Setting out bright and early Monday morning, more than 50 Ellis County row crop and livestock producers met at the Avalon Co-op Gin just off of State Highway 34 to take part in the 2007 Ellis County Crop Tour.

Sponsored by the Ellis County Crops Committee, Agri-Industries and Helena Chemical, the tour included stops at four Texas Cooperative Extension test plots and Waxahachie Creek Park, where the tour’s participants received a briefing on pest and parasite control, boll weevil eradication efforts and Farm Service Agency updates.

The tour offered producers five continuing education hours toward their private pesticide applicator license as issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

On the first stop of the tour, participants visited Roundup-Ready corn varieties on the Wilson Farm, co-operated by Joe and Jerry Wilson.

Located off of Highway 34 on Eason Road, the test plot consisted of 18 varieties planted in a cultivated field in early March and treated with Bicep and Roundup.

The tour’s second stop was at a transgenic cotton variety trial, located at Steven Beakley’s farm off Farm-to-Market Road 985 near Bardwell. Planted in early April, the plot included 14 varieties.

Third was a grain sorghum trial at Wes Sullivan’s Farm off FM 985, where 18 varieties were planted in late March. With row spacing of 40 inches, the field was treated with a pre-emergence herbicide.

The fourth and final trial was at the Beakley Farm, where 49 varieties of soybeans were planted. Varieties came from Monsanto, Deltapine, Hornbeck, Syngenta, Terral, the University of Arkansas and included other experimentals.

Of the varieties planted, Hornbeck R5425 and TN04-369RR earned the best ratings, coming in at 5.4 and 5.5, respectively. The best yielding varieties were Deltagrow DG 4960 (at 27.7) and Hornbeck C5025 (at 24.8).

Following the field test variety tour, producers were briefed on the current crop situations regarding wheat and soybeans

Of the six wheat tests planted, only two were recovered, Extension small grains specialist Russell Sutton said, adding that of this year’s crop, it appears that Fannin (a hard wheat variety) was “pretty much the only variety that made.”

The state report on wheat will be out in a couple of weeks, Sutton said, adding that Fuller, a variety from Kansas, may be available to producers later this year.

Offering an update on soybeans, Extension soybean agronomist Dr. Jim Heitholt told those gathered that, in conjunction with the University of Arkansas, the Extension is beginning tolerance research on soybeans. Additionally, rust has been found in soybean crops near Beaumont, Heitholt said, noting that it has previously been found in the Valley in south Texas.

Entomology agent Glen Moore said the boll weevil eradication program had fewer catches in its traps, meaning weevil populations could be down. However, wet weather has prevented checking all the traps, so these numbers are tentative.

Some producers have gone ahead and treated their fields, working on the presumption that the weevils are there, Moore said, adding that these treated fields are those with a history of weevils.

Bashir Duale of the Farm Service Agency discussed programs and deadlines.

July 16 is the last day to certify crops including milo, cotton, corn, soybeans, hays and pasture, Duale said, adding that anyone with a 2007 Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program application must certify his or her crop.

Friday, Aug. 3, is the final day to sign DCP contracts and October is the unofficial date of the disaster program. The program will include 2005, 2006 and 2007 crops planted before Feb. 28, 2007.

“Producers will have to choose one of the years, and only producers with crop insurance coverage or NAP coverage will be eligible,” Duale said.

Duale also noted that producers need to file a notice of loss if they purchased 2007 NAP and have hay on the ground that has rotted because they were unable to roll it.

Duale also said the Crop Disaster Program “provides benefits to farmers who suffered quantity and quality losses from natural disasters and related conditions that occurred in 2005 and 2006 and for 2007 crops if the crop was planted before Feb. 28, 2007, or in the case of prevented plantings would have been planted before Feb. 28, 2007.

“Producers who incurred qualifying losses in 2005, 2006 or 2007 must choose only one year to receive benefits. Producers may apply for benefits for losses to multiple crops as long as the losses occurred in the same crop year,” he said. “Only producers who obtained crop insurance coverage or coverage under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for the year of loss will be eligible for CDP benefits.”

Under the CDP program, producers may receive a maximum of $80,000 in benefits, and those eligible for CDP benefits may also receive benefits from LIP.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct signups for the CDP as soon as possible, and producers will be able to enroll at the local FSA service center, located on FM 66 west of Interstate 35E, Duale said.

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