Farmers face problems every year that Mother Nature throws their way and are forced to make adjustments to their plans. Sometimes the adjustments work and sometimes they don’t. Joe Wilder farms in the Brazos River Bottom in Burleson County.
“In the spring, we went into our milo. It was trying to get dry, so we decided rather than put up rows we would plant it flat. Normally what we would do would be put it in rows. This year we didn’t because we thought we had enough moisture to get it up, and we go back and put our rows in after it had come up. Well, we planted a little bit damp and the ground got like concrete. We went in with a cultivator and it would just slide around on the ground, then we finally ran a big sweep cultivator through there to break it up thinking we could come back and throw up a row, but we still couldn’t.”
Not having rows made it impossible to irrigate.
“I’ve tried it and it don’t work. It goes every direction but the right direction.”
Wilder expects a yield loss of about one third.
“You’ve got to pretty well irrigate by the time that head emerges or right after, but it’s pretty well set by then, and so there’s really nothing we could do. If we’d have gotten a rain about the time that head was emerging, it would have helped us.”
But that didn’t happen, and a rain now might actually hurt the milo.
“Usually this time of the year, when you go to getting rains, then you go to having insect problems. Head worms will get in it and you’ll get mold. The milo will get dark and then they want to discount you on the grade.”
Wilder’s farm is diversified, so it’s hard to know what to wish for.
“The watermelons don’t need a rain. The milo don’t need a rain. The cotton and the beans could stand one, so we’re fifty-fifty. It doesn’t make any difference.”
And what about that flat planting experiment?
“We won’t do it again. That’s my last words. We won’t do it again.”