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Farmers make meager crop this year
by Gary Kent
Jul 19, 2012 | 3840 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Clough photo
A few roadside stalks of grain are all that is left after harvesting in a field east of Beeville on U.S. Highway 59. Farmers say this year’s harvest was poor because of the drought.
Bill Clough photo A few roadside stalks of grain are all that is left after harvesting in a field east of Beeville on U.S. Highway 59. Farmers say this year’s harvest was poor because of the drought.
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BEE COUNTY — Anyone who expected anything but bad news from Bee County’s grain harvest this year has not been paying attention.

Fred Schauer of the Bee Agricultural Co. said this week that about 85 percent of the corn planted this year “got zeroed out.” It was plowed under by local farmers.

The same thing happened with the grain sorghum crop, Schauer said. And about 70 percent of the sorghum harvested “was very poor,” Schauer said.

Arturo Gaitan, who farms in several locations between Tynan and Skidmore, said his crops depended on where they were planted.

He said some of his neighbors had to plow under their crops. A lot of his grain sorghum was destroyed by the second year of drought.

The difference between this year and last year was that, this year, there was no sub-moisture in the ground. Farmers basically planted in dry dirt and hoped for rain.

In a couple of places, like the fields Gaitan had near Skidmore, some rain did fall. In other places, there just was not enough moisture.

Gaitan said he might get 2,000 to 2,200 bushels per acre in some places. But a lot of milo was destroyed.

This year’s saving grace was the price of grain. Much of the Midwest saw crops wiped out by extended dry weather.

“We’re going to silage what we’ve got,” Gaitan said. “We’ve just got to put a pencil to it and see what our break-even point is.”

“Dad says if there’s anything out there, we’ve got to go get it.”

In some areas, the cost of getting it could be far too much. The price of farm diesel is about $3.22 a gallon and, once a farmer cranks up the big engine on a combine or tractor, the fuel goes quickly.

Just a few years ago, farmers were complaining about $2-a-gallon diesel prices.

“The southern and eastern parts of the county did well,” Gaitan said. “We’re just going to get all we can and figure out the damage later.”

Farmer Troy Berthold said 100 percent of the crop he planted this year was grain sorghum.

“We made a light crop,” Berthold said. “It’s just been a very dry year.”

“The wild hogs tore me up,” Berthold added.

He said he was lucky to get his crop harvested before the rains came this month. In years past, rain at harvest time has caused his grain to sprout, damaging its quality.

Berthold said some of the crops east of Beeville got an inch or more of rain just at the right time this year and that helped the milo a great deal in places.

“We started out so dry,” the farmer lamented. “We were lucky we made anything.”

But as bad as the situation was in Texas this year, it could have been worse.

Berthold said a friend in Illinois told him earlier last week that, if his crops did not get rain before the end of the week, “we’re going to have a complete failure.”

The farmer told Berthold that Illinois has not seen a drought this bad since the 1930s.

Of course, the drought in the Midwest is what is boosting grain prices, but no one wishes total failure on anyone.

Berthold said all the failed corn crops are going to create problems in the economy.

“Everything’s made out of corn. We’re fortunate we made what we made.”

Aaron Salge, who manages the Bee County Co-op in Tynan, was singing the same song.

As far as the corn crop, he said about the only grain his storage facilities have been getting has come from irrigated fields.

“We got a little from dry land farming, but it wasn’t anything to write home about.”

“We’re probably doing good to see a half of a normal crop,” Salge said. “Whatever normal is these days. There wasn’t a whole lot out there.”

He said the same thing that Gaitan said about grain prices this year. They are consistently going up because of the drought in the Midwest.

“Milo did a little better than corn,” Salge said. And there were some areas that did well, depending on whether they got any significant rain this year.

Salge said he has not gone out to check on the cotton much but he has heard farmers commenting on what crop they figure on getting this year.

“They’re wondering if it’s even worth harvesting,” Salge said. “The decision will have to be made by the insurance adjusters.”

Of course, it is still a little early to make any predictions on what kind of crop the cotton will make in some locations.

The plants are not yet matured, and the bolls have yet to open. Also, a lot of the cotton has not gotten very high this year, and the harvesting equipment would have to be almost run in the ground to harvest the crop.

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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