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Articles from 2004 In January


Watch for greenbug buildup in wheat

Moderate greenbug populations have been found in most area wheat fields and are beginning to colonize the plants as evidenced by mature greenbugs surrounded by the smaller immatures (nymphs). The local greenbug populations have not been established very long, but it would be prudent to keep a close eye on them.

When conditions are ideal for reproduction, populations can increase up to 20 fold in one week, although a five or six-fold jump is more likely. Greenbugs cause more damage than other aphids in wheat because they inject a toxin into the plant when they feed.

Heavily damaged plants may not recover, and do not produce a normal grain yield. Heavy feeding causes localized leaf tissue damage, which can ultimately cause death of the leaf. If several leaves are affected on small plants, the whole plant may die.

Growers should consider the following factors before making a greenbug spray decision:

  • Plant size – Large plants can tolerate up to three times as many greenbugs as small plants that have not completed the tillering process.
  • Fertility – Plants that are lush and actively growing can tolerate higher populations than plants that are under stress from inadequate fertility or unfavorable growing conditions.
  • Time of year – Late fall and early winter greenbug populations can explode, increasing by as much as twenty-fold in one week. This is because greenbugs thrive and reproduce rapidly in cooler temperatures that do not favor beneficial insects. Our most important beneficial, a tiny parasitic wasp, becomes active as temperatures increase. In late February and early March, this little wasp begins to parasitize the aphids, which rapidly reduces greenbug populations.
Greenbugs can be controlled with insecticides at a reasonably low cost. Since these are the heaviest populations we have seen in a number of years, growers should scout fields carefully for damaging greenbug populations and be prepared to treat if necessary.

Adding an insecticide to the topdress nitrogen application is a common practice in this region but is not sound. Topdressing before the middle of February can result in excessive nitrogen loss through leaching and denitrification, which would reduce potential grain yield by 6 to 15 bushels per acre.

When greenbugs are a problem this early, a better option is to spray the greenbugs and hold off the nitrogen application for a few weeks. Optimum time to dribble the nitrogen fertilizer solution on the crop would be between Feb. 15 and March 1. With wheat at $3.00, why give up $18 to $45 in wheat sales per acre just to save an application charge?

Jim Swart is Extension IPM specialist, and Don Reid is an agronomist with Texas A&M University-Commerce.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com

Kids learn origin of food, clothing

The LSU AgCenter participates in a variety of ongoing projects designed to teach young people and adults that much of their food, clothing and other necessities begin with farmers.

"Many people think food comes from the grocery store; they don’t know a whole lot goes on before it reaches the store," LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson said. "We want to break that trend by showing them that such industries as vegetable production and cattle production are integral parts in the food chain."

Richardson says the LSU AgCenter also works to let people know the importance of the state’s largest agricultural industry, forestry, in producing lumber for houses, wood products for furniture and much more. And, of course, the state’s cotton producers contribute the raw materials for everything from jeans and khakis to formal wear.

One example of a recent educational activity conducted by the LSU AgCenter and others was the successful Ag Alley that was part of the Northeast Louisiana Ag Expo.

Ag Alley contained exhibits featuring cotton, forestry and poultry, as well as a variety of other interactive displays for visitors.

LSU AgCenter agent Cynthia Stephens, who helped to organize and present the event in Monroe, said it was orchestrated with Louisiana students in mind.

"We wanted to set up a hands-on display about Louisiana's agricultural products that the students would both enjoy and learn from," Stephens said. "We also wanted the program to mesh with what they need to learn for taking their LEAP tests."

Josh Davis, an 11 year old who visited Ag Alley, said it was very interesting.

"I’ve never seen a cotton plant before," he said. "And, I don’t know too much about trees. But I do like looking at all this stuff. I especially like the animals."

Davis did have a little background with chickens, though.

"My pawpaw has chickens behind his house," Davis said. "He picks up the eggs every day, but he doesn’t let me, because he’s afraid I’ll break them."

New Orleans students had a similar experience in December with "Ag Awareness Day." About 400 students and teachers participated in the event that was designed to teach how agriculture affects their daily lives.

The event is presented each year by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with the Greater New Orleans Ag Coalition.

In another event, St. James Parish students take part in the "Fast Food Farm," where vegetables used to make fast foods are grown. The site also includes other facilities that are being fixed up to house a lab for the children to use.

"The children participate in planting, tending and harvesting the food while it grows," said Coleen B. Laiche, an LSU AgCenter agent in St. James Parish. "All the tools they need for working in the garden are available."

Food grown at the "Fast Food Farm" is donated to the needy and to organizations that serve them.

