Why do people attend crop tours?
Longtime Extension Agent and crop tour attendee, Roy Parker, quoted the man who is known as the “Father of Extension.”
“What a man hears, he may doubt; what he sees, he may possibly doubt; but what he does himself, he cannot doubt,” said Seaman Knapp who is credited with creating the extension service on the Walter C. Porter farm in Terrell in 1903.
That first farm demonstration on the Porter farm spread as a practice the world over, according Parker, who has served 40 years in the service and participated in 36 crop tours.
In other words, crop tours help farmers decide what the best methods and practices are by taking a lot of the guess work out of farming.
Parker, who helped explain test plots of cotton, corn and sorghum during the Refugio County Crop Tour said he is going to retire from the Extension Service, but he probably will continue participating in crop tours.
“This thing turned out to be my hobby, not my job,” he said, noting he turned 70 years old in January.
He was not alone in his love for the tours.
“This year’s crop tour was a large success,” said Refugio County Extension Ag agent Michael Donaldson.
“The success of the tour comes from the Refugio County Row Crops Committee; without their commitment and dedication to providing educational programs for their fellow producers, we would not continue to have one of the largest tours in the Coastal Bend,” Donalson added.
Donalson, speaking for the committee, said he credited the sponsors of this year’s tour for its success.
This year’s tour began at Canales Cafe in Tivoli with a breakfast for participants.
There, Donalson announced four scholarship recipients.
Refugio County 4-H recipients of $300 scholarships were Cecilia Bauer, Logan Myers, Dragon Silvas and Lacie Beall.
Several sessions included one given by Richard Marburger who represents USAg recycling based in Waller.
Marburger urged farmers to collect their chemical containers (jugs) for free collection by his company.
The jugs must be rinsed three times, labels and caps removed to be picked up.
He said 42 states have used the service; 30,000 pounds were collected in 1990, and 8 million pounds were collected so far in 2013.
“They are being recycled and used back in the industry,” Marburger said.
He urged farmers to set up a collection day with the goal of 40,000 pounds to be accumulated before being hauled off.
Marburger said his company has mobile rigs with grinders on the back.
Also giving an update was Darrell Dusek with the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation out of Lubbock.
Dusek said last year, two boll weevils were captured.
“This year, zero weevils were captured,” he said.
Dusek also said his organization did not hire any seasonal workers this year.
“Primarily, two inspect this area,” he said.
Traps number 460 in Refugio County, and they are inspected every other week.
But it is the trapping that has brought boll weevil numbers down.
“I’m confident the only weevils we’ll be seeing are those being brought in,” he said.
Also, Jeff Nunley with the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association gave legislative updates.
Nunley called the last Legislative session “brutal” because of programs being cut.
“They put $1 million back for fiber research this session for the biennium,” he said.
Nunley talked about a national effort to protect farmers from boll weevils. Planned is to fund a buffer zone in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Our proximity of the Rio Grande Valley makes us the second most beneficiary,” he said.
He warned farmers about the increased penalties for overweight vehicles.
The increase penalties came from the oil and gas industry tearing up roads. Permits are being levied for overweight vehicles, but that includes all overweight vehicles.
Nunley also noted that farmers have to get certification for farm license plates.
He noted that the Senate passed the farm bill.
The House was to take up the Senate’s version Monday, June 17.
Nunley expressed hope the measure could be taken to the floor for a vote because South Texas can’t afford delays (insurance).
Also speaking at the tour was Professor Bill Thompson of Texas A&M-San Angelo.
Thompson touted a new fungicide called Top Guard. The fungicide battles cotton root rot.
“We actually had places that had tremendous results with this chemical,” Thompson said.
He noted that last year was the first year Top Guard was widely available.
He said research is asking to refine Extension recommendations for the chemical as well as measure the economic impact of it.
He said roughly, there has been an $8.5 million impact from its use.
“We know the product works. We’re just trying to gather some large scale data,” Thompson said.
And speaking of cotton root rot, Holly Lanmon of Lanmon Aerial Photography in Corpus Christi, said photography can be taken that pinpoints the exact locations of cotton root rot.
By pinpointing the rot, a savings on product to treat it can be made.
She said aerial photography also can reveal storm damage for insurance purposes and identify other problems a field might have.
Two stops were made on the morning tour: cotton varieties and a drift minimization demonstration.
The afternoon tour featured three stops on the tour, including varieties in cotton, corn and sorghum.
The following seed companies participated in the fields variety trials:
Cotton: Bayer Crop Science - Stoneville & Fibermax; Americot; Phytogen; Monsanto- Deltapine; All-Tex; Dyna-Gro; and Croplan.
Corn: Croplan; NKN; Dyna-Gro; Integra; Monsanto-DeKalb; B-H Genetics; Terral Seed; and Pioneer.
Grain Sorghum: Dyna-Gro; Monsanto-DeKalb; Terral Seed; Pioneer; and B-H Genetics.
Donalson emphasized the appreciated help from the Refugio County Row Crops Committee.
“With their help, we are able to provide a free educational program, social gathering with a meal, as well as four $300 scholarships to local 4-H members,” he said.
These programs and services provided by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are vital to the economy of Refugio County. Row Crop Production is an estimated $45 million industry in the county and is deep rooted in our history and heritage.