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Spring planting season - plant sale

Feb. 28, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 27, 2011 at 8:28 p.m.


By Joe Janak

With more than 2,000 plants for sale, you'll have a real opportunity to select the best of the best for your spring planting from the Victoria County Master Gardener plant sale to be held this coming Saturday. While not only benefiting the Victoria Educational Gardens, funds are used to help future educational programs for the public. But the main reason to come out is to get some of the best recommended plants for your landscape.

Held Saturday at the VEG Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive (by the Victoria County Airport Control Tower) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or till sellout, this year's sale is a first, featuring fruit trees, berries, vegetables and herbs and of course our famous lineup of landscape plants. All plants are labeled with complete descriptions providing educational data, including care and management. Besides that, Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your many plant questions.

A variety of peach, pear, plum and persimmon trees, plus blueberries, blackberries, grapes and even pomegranates will be available as well as tomato plants, red, green and yellow bell peppers, squash and an assortment of herbs. Angel's trumpet, the colorful datura, donkey's ear, Texas star hibiscus, and hundreds of other landscape plants await you at the plant sale at the VEG Pavilion. Get there early for best results!

Farm commodity markets interesting

Although 4 million more acres of corn are forecasted to be planted in 2011, (92 million planted acres and a yield of 161.7 bushels), the resulting stocks-to-use ratio of 6.4 percent is still relatively tight but would be higher than the current 5 percent, according to Mark Welch, Texas AgriLife Extension Economist.

Prices have been quite high recently in the ag commodities sector, and I encourage all to watch them closely. Welch, stated that he would have priced an additional 20 percent of expected 2011 corn production on last week's pull back in prices. We still have a long way to go in this crop year, but these price levels offer a profitable return. The predicted average farm corn market price is expected to be $5.60 per bushel for the 2011 year.

Cotton hit $2 per pound recently with multiple-limit and even double-limit moves, all in one day. This has many farmers talking and remembering past times when contracts were not held up because of high prices. So where will it end? Dr. John C. Robinson, professor and Extension economist-cotton marketing said he thinks history, underlying economics, and time are on the side of cotton futures ultimately moving back into a strong but lower price range (e.g., 80 cents to the $1.10's), similar to the strong, but successively lower price ranges seen during 1996-1998 following the record prices of 1995. For a complete analysis of the cotton supply, demand and outlook, see this website: http://agecon2.tamu.edu/people/faculty/robinson-john/.

The most important point of all these recent price changes is to develop a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a price contingency plan of actions that a grower/hedger will take in various possible, but ultimately uncertain, future market situations. A marketing plan can include many strategies, probably in combination with each other. These could include basic tactics like forward contracting, selling at harvest, marketing pools, and the USDA loan program. Hedging with futures and options can complement or substitute for these basic tactics. Besides the strategy, a marketing plan should include targeted price levels and calendar dates when you will take a given action.

Lastly, a marketing plan should be a written document to help you remember and to take action, i.e., just like your To-Do-List.

Joe Janak is a Victoria County extension agent.

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