Back-to-back tropical rain showers this month from two separate weather systems inundated the county at a crucial time – when the grain was almost ready to harvest.
“If the weather holds out, we should get in the fields early next week,” said Walt Franke of Woodsboro. “There’s just too many variables out there for grain sorghum. Depending on the field, it could be 5 to 50 percent damaged. We just won’t know until it’s graded.”
Woodsboro Co-Op manager Roxanne Wiginton is hopeful that the sunshine and wind will allow combines in the field by the weekend.
“I believe the later crop is OK and some is more damaged than others,” Wiginton said. “We won’t know anything until they get into the fields.”
Expectations were high during the crop tour in June. Fall and winter rains refurbished ground moisture and conditions couldn’t have been better for bumper crops following a devastating drought season last year.
Wiginton ordered two baggers capable of storing 500,000 pounds of grain sorghum in anticipation of the bumper crop.
“I don’t know if we’re going to need them now,” she said.
Franke remains optimistic.
“A lot of people are crying,” he says. “But we don’t have a choice – the good Lord takes care of us. We do what we have to do. You do the best you can with what you have in front of you. Right now I’m very optimistic if the weather stays dry.”
Dewey Bellows of Refugio says his cotton crop is holding up but some of the grain has fallen from the heads.
“The grain is ready and some is not so bad,” Bellows said. “As soon as it dries up, we’ll start harvesting. Right now, we’ll be able to salvage most of it.”
So the farmers are keeping an eye to the sky and an ear on the Weather Channel.
Franke’s combines are not idle while the county waits for the fields to dry. He has been in the Valley near Lyford and Raymondville harvesting those fields.
Franke employs a crew of five young college students for this year’s harvest, along with his son Alfred, who is 18 today. Alfred has been driving combines since he was 12.
The four-wheel drive on the combines came in handy this week as did young Frank’s experience.
“I called Al and asked him how it was going in the Valley,” said JoAnn Franke, Walt’s wife. “Al said, ‘Mom, I buried the red one in the mud and you can’t tell it’s red.’”
The strong prevailing south winds are drying the fields quickly.
“I’m thinking positive,” JoAnn said. “We prayed for rain for so long and now we’re praying for some dry weather. Seems like we bounce back and forth.”
JoAnn’s family has been farming around Bonnie View for generations and a county road bears their name – Boenig Road.
Like her husband Walt and many of the other family farmers scattered across the county, they say they’ll make do – a strong faith demands it.