Issue 11 of Ag Mag

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Michelle Martin Owner/Editor (956) 330-8870

Al Benavides

Graphic Designer (956) 492-6407

In This Issue:

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

A Letter from the Editor It is the time of year again to dig out the flip flops, sun screen and beach gear. Who am I kidding? We live in the Rio Grande Valley. It almost feels like summer year round. So I am not sure it is going to take much digging. But whether you have to dig out the old stuff, or buy new gear, I am sure many of you are planning your summer vacations. Planning on what to do with the kids this summer, you may look back on the previous months and be surprised at how time flies, or how much has changed in such a short amount time. Change is always occurring. I thought I was good at adapting to change, but after having a child I realized I wasn’t as good at accepting change as I had thought. This change, however, has been the BEST change I ever could have imagined. I love being a mom, while at the same time taking care of my other baby the Ag Mag. I see how much has changed with my baby, my life and my magazine in five short months. It’s incredible to see how fast my baby has grown; the same goes for my magazine. I bet you farmers see how fast a crop can grow with proper care and maintenance. I know you kiddos who have show animals watch your small animal grow. The rancher likewise watches his herd of cattle grow. With proper care anything can grow, it changes from stage to stage. While change always has and always will happen, thankfully for us some things remain constant – like God’s goodness. We are God’s children and He always provides and gives us proper care in order for us to live day to day. God always takes care of His children. I believe that in order to help things grow and adapt to change, God gives us people to rely on. To the farmer - you rely on the weather (although constantly unpredictable), your seed dealer, chemical reps, work hands, etc... To the rancher - you rely on your good cowboys, work hands, feed stores, etc... To others - you rely on your CPA to get your taxes done, you rely on the grocery store to provide you groceries, the stores rely on the farmer to provide the food. We all rely on one another to live and grow within our hectic ever-changing lives. I would not have this magazine without many of you. Thank you to the writers, my advertisers and my readers. Without you, this magazine would be nothing. Without the farmer and rancher, I would not be able to feed my family. And for a little humor, without my husband I am not sure I would not be able to properly change a diaper or stay up at night to feed the baby. We all help and rely on one another. With that help, it is so important to thank those who have helped you become who are today, and help you get by on those days you don’t think you can. So, in the midst of our busy lives, I encourage you to thank someone who has helped you get where you are today. Even thank someone for ringing up your grocery bill. A simple Thank you and smile can CHANGE someone’s day.

Owner/Creator of AG MAG

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Increase Sorghum Yields by Maximizing Seed Weight Algodon Royal Court 2016 Texas AgrAbility-Helping Veterans Coast to Coast K-9 Teams Texas Gulf Shrimp

Featured Farmer Story

From Brush to Cultivation

Sorghum Versatility Will Be Key This Year Hidalgo Co. 4-H 2016 Scholarship Banquet A History of South texas Agriculture

Page 30 FFA/4-H 2016 Calendar Page 32 Star Show Photos Page 34 RGV Livestock Show Photos Page 36 Page 40 Page 41

SILICON-The “Miracle” Trace Element LMC $ELLABRATION V WEEKEND Sugarcane Aphid In The RGV 2016

Page 44 Page 47 Page 51 Page 52 Page 55 Page 61 Page 62 Page 64

Metrics For Success Young Farmer Grant Love For The RGVLS with Ruben Diaz Cowboy Church & Horses Calendar of Events Vitaferm RGVLS Redfish Rodeo Brookside Agra-H2O Excel Texas Dept. of Agriculture Supports Farmers Markets in Texas

Volume 2, Issue 5. May/June 2016. No part of this publication can be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Ag Mag reserves the right to edit, rewrite or refuse editorial materials and assumes no responsibility for accuracy, errors, omissions or consequence arising from it. All correspondence to the publication become the property of Ag Mag.

Ag Mag is published bi-monthly © 2016. To advertise in Ag Mag, call (956) 330-8870 or email


Sorghum Yields by Maximizing Seed Weight bY Michelle Macha Sorghum Checkoff Communications Manager


aximizing yield is as important as ever, and producers in South Texas should be aware of a few management techniques to help maximize their sorghum production.

Grain sorghum’s final yield is made up of three components - the number of heads per acre, the number of seeds per head and individual seed weight. Well into the growing season, many sorghum fields in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley have headed, or soon will be heading, meaning each field already has a set number of heads. This number is based on seeding rating and tillering. In addition, the potential seed number per head was determined at about the fifth leaf stage to just before boot. However, the actual seed number and individual seed weight that will make it to harvest can still be affected by management decisions and weather. “Management decisions at this point are mostly limited to controlling insects and avoiding water stress by irrigating,” said Brent Bean, Sorghum Checkoff agronomist.



According to Bean, research has consistently shown that avoiding water stress during the final growth stages will have a positive effect on final yield. During flowering and early grain fill, sorghum will often use 0.3 inches of water daily. A consistent supply of water during this time will lead to better seed set and higher kernel weight. “Anything we can do to reduce additional stress on sorghum being grown under limited water conditions will be reflected in more potential yield,” Bean said. Once sorghum is established, there are two critical growth stages when lack of nitrogen will have a significant impact on yield. The first occurs approximately 30 days after emergence when sorghum is entering a rapid growth period. In order to support this rapid growth, adequate nitrogen must be present. The second key stage is at or just prior to the boot stage, which occurs approximately one week prior to heading. Nitrogen at this time is needed for good pollination, grain set and grain fill. In addition, if high yield potential is present, growers who have the ability to apply a late application of nitrogen may want to consider

it. However, growers should take into account how much nitrogen has already been applied to meet the needs of the crop. Sorghum requires 1.1 pounds of nitrogen for every bushel of yield. “If the nitrogen amount is lacking based off of the potential yield, growers should consider applying 25 pounds of nitrogen at the early soft dough stage or earlier,” Bean said. “Providing adequate nitrogen to the sorghum plant throughout the growing season will go a long way in boosting grain sorghum yields.” As sorghum fields near the final growth stages, Robert Bowling, assistant professor and Texas AgriLife Extension entomologist in Corpus Christi, Texas, said producers should be on the lookout for a number insects that could potentially impact yields. “Right now in the valley, and certainly as we move further into May, scouting for insects is going to be very important for sorghum producers, especially in the later planted fields,” Bowling said. Two insects that often cause issues around heading time and early grain fill are head worms and sorghum midge. Yield loss associated with head worms comes from the insect chewing on the kernels, resulting in the loss of grain. Some of the later planted fields tend to be more susceptible to sorghum midge. To know the presence and population in a sorghum field requires proper inspection. “Monitoring is extremely important with any insect pest,” Bowling said. “It is important to scout. Start early, monitor those populations and treat it if it needs to be treated.” In 2015, sorghum fields in South Texas were affected by an unexpected pest – the rice stink bug. This pest feeds directly on the developing grain, resulting in shriveled kernels and lighter test weights. While sorghum farmers should still be weary of this pest,

Bowling said there have not been any early reports of the pest developing in fields this year. In recent years, the sugarcane aphid made its way into South Texas sorghum. However, Bowling said farmers and consultants are doing an excellent job of staying on top of the insect, and he does not foresee a big issue with the pest as long as farmers continue to scout for it. “I think we are well aware that it has the potential to be a serious pest in sorghum, but it is getting to the point where sorghum producers and consultants are aware of the threshold,” Bowling said. “They are scouting the insect more readily, and they understand the thresholds. So, the insect is really becoming one that is carefully monitored, and it is not really that huge issue we saw in 2013 and 2014.” Bowling said overwintering sugarcane aphid populations were building rapidly through January and February, but significant rainfall in the first part of March slowed them down. Though they do not seem to be posing a major threat in South Texas this season, Bowling said sorghum growers can avoid potential infestations by watching populations early and managing the pest when needed. “Every year is different, and it can be anything, any insect, that can limit sorghum production,” Bowling said. “The big things farmers need to understand is that any year and any insect can have an outbreak when you get large populations.” By keeping water stress and insect pressure under control and ensuring nitrogen levels are in check, sorghum growers stand a better chance of maximizing yields and increasing profitability.

For more information on sorghum management, visit

Right now in the valley, and certainly as we move further into May, scouting for insects is going to be very important for sorghum producers, especially in the later planted fields. – Robert Bowling

M AY / J U N E



M AY / J U N E



Texas AgrAbility helping military veterans, agricultural producers with disabilities Article reprinted by permission of Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

COLLEGE STATION – Tim Smith, who has a degenerative bone disease, is the owner of S&L Farms in Anderson — a 28-acre yearround organic agricultural operation producing a variety of vegetables, as well as laying hens and Thanksgiving turkeys.

Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Smith was able to obtain a new tractor and rototiller. The tractor was then adapted to his specific needs by adding new hand holds, a power inverter and a quickrelease system for the new implements.

For years, Smith, now 54, had to work his land with a 1948 Ford tractor and rototiller or plow with implements either built for the antique tractor or designed to be pulled by a horse. But that was before he found out about the Texas AgrAbility Project administered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, part of the Texas A&M University System. “We had to start in January to get ready to plant in March,” he said. “It took two months to do field work that should only take four to five days.”

“This last year, we were able to plant about 2,000 tomato plants in two weeks, where before it would have taken us about a month to plant only 100,” Smith said. “And recently a financial advisory team from Texas A&M came out and did a projected financial analysis of the farm for the next 20 years, so I could use that as a basis to ask for additional funding.”

