Full text of Agricultural News Letter : Vol. 1, Number 8
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AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER THE Vol. I FEDERAL RESERVE BANK Dallas, Texas, September 15, 1946 THE USE OF COVER AND GREEN MANURE CROPS The accumubtion of decayed plant and ::mimal matter in the soil, known as soil organic matter or humus, has long been recognized as an effective agent in the nourishment of plants and as one of the Nation's most important natural resources. This resource has been rapidly depleted, however, by the removal of native vegetation and the use of land for cultivated crops. The removal of the native vegetation, which acted as a cover for the soil, exposed the land to winds and beating rains, and, as a result, a large part of the top soil, containing most of the accumulated supply of organic matter, has been lost through erosion. Replacement of organic matter ha.c; been prevented by clean cultivation . nd the removal of crops from much of the farm land. As the supply of organic matter has been reduced, the structure of the soil h, been destroyed, and the soil particles have tended to run together and become packed. ii drainage and the circulation of air have b impaired, and the amount of run-off iucr ased. The activity of many small organism' nece sary to the replenishment of the oil ha been retarded, and the formation of 1e ~ soils through the decomposition of the J arcnt rock material has been slowed. The reduction in the amount of soil organic matter and the losses in soil fertility rcpr sent a cost to farmers, even _though it is a c t which, by not having to be covered . ch year, may not be immediately apparent. here the fertility of the land is so low that the annual changes in its productivity arc immediately reflected in crop yields, the cost is recognized at once; but in areas of high fertility, annual losses may not be immediate- OF DALLAS Number 7 ly reflected in lower crop yields. However, even in those fertile areas, the first stages of erosion represent a cost which must ultimate!y be covered unless the erosion is checked before it affects the crop yield. Reduction in organic matter in the earlier stages of erosion paves the way for acceleration in the rate of loss, so that it is worth while to take preventive or ameliorative measures as soon as possible. It may be impossible to replace fully organic matter already removed from the soil as long as the growing of row crops is continued. However, the supply can be increased substantially by the use of cover and green manure crops, which will not only prevent further deterioration, but even improve the productivity of the land. The use of cover crops will protect the soil from the impact of rain and reduce the amount of run-off. Moreover, a leguminous plant used as a cover crop will increase the nitrogen content of the soil. Turning under the cover crop will add organic matter to the soil and improve its structure. The land will become easier to cultivate, the absorptive and water-holding capacity of the soil will be increased, and the circulation of air and water improved. Either legumes or non-legumes can be used as cover and green manure crops. The chief difference between them is that legumes add both organic matter and nitrogen to the soil, while non-legumes add only organic matter. From the standpoint of maintaining organic matter in the soil, such non-leguminous crops ;-is rye or sorghums may be most efficient, but the bacteria responsible for the decay of these crops when they arc turned under must have access to nitrogen if they are to perform their proper function. If the nitrogen carried in the green manure crop is not sufficient, the bacteria will be forced to draw upon the 2 AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER available nitrogen already in the soil and may so deplete the supply as to ruin the following crop. On the other hand, a legume crop, such as clover, vetch, cowpeas, or soybeans, has the ability to take nitrogen from the air and store it in the plant, and thus, when turned under, it carries more than enough nitrogen for its decay. As the plant decays, the excess nitrogen is changed by soil bacteria to ammonia and finally to a soluble nitrate form that will be available to subsequent crops grown on the land. adapted to different parts of the Southwest, and still others are in the trial stage. Farmers may obtain detailed information regarding any of these crops from their local county ex· tension agent or from the nearest agricultural experiment station. It has been found that best results arc achieved on most soils if fertilizer is applied to the land to be planted in cover crops. For most soils in the Southwest region, it is rec· ommcnded that 150 to 200 pounds of 20 per cent superphosphate be applied per acre. Both spring- and fall-planted cover crops On lighter, sandy land, however, it is recom· arc used extensively, but the planting of mended that 200 to 300 pounds of 0-14-7 cover crops during the fall months is usually fertilizer be used. It is also advisable to inocu· preferable since this protects the land during late all legume seed before planting, whether the winter season when the soil is generally or not legumes previously have been grown exposed and when erosion and leaching are on the land, as this will assure an