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AGRICULTURAL
NEW S LETTER

THE F E D E R A L R E S E R V E BANK OF D A L L A S
Vol. I ll

Dallas, Texas, July 15, 1948

Number 7

F O R A G E Y IE L D S — THE M E A S U R E O F R A N G E C O N D IT IO N S

The true value of range land is its produc­
tivity in terms of animal products, such as
beef, wool, or mutton. Ranches, therefore, are
bought and sold on the basis of the number
of livestock they can support. The produc­
tivity of a ranch may be affected by the
adequacy of stock-water and by management
practices such as breeding of livestock, fenc­
ing and shelter, intensity of grazing use, and
the type of livestock marketed; yet, the fac­
tor which finally determines livestock pro­
duction is the amount of forage produced. In
turn, forage production varies considerably
under the effect of a number of factors, the
most obvious of which are climatic. The great
variation which can and does occur in volume
production of forage under identical rainfall
and seasonal conditions often is not fully
recognized. Factors causing such variations
and the steps which ranchers may take to re­
duce them are analyzed by J. S. McCorkle,
Regional Ranch Division Chief, Soil Conser­
vation Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
in an article which appeared in the June issue
of The Cattleman.
Mr. McCorkle points out that the produc­
tivity of range land of a given type of soil
may be determined largely by its plant com­
position—the plant species that are present
and how much of the total plant cover is
made up of each species. This factor is espec­
ially important in range areas because plants
differ considerably in the amount of forage
produced and in the season of the year when
animals will eat them.
A second factor influencing productivity
is the plant cover, usually called density.
Often a relatively thin stand or low density
will produce as much forage as the thicker
stand because the available moisture is no

more than the thin cover can use quickly and
efficiently. Many species increase in density
when grazing pressure prevents them from
making good top growth. The optimum den­
sity of cover varies with native grass species,
of course, just as with field crops.
The real measure of the value of range land
is the tonnage of edible and nutritive forage
produced. Although range feed is not har­
vested so that the product can be readily
measured and weighed, the rancher may learn
to estimate the tonnage of forage produced on
his range lands, just as a hay farmer learns by
experience to estimate his hay crop while still
standing. It is important that a rancher be
able to estimate his forage production, be­
cause a small difference in production per acre
may make a considerable difference in the
number of cattle carried on the ranch. A rela­
tively small difference in volume production
per acre may be especially significant on a
range where the total yield per acre is already
quite low.
The small difference in volume yields can
be detected by a careful observer who trains
himself to look for it. It is not a task for a
casual observer, says Mr. McCorkle, because
careful attention must be given to such things
as height of stems and leaves, the thickness
of the clumps of grass, the spread of the
plants or the mat they make on the ground,
the number of seed heads produced, and the
color the herbage takes on in growth and
curing. These and other factors tell the man
who is skilled in reading range signs how
much grass there is on the ground.
As ranges depreciate, there are various kinds
of changes that take place. One of the most
important of these is a change to a different

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AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

type of plant cover. A shift from one species
of grass which is edible and nutritious to an­
other similar in appearance but of little or
no feed value is likely to occur where ranges
are overgrazed. Such changes are not so ap­
parent, but they may cause considerable loss
in volume of production.
The evident differences in the volume of
forage on areas of range with the same ap­
parent production potential have prompted
study by Soil Conservation Service techni­
cians to measure the differences and to de­
termine the significance of such variations in
terms of the carrying capacities of various
ranges. Some results of studies which were
made in New Mexico are presented by Mr.
McCorkle to illustrate several important
points in considering volume of forage as a