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Extension Agent: Crop harvests progress quickly

Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:02 a.m.

Joe Janak

By Joe JanakWhile many a ranchers haven't harvested a single bale of hay for the upcoming winter, most of the farmers are nearly finished harvesting all their crops. Even cotton was being harvested in July, about a month early.

The crop season definitely was an interesting one. Dry from the start, many farmers were scratching the dirt deeper to find moisture to plant this past spring.

And you know how dry it has been since.

With the lack of moisture, crop yields were anticipated to be very low and some of that has played true, but there were some surprises, too.

Corn really surprised many. While there were some definite lows and even some failures, the overall averages were relatively good ranging from 60 to 70 bushels per acre with some fields in the 80 to 90 bushel range. I heard of one field that even averaged 120 bushels and an entire farm averaging just over 100 bushels per acre.

Aflatoxin surprisingly was not an issue this year, probably because it was too dry during the critical stage for the fungus to develop and grow on the kernels.

Grain sorghum was fairly good, too, with yields in the 4,000 to 4,500 pound range on average and some fields up to 5,600 pounds per acre. A few fields were hurt with disaster yields.

Cotton's quick maturity surprised many farmers. Normal harvest is August through the first of September, but this year a number of fields were already picked in July.

Also, the insect pest load was light and the crop set an excellent load of bolls in most fields.

Unfortunately, the drought minimized the yield potential, reducing boll size and probably staple length.

Still, yields are expected to be in the 1-to 1-per acre range for the good cotton, possibly up to two bales, and of course, less for the drought-stressed cotton.

Some cotton that was planted late never got rain until extremely late and is now far behind other fields. Then again, some cotton was planted in marginal soil moisture and came up to a skippy stand, which later became a full stand with late rains. These fields now have two different cotton maturities in the same field and will be troublesome to plan for harvest.

Something new in the county this year are cotton round bales. Some of the new cotton pickers are being used to compress the seed cotton into a round bale, similar to what a round bale of hay looks like and then wraps it with a plastic cover - all on the picker.

Each round bale weighs about 5,600 pounds or holds about three actual bales of cotton. So, generally, it takes three to four round bales to equal a cotton module, which we've become familiar with over the past 10 years.

Soybeans lived up to the drought story, though yields were well below normal for all farmers. Many fields were at the disaster level and the better fields are harvesting 10 to 15 bushels per acre or about to of normal, which is itself a disaster.

Some late-planted soybeans are still green, growing and to be harvested, but the potential is not good with no rain.

Area ranchers missed an excellent opportunity for rainfall with Tropical Storm Don going south and west and then breaking apart.

Very little hay has been made this year, and forage is extremely short for livestock.

Some of the best places that have forage are areas that are not over-stocked and pastures where grazing is rotated.

RENEW/REGISTER LIVESTOCK BRANDS SOON

September of each year marks the time for ranchers to review their brand registration term and consider re-registering their livestock brands. The brand registration lasts for 10 years and needs to be re-registered every 10 years before Sept. 1. After Sept. 1, following the 10 years, if not re-registered, the brand symbol could be lost and registered to someone else.

Ranchers wanting to register new brands are should do so after Sept. 1. For more information, contact the county clerk in the county you want to register your brand.

Joe Janak is a Victoria County extension agent.

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