Tenth Annual CenTex Beef Cattle Program

The CenTex Beef Cattle Program is an annual nine-county educational program that rotates each year to a site within one of the host counties.  The Beef and Forage Committees within these counties are dedicated in identifying issues and needs that will economically benefit cattle and forage production in Central Texas.

The 10th Annual CenTex Beef Cattle Program will be held on September 28, 2018 at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse, 1315 South Main, Cleburne, Texas.  Registration is at 7:30 a.m. and program starts at 8:00.  A variety of Ag Commercial Vendor booths will be set up for you to visit before, during and after the program.  Door prizes will be drawn throughout the day.  The 2018 program includes the following topics:  Herd Health & Heifer Development; “Hot Bulls” Bovine Trichomoniasis; Cattle Market Update and Cost Breakdown of Cow Calf Operation; Minimizing Calf Loss; Drought Nutrition Management; Beef Quality Assurance Practices;  Pasture Weeds & Management

Registration fee of $25.00 is payable at the door. Registration includes breakfast and steak lunch. YOU MUST CONTACT YOUR COUNTY EXTENSION OFFICE TO RSVP NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 24, 2018. 

Hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Beef & Forage Committees in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Hamilton, Hill, Johnson, Limestone and McLennan Counties.  To RSVP in Bosque County please call 254-435-2331.

New Family and Community Health Agent

Hello all!  My name is Christopher Coon and I am your new Bosque County Family and Community Health Extension agent.  I am a recent graduate of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Dietetics.  I am first and foremost a born and raised Texan!  I’m from Brazoria County and a graduate of Borger High School in Hutchinson County.

I am so thrilled and honored to be here in Bosque County and cannot wait to become a part of this wonderful and welcoming community.  I am particularly excited about the upcoming Food Challenge and Food Show for our Bosque County 4-Hers which we will be kicking off in the next few weeks.  I look forward to meeting more of you and learning what programs are needed that we can work on together to make this community the best it can be.

Fall Armyworms

This week Dr. Allen Knutson, Extension Entomologist reported that “Fall armyworms are active in area hay fields and pastures as is typical of this time of year, especially following recent rains.”  

    “Fall armyworms can also damage fall planted small grains and other forage grasses.  The insecticides labeled for these crops can be different than those listed for pastures and hay. And these insects can be active through October and even into early November if temperatures remain warm.” 

Given their immense appetite, great numbers, and marching ability, fall armyworms can damage entire fields or pastures in a few days.  Fall armyworm outbreaks in pastures and hay fields often occur following a rain which apparently creates favorable conditions for eggs and small larvae to survive in large numbers.  Hay fields with a dense canopy and vigorous plant growth are often more susceptible to armyworm infestations than less intensely fertilized and managed fields.  Irrigated fields are also susceptible to fall armyworm infestations, especially during drought conditions.  Also monitor volunteer wheat and weedy grasses in ditches and around fields which may be a source of armyworms that can move into the adjacent crop.

Look for fall armyworm larvae feeding in the crop canopy during the late evening and early morning and during cool, cloudy weather.  During hot days, look for armyworms low in the canopy or even on the soil surface where they hide under loose soil and fallen leaves.  A sweep net is very effective for sampling hay fields for fall armyworms. When fields are wet with dew, armyworms can stick on rubber boots worn while walking through the field.  Small larvae chew the green layer from the leaves, creating a “window pane” effect and later notch the edges of leaves.

The key to managing fall armyworms is frequent inspection of fields to detect infestations before they have caused economic damage.  Once larvae are more than ¾ inch long, the quantity of foliage they eat increases dramatically.  During their final 2-3 days of feeding, armyworms eat 80% of the total foliage consumed during their entire development.

The density of armyworms sufficient to justify insecticide treatment depends on the stage of crop growth and value of the crop.  Seedling plants can tolerate fewer armyworms than established plants.  Infestations of more than 2-3 armyworms (1/2 inch or longer) per square foot may justify an insecticide application.  If practical, apply insecticides early in the morning or late in the evening when armyworm larvae are most active and therefor most likely to come into contact with the insecticide spray.  If the field is near harvest, an early harvest, rather than an insecticide treatment, is an option.  Also remember to always read and follow all label instructions on pesticide use and restrictions.