A similar project was conducted at the LSU AgCenter’s Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center this past summer. As part of that project, which involved the LSU AgCenter, along with the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, the Work Training Facility North and the Food Bank of Central Louisiana, 4-H’ers attending summer camp planted and tended a garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, squash and zucchini to give to people who come to the Food Bank.

The 4-H’ers also brought canned goods to summer camp for the Food Bank.

That project and others designed to serve the less fortunate are among the hallmarks of the Louisiana 4-H, which is targeted toward helping young people learn skills and attitudes that will be important to them throughout their lives.

"Learn by doing" is the 4-H club slogan, said Terril Faul, division leader for the LSU AgCenter’s Department of 4-H Youth Development.

"4-H members don't just read about things; they do them," Faul said. "Students in 4-H make things. They take part in club meetings. They learn interesting new things. They learn to follow, and they learn to lead. They help their neighbors and their neighborhoods through club activities."

Louisiana students in grades 4-12 can join 4-H. There also are collegiate 4-H Clubs at colleges and universities around the state.

In addition to the more traditional 4-H Club program and the topics students can study as part of that program, the variety of agriculturally related educational activities also are reaching out to even more young people.

Among those is another new attraction coming this spring that also will teach children and adults about agriculture.

That activity, dubbed "Ag Magic," replaces the mini-farm that formerly was conducted as part of the LSU AgCenter’s state livestock show.

It will take place April 20-29 in Parker Coliseum on the LSU Campus in Baton Rouge, and the activities and exhibits are being planned around five major themes – "Farm Animals In Your Life," "Farmers Wear Many Hats," "Getting Your

Garden Growing," "Forestry Is The No. 1 Ag Industry In Louisiana" and "Aquaculture," which will feature crawfish, catfish and alligators.

"There also will be farm machinery on display for children to explore," said Frankie Gould, LSU AgCenter communications director, who is in charge of Ag Magic along with Debbie Hurlbert from the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H department.

For more information on these and the variety of other educational activities on topics ranging from nutrition to family finances, go to www.lsuagcenter.com or call your parish LSU AgCenter office.

Denise Coolman and Tom Merrill are writers for the LSU AgCenter.

e-mail: dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

Survey: 9.5 percent more cotton acres

The survey, released at the NCC’s 65th annual meeting in New Orleans, said upland cotton plantings could reach 14.55 million acres, an increase of 9.3 percent from 2003’s 13.3 million acres. Extra long staple growers indicated they would seed 212,000 acres, an 18.6 percent increase from 2003.

The survey, which was mailed in mid-December to about one-third of U.S. cotton producers, points to a potential 2004 U.S. crop of 18.5 million, which would be only slightly above 2003’s 18.22 million bales.

Farmers in south Texas and Florida and south Georgia will begin planting in February, but the bulk of the U.S. crop will not go in the ground until late April or early May.

For the first time in several years, growers are comparing prices for cotton, corn and soybeans, the principle crops in the Sun Belt, that are substantially above the Commodity Credit Corp. loan rates for those crops, said the Cotton Council’s Gary Adams.

“In fact, as growers enter the coming season, prices are at their highest levels since the beginning of the 1998 planting time,” said Adams, the NCC’s vice president of economics and policy analysis. “Final acreage decisions will be based on expected returns of cotton and competing crops, but also must take into account agronomic considerations such as crop rotation.”

Based on survey results, the Southwest and Mid-South regions of the Cotton Belt show the largest increases with upland cotton plantings potentially up 12.8 percent and 10.3 percent. Growers in the Southeast and Far West could increase plantings by 2.1 percent and 7.0 percent.

One reason for the small increase in the Southeast in 2004 is because Georgia growers indicate a reduction of 6.1 percent to 1.22 million acres with intentions to shift acreage from cotton into soybeans and other crops, most likely peanuts.

The combination of higher prices and favorable yields appear to be the factors leading to the Mid-South’s increased upland area. The survey shows cotton plantings will expand partially at the expense of corn.

In the Southwest, the survey indicated Texas growers intend to plant 6.32 million acres, an increase of 12.9 percent from 2003. This is an outcome that stands in stark contrast to the survey results for Oklahoma, where growers are suggesting a decline in acreage of 6.1 percent, which would be their fourth straight annual decline.

Out West, Adams said that growers in Arizona intend to increase upland area by 12.9 percent to 243,000 acres while a 31.5 percent increase to 74,000 acres is indicated for New Mexico.

“For Arizona, the recovery in acreage would still be well short of acreage levels observed in 2000 and 2001, while New Mexico would recover to levels comparable to those years,” he noted.

