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Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Staff Michelle Martin

Owner/Editor michelle@theagmag.org (956) 330-8870

Al Benavides Graphic Design (956) 492-6407

A Letter from the Editor ”It is just not fair.” Ever felt like saying that when things just don’t go your way? Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned and we don’t always get our way. I am an only child and have used the phrase “It’s just not fair” on more than one occasion. Recently, we moved into a new home, and during that move my son got a stomach bug. I followed shortly thereafter with the same bug, and we had to be moved into our new home within 24 hours. Can you guess how many times the phrase “ It just isn’t fair” came out my mouth, along with some other choice words? All I really wanted to do was crawl into bed but I had things that had to be done, I had no choice but to keep going. During that time though,I laid in my bed and thought to myself how maybe that phrase isn’t one I should be using. It’s such an easy term to throw out but in all reality it wasn’t fair. I was moving into a beautiful new home; I was given a blessing, who was I to be cursing this blessing? And hey on the plus I dropped a couple pounds, what woman doesn’t like that? Despite wanting total control of the situation, I was brought back to reality very quickly that I cannot control everything. As much as we think we are in control of things, we aren’t. Instead of focusing on the bad, maybe focus on the good that comes from every bad situation. The Valley is in need of rain, and the lack of has caused many crops not to grow, or grow to their potential. Our plants look dull and in need of life. It may seem that nothing is going as planned and nothing is going right and it is just not fair. But somehow you find a way to just keep going. You find ways to make it work, or you just know it is not going to work and move on to the next task. You just keep going. Just as our plants look dull and in need of life, sometimes the same goes for us. Sometimes we need that rain - God - in order to bring us back to life. It is so easy to get caught up in our own expectations that we tend to forget that it is not our expectations that we need to live up to, it’s God’s. So if you are having a difficult time in life right now, try to sit back and count your blessings and stop focusing on the bad. For every troubled time sprouts a blessing. You must keep going, because God will bless you for being faithful. Not everything is meant to work out and although it may not seem fair to us at the time, our God is fair and just and he will help you succeed. Sometimes fair doesn’t mean not getting what you want, it is what you need. You must keep the faith. God gave you this life, and we never know when it will end. Don’t let the bad gain control of your attitude or put a damper on your day. Things will never go exactly as you had planned so don’t waste your time thinking about what could have been. Instead, focus on the now and the future. Enjoy the life God gave you. Bad will come and go, it never sticks around forever - unless you allow it to. The choice is yours.

Owner/Creator of AG MAG

In This Issue: Does Southeast Asia hold the solution for Texas’ cattle tick problems? 6 Four factors shaping marketing success in 2018 10 SAN ANTONIO... A Historically Refreshing City 12 Featured Farmer: Soaring with Rowland 16 Las Huellas 18 AGRIBUSINESS 20 The Brahman F1- Solution for southern cattlemen 22 Servando Leal 26 Farming in the Fast Lane 28 AGRILIFE EXTENSION - EFNEP Summer program feeds children’s bodies, minds 30 Shoot for the Moon 32 Cattle Review 34 Garbanzo Beans in South Texas 38 A Farmer on the Rise 44 2018 RGV Livestock Show Pictures 48 2018 Star Show Pictures 50 FFA & 4-H Calendar of Events 52 Paul Pilsner - 2017 Cotton Consultant of the Year 56 FARM HER The Journey 60 Sustainability Empowers Alternative School Students 62 Daily Dose of Inspiration - Inspirational Quotes 65 Irrigation Best Practices 68 Plant Tissue Testing to Identify Deficiencies 72

Cover Photo by: The Dept of Agriculture Volume 4, Issue 5. May/June 2018. 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 ©2018. To advertise in Ag Mag, call (956) 330-8870 or email michelle@theagmag.org


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Does Southeast Asia hold the solution for Texas’ cattle tick problems?

BY KRIS WYCKHUYS

Trouble in the undergrowth! All of whom regularly go for a hike in the woods or spend ample time on the ranch will concur: ticks are quite an annoyance. Yet, one tick in particular – the southern cattle fever tick – means outright trouble. Through its bite, it transmits a most damaging disease (i.e., bovine babesiosis) to livestock, which simply conveys the death sentence for cattle in many parts of the continental US. Well aware of the tick’s devastating impact, the state of Texas tasked its officials way back in 1893 with a herculean mission to get rid of these critters. After 50 years of sustained efforts and having spent considerable resources, fever tick was effectively pushed back across the Rio Grande river, behind the Mexican border. Yet, in recent years, it has initiated its return journey. Hitchhiking on white-tailed deer and nilgai antelope & favored by a steady proliferation of invasive grasses such as carrizo cane or Guineagrass, tick incursions into Texas presently happen with ever increasing frequency. Despite intensified patrols (for stray cattle) by cowboys and state inspectors over >500 miles of mesquite and the establishment of a broad ‘quarantine’ zone, it proves exceptionally challenging to contain the looming ‘fever tick’ threat.

Small bugs, big problems Pressure is on for scientists at the USDA cattle fever eradication research unit in Edinburg, Texas – but even more for cattle ranchers and livestock producers across the United States. If the fever tick would continue its northward push in an unhampered fashion, they’re bound to cause astounding economic losses up to US$ 4 billion per year, and drastically lower the competitive edge for US beef producers. A number of options have been proposed, to deal with the new challenges. A complicating factor in effective tick management is 6 Ag Mag THEAGMAG.ORG

that fact that cattle fever ticks have other wildlife hosts, including the highly-mobile nilgai antelope. Nilgai freely move between wildlife reserves, public lands and cattle ranches and have proven to be an excellent vehicle for the ticks’ spread. Yet, highly priced as game for hunters, nilgai constitute a lucrative source of added revenue for many local ranchers. The majority of ranchers and local sportsmen prefer tick management options that don’t negatively affect the nilgai antelope. One of the options that is being explored is the automated spraying of nilgai with tick-killing minute worms or ‘nematodes’, at places where they gather to defecate (i.e., so-called latrines) or where they regularly cross fences. Spraying with the nematode could eradicate the tick on the nilgai.


Using nature to fight cattle fever tick The long-lasting solution to the cattle tick invasion in fact may be found way across the Pacific, in the countryside of Southern China, Philippines or Vietnam. One may wonder – Vietnam? Out of all places? The cattle fever tick, which is omnipresent in ranchers across southern Texas and Mexico, in fact is a native from eastern Asia. It has indeed long been hypothesized that these ticks made their earliest arrival in Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), ‘stepping on shore’ after a long and perilous journey from Manila (Philippines), clinging onto a water buffalo or cow in the hold of a Spanish galleon. These geographic linkages were only recently confirmed after US and Australian researchers (from USDA-ARS and CSIRO, respectively) employed genetic finger-printing and other CSI-style toolkits, showing an exact ‘genetic match’ between the Texan ticks and those from Vietnam’s countryside. Hence, the fore-fathers of the cattle fever ticks that now roam the mesquite and prickly pear rangelands of Brownsville or Reynosa (Mexico) came from the other side of the globe!

If indeed these minute wasp killers are sufficiently specialized on cattle fever tick, harmless to any other (native) organisms, adapted to local environmental conditions and ‘all packed’ for their transpacific journey, then they might soon be found in a ranch near you. They’d be joining the ranks of USDA-ARS scientists and state inspectors and help advance efforts to eradicate the cattle fever tick. The discovery of the parasitic wasp in Vietnam’s uplands also means that maybe soon the honeymoon will be over for the Texan cattle tick… After all, it lasted way too long.

Aside from being the historic home of Texas’ dreaded ticks, Vietnam and southern China equally can hold some of nature’s ‘precision-guided munitions’ to take the battle against these critters to another level. In fact, as cattle fever tick is an invader in North America, it left most of its specialized ‘natural enemies’ behind in its home base (which also explains why its populations can attain such high numbers). Minute parasitic wasps (the size of a needle’s head, and 100% harmless to humans), voracious predatory beetles or even insect-killing mushroom (or ‘fungi’) are thought to abound in Asia’s rural areas. Scientists in countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam have been going on frequent collecting trips in rural areas and places where cattle roam freely. On a recent trip between Vietnam’s coastline and the border with Lao PDR, together with ‘biological control’ expert Kris Wyckhuys (a 2005 Purdue graduate, equally linked to China’s new international research center on ‘Ecological Pest Management’), small wasps were found attacking cattle ticks. Pretty much in a similar way as in the movie ‘Alien’, these wasps drill a hole in the adult tick, lay their eggs inside its body, and neatly consume its interior prior to ‘hatching’ from it. More efforts are needed to determine the susceptibility of the tick (at different steps of its life cycle; be it eggs, larvae, nymphs or adults) to parasitism, and to carefully select the parasitic wasps that inflict most harm. M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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Four Factors Shaping Marketing Success in 2018 BY MARK WELCH

1. 2.

First, a test of your level of satisfaction with your marketing prowess. Can you identify with either of these situations?

You sell your grain for $6.00 and your neighbor sells for $6.50. You are not happy with your marketing program.

You sell your grain for $5.50 and your neighbor sells for $5.00. You are happy with your marketing program.

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If you can relate to the this example, we have a marketing problem. You are happy selling grain at $5.50 but unhappy selling grain at $6.00. Marketing success might clearly be defined as whether we are selling above our costs of production, making a profit, but as the above example demonstrates, the definition of success can get tangled up in our perception of performance relative to others or what we hear at the coffee shop. Below is a look at several factors that will shape marketing opportunities in the upcoming crop year and influence the degree to which we can rate our marketing program a success.

DEMAND.

Grain demand is strong. World per capita grain consumption was flat from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, about 754 pounds per person per year (see Figure 1). But with rising levels of income and a growing middle


class in many of the world’s emerging or developing economies (e.g., China, India, Brazil, Russia), grain consumption has increased by about eight pounds per person per year for the last 15 years. Per capita grain consumption now stands at 877 pounds.

Trade.

With the increasing concentration of grain consumption in overseas markets, trade access is increasingly important to support domestic price levels in the U.S. Over the last five years, global exports of coarse grain (corn, barley, sorghum, oats, and rye) have increased from 6.509 billion bushels to 7.422 billion, a 14 percent increase (USDA, FAS). The U.S. share of that trade has fallen from 34 percent to 33 percent. Positive trade relationships, partnerships, and agreements will maintain market access and grow market share while degeneration in these areas will dwindle the same.

Productivity.

Over the last several years, as grain prices have been in decline, U.S. farm income and farm profitability have been supported by above average yields. For example, if the break-even point in a grain sorghum budget is $5.63 per cwt with normal yields, a yield that is 25 percent above normal drops the break-even point down to $4.67. If weather conditions are such that production levels return to normal or something below, productivity may not save us going forward. A yield that is 25 percent below normal in the

example shown raises the break-even point to $7.22 per cwt. Cost control and input efficiency will be critical components if the farm is to survive in that environment.

