Full text of Agricultural News Letter : Vol. 6, No. 9
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cA'5:vi cvi f'UVA/ I NEWS LETTER F E D E R A L Vol. 6, No. 9 R E S E R V E B A N K OF DALLAS, TEXAS D A L L A S September 15, 1951 SUPPORT THE DEFENSE BOND DRIVE SEPTEMBER 3 - OCTOBER 27 * Defense bonds are your safest investment. Invest a part of your cash farm income in a share in America. * Every defense bond bought by an individual is a personal blow against inflation; buying defense bonds is one way every farmer and rancher can fight this threat to our Nation's economic stability. * Defense bonds provide a safe, sure way for farmers and ranchers to build a reserve fund to meet future financial needs— to replace needed equipment, to meet unanticipated per sonal expenses, to expand farming operations, and to provide an educational fund. Defense bonds are a basic part of a balanced savings program. * Deflation and depression, with ruinous price declines, have been the historic conse quences of unchecked inflation. Don’t let it happen again. Fight inflation by buying your share of defense bonds. SAVE THE SAFE WAY — BUY A SHARE IN AMERICA Pigs Pay Two successive short cotton crops in parts of the Southwest are convincing more and more farmers of the necessity of diversifying their farm operations. The addition of live stock to the farm program is an essential part of such diversification. To date, cattle have been the first choice of most farmers, probably because they are more familiar with the prob lems of raising cattle and because, tradition ally, the area has been a “cattle country.” Hogs also are a satisfactory livestock enter prise for many farmers in the South, accord ing to A. D. Fitzgerald, associate animal hus bandman of Louisiana State University. In a recent bulletin entitled “Pigs Pay,” he points out why most farmers will find it profitable to include hogs in their farm program: first, only a small initial investment is needed to get into the hog business; second, this invest ment can be turned over rather quickly, since less than a year is required to produce a mar ketable hog; third, hogs make more efficient use of more crops and waste products than any other kind of livestock. The more humid areas of the Southwest have certain advantages over other areas in production of hogs. The relatively mild winter climate is favorable for raising early spring pigs which can be marketed in August or Sep tember, when prices are usually highest. Yearround pastures also can be used to reduce feed costs, and the development of high-yield- 2 AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER ing hybrid corn for this region makes possible the production of an ample supply of feed. As a result of these factors, the hog business has become big business in parts of northern Louisiana and east Texas. Many farmers now keep a few brood sows and “feed out” the pigs raised by these sows. This provides an addi tional source of income with only a small in crease in labor requirements. Other farmers have found that they can buy feeder pigs in May, turn these pigs into the corn fields when the corn begins to mature, let the hogs harvest the corn crop, and sell in August and Sep tember, when hog prices are usually highest. This “hogging-off” process has brought about a new way of measuring corn yields, and it is not uncommon to hear a farmer speak of the number of pounds of pork per acre rather than the number of bushels of corn. The practice has several advantages, one of which is the low labor requirement, inasmuch as the hogs require very little care and the job of harvesting the corn is entirely elimi nated. Most farmers sow soybeans with their corn, thus providing a protein supplement along with the corn. When a mineral mixture is provided in a self-feeder, the hogs can bal ance their own ration. In discussing the prac tice of “hogging-off” crops, Mr. Fitzgerald points out that good-quality pigs will gain from IVz to 2 pounds per day and that they will c o n su m e fro m 7 to 8 bushels of corn for each 10 0 pounds of weight added, corn producing 45 bushels, with a good stand of soybeans, should produce about 600 pounds of pork. The amount of corn required to pro duce 10 0 pounds of gain can be reduced some what by including an animal protein, such as tankage or meat scraps, in the supplement. Just as in the cattle business, there are two methods of obtaining “feeders”: to buy them on the market or to raise them. Most hog pro ducers in the Southwest follow the practice of buying feeder pigs weighing from 80 to 10 0 pounds. These feeder pigs are bought in May shortly before the corn is ready for “hoggingoff” and then sold when they reach the weight of about 2 0 0 pounds. This method has the advantage of elimi nating care of brood sows and little pigs but has the disadvantage of increasing the risk of disease and un th rifty animals. Feeder pigs assembled from several farm s or bought through a public market may have picked up cholera, stomach worms, or may develop di gestive troubles which sometimes cause seri ous losses. Moreover, it is frequently difficult or impossible to find sufficient feeder pigs of desirable quality. These facts are encouraging many farmers to grow their own feeder pigs. Such a program involves keeping an adequate number of sows throughout the year to provide enough pigs to “hog-off” the corn produced. These sows re quire some labor throughout the year and must be given careful attention at farrowing time. However, with this method of producing pork, it is possible to follow a rigid program of sanitation and to inoculate all hogs against cholera and reduce to a minimum the risk of loss due to disease and parasites. Mr. Thompson points out that the hog pro ducers who follow this method of pork pro duction should become thoroughly familiar with the problems involved in feeding, breed ing, and caring for brood sows. Each brood sow and her litter will require from one-half to an acre of good pasture, and some grain must be fed while they are nursing the litter. Following good management practices which will insure large litters (six or more) of strong, thrifty pigs that will grow rapidly is the secret to profits in this type of operation. With the rapid strides being made in in creased production of corn and other feed crops, more farmers in the Southwest may AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER find it profitable to give consideration to hog production. ISext Year’s Calf Crop Endangered The dry weather and intensive heat that have prevailed over much of the Southwest this summer may have an adverse effect upon next spring’s calf crop, according to U. D. Thompson, assistant extension animal hus bandman of Texas A. and M. College. The prolonged hot, dry w e a th e r has reduced range and pasture feed, and Mr. Thomp son points out that breeding cows that a re n o t g e ttin g enough feed now to maintain their own body weight are not likely to produce healthy, vigorous calves next spring. Since the calf crop is their chief source of income, cattlemen should give careful at tention to the cow herd at this time. In order to carry breeding stock through this critical period, Mr. Thompson recom mends that livestock producers give supple mental feed to their breeding herds until pas turage again becomes available. Many feeds can be used, but Mr. Thompson recommends that the daily ration contain 1 V2 to 2 pounds of 41-percent protein cake and 2 to 5 pounds of green, leafy hay. Also, bone meal and gran ular stock salt should be available at all times. 