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Rural Land Pressures

Posted: 10/27/2006 - As the Brazos valley continues to grow it’s more and more common to see an area that once grazed cattle or grew crops turned into a subdivision for people to live in. We talked with a Hockley rice farmer about a farm that’s been in his family since 1846.

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Texas Agriculture’s Future

Posted: 10/27/2006 - If you look at USDA numbers beginning in 1855, there’s only one time land prices in Texas actually went down, during the 1980’s. Even in the 30s, land prices, although not appreciating, remained steady. Many conclude, from at least a historical perspective, betting on declining Texas land prices is not a wise wager. Dr. Charles Gilliland with Texas A&M’s real estate center says it’s a contest for space, and the more people there are, the higher land prices can go, and the urban sprawl can’t help but affect Texas agriculture.

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Spring Planting

Posted: 10/27/2006 - We are currently in the planting window for corn here in the Brazos Valley, but the lack of rain during the last few months had farmers anxious about whether or not there would be enough moisture to plant.

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Reduced Tillage Systems - Part One

Posted: 10/27/2006 - At a time when most farmers have whittled down input costs to the point there’s not much more that can be shaved off, a group of Texas A&M research and extension scientists are promoting a system that reduces or in some cases even eliminates tillage of the land. The reduced tillage system is enjoying acceptance all over the U.U. and is starting to catch on here in the Brazos Valley.

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Reduced Tillage Systems - Part Two

Posted: 10/27/2006 - When a farmer introduces a reduced tillage system into his operation, he ‘s usually counting on big savings in fuel costs because of the fewer number of passes he’ll be making with equipment over his fields. That may be one of the primary benefits, but there are positive impacts on the environment as well.

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Hippo Therapy/Horses Part 2

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Recognition of the therapeutic value of horses continues to grow for patients who have sustained head injuries, spinal cord injuries, childhood development disorders, and a variety of immobilizing diseases. Hippo therapy has patients work with occupational, physical, or speech therapists that use the horse as one of their most effective therapeutic instruments.

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Grape Farming - Part One

Posted: 10/27/2006 - In 1977, in cooperation with Texas A&M, 13 experimental vineyards were planted in Texas to learn what types of grapes grew best and where, and from that, local winery Messina Hof was born. Researchers discovered that different parts of the state mirrored different grape producing areas of Europe. Brazos county was found to be much like the southern part of France and Portugal, and that’s how Paul Bonarrigo chooses the variety of grape he would grow in Messina Hof’s vineyard here in the Brazos valley.

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Grape Farming - Part Two

Posted: 10/27/2006 - In 1977, there were 3 wineries in the state and Texas was last in wine production. Today there are 126 wineries, and Texas is the fastest growing wine-producing region in the country. Last week we looked at what it takes to grow grapes, but wine maker Paul Bonarrigo says growing and harvesting the grapes is just half of the job.

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Hay Production

Posted: 10/27/2006 - In 2005, Brazos Valley hay production levels were 40 to 45% of usual annual production rates. There was no hay produced in the fall, hay inventories were depleted, and the drought continued into the winter and early spring of this year. Local hay farmer Randy Britten gets calls daily from people all over the state looking for hay.

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Hay Input Costs

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Hay reserves are gone throughout the state of Texas, and there’s been little rainfall to help the majority of hay producers bounce back from a very dry year. Couple that with high oil prices, and you have a recipe for expensive hay.

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Rural Economies

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Have you ever been driven through a small rural area and wondered how the people who resided there made their livings? Most rural towns came into existence because of agriculture, and changes in Texas agriculture have led rural Texas to change from business as usual.

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Ethanol

Posted: 10/27/2006 - With the price of oil being at record highs, renewable fuels like wind energy, solar energy, bio-diesel, and ethanol are being discussed in congress. Ethanol is the most popular and could have a dramatic impact on Texas agriculture.