Expectations.

For many crop producers, marketing is not their favorite farming activity or management responsibility. When it comes to price determination or price discovery, so much is unknown and so many factors are out of the control of the individual producer. As a producer, you cannot control or individually influence the price of any given commodity on any given day. What you can do is manage marketing opportunities. Each day you can assess whether the current price offering is ‘good enough’. That ‘good enough’ price will likely be different for each person. Producers have different production costs, financial resources, risk preferences, goals, and growth objectives. These factors and more determine whether a particular price, marketing program, or marketing plan is a success for them. Success is not determined by your returns versus your neighbor but by what works for you on your farm.

World Per Capita Grain Use

FIGURE 1. World Per Capita Grain Use lbs

900

877

850

800

750

650

1970/1971 1971/1972 1972/1973 1973/1974 1974/1975 1975/1976 1976/1977 1977/1978 1978/1979 1979/1980 1980/1981 1981/1982 1982/1983 1983/1984 1984/1985 1985/1986 1986/1987 1987/1988 1988/1989 1989/1990 1990/1991 1991/1992 1992/1993 1993/1994 1994/1995 1995/1996 1996/1997 1997/1998 1998/1999 1999/2000 2000/2001 2001/2002 2002/2003 2003/2004 2004/2005 2005/2006 2006/2007 2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020

700

barley, corn, millet, mixed grains, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service, PSD, 3/8/2018

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photo by Debra Atlas

San

Antonio

A Historically Refreshing City

A

s many of you are probably aware 2018 marks the 300th anniversary of the found ing of San Antonio. On May 1st, 1718 Franciscan Friar Antonio Olivares found ed the mission San Antonio de Valero AKA the Alamo. Four days later the presidio San Antonio de Bexar was established at the headwaters of the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek. Even though most Texans and Americans mark our history based off European discovery and start counting form there. The history of Texas and the San Antonio area goes back much further. The January 2018 issue of the The Texas Highways Magazine was quick to point out the indigenous peoples had been living in the area for 10,000 years. These people are known as the Coahuiltecans. But one can go back even further in time to the Clovis People. The Clovis People are thought to date back to the Ice Age or around 9200 BC. They are thought to be the first man to cross the Bering Strait and settle across Texas. Evidence of them can

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BY KATHRYN BRADY

be found from flint and fluted spear points. There have even been weathered engravings found at the Gault Site near Killeen, TX. And around Hays County, Texas you can find middens or trash piles from native peoples some dating back to the Clovis people. But eventually the Coahuiltecans came about and much more is known about them because they were around when the Spanish arrived. The local Coahuiltecan bands were known as the Payaya. According to historians the Coahuiltecans were a people throughout Texas and Mexico with many different, distinctive bands even speaking different dialects or languages. They referred to the San Antonio River as the Yanaguana which meant ‘refreshing springs’. The Payaya thought of the area surrounding the river valley as a sacred place, a good place to call home. It was “warm with rich soil and plentiful game and fishing”. (Murray, 2018) The same characteristic that attract people to this day. Being that they were hunter/gathers; the Payaya survived on fish, deer, prickly pear and pecans and bison which they considered a symbol of bounty. They were a peaceful people who


traded with peoples of other nations even up to a couple thousand miles away. On June 13, 1691 a group of Spanish explorers and missionaries came across a Native American settlement along the banks of the San Antonio River. It was the Feast Day of St. Anthony, so Father Damian Massanet named the place and the river San Antonio. Then on May 1, 1718 Friar Olivares founded the mission of San Antonio de Valero and the Presidio of Bexar. (Murray, 2018) Spain’s intent was to establish Catholic missions. Eventually building five in San Antonio; comprised of Missions Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan Espada, Capistrano and of course, the Alamo. You can still visit these to this day. And the park rangers are filled with great bits of information.

For the next two-hundred years or so, San Antonio began to flourish under Spanish rule. But by 1821 after 300 years as a Spanish colony, at the end of the Mexican War of Independence, San Antonio became part of Mexico as the state of Coahuila y Tejas. A mere two years later; American, Stephen F. Austin received a land grant from the Mexican government and American settlers began to enter the region from the United States. Americans that arrived in San Antonio de Bexar were inquisitive, in wonder, and some even a bit disillusioned by the difference between the Spanish culture in San Antonio and the Anglo culture in the eastern United States. The same Utopian-like aspect met these travelers just as it had the Native Americans. The water seemed to gush from the San Pedro Springs and gurgle through the cities acequias. And the San Antonio River looped languidly through town. The flat roofed-adobe structures also gave San Antonio an exotic novelty for the colonists from the United States. “As did the picturesque churches with their iron crosses, carved wooden doors and colorfully painted wooden icons.” The cultural activities were vastly different from the Anglo culture and pattern of daily routines of the eastern United States, for example: there was horse races, cockfights, gambling and fandangos almost every evening, the lifestyle was more leisurely than that of the U.S. with a siesta at midday and a bath in the river later. Around “dusk women would visit, shop or ride about town.” “Anglo-American travelers often paused at a distance to admire this white town of San Antonio rising like an oasis from the valley floor;” seemingly like “the dilapidated cities of old Spain;” evoking ideas of the “old fortified towns of antiquity.” Remarked newcomer Jon Winfield Scott Daney. “Up close however, the impoverished agricultural community lost some of its glamour. One Anglo-American woman named

Elizabeth Riddle Canterbury recalled that “the houses were so low and dingy looking with their flat roofs and dirt chimneys, that the entire place [San Antonio] had the appearance of being visited by fire.” By all accounts, though, San Antonio at this time was a very diverse city; for in the main plaza could be found; Comanches, Mescalero and Lipan Apaches often in town to trade with the Mexican citizenry. It didn’t take long for the large influx of Anglo settlers to become disenchanted with a Mexican government being in charge and as early as 1830 relations between the Texians and Mexicans began to decline. In 1835 Texian forces led by Stephen F. Austin made an advance on San Antonio de Bexar where 750 Mexican troops were occupying the city. On February 24, 1836 Santa Anna made his arrival in Bexar and the siege of the Alamo began. A couple of weeks later, on March 2, 1836 members of the convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the Brazos, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Then on March 6th the siege of the Alamo ended with Santa Anna’s troops overwhelming Travis, Bowie and the rest of the Texian Army. Less than seven weeks later, however, on April 21st at San Jacinto in present day Houston, Sam Houston led 700 Texians to defeat Santa Anna and his Army; with the battle cry ‘Remember the Alamo’. After this Texas was recognized as an independent Republic. Shortly after, in the 1840’s , German immigrants began settling in San Antonio, further diversifying the community and contributing even more to its rich cultural heritage. Despite and maybe because of there were tensions between all these peoples within the community of San Antonio. On March 19th, 1840 Texas troops killed 35 Peateka Comaches in what is known as the Council House Fight during a peace conference in San Antonio. This fight is said to have exacerbated hostilities between the Comanches and Anglos for the next thirty years. There were also still skirmishes between Texas and Mexico as Mexico was unwilling to acknowledge Texas’ independence. On March 5th, 1842 Mexican troops attacked San Antonio and flew the Mexican flag over the city for five days before retreating. And again, in September eventually retreating this time too. On December 29th, 1845, United States President James Polk admitted Texas as the twenty-eighth state of the nation. However, when the Civil War broke out in 1861 Texas went with the south as a Confederate state, but was later re-admitted during reconstruction. The first railroad came to San Antonio in 1877. From this time forward Texas and San Antonio continued to modernize. The rest as they say is history. San Antonio has a rich history and one to proud of celebrated by all Texans; especially since it is essentially this history of Texas itself and you cannot have one without the other.

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Ag Mag Featured Farmer

with Rowland

B

layne Rowland had his mind made up. He wasn’t going to follow in his grandfather or father’s footsteps and fly over farm lands as a sprayer. His sights were set on being a chemical engineer. “That wasn’t any fun,” said Blayne, owner of Rowland Flying & Sons in Monte Alto. “I went to A&M and decided I didn’t like that. There was a whole lot of math and physics and organic chemistry. I didn’t enjoy it. I think I could’ve done it but it wasn’t what I thought. All of the sudden it hit me that I wanted to be a spray pilot – I hadn’t planned suddenly I had this strong feeling about it and went to get my license and my ratings.” Blayne earned his pilot’s license 31 years ago and has sprayed for 28 full seasons. The industry, just like all industries attached to farming and agriculture, has drastically changed over the years. Today’s airplanes are bigger and faster, and there is less land as well as more obstacles a sprayer has to face – such as urban sprawl and more and more windmills and wind farms going up. “When my dad and grandfather flew, it was usually a tool used in farmers’ programs,” he said. “Not we are more of a 9-1-1 service because most farmers are able to do more of it on their own. We get a lot of calls when someone needs something done quickly and are less of a took they plan to use.” Blayne’s grandfather Bernard started the business in 1946 in Louisiana. He was a World War II pilot instructor, teaching young cadets how to fly and transitioning into being a spray pilot just made sense – plus there was a whole lot of farm land in Louisiana and Texas and Bernard would make the circuit back and forth.

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“My grandfather taught my dad how to fly and my dad taught me how to fly,” Blayne said. “But once my dad was flying, he started spraying down here where you can spray year round and my grandfather stayed in Louisiana.” Blayne remembers how much more he enjoyed going up in the plane with his dad – and siblings – at night. “Sometimes it would be cool and in the early morning or night we could see flames coming out of the exhaust and see the lights on the plane”. “There were certain products they would use at night for like green beans that the product either worked better at night or that’s when the pests were out.” Night flying is another aspect of the industry that doesn’t happen as much, even though Blayne said he’s done some. Other aspects of spraying that have taken on major changes includes the size and speed of the planes (“I might be flying in my plane sometimes up to 170 miles per hour, even though I might not be spraying at that speed,” Blayne said.), GPS and nozzle technology and the accuracy and quickness that a job can get done due to that increase in technology.” While all those advances are positives, there is a waning side to the industry.

hundred bucks in parts and it was ready to go the next day. “They (father and grandfather) each had several accidents back in the day – there were a lot more accidents back then and more people died in those smaller, underpowered airplanes, but now it’s very rare.” Blayne is the father of three, ages 15, 18 and 23. He said he’s not going to push them to follow in his footsteps. “If they want to, they are going to have to come to me because I don’t want them getting hurt,” he said. “To be in this business, you need to want to do it really bad. Not something you just go and try – to be decent and survive, it has to be your sole focus. “I tell the wife they are going to have to want to do it as bad as I did.”