Along with having to use outdated and uncomfortable equipment, Smith’s condition had been growing progressively worse, partly severing his S1 nerve and making it increasingly difficult to perform daily work activities. “I have limited to no feeling in my feet and legs,” explained Smith. “Where most people can feel where to put their feet, I have to look down to see where I need to put mine.” While at their local tractor supply company, Smith’s wife Stacey learned about Texas AgrAbility while flipping through a magazine. She suggested Tim contact Texas AgrAbility to see if they might have some ideas on how to make daily tasks less difficult. “The Texas AgrAbility program sent an occupational therapist and a mechanical engineer from Texas A&M University to evaluate the operation, look at the equipment and make recommendations,” Smith said. After years of collaboration with Texas AgrAbility and through funding provided by the



Agriculture is a high-risk occupation, and farmers and ranchers who are injured or disabled often have a difficult time remaining in production agriculture, said Dr. Rick Peterson, Texas AgrAbility Program director, College Station. “Our goal is to assist, connect and empower producers, their family members and employees with disabilities or chronic health conditions so they can remain in production agriculture,” Peterson said. Texas AgrAbility, which has served thousands of farmers and ranchers throughout the state through direct contact, education and referral, came into existence through the 1990 Farm Bill. It is part of the National AgrAbility program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Texas AgrAbility Project was established in part by a grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Additional support for serving its clients has been provided through the USDA’s Risk Management Agency and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

“Our staff members have experience in production agriculture, occupational therapy and agricultural engineering,” Peterson said. “We make site visits and provide recommendations for equipment adaptation, home modifications or any additional adaptive equipment that may be needed for a farm or ranch operation”. “We also connect farmers and ranchers with service providers who can assist them through training and technical assistance, as well as information and resources needed for their specific type of agricultural operation, such as assistive technology.” Peterson said some of the assistive technology available to farmers and ranchers may include uniquely designed tools and equipment, lifts for trucks and tractors, modified all-terrain vehicles, special wheelchairs with action tracks for rough terrain, motionsensing solar-powered gates, even modified milking machines. He said that from the Texas A&M University System alone, Texas AgrAbility draws expertise and skills from agricultural engineers, economists and agribusiness development professionals, occupational therapists, program specialists and AgriLife Extension agents throughout the state. “There are currently about 50,000 people involved in production agriculture in Texas who are affected by disabilities or chronic health issues,” Peterson said. “Ultimately, what we want to do is keep producers in the field and in the driver’s seat – both figuratively and sometimes literally — of their agricultural operations.” Another agricultural worker Texas AgrAbility is helping keep in the driver’s seat is Preston

Northrup, 59, a hay farmer in Brenham who sustained a spinal injury four years ago, which ultimately left him paralyzed from the knees down. Northrop has spoken at AgrAbility workshops, sharing his experiences as a person with a disability who has remained involved in production agriculture. “AgrAbility brought a team of people to assess my operation and see my personal situation and my difficulty in getting on the tractor and out to the fields,” Northrup said. “They planned out what they thought I would need and then whether we thought it would work.” Student volunteers from the FFA chapter at A&M Consolidated High School heard about the project and got involved as part of what is now the project’s Leadership with Educational and AgrAbility Programs, or LEAP — a mutually beneficial partnership between Texas FFA chapters and Texas AgrAbility. The students made needed modifications to Northrup’s tractor, allowing him to control with only his arms.

The Texas AgrAbility Program also has a special interest in addressing the possibilities for ranching or farming by active duty and former members of the military, Grenwelge said. “Among all U.S. states, Texas has the second largest number of military veterans,” she said. “About 45 percent of returning vets are from rural areas, and we want to enable them — whether or not they have a disability — to return to the area of production agriculture they choose.” “ It’s often difficult for military veterans to find gainful civilian employment after their service”, said Erin Kimbrough, Texas AgrAbility’s program coordinator and military workshop coordinator who presents programs throughout the state. “That becomes more difficult when you’re living in a rural area, and even more difficult when you are a person with a disability,” Erin Kimbrough said. “However, those who have served their country typically show the sort of independence, commitment and work ethic needed to succeed in an agriculture-based business.”

“The AgrAbilty folks gave me some other helpful suggestions, like installing a solarpowered self-opening gate, so I don’t have to get off my tractor,” he said. “Everything the students and AgrAbility folks did helped me do more work and feel more secure about operating all my equipment. They helped give me back the freedom to do things by myself.”

One of Texas AgrAbility’s most popular programs, “From Battleground to Breaking Ground: A Transformational Journey,” was designed with input from AgriLife Extension, Texas AgrAbility, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, the National Farmer Veteran Coalition, Farm Service Agency, Texas Department of Agriculture, nonprofit organizations and others. Along with a presentation by a veteran currently involved in production agriculture and overview of the Texas AgrAbility program, the workshop provides information on resources available for funding, business plan development, resource networking and more.

Dr. Cheryl Grenwelge is Co-Project Director. She is the liaison for services through the Texas Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Center for Disability, as well as, multiple other disability organizations. “I grew up on ranches in multiple states, so having a personal background in production agriculture and a professional background in working with people who have disabilities,” Grenwelge said. “This gives me a unique insight and understanding of what individuals who are in production agriculture and also dealing with a disability may require.” Grenwelge, who noted that the average age of a farmer or rancher in the U.S. is currently about 60 years old, said fewer and fewer people in production agriculture are being relied upon to provide the food, fiber and other agricultural commodities needed.

Audra Berry and her husband Sean, both former military, have attended the Battleground to Breaking Ground workshop. The couple, currently involved in two different agribusinesses – one a family hay-farming operation and the other a pastured poultry business between Richards and Anderson — is also investigating the possibility of starting an organic garden operation in the future.

“It is not only in our social interest, but also our economic interest to keep as many people as possible involved in production agriculture,” she said. “This includes people with a condition acquired through a catastrophic accident or as a result of an ongoing health situation, such as arthritis, that limits employment or the performance of work tasks.”

“The workshop was very helpful in allowing us to network with others who are current and former military involved in agribusiness,” Audra Berry said. “We were also able to find out more about financing, which we’re now in the process of requesting through the Farm Service Agency. “And the business planning information was helpful, as was hearing from other veterans who are now actively involved in agribusiness. I think the networking was the most important thing – being able to learn from others in the same sort of business.” Erin Kimbrough said Texas AgrAbility also provides information and support to military and non-military women involved in production agriculture through these workshops. Another

military veteran who has benefitted from Texas AgrAbility is Doug Havemann, a former Army in Desert Storm. Havermann and wife Melissa operate Mesquite Field Farm, which they describe as “a small off-grid cottage farm located southeast of San Antonio.” “We produce rotationally grazed grass-fed beef on about 20 acres in Nixon,” said Havemann, who left the service in 1998. “We don’t use any chemicals on our cattle or the farm for that matter, nor do we feed them grain. Our cattle eat grass. After ensuring we had adequate grass for the cattle, we began operations in earnest in 2013. “We made good decisions and last year we were able to increase the number of livestock on the property. And 2014 looks to be a great year. In fact, we’ve already sold out of our grass-fed beef to date.” Havemann said he learned about and attended the Battleground to Breaking Ground program while attending a farm and ranch show last year on the San Antonio Livestock Exposition grounds. “At the program I got a lot of good information about business planning,” he said. “I only regret that I didn’t find out about Texas AgrAbility sooner — and about possible funding through the Young Farmers Grant. At 46, I’m just one year too old for that. I guess the main thing I took away from the program was that I was delighted that people were finally talking about the ways current and former military could get involved in production agriculture.” Erin Kimbrough also oversees the Leadership with Education and AgrAbility Programs effort, which is seeking to bring FFA and 4-H members into the fold. “LEAP provides a mutually beneficial partnership between Texas FFA chapters and Texas AgrAbility,” Erin Kimbrough said. “Benefits include incorporating students with disabilities into agricultural science programs, service-learning projects that provide a meaningful way of applying leadership and educational skills to address a community issue, and project opportunities to meet individual student interests. Texas AgrAbility is successful because of the interest and involvement of many agencies and organizations throughout the state,“ Peterson said. “ We realize that people with a disability are proud people, but everyone needs help from time to time,” he said. “There are agencies, organizations and groups in Texas that can help farmers and ranchers with a disability, as well as current and former military members, disabled or not, become successful in production agriculture. We want to let people know we’re here and will help them if we can.”

For more information, go to or call 979- 847-6185 M AY / J U N E




As Huanglongbing (HLB) also known as citrus greening disease spreads across the U.S., investment in early detection technologies is vital to the health of the citrus industry. Getting tested technologies into the hands of citrus growers is the mission of the Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination (HLB MAC) Group and the impetus for the $20 million of investment the Group has made in Huanglongbing projects since early 2014. Coast To Coast K9 Teams, LLC, a canine detection training and canine team service provider, headquartered in New Smyrna Beach, Florida entered into a cooperative relationship with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in October 2013. Coast to Coast K9 Teams has been assisting in the research and development of a science-based methodology to enhance early detection of high-risk, domestic, emerging and exotic, plant pathogens that threaten US agricultural commodities, via canine detection. The specific focus pathogens related to this project are important citrus diseases, Asiatic citrus canker (ACC) and citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) and have recently initiated a project on canine early detection of plum pox virus (PPV), a serious disease of stone fruit trees as well. The HLB-focused research is funded by a $1.3 million grant from the HLB MAC Group, led by USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The main citrus project consists of a four phase study, USDA-ARS team and Coast To Coast K9 Teams, LLC have been working together to determine volatile strengths necessary to optimize individual dogs to high and low disease incidence, and to determine sensitivity to various ages of the infection. The results of the research throughout the phases have been extremely successful as the trained detection dogs are detecting the diseases at a 99.8% accuracy throughout the research process conducted by the USDA-ARS research team, led by Dr. Tim Gottwald. The HLB detection dogs have been trained in new plantings and mature

citrus blocks and can detect individual HLB-infected trees in grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime and mandarin plantings. Their training has made them very sensitive to the unique volatile signature (scent) given off by HLB-infected trees and the dogs indicate HLB infections (alert by sitting and staring) in both HLB-symptomatic and HLBasymptomatic (newly infected but symptomless) trees.

