This year was a a somewhat rough year for farmers and ranchers in Grayson County who were dealing with the effects of last year’s hay shortage and heavy rains.
Grayson County Extension Agent of Agriculture and Natural Resources Marshall Tolleson said farmers and ranchers in Grayson County are shifting into recovery mode heading into next year as they look forward to the next season.
“It wasn’t a spectacular summer,” Tolleson said. “Early rains kept people from planting everything they wanted to. It was dryer than normal in June, July and August. We managed to harvest about 125 bushels per acre average for corn which is a respectable amount. People still made money off the acres they did plant and harvest.”
Tolleson said the pecan harvest was great this year and he expects the trade deal President Donald Trump is currently working on to open new markets.
“The phase one deal is good for farmers, it means we are able to trade with Chinese buyers and that has upped the demand for products,” Tolleson said. “That is helping the prices for beef, soy and corn.”
Tolleson said it the fall was a good time for planting wheat this year. He said it wasn’t as wet as last fall allowing farmers to get more planted. He said there are several who are alternating between corn and wheat and that the farmers never stop preparing for the next season. Farmers were able to plant corn instead of declaring their crops a loss like last year.
Tolleson said in Grayson County the strongest crops are corn, wheat and hay. He said hay typically goes towards feeding horses and cattle. He said there are some soy beans as well as pecans but they are not as prevalent. He said sorghum is another crop some farmers plant in the area.
The year started out with some uncertainty as the winter of 2018 and spring 2019 were very wetter than normal. Tolleson said farmers were only able to get about half of the crops planted farmers had hoped this year, which he said was still better than last year.
“The late drought in the summer limited yields somewhat,” Tolleson said. “We were worried that some of the corn might have aflatoxin. The fields we tested didn’t test positive so we escaped that. Conditions were also good for fall army worms but we were able to catch those early and manage that pest in a way it didn’t explode like it has in years past. People were more aware to look for fall army worms this year. We had more people out there warning about it, we were able to escape an outbreak.”
Beef ranchers had a little struggle early on due to a surplus of cattle. Tolleson said it came about as a result of the hay shortage. Many ranchers had to sell off parts of their herds they couldn’t maintain which flooded the market with product. The price of beef dropped dramatically on the producer side. Then there was a Tyson plant in Kansas that was shut down temporarily that was one of the largest processing plants for cattle.
“When we lost that plant we lost our ability to process our supply in a flooded market so that dropped the price even lower,” Tolleson said. “They have rebuilt the plant, it is slowly coming back to full capacity. It should be back by January to full capacity.”
He said the beef market should be better as higher international demand should stabilize the market. He said then the ranchers will be able to get back to profitable and continue on.
“Everyone was hit pretty hard,” Tolleson said.” We were drowning in rains and flooded fields while in west Texas and the pan handle was facing a pretty serious drought, The whole state for the most part is recovering. The cattle prices were the same no matter where you were. Everyone was in trouble, not just Texas the whole Midwest too. Parts of the Midwest only got 30 percent of their corn crop from this year planted. It was a rough year no matter where you were. It was great for pecans, rough for corn and sorghum, wheat and hay farmers but most of the farmers thrived and should be able to recover next year.”