardening Volunteers of South Texas will host "Essentials of Gardening" on Monday, May 19, at San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels Ave. @ Funston, San Antonio. Session 1, "June in the Garden: What to Do and Why," and Session II, "Healthy Lawns Against All Odds," will be presented by Tom Harris. Session III, "Cool Vines in Shady Places," will be presented by Paul Cox. Tom Harris, Ph.D., also known as "The Hill Country Gardener," is a Master Gardener and the author of 52 Weeks of Gardening. Paul Cox is the Assistant Director at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. A $5 donation is requested at the door. Organizers suggest bringing a brown bag lunch as only light refreshments will be provided. For additional information, including starting time, call (210) 522-9220.

Austin: Learn how to creating a Tropical Paradise by attending a free seminar featuring speakers are from the Travis County Master Gardener Association and Natural Gardener Nursery staff, Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin. Perennial Tropical Plans for Central Texas covers many of the tropical plants that can tolerate/thrive in the local growing conditions. Plant this selection once and enjoy the look for a long time. Tropical Plants for the Interior discusses the conditions preferred by the plants to remain healthy. Many varieties that favor interior living are included. Time will be spent on problems and pest that are common to interior tropical plants. How to Grow Ferns to create a lush look. Discover the varieties of ferns and conditions necessary for successful growing ferns in our local area. Integrating Tropicals with Natives for a Tropical Look discusses using tropical plants as annuals as well as in pots along with perennials to create that tropical feel. Bring samples of diseased, bug eaten, sick plants to the Plant Clinic. Experts will diagnose the problem and offer possible remedies. The seminar is sponsored by the Travis County Master Gardener Association in partnership with the AgriLife Extension, Travis County. For more information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardener's desk or visit

San Antonio: The San Antonio Water System presents the 11th annual Festival of Flowers, Saturday, May 24, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Alzafar Shrine Hall, 901 N. Loop 1604, between Highway 281 and Blanco Road. Seminars include "Gardening Green — What It Means," led by John Dromgoole, Lady Bug Products, Austin's "Natural Gardener" on KLBJ Radio; "Creating Patio Gardens," led by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Horticulture Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Co-host of Milberger's Gardening South Texas on KLUP Radio; and "Growing Lavender the Texas Hill Country Way," led by Jeannie Ralston, former owner of Hill Country Lavender, author of The Unlikely Lavender Queen. Admission is $5. Parking is free. For additional information, visit

Nacogdoches: The Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center will host the 4th Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference May 28-31 in Nacogdoches. The conference will be held on the beautiful SFA campus, which is home to the Mast Arboretum, the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, as well as the 40-acre Pineywoods Native Plant Center. Join a unique blend of naturalists, horticulturists, nurserymen, landscapers, and gardeners to hear talks ranging from rare plants to conservation and propagation. Complete Conference Package, which includes all meals Thursday-Saturday, Thursday field trip, Friday through Sunday conference, Saturday program/dance; and proceedings — $250 May 7th or before; $300 after May 7th. For additional information, visit

Santa Fe, N.M.: The 12th annual Santa Fe Botanical Garden tours will take place Sunday, June 1, and Sunday, June 8, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Featured gardens include Xeriscape, shade gardening, hearty perennials, roses, great estates and an historic compound. $35 per person per tour; $60 for both tours; under 16, free. Tickets on sale May 1 through the Lensic Box Office, (505) 988-1234.

Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Greater Fort Worth will present a Natural Urban Living Symposium June 21 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, 3220 Botanic Garden Drive, Fort Worth. Presentations include "Rainwater Harvesting," presented by Pam Daniel, Rainwater Solutions; "Natural Home Cleaning," presented by Larry White, That Orange Stuff; "Nutrition & Aromatherapy," presented by Judy Griffin, Ph.D.-Nutrition; and "Organic Gardening," presented by Coleen Thornton, Heaven Sent Produce. The symposium is free.