For more information on the insecticides labeled for armyworm control contact Chelsea Dorward at 254-435-2331

Livestock Poisoning

So, thankfully we got some much-needed rain, but with that rain has come some calls into my office with concerns of poisoning in livestock.  Two things to be cautious of occurring with rain after drought are Prussic Acid Poisoning and Nitrate Poisoning.

Prussic Acid Poisoning primarily occurs in sorghums commonly less than a foot and half tall (johnsongrass, grain sorghum, sorghum-sudan), wild cherry, and occasionally on white clover and birdsfoot trefoil.  It does not occur in pearl millet or corn.

Poisoning is associated with consumption of plant parts with high levels of prussic acid (HCN), by a cyanogenic compound that is highly poisoning.  Prussic acid is associated with rapidly growing plants.  It occurs in young plant tissue that is damaged or stressed (for example:  after a frost or drought, after heavy N fertilization), or mechanically injured (after 4 wheelers or ATVs are run over a field).  Under these conditions the cells are ruptured mixing their enzyme content with that of Dhurrin (a cyanogenic glyceride in sorghums), breaking down Dhurria to prussic acid.

HCN causes acute respiratory inhibition by inhibiting the enzyme cytochrome oxidase.  This causes labored breathing which may occur minutes (10-15 min) after consumption of feed.

If plants have been injured, defer grazing until they are recovered from injury.  After a hard freeze, or severe drought, avoid grazing for approximately 1 week.  After a rain or irrigation on drought stressed fields wait at least 2 weeks after plants begin to grow before grazing.  Due to volatilization of CN compounds, hay can be fed; however, you still need to monitor forage by taking samples and have them tested to confirm ‘safety’ in feeding the hay.  HCN forage samples can be sent to the Texas Veterinary Diagnostic Medical Laboratory (TVMDL) to determine toxic levels.

So, if that doesn’t scare you, you need to also be aware of Nitrate Poisoning (or Nitrate NO3 accumulation).  Drought (moisture stress) or cloudy (low-light) conditions prevents normal plant growth.   Under these conditions, the plant accumulates nitrates (NO3) mainly in stems and lower leaves instead of converting the nitrate to protein.  This is especially true for those feeding sorghums, millets, corn, oats, wheat, rye, and pigweed.

The term “nitrate toxicity” is commonly used but the toxic principle is actually nitrite.  Nitrate is converted to nitrite in the rumen.  Nitrite is absorbed from the rumen converting blood hemoglobin to methemoglobin.  Methemoglobin cannot transport oxygen to body tissues, so animals die from oxygen insufficiency.  A few ways to prevent is to not graze during periods of stress, monitor nitrate levels to determine levels in forage are safe; don’t graze too short (nitrate accumulates mainly in stems and older leaves) and don’t feed high nitrate forage free choice.

Nitrate does not dissipate from hay like HCN (prussic acid).  Once high nitrates levels are reached they stay high.  It must be diluted by feeding it mixed with hay that is nitrate free or should be discarded.  Horses and hogs are less tolerant than ruminants.  Plant samples can be sent to the Texas Veterinary Diagnostic Medical Laboratory (TVMDL) or the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Soil, Water, and Forage Testing Laboratory.

For more information please contact Chelsea Dorward at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office at 254-435-2331

4-H Halloween Hustle 5K

It is always a good idea to plan ahead.  So we’d like to let you know about a new event we have coming up to give you an opportunity to sign up early!

Saturday, October 27 Bosque County 4-H will host the 1st Annual Halloween Hustle 5K Fun Run/Walk. This event is open to all ages and fitness levels.  All proceeds will go to support your local 4-H program.  Early registration is open until September 6 for only $20, then will increase to $25 until October 5, from October 6 to race day the cost is $30, kids 12 years and under cost $10 no matter when they enter.  Cost for the event will guarantee an event T-shirt (generously sponsored by Royal Pizza in Clifton) for all registered entrants before October 6.  (Special Note – T-shirts are only guaranteed to registrants who have PAID by the October 6 deadline) 


Ways to Complete Registration for the event:

