Harvest forecast cloudy for corn
by Gary Kent
Jul 06, 2014 | 2388 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The amber waves of corn in Bee County are not expected to bring in as much money as farmers had hoped.
The amber waves of corn in Bee County are not expected to bring in as much money as farmers had hoped.
BEEVILLE – Although 2014 was another dry year for Bee County farmers, enough rain finally fell at just the right time to help produce some decent grain sorghum and probably a good cotton crop.

That’s what three farmers from different parts of the county are saying.

“It’s looking great considering what little moisture we got,” said Arturo Gaitan.

“The sorghum looks great,” Gaitan said. “It’s got its spots,” but overall the crop looks promising.

So does the cotton, Gaitan said. Although some of the cotton in his part of the county appears to have “played out,” recent rains apparently gave the plants just the boost they needed to produce some good bolls of the white fiber.

“We got a lot of surface moisture,” Gaitan said. That helped a lot because the ground did not have much subsurface moisture this year.

Gaitan said he will be running a combine in his sorghum fields by early next week in an effort to get the grain into an elevator as quickly as he can.

There is still a way to go before the cotton harvest begins. But because cotton tends to be a fairly drought-resistant plant, Gaitan has hopes that crop will pay off for him this year.

Mark Sugarek said he and his brother were already running combines in their sorghum fields.

“We’re actually harvesting today,” he said on Monday.

“It’s real muddy,” Sugarek said. “We’re doing everything in four-wheel drive.”

But like the other farmers, the Sugareks are anxious to get their sorghum into the elevators and out of the fields.

At this time of year, if the rains and damp weather set in, the exposed grain heads on sorghum could sprout, decreasing the value of the grain.

But Sugarek said the sorghum looks really good this year. And he agreed with Gaitan that “the rain has been real good for the cotton.”

“Right now we’re just trying to get everything dried down so we can get in and get it,” Troy Berthold said of his sorghum crop.

“We’ll be going in within 10 days,” he said.

Berthold said he planted about two-thirds of his fields in grain sorghum this year and the rest in corn.

The rains that did come have produced a better crop for Berthold than he has seen in recent years.

He called this year’s prospect “a little better than average.”

None of the farmers were ready to report on how their corn looks. The rains that did come might have been a little too late to make much of a difference in the outcome.

And as yet, the farmers were not sure what kind of threat they might face from the aflatoxins that often affect their corn.

Aflatoxins are a mold that forms in wrinkles that appear in drought-stressed corn kernels. As the name implies, the mold can be toxic in high concentrations.

The one problem that will affect all farmers in Bee County this year is the price at the marketplace.

The Midwestern states have been hammered this year with rains, and that part of the country is expected to produce a bumper crop of both corn and sorghum. That already has brought down the price at the market.

“Prices are down about 30 percent,” Berthold said.

Gaitan and Sugarek echoed Berthold’s concern about the price of grain.

“The Midwest is expecting a huge crop,” Sugarek lamented.

Gaitan said the price for grain is about $8.22 a hundredweight and dropping fast.

The prices of both corn and sorghum are closely related, all three farmers said. When the price of one drops, the price of the others follows.

When it comes to grain production, local farmers have stressed for years that the corn and sorghum crops here do not come close to what is produced in the Midwest.

There is a reason that part of the country is referred to as the breadbasket of America.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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