Every year, Chris Buzek fights against markets and Mother Nature to keep his farm going.

This year has felt exceptionally hard.

“This whole year has been a struggle,” said Buzek, who grows corn, grain sorghum, cotton and beans at his farm outside Inez.

Right now, Buzek is turning the soil on his corn fields, preparing them for next year’s crop. He is also getting ready to harvest his cotton crop, which will be ready in September.

Chris Buzek prepares the soil at his farm near Inez after harvesting corn. Buzek felt this year’s yield was slightly higher than normal but sa…

In spite of heavy rains earlier in the season, Buzek said most farmers were able to hustle to get their fields prepared, planted and harvested – although slightly behind schedule.

Their efforts paid off. Yields for corn and grain sorghum across the region were average, if not slightly better, said Victoria County extension agent Matt Bochat.

“We really needed about one more rain to really make a bumper crop,” Buzek said. “It got kinda dry there later in the growing season.”

An unpredictable harvest season this year has been compounded by an ongoing trade war with China. Last week, China announced it would halt all purchases of U.S. agricultural products in response to additional Trump administration tariffs announced at the beginning of August.

On Buzek’s farm, where this year his primary crop was corn, the trade war’s effects were evident but mitigated.

Lindsey Bowers, a farmer and grain merchandiser at United Ag, said corn farmers may be more resistant to the effects of the trade war because most of those crops are sold and consumed within a 300-mile radius.

Right now, Buzek said, corn prices are low. He’s storing most of his yield in grain elevators and waiting for an uptick in the market.

Some of his neighbors won’t be so lucky, he said.

At this time last year, the price for cotton futures was almost 90 cents per pound. Buzek said many Crossroads farmers planted more acres of the crop, hoping to capitalize on the healthy markets. Now, with prices of futures less than 60 cents per pound and cotton at its lowest price in more than 10 years, farmers who invested in it earlier this year may not fare well.

Farmers will have a better idea about how they’ll fare this season when the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its monthly supply-and-demand reports Monday.

David Cavazos with Straight Up Transportation Services, based in Harlingen, shows his load ticket to Steven Craig, grain operations manager at…

Despite uncertainty and difficulties of operating during a trade war, Bowers said many farmers remain optimistic about its possible outcomes.

Buzek said he’s happy for trade renegotiation but is getting tired of the ongoing process.

“We have no idea when this is gonna get worked out or what that’s going to entail,” Buzek said. “I wish something would change and get sped up.”

Bowers, who has three boys, said she wants her sons to come home and be excited about the family industry. But, she said, with the current markets, it’s difficult to wish that for them.

“The way things are going,” Bowers said, “it makes it hard to want for them to come home and farm.”

Morgan is the business reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at (361) 580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or @mcohanlon.

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Morgan covers business for the Victoria Advocate. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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