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AGRICULTURAL
NEWS LETTER
F E D E R A L

R E S E R V E

Vol. 10, No. 4

B A N K

OF

DALLAS, TEXAS

D A L L A S
April 15, 1955

COSTS OF IRRIGATING IN LOUISIANA

The cost of irrigating an acre of land in
Louisiana in 1953 ranged from $5.74 to
$23.83, according to a survey conducted by
Louisiana State University agricultural econ­
omists.

where only 10 acres were irrigated to $10,650 for those on which 300 acres were irri­
gated. Although the investment appeared to
be greater for the farms using sprinkler
equipment, there were too few cases for con­
clusions to be drawn.

A survey of 42 farms using irrigation was
conducted in the latter part of 1953 and
early 1954, in order to get information on
investment and operating costs. Data were
obtained from areas with varied soils, topog­
raphy, and types of farming. In addition,
there were variations in irrigation methods
and the types of equipment used.

A major factor in determining the size of
the investment in irrigation facilities was the
number of acres irrigated. As the numbers
of acres which were irrigated increased,
total investment costs rose. The per-acre
fixed costs were about 46 percent lower for
the farms irrigating 30 acres than for those
irrigating only 10 acres. When irrigated
All these factors influence investment acreage was increased from 30 acres to 50
costs, as well as costs of operation. Conse­ acres, a decrease of 25 percent was realized
quently, the average figures obtained from in fixed costs per acre. Declines in per-acre
the survey may not necessarily be represen­ fixed costs were moderate to small as acre­
tative of any individual farm situation. Some age increased beyond 50 acres.
of the results of the survey, which included
both sprinkler and flood-irrigation methods,
Other important factors which resulted in
are shown in the table below.
considerable variation in fixed costs among
the farms included whether the irrigation
The average total investment in irriga­ was done by flooding or sprinkling, the
tion equipment varied from $ 1,750 for farms source of water and its proximity to the fields
to be irrigated, the topography of the land,
ESTIMATED AVERAGE PER-ACRE COSTS OF
and
the resourcefulness of the farmers in
IRRIGATION, 1953
using
natural conditions or low-cost mate­
42 Louisiana Farms
rials.
Operating
Fixed
Total
Acres
Capital
irrigated
10
30
50
70
100
150
200
250
300

investment
$ 1 ,7 5 0
2 ,8 5 0
3 ,5 5 0
4 ,2 7 5
5 ,2 8 7
6 ,8 0 0
8 ,1 7 5
9 ,4 8 7
10,650

costs1
$ 2 1 .8 8
11.88
8 .87
7 .6 2
6 .6 0
5 .6 6
5.11
4 .7 4
4 .4 4

costs2
$1 .9 5
1.48
1.40
1.37
1.35
1.33
1.31
1.31
1.30

$ 2 3 .8 3
13.36
10.27
8.99
7 .9 5
6 .9 9
6 .4 2
6.05
5 .7 4

i Depreciation, maintenance, and repairs.
2Labor and fuel. Labor valued at 50 cents per hour.

Operating costs include charges for labor
and fuel. Total labor requirements increased
as the number of acres irrigated increased;
however, average man-hours per acre de­
creased. Most of the gain in labor efficiency,
as measured by labor costs, occurred on
farms where 50 acres or less were irrigated.

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AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

The study indicates that labor require­
ments were higher for farms using the flood­
ing method of irrigating. In many cases,
labor can be used for other farm work after
the sprinkler equipment has been put into
operation, resulting in a more complete util­
ization of the labor supply. On those farms
which have enough equipment and acreage,
sprinklers can be set up in one area while
another is being watered.

The pasture specialist recommends that
warm-season, permanent-type pastures be
fertilized with nitrogen during the fall or
winter when the pastures are being reno­
vated. Pastures of Dallis and Bermuda grass
also may be fertilized in the early spring be­
fore summer plants emerge and start growth.
If sufficient moisture is available later in the
spring and summer, another nitrogen appli­
cation will boost plant growth and increase
the plant protein content.