adequate most exteqsive. Planting in the fall will also supply of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria neces· make it possible to include a cover and green sary for the proper functioning of the crop. manure crop in the rotation system of many This practice is inexpensive and will result in farms without sacrificing a cash crop. The a better growth of plants and the addition o! United States Department of Agriculture and a greater amount of nitrogen to the soil. At the Texas Experiment Stations have recom- least two weeks should elapse between the mended several leguminous crops that may be turning under of a cover crop and the plant· planted in the fall, between September 15 ing of the succeeding crop in order that new· and November 1, and will furnish excellent ly-planted seeds or young plants may not be winter cover. When turned under in the injured by the decay of the green manur~ spring or summer, these crops will increase crop. the productiveness of the land and replace some of the organic matter lost each year FARM POPULATION INCREASES through erosion and leaching or used up in The trend in the farm population of the the production of other crops. In east Texas, United Staes turned upward during 1945 for first choice is given to hairy vetch, with Austhe first time since 1932. Recently released trian winter peas recommended for use on estimates of the United States Department of loam soils. Annual yellow sweet clover and Agriculture reveal that the Nation's farfll Hubam clover are recommended for most population totaled 2 5,990,000 at the begin· of southeast Texas except on very sandy soils, 1 ing of 1946, or more than three per cent where vetch is preferable. In central and south above the population of the preceding year· Texas, Hubam clover and annual yellow In the \V/est South Central region, which is sweet clover are recommended for fall plant- comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma. ing. Hairy vetch is recommended for the and Texas, the farm population also increased Cross Timbers section. In central west and about three per cent during 1945. This com· northwest Texas, hairy vetch may be planted pares with a maximum increase of seven pc! between August 15 and November 1, and cent in the Pacific region and a minimum of alfalfa may be sown in either spring or fall. two per cent in the \Vest North Central and Biennial sweet clover, however, is the only the South Atlantic regions. legume suitable to this entire area, and it is Returning servicemen accounted for over recommended that it be planted between one-hdf of the increase in population, while March 1 and May I. Many other legumes are the remainder was due to the customary nat· AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER ural increase arising from the excess of births over deaths among the farm population. The migration of civilian population from farms in 194 5 was completely offest by migration to forms. In the Nation as a whole, 264,000 more people moved to farms than during the previous year, and 212,000 fewer migrated from farms. This b. lancing of migration is in marked contrast with the condition existing between 1920 and 194 5, when migration from farms resulted in an average annual net de line of about 600,000 in the farm population. FARM PRICES New Price Regulations Under the Price Control Extension Act, farm products previously controlled w1.:r · left free, while others have been returned to price control at or above June price levels. Products for which the supply at any time is considered ufficient to meet the demand nt «reasonable" prices have been or may be decontrolled. The prices of certain product of minor importance in the cost uf living may not b put under control even though supply may be short and prices high. some Dairy products, poultry, eggs, and such grains as wheat, rye, corn, oats, barley, and orghums, or any livestock or poultry feed containing only the e grains will remain free of price controls unless supplies become short • nd price rise unreasonably above June 30 ceilings plus ubsidics in effect at that time. The Department of Agriculture has estimated that "the second quarter of 1947 is lil cly to be a critical one as for as meat production is concerned." The hog-corn ratio has cen such as to make it doubtful that pork I roduction would be increased without an inc1 ease in hog price . The present shortage of beef, it is said, i likely to become most criti .11 during lhc first part of 1947; conscuently, ceiling prices of beef cattle have b en raised to $20.2 5, Chicago basis, or 12. 