The lifelong farmer said few crops are left in Bonnie View.
In a good year, 27,000 acres of cotton will be harvested in the county. This year, Jerry Gray, extension agent estimates that approximately 6,000 to 8,000 still have a viable crop in the ground.
“A lot of cotton was plowed up and a lot of it out-and-out failed,” Gray said. “There’s not much cotton left.”
The Valley has already zeroed out. Valley cotton is harvested earlier so Gray is hoping that the late sketchy rain will improve this county’s prospects but he’s not very optimistic.
Because of the drought, farmers planted later than usual, other farmers waited even later for rain before planting and still others planted dry, he said.
“Right now, we’re in all stages of production,” Gray said. “The harvest starts around July 4, but because there was such a wide range of time planting, it’s going to be a long drawn-out season and the harvest could go on until October.”
Parts of the county fared better in this drought year than other parts. A few fields near Austwell and some near Woodsboro are expected to produce decent yields, but these fields are as spotty as the rain that fell.
Unlike past years when test plots are surrounded by row-after-row of cotton, grain sorghum and corn, this year’s tour group headed to one plot during the afternoon session - the sesame field planted by Pete Petropoulos and Walt Franke. Freddie Maresh also planted some sesame in the north end of the county around Austwell.
“It’s the sixth largest crop for oil in the nation and as far as I know, it’s the first time it’s been planted in Refugio county,” Gray said.
Introducing a new viable crop for the county could be a plus; however, sesame required drier conditions at harvest than grain sorghum.
“A rain at harvest could spoil it,” he said.
This is a bad year all around, not only for farmers but for livestock producers who are expected to have a shortage of hay this winter, the agent said.
“Right now, we’re looking at limited hay production and that will be a problem for ranchers,” Gray said. “We can usually get two cuttings of hay. This year, we’ll be lucky to get one.”
The agent said they are looking for alternative methods for feeding.
“Milo stubble, molasses tubs and other alternative methods will drive up the cost of production,” he said. “The market just hasn’t been that good this year. When it doesn’t rain, it hurts us all.”
Gray and other agents across Texas are gearing up this summer to introduce drought recovery programs.
“We’ll be teaming up with our sister agencies to cover all facets of the recovery,” he said.
“I just hope it’s not a complete state meltdown,” Gray added.