Coast To Coast K9 has successfully trained or are training: • • • •

2 Citrus Canker Detection Canines - Fully Trained 10 HLB Detection Canines - Fully Trained 5 HLB Detection Canines - Phase One of Training 5 HLB Detection Canines – Slated to be purchased May, 2016 and begin training

Upon completion of the research study and in preparation of the commercialization process, Coast To Coast K9 Teams with the guidance of the USDA-ARS research team have developed a canine training protocol and will maintain a citrus agricultural disease detection organization (ICAADD – International Canine Assn for Agricultural Disease Detection) for the purpose of canine and handler training and certification. This organization will provide training protocol and testing for demonstration of proof of accuracy for detection to provide regulatory authorities a means to test canine teams/commercial vendors for deployment domestically and internationally. HLB detector dogs show the most immediate promise for early detection in urban and residential areas in Texas and California, but are being assessed for commercial use. M AY / J U N E



Texas Gulf Shrimp! Better By a Nautical Mile.

Texas Gulf Shrimp: A True Lone Star Treasure For generations, the bountiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico have provided a distinctive lifestyle for commercial fishermen in Texas. This industry, fueled by hard work and the sea, feeds a nation hungry for tender, premium, wild-caught Gulf shrimp. Within these hardworking men and women, pride runs deeper than the Lone Star waters. Delicious wild-caught shrimp are popular with consumers and professional chefs alike. Who can blame them? With miles of clean, sustainable coastline framing the Gulf of Mexico, why buy, serve or eat shrimp from anywhere else? With the spring upon us and summer right around the corner, ask yourself these three simple questions, and be sure to look for Texas Gulf shrimp next time you’re at the grocery store.

Why Choose Texas Gulf Shrimp? Texas Gulf shrimp are harvested from the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal bay systems. Their premium quality and natural, robust flavor is prized by home cooks and renowned chefs alike. In fact, top Texas chefs are fortunate to have the Gulf of Mexico and its bounty in their backyard. They consistently choose wild-caught Gulf shrimp in their kitchens, because they are deliciously sweet, complement any occasion and offer an array of flavor in every bite!

Are You Looking For Versatility? Texas Gulf shrimp are a delicious addition to everything from savory seafood soups to spicy gumbo. Try it as an appetizer, in salads with Lone Star citrus or as a stand-alone entree. Grilled, fried, baked, boiled or sautéed, Gulf shrimp are a fresh



choice for any gathering. It’s no secret that Gulf shrimp are extremely versatile and always delicious no matter what cooking method you choose. This time of year, grilling shrimp with seasonal Texas vegetables is a personal favorite of many. There’s just something about Gulf shrimp over an open flame that fires up the appetite.

What Are You Planning To Prepare? Do you cook from a recipe? Are you the kind of intuitive chef who freelances in the kitchen? Whatever your style, Texas Gulf shrimp provides a wealth of quick, healthy and flavorful options for your table. From delicious Gulf shrimp with balsamic strawberries to classic staples like slow-cooked paella, visit to find a variety of recipes featuring Gulf shrimp. It’s the place to go for classic shrimp dishes and creative new options sure to please a crowd.

Check out the recipe for a classic Texas shrimp boil and enjoy it this summer with your friends and family!


Spicy Texas Shrimp Boil with Garlic Citrus Butter & Pickled Okra Serves 6 Recipe Courtesy of Chef Ross Burtwell Cabernet Grill – Texas Wine Country Restaurant

INGREDIENTS 6 cups water 1 bottle Shiner bock beer 1 rib celery, cut in one inch chunks ½ small onion, cut in one inch chunks 1 pc bay leaf ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (see recipe) 1 1/4 pound small red “b size” potatoes, washed 2 pounds Texas wild caught shrimp, with shell on 1 lemon 1 lime 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 stick butter 12 pieces pickled okra


• Place the water and beer in heavy medium size sauce pan and place over high heat in order to bring the liquid to a boil. Add the celery, onion, bay leaf and the quarter cup of Cajun seasoning (save the other two teaspoons for a later use) to the liquid and reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a full simmer with light bubbles.

the butter is sizzling whisk in the citrus zest and juice from both the lemon and lime. • Garnish the platter with pickled okra and the reserved lemon and lime wedges. Place a bowl of hot citrus garlic butter on the platter as well for dipping. Serve immediately.

Cabernet Grill Cajun Seasoning

• Add the potatoes to the liquid and cook for about fifteen to twenty minutes till tender (depending on the thickness of the potato) or until a knife inserted in the center of the potato passes through easily.

Makes about 1 ½ cups

• Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid back to a boil. As soon as the liquid is boiling, stir all the shrimp into the pot and cover tightly with a lid. Cook for exactly one minute on high heat then remove the pot from the heat keeping the pot covered and allow it to sit for five minutes.


• Remove the lid at the end of the five minutes and check that the shrimp are fully cooked. • Drain the liquid from the shrimp and potatoes and place on a warm platter, discarding the bay leaf and any bits of celery and onions remaining. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining two teaspoons of Cajun seasoning. • Cut both the lemon and lime in half. Take one half of each and cut into wedges and save for garnish. Take the other half of each and remove zest, then squeeze the juice from each into a small cup. • Heat a small sauce pan over medium high heat and add garlic and butter to the pan. Allow butter to melt and begin to sizzle. As soon as

4 Tablespoons paprika 3 Tablespoons table salt 2 Tablespoons granulated garlic 2 Tablespoons dried oregano leaves 2 Tablespoons dried basil leaves 2 Tablespoons onion powder 1 Tablespoon dried thyme leaves 1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper 1 Tablespoon ground white pepper 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper


• Place all ingredients together in a bowl and mix until well combined. • Store in airtight container

M AY / J U N E



Ag Mag Featured Farmer

From Brush to Cultivation “(McCook) was established around 1925. In 1936 McCook comprised a school district, a factory, a church, a post office, and a number of dwellings. The town had a population of forty and two businesses by 1941. In 1963 McCook still reported a population of forty and also included the Immaculate Conception Cemetery, a school, and dispersed dwellings. Its population reached a peak of 100 in 1964. In 1990 McCook was a dispersed rural community with a population of ninety-one and no reported businesses. The population remained the same in 2000.”

– Texas State Historical Association;

The research on McCook may be small, but the rural area is known in a big way for its farm land and its hard-working farmers. Frank Machac is one of those farmers who has built a large reputation for a small town. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the “hardworking farmer” moniker didn’t come around because of the hard working families in McCook. It was in 1933 – less than a decade after McCook was established - when TF Machac settled into McCook. Frank’s grandfather was forced out of San Antonio due to severe allergies there and upon



arriving in McCook he purchased 323 acres and slowly cleared it – by hand, with a little help from the Bracero Program (The Bracero Program grew out of a series of bi-lateral agreements between Mexico and the United States that allowed millions of Mexican men to come to the United States to work on, short-term, primarily agricultural labor contracts.) After the land was cleared TF started to farm it. Both sides of Frank’s family line were farmers, including his other set of grandparents. Grandpa Felix Keller Sr. actually purchased land just north of grandpa Machac and the two began to farm grain sorghum. Alongside the grain sorghum they would farm dry land tomatoes. Frank can recall his grandmother telling him stories and how they farmed 30 acres of dry-land tomatoes and would pick them while they were still green to wrap them up and sell them in town as green wraps. That’s a lot of work (again – hard-working farmers). Those stories piqued Franks interest and he decided to follow along and plant his own dry land tomatoes for a very short time. A difficult task, but a possible one as well.

Frank has found joy in farming sesame. He jokes that he enjoys that particular crop because people always tell him that he “grows the little seeds on hamburger buns.” While that is humorous, there are reasons he has a fondness for sesame including that it’s a crop that is low maintenance. He is quick to admit that the most important reason is because he enjoys watching the turn around and being able to provide a food source for people. Commonplace with many farming families, Frank can remember following his father around while his father was on the tractor, and eventually followed his father into the same career choice. He recalls asking his father for advice on what farming choices to make, and his father always was hesitant to provide the answer. He let Frank figure it out for himself; today Frank is thankful for gaining knowledge in that manner. Frank bought his first tractor and planter from his father and since his dad passed almost 16 years ago, Frank has made a name for himself in the farming industry. Frank has been in farming a long time – his descendants were among the first in McCook. He’s seen a lot, done a lot and has worked a lot and has one piece of advice for new farmers - “be conservative on spending and cautiously optimistic on rainfall. And if you’re living in McCook as a new farmer – always be ready to work hard.”

