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KRGV: USDA Combating Carrizo Cane on Border

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Weslaco, Texas , January 11, 2016 | comments

USDA Combating Carrizo Cane on Border

Posted: Jan 11, 2016 7:13 PM CSTUpdated: Jan 11, 2016 08:13 PM


WESLACO- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s carrizo cane eradication program is a step closer to controlling the invasive plant species. The plant is known for its thirst for water and serves as a place for criminals to hide along the river.

The carrizo cane is a problem that affects more than 500 miles of the border. The plant is thick and grows taller than other plants, denying them sunlight.

Some scientists are finding a way to combat carrizo cane.

"It's become extremely invasive, all along the Rio Grande, especially between Brownsville and Del Rio,” said John Goolsby, an entomologist.

The cane can stand two stories tall, drinks plenty of water and provides cover for illegal activity on the border.

Within the last three years, the amount of carrizo has gone down by a third. The arundo wasp and the arundo scale from Spain are the cane’s natural enemy.

The USDA started using a tractor to help get rid of the cane.

“The combination of the two gives you a good view,” Goolsby said. “That’s important to law enforcement. The insects keep that cane suppressed for months, years.”

As the carrizo cane weakens, it also frees up more water. Goolsby said it frees up to 6,000 acre feet per year.

“There’s only so much water stored at Falcon Lake and Amistad reservoirs,” Goolsby said.

Brad Cowan, a farmer and agent with A&M Agrilife Extension, said the area needs to utilize as much water as possible.

The USDA keeps thinking of new ideas to combat carrizo cane. They also have to wait for the arundo wasp to grow in population.

Congressman Henry Cuellar’s office said the latest on the federal front is an order for CBP to work with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. A program started by the agency last year aims to get landowners organized to do more control along the border.

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