“In 20 years we will have a lot more issues with good available land to farm on,” Blayne said. “We are losing land very very fast. Makes you wonder where the food will come from – what if we have to import food. That won’t be a good thing.” Even though the planes are bigger, faster and safer it doesn’t mean everything goes always as planned. Blayne remember a close call he had in 1993 with a brand new plane. “It only had about 90 hours on it and one engine quit,” he said. “Something wasn’t working right and it just quit. I landed it right next to a cemetery. It turned out ok – just cost a couple

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Las Huellas LOMA ALTA YOUTH HUNTER EDUCATION PROGRAM

T

he Las Huellas Association serves as an advocate for the benefit of South Texas wildlife and for the rights of South Texas wildlife managers, landown ers, and sportsmen in educational and wildlife habi tat related arenas. We are dedicated to educating people of all ages, especially the youth of South Texas, about the conservation, management, and enhancement of wildlife and wildlife habitat to ensure the preservation of our cherished resources for future generations. If you are interested in learning more about how our South Texas community can conserve wildlife and habitats or if you have an activity that needs our help. This year Las Huellas had an event at Amigoland Event Center in Brownsville. Las Huellas puts together several events to give back to the community and support the kids.

This program is designed for local youth as an advanced hunter education and gun safety program. Last year we had close to 100 attendees, including many from Cameron County 4H members, teaching them the basics of hunting and how to safely use guns and bows.

ANNUAL FUNDRAISING BANQUET Our biggest event of the year is the annual fundraising banquet that allows us to fund scholarships, grants, and educational programs. Join us for an evening of celebration and conservation to honor our youth and our natural wildlife and habitants.

KID FISH This annual event introduces the youth of Brownsville to the joys of fishing. Over the years, we’ve given out over 3,500 rod and reel combos at various events in the Rio Grande Valley.

TURKEY RELEASE With over 100 wild turkeys and hatchlings released to date. Las Huellas is dedicated to the reestablishment of the local population of our native species. Thanks to the efforts of Las Huellas, the wild turkey population continues to grow and spread in Cameron County. If you see turkeys, take a picture and share it with us.


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AGRIBUSINESS

on both sides of the border are hopeful that a deal is close at hand BY JOHN MILLER

W

hile the current crop conditions across the Rio Grande Valley are drought-stressed, and sharp reductions in yields are likely for many farmers, there are ongoing trade talks that could affect all valley residents for years to come. Although the TPP, or Trans-Pacific-Partnership, has made much more news since the Trump election, NAFTA renegotiations have been going since the start of year. Since NAFTA began taking effect in 1994, our agricultural trade with both Canada and Mexico has increased almost threefold and trade among the participating countries have become almost completely free of tariffs or quotas. In 2016, Canada and Mexico together accounted for 28 percent of our entire agricultural exports, up from 20 percent prior to NAFTA. As you can see from the USDA trade chart below labeled Figure 1, US exports increased from $8.7 billion prior to NAFTA, to $38.1 billion in 2016. Over that same time with Canada and Mexico, imports jumped from $6.5 billion to $44.5 billion. As the green line in this chart indicates, this trade activity ultimately led to a $6.4 billion trade deficit

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for agricultural products. While there were a number of years with a trade surplus, attention has been more focused on the past five years where the U.S. trade deficit averaged $1.8 billion per year. The deficit has grown more sharply in recent years as overall U.S. agricultural imports from Mexico have continued to grow while U.S. exports to Mexico have receded. This growing trade deficit with Canada and Mexico, while not as large or consistent as that with China, has prompted our government to review this agreement with a particular focus on any negative impacts on American jobs. The trade balance with Mexico alone is better illustrated in the graph labeled Figure 7, which shows that the US has gone from a positive trade balance to an approximate $5 billion deficit over the past 5 years, but only after close to 20 years of a US trade surplus. Despite the recent decrease in US exports to Mexico relative to our imports, this chart clearly shows the significant cross-border trade that has developed during the NAFTA term.


It is also interesting to look at the wide range of commodities sent to Mexico under NAFTA and try to understand the importance of this agreement to the Rio Grande Valley. The USDA chart number 8 below shows that in 2016, US agricultural exports to Mexico alone were valued at over $20 billion. By value, the main agricultural exports were animal products, grains and feed, oilseeds. sugar/tropical products, other horticultural products, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, cotton; seeds, and nursery products. It is likely that valley farmers and processors help supply every commodity on this list. Something else the Figure 8 shows, is that there has been significant growth in exports to Mexico for each commodity listed. This has been particularly true for grain and feed, animals and products, vegetables, and sugar and its products. Having seen these crops growing around the valley and being familiar with the semi-truck traffic headed to border crossings in the area, you can get some sense of how important it is for US and Mexican trade representatives to agree on an updated version of NAFTA. There is no question that large scale trade agreements find winners and losers when implemented. It is our hope, then, that a way is found to buttress US manufacturing jobs while protecting cross-border agricultural trade.

Fortunately, there seems to be enthusiasm building about the ongoing negotiations and the ability of US and Mexican trade representatives to find a way to refresh the agreement in positive ways. Increasing reports indicate that an agreement-in-principle could be reached in the next few weeks, which has generated a lot of optimism in the agribusiness communities on both sides of the border. Earlier this week in fact, the Mexican economy minister was quoted by Reforma, a Mexican business publication, as saying that there is an 80 percent chance of having agreement-in-principle by the end of the month. However, deadlines still loom that could jeopardize the agreement. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is no less than the next round of US congressional elections in November. The U.S. trade promotion authority requires Congress have 90 days of notice before entering a trade deal and any final agreement on NAFTA is subject to congressional approval. Unless a deal-in-principle is submitted very soon, then, the mid-term elections could push us past deadlines that would kill the agreement. If you recall, the first President Bush signed the NAFTA agreement in late 1992 but Congress did not approve participation for almost a full year. As much as Mexico would like to see this agreement renewed, there is a lot of uncertainty on the political front there as well since Mexico will hold a presidential election in July. The Mexican presidential race is said to be very competitive with a left-of-center candidate named Andrés Manuel

López Obrador leading the polls. While Obrador is said to support NAFTA, some political observers say that the business community is much more familiar with the economic positions of other candidates which is bringing nervousness to officials in Mexico and creating a sense of urgency to the negotiations. Trade interests in Mexico understand that negotiators need to find a narrative that President Trump can bring to his supporters, especially cars and heavy industry in the Northeast, to bring about a quick resolution. The bottom line is that Mexican businesses view a deal on NAFTA as their most important issue for 2018. For valley farmers and agribusiness, the certainty of trade rules by both sides goes a long way in the maintaining of established relationships and steady flow of goods and services. After seven rounds of negotiations, and the talks now in the ‘permanent’ stage, it is hoped that the discussions will continue until a deal is complete.

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The Brahman F1

A

BY CHRIS SHIVERS

cross the United States, the makeup of commercial cow herds varies to fit various environments. In the South, increased heat and hu midity require cattle that are able to perform in these conditions. The ability of Brahman cattle to withstand these conditions allowed the breed to become a staple of commercial cattle production in the Deep South. In particular, the use of Brahman in crossbreeding, primarily with British breeds, to produce extremely popular F1 offspring is perhaps the most common source of influence on the commercial cow herd of the South. While the F1’s are most noted for their superior reproduction and maternal ability, there are other redeeming qualities of F1’s to consider. The ability of these cattle to grow and perform to weaning outshines crossbred calves solely of British and Continental breed origin. In the feedlot, F1 Brahman calves are able to successfully grow and convert feed to pounds of product in the proper environment. However, the importance of the F1 female as an elite brood cow in the Deep South can’t be overlooked. When a vast majority of the commercial cow base is British and Continental influenced, using Brahman bulls

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presents the opportunity for added offspring performance due to heterosis. Heterosis, or hybrid vigor, is the added performance of crossbred individuals over the averages of their straightbred parents. The greater differences between two breeds result in greater effects from heterosis. It has been documented and widely known for over 50 years that crossing Brahman, a Bos indicus breed, with a British or Continental breed (Bos taurus), results in much more heterosis than crossbred cows of any other breeds.

Added Growth and Performance Heterosis affects performance traits, such as weights and growth rates. Brahman F1 calves exhibit as much as a 5% increase in weaning weight over the average of purebred parents due to heterosis. If the average weaning weight for 2 parent breeds was 500 lbs. the F1 Brahman cross calf would be expected to weigh 525 lbs. at weaning. In today’s market, that’s approximately a $65 increase in calf value due to the added performance of heterosis. In the right environment, Brahman-influenced feeder cattle can perform as well as their Bos taurus counterparts in gain. F1 Brahman steers often outgain straightbred calves of the parent breeds in feedlots in warmer climates or seasons.


breeds in feedlots in warmer climates or seasons. Feeders in the southern Great Plains realize the ability of these cattle to grow while handling the harsh temperatures. Half-blood Brahmans have the ability to produce carcasses that meet industry standards. The thought that Brahman and Brahman-influenced cattle do not produce a high-quality retail product is a misconception. In a Texas A&M study in the 1990s, Brahman-sired steers out of Angus and Hereford cows were placed into a feedlot at weaning and fed for 180 days. At approximately 14 months, the steers were harvested. Almost 60% of the carcasses graded USDA Choice, comparing favorably to industry-wide averages for percentage of Choice cattle. Over 90% of carcasses tested with acceptable ratings for tenderness using the Warner-Bratzler Shear-Force test. Traits such as carcass weight, dressing percentage, and yield grade are another area that Brahman-cross feeder cattle excel in. Heavier carcasses with a high dressing percentage and less backfat are common. Brahman steers with average carcass weights over 800 lbs., with dressing percentages approaching 65% (accepted industry standard is 62%) were part of recent American Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA) Carcass Evaluation.

The F1 Female The biggest impact of Brahman cattle on commercial cattle production is through the influence of the F1 female as a brood cow in the South. Half-blood Brahman cows are highly regarded for their ability to thrive in hot, humid environments like the Brahman. The influence of heterosis on traits that are not easily improved with selection programs is what distinguishes the F1 female as a superior performer. Traits such as pregnancy rate, calving rate, and weaning rate are always greater in F1 females than in straightbred or Bos taurus cross females. Studies conducted in Florida in the early 2000’s have shown the superior performance of Brahman-Angus females over both parent breeds. Pregnancy and calving rates in both Angus and Brahman-sired F1 females (93%) were 11 to 16 percent greater than the purebred Angus (82%) or Brahman (77%). Weaning rates were also 15% higher than the weighted average of the parent breeds. The increased pregnancy, calving, and weaning rates of F1 Brahman females result in more calves for producers to market and a greater impact on an operation’s bottom line. In addition, F1 Brahman-influenced cattle

have increased longevity compared to purebred counterparts. A 1988 research project in Texas showed that Brahman-sired F1 cows out of Angus and Herefords dams had an average lifespan of almost 14 years, compared to 10 year average lifespan of the parent breeds. Another study from Nevada reported that F1 females with Brahman inheritance having more calves over their lifetime than Bos taurus F1’s and purebred Bos taurus, as well as a greater portion of the females staying in production longer.