M AY / J U N E




Over the past two years, the strong demand for sorghum by China highlighted the versatility of this crop in the animal feeding, food, industrial and fuel industries. As the largest grain user in the world, China found that sorghum could be an important substitute to corn ranging from duck feeding to the production of beer. Market conditions lined up in such a way that by 2014 China was buying the vast majority of the US sorghum crop, much of which was shipped from Texas Gulf ports. This sudden new demand by China saw Valley sorghum moving north to the Port of Corpus Christi rather than to traditional Mexican markets. The profound impact on prices was an important offset to otherwise depressed commodity prices, and helped maintain sorghum acreage valley-wide. Chinese buyers have been slow to purchase the upcoming crop, which suggests that we may be relying more heavily on traditional markets this season. The chart labeled ‘Weekly US Sorghum Export Sales’ illustrates how the current demand for US sorghum (dark blue bars) since last summer is well below that of the 2014 crop year (light blue bar) and below the USDA projection for the current season (blue line). After depending heavily on a strong Chinese demand for the past seasons, it is hoped that market conditions develop in such a way to keep this important market involved to some degree. So much of what occurs in trade deals with China depends on political decisions that come



out of the communist regime. Whether talking about agriculture, mining, energy, or all manner of other industries in China, the government has a heavy sway on business decisions, often with dramatic impacts. In the case of grain, the political decisions about corn had an immediate effect or our sorghum prices. The chart below labeled ‘US Grain Inspections to China’ shows weekly inspections of corn (top graph) compared to those same weeks for sorghum (bottom graph) going back to harvest 2013. In the fall of 2013, the Chinese government imposed a 13 percent import tax on corn in an effort to force feed mills there to chase burgeoning domestic supplies at inflated prices. The ‘inspections’ chart clearly shows the response of Chinese feed mills in early 2014 as purchases of US corn fell to zero and sorghum purchases from the US started to rise. As the ‘inspection’ chart indicates, this relationship has held for over two years and has

been assisted by falling ocean freight rates and better sorghum feeding science. The driving force behind the Chinese decision to impose corn import taxes was the desire to maintain high support prices for farmers. Rural Chinese have been migrating to cities in recent years to pursue opportunity, which is at odds with their governments desire to limit internal migration. Politicians there hope that better rural incomes will slow migration and help maintain the political order. A similar policy has been used for cotton and has led to a massive supply of cotton which our USDA estimates to be in excess of 65 million bales. The chart labeled ‘China Corn Nearby Futures’ illustrates the degree of interference by Chinese market policies. The red line shows where corn futures prices in China reached almost $11.50 per bushel, more than $6.00 above prices here in the US at that time. The obvious challenge to running a program of this nature is the extreme costs involved in maintaining artificially high prices, and the uncertain quality of the massive stocks of grain, much of which has been stored out in the open. This same chart shows how last fall the program became so burdensome on China’s government that corn support prices were dropped dramatically starting in August of 2015 (blue line). The decision coincided closely with falling price quotes at the Port of Corpus Christi. The black line at the bottom of the chart shows current year prices which have dropped to the $6.50 to $7.00 per bushel range. At this time last year, corn futures prices were trading approximately where they are today. Without China purchases currently on hold, however, the adjustment in basis has sorghum trading approximately $3.50 per hundredweight less than this same week last year at the Port of Corpus. Should the current policy of lowered support prices continue, it is unlikely that Chinese demand will be as aggressive at the past two years-but they are known to surprise. If China does delay purchases of US sorghum for an extended period of time, it does not mean that someone will not step in and fill that demand. There has already been some interest shown by Mexican buyers and other traditionally large customers such as Japan and Nigeria will likely be showing interest. The chart labeled “US Milo Export Sales to Mexico vs China’ illustrates two important points. First, that Mexico is very price sensitive as their sales dropped to effectively zero when China started competing for US Sorghum in the fall of 2013. More importantly at this point, however, is that Mexico returned to buying sorghum in the fall of 2015 as soon as China demand waned and prices started to adjust. There is no doubt that Mexico will continue to be an important market for our sorghum, and we should expect that there will be demand from buyers there as economic conditions adjust to a market with less Chinese demand for now. While there could be some headwinds due to reduced Mexican Peso values and a higher Dollar value, lower transportation costs and a well-known trade history are favorable. Going forward we have to hope that ample rains will develop in time to produce a robust valley grain crop. It is interesting that there is typically more interest in sorghum if we produce a strong crop. As a feeding substitute, buyers often become more engaged in negotiation for our crop when they know that large quantity purchases are possible so that animal feeding cycle needs can be secured. Of course we should not rule out interest from the Chinese since they are known to hold their cards close to their chest until the moment decisions are made, and many in the

industry suspect this could be the case. But for now we can consider all options, especially those close-by traditional markets that have benefited the Texas sorghum industry for many decades. M AY / J U N E



2016 Scholrship Banquet HIDALGO COUNT Y 4-H FOUNDATION


H i s t o r y

o f

South Texas A g r i c u l t u r e

bY Michelle Macha Sorghum Checkoff Communications Manager


hen outsiders think of Texas they think of cowboy hats and boots, tumble weeds, large ranches,: and people who ride horses to town. Needless to say the “cowboy” way of life or in another words agriculture has become synonymous with Texas and its culture.

From the beginning of European discovery and settlement in Texas; agriculture has been the cornerstone of the Texas economy and way of life. Prior to the arrival of Europeans the Native American populations throughout most of Texas were hunter gatherers. After Europeans landed and began to establish settlements, some forms of agriculture, such as raising maize, were introduced to the natives. The Spanish were the first Europeans to document arriving in Texas between the 16th and 18th centuries. Among the first to arrive is Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca after a shipwreck in 1528. And then in 1687 Alonso De Leon in search of Fort St. Louis traveled along the Rio Grande to what is now Laredo and Webb County. Along his travels he reported on the vegetation and terrain saying that the “way was level and un-timbered.” According to a report by Jack M. Inglis entitled ‘A History of Vegetation on the Rio Grande Plain”. The term ‘level’ used by De Loen could refer to a lack of shrubs. Later in 1747 Miguel de la Graza Falcon searched the northern side of the Rio Grande to look for land to establish a settlement, but he found the land to be unsuitable for livestock raising and called in uninhabitable. Despite Falcon’s declaration the Spanish crown became interested in the area and in 1749 they sent Jose de Escandon to colonize the area. Escandon established four towns on the southern banks of the Rio Grande including Reynosa in 1749 which was originally located at present day Penitas. He also founded Camargo, Mier and Revilla (now Guer-




rero). Settlers from the colonies later crossed the Rio Grande and settled the northern banks of the river. This land seemed to be suitable for cattle and sheep raising; so ranching became a great success in what is now Hidalgo County. Ranching also began to develop around San Antonio and Goliad to feed the missionaries, soldiers and civilians; but as the Spanish missions began to decline, ranching shifted to private raisers, including Tomas Sanchez de la Barrera y Garza, Anotonio Gil Ibarvo and Martin de Leon. Then the culture, politics and colonization of Texas began to change when in 1821 Mexico gained its independence from Spain. At this time Mexico began to encourage settlement in the vast provinces north of the Rio Grande. Moses Austin from the United States secured the first empresario or colonial grant. His son, Stephen F. Austin, initially led 300 families into an area extending from the gulf coast into central Texas. Settlers received a sitio or square league of land (about 4,338 acres) for grazing and a labor (177 acres) of farming land. The Anglo-American settlers quickly introduced the slave-based cotton-plantation system and expanded commercial livestock production. Soon there was such large influx of Anglo-American settlers from the gulf coast through east Texas and into central Texas. Many Anglos banded together to revolt against Mexico and gain their independence from Mexico and were eventually admitted into the United States. During this period there was a wide variety of agricultural enterprises from plantations to small family farms to the cattle ranches. Cattle drives began early on with cattle being driven from Texas to New Orleans’ Louisianan or to Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas or all the way to Mississippi. But in 1846 Edward Piper was the first to drive a herd of cattle all the way to Ohio and by the 1850’s trail drives to Illinois and California were common.

Cotton plantations were concentrated mainly in south central Texas along the lower Colorado, Brazos and Trinity Rivers and generated much of the state’s agricultural production prior to the Civil War. The primary exports from Texas were cotton and cattle. As railroads expanded into Texas between the 1870’s and 1900, farming and ranching enterprises expanded rapidly as emphasis on commercial production and marketing grew. Along with cotton and cattle; wheat, rice, sorghum, hay and dairy cattle became important. In the late 1800’s early 1900’s campaigns were launched to promote the Rio Grande Valley and Winter Garden Regions of Texas. With mild winters and available irrigation water from the Rio Grande, the area became one of the state’s most prolific farm sections. In 1883 John Closner made the first attempt at growing sugar cane on a large scale in the valley. He established a plantation and mill near the present-day site of Pharr. Charles Volz and Joh H. Shary were among the first to plant orange rootstocks References: The Hand Book of Texas: Online Texas Department of Agriculture: Statistics A History of Vegetation on the Rio Grande Plain

launching the citrus industry in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties around 1910. Vegetable farming also became popular throughout the valley along with cotton and sorghum. Populations and agriculture continue to grow throughout south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley as fruits, vegetables, cotton, corn, sorghum, and sugar cane remain the staple crops as well as, hay production and large cattle ranches. It is no wonder that one of the first things that people think of when they hear of Texas is cowboys because there are more head of livestock: horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and poultry than people in Texas and Texas raises more cattle that any other state in the nation. Furthermore Texas is the national leader in cotton, production and Texas agriculture contributes $115 billion annually to the state’s economy.

I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world. The best land & best prospects for health I ever saw is here, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country to settle.