5 per cent above previous ceilings, in an effort to ii ure that more cattle will be moved to fl cd r lnts now and held for the market next year. eiling on hog also have been increased 16.25 per hundredweight, or 9.4 per cent above the June 30 price. Lamb ceilings were 3 raised on ;m average of about $2.8 5 per hundredweight. Because there is still a critical shortage of fats and oil , price controls have been reestablished on flaxseed soybeans, and cottonseed, and any foods or feeds derived from them or containing byproducts of them, since their price , in the opinion of the Decontrol Board, have ri n «unreasonably." COMMODITY NOTES Acreage of Hybrid Com Continues to Increase A recent report released by the United States Department of Agriculture indicates a significant increase in the acreage of hybrid corn in the Southwest in 1946. The total hybrid acreage in the five Southwestern states of Texas, Okbhoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Arizona was estimated at about 1,246,000 acres, compared with 814,000 acres in 194 5. In spite of this izcable increase of over 50 per cent, however, the proportion of the total corn acreage planted with hybrid seed in this area continues small. Hybrids accounted for only about 18 per cent of the total corn acreage in the c states in 1946, compared with 68 per cent for the United States and 99 to 100 per cent in several Corn Belt states. Farmers using this type of improved corn have achieved yields at least 20 per cent above the average derived from open-pollin, tcd typ s. n the Southwest, where only a small acreage of hybrid type is planted, the average yield of corn per acre ranges from 11 bushels in Arizona to 16 bushels in Texas and Oklahoma, while in the North Central t, tes, where about 90 per cent of all corn land i pl. nted with hybrid seed, a vcragc yields ran ae from 40 to 50 bushels per acre. Cotton Crop Insurance Program for 1947 The nc program for cotton crop insuranc approved by th Acting ecretary of Agriculture la t month, makes it pos ible for cotton rower to in ure their crops again, t many of the ri I invol ed in cotton production during 1947 :md succeeding years. The amount of insur.mcc per acre of cotton can not exceed 75 per cent of the average yield of lint for the farm. Premiums are paid by 4 AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER notes which arc redeemable in cotton or cash, or both. The insurance contract covers such loss in yield of lint cotton (and cotton-seed production, if insured) resulting from damage due to climate, insects, disease, or other conditions as may be determined by the Board of Directors of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. Loss of irrigated cotto~ due to failure of the water supply which could not have been prevented by the insured is also covered. Govemment Wool Buying Program Extended The Government has extended its program of buying wool until April 1 5, 194 7. Prices will continue at present levels, or about 42 cents a pound, nationally. This extension was considered necessary in order to provide an incentive for domestic wool growers to maintain the present production level of wool, lamb, and mutton, to facilitate transition of domestic wool production to a peacetime basis, and to provide domestic growers with protection against foreign competition. The Commodity Credit Corporation will administer the program, using normal trade channels in purchasing, selling, and handling the wool. TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS New Insecticides Developed A new chemical, known as Hexaethyl Tetraphosphate, will kill many garden and orchard insects immune to DDT, such as aphids :md mites. DDT has worked to the advantage of these insects by destroying their natural insect enemies, thus making their control more difficult. 111-is new chemical destroys mites and aphids on contact, and thus it is not necessary for them to swallow the material. A further advantage of this new chemical is that it will decompose within a matter of days after application and does not have to be washed off food products before marketing. Another new insecticide, a chlorinated hydrocarbon referred to as «1068", is reported to be effective in combatting aphids, Colo- r ado potato beetles, squash bugs, mosquitoe . roaches, and grasshoppers. It may be formu · bted for use as an oil solution, an oil emul· sion, a dust, or liquid. A further development in this field appears in the form of a dust to combat plant disea and insects in one operation. A dust contain· ing both DDT and a fixed copper fungicid for application to potatoes is now available through dealers. ANNOUNCEMENTS Texas State Fair The Texas State Fair will be held in Dalla October 5-20. There will be extensive e.·· hibits of Texas agricultural products, as well as of products of canning, dehydration, and freezing, and the methods and machines for processing them. New Publications Austin Wheat, 1027 Progress Report, I. :M. Atkins. and E. S. McFadden, Texas Agricul· tural Experiment Station, College Station· This is a report on results of experiments un· dertaken to develop a rust-resisting wheat for Texas gro\':ers. Austin wheat is a new variet of soft, red winter wheat recently made avail· able to growers in central and southern Texa.. It resists rust and smut, but is not hard' enough to be grown in northern Texas. . Factors Infiuencing Cotton Harvestin Methods on the High Plains, 1029 Progre Report, D. L. Jones and H. D. Lynn, Texa Agricultural Experiment Station, College Sta· tion. This report discusses briefly certain fac· tors influencing cotton harvesting that ar peculiar to the High Plains region, and call attention to recent developments that would help to speed up cotton harvesting in t:har Chemical Defoliation of Cotton, Henry £. Dunlavy, I. M. Parrott, Merrill Gober, and Charles H. Brett, Oklahoma Agricultural E . periment Station, Oklahoma A. & M. College, Stillwater. This bulletin reports briefly the results of experiments in chemical defoliation tests conducted in 194 5. Copies of these bulletins may be secured by request to their respective publishers.