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardeners Association in partnership with the Travis Country AgriLife Extension will present a seminar on pond building at the Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin, from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, June 7. Among the topics covered will be small pond construction, pond plants, fish selection, and general pond maintenance. Although the seminar is free, the Austin Parks Department charges $3 for parking. For additional information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardener's desk or visit

Georgetown: Junior Master Gardener Specialist Training will be presented June 11-12, at the Williamson County Extension Office, 3151 SE Innerloop Road, Georgetown. For additional information, contact Donna Colburn, at (512) 943-3300 or

Blanco: The Blanco Chamber of Commerce will host the fourth annual Blanco Lavender Festival June 14-15. The entire town of Blanco and the surrounding countryside will be bathed in lavender during the Lavender Festival. The Lavender Market, on the grounds of the historic Blanco County Courthouse, is always a must-see highlight of the festival. Selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Country will offer lavender-related pleasures and treasures from the finest craftsmen. At the courthouse, speakers give lavender-related educational programs. Texas Lavender Hills Farm & Market will be part of the Blanco Lavender Festival tour each day from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Events at the farm include lavender crafts, pick-your-own lavender, live music, picnic lunches, lavender lemonade, lavender peach tea, lavender goats milk ice cream, lavender products for sale and more. For more information about the festival, visit For more information about Texas Lavender Hills Farm & Market, visit

Austin: The Travis County Master Gardener Association in partnership with the Travis County AgriLife Extension will sponsor "What is Wrong with this Plant?" a seminar to help gardeners understand the causes of plant problems, the process for diagnosing plant problems, and techniques and strategies to help plants overcome problems, from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, July 12, at the Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin. A Plant Clinic will be open during the seminar, and expert guidance will be available to examine diseased or bug-eaten plants that attendees bring to the seminar. Attendance is free. For additional information, call (512) 854-9600 and ask for the Master Gardeners desk or visit

Austin: The 16th Annual Texas Bamboo Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 23-24, at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin. The festival will include a live plant auction on Saturday afternoon and two full days of bamboo activities and lectures with bamboo plants and crafts for sale and show. Guest speaker Robin McBride Scott will conduct a workshop on Weaving Cane Mat, using native American Bamboo that she has personally harvested, prepared and dyed. She will also do a presentation about her work with basketry and native American bamboo. The 16th Annual Texas Bamboo Festival is sponsored by the Texas Bamboo Society. For more information, call (512) 929-9565, e-mail, or visit

Rockport: The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener Association will hold a "Fall Plant Sale" Saturday, September 27, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Green Acres, 611 East Mimosa Street at Pearl Street, Rockport. Purchase those much-wanted plants that you have been wanting to buy and can't find anywhere. 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. This event is open to the public. For additional information, contact The Texas AgriLife Extension Service at (361) 790-0103.


Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at a new eco-farm in Kilgore. For more information, call Carole Ramke at (903) 986-9475.

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

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

Friendswood: The second Tuesday of each month the Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold a free evening educational program for the public, called the Green Thumb Series, at Southeast Church of Christ, 2400 W Bay Area Blvd., Friendswood, about 1 mile west of I-45 and Baybrook Mall. For more information visit or call (281) 991-8437.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month, with the exceptions of June and July, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation, meets at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. Sometimes they take field trips and have cooking demonstrations in different locations. For more information, contact Linda (361) 729-6037, Ruth (361) 729-8923 or Cindy (979) 562-2153 or visit

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

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

Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.

Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except for October (4th Thursday) and December (2nd Thursday). Location varies. For locations, for more information on programs, and for information about native plants for Houston, visit

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas AgriLife Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak at 7 p.m. For more information, phone (830) 379-1972 or visit

Longview: The Northeast Texas chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets the third Thursday of each month at St. Mary's Parish Hall in Longview. For more information, call Logan Damewood at (903) 295-1984.

Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners present their "Come Grown With Us" seminars on the fourth Tuesday of each month, January through October, beginning at 7 p.m. at 411 N. Wells, Edna. The seminars are free, open to the public and offer 2 CEU hours to Master Gardeners or others requiring them. For additional information, contact the Jackson County Extension Office at (361) 782-3312.

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.

Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room (on the Lakeside) at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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

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.

Wish you'd saved them?

Are you missing an important issue of Texas Gardener? Or, perhaps, just tired of thumbing through stacks of back issues looking for the tips and techniques you need to make your garden grow? Two new CDs provide easy access to all six issues of volume 25 (November/December 2005 through September/October 2006) and volume 26 (November/December 2006 through September/October 2007)*.

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Order by calling 1-800-727-9020.

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*Other volumes will be available soon.

  The newly revised Organic Manual, a natural addition to your gardening library

Around the world everyone is talking about environmental issues and the concept of "going green." Natural organic gardening and landscaping are among the most important parts of the movement. Some proponents only say to stop using chemicals. Howard Garrett, in the Organic Manual, explains in details what to do instead.

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