DAVY CROCKETT, letter to his children, January 9, 1836

M AY / J U N E



FFA&4-H 2 015 - 2 016


May 10, 2016

RGV District FFA Banquet Weslaco Time TBA

May 16, 2016

AREA X Officer Interviews/ Testing/Prep Time TAMUK Time TBA

May 17, 2016


June 3, 2016

AREA X Second Advanced Degree Check TAMUK 9am

June 9-10, 2016

State Advanced Degree Check ? 9am

June 24-26, 2016

AREA X AREA X Advanced Degree LEADERSHIP Check/FFA CONFERENCE CAMP Convention/Banquet Camp Zephyr TAMUK Time TBA

May 26, 2016

RGV AST Testing

Alaniz Residence 5:30pm

July 11-15, 2016


July 25-29, 2016








Sponsored by:

May 14, 2016

District 12 Shooting Sports – Shotgun Match Laredo Time TBA

May 24, 2016

County Council / ALPA Meeting Extension Office 7pm

June 4, 2016

Sports Shotgun Match Benavides Time TBA

June 7, 2016

County Recordbooks Due

June 17, 2016

District 12 Horse Show

Robstown Time TBA

June 21-24, 2016

District 12 Leadership Lab / Election Convention Kingsville Time TBA

July 12, 2016

District 12 Recordbook Judging Falfurrias

Extension Office 5pm

June 9-10, 2016

County Recordbook Judging Extension Office Time TBA

M AY / J U N E








M AY / J U N E



Rio Grande Valley LIVESTOCK SHOW

34 Ag Mag


M AY / J U N E




SILICON The “Miracle” Trace Element? by: Larry Zibilske, Ph.D.


ineral soils are derived from rocks that contain about 30% Silicon (Si). Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, exceeded only by Oxygen. Growing in soil, plant roots are literally surrounded by minerals containing Silicon. Although all plants use at least a little Si, it has not been shown to be necessary for all plants; hence, it does not attain the “required” list of elements for plants. In 2011, the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials listed Silicon as ”beneficial” for plants. The designation reflects the many scientific findings showing Si is necessary for some, but not all plants. However, the growing recognition of the benefits of Si is now seen in the occasional listing of available Si as part of the “guaranteed analysis” printed on fertilizer labels. Yet, the role of Silicon in plant nutrition is often considered to be of secondary importance or worse yet, not acknowledged at all. This is probably due to the lack of a complete understanding of how Si functions in plants. In addition, the myriad different effects of Si make definitive statements difficult. The chemistry of Si can be very complex. The most common chemical form in minerals is SiO2, which is the smallest unit of very large polymers made up of long chains of SiO2. In this form, such as in the quartz sand particle derived from quartz (pictured at right), it is unavailable to plants. Even though plant roots are surrounded by this form of Si, they cannot use it. But the activity of roots and of microbes in the soil bring some of the Si into solution, creating a different chemical form, SiO4 (silicate) that plants can take up. In soil solution, its usual concentration is 3 to 17 ppm. The most common form in soil solution is silicic acid, H4SiO4, which is readily absorbed by plants. The amount contained in plants ranges from 0.2% to 10% depending on the type of plant. It is interesting that this concentration range is essentially the same as that for Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Phosphorus (P) and Sulfur (S); all of these are listed as essential nutrients. Most plants grow in soils dominated by silicates, and the soil solution surrounding the roots contains Si at concentrations exceeding those of Phosphorus (P) by a factor of 50 or more. As plants absorb it, their Si content approaches the same range as that of the macro-

36 Ag Mag


nutrient elements. Therefore, Si fertility is an important part of the overall fertility plan for crop management. Often, there is enough Si in soil solution to meet the needs of a growing crop, but plenty of instances arise where the capacity of the soil is insufficient to satisfy crop needs. Silicon is often found deficient is acidic soils and in climates of high rainfall, such as in tropical environments. Any highly-leached system, accordingly, can fail to provide enough Si to benefit plants. Silicon can also be limited in high pH soils, which are common in the western U.S. and many other locations. The fact is, Si deficiency symptoms are subtle leads to the general assumption that it might not be so important. But the benefits seen in systems where supplemental Si is used are additive and, overall, can be quite remarkable.

The list of Si benefits to plants include:

u improvement in chemical composition; Si has been shown to promote the uptake of Phosphorus and other nutrients; to improve the distribution of those nutrients, especially trace elements among the plant tissues; and to inhibit the uptake of excessive amounts of Manganese and other elements that can become toxic. u improved stems and leaves; promotes proper orientation to the sun for photosynthesis. u improved reproductive growth; maturation of pollen and flowers. u improved enzyme activities, especially

those associated with reproduction and cell elongation. u improved resistance to diseases and insects; increased cell “toughness” makes it more difficult for fungi and insects to puncture plant cells. u improved salt tolerance; Si inhibits the uptake of excess Sodium, and helps regu late water loss around roots in salty soil. u improved water use efficiency: Si aids internal water relations in plants by slow ing transpiration, making plants more resistant to water stress. u improved resistance to heat or cold stress: Si helps in protecting plant membranes to keep them functioning longer in the face of temperature extremes. u improved post-harvest or keeping quality (shelf-life) of produce. Much of this relates to better plant cell stability which can reduce disease, especially storage rots. u improved resistance to lodging in small grains due to increased rigidity of cell walls.

Silicon deficiency can be diagnosed by a summation of individual symptoms that cannot be attributed to other causes. For instance, flower buds of strawberry can be smaller than normal and, with associated pollen problems, result in poor fruit set and maturation. If Boron is exonerated, the malady may be due to Si deficiency. In some plants, leaf defects are noticeable, such as curling, excessive thickening, and other morphological anomalies. Leaves can be pale, yellowing slowly over time. Necrotic lesions may appear on older leaves that are not caused by disease microbes. Various other metabolic and reproductive problems may reduce the vigor, yield, or quality of crops without signal symptoms ever appearing. These problems often return because Si is not recycled like other nutrients. Hence, re-application on at least an annual basis will probably be necessary. This may explain why appropriate plant tissue analyses are essential for properly identifying nutritional deficiencies. Some plants are Si-accumulating but also, there are non-Si-accumulating plants. Grass-type plants, such as cereal grains, corn, sugar cane and sorghum tend to accumulate more Si than broadleaf-type plants, such as cotton, soybeans, and dry beans. Some plants concentrate the Si taken up by producing phytoliths for storing Si. Phytoliths (magnified image at right) are microscopic “plant stones” comprised mainly of silicon dioxide produced within plant cells during normal growth. Plant uptake and use of Si varies greatly. Plant Si concentrations range from 10-15% in grasses and less than 1% to about 3% in dicots. In rice, it is generally acknowledged that Si is required. Other evidence is accumulating that Si is an essential element - meaning that it is necessary for normal growth and activity, but many non-listed plants can benefit from Si. Supplementing Si to crops as a part of fertilizers is common for some crops. These fertilizers usually include water-soluble forms of Si (silicates) that have been designed to remain plant-available. Present products for foliar application are also plant-available and are probably the best method of providing Si to the plant. Most plants can readily take-up Si through the leaves. Rock-derived materials or metal silicate preparations are not very useful in supplying Si because they remain very insoluble in soil systems. To take full advantage of Si fertilizers, they should be used in the context of a complete fertility program. Because Si apparently directs the uptake and distribution of other nutrients, including it with macro-and- micronutrient applications could be the best use of Si amendments. To realize the full benefit of Si, or any other plant nutrient, it should be part of a balanced nutrient program to ensure all nutrients are present in the appropriate amounts at the appropriate time. Von Liebig’s Law of The Minimum!

M AY / J U N E



38 Ag Mag


HANKA SOD 32054 Weaver Road, San Benito, Texas


Harvesting year ‘round Delivery Available

Your business is our priority! Locally grown

TIFT 419, Bermuda, Floratam & St. Augustine



“Over 200 Brahman, Simbrah and Simbravieh enthusiasts joined together in early April to enjoy some fine South Texas hospitality, great cattle and rewarding junior shows at the LMC $ellabration Weekend on La Muneca Ranch in Linn, Texas. We were blessed as always to have so many solid volunteers come together to make this event run smoothly. Over $31,000 was awarded to the juniors in the LMC Jackpot, LMC $ellabration and RGV Brahman & F-1 Association Jr. shows” stated event host Carlos X. Guerra. “First and foremost we would like to thank the Guerra family and the La Muneca Crew for their hospitality at the LMC $ellebration. Carlos stresses the importance of family every time we speak. Never was this more apparent than at the event this weekend. This event was not centered around winning or losing. This show demonstrated the best 4-H and FFA have to offer. What we would call the “Holy Trinity of Cattle Showing”, family, friends, and education. Many breeders exhibited their interest in how well the families were doing with their projects. This genuine concern for the children’s prosperity is what 4-H and FFA should be teaching the next generation. Showing cattle was the reason everyone gathered at the La Muneca Ranch. The fellowship and camaraderie were the reasons they stayed. Three days never went by so fast, however no one wanted to leave. It was a different type of show put on by one of the great ranching families of Texas. More breeders like the Guerra family would make the cattle industry and the people in it better prepared for the future. It has certainly opened this old cowhand’s eyes to the possibilities and promises ahead in this industry we all love so much. We would like to conclude with something Carlos told us that echoes through time. “Spend more time with your kids than you do money on them and they will walk the path you want them to go.” Stated two of the judges Casey and Blake Gamble. The highlight of the weekend once again was the $15,000 awarded in premium money and awards given to the hard working LMC $ellabration junior exhibitors who exhibited their Brahman, Simbrah and Simbravieh cattle successfully. Casey Gamble from Joaquin, TX put on a very educational Showmanship Clinic on Saturday morning.

