Year in review: 2010 good year for cotton crop

Argen Duncan

Agriculture this year saw good harvests overall, an increase in cotton and a little relief for dairy owners.

Floyd farmer Allen Deen said Roosevelt County had 75 percent more cotton than normal this year, and Kenny Whitecotton of Strippers Custom Harvesting estimated the county had 5,000 to 6,000 acres of the crop.

Predictions of and contracts with favorable cotton prices led farmers to plant more of the crop this year.

“It was one of the best yields we’ve had in our area, and price,” Deen said.

The price was the highest ever, he said. Many farmers had already signed contracts locking in a price before the market reached its high, but Parmer County Cotton Growers gin manager Craig Rohrbach said they were still doing better than in past years.

In addition, Rohrbach said a warm fall and late freeze allowed the cotton fiber to mature to its fullest, meaning a better U.S. Department of Agriculture grade.

In other 2010 agriculture news:

• After dairies struggled through milk prices below the break-even point in 2009, they saw a few months of relief with higher prices in 2010. However, before dairy owners could recover, prices began to drop at the end of the year, and feed costs were high.

Roosevelt County dairy owner Alan Anderson said milk prices weren’t so bad, but high feed prices were hurting profit margins.

However, forecasts and a recent Global Dairy Trade Event indicated milk prices might rise again a few months into 2011.

• The spring harvest of wheat for silage and hay brought in a good crop. Farmers attributed winter snow and spring rains to the success.

• The wheat for grain harvest also went well this summer.

“Wheat quality has been good; yields have been higher than average,” J.D. Heiskell and Co. Plant Manager Eldon Merrick said of the grain his company had taken.

Paul Stout, who farms near Grady and Broadview, said this wheat harvest was his first good one in about five years. He attributed the abundance to more winter snow than usual and follow-up spring rains.

• The milo crop harvested in early fall was bigger, healthier and more mature than in several years. People in agriculture gave heavy rain credit for the good crop.

According to Roosevelt County Farmer Randy Lieb’s numbers, prices doubled or more this year as well.

• The fall corn for silage harvest ranged from good to poor, depending on how much rain fields received, said Portales farmer Rick Ledbetter.

Also, the area is seeing more corn for grain raised dryland, instead of being irrigated, as is traditional. Roosevelt County Extension Agent Patrick Kircher attributed the increase to the development of drought-tolerant varieties, a good price for grain corn and the wet winter.

Local farmer Jerry Swenson said his dryland corn crop didn’t produce as much as he expected because, although the winter and spring were moist, the rain stopped late in the summer, when the crop needed it most. However, he said he would probably try the crop again.

• The peanut harvest this fall produced higher-than-normal yields and good-quality nuts.

The lack of rain late in the season also allowed farmers to finish early.

Roosevelt County farmer Craig Breshears estimated he was harvesting 10 percent to 15 percent more peanuts this year. He said the abundant moisture earlier in the year and heat in August and September caused the higher yields.

Early rain and heat helped the quality of nuts, too.