What is in this article?:
- Northeast Texas grain farmers are cautiously optimistic about the good start they’ve seen from winter wheat stands.
- For a drought year, aflatoxin contamination was exceptionally low.
- The area remains in a drought.
CORN WILL be the primary crop option for Northeast Texas farmers come spring, but some are looking at alternatives such as grain sorghum, sunflowers and cotton.
Swart said a few farmers may consider replanting if stands are not as uniform as they like. He offers an easy test to evaluate replanting decisions. “Toss a baseball cap over your shoulder. If some part of the cap lands and touches wheat, that spot will not affect yield.” He recommends performing that test about ten times across a field to determine if replanting is necessary.
Planting options for 2012 will favor corn acreage. “We’ve ordered the seed,” Akins said, “but if it’s bone dry at planting time we may rethink a little.”
Light will plant corn and maize. “I’ll take a close look at milo,” he said. “I’ll plant and hope. We sure can’t plan the weather.”
Farmers are looking at a few other options.
Chad Wetzel, who farms with his father Bruce, planted a few acres of cotton last spring and is considering more in 2012.
“We made about 200 pounds per acre,” he said. “That was okay, considering the weather. If the price stays up, we’ll plant some more next year.”
Fallon will plant corn but is also considering confectionery sunflowers. “I’ll plant sunflowers where I can spray by plane (away from residential areas).” Since dwarf varieties for confectionery sunflowers are not available, spraying the crop by ground is not practical.
Fallon also said he’ll put sunflowers in areas where feral hogs are causing significant damage to corn. “I’m tired of feeding hogs,” he said.
Wetzel and his father planted sunflowers in 2010 but not last spring. He’s considering it again for 2012, “if we can get a good contract.”
Sells will plant corn and milo. “I think I can make more money with corn than with milo. Last year I made 3,500 pounds per acre on milo and 75 bushels with corn.”
Whatever the crop mix, these eight farmers remain committed to growing grain in the Northeast corner of Texas. They’ve endured drought in recent years and have been prevented from planting by wet conditions a time or two and have watched fields decay at harvest time because of heavy, persistent rain.
They’ve seen wheat crops destroyed by late cold snaps and corn quality ruined by aflatoxin. But they continue to adopt new technology, depend on old-school practices such as rotation and look for alternatives to spread risk.
Somehow, they endure.