40 Ag Mag


The next big Junior Simbrah event will be the $15,000 MAS XI & the American Jr. Simbrah Roundup on June 22-25, 2016 in Wharton, Texas. The next big Junior Brahman event will be the All American July 4-9. The next La Muñeca event will be the LMC GenePLUS Online Sale XIII on June 25-28.

For more information please call Carlos X. Guerra at (956) 802–1641 or email

Sugarcane Aphid in the LRGV 2016 As we begin the month of May it will be very important for ALL valley growers to monitor their sorghum. Majority of sorghum throughout the Valley will be at boot, flowering, or soft dough stage and it is during this time that we see and experience the first population peak for the sugarcane aphid. Mid-April we began to see winged sugarcane aphids (alates) fly into commercial sorghum fields and reproduce live immature aphids. Populations have gradually been increasing with sugarcane aphid populations being much higher near the coastal areas in Cameron County.

and frequent monitoring and timely insecticide applications. When should I consider spraying SCA in my fields? The economic threshold is 50 to 125 aphids per leaf. When field average is 50-125 aphids or more per leaf after looking at 40 leaves throughout the field it is time to line up your equipment and apply your insecticide within 4 days for good control. For detailed instructions on detection and scouting please refer to the sugarcane aphid scouting card. This card can be picked up at your local Extension office or downloaded from our website.

However, do not be fooled, the sugarcane aphid is being reported in all sorghum throughout the Valley. We know that the sugarcane aphid needs to have good sunlight/heat to reproduce rapidly and, with the current temperatures in the high 90’s, it will not be hard for them to reproduce to soaring numbers. I have already received reports of sorghum fields in late April up to now that had 1000 SCA/leaf that were treated. Prior to harvest we experience another spike in population that occurs around the last week of June into July. Growers should monitor their sorghum prior to harvest to see if treatment will be needed to avoid high populations of sugarcane aphids producing large amounts of honeydew when they feed that could potentially cause harvesting equipment to become clogged and break down. In order to achieve yield goals it will be critical to monitor sorghum closely to be able to apply insecticide treatment in time to avoid damage by the sugarcane aphid’s feeding.

Products available for use in sorghum to treat the sugarcane aphid are Sivanto Prime (flupyradifurone) and Transform (sulfoxaflor). Both products offer good control of the sugarcane aphid. Transform received a Section 18 label for use on sorghum that became effective on April 8, 2016 and expires on April 8, 2017. Remember that when making a Transform application you have to have a copy of the label in hand. Also note that the Section 18 label for Transform this year stipulates that the product Transform cannot be applied < 3 days pre-bloom until after seed set. Flowering starts about five to seven days after panicle emergence. Growers will have to watch their sorghum closely if they want to spray prior to flowering as there is a short window in which to apply Transform after panicle emergence but 3 days before flowering. The new label made a time frame in which to spray sorghum in order to prevent the product from coming into contact with bees that may be pollinating in the field. Sivanto Prime also received a 24c label reducing its PHI from 21 days to 14 days (same as Transform).

For more information on the sugarcane aphid you can visit: Here you can find the most recent presentations with data on SCA, the LRGV local Pest Casts and the Sivanto Prime and Transform labels. Many thanks to local LRGV sorghum producers, Texas Grain Sorghum Board, USDA NIFA Southern IPM Center and United Sorghum Checkoff Program.

Mean numbers of SCA/leaf in the Rio Grande Valley on 13 and 15 commercial sorghum fields in 2014 and 2015, respectively

With two products available for use in controlling the sugarcane aphid it should give growers a fighting chance at protecting their sorghum yields and avoiding resistance in the future. Remember, this aphid is easily managed in sorghum with careful M AY / J U N E




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AgMag Columnist


elcome back again fair readers, and now that we’ve eschewed our tangents into the whilom events government visits let’s get back into the minutiae of building your business on the solid rock of knowledge and not the sand of ignorance. Some discussions lend themselves to grand ideas, others dive into the weeds of small things oft forgotten; this column, is the latter. The majority of business owners and operations think themselves nidifugous after they get their operations going, deeming themselves eminently capable of handling everything thrown at them, when often that is not the case. The ability to see through the obnubilated stream of data one gets every day is a skill that must be developed and practiced in order for it be used proficiently.

What Did He Say? So in the previous paragraph I have to admit I delved deep into the hoary past to bring forth some of that vocabulary I was using. This wasn’t an attempt to show off or be pedantic, but it was a simple illustration in that in this language of English that we use every single day there are still things the majority of us don’t know about it! So whether it’s the language you use every day or the business you run every day, there are obviously still things to uncover. So, let’s go over a few metrics you should have down to better understand your business, there are many more

44 Ag Mag


beyond the basics I’m going to cover but this is a good jumping off point.

• Cost per Package (Inventory unit/acre/etc.) : Fairly basic but the majority of managers don’t put a fine enough point on measuring their input costs. Labor, energy, the package itself, these are all basic ideas. However, what about storage costs, a lost opportunity cost for one unit of inventory versus another, or how do you measure your loss percentage due to decay/ repack/etc.? Obviously nailing down these costs can help you determine your gross revenue (revenue less cost of goods sold) and develop your gross margin (when it’s represented as a percentage of revenue), but getting a bearing on them gives you a further idea on what to focus. As a personal example, when trying to nail down our labor costs we realized that we couldn’t simply measure labor as a unit of cost when engaged in packaging alone, we had to measure labor per package, and total labor including slack and/or down time to parse

out our costs per package and costs per overall operations. Going further from that we were able to wring out more efficiencies for our slack time labor and discover why such variance existed in our financial analyses. Use this as a starting point for further basis of inquiry.

• Inventory Turnover: Inventory turnover is a ratio showing how many times a company’s inventory is sold and replaced over a given period. The days in the period can then be divided by the inventory turnover formula to calculate the days it takes to sell the inventory on hand. Generally it is calculated as (Inventory Turnover = Sales / Inventory), however, it may also be calculated as (Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold / Average Inventory). This is fairly straightforward, but in agriculture you also have to account for loss due to decay, repack, and other systemic reasons that can cause loss of product. Also, if you have a bad market, slow trucks, or anything like that it can skew this. So while this ratio may seem unreliable what it can do is give you a starting point to ask why, to figure out trends you might not have seen before and the like.

• Efficiency Ratios: This category encompasses a variety of useful ratios that are mostly self-explanatory, but are good to know. The Receivables Turnover Ratio (Net Sales/Average Accts Receivable) goes beyond telling you who’s a fast or slow payer and gives you ideas about how well you collect on your receivables for any given time period. Net Operating Income is simple enough to explain (Net Revenue – All reasonably necessary operating expenses). This gives you an idea of your operating income before other items like interest, taxes, etc. and can show you how efficient you are in operations. Other measure of efficiency that can be stated here but not accurately measure without taking into account individual operations including Productivity Per Employee, Output Per Employee, and specialized ratios that look into the ability of a firm to minimize and use effi-

ciently taxes and tax laws.

• Liquidity Ratios: And finally another category of ratios that are fairly widely known but still bear mentioning. These ratios measure essentially the ability of a company to pay off its debts, cash on hand, ability to service debt, and a variety of other issues with liquidity. First off is the Quick Ratio (Current Assets – Inventory / current liabilities) and is mainly a measure of the ability to pay off short term debt. Cash is still king and if you overextend yourself without realizing it your creditors don’t care if your long-term prospects are great. This ratio is considered more conservative than our next ratio, the Current Ratio, as it excludes things like inventory or marketable securities for which liquidity is hard to determine. The Current Ratio (Current Assets / Liabilities) is very simple in its calculation and serves to give a quick and easy snapshot of a company. Again there are more specialized ratios beyond these, but these two simply serve as a guide to further research.

Say “What” Again, I Dare You None of this we’ve gone over today precipitates anything whatsoever if you do not go out, research it, understand it, and use it! I myself am often guilty of glossing over the finer print of things, assuming that I’ll figure it out in the end. Skimming through this column and finding things interesting and making hazy plans for using them later helps no one, and simply saying, “What?” and moving on without any research is foolhardy. To paraphrase the old adage, I can lead you to water but you’re going to have to drink it yourself. Mastery of these concepts and their use in your company is something only you can do, and frankly you might find them useless, or you might find that you can tweak them to better work for your specific situation. The drawbacks of ratios are sometimes self-evident and sometimes not. As common in much mathematics though is if you have a problem early on, it’s going to carry through the whole equation. So if you can’t get your basic information and ratios right, it can throw off everything else you do. Ratios such as these are a handy tool to get a snapshot of your firm and lead you in directions of inquiry or areas of research you may see. And with enough practice in spreadsheets these can be calculated easily and quickly with a few clicks of the mouse. The only thing that you can lose by brushing up on these is some time spent on further education.

M AY / J U N E



Young Farmer Grant Deadline: Received by TDA by Thursday, May 12, 2016 by 5:00 pm (CT time). See official Request for Grant Application (RFGA) for submission instructions.

Availability: Twice a year (spring and fall)

Pursuant to the Texas Agriculture Code, Section 58.091, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) administers the Young Farmer Grant program (YFGP). The YFGP is administered by TDA under the direction of the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA). The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance in the form of dollar-for-dollar matching grant funds to young agricultural producers that are engaged or will be engaged in creating or expanding an agricultural business in Texas.

