Ellis County farmers have had a few close calls due to the recent storms passing through the area.
For the most part, farms’ young crops were spared from damaging winds and hail.
“I imagine a lot of the farmers were out as early as they could get out to check those fields,” said Larry Eubank, Ellis County Farm Service Agency executive director. “Acre-wise, there was minimal damage to the northwest corner (of the county).
“In the county, as a whole, we’ve been lucky,” Eubank said. “Again, we don’t need any rain. We need dry weather so that the wheat will go ahead and mature.”
Two weeks ago, there was trouble getting the cotton planted and there is still trouble because the ground is too wet. The plant just drowns.
Planting the cotton crop in May will not hurt the size of a season harvest a great deal, but Eubank said the earlier in May the better. There is concern about getting the cotton acreage planted if the land does not dry to more favorable conditions.
What Ellis County needs is a week of dry weather to get the rest of the cotton planted, Eubank said. “With seven or 10 days of hard running (planting), I think we’ll get done. We’ve got some 20 percent chances for rain and we’re just hoping we’ll miss those and maybe they’ll stay up on the Red River or go to West Texas, where they’re dry.
“Here, it rains a half-inch now and it looks like it’s rained 2 to 3 inches,” he said.
On the saturated farmland, water does not seep into the ground, with rain often staying on the top of the land and standing in puddles.
One good aspect to the rain is that livestock water supplies are excellent, Eubank said, noting that pastures planted with coastal and Sudan hay (hay grazer) are growing well, with coastal hay turning a healthy shade of green.
Prospects also look good for wheat and corn – and grain sorghum (milo) is growing.
“You’ll see some of these corn fields when we have a day like today in the 80s and you can almost just stand there and watch it grow,” Eubank said.
Soybeans also are on track with planting. Some crops may have drowned due to the excessive rain or standing water in low-lying areas, but it is getting late to plant any more. There have been a few cool evenings, but, as long as there is no frost, the growing season should remain on schedule. Some fields may still need further weed control and fertilizer spraying, but the field has to dry before equipment can get in for crop maintenance and fieldwork.
Eubank said it’s hard to turn down the rain after experiencing droughts.
“It could turn off in June or July and we’d wonder, ‘Where did it go?’ ” Eubank said. “We don’t want to squeal too loud, we just need some dry weather to get the planting completed and get some fieldwork done and we’ll be OK.”
April 29 average harvested crop prices
Wheat: down to $7.80 bushel
Corn: steady at $5.45 bushel
Gain Sorghum/Milo: up to $9.75 per hundredweight
Soybean: steady at $11 bushel
Cotton: down to $.72 per pound (bail at about 500 pounds)
More information on the US Farm Service Agency can be found online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov
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