Onion and Watermelon Irrigation Field Day set for May 8 in Weslaco

WESLACO  —  Lower Rio Grande Valley vegetable growers are invited to the Onion and Watermelon Irrigation Field Day to be held from 9 a.m.- noon May 8 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.

Onions grow in a furrow irrigated field north of Alamo.

Onions grow in a furrow irrigated field north of Alamo. The Onion and Watermelon Irrigation Field Day will be held May 8 in Weslaco. (AgriLife Communications photo by Rod Santa Ana)

The center is located at 2415 East U.S. Highway 83.

Registration begins at 8 a.m., and two Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be available for pesticide applicators.

“We’ll have a lot of interesting information on integrated insect and disease management for watermelon and onion crops, but our main focus will be on water-use efficiency,” said Dr. Juan Anciso, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service fruit and vegetable specialist in Weslaco.

“We’ll be comparing drip and furrow irrigation,” he said. “Everybody knows that drip irrigation is more efficient, but just how efficient is it? How difficult is it, and what are the cost benefits?”

Among the speakers will be Dr. Juan Enciso, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer in Weslaco, who recently conducted a study at the center to evaluate the yield response of various vegetables under drip and furrow irrigation.

“In addition to yields, we also wanted to see how the two methods affect the quality of cabbage, onions and watermelons, which irrigation system is more profitableand how much water was conserved,” he said.

Results of the study will help validate a website and computer program that recently went online to help area growers determine how much water their crops are using and how much they need, Enciso said.

“The website provides daily and hourly climatic information,” he said. “Based on the information we’re developing from these irrigation studies, farmers will be better able to determine their particular water needs and hopefully reduce water use while increasing yields.”

The website can be found at http://southtexasweather.tamu.edu/ .

The research was funded by U.S Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Innovation Grants, with support from the Texas International  Produce Association, the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Harlingen Irrigation District-Texas Water Development Board.

Topics and speakers include:

—  Integrated Disease Management on Onions and Watermelons, Dr. Olefemi Alabi, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist, Weslaco.

—  Integrated Insect Management on Onions and Watermelons, Dr. Raul Villanueva, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Weslaco.

—  Results of Irrigation Study on Onions, Enciso.

—  Rio Grande Valley 2013-2014 Onion and Watermelon Season Wrap-Up, Rick Hernandez, Bayer Crop Sciences, Weslaco.

For more information, contact Anciso at 956-968-5581.

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