TAFA’s Young Farmer Grant Program aims to: • Grow and support Texas agriculture - so as not to have to bring products from other states, including deficit commodities. • Help meet a financial need that is otherwise not met.

• Help grow an operation that also impacts the community.

Who can apply? Grant applications will be accepted from any person who is at least 18 years of age but younger than 46 years of age at the time of grant award and engaged in creating or expanding agriculture in Texas. The applicant must be able to make dollar-for-dollar matching expenditures to sustain, create or expand the project.

• Grant awards range from $5,000 to $10,000

used toward capital purchases (Personal property or other capital items with a unit cost of more than $5,000). • Applicant must be able to make dollar-for-dollar matching expenditures. • Grant funds will be award on a cost reimbursement basis. • Costs must be within the term of the grant award.

• Grant program offered twice per year • Grant funds may not be M AY / J U N E



More than just insurance Nearly 100 years ago – in 1919 to be exact – a small group of farmers had a gathering. Thirty states were represented in Chicago and the end result became the founding of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The idea was a simple and effective one – giving a voice to farmers through their own national organization. The concept caught on and it didn’t take long before the Farm Bureau became the voice of agriculture across the nation. A year later, the Farm Bureau issued its mission – a mission that is alive and well today. “The purpose of Farm Bureau is to make the business of farming more profitable, and the community a better place to live,” the statement reads. “Farm Bureau should provide an organization in which members may secure the benefits of unified efforts in a way which could never be accomplished through individual effort.” Most people have heard of the Farm Bureau at some level. Many, however, are unaware of the Farm Bureau’s inner working. First and foremost the Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization. It is governed by and represents farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems. These families as a group formulate action plans to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being. The Farm Bureau, while a national organization, is also national, state, county and local when it comes to its scope and influence on agriculture. It is as much the largest ranch/farm as it is the smallest. Everyone has a voice. As its website states, the Farm Bureau “is non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character. Farm Bureau is the voice of agricultural producers at all levels.” Issues and challenges have changed for America’s farmers and ranchers over the past nine decades, from loss of land to cost of living to technology and so much more. The mission and goals of Farm Bureau have remained true to that spirit. Farm Bureau members – all the way to the local level - have become more vocal in speaking out on issues of concern for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.


One way that the Farm Bureau gives power to farmers’ and ranchers’ voices and concerns is through the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (“AFBF”) Legal Advocacy Program. The program represents the interests of farmers and ranchers in the courts by opposing unnecessary or excessive restrictions on agricultural practices and private property rights. The goal is to keep an eye on regulation and allow farmers and ranchers to be productive and efficient stewards of their natural resources.

The Farm Bureau also has a grassroots action network known as Agricultural Contact Team. This network From life-changing events to everyday miracles, here toand connecting members with their conis responsible for, among other things, reaching outwe’re to congress help you protect the people, places and things that matter most. makes. Passing legislation that stituents. This networking leads to major impact on decisions Congress For great rates and no-hassle service, contact us today. supports our issues is a challenging process that require active participation by our members. 1095 E. Wood Ave. involved/more active include: Ways to become Raymondville, TX 78550

Writing a letter to legislators • Calling legislators 956.689.2113

Meet with them Face to Face • Write a letter to the editor

Make your voice heard and keep the Farm Bureau working for farmers, ranchers – and each community around the world. Some of the information above is from the Farm Bureau website

48 Ag Mag


Love for the



How long have you been going to the RGVLS?

A: I’ve been going to the livestock show

Ruben Diaz

see and do. Great food and a lot of good people to meet and talk to.

since 1974 and been working exhibit booths since 1988 with 3 different companies

What do you hope to see in the RGVLS in the upcoming year?

Why is it so special to you?

A: I hope to see more kids get involved with the FFA and 4H programs. It seems that every year it gets better and bigger.

A: It’s special to me, I have many good

memories of showing animals and my kids showing as well and meeting up with old friends and making new ones.

What is your favorite part about the show and why? A: My favorite part is talking to old friends

that I don’t see very often. And seeing the effort the kids put into the great exhibits.

If you could describe the RGVLS to a new comer, how would you do so? A: For newcomers. Many great things to

What is one word you would use to describe the RGVLS? A: Memorable is the one word I would use. What is so meaningful to you about the RGVLS? A: Every year I seem to make new friends. What keeps you going back year after year? A: I look forward to going back because

I enjoy the atmosphere and spending time with old friends. M AY / J U N E



Cowboy Church & Horses CALENDAR OF EVENTS May 1, May 1, May 7-8, May 13-15, May 14, May 15, May 20, May 21, May 22, May 21-22, May 27, May 27-29, June 12, June 13-18, Jun 17, Jun 24, Jul 1-3, Jul 10, Jul 14-17, Jul 22, Jul 29, Jul 29-31, Aug 7, Aug 19, Aug 26, 52 Ag Mag

RGVLS Speed Events #1 Rodriguez Sorting Spring Buckle Series concludes, 3:00pm RSNC Cherry Creek Wrapn3 Waco HCTPA Sorting, Cowboy Church Arena 6:00pm Rodriguez Sorting Chris Cowboy Church Playday RoundUp Rodriguez Sorting RSNC Hamilton Chris Cowboy Church Sorting RSNC Terrell RGVLS Speed Events #2 RSNC World Finals Fort Worth Chris Cowboy Church Playday Chris Cowboy Church Sorting Wrapn3 Gonzales RGVLS Speed Events #3 Elite Barrel Race, Waco Chris Cowboy Church Playday Chris Cowboy Church Sorting Wrapn3 Edna RGVLS Speed Events #4 Chris Cowboy Church Playday Chris Cowboy Church Sorting


Want to Advertise? Contact Michelle Martin at the Ag Mag (956) 330-8870

M AY / J U N E




NOW THE FUN PART STARTS!!! As we move through the midway point of the growing season for 2016, the 2014 Farm Bill rules start to show some signs of true assistance for growers. Today we will go over what has transpired and what should happen with PLC /ARC and Crop Insurance in the near future.

PLC (Price Loss Coverage): As we published last year, and not knowing what the future had to hold, we took the most updated information we had for the life of the Farm Bill and recommended PLC for 99% of our Growers in South Texas. PLC allowed growers to update their payment yields, and re-allocate their base acres at FSA. This allowed Farms the opportunity to take advantage of the recent increased yields seen all over the South Texas area. The PLC program protected commodity prices for program crops and works very much like the previous Counter-Cyclical payments of previous Farm Bills . As we look at what commodity prices have done and are expected to do, we see there could be significant commodity payments for the 2015 Crop year coming in Oct of 2016. There are some simple rules (SIMPLE BEING A RELATIVE TERM) that apply to calculate these payments. They can be estimated more accurately the closer we get to the MYA (Market Year Avg.) end date. Remember PLC has target prices which are listed in Diagram 1. We will give an example of how this works below. The MYA price is calculated by FSA and is available on the FSA website: See Diagram 1. PLC payments are calculated BY FSA Number as such: (PLC Price-MYA Price) X PLC Yields X Base Acres X 85%= PLC Payment. (Wow that is not simple is it…?) Actually it gets much simpler when a real farm example is used. Let’s try this: Farmer Adam has 100ac of base at 75bu yield for Grain sorghum on FSA 1202. The Target Price for Grain Sorghum, as we know, is $3.95/bu. The MYA Price comes in as $3.20/bu (As of 4-12-16 $3.20/bu is the 2015 projected price for Grain Sorghum, although this could change before it is final.) At this point we just need to plug the numbers into the formula: (PLC Price-MYA Price) X PLC Yields X Base Acres X 85% = PLC Payment ($3.95-$3.20) X 75bu X 100ac X 85% = $4781 This results in $48/ac for Grain Sorghum. The MYA Price at $3.20/bu creates a $.75/bu. deficiency ($3.95$3.20 = $.75). If MYA price sets higher than $3.20/bu then of course the deficiency will be less making the payment per acre less. WARNING: This is an very simple example to help producers understand PLC payments and how they are paid. This is only an estimate based on current projected data from FSA. Also, FSA payments can be reduced due to the federal sequester.

Payment Limitations As Commodity payments start to trigger producers need to remember that there are Payment Limitations at FSA. Producers that earn over $900K/yr. for their 3 year Adjusted Gross Income are ineligible for FSA payments. This AGI limitation is based on SSN. Once a grower submits the AGI form they are limited to $125k/ producer in any one given year. This is total LDP’s, PLC/ARC and Commodity Certificates. 54 Ag Mag


Cotton LDP Cotton LDP’s which were between $.05 and $.07 per lb. last year and were paid last year are 2015 payments. Also those payments must be added to the 2015 PLC payments which come in Oct 2016 and the total will be the total 2015 payment. This total 2015 payment cannot be over 125k per producer. All that and there is one more thing….! If cotton LDP’s are causing producers to exceed the limitation they can defer payments by using the loan program and can receive a commodity certificate for their commodity. These commodity certificates can be pushed down the road but will count toward the limitation the year they are returned. Now on to Insurance: SCO The 2014 farm bill also introduced SCO (Supplemental Coverage Option) This is a county crop insurance coverage that guarantee’s the county makes at least 86% of the 10 year county history. This can be purchased above the MPCI (Multi-Peril Crop Insurance). These numbers are now out and have been reported: Here is a real example: The Expected Revenue for corn in Hidalgo County was for 2015 was $374.31/ac. The final number came in at $262.38/ac which represented a 70% revenue for Hidalgo county for 2015. Being SCO insureds the growers to 86% of their individual APH, payments will fluctuate some from grower to grower, but a payment was clearly generated. Most of this loss was to do price fall. Growers who selected Corn SCO RP 65% Coverage and had 100bu aph will be paid $67/ac on those acres no matter what yield they actually produced on that farm. Remember this is a county wide coverage loss not an individual coverage loss. This coverage came at a cost of around $8/ac above what regular crop insurance costs. Remember SCO is a county wide option which means all Planted acres in the county will trigger a payment. It is always our intention to try and educate growers while simplifying the link between FSA, Farm Bill rules and Crop Insurance. We strive to take this mass of information, break it down and apply it so it can assist growers when they need it. If you have questions or would like for me to review your operation to determine a risk profile just give us call..!!!! C. Casey Clipson CropGuard Group, Inc 2315 W Exp 83 Suite 102 San Benito, TX 78586 Office: 956-361-5550



