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Moisture helps 2013 growing season, while cool weather presents challenges

By ALLISON MILES
May 7, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.

The sun begins to set on a field of corn just off Port Lavaca Highway. Crossroads farmers say recent rains have helped the 2013 growing season, but warmer weather would speed growth along.

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For more information about Victoria County agriculture, visit the county extension service at victoria.agrilife.org or call 361-575-4581.

They purchased the seed, prepared the land and got the crops in the ground on time. But now it's out of Crossroads farmers' hands.

The 2013 growing season is well underway, and area agriculturists say weather is key in the coming months.

Recent moisture has helped, but another good soak or two wouldn't hurt, said Michael Maraggia, who farms about 650 acres of corn in Victoria County. The area's dry winter means there isn't much bottom moisture, he said, explaining that's what helps carry crops through the season.

He planted his corn around February, he said, noting the crop only has 110 to 120 days until it reaches maturity. Moisture levels and the like can all affect yield potential.

"With Mother Nature, it's always wait and see. But that's the life of a farmer," said Maraggia, who also owns South Texas Milling.

"You never know what's coming next for you," he said.

Victoria County A&M AgriLife Extension Service Agent Peter McGuill agreed, noting unseasonably cool temperatures have slowed progress.

Plants must accumulate heat units in order to develop, he explained. The warmer it is, the more the plant accumulates and the faster it grows.

"This time of year, we need warmer days and nights," he said. "Then again, not too warm. If it gets too hot, it goes the other way."

A late frost the Crossroads experienced a couple of weeks ago stung some of the corn crop, McGuill said, noting he's taken calls from people wanting to know why some of the leaves were slightly black. Grasses in pastures, too, have also felt the effects of the cooler conditions.

Weather woes aside, he said farmers still have time to turn out a strong yield.

"It's been a little different this year. No doubt," he said. "But if we get a couple more good, timely rains, we can get a good crop."

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