With average abandonment, total upland and ELS harvested area would be about 12.94 million acres. Applying each state’s trend yield to its 2004 projected harvested acres generates a crop of 18.50 million bales, 17.93 million bales of upland cotton and 561,000 bales of ELS cotton. This compares to 2003’s total production of 18.22 million bales, according to USDA’s January 2004 estimate. Cottonseed production for 2004 is projected at 6.78 million tons, up from 6.69 million last year.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Column: $50 million for an Iowa rain forest?

I didn’t catch the talk show host’s reply because I rarely stop switching the dial to listen to such shows. But I couldn’t help but think how much out of touch with political reality the caller must be.

The odds of President Bush vetoing the $820 billion omnibus spending bill Congress passed Jan. 22 are about as good as those for this Congress renaming a Washington street in honor of Bill Clinton. That is, somewhere between none and less than none.

What the caller may not have realized is that this was the administration’s bill, and the 7,931 special projects like the indoor rain forest were added to attract votes. (The count comes from an article in The Washington Post, which estimated the projects’ total cost at $10.7 billion.)

The House passed the omnibus bill Dec. 8, but the Senate delayed consideration until it returned from the holidays. After a symbolic vote against cloture Jan. 20, enough Democrats switched sides to pass the measure, 65-28, Jan. 22.

Of course, what might be pork in some eyes – $1.8 million for exotic pet disease research in California, $200,000 for recreation improvements in the city of North Pole, Alaska, etc., could be porcelain in others.

The bill has cotton industry-supported projects – $1 million for research on a chemical tracer that will help identify the country of origin of textile and apparel products being transshipped through third countries – that could appear in future articles in the Post or New York Times.

Cotton producers know such a device could be important because of existing and potential free trade agreements that Chinese textile manufacturers could use to ship even more products into the United States through other countries.

But all senators like John McCain of Arizona and the national media see are rising deficits, and they don’t stop long enough to consider that technology for tracing apparel products could save what’s left of the U.S. textile industry.

It doesn’t help that Congress rolled the spending plans for agriculture and six other appropriations measures into an omnibus spending bill because it couldn’t pass them individually before the new fiscal year began Oct. 1. And the fact the indoor rain forest and other goodies were slipped in during closed conference committee sessions also raises suspicions about more of the same old pork barrel politics.

Cotton producers would like to know which Iowa senator or congressman added the rain forest to the bill. Whether Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley was involved or not, he had to know about it as a conference member. I wonder how much lower payment limits may have to be reduced to pay for an Iowa rain forest?

e-mail:flaws@primediabusiness.com

NCGA responds to sweetener study

Vaughan, a corn grower from Dumas, Texas, was responding to media reports about a new study critical of sweetener and ethanol provisions in the proposed CAFTA agreement that would include the United States and five Central American countries. The study is also critical of U.S. trade policy generally.

The study asserts U.S. trade policy will eliminate tariffs on imported sugar and ethanol - and that prices for these products would fall - making U.S.-produced corn sweetener and ethanol uncompetitive.

The study, called the "Buzzanell Study on the Effect of U.S. Sugar and Ethanol Tariff Elimination on the U.S. Sugar, Corn Sweetener and Ethanol Industries," also suggests U.S. corn growers should alter their policy calling for no exclusions in negotiations for free trade agreements.

But Vaughan says CAFTA, which includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, is a promising arrangement for U.S. corn producers.

"It's going to be a better agreement for U.S. corn farmers now that Costa Rica agreed to immediate tariff elimination for yellow corn," he said. "It guarantees access to roughly 1.5 million metric tons of imports ... of corn and that's about 60 million bushels."

While press reports have suggested CAFTA would be particularly unfavorable for the U.S. ethanol industry, Vaughan points out the ethanol trade is already governed by an existing trade deal.

"There's been a lot of misrepresentation about how CAFTA treats ethanol," said Vaughan. "CAFTA does not change the ability for ethanol to come in at all. The study just doesn't get it right. "Vaughan says NCGA strongly supports free and fair trade. The vast majority of the world's consumers, Vaughan explained, don't live in America.

"Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers are outside of our borders," he said. "One of our goals is to create new markets worldwide. We see free trade agreements as a way of doing that."

And while Vaughan says NCGA supports CAFTA, the association's Corn Board will conduct and in-depth review of the final agreement before endorsing it. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is expected to release the text of the agreement by the end of this week.

"Each commodity should have the right to decide on the final agreement," he said. "But a single commodity should not hold back the entire trade agenda for agriculture. We look forward to working with the USTR on CAFTA and we'll make a judgment whether we support it or not based on what is in the best interests of corn growers."