3 Inoculate and Fertilize Winter Legumes An essential step in planting legume seed is to mix the seed with a commercially pre pared inoculant just before planting. The inoculants, which are gelatin-like substances, contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria which must be present in the soil if the farmer is to gain the maximum benefit from the legumes. Here’s why inoculation is so important. The air above every acre of land contains about 35,000 tons of free nitrogen. In this state it is totally useless to plants, but when converted to another form of nitrogen and placed in the soil, it becomes readily available to all plants just like any commercial nitrogen fertilizer. Nature has given legumes the power to take this nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil. However, the nodules formed on roots of legumes by the nitrogen-fixing bacteria pro vide the power to transfer this nitrogen from the air to the soil. The plant furnishes the necessary energy for the bacteria, and the bac teria use this energy to “fix” the free nitrogen from the air. Unless these nitrogen-fixing bacteria are already in the soil or are placed there through the use of an inoculant at the time the legume seed are sown, this process will not take place and much of the value of the legume will be lost. Silage, Sudan, or Johnson grass or other temporary grazing can also be used as a sub stitute for part of this ration. Mr. Thompson points out that it is essential that the cows get some green feed or yellow corn in order to insure an adequate supply of Vitamin A. Inoculating legume seed is a very simple and inexpensive process and can be done easily in a tub or other large container. The manufacturer’s directions should be followed carefully, and under no circumstances should the inoculated seed be exposed to bright sun light before planting. Sunlight tends to kill the bacteria in the inoculant. Although supplemental feeding adds great ly to the cost of raising cattle, these costs may be small compared with the loss in income that may result if next year’s calf crop is reduced materially in size or quality. Commercial fertilizers are also recom mended for legumes in most areas of the Southwest. The exact kinds and amounts vary with the different soil types, but usually from 200 to 400 pounds of a fertilizer containing 4 AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER phosphate and potash but little or no nitrogen is recommended. On v e ry infertile soils or badly depleted land a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, should be used. By using the fertilizer attachment on the grain drill or row crop planter, the fertilizer can be applied at the same time the legume seed are sown, thus lowering costs and placing the fertilizer where it is readily available to the plants. Treat Oats with Ceresan Seed oats, whether resistant or nonresistant varieties, should be treated to prevent smut, according to A. E. Schlehuber, agrono mist at Oklahoma A. and M. College. N ew I m p r o v e d Ceresan or Ceresan M is recommended and should be used at the rate of Vz ounce per bushel. The use of this chemical, if d ire c tio n s are fo l lowed carefully, will control not only smut but also other seedrotting organisms in the soil, according to Mr. Schlehuber. Care should be taken to avoid overtreating, especially if the operation is done a month or two before seeding, as the seed germ can be destroyed by the use of too large a quantity of the chemical. However, the seed should be treated at least 2 weeks before planting, in order that the fumes of the chemical will have time to be dispersed throughout the grain. Chemical Sprays fo r Maturing Rice The uneven ripening of rice fields is a con stant problem to rice growers, as the imma ture kernels in the harvested grain raise the moisture content to a point where artificial drying becomes necessary. If combining is de layed until all kernels are ripe, there is con siderable loss of early matured heads and kernels due to shattering during harvest, birds feeding on the ripe grain, and stormy weather. Science now appears to have a solution to the problem in the form of chemical sprays, which when applied to matured fields hasten the ripening of green kernels. Application of these sprays a few days before combining causes immature kernels of rice to mature quickly and enables the grower to harvest a crop uniformly ripe and much lower in mois ture content than is possible under normal conditions. In tests near Beaumont, Texas, last year, application of chemical sprays 4 days before combining reduced the moisture content of the grain from about 23 percent at the time of application to as low as 16.2 percent when combined. Grain from check plots which were not sprayed still tested 23-percent moisture at the time of harvest. Chemicals used in these tests included sodium T.C.A., dinitro, sodium pentachlorophenate, and sodium monochloroacetate. They were applied with an airplane and tested on Rexark, Nira, and Blue Bonnet varieties of rice. These preliminary tests indicate that bene fits from such treatment include: ( 1 ) uniform moisture content of grain over the entire field; ( 2 ) killing of weeds, thus eliminating highmoisture weed seeds and vegetation; and (3) easier combining, because the upper leaves of the rice plants are killed. Careful analysis of the rice grain that was sprayed revealed no injury to seed germina tion and no presence of sodium monochloro acetate. Growers who are interested in trying these new sprays can secure additional infor mation from the Texas Agricultural Experi ment Substation at Beaumont, Texas. The Agricultural News Letter is prepared in the Research Department under the direction of C a r l H. M oore, Agricultural Economist.