The Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Overton, TX specializes in research on beef cattle, hay and forage crops, and horticulture with some attention to forestry and rural recreation. Two notable research areas are Forage-Based Beef Cattle Production Systems and Horticultural Production.
Key Research Areas
- Beef Cattle
- Forage Crops
- Overton Center research has a current annual economic impact of $150 million on the $1.5 billion forage, pasture, and livestock industries of East Texas.
- The center has contributed to the growth of horticulture in East Texas to an over $1.2 billion industry.
- Overton Center research has influenced the American Brahman Breeders Association to add an expected progeny difference (EPD) for “Docility” to herd-improvement guidelines.
Developing and releasing adapted varieties of clover and ryegrass
In the last ten years, Dr. Gerald Smith’s research at the Overton Center has resulted in six plants being released and licensed: ‘Neches’, ‘Sabine’, ‘Blackhawk’, ‘Silver River, and two ryegrasses, ‘TAM TBO’ and ‘Nelson’. Smith found that the early and profuse flowering traits of ‘Neches’ clover will save stakeholders approximately $1 million each reseeding year, if ‘Neches’ is only 5% of total white clover use. ‘Sabine’ crimson clover will improve the reliability of long-season forage production. ‘Blackhawk’ is the first arrowleaf clover with multiple pest resistance and ‘Silver River’ is a rust-resistant sweetclover developed for South and Central Texas. Finally, TAM TBO and Nelson ryegrasses have improved vigor and productivity over previous varieties.
Soil Health and Environmental Quality
Recently initiated studies by Dr. Anil Somenahally focuses on factors affecting environmental sustainability including soil microbes, greenhouse gas emissions and related items. Data collection will link production and environmental measures.
Grazing management research to develop optimum use and sustainability of forage resources
Overton Center researcher Dr. Monte Rouquette has identified peak stocking rates and strategies to optimize sustainable land-use, so that field grazing beef cattle weights increase. There is a correlation between soil nutrient status and stocking rates and fertility regimens. By cycling nutrients to pastures forage can be grown without nitrogen fertilizer and reduces the need for fossil fuels used to make fertilizer and enhances the production of natural forage-fed beef.
Effects of early puberty, temperament, and stress on beef cattle
Dr. Ronald Randel, a researcher at the Overton Center, is studying how transportation stress affects pregnancy. So far, the effects of prenatal stress in cattle show that this prenatal stress alters temperament, energy metabolism and immune function. Ronald Randel is now working at the center to develop an early-calving line of tropically adapted Brahman cattle to increase beef production efficiency in Texas and in tropical regions throughout the world.
Evaluating ornamental plant varieties for greenhouse and field performance
Dr. Pemberton is responsible for the hundreds of new varieties of ornamental plants that have been tested at the Overton Center to determine suitability for use in the region. Dr. Pemberton initiated cooperative research to develop roses broadly adapted for heat tolerance and disease resistance. The best-adapted ones have been identified as Texas Superstars® and promoted to stakeholders through regional programs, websites, and field days. Each promotion increases sales and the use of Texas-friendly ornamentals. These roses would increase the sales of the National Flower and provide landscape plants that would reduce the need for pesticides and have reliable ornamental value for home and commercial landscapes.