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

NCC: Cotton acres may be up 9.5 percent

The survey, released at the NCC’s 65th annual meeting in New Orleans, said upland cotton plantings could reach 14.55 million acres, an increase of 9.3 percent from 2003’s 13.3 million acres. Extra long staple growers indicated they would seed 212,000 acres, an 18.6 percent increase from 2003.

The survey, which was mailed in mid-December to about one-third of U.S. cotton producers, points to a potential 2004 U.S. crop of 18.5 million, which would be only slightly above 2003’s 18.22 million bales.

Farmers in south Texas and Florida and south Georgia will begin planting in February, but the bulk of the U.S. crop will not go in the ground until late April or early May.

For the first time in several years, growers are comparing prices for cotton, corn and soybeans, the principle crops in the Sun Belt, that are substantially above the Commodity Credit Corp. loan rates for those crops, said the Cotton Council’s Gary Adams.

“In fact, as growers enter the coming season, prices are at their highest levels since the beginning of the 1998 planting time,” said Adams, the NCC’s vice president of economics and policy analysis. “Final acreage decisions will be based on expected returns of cotton and competing crops, but also must take into account agronomic considerations such as crop rotation.”

Based on survey results, the Southwest and Mid-South regions of the Cotton Belt show the largest increases with upland cotton plantings potentially up 12.8 percent and 10.3 percent. Growers in the Southeast and Far West could increase plantings by 2.1 percent and 7.0 percent.

One reason for the small increase in the Southeast in 2004 is because Georgia growers indicate a reduction of 6.1 percent to 1.22 million acres with intentions to shift acreage from cotton into soybeans and other crops, most likely peanuts.

The combination of higher prices and favorable yields appear to be the factors leading to the Mid-South’s increased upland area. The survey shows cotton plantings will expand partially at the expense of corn.

In the Southwest, the survey indicated Texas growers intend to plant 6.32 million acres, an increase of 12.9 percent from 2003. This is an outcome that stands in stark contrast to the survey results for Oklahoma, where growers are suggesting a decline in acreage of 6.1 percent, which would be their fourth straight annual decline.

Out West, Adams said that growers in Arizona intend to increase upland area by 12.9 percent to 243,000 acres while a 31.5 percent increase to 74,000 acres is indicated for New Mexico.

“For Arizona, the recovery in acreage would still be well short of acreage levels observed in 2000 and 2001, while New Mexico would recover to levels comparable to those years,” he noted.

With average abandonment, total upland and ELS harvested area would be about 12.94 million acres. Applying each state’s trend yield to its 2004 projected harvested acres generates a crop of 18.50 million bales, 17.93 million bales of upland cotton and 561,000 bales of ELS cotton. This compares to 2003’s total production of 18.22 million bales, according to USDA’s January 2004 estimate. Cottonseed production for 2004 is projected at 6.78 million tons, up from 6.69 million last year.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Stanford named CCI president for 2004

Stanford, vice president of the Marketing Division at Plains Cotton Cooperative Association in Lubbock, also serves on the boards of the NCC, the American Cotton Exporters Association, the Texas International Cotton School and The Seam. He succeeds Robert A. Carson, Jr., a producer from Marks, Miss., who becomes CCI board chairman.

Other CCI officers elected for 2004 are: first vice president Gary W. Taylor, merchant, Cordova, Tenn.; second vice president David L. Burns, producer, Laurel Hill, N.C.; and treasurer Michael M. Adams, cooperative official from Greenwood, Miss. Mark D. Lange of Memphis, Tenn., was elected secretary and Allen A. Terhaar of Washington, D.C., was re-elected assistant secretary.

CCI elected five new directors for 2004: David L. Hand, cooperative official, El Paso, Texas; R. Dale Grounds, merchant, Richardson, Texas; William G. Winburne, merchant, Phoenix, Ariz.; Mark D. Williams, producer, Farwell, Texas; and Clyde T. Sharpe, producer from Yuma, Ariz.

Re-elected directors include: Robert W. Norris, cooperative official, Bakersfield, Calif.; Gail Kring, crusher, Lubbock, Texas; Thomas S. (Sid) Brough, ginner, Edroy, Texas; Robert W. Glassman, ginner, Fresno, Calif.; Jerry D. Rowland, manufacturer, Winston-Salem, N.C.;

Eduardo L. Esteve, Jr., merchant, Dallas, Texas; Rodger C. Glaspey, merchant, Fresno, Calif.; Adolph Weil, III, merchant, Montgomery, Ala.; Cliett A. Lowman, III, producer, Kingsville, Texas; Larry R. McClendon, producer, Marianna, Ark.; Ted D. Sheely, producer, Lemoore, Calif; Vance C. Shoaf, warehouseman, Milan, Tenn.; Owen J. (Trey) Hodges, III, manufacturer from Columbus, Ga.; Lawrence E. Starrh, producer, Shafter, Calif.; James L. Webb, producer, Leary, Ga.; and Lonnie D. Winters, cooperative official, Lubbock, Texas.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Alternative energy spotlighted at Mid-South Farm & Gin Show

Bio-based fuels continue to be a hot button topic in agriculture, given new impetus by the Bush administration's emphasis on ethanol.