Most farmers indicated that flooding re­
A mixed fertilizer applied before or at
quired almost constant attention. In situa­
tions where the land was reasonably flat and planting time is ideal for Sudan grass and
had not been leveled for irrigation, it was other warm-season supplemental grazing
difficult to keep water from breaking over forages. If moisture is adequate, additional
low contours or rows.
nitrogen can be used during the growing
season.

Pasture Fertilization
Every dollar spent for fertilizing pastures
results in $2 to $10 in increased production,
depending upon the crop, rainfall, and man­
agement, reports E. M. Trew, Extension
pasture specialist of Texas A. & M. College.
It is not uncommon for farmers to dou­
ble pasture and meadow forage yields
through fertilization. In addition, the proper
fertilizer application helps to control plant
mixtures and promote balanced grazing. If
plenty of plant food is available, more forage
of better quality can be produced with less
water.
In recent tests at College Station, 22
inches of water were required to grow a ton
of Coastal Bermuda hay. With the applica­
tion of 100 pounds of actual nitrogen per
acre, the water requirements were reduced
to only 13 inches.
Fertilizers can be used to help regulate
plant mixtures. In a grass-legume pasture,
fast-growing legumes likely will dominate in
soils which are low in nitrogen and high in
minerals. However, legumes do not grow as
well in soils that are low in minerals, phos­
phate, lime, or potash. A nitrogen applica­
tion will boost substantially grass production
in a grass-legume pasture.

Farmers should have their soils tested
now in order to plan fertilization programs.
These tests determine accurately the nutrient
needs of soils.

Sudan Grass for Summer Grazing
Sudan grass is a vital link in providing
year-round grazing and is quite popular
among Texas farmers, according to E. M.
Trew, Extension pasture specialist of Texas
A. & M. College.
Sudan grass, which grows well in hot
weather, can be used to graze livestock
while permanent pastures are given a rest.
It can be planted at any time after the dan­
ger of frost is over, and by planting it at 3to 4-week intervals as long as moisture con­
ditions permit, the grazing season can be ex­
tended throughout the summer.
Varieties which are adapted to Texas con­
ditions are Common, Tift, and Sweet Sudan,
although the latter does better in humid
areas. Plantings of Sudan made at different
times may be fenced separately, which will
assist in rotation grazing.
It is recommended that cattle be turned
in on a small area, allowed to graze it off
quickly, and then moved to another area.

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

Highest returns from temporary grazing
have been obtained through this type of ro­
tation procedure.

Summer Forage Crops
On a single-harvest basis, both cowpeas
and soybeans compare favorably with Su­
dan in forage yields. However, Sudan is su­
perior to both crops on a seasonal-yield
basis. These conclusions were reached after
studies of summer annual forage species
were conducted at College Station and
Prairie View in 1953 and 1954 by Texas
A. & M. College.
The tests indicate that Sudan-cowpeas or
Sudan-soybeans mixtures for hay cannot be
recommended. Since the protein and phos­
phoric acid content of the Sudan forage pro­
duced in these tests was satisfactory, there
was little advantage in adding a legume to
improve the quality.
The use of nitrogen fertilizer is recom­
mended, rather than growing a legume com­
panion crop. The tests show that planting
of a legume mixture in Sudan contributed
little to the yield, and only then at the first
harvest. At both Prairie View and College
Station, the Sudan plots containing a legume
companion crop yielded less at the first har­
vest than the plots of Sudan alone. The dif­
ficulty in a mixture of this type is that the
two do not reach an optimum stage for har­
vest at the same time.
There was little difference in yield be­
tween Chinese Red cowpeas and the foragetype soybeans when grown in pure stands.
Both made a fairly dense growth and pro­
duced approximately 1Vi tons of good-qual­
ity hay per acre. These yields compare fa­
vorably with a single harvest of Sudan grass.
However, Sudan grass will produce three
or four harvests under favorable moisture
conditions and efficient management. Cow­
peas and soybeans usually are considered
single-harvest crops, since they do not re­
cover following harvest.