Brahman’s Influence In the Southern United States, utilizing Brahman genetics in commercial crossbreeding systems provides heat tolerance, durability, and maximum heterosis throughout the entire production cycle. The added growth of calves pre-weaning gives cattlemen additional pounds on the scale at market time, and these calves can gain and produce quality carcasses through the feedlot and harvest. In the regions of the country where hot, humid summers are an annual fixture, no cow works better in these conditions than the F1 Brahman crossbred. These females can handle the tough conditions while successfully breeding, calving, and weaning a healthy calf. The added longevity of the F1 Brahman female gives cattlemen a cow that stays in the herd longer, raising more calves over her lifetime. Overall, the influence of Brahman on commercial cattle production in the South is extremely important. Brahman-influenced cattle, especially F1’s, carry many productive advantages that help them thrive in the warmer climate of the region. The Brahman breed plays a major role in South Texas both in the cow herd and in the feed yard due to the above mentioned traits. The South Texas Region has long been a leader in the production of Registered Brahman and Brahman-influenced cattle. To learn more about Brahman & F-1 Cattle in the Rio Grande Valley contact the Rio Grande Valley Brahman & F-1 Association President Mike England at 956-330-0916. Chris Shivers is the owner of Infinity Cattle Services a full service cattle consulting and marketing firm. Shivers served as the Executive Vice President of the American Brahman Breeders Association for 14 years guiding the association and its programs to promote, improve and further the breed. Contact Chris Shivers to learn how he might assist you in the profitability of your cattle operation at 713-202-1747.

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NRCS Contributors: Jessica Benavides-Paredes, Joel Torres, Melissa Blair

Servando Leal

A fourth generation rancher from Bruni, manages two ranches that extend through Webb, Jim Hogg, and Duval counties. He runs a cow-calf operation where he breeds and sells animals from the ranch through private treaty agreements. Leal worked with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a conservation plan to help him meet his short and long term goals of improving the land and natural resources for cattle, wildlife and land stewardship. He utilized the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program and obtained financial assistance with the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). He installed conservation practices such as livestock pipelines, water facilities, cross-fences, brush management, range planting of native and introduced grasses, prescribed grazing management and upland wildlife habitat management. Leal uses high intensity low frequency grazing in his smaller pastures to trample the vegetation down to cover the soil a

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well as enrich the mineral cycle in the shallow soils on his ranch through animal waste contributions. He has installed more than 10,000 feet of livestock pipeline to effectively manipulate his water distribution in all his pastures. He also strategically removed brush and planted a four way native species seed mix to diversify his forage base to benefit livestock and wildlife. He installed more than 16,000 feet of cross-fencing to better manage his grazing rotation schedules to improve his grazing distribution evenly throughout the property. His water distribution is one water source per 2,600 feet, which has enabled his livestock and wildlife to thrive and keep body condition up in the challenging climate of South Texas. He is also instrumental in communicating the importance of conservation and conservation planning for grazing and wildlife management to farmers and ranchers in South Texas.


REPRINTED FROM TEXAS FARM BUREAU

The president of Texas’ largest farm organization said today the House Agriculture Committee’s 2018 Farm Bill, also known as HR 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, addresses concerns important to agriculture. Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening of Poth, in Wilson County, said the bill addresses critical shortfalls in risk protection for crop farmers and funding for threats to livestock health. “The establishment of a National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program will protect the health of the nation’s livestock,” Boening said. “We are especially pleased that the cattle fever tick has been designated as a ‘high priority’ research item.” The fever tick has caused major damage for Texas ranchers, and there have been coordinated efforts to achieve control. Funding for these initiatives has been included in the bill. Also in the legislation are protections against overreach on enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, better access to conservation programs and streamlining of the regulatory burden on agriculture. Boening said the House Agriculture Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Mike Conaway of Texas, has addressed a tattered farm safety net. “There has been a 52 percent decline in farm income over the last five years,” Boening said. “This new farm bill gives struggling farmers and ranchers a chance to survive a very difficult time. TFB appreciates Chairman Conaway and his staff for their hard work. We look forward to working with Congress to get it passed.” The South Texas grain, cotton, beef and dairy farmer said Congress should act soon to shore up a battered U.S. agriculture. “Many members of the Texas Congressional delegation worked hard to accomplish writing this bill,” Boening said. “Our members appreciate their efforts.” Agriculture needs a strong safety net, especially as farm income continues to decline. The 2018 Farm Bill released by the U.S. House Agriculture Committee is a good start to addressing concerns important to agriculture.

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FARMING IN THE

FAST L ANE BY JULIE HAVELKA

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It’s no secret within the agricultural community that farming is one of the most innovative industries due to the fast and ever changing developments in technology. Farming, however, encompasses a variety of interests and niche markets globally. Despite the many definitions that define a farmer today, they are all eager to remain current with trends and increase efficiency. But farmers also remain practical, always aware of the bottom line. The farming industry finds itself with increasing demands. Experts say global food production will need to double in the next 30 years to keep up with population growth. With less land available for production, innovation will be key to meeting these crucial demands. They say the only way you can do more with less is through technology. The agricultural industry finds itself in an exhilarating and pioneering time. In 2017, it is estimated $10.1 billion was invested globally in start-up companies associated with agricultural technology. Investors are confident in the long-term trends that continue to show and sustain prolific revenues. Lucky for these companies, there is an increasing amount of tech-savvy software engineers available in the job market and eager to be a part of something groundbreaking.

these companies and their forward thinking concepts. These start-up companies are involved in a variety of farming markets that look to fine tune and enhance simplicity and profitability. Categories include; biotechnology, predictive data analytics, cloud services, connected devices, robotics and automation. These categories are widespread across all facets of the farming industry. The possibilities are endless hence the driving force behind the creative atmosphere. For these companies to be successful, however, the product has to be relevant. Sure these ingenious developments can make farming more interesting and exciting, but does the product add value? The most beneficial amount of research and information these companies can find is from the seasoned farmer. Understanding the needs from their customer base is key. And these needs are vast. The variety of ag tech start-up companies available in the market today is mindboggling to say the least. To ensure their success and the farmer’s, a respectful relationship must be mutual. Working together, the technology must be clear-cut and user-friendly. Farmers have a variety of variables out of their control. And technology is fast becoming their friend to help hedge against those variables.

“Precision Ag” is the shoptalk term most used to describe

The following are just a few start-up ag tech companies quickly gaining attention:

AGERpoint - citrus orchard management software using satellite data to provide tree-specific information including the size of the canopy and trunk diameter. Arvegenix - the development of a new cash crop called pennycress that can be rotated between corn and soybean to protect soil erosion and soak up nitrogen pollution. Farmer’s Edge - hardware and software that identifies, maps and manages farmland through satellite imagery. Mavrx - software that helps farmers visualize their fields, spotlighting areas of needed resources and benchmarking crop performance. Trace Genomics - tests soil health by identifying biological data and certain microbes to help maximize crop yields.

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Children in San Benito participate in a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Expanded Food and Nutrition Education summer program providing food along with nutrition education. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

AGRILIFE EXTENSION

EFNEP SUMMER PROGRAM FEEDS CHILDREN’S BODIES, MINDS BY PAUL SCHATTENBERG REPRINTED FROM AGRI LIFE

SAN BENITO/EDINBURG – This summer, low-income and underserved children in the Lower Rio Grande Valley received a healthy snack and lunch along with a side order of nutrition at camps set up to feed their bodies and minds.

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Oscar Zamora, AgriLife Extension agent for EFNEP in Cameron and Willacy counties.

having to do with healthy living, including hygiene, exercise, healthy eating and other health-related topics.

At the Play and Learn Day Care Center in San Benito every Tuesday and Thursday in July, about 40 youth received free meals and nutrition education during their summer vacation.

“The summer camp was designed to assist limited-resource audiences in acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behaviors necessary for nutritionally sound diets”, he said. “It also contributes to their personal development and the improvement of the entire family’s diet and nutritional well-being,” Zamora said

“This included participating in lessons like Exploring My Plate with Professor Popcorn, which was developed with curriculum by Purdue University Extension and adapted by AgriLife Extension specialists in family and consumer sciences and 4-H youth development,” Zamora said.

“This was the second year the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and others presented this youth summer camp in this area,” said

During the summer camp, participants were given healthy snacks between 9:30-10 a.m. and fed a nutritious lunch from 11:30 a.m.-noon. In between, they were instructed on a variety of topics

Ag Mag THEAGMAG.ORG

In Hidalgo County during July and August, EFNEP also held its third annual Summer Foods, Summer Meals Youth Camp collaborative community outreach program at the AgriLife Extension office in Hidalgo County. The camp


consisted of outdoor fun and educational activities in addition to providing nourishing meals to participants. “We had over 32 community sponsors that helped provide prizes, school supplies and backpacks to our 55 kids, including 19 pairs of tennis shoes were given to underserved kids that attended the camp this year in Edinburg,” said Melissa DeLeon, AgriLife Extension agent for EFNEP in Hidalgo County. DeLeon said some of the educational activities included a presentation on how to tie-dye t-shirts, a presentation from local police officers on safety and identification cards for the youths, financial

literacy and horticulture-related instruction. The children were also given a presentation on the importance of technology and the future opportunities in learning, including a hands-on program coding activity. “Under the direction of Hidalgo County 4-H agent Kimberly Guillen, 4-H program assistant Monica Flores conducted an ‘Ice Cream In A Bag’ activity in which participants learned why we need calcium in our diet,” DeLeon said. “They were given a demonstration on how to make ice cream in a bag and were given copies of the recipe to share with their families. Everyone ate and

enjoyed their ice cream within minutes of making it from scratch.” DeLeon said during the summer it is difficult for many low-income children to get transportation to community summer meals sites. “Many children in rural communities live miles from sites and in urban communities, they may have to contend with unsafe streets, traffic and inaccessible or nonexistent public transportation,” she said. “As a result, summer can be the hungriest time for many children, especially those in low-income families.”

tion and the need for physical activity. We also let them know that a healthy lifestyle will help them academically and with athletics, and serve them for a lifetime.” He said another benefit is children involved in these camps and other EFNEP nutrition education efforts often share what they have learned with their families. At the Pct. 4 Endowment Center in Hidalgo County from left to right are: Hermelinda “Linda” Ramirez, center program coordinator; Laura Iglesias, program manager; Amanda Rodrguez, EFNEP program assistant; Juana Paula Villanueva, wife of participant winner Oscar Villanueva; Melissa DeLeon, EFNEP agent for Hidalgo County; Maria Luisa “Marylou” Cavazos, community ambassador; and Oscar Zamora, EFNEP agent for Cameron and Willacy counties. From a $1,000 sponsorship, EFNEP was able to purchase bicycles to promote physical activity. Two were recently raffled off to participants in the tri-county “Healthy Foods, Healthy Families for Superior Bodies” class sessions in Cameron, Willacy and Hidalgo counties. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

She said the camp helped address 2015 South Region Texas Community Future Forum issues identified for Hidalgo County relative to child nutrition, food security, youth health and wellness, sustainable food systems and family life. “In 2014, there were 94,970 food insecure people in Hidalgo County,” she said. “In 2013-2014 more than 2.3 million Texas students received a free or reduced-price lunch at school and 1.3 million Texas students got a free or reduced-price breakfast. However, there are still many children who go without breakfast.”