Two experts in the field will be a part of the Saturday, Feb. 28, Ag Update session at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The session is entitled “Growing Mid-South Agriculture: Critical Perspectives on Trade, New Uses, and Legislation.”

“We feel extremely fortunate to have Brian Jennings, executive vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol, and Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering, a member of the House Agriculture and Energy and Commerce committees, to speak at this meeting,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the annual show.

“There is a great deal of interest in bio-based fuels, and we believe these two very knowledgeable people will be able to provide our farmers with current information on the topic.”

Also on the Saturday morning program, which starts at 8:30 in the convention center lobby auditorium, is Gary Adams, vice president of economics and policy analysis for the National Cotton Council, who will discuss key trade issues and cotton's future.

This year's exhibition, Feb. 27-28, is shaping up to be the largest in its 52-year history, says Price. “It's a complete sell-out, and we have a really outstanding lineup of exhibitors of equipment, products, and services.”

The completion of the expansion of the Memphis Cook Convention Center last year made available an additional 35,000 square feet of space, and the 2004 show will have over 200,000 square feet of exhibits.

“We've got a lot of new exhibitors and a lot of long-time exhibitors who've substantially increased the size of their displays.”

“We hope everyone is making plans to come to Memphis and take part in our big show.”

More than 400 exhibitors have signed up to be a part of the show, the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the South and the largest cotton equipment show in the nation.

It is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press, which also publishes the official show program.

“This will be a great opportunity for Mid-South growers to have some one-on-one time with representatives of these companies, and to get up-to-date information on markets, the outlook for Delta crops, and new developments in the cotton industry,” Price says.

Speakers for the Friday morning Ag Update session are Woody Anderson, the new chairman of the National Cotton Council, who will discuss issues confronting the industry in 2004; Riceland Foods chief executive officer Richard Bell, who will give his forecast for rice and grain crops; and Memphis cotton merchant William Dunavant, who will present his outlook for cotton.

The Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member organizations will also be holding their annual meetings during the week of the show. They include the Arkansas-Missouri Cotton Ginners Association, the Mississippi Cotton Ginners Association, the Tennessee Cotton Ginners Association, and the Louisiana Cotton Ginners Association.

Most association meetings and events, including an honors reception/banquet, will be held at the historic Peabody Hotel.

The annual meeting of the association will be Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m. at the Peabody.

Delta Farm Press will publish the official program for the show, which will be distributed to all subscribers in the Feb.13 issue and to the Alabama circulation of the Feb. 11 Southeast Farm Press. The program will also be available to all show attendees.

State Farm Bureau honors Keenum for service

Mark Keenum, chief of staff for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is the 2003 recipient of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation's prestigious Distinguished Service Award. Keenum, a native of Corinth, Miss., was honored by MFBF at the organization's annual winter meeting in Jackson, Miss.

“When it comes to providing service to agriculture, very few individuals have done more than our recipient of this year's Distinguished Service Award,” said MFBF president David Waide in his presentation to Keenum. “As a member of Sen. Thad Cochran's staff, Mark has always been available to Mississippi agricultural leaders to discuss agriculture issues. He frequently attends meetings with farmers where he discusses the latest issues and listens to their concerns.”

As an advisor to Cochran, Keenum, who holds a doctorate degree in agricultural economics from Mississippi State University, aided in the passage of the 1990, 1996 and 2002 farm bills and was honored in 1996 with the Farm Policy Commendation award.

He assumed his current role as chief of staff for Cochran in January 1997, a position that leaves him responsible for coordinating and managing all administrative functions of Cochran's Washington, D.C., and Mississippi offices.

“He has been honored for his service to agriculture in numerous ways,” said Waide, “including being named the 1997 alumni fellow for MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“He has been an invaluable person for Mississippi agriculture and an extremely effective advocate for the farmers of Mississippi. I am proud indeed to call him my friend,” said Waide.

Keenum, who returned to Mississippi to receive the award in person, called it “by far the greatest honor I have ever received. It's special for me because it comes from an organization as outstanding as the Mississippi Farm Bureau,” said Keenum.