3

Silage 12 Years Old Makes
Good Feed
A trench silo filled 12 years ago by their
father helped two central Texas farmers to
carry their cattle through another dry sea­
son in 1954.
The silage, made of red top cane and
hegari, was placed in the trench in 1942.
When feed became short, the farmers
opened the trench silo and found the silage
perfectly preserved and entirely satisfactory
for feeding.
This story emphasizes the importance of
storing surplus feed for use in times of
drought and other seasons when green feed
is not available.

Fertilizer for Black-eyes
The application of 20 percent superphos­
phate at rates of 40 pounds and 80 pounds
of phosphoric acid per acre resulted in highly
significant increases in the total yield of
Extra Early black-eyed peas at Hearne,
Texas, in 1954, according to recent tests by
Texas A. & M. College horticulturists.
There was no significant increase in total
yield as a result of the application of either
nitrogen or potash. However, the addition
of 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre resulted
in a significantly larger yield of peas at the
first harvest.
Tests identical to those at Hearne were
conducted at College Station, Texas. In
these tests, yields did not respond signifi­
cantly to the application of either phos­
phoric acid or potash. The application of
larger amounts of nitrogen actually lowered
the total yield of peas.
Soil samples taken prior to the applica­
tion of the commercial fertilizer showed that
the plots planted to peas at College Station
were higher in nitrogen, phosphoric acid,
potash, and other essential elements than the

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AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

test plot soils at Hearne. This fact accounts
for the differences in the results of the fer­
tilizer tests.
The use of fertilizers for improving the
early-season yields of black-eyed peas in
east Texas is very important. Soil moisture
usually is more adequate in the early part
of the season, and the peas harvested at that
time are of higher quality and the pods are
filled out more evenly.

Control of Pecan Weevils
The recommended method of controlling
pecan weevils in Oklahoma is to spray with
4 pounds of 50 percent DDT wettable pow­
der to 100 gallons of water, according to
Oklahoma A. & M. College specialists. This
recommendation is based on experiments
conducted near Stillwater, Oklahoma, from
1947 through 1950.
The timing of the spray application is ex­
tremely important for proper control. One
to two applications will be necessary, de­
pending upon the time and rate of emerg­
ence of the adult weevil from the soil where
it had pupated.
Pecan weevils cause two types of damage.
The adult insect attacks the pecan before
the kernel is formed, which may result in
severe shedding of punctured nuts. The other
type of damage is caused when the insect
lays eggs in the kernel of the pecan after the
kernel has developed.
In Oklahoma the adult weevils emerge
from the soil beginning in late July and con­
tinuing until October. Shaking the trees
thoroughly to collect adult insects on a can­
vas is the best way to determine when to
spray. When five or more insects are found
per tree, it is time to make the first applica­
tion.
The tests show that lead arsenate and
chlordane sprays did not control the pecan
weevil effectively. Jarring the trees three
times weekly to collect and destroy the in­

sects was not found to be an effective con­
trol; nor was the application of tanglefoot
compound applied in a band around the
tree trunk.

Publications
New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Sta­
tion, State College:
Principal Livestock-Poisoning Plants of
New Mexico Ranges, Bulletin 390, by
J. J. Norris and K. A. Valentine.
Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station,
Stillwater:
A Comparison of the Bulk and Can Sys­
tems for Handling Milk on Farms, Bul­
letin No. B-436, by P. E. Johnson and
others.
The Value of Prairie Hay for Milk Pro­
duction, Bulletin No. B-423, by Magnar Ronning and A. H. Kuhlman.
Boll Weevil and Bollworm Control with
Insecticides, Bulletin B-441, by F. A.
Fenton and others.
Self-Feeding Salt and Cottonseed Meal
to Beef Cattle, Bulletin B-440, by A.
B. Nelson and others.
Milk Test Variations in the Tulsa Milkshed, Bulletin No. B-438, by Leo V.
Blakley and Durward Brewer.
Cotton Quality As Influenced by Lint
Coarseness, Bulletin No. B-442, by
John M. Green and George E. Stroup.
Copies of these releases may be obtained
by request to the respective publishers.

The Agricultural News Letter is prepared in
the Research Department under the direction
of J. Z. R owe, Agricultural Economist.