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FARMERS: Harvest not so bad after all
by Gary Kent
Jul 08, 2011 | 1255 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A harvester gets what corn it can from a field south of town last week. About half of the corn harvest is already in.
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After almost six months of stiff winds, hot temperatures and little, if any, rainfall, grain storage businesses in Bee County are surprised at the harvest so far this year.

Aaron Salge at the Bee County Co-op in Tynan said yields are a little lower than average in the south end of the county.

He said much of the success of farmers down there depends on where and when they planted.

Parts of south Bee County received some rain. Almost three inches of rain have fallen in the city since January. But other areas of the county did not do as well.

With about 80 percent of the milo (grain sorghum) already in and about half of the corn, Salge said the quality looks surprisingly good for such a dry year.

Aflatoxin levels in the corn appear to be about what they were last year and not as bad as expected.

But farmer Troy Berthold, who farms east of Beeville, said he thinks that probably is the result of months of dry air.

“I don’t think there’s been enough moisture in the air to grow much of a fungus,” Berthold said of the aflatoxin threat.

The toxin is the result of a fungus that forms on corn kernels making them toxic for some animal feed.

“We’re not seeing anything that’s a concern,” Salge said.

Berthold said he is still harvesting milo and he has not started combining his corn yet.

Mike Huser at Bee Agricultural Co. agreed with Salge. Both said they would estimate that about half the corn crop has been harvested.

“The quality looks pretty fair,” Huser said. But he would not comment on the yield. Some farmers were reporting a better crop than others.

“We probably got half a crop this year,” Berthold said. Wildlife, like deer and hogs, ruined hundreds of acres of his crops.

“I’ve never seen damage like this in my life,” the farmer said of the deer and hog damage.

“But you can’t blame them. They’ve got to do what they can to survive.”

On top of that, Berthold’s fields never got more than a half of an inch of rain after January. He said the sub-moisture situation was pretty good where he planted but months of hot, dry weather did not do much to help.

“I just missed the rain,” Berthold said. “We’re ready to just get it over with and end the year.”

No one was commenting on the cotton crop just yet. Berthold said the bolls were just now starting to open, but he said what he has seen so far does not look good.

Salge said he is no cotton expert but the harvest in the south end of the county will depend a lot on location and whether or not the farmers had irrigation available.

Cotton prices have been high this year.

Earlier in the year, right after 1.25 inches of rain fell near Skidmore and Tynan, one area farmer said prices had slipped some after the earthquake in Japan because that country is a major purchaser of U.S. cotton. Much of Japan’s industry was shut down after the earthquake and tsunamis there.

Crop watchers said cotton that was irrigated may produce a better crop when the harvest begins.

Salge said grain prices also are good this year and the better prices may actually help farmers from losing money.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.

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