About 24 percent of Texas residents are considered food insecure, and that’s especially true in poor communities here in South Texas, Zamora added. He said the target audience for EFNEP participation is households with young children and low-income youth living in rural or urban areas. “Part of the agency’s community outreach is to provide youth with food while out of school as well as to educate them about good nutrition and healthy living,” he said. “We not only feed their bodies, we feed their minds. We educate them about good food choices, proper nutri-

“We’ve had a lot of parents come to us after these nutrition education events and say their kids have told them they should eat more healthful foods, including more fruits and vegetables,” he said. Zamora said data from before and after surveys of youth involved in his EFNEP programs showed 86 percent improved their ability to choose healthy foods. They also showed youth participants significantly improved their food handling practices and ability to prepare simple, nutritious and affordable foods, plus increased their amount of physical activity. DeLeon added EFNEP strives to provide “quality research education to both adults and youths on topics related to dietary quality, food resource management, food safety and physical activity, helping improve the lives of adults and their families.” For more information, contact Zamora at 956-399-4015 or Oscar.Zamora@ ag.tamu.edu, or DeLeon at 956-3835721 Melissa.DeLeon@ag.tamu.edu

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SHOOT FOR THE MOON EVEN IF YOU MISS YOU’LL STILL LAND AMONG THE STARS

G

osh where does the time go? Time sure does fly… It seems as though that the older we get, the quicker time flies. With the blink of an eye, another show season has come and gone, we are almost half way through the year, school is almost over, summer is right around the corner…. Life happens! As we go through life, there’s much to do and to be learned. As we go through our lives it’s important to set goals and to dream big! Do you have goals? Do you have a dream? Do big, great, important, meaningful things … that’s what makes someone the richest person in the world! Personally, you could volunteer for a non-profit or you could help at your church, with your local 4-H/FFA chapter, do community service projects, etc. Professionally speaking you could choose a career that makes a difference; be a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, an ag teacher, a counselor, an extension agent, a mentor, etc. Or you could start up your own magazine? You all know Michelle Martin, right?!?! Well, let’s talk about Mrs. Michelle Martin, the owner and editor of this very fine magazine, The Ag Mag. What an incredible job she has done with pursuing her dream. She set her sights on this magazine, she has worked hard and she has seen it to fruition! All too often a person’s hard work, commitment, dedication and efforts may unintentionally go unnoticed or underappreciated… Well not this year… Michelle was nominated and awarded one of the Texas Farm Bureau’s prestigious Excellence in Journalism award! I want to personally congratulate her on the much deserved and earned accolade and commend her for a job very well done with The Ag Mag! She has brought a great publication that serves the Rio Grande Valley’s agricultural community. What an incredible asset to the RGV’s farmers and ranchers. Congratulations, Michelle! I am very proud of you, my friend! It is my privilege to be a part of your dreamed publication. Michelle is a prime example of shooting for the moon! A 2009 graduate of Texas A&M University, she had a dream and a vision, she took a leap of faith and she went for it! Michelle spent a few years in the workforce

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BY BONNIE RAMIREZ

before having a vision. A mere five years after her Aggie graduation, Michelle started The Ag Mag. Four years into her magazine, look at what she has done and accomplished. Not only has her magazine been successful, she has been a pillar for the community as she is very involved with many agricultural events. She is an active supporter of FFA, 4-H and several non-profit agricultural causes. This is a testimony of having faith, following your heart and pursuing your dreams. I recently took a career opportunity with Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) where I manage the junior, membership and international programs. Being in charge of the junior program has really reignited my fire and passion. I have been fortunate enough to travel to several major stock shows around Texas. It is here, in this arena of life, that I see a little of everything from this side of the ring. I once was an avid heifer exhibitor and was blessed to not only show locally in Brooks County, but also compete in jackpot shows in the Rio Grande Valley area and at the San Antonio, Houston and Austin stock shows. Now I’m on the other side of the fence. I see so many emotions in the barns, wash racks, check-in lines, show ring, etc. I see beaming smiles and eyes as big as the Texas skies, I hear laughter, I see happiness and joy exuded between family and friends, teamwork within families and clubs … I also see some tears and emotions of heartbreak and sadness. Witnessing this from the opposite side of the ring is a great reminder to always convey to the youth in the junior Beefmaster program to do what you love! Put your heart and soul into what makes you come alive. Whatever your goals and dreams are, pursue them! Love what you do and do it with all your heart. Michelle Martin is living proof that when you put your heart into something and set your mind and sights on a goal; it can happen! Remember… we only live this life once! So, my friends, I ask you… Do you have goals? Do you have a dream? Are you doing what makes you come alive?

*Shoot for the Moon; the Sky is the Limit *


Cattle Review BY EDDIE GARCIA

We had 1,059hd of cattle this week, with 161 sellers and 62 buyers. Probably the best market we’ve had in the last month or so. Futures were up, fat cattle traded higher, we had the right kind and the rally was on. Buyers were coming to the cattle like flies on a cow’s back! Short term market indicators are showing positive signs for a steady to higher market this week. Fats traded higher for the second week in a row, cattle on feed report came out Friday and reaffirmed the notion of lighter placements going into the yard. Meat traded steady, slaughter volumes were up and exports are moving. With all the talk of big supplies of fat cattle coming this summer, some of the attention has now turned to replacing them. Consensus is that may be more difficult than previously anticipated, with many replacements already in the feed yard due to exhausted pasture conditions. This could spark another rally in calf prices. Packer cows and Bulls showed good activity this week. Especially the better yielding kind, it’s imperative to market your cull cattle while they still retain carcass merit. Bred cows and pair prices are mostly determined by their age and disposition. Demand has been spotty just like recent rainfalls.

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The futures board which seems to drive this industry should be ticketed with a DWI. This market is all over the road, swerving into the hammer lane, over correcting back across the shoulder. Hard to determine if the business fundamentals will lead us to our preferred destination of profitability, or a massive wreck of red ink. Latest reports show grain prices fluctuating which always plays a role in the cost of gain in the feedlot. All this Government posturing regarding tariffs creates vast unknowns within the markets, commerce doesn’t like playing craps. Add these elements to the increasing supply of fat cattle, and it’s like Halloween everyday in the cattle business. Who will flinch first in this epic stare down? Will the Bulls buck off the Bears by increasing beef demand domestically and abroad. Or will the bears “bare down” and ride the market lower under the sheer pressure of more beef tonnage. We can only get our popcorn, a front row seat, and watch the rodeo unfold. We have 300hd already on the books for this coming Tuesday! It Doesn’t matter if you have 1 or a 101 head of cattle to ship, you will always receive the same excellent customer service and attention here at GCLA. Where we always put the Customer before the commission!


SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL WHO DONATED: ADAMS FARMS ALTHEA PANNELL ANITA & RANDY MCMURRAY ASHLEY PANNELL ASHLEY TAYLOR DALE ROBERTS DANIELLE & MAGNUS GOSLIN ELKS LODGE 1889 ERIC & SUMER KNIGHT-POLLY GLORIA BISHOP HEATH & PEGGY HARRIS JIM & LUPITA GORMAN JOSE PEREZ JUDY KELLY KANDI HEARN KAYLA SUAREZ

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956-688-8485 Thanks for 11 Years!

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Garbanzo Beans in South Texas INTERVIEWEE: DAN BAGNELL

What inspired you to come to the Valley and partner up with Valley Farmers to grow Garbanzo beans?

I was introduced to Zac and Kelly Mclemore by a mutual acquaintance. Zac was looking for alternative cash crops that fit the Valley. He had done quite a bit of research and was convinced they would grow well here. How long have you been involved with planting and harvesting of Garbanzo beans?

I’ve been around farming with family since I was a kid and started harvesting pulse crops in North Dakota in 2007. How do planting Garbanzo beans differ from a soybean or other legumes?

They are a very difficult crop to grow in comparison. A lot of details to pay attention to. Pretty similar to cotton as far as constantly watching for problems. 38

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Give us a little background on yourself.

I’ve been around agriculture since I was a kid, got to live overseas a couple years farming in New Zealand and Australia. I have dabbled in farming and cattle in Montana and Kansas the last few years. Been trading for the last six or seven years and opened Montana Integrity in 2015. Montana Integrity markets roughly 20 different specialty crops, sells seed and cover crop blends. We typically buy everything from trucks to railcars. We do both organic and conventional and buy crops from Canada to....well the valley now and a few spots in between. Will this product be sustainable for a long time?

I think we can consistently grow a marketable crop although it wont be the same crop year after year.


If acres increases will prices decrease, is there a demand for the product?

Is it a crop that allows any fertility back into the soil?

Liquidity is always challenging in niche markets, The cure for price volatilization is domestic consumption so I recommend all of our growers eat hummus and make sure chickpeas are in the Petfood they are feeding. Is this a one seasonal crop?

We had luck with our fall round and our spring crop seems to be looking pretty good. What are the benefits of growing this crop?

Provides a good planting bed for your next crop, increased moisture retention and nitrogen fixing.

Yes Does it need to be dryland or irrigated and what is the yield potentials for both?

I think a few of the guys pre watered but no one irrigated further then that on the fall round. Our spring beans needed at drink and may need another depending on rain. What is the growing cost? Seed, irrigation?

