Jan. 29, 2007

Extension Expands Statewide Viticulture Team

Writer: Tim W. McAlavy, 806-746-6101, t-mcalavy@tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Ed Hellman, 806-746-6101, EWHellman@ag.tamu.edu
Jim Kamas, 830-997-7047, Jkamas@ag.tamu.edu

LUBBOCK – Texas Cooperative Extension continues to expand its statewide viticulture program with the addition of four regional viticulture associates.

The new associates serve four distinct regions:

- West Texas: Teresa Burns is stationed in Lubbock at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center. She can be reached at thburns@ag.tamu.edu or 806-746-6101.

- North Texas: Fran Pontasch is stationed in Stephenville at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center. She can be reached at fmpontasch@ag.tamu.edu or 254-968-4144.

- Hill Country: Penny Adams is stationed in Fredericksburg at the Extension building. She can be reached at psadams@ag.tamu.edu or 830-997-3452.

- Gulf Coast: Fritz Westover is stationed in Houston at the Extension office for Harris County. He can be reached at fawestover@ag.tamu.edu or 281-855-5600.

They will work under the direction of Dr. Ed Hellman, Extension viticulture specialist at Lubbock, and Jim Kamas, Extension fruit specialist at Fredericksburg.

The goal of Extension's Texas viticulture team is to improve wine grape production practices that will enhance the economic impact of the grape and wine industry, Hellman said. Identifying and refining production practices that fit the range of Texas soils and climate should help growers attain more consistent yields and higher quality fruit more efficiently and at a lower cost, he said.

The four new associates will help provide statewide delivery of Extension viticulture education programs and assist Texas growers.

"They will also be responsible for implementing on-farm research projects designed to address local problems," Hellman said. "Those projects will focus on grape variety evaluation, disease control, pest management and irrigation scheduling.

"What we derive from this work will be shared through one-on-one contact with producers, workshops and field days."

"Texas Senate Bill 1370 funds our four new associates," Kamas said. "That legislation returns a portion of excise tax on wine products to support the Texas grape industry."