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Sporadic rains meant better growth for some Crossroads fields than others

By ALLISON MILES
July 30, 2013 at 2:30 a.m.

The sun sets over a harvested corn field just off Port Lavaca Highway. Victoria County agriculturists say dry conditions led to a smaller-than-average yield for a number of crops this season.

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For more information about the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service in Victoria County, visit victoria.agrilife.org or to learn more about the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association, visit stcga.org.

The end was near - for the grain crops, at least - as Brian Adamek covered his field row by row Friday, gathering up the corn and milo. The 2013 grain harvest was just about complete.

"I hope to be through Monday with all of this," he said via phone as he worked inside his combine. "Cotton is still about a month off."

A dry growing season brought lower-than-average yields for many people throughout the Crossroads, said Peter McGuill, extension agent with Victoria County's Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service. Still, sporadic rainfall means some crops fared pretty well.

He does not yet have acreage counts for Victoria County.

There is a flip side to that moisture, however. McGuill said that, for some, it has hindered the harvest.

"Some people have to wait for it to dry out now," he said. "It's like Murphy's Law. When we needed rain, we didn't get it. Now that we don't need it, it comes."

Jeff Nunley, executive director of the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association, said ongoing Farm Bill work in Washington, D.C., has kept him occupied and away from much of his work in the Crossroads. Still, he said, crops seem to be coming along.

The rain was a welcome sight for producers growing cotton, he said, noting that harvest comes in about a month. It didn't hurt the grain sorghum fields, either.

He said the region fared better than many areas to the south, where conditions meant crops were basically done at planting time.

Nunley on Thursday drove from Port Lavaca to Victoria and said he saw several combines running as farmers worked to get crops out of the ground.

"A lot of stuff comes out pretty fast. It always does," he said with a laugh. "Farmers will be talking to me about getting started; then I get busy. Next time I turn around, they're done."

As for Adamek, that first crop might be nearing completion, but he still has his cotton fields to deal with down the road.

This year's haul varied, he said, noting some of his fields got a good soak around Memorial Day. Others farther south, however, saw a 20 percent or so yield reduction.

Still, he said, that's how farming goes.

"It's all dependent on Mother Nature," he said. "We buy crop insurance to protect in the bad years, and while it doesn't pay everything, it gets us to the next year. We can keep going."

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