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TODAY’S FARMER: Trying to feed the world

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

today's farmer 001I just got through harvesting 18 different varieties of wheat out at Motlow College … Jerry Ray is good enough to take time to fool with me! Out of 18 varieties we had an 89-plus average yield. Some 36 years ago when I came to the county our wheat yields were 30-40 bushels. We have over doubled our wheat yields in 35 years.

Corn has progressed just as well. Our average yields over the country are more than150 bushels per acre. When I was in high school, a farmer in the Midwest produced 100 bushels on an acre.

What has led to all this? Better varieties, chemicals, fertilizer and better management practices. Over the past 30 years, the turning plow has become extinct. We no-till everything, saving our soils and lowering the labor and expense of producing a crop.

We also have GMOs, which are genetically modified plants. This is how we got round-up ready soybeans and corn.  We also have plants with resistance to worms that has helped tremendously with production. The ingredient is a biological not even a poison.

Over 90 percent of the seed we use today is some type of GMO. Without all this new technology our feed would be much higher. What I think about is that it is believed that by the year 2050 the population of the world will double.  Can we farmers double our production again in the next 37 years?


Gardening 101

I’ve had several calls about tomatoes. Gardeners are saying their tomato leaves are turning brown at the bottom.  This is early blight. If you don’t get a fungicide on them it will kill the whole plant.

There are two fungicides we recommend for early blight. The one I’ve used for years is Manzate, which still does a good job. The second is Chlorothalonil. These are the only two recommended for early blight.

To do a good job you need to spray once a week and/or after every rain. You have to keep the chemical on the plant for it to work. I get complaints that the chemicals are not working then after questioning them they are not spraying as they should.

Apparently we are going to have the Japanese Beetles this year. My wife’s roses were covered with them last week.  Sevin, Malthion, Eight and other insecticides will kill them. They can strip your plants in a hurry, so watch for them closely and get a material on them before they eat everything.

It’s the time of the year for the squash borer. If you go out and see a squash plant wilted down overnight and you split the stalk, you’ll probably find the borer, which is a big worm living inside the stalk. To control them, you have to kill the adult before she lays the egg on the plant.

When the egg hatches it moves to the inside of the plant and it’s impossible to kill it.


Summer spraying

We need to be real careful spraying pastures this time of year. If you decide to spray, I would use 2-4D Amine. All our other products for pasture have 2-4D in them and can drift easily when the temperature is above 80 degrees. We need to do most of our pasture spraying in the spring or fall. 2-4D Amine does not drift near as bad as Ester, but it is not as strong on a lot of weeds as the 2-4D Ester.


Hay thermometers

We have hay thermometers to check moisture available for sale at the office. They are 20 inches long and are $17 each.

Remember, if I can be of any assistance, please give me a call (931) 759-7163.

 —By LARRY MOOREHEAD, U.T. Extension Agent and County Director (The U.T. Extension office of Moore County offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, age, national origin, veteran status or disability.)