An agricultural look ahead at the 2014 season
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Looking to stay on top of what's happening in agriculture? Here are some sites that might help:
• Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service: agrilifeextension.tamu.edu
• Texas Department of Agriculture: texasagriculture.gov
• United States Department of Agriculture: usda.gov
The crops are harvested, the farm and ranch show is over, and there's a bit of autumn chill in the air. Still, for anyone in agriculture, the work never ends.
There's always next year to consider. Crossroads agriculturists say they're hopeful for the year ahead.
2014 means updated Tier 4 B engines for tractors and other large equipment, said Robert Knezek, territory manager for Case IH.
The re-engineered engines meet new emissions regulations set by the government, he said, and all manufacturers must meet the new goal.
"That's probably the biggest change we'll see," he said.
T. Saunders, who works in sales at ATS Irrigation Inc., said he expected next year to bring much the same weather pattern as this year brought. That means a dry summer with rain at odd times.
"There's no way to predict how many inches they'll get a month," he said.
Such a situation is bad for farmers, Saunders said, but raises people's interest in irrigation systems. Other ongoing issues, however, might keep some people from pulling the trigger on a watering system for their land.
"There are concerns with groundwater issues," he said. "People need to know what they can pump and when."
Charlie Cook, with Crop Production Services, said he expects a more positive attitude overall among growers for the upcoming year, largely because of recent rains. People are a bit more optimistic, he said, and the price prospects are good.
With natural gas and fuel prices down, it also means fuller wallets.
"Farmers know what their budget is, and any decrease in expenses means more to invest," he said. "It's a net gain."
Allen Gabrysch, also with the crop production company, added that cotton could make a larger appearance in the Crossroads in 2014.
A number of growers mentioned possibly adding more acres, he explained, due to an uptick in prices.
Recent moisture also bodes well for next year's cattle season, said George Hood, board president of the Victoria County Farm Bureau. When a rancher goes into winter with some cover on the ground, it's encouraging.
Hood, a Victoria County rancher, said many producers - himself included - culled their herds fairly recently. He said he culled some of his older cattle but kept the younger stock to prepare for the seasons ahead.
It can, he admitted, be disheartening.
"You spend five years with a cow; then you have one bad year, and nothing," Hood said.
Still, he said prices are strong now, and he hopes to see the same hold true down the road. Now, what the region needs is to make it through the winter in good shape and on into spring.
Travis Sternadel, with Northside Ranch, Pet and Garden Center, said it's difficult to gauge upcoming seasons simply because agriculture is so dependent on the weather. Because his shop serves both the agricultural side and the urban side, however, he said it maintains a healthy balance.
"If we lose on ag, we gain somewhere else," he said.
It takes plenty of heart and faith to work in agriculture, Sternadel said, noting a farmer friend he has in Hallettsville who plants every year.
"The last two years, it was dry. He got nothing," he said. "But every year, he's out planting again. It isn't easy."