Offering Free Fetal Development Wheel Outlining Calf Fetal Development, Nutritional Recommendations (St. Joseph, MO, April 12, 2016) BioZyme® Inc. brand VitaFerm® has created a unique Fetal Development Wheel designed to help producers successfully manage their herd’s nutritional needs during breeding and conception and throughout the various stages of bovine fetal development. The free wheel is based on the work of Dr. Kim Vonnahme, an associate professor at North Dakota State University who has expertise in reproductive physiology, nutritional impacts on fetal and placental growth, and fetal vascularization. “Bovine fetal development is much more specific than many producers may realize,” said Dorothy Orts, BioZyme Area Sales Manager. “So we’ve developed a tool for producers to use that helps them zero in on what’s going on right now in the life of calves in utero in their own herds, while stressing the importance of proper nutrition during all stages of development.” Producers use the wheel by first dialing in a cow’s estimated date of ovulation and breeding. Once that date is locked in, the wheel tells the producer what is happening with the fetus during the days and months following conception. The wheel also tells the producer the optimum time to schedule ultrasounds for calf sexing and due date, and which VitaFerm nutritional supplement (Concept∙Aid®, Cattleman’s Blend™ or Roughage Fortifier™) is recommended during breeding and the various stages of fetal development to achieve maximum growth potential. “It is surprising to many producers that a fetus’ heart starts beating at 21 days; limbs begin to form from days 25 to 30 and then glands, muscles and bones form between 40 and 50 days. Bull breeders might find day 45 of special importance - the day the testicles begin

to form. Limbs lengthen and harden between 50 and 60 days and the ovaries also form in that time frame as well,” said Orts. And despite a long-held myth in cattle production that marbling occurred only during the feedlot phase of an animal’s life, research by Dr. Kim Vonnahme indicates that marbling actually starts in the fetus 80 days following conception, while brown fat starts to form at day 190 around the fetus’ internal organs for insulation and quick energy after birth. Research by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) supports the fact that marbling actually begins during early fetal development when cells begin to differentiate into muscle or fat, and at birth, these cells continue to specialize based on nutritional and environmental factors. To receive a free wheel or to learn more about BioZyme’s complete line of vitamin and mineral supplements, contact BioZyme’s Inside Sales Team at 1-800-821-3070.

About BioZyme® Inc. BioZyme Inc., founded in 1962, develops and manufactures natural, proprietary products focused on animal nutrition, production, microbiology and reproduction. With a continued commitment to applied research, BioZyme offers a complete line of high density, highly available vitamin, mineral, trace mineral and protein supplements for a variety of animals including cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats, horses and dogs. BioZyme brands include Amaferm®, Amasile™, VitaFerm®, Vita Charge®, Sure Champ®, Vitalize®, LiquiFerm™, Digest More® and Peet’s Feed. Headquartered in St. Joseph, Missouri, BioZyme reaches a global market of customers throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

For more information about BioZyme, visit

M AY / J U N E



Garcia Grain would like to say

Happy 100th Birthday to Jack Holcomb. Here is to many more years.

García Grain Trading 956 - 464 - 6000







Boykin Farms

consist of two pecan orchards - one consisting of 800 trees, 2 miles southwest of Falfurrias,TX in Brooks County and another, consisting of 700 trees, 2 miles southwest of Premont,TX in Jim Wells County.

Varieties include: Choctaw, Wichita, Desirable, Cheyenne, and Podsednik (world’s largest pecan).

Over the years, we have replaced trees as needed, thus creating a mixture of some younger and older trees. For pricing and a private tour of the facilities

call 956-429-3232

Lee Jinks

Abisai Y. Ortiz

Nick Cantu

Jania Cantu

M AY / J U N E



Brookside Agra Reports Increased Yield, Protein Levels, Relative Feed Value in Alfalfa Treated with All-Natural


By Ben Elliott, Vice President - Agronomy Operations at Brookside Agra/Cardinal Agriculture Services


n crop farms throughout the U.S. where the government has restricted water usage due to drought condi tions, and nutrient run-off is closely monitored, water management practic es have become increasingly important to growers. Today, science is helping farmers improve the forage quality of their alfalfa and use less water through the development of all-natural water conservation agents like H2OExcel™ from Brookside Agra.

the study exhibited the following results compared to the untreated alfalfa:

Cardinal Agriculture Services, the agronomy/risk management division of Brookside Agra, recently conducted a field study in Illinois comparing the feed values of alfalfa treated with H2OExcel versus untreated alfalfa.

• An 8.5% increase in the Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), generally resulting in a decrease in dry matter intake.

The study was conducted in Washington County, Illinois on a 40-acre (20 acres treated, 20 acres not treated) alfalfa dry land production area. One quart of H2OExcel was applied to the treated alfalfa per acre at green-up, then 1-pint per acre after each cutting. The study results were compared to the production area’s 2014 yield, which was not treated with H2OExcel.

• An 11% increase in the Relative Feed Value (RFV).

We observed that the alfalfa treated with H2OExcel during 62 Ag Mag


• An increased yield of 2.2 tons and an additional cutting. • A 6.5% decrease in the Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), resulting in increased palatability for the animal.

• A 15% increase in protein levels. We harvested a much higher quality crop and I point specifically to the effects of being able to better manage the increased rains from mid-sum-

About Brookside Agra Brookside Agra is a global fifth-generation, family-owned business based in O’Fallon, IL that develops and manufactures a variety of research-proven, all-natural products for specialty feeds; animal health and production; agriculture and the environment; and commercial, industrial and household use. Brookside also offers agronomy and risk management services through its Cardinal Agriculture Services division.

mer 2015. I also noticed that the disease pressure was moderately reduced, while the inputs were not changed, with the exception of adding H2OExcel to the program.

izers, pesticides and herbicides. H2OExcel can be used as a spray mixture or used in an injection/irrigation system on plants, crops or turf.

We were impressed with the positive results H2OExcel had on the alfalfa’s overall forage quality improvements. And because H2OExcel is all-natural, producers can feel safe about feeding alfalfa or any other forage treated with H2OExcel to their animals.

For more information about H2OExcel, visit or contact Tony Arro, Director of Sales - Specialty Products, at 618-628-8300 ext. 24.

Developed by Brookside Agra, H2OExcel is a proprietary blend of desert plant extracts and high-quality, humic acid-containing biologicals and other all-natural, non-plant derived nutrient enhancers. H2OExcel is highly efficient and can change the polarity of water and soil, increase biological activity, interact with soil capillarity pressure and defend against dehydration of both the soil and the plants by keeping water available deeper in the soil profile. H2OExcel has been scientifically proven in university studies to reduce water usage by 30-50%, lower costs to maintain vegetation, increase plant strength and reduce crop failure. Listed on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list approved by the FDA and AAFCO, H2OExcel will not harm plants, animals or humans and is safe to blend with fertilM AY / J U N E



Texas Department of Agriculture Supports Farmers Markets in Texas


armers markets are an in tegral part of Texas’ agriculture industry. They offer a unique forum for producers to sell their goods, and help connect consumers directly with the men and women who grow their food. Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Certified Farmers Markets contribute $30 million to the state’s economy each year. As a local economic driver, it is easy to see why Texas farmers markets matter and why TDA works hard to promote them every day. “In our modern society, so many people are disconnected from the impact agriculture has on their lives every day,”

64 Ag Mag


Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “Our food and fiber doesn’t come from the grocery store – it comes from farms and ranches all across the state, and the men and women who work every day as stewards of the land. Farmers markets play a critical role in fostering that connection with agriculture.” In 2016, TDA will certify more than 60 farmers markets with over 100 locations across the great state of Texas. By working with TDA, farmers markets can take advantage of programs to help make their businesses successful, including having the market listed on the GO TEXAN website. More than 5,200 consumers visit the GO TEXAN

Certified Farmers page on an annual basis, searching for farmers markets. Additionally, certified markets have the opportunity to participate in TDA’s Farmers Market Women and Infant Children (WIC) program and receive regular email updates from TDA. Most importantly, TDA Certified Farmers Markets have the opportunity to participate in the department’s many marketing programs. If you’re in the market to showcase your products to the public and build a consumer base, look no further than a certified farmers market. TDA can connect you with the market nearest to you. “I encourage all producers of Texas-grown and Texas-made goods, as well as our friendly farmers markets, to be a part of the GO TEXAN program,” Commissioner Miller said. “GO TEXAN promotes the products, culture and communities that call Texas home. Consumers recognize the GO TEXAN mark, and they know it means the product is produced by Texans for Texans.” For more information about becoming a TDA Certified Farmers Market or becoming a vendor, contact:

Richard De Los Santos at (512) 463-7472 or

M AY / J U N E



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