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Extension Agent: The time for planting crops is now

By By Peter J. McGuill
Feb. 19, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 18, 2013 at 8:19 p.m.


Crop farmers in the Crossroads are starting to hook up tractors to planters as they anticipate ideal field conditions for planting. Farmers have been active in the fields, applying preplant fertilizer and preparing the fields.

The first seed to go in the ground each year is corn. It is expected that corn plantings this year will cover significantly more acres in Victoria County than the last few years have seen.

The corn market price has remained at an attractive level for several months, and the outlook for a profitable selling price is favorable. In addition to this, current farming technology has made the management of corn much more user friendly than many of the other crops.

Seed technology provides protection from many of the insects that have historically caused headaches for farmers. This plant protection has resulted in a massive reduction in the amount of insecticide applications made to protect crops. These technologies also offer farmers the option to use more effective and less environmentally impactful herbicides to control profit-robbing weeds.

Corn is planted earlier than other crops simply because of physiological reasons. The corn seed will germinate and thrive in cooler soil temperatures better than any of the other crops that are commercially produced in our area will. Corn requires minimum soil and air temperatures of 50 degrees before active growth is to begin, whereas cotton requires temperatures of 60 or higher before it will begin to grow.

Following corn in the ground will be grain sorghum, also known as milo or maize. It is also expected that sorghum acreage will increase this year over last because its market prices typically follow that of corn. Finally, soybeans and cotton will round out the planting cycle for our warm-season crops.

Putting the seed in the ground is only the beginning for farmers. From then they will use the knowledge, patience and hard work that they have earned a reputation for to nurture and protect the plants - all in the hope that the harvest will be bountiful.

The single factor that contributes the most risk to farming along the Gulf Coast of Texas is the weather. In recent years, we have concentrated our discussions on the drought that we continue to endure. However, too much rain, rain at the wrong time, extreme temperatures and hurricanes can devastate crops with equal severity.

Peter J. McGuill is the Victoria County extension agent-ag and natural resources. Contact him at 361-575-4581 or pjmcguill@ag.tamu.edu.

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