  • Contact the Extension Office at 254-435-2331  and tell them you want to pre-register for the Halloween Hustle (waiver will still need to be signed and turned in with payment after pre-registration),

  • Or you can print the full registration form and waiver yourself HERE and send it in with your registration fee to the AgriLife Extension Office, Attn:  Halloween Hustle, 104 S. Fuller, Meridian, TX  76665

  • Or complete the pre-registration form below (waiver will still need to be signed and turned in with payment after pre-registration),


So, get your family signed up today for the Halloween Hustle!  Prizes will be awarded to the top Halloween costumes in 4 different age divisions ranging from ages 6 and under to 21 and over.  Awards will be given to the 1st-3rd place race finishers in 6 age divisions.  This event will coincide with the National Championship BBQ Cook Off and the last Farmers Market event of the year.  Come join us and all the other events in Meridian on October 27!


Halloween Hustle Registration Form  

Above registration form with waiver can be printed and sent with registration fee to:

Bosque County Extension

Attn:  Halloween Hustle

104 S. Fuller

Meridian, TX  76665

Hay Collection Underway

Hay Collection Underway for 40th Annual Bosque County Hay Show

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office – Bosque County will be collecting hay samples for the 40th Annual Bosque County Hay Show & Scholarship Auction. If you are interested in submitting hay sample(s) into this year’s contest, entries maybe dropped off at the Bosque County Extension Office (located at 104 S Fuller in Meridian) or at your local FFA Chapter by Thursday, September 6th.  You may also bring your square bales and/or round bale samples to the Hay Show sampling location, located at the Walnut Springs Vo-Ag Building between 9:00am and Noon on Friday, September 7th.  Samples will be taken from the conventional bales and/or round bales on the 7th so that the protein analysis can be made.  Cost to submit samples is only $10, with no limit to the number of bales submitted for analysis. Only hay grown in Bosque County and/or adjoining counties will be eligible for the show and awards.  Each entry fee will provide entrant with two meal tickets to the Hay Show, Awards Program and Scholarship Auction that will be held on October 15th at the Bosque Bottoms in Meridian.

This year we will also be selling some hay bales to the public as part of our scholarship fundraising.  If you would like to donate any non-competition bales please contact Chelsea Dorward at the Extension Office 254-435-2331.  If you’re in need of some quality hay, mark it on your calendar to attend the Hay Show October 15th.

License to Carry Class

Would you like to obtain a License to Carry (LTC) formally known as a concealed handgun license (CHL)?  If so, mark your calendar for Saturday, August 25, 2018.

The LTC course will be held in a one-day training opportunity.  The classroom portion will start at 8:00 a.m. at the Meridian Civic Center and finish up with a live fire practice near Meridian.  The fee for this course is $100, plus range fees and license fees.

Snacks and lunch will be provided on Saturday during the full day training.  Participants must complete the range qualification with a semi-auto or revolver of at least .22 caliber, and 50 rounds of ammunition for the live fire portion of the day.  Bring your handgun in covered container, case or bag and leave it in your vehicle.  Again – Do not bring ammunition or handgun to the classroom; leave it in your vehicle. Topics will include:  new statues relating to open carry; handgun use and safety; proper signage; where it is legal/not legal to carry; and use of deadly force, just to name a few.

Registration is open now and will remain open for the first 20 paid registrants.  To pre-register or for more information please call Chelsea Dorward at 254-435-2331 or complete the form below to pre-register today.  Registration will close August 20, 2018 or when class is full.

This event is being hosted by the Wildlife & Natural Resources Committee of the Bosque County AgriLife Extension Service.  Educational programs of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status.  The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.

Ranchers Leasing Seminar

For those of you interested in agricultural leases – grazing, hunting, and livestock – we are hosting a brief, one hour webinar to answer some of the most common questions we get from landowners and producers related to these leases.  No fee is required; we just request you pre-register if you plan to attend.

We’ll be offering this webinar in a brown bag lunch format (aka bring your own lunch) at the Bosque County Extension Office, located at 104 S Fuller in Meridian, Texas at 12:00 noon on August 2.  Please plan to arrive by 11:45 for the webinar.