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Ethanol (Part II)

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Most of the gas in the U.S. that has an ethanol extender in it is an e-10 blend, meaning its 10% ethanol. An 85% ethanol blend is the way most ethanol enthusiasts would like to see the industry move, and as congress debates u.s. energy policy, the question is being asked why u.s. automakers haven’t produced more vehicles that can utilize e-85.

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Ethanol (Part III)

Posted: 10/27/2006 - A renewed interest in ethanol as a fuel has the potential of increasing the value of grain produced by our nation’s farmers. While a local plant producing ethanol would create a larger demand for grain locally, the plant wouldn’t be necessary to increase the price of the grain produced by Brazos Valley farmers.

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Marketing Grain Commodities

Posted: 10/27/2006 - There’s a saying in agriculture circles that ag producers are the only sector of our economy that pay retail for their production inputs, sell the product they produce wholesale, and on top of that have to take whatever a buyer’s willing to give them for it. That hasn’t really changed much, but marketing agricultural products sure has.

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Kettler Dairy/Grimes County

Posted: 10/27/2006 - June is National Dairy Month, and while it probably isn’t an event that’s on your party calendar, it does deserve at least a little thought about where some of those dairy goodies we all enjoy come from. No, milk, cheese, and ice cream don’t come from the grocery store, they all begin at a dairy, and we talked about life on a dairy with a family just down the road in Navasota.

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The Liere Dairy

Posted: 10/27/2006 - June is National Dairy Month, and last week we looked at a Grimes county dairy that’s been surrounded by the growth that’s occurred in Navasota. Now, Joe Brown takes a look at the only cow dairy in Robertson county, run by a family forced out of the Houston area.

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The Schroeder Dairy

Posted: 10/27/2006 - June is National Dairy Month, and in this edition of From the Ground Up, Bob French takes a look at a couple of Grimes county farmers who were in the dairy business together for 30 years.

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The Future of Texas Dairies

Posted: 10/27/2006 - In the 1930s, Texas had somewhere in the neighborhood of six thousand dairies. Today there are fewer than 900. We talked with a representative of the Texas Association of Dairymen about those reduced numbers.

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Brazos Valley Cotton

Posted: 10/27/2006 - For the past couple of years, Texas has had record cotton crops, but this year it’s a completely different story. The drought that has plagued the state could result in the loss of almost 2 million of the 6 million acres of cotton planted.

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Brazos Bottom Watermelons

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Five years ago a farmer growing watermelons in the valley began an experiment to see if watermelons could be successfully grown commercially here in the Brazos Valley. Today he works out of a distribution center here that ships watermelons all the way to New York City, Chicago, and even Canada.

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Brazos Bottom Watermelons (Part 2)

Posted: 10/27/2006 - Growing watermelons commercially has almost become a high tech venture with drip irrigation and weekly lab analysis of the vines to detect any micronutrient deficiencies. The growing techniques are a stark contrast to harvesting procedures. Harvest is completely done by hand.

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Brazos Valley Harvest

Posted: 10/27/2006 - If you do any driving through the rural areas of the Brazos Valley at this point in the year, you’ll notice it’s harvest time. If you’re involved in production agriculture, you’re usually always wishing for something from Mother Nature. Ranchers need a rain, and right now rain is the last thing a farmer trying to bring in a crop wants.

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Texas A&M Beef Short Course

Posted: 10/27/2006 - The Texas A&M campus had almost 1500 beef producers visiting this week attending the beef short course that’s offered annually this time of the year. They began with a pep talk from the agricultural leadership for the Texas A&M system.

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Beef Markets

Posted: 10/27/2006 - This time of the year, there are two segments of production agriculture that are wishing for opposite things. In our part of Texas, harvest has begun, and the last thing a farmer needs when he trying to bring a crop in is rain. Ranchers, on the other hand are usually desperate for rain in august, and even though cattle prices have remained strong, the lack of rain has taken a toll.

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