Editor’s Notebook

Aug. 9, 2006—Things don’t look much better south of Dallas than they do to the north, but on a drive from Denton to Austin today, with brief stops in Temple and Troy, I did see corn that shows promise of making 100 bushels per acre.

I also saw fields that made virtually nothing. Some had been cut for silage; some had stalks about 3-feet high with little grain apparent. Most fields already harvested had the telltale strips left every 10 acres or so for insurance adjusters to evaluate.

Some milo had already been cut and baled for hay. I saw cotton that somehow struggled to reach 4-inches tall then bloomed and set a few sad bolls. A few fields had been left to the mercy of weather and weeds. Others show promise of half-a-bale, if all goes well. Most of the crop is already dropping leaves and bolls are opening.

I talked to a farmer in Troy who expects to average close to 100 bushels per acre on his corn crop. Early planting and a few timely rains, he says, made the difference. Folks who planted later made little or nothing. Early means late February to mid-March.

He had a disaster with wheat and says dry weather last fall delayed germination until January and then the plants did not vernalize. He salvaged as much as he could by turning his cattle on it.

Pasture land is brown in Central Texas, although some areas may show a little green, thanks to scattered rains that dropped as much as 1 inch on the parched black soils last week. The farmer says that little bit of rain may make post-harvest tillage possible.

I drive this stretch every time I come to either Austin or San Antonio: I-35 W through Fort Worth, south to Itasca and Maypearl, to Waco, Temple, Round Rock and Austin. Even from the highway, I usually see evidence of good crops, either covering the rolling hills with greens, whites and golds or with newly cut stubble indicating successful harvest. This summer, it’s mostly brown.

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