If you can’t make it to Meridian, this webinar is available for you to attend by going online on your own.  Visit https://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/2018/07/05/ranchers-leasing-webinar-august-2-2018/ to sign in from your personal computer.  No registration or fees are needed to attend this webinar outside the office.   If you have any questions call Chelsea Dorward 254-435-2331.

Summer Tree Trimming

It’s July, it’s really hot outside, so now is the ideal time to trim those low hanging tree branches.  Yes now, while is it too hot to really be working outside, is the ideal time to do that trimming you’ve been wanting to do since springtime.  According to our local forestry specialist, our winters here are typically not cold enough for winter trimming, and heavy pruning of live tissue just after the spring growth flush should be avoided, especially on weak trees.

Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be removed without a reason.  Specific types of pruning may help maintain a mature tree in a healthy, safe, and attractive condition.  Cleaning is the removal of dead, dying, diseased, weakly attached, and low-vigor branches from the crown of a tree.  Thinning is selective branch removal to improve structure and to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown.  Proper thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, and helps retain the tree’s natural shape.  Raising removes the lower branches from a tree to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians, and vistas. Reduction reduces the size of a tree, often for utility line clearance.  Reducing a tree’s height or spread is best accomplished by pruning back the leaders and branches to secondary branches large enough to assume the terminal roles (at least one-third the diameter of the cut stem).  Reduction helps maintain the form and structural integrity of the tree and is a healthy alternative to topping.

How Much Should Be Pruned?  The amount of live tissue that should be removed depends on the tree’s size, species, and age, as well as the pruning objectives.  Younger trees tolerate the removal of a higher percentage of living tissue better than mature trees do.  Generally, no more than 25% of the crown should be removed at once, and less for mature trees.  Removing even a single, large-diameter limb can result in significant canopy loss and can create a wound that the tree may not be able to close.  Care should be taken to achieve pruning objectives while minimizing live branch loss and wound size.

Research has shown that wound dressings do not reduce decay or speed wound closure, and rarely prevent insect or disease infestations.  Most experts recommend that wound dressings not be used unless you are pruning an oak in an area where oak wilt is present (like Bosque County).

A few tree diseases, such as oak wilt, can be spread when pruning wounds provide access to pathogens. The best time to prune an oak is when a contaminated beetle is least likely to find your tree.  If you trim an oak, IMMEDIATELY seal off the fresh cut with latex paint or wound paint.  This stops the pheromone attraction of the beetles.

If you are concerned with the health of your trees you may call me out for a site visit, the Texas Forestry Service is here to help as well, or you can hire an arborist.  When hiring someone to trim your trees or doing it yourself, please be mindful of proper sanitation of the equipment as to decrease spread of pathogens as well.

For more information contact Chelsea Dorward at chelsea.dorward@ag.tamu.edu or call 254-435-2331

Drought Brings Tough Times

As we put June behind us and face July with the dry conditions brought by drought, we see a lack of grasses, decreased agriculture crop production, and fires.  While it comes with the territory, none of us want to see any of these.  We can all pray and hope for rain, but until it comes we need to know how to get through these conditions.  If you are an agriculturalist with drought related problems, there are a few information websites available I’d like to share with you to assist in answering many relevant questions.

The Agricultural Drought Task Force website http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ provides a clearinghouse of drought-related information from several state and federal agencies. The ‘Resources on Drought’ section provides static and changing information on drought while the ‘News Updates/Situational Reports’ section features the latest submissions from the site’s participating agencies.

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline website connects those with hay to sell, or pasture to lease, to those who need it.  Also, the TDA’s ‘Disaster Resource Information Packet’ provides contact information for state, federal and private agricultural disaster assistance programs. Check out www.TexasAgriculture.gov for more information on both resources.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency provides low-interest emergency loans to help eligible producers recover from natural disasters. Interested producers should contact the office that serves the county in which your operation is located for options available in your specific location. Visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/index, for more information on U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency loans.

If you’re interested in monitoring the current conditions, The U.S. Drought Monitor South, http://droughtmonitordev.unl.edu/CurrentMap.aspx stays current on drought conditions. The Texas Forestry Service also has a public viewer for current fires in Texas located at http://public.TFSWildfires.com.

For more information, please contact Chelsea Dorward at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bosque County Office at 254-435-2331