Total inputs were around $150-200. Does this crop require a maintenance Fertilizer etc‌

This is up to the grower, some of them used a foliar and a low nitrogen blend high in p and k. I think we could really benefit from using cover crops down here to retain moisture and build organic matter. We will be testing some blends and also a few other legumes and oil seeds.Â

We were happy with our fall run of beans all things considered, we saw some adversestill d growing conditions anrn . had healthy net retu s

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on the Rise

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eau Burns has six years of experience driving a tractor by himself. He’s 11 years old – you do the math. Beau, of Harlingen, is the son of Levi and Brooke Burns and he’ll proudly let you know that his dad put him on a 8245R, pulling an offset disk and drove it by himself at the age of 5. “I love being outside and I love being with my dad,” he said. “My dad always lets me be right by his side and has taken the time to answer my questions and teach me. He has never told me I’m too young to learn things and always lets me be involved.” While there’s so much talk about fewer families continuing the tradition of

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farming, there’s no worry about that when it comes to Beau and his future family. In fact, the world of farming will be great hands with new farmers like Beau. His knowledge of the industry is beyond his years – and his excitement about being a future farmer is truly contagious. “I want to be able to make a good cotton crop and make my dad proud,” he said. “I want to be a good provider for my family one day (and to be better than my dad.)” Beau’s days are enough to make a grown man tired, but his level of responsibility is definitely among several top qualities he possesses. “I start my morning off in the garden at my house, go to school and as soon


as my homework is done I get to go to the farm and I get there as quick as possible,” he said. “Some evenings I’m at the barn helping with equipment and other evenings I’m working in the fields.” Beau said his favorite crop to grow is cotton and he loves picking it. He remembers how sad he was when his dad traded in the module builder for the round bale picker. “Picking the cotton was my favorite,” he said. Farming, of course, is a family affair and something quick Beau points out is the fact that everyone pitches his.

“My mom and sister always make sure I have snacks, drinks and bring us food if we are working late,” Beau said of his mom Brooke and 9 year-old sister sissy. “They also like to come ride on the tractor with me - mom is finally relaxing and trusting me not to drive in to the ditch once we get to a turn row! This summer I’ll be teacher my sister how to use the GPS system and dad is going to let her run the tractor too.” Beau said he loves all the big equipment and wants to drive it all. He drives the tractor while also pulling cultivators, planters, pushes, disks, bed shaper and shredder by himself.  “Last picking season I drove the round baler picker with my dad in the buddy seat,” he said excitedly. While as an 11-year-old, he still gets that youthful excitement, he’s also well grounded in what farming means to him, his current and future family and to everyone around the area and the nation. “Farming is the job that provides food for people and cotton for clothing. Farming is also important because it teaches you to be a hard worker and to trust God that everything will be okay,” he said. “I’m hoping that with this year’s crop I’ll put the money toward being able to rent for acres from my dad and in five years I would like to have my own tractor and grow my acreage. “I will keep working for my dad and once I’m done with at college I want to be my dad’s partner on the farm.” Somehow it seems that he already is. M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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From our family to yours. THANK YOU FOR YOUR BUSINESS!

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2018

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H H

Star Show H

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2018


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RGV

D I S T R I C T

June 5, 2018

2nd Degree Check

Location: Calallen Time: 9am

June 6, 2018

Hunter’s Education

Location: Mission Shooting Club Time: 9am

June 12, 2018

Steer Validation

Location: McAllen/Edinburg Ag Farms Time: 8am - 2pm

June 13, 2018

Hidalgo County Steer Validation

Location: McAllen Ag Farm Time: 8am - 11am

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C A L E N

June 13, 2018

State Fair Goat and Lamb Validation Location: McAllen Ag Farm Time: 9am - 10am

June 20, 2018

State Fair Heifer Validation

Location: McAllen Ag Farm Time: 8:30am - 11am

June 23-25, 2018

State CDE

Location: Camp Zephyr Time: 3pm Arrival

June 23-24, 2018

RGVLS Redfish Rodeo Location: Port Isabel


H Calendar DA R

O F

AC T I V I T I E S

Sponsored by:

June 8, 2018

May 4, 2018

District 12 Shooting Sports Shotgun Match

(Trap, Skeet & WhizBang) Location: Mission, TX Time: TBA

Mar 27, 2018

District 12 Horse Show

Location: Carrizo Springs, TX Time: TBA

June 11-13, 2018

County Recordbook Contest Judging Location: Extension Office

June 11-14, 2018

County Council Meeting (Elections)

Texas 4-H Roundup

Location: TBA Time: 7pm

Location: College Station, TX

June 5, 2018

June 19-22, 2018

Ambassador Applications Due

Location: Extension Office Time: 5pm

Livestock Judging

District 12 Leadership Lab Location: Kingsville, TX

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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Important upcoming dates for Ag Producers 2018 MAY / JUNE / JULY DATES May 8 - Pesticide License Training - Hidalgo County Extension Office, Edinburg (RSVP recommended) May 9 - Texas Citrus Mutual Annual Meeting Mission Event Center May 17 - Grain Sorghum, Corn & Soybeans Field Day Rio Farms, Monte Alto May 19 - Ranch Sorting School - RGVLS, Mercedes June 15 - TIPA Golf Tournament - McAllen August 6-8 - Beef Cattle Short Course, College Station Contact the County Extension Office for details on any of these events

Brad Cowan, County Extension Agent Agriculture Hidalgo County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 410 North 13th Avenue, Edinburg, TX 78541

https://hidalgo.agrilife.org/home/agriculture o) 956-383-1026, m) 956-330-3208


Paul Pilsner

REPRINTED FROM THE MARCH 2018 ISSUE OF COTTON FARMING MAGAZINE.

2017 Cotton Consultant of the Year Paul Pilsner’s maternal great grandfather, W.F. Meinke, who farmed cotton in south-central Texas, is pictured in the top photo on the last wagon on the right. His great grandfather, Paul Frank Pilsner, is pictured bottom right at the Shiner Gin & Mill Co., where he worked circa 1910. COURTESY PAUL PILSNER

After harvest season wraps up, Paul Pilsner begins talking with his clients about plans for the next year.

“M

From left, cotton farmer Dean Hansen, Danevang, Texas; Pilsner; Yolanda Pilsner; and Ellen Batchelder, Batchelder Farms, Palacios, Texas

y ancestors were early settlers of south-central Texas so ag is part of my DNA,” says Texas cotton consultant Paul Pilsner. “As a child, I remember watching my grandparents hand pick cotton on their small DeWitt County farm.

My dad was blessed with a position at Union Carbide, which allowed our family to live an iconic 1960s’ lifestyle in Victoria. My brother and I were told we could be anything we wanted to be. My mother was a gardener so I enjoyed growing things.” “During college, I started a lawn maintenance/landscaping firm, which took me to the Rio Grande Valley to grow palm trees. In the late 1970s, I expanded my nursery business to include palm trees and citrus, and then lost everything to historic freezes in 1983 and 1987. As it turned out, these losses were a blessing disguised as devastation. “Pat Kornegay, who was my neighbor and a crop duster, told me I should become a cotton consultant. He put me in touch with John Norman, who was the Extension entomologist for the Rio Grande Valley. I trained under John in 1987, and then starting checking cotton independently the next year. “At the time, consultants were called bugmen because boll

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weevils and bollworms were such a nuisance. We made 10-plus insecticide applications per season and were typically held to a 1,000 pounds-per-acre yield cap. We were chasing our tails. But technology and herbicide-resistant cotton has changed everything.” Although it appeared Pilsner was on his way to establishing himself in Texas, a drought in 1990 took him in another direction. He moved to Belle Mina, Alabama, where he worked with cotton consultant Billy Webster. Pilsner soon returned to Texas where he ran the cotton division of Coastal Ag Consulting with David Wilde and Glenn Crane from 1991-2006. He started Pilsner Consulting in 2007. Today, he consults on cotton, grain sorghum and soybeans primarily in Matagorda, Wharton and Fort Bend counties. “For the past few years, I have scaled back to about 15 clients, and most of them have been with me from 15 to 25 years,” Pilsner says. “My philosophy is to treat these farms as if they were mine, and my goal is profitability. “Even when times were tough, my farmers kept growing cotton. They’ve never lost their touch. For example, Dean Hansen has farmed cotton every year and says he will stay with it as long as he can. And so far, we’ve been able to help our clients make money on cotton. “I can’t understate the importance of how blessed we have been to work with this group of farmers. Starting out, I made my share of mistakes, but they’ve stayed with me. We continue to learn and fine-tune techniques to achieve the highest return on investment.” And Pilsner’s farmers think just as highly of him. For example, Gerry Batchelder of Batchelder Farms says she was impressed with Pilsner when she and her husband hired him as their consultant 19 years ago. Batchelder was in a position to judge his work accurately


as she had completed a pilot program as a cotton scout with the Extension service in 1976. “Through the years, I have walked many cotton fields as a cotton scout, a scout supervisor in several counties and an independent scout for area producers,” Batchelder says. “More than 20 years’ experience allowed me to make the decision on the accuracy and thoroughness of Paul’s reports. “The first year he checked our cotton, I went behind him to compare my findings to his. His reports were very close to mine. As the year progressed, I became comfortable with Paul and his expertise. I trust him with our cotton and feel fortunate to have such a conscientious, hardworking and caring person as our consultant. I am proud to call him my friend.” On the upper coast of Texas, Pilsner says 90 percent of his acres are dryland. “I always point out that we get about 40 inches of rain a year in this area — 20 inches at planting and 20 inches at harvest,” he says. “I am exaggerating, but not by much. This is supposedly one of the most profitable dryland or rain-fed areas in the United States to grow cotton. In 2002, we had many large fields that yielded 4 bales per acre on dryland. And each year we have pockets that yield like this because of the new varieties that do so well.” Pilsner says several of his farmers are willing to help him with plot work, which allows them to see the newest cotton varieties and chemicals before they are available to the general market. “This enables careful evaluation of adaptability and viability in our region,” he says. “For example, last year one variety was pushed hard for yield and quality even though my research showed it was too full season for us and not consistent in dryland conditions. My recommendation was for faster, more drought-tolerate varieties. As it turned out, Hurricane Harvey destroyed the later-maturing

Flooding from Hurricane Harvey damaged freshly harvested cotton on the upper coast of Texas in early September 2017. The watermark was still evident on this round bale in November.

bad insects or weeds, we help them locate those, too.” The Texas consultant has earned respect not only among his farmers but also among his peers.

Ellen Batchelder, Batchelder Farms (left) and Yolanda Pilsner were “a team” when Batchelder worked as an intern for Pilsner Consulting during past summers. Paul Pilsner says Sissy, their terrier mix, is a devoted pet and always close by.

Lee Hutchins, Crop Management Inc., Sinton, Texas, says, “I will come straight to the point. Paul is very knowledgeable in the cotton business and has done this for many years. He is a top-notch cotton consultant. As a fellow consultant, I visit with Paul many times during the crop year. When I run into a tough situation, I don’t hesitate to call him. Paul has helped me out at times when he was at his busiest, and he doesn’t live next door.” Hunter Wilde, a partner in Anaqua Farms in the Rio Grande Valley, remembers the time a new insect came into the area. He had no idea what it was. “Paul helped me identify and effectively control these pests, which saved our cotton crop,” Wilde says. “If he hadn’t been there to help, we would have lost it all. Most of what I know about cotton farming, I learned from Paul Pilsner.” Ellen, Jeanette and Wesley Batchelder have always said this about Pilsner: “Paul is not only our consultant during the cotton season, he is our consultant all year long. We are blessed to have the Pilsners as our family friends.” When asked his reaction upon learning he was selected as the 2017 Cotton Consultant of the Year, Pilsner says he was surprised. “My Syngenta rep, Tony Driver, called last fall, and I thought he was going to tell me about an upcoming meeting,” he says. “When he gave me the news about the award, it was an honor to know the guys I’ve always considered icons of the industry had voted for me. I am humbled to say the least.”

Two months after Hurricane Harvey, Paul Pilsner inspects a Brazos River bottom field in Fort Bend County. “This field, which went completely underwater, probably would have yielded 3 bales per acre,” he says. “It was completely destroyed.”

varieties while many of the faster-maturing, early varieties were harvested before Harvey hit and brought premium quality.” During the growing season, Pilsner keeps in touch with other consultants as well as industry and Extension personnel across the Cotton Belt. “As consultants, we are not competitive,” he says. “We always reach out to one another to try to come up with answers. I also work with a tight-knit group of industry people to find the best solutions for farmers. And if Extension personnel need to find fields with

Some of Paul Pilsner’s farmers presented him with an “Our Bug Checker” memento in honor of him being chosen as the 2017 Cotton Consultant of the Year. From left, Ellen Batchelder, Yolanda Pilsner, Paul Pilsner, Dean Hansen, Wesley Batchelder and Jeanette Batchelder.

Editor’s note: The Cotton Consultant of the Year award began in 1981 and is sponsored by Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine. M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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Ensuring Future Generations through Conservation and Land Stewardship

rooks County rancher, David Escobar and his wife, Melissa, know that hard work and land stewardship not only improves their land and natural resources, but it provides environmental benefits beyond their ranch gates. The Escobars have been ranching for more than 20 years and have three ranching units throughout the county. By having three operating units, they can efficiently rotate cattle without overgrazing, perform prescribed burns, bale hay and conduct annual herbicide application on each unit, respectively. The Escobars have worked with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for more than 15 years and utilized the technical and financial assistance to install conservation practices to improve their land and help minimize drought impacts. The conservation practices completed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on the three properties are: 195 acres of brush management, forage and biomass planting to Coastal Bermuda grass, three water

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NRCS Contributors: Jessica Benavides-Paredes, Joel Torres, Melissa Blair

troughs, two water wells and installed more than 2,000 feet of livestock water pipeline to increase water distribution for proper grazing management. David has served on the Loma Blanca Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board for almost 10 years and currently serves as chairman of the board. His conservation efforts have been exemplary throughout the communities of Falfurrias and Premont. He is constantly encouraging fellow landowners and partners to reap the conservation benefits of working with NRCS and the SWCD. He has helped host more than 100 meetings at one of his ranches. The Escobars have cultivated the minds of their children to appreciate conservation as well. Each child has their own cow-calf operation of 20 Charolais. They work synergistically with their parents. The Escobars oversee their children’s cattle operation as they aspire in furthering their education professionally.


I

Farm Her

The Journey

t was a learning experience. She was adept at gathering new information and implementing it, but this was a different game. She felt like she needed to have been born on a farm. She watched her husband stand in the field, check the wind, gaze intently at the plants, or dig in the soil. It was like being at the university. Her farmer was the professor, the crops were the subject, and planting was the homework. It was spring. This was her first time to be present for an entire season, and she was so eager to be in the know. She had imagined she would be an integral part of each step of the production this year. It was not to be at this time. She still had to find places for.a garage full of boxes waiting to be unpacked. She was adjusting to a new community and climate. There would be no field this year that she and her tractor would cultivate to produce magnificence as her farmer did. She comprehended she had to stop and reevaluate her

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BY R ONI M ARIE M C CARTLAN

“FarmHer” status. Much like the process of baking a cake, she realized it was going to be step by baby step, at least for this year. She didn’t make a list, but she started paying attention. Her beloved was the greatest teacher, and his acute insight brought her to new understanding of the consciousness of the land, daily. She also decided that this farming life began at home first, so she started dealing with the bugs. City girls were squeamish about bugs, but bugs in the country were the norm. From no-see-‘ems to tarantulas, they were a part of the agronomy. Her screams became less and less and she learned the bug community was part of the hieroglyphics of the farm. They all had a purpose and when she acknowledged that she became braver. It was a proud moment in time when an insect charged her, and she stood her ground . The wind was another force to deal with. She loved being outdoors, feeling the sun on her skin. There was so much to do outside. The air brought energy and aliveness. The wind, though, eroded the smell of nature and blew away


the soft touch of the sun. She took her chimes down on the powerful, gusting days and used more hairspray so her hair stood straight up as a unit instead of a tangled mess in her eyes, nose and mouth. The long, dangling earrings vanished on those days as well. In the city, it was refreshing to receive showers, especially in the parched desert she was from. However, rain was a daily anticipation in the country culture, the weather channel was the main app on the phone, and cloud watching was a minute by minute search of significant meaning in the formations. This land relied on water from the heavens and she became aware of the miracle of the drops of rain. She looked at the horizon with new anticipation and hope. While she appreciated the beautiful, blue dome of the sky, she treasured even more the flat line of clouds that would bring precious moisture to the land and growth to the tiny seeds.

The birds were preparing their nests as were the yellow jackets. The ducks and geese begin their migratory adventure and stopped to visit the fields along the way. Even their negative impact on the tiny plants brought understanding. The howls of the coyotes at night intensified and mating calls and dances were heard and seen with frequency. She grasped that the farm was its own little community and her husband was delighted to see her adaption of the life he had known since birth. When she saw his gladness at her discoveries, she knew she was on the right trail. It was a journey of becoming and she was accomplishing it. Piece by piece, little by little, one foot in front of the other, she headed into summer as the crops began to show their pretty heads.

With the visualization of adjustments along with the approach of spring, she found places for her talent and enthusiasm. It started with noticing the intricacies of nature. She knew ants made anthills, but when she saw the ant trail, it opened a whole new world of analogies.

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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Sustainability Empowers Alternative School Students BY DEBRA ATLAS

W

hat we believe isn’t always accurate. A case in point is public perception of Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) schools. Generally seen as providing discipline enforcement and little else, DAEP schools encourage positive social and interpersonal as well as academic skills. An alternative school for kids at risk – kids who’ve messed up – Buell Central High School in Pharr goes beyond DAEP’s mission, It raises the bar for alternative schools and for the entire education system. It do this by focusing on sustainability. Buell’s students stay there for six weeks to a few months before returning to their original school. But something happens there that other schools would do well to emulate. Buell encourages students to be creative, to problem solve and be innovative. But this wasn’t always true. Before Mario Bracamontes - Pharr City Commissioner and Buell’s principal – arrived, Buell was entrenched in a strict model of discipline. He’s helped transform this. Two years ago, Bracamontes and David Rocha, Buell’s ELA Teacher / Curriculum Developer, realized alternative schools like theirs were mired in what they call “Educational Apartheid.” They questioned why only the best students were getting the best education and the bottom 10 percent weren’t being considered. To level the playing field, said Bracamontes, you need effective quality instructors and positive role models. “Quality education opens the door to scholarships,” he said, “to business opportunities, to whatever makes the child marketable.” So they created what they call “Restorative Education”, which focuses on building a child that cares for the community and for others. They also decided to go green. “Sustainability is the perfect vehicle,” Rocha said. “It focuses on the environment, on social justice, on gender equality – positive goals. Restorative Education gets (students) to contribute to the community and helps them love learning.” 62 Ag Mag THEAGMAG.ORG

“We have to give them the same education they (would) receive on the East or West Coast,” said Bracamontes, “not a mediocre education. We have to believe in these kids, give them a second chance.” Buell’s partnerships with universities, businesses and individuals are what nurture this second chance. Their partnership, for instance, with Rice University and UTRGV allow Buell to offer project-based learning (PPL). Bracamontes said “Project base (used to) only be for the top 10 percent, the AP students in Texas.” Buell’s teachers adapted PPL developing and delivering collaborative integrative teaching based around sustainability. Their PPL curriculum includes projects on how to build solar, how to work with soil, how to deal with greenhouse effects. Utilizing STEM in every class, science class became science social studies; math class incorporates the math of solving sustainability-related issues. And student innovation is flourishing. After Buell purchased tower (vertical) gardens, for example, students not only successfully grew over 400 heads of lettuce on them, they improved on the design and built their own towers from salvaged materials. “The kids are learning how to apply what they’re learning,” said Bracamontes. “And they stay on track with what the State of Texas requires (them) to learn.” Buell students create projects that address and solve many social problems, including: • using hydroponics and solar to create pure drinking water and to grow healthy vegetables. • Finding a way to recover oil from our oceans and water ways, meeting a challenge from Texas Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush. • Creating biodiesel from restaurant oil to fuel the military Hummers the school acquired. • Building a solar-powered ice chest for use during hurricane-related power outages.


Solar-based projects are big at Buell. Their middle school kids built a solar golf cart, which taught them about electrical currents. High schoolers built a solar treehouse, which taught them drafting and architecture/ Buell is also the first high school campus in the nation with a solar-powered marquee. Proudly reading “Green School Inc., Bracamontes says “ we were able to save $63,000 a month with this marquee!”

Championships in Missouri. Alternative schools aren’t supposed to participate in winning awards. Yet Buell has won green school awards and sustainable school awards including the Eco School National Wildlife Sustainable School award.

Renewables are as important as social issues at Buell. Student-produced short films include “Silence”, a film about suicide, and “Shattered Dreams,” featuring real EMTs roleplaying a life-threatening car crash caused by drunk driving. These well-made poignant films offer viewers and students important life lessons. Buell’s police officer, Officer Joseph Garcia, helps the kids with audio, filming and also wrote the script for Shattered Dreams. “He’s helping these kids get involved with something positive,” said Bracamontes.

Everything is hands-on learning, said Rocha. And their results are getting noticed. Thirteen deans from UTRGV have toured the school. They told PSJA Superintendent Dr. Alan King that Buell is doing more than their graduate students! The deans all want to partner with Buell, said Rocha. The grad students are doing theory, he said. Buell is doing integrative teaching, inspiration, creativity and application. Buell continually does things DAEP schools aren’t supposed to.

Remember,” Bracamontes said, “we shouldn’t be beating top schools like Sci-Tech.” Buell was also awarded a $100,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Federation grant to plant 10,000 native trees. As preparation for this, students participated in paid summer internships at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. They gathered seeds from native trees there as well as at Sal del Rey, Falcon and Laguna Atascosa, and brought them back to Buell to germinate. Their 2,000 native ash tree seedlings are about to be planted at Santa Ana and other Valley refuges and at local elementary schools. The students have earned other internships too. The National Wildlife Federation offers working paid internships to high school students. Buell’s kids beat out everyone that applied from across the country, Expanding their conservation efforts, Buell students have greened up their campus with large and small organic gardens. The tomatoes, cilantro and jalapenos they grow onsite helped launch their organic Buell Green Salsa. Buell’s success is driven by the school’s four Pillars – No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Quality Education. These are the school’s commitment to their students and to the community. Part of this commitment includes learning to give back. The kids give back with what they grow. Much of the crops they raise goes to the Food Bank, just down the street. Broadening on the giving back theme, Bracamontes says “(Our) kids are learning how to be entrepreneurs of human capital,” as they learn about creating 501c3’s. Students also give back by visiting elementary schools in poorer areas to talk about sustainability and environmental issues. This year they sponsored five elementary schools south of the levee. Sponsored schools received solar panels, aquaponic kits, hydroponic kits and wind turbines. “These are the schools (and the kids) the people gave up on,” Bracamontes said. “And now they’re sponsoring (elementary schools)!”

For instance, Buell has boys and girls rugby teams. Two years ago their female rugby team won state championships. Students dove into robotics, where they again excelled. They beat everybody in the Valley, everybody at State, then went to the World

Buell’s staff and curriculum revolve around the axiom: “Change a child’s environment and you give them a chance to change the world.” “This is a place where so much good is happening,” said Bracamontes. “(These) kids are out future.” M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 63


The older I get, the more I realize that the things that money CAN’T BUY hold the most value: Manners, Morals, Integrity, Respect, Character, Common Sense, Trust, Patience, Class, and Love.

Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man Live your life, Take chances, Be crazy. Don’t wait.

past, r u o f o e s n e kes s Gratitude ma ce for today, and brings pea orrow m o t r o f n o i creates vis Because right now is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again.

If you spend time praying for people instead of talking about them you’ll get better results

WE PLANT THE SEE DS , BUT GOD GIVES THE HARVEST What you see depends on how you view the world. To most people dirt is dirt, but to a farmer its potential. It isn’t the FARM that makes the Farmer it is the LOVE, HARD WORK, and CHARACTER M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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IRRIGATION BEST PRACTICES BY SARAH HOUSTON

I

t is widely agreed that Texas’ population will continue to expand, and water used for agriculture will face increasing pressures from other user groups. This is especially true in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) with cities like Mission, McAllen and Brownsville growing most rapidly.

In the near future, both growers and irrigation districts will have to do more with less—less water that is. So a big question looms: is it possible to maintain pack out rates and product quality while reducing irrigation water volumes?

The answer is YES. And the solutions are relatively simple! Growers and researchers in the RGV worked together on a 10-year study to develop water efficient methods for cotton, citrus, sugar cane, corn and other row crops. The Texas Agriculture Water Efficiency project (Texas AWE), as implemented by the Harlingen Irrigation District, found a number of ways to reduce water use and increase crop yields, specifically in the Lower RGV.

What’s an easily accessible way to share this irrigation efficiency information? Online of course! Video on YouTube was chosen as the platform to deliver irrigation efficiency research and demonstrations in the RGV to a broad audience. The “Agriculture Water Efficiency” YouTube channel is available to view now! The methods highlighted on the YouTube channel are inexpensive and low maintenance. Cost efficiency and easy implementation were requirements of the watering practices during the 10-year study. Every grower can achieve simple 68

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watering methods like surge irrigation in row crops, narrow border flood for citrus and orchard crops, and soil moisture monitoring for all crops. The most popular video, “What is Surge Irrigation?” has 18,000 views from around the world. The surge irrigation technique uses a surge valve between two lengths of polypipe, and is a simple modification to furrow irrigation. The participating growers have shown that surge irrigation can use up to 52 percent less water than furrow flood irrigation in sugarcane, and 28 percent less water for seed corn. Two separate cotton studies demonstrated savings of 22 percent and 31 percent. This is something that growers can adopt now without major changes to current irrigation practices. Some even noticed a reduction in labor costs using surge irrigation. Another YouTube video demonstrating the Narrow Border Flood (NBF) technique has more than 15,000 views across the globe. The NBF method uses about 30 percent less water than large pan flood irrigation commonly used in citrus and other laser-leveled orchards. The technique requires little to no investment in equipment and has been shown to produce higher yields and better quality fruit. Studies in the Lower RGV have shown that using NBF can result in greater income per acre. The projected annual average net cash farm income of $1,730 per acre using NBF is more than double that associated with traditional flood irrigation YouTube viewers are watching the efficient irrigation methods demonstrated in the RGV from other places across the US, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia and many more countries. This information is timely and has proven useful for audiences far and wide. Go to YouTube and search for the Agriculture Water Efficiency channel now.


There is also information specifically for irrigation districts on the new YouTube channel. Water conservation and efficiency can best be achieved at the District level by using a mixture of water management best practices, automation, and technology. The channel shows how canals, automated gates, SCADA systems, and other parts of the water distribution system can save water. Today, a team led by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension and Texas A&M University – Kingsville Citrus Center is at work in the Valley, continuing education and outreach to growers and other irrigation districts first started by the Harlingen Irrigation District. Members of the team will be conducting focus groups this summer to learn more from local growers about best irrigation practices and common barriers to practice adoption. If you are a grower in the RGV interested in participating in these focus groups, please contact Karen Ford, kford@waterpr.com. The YouTube channel will be adding other videos in coming

months and years. If you’re interested in sharing your water efficient farming practices, we’d love to highlight your operations on the YouTube channel. Please contact Karen Ford, kford@waterpr.com. The Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, fosters and communicates research and educational outreach programs focused on water resources and management issues in Texas and beyond.

About the author: Sarah Houston works at WaterPR, a full-service marketing and communications firm with a niche focus on water issues. Houston spent 15 months traveling by bicycle throughout the US and Mexico connecting YouTube viewers to water sources and stories on farms and in cities. WaterPR.com

NOW ON

Go to YouTube.com Search for agriculture water efficiency M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8

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• Local office with local Team (Hidalgo and Willacy Counties) • Team developed largest wind farm in the Rio Grande Valley totaling $1.4 billion in new investments • 25 years of combined experience • Farmer/landowner income enhancement • Landowner revenue is not wind dependent • Less than 2% of land utilized • Leasing land now if you have over 250 acres • Call to determine suitability

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TERRA-GEN an American Company Thank you to all land owners. We look forward to a successful 2018!

956-386-9387

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PLANT TISSUE TESTING TO IDENTIFY DEFICIENCIES BY DEREK EMERINE

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he 2018 crop is under way and invariably there may be parts of field that are not performing as well as they should. Many times this can be attributed to elevation, drainage, moisture, or soil type. However, there may also be nutrient deficiencies that are causing problems. The best way to determine if nutrient deficiencies are contributing to underperformance is by collecting plant tissue samples. There are two ways to utilize plant tissue sampling. One is to pull tissue samples in problem areas to determine what is causing the problem, and the second is to proactively pull tissue samples prior to important growth stages. Having realistic expectations is very important when pulling tissue samples in problem areas. There may already be yield loss and the later in the plants life cycle the deficiency is identified the chance of improving the problem in this growing season lessens. There is still value in plant tissue testing though because the information can be used the following year to change fertility management. It is also very important to always pull two plant tissue samples. One from the problem area and one from an area of the field that looks better. Sometimes both samples may come back “sufficient” but there may be significant differences between the “good” and “bad” sample that will illustrate clearly what is causing the problem. Proactively pulling tissue samples can also be very important to improve yields. This does not mean getting on a weekly tissue sampling program. Planning out 2-3 sampling dates for your crop around strategic growth stages will suffice.

In cotton, most nutrients are taken up in great quantities from early to mid-bloom. Pulling a tissue sample just after first square, makes a lot of sense. If nutrient levels are not optimum or greater at this stage, the crop will most likely have deficiencies during peak nutrient uptake. Plant tissue testing prior to flowering in grain sorghum and at around V5-V8 in corn would be the best time to identify if future problems are a possibility. The subsequent samples can come at early and mid-bloom in cotton, bloom stage in grain sorghum, and just prior to tasseling and R1 in corn. Once a deficiency is identified, a debate can be had on how to correct the deficiency. Deficiencies found very early in the season will benefit more from dry or liquid fertilizer applications. Deficiencies found mid or late season can be alleviated from foliar applications. Foliar applications are not a silver bullet. They will never replace dry or liquid fertilizer applications, but they can be great supplements and improve yields if deficiencies are present. Collecting the correct plant part and proper care of the sample are extremely important to insure accurate results. Pulling samples from the wrong part of the plant or not handling the samples correctly will lead to erroneous results. Lastly, if there is confusion about the sample results get input from an agronomist or input provider that you trust.

Derek Emerine Southern Business Unit Agronomist Helena Chemical Company

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Projections China’s new tariff on U.S. sorghum imports has already had an impact on area grain traders. Bids for sorghum in the Gulf of Mexico have almost disappeared after China’s decision earlier this week to impose a 179 percent tariff on U.S. imports, according to recent news reports. China has been the biggest importer of U.S. supplies. When the Asian country announced an investigation into American shipments in February, sorghum prices dropped on speculation that tariffs would be imposed, erasing the premium the grain had fetched. Now that the tariffs are here, sorghum prices relative to corn must drop to attract domestic as well as international customers, Bob Ludington said in an article to Bloomberg. Ludington oversees Omaha-based Scoular’s North America grain and oil seed division and is based in Overland Park, Kansas. Scoular has elevators in Kansas that buy crops including sorghum. The company then ships supplies around the U.S. as well as to Mexico and exporters in the Gulf. “There’s been very little trade,” Ludington said. While some U.S. grain elevators are still bidding for sorghum, “nobody is looking” for it in the Gulf, he said. Sorghum is fed to livestock and poultry and is also used to make ethanol. It has been priced out of the U.S. animal-feed market because of strong Chinese demand over the last few years, Ludington said. Where U.S. supplies may go now isn’t certain, but Mexico may be a potential destination, he said. Mark Welch, an agricultural economist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in College Station said that the impact of the tariff is already seen and what was one of the brighter spots in terms of profit could be quickly erased. Welch added that Australia may become a player in the sorghum trade market considering their increase in production. The country could use its leverage to undercut China’s tariff and sell its sorghum to the U.S. Local traders are obviously concerned that the trade disputes will end up harming their businesses and other businesses in South Texas that still rely heavily on agriculture.

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Issue 23 of the Ag Mag  
Issue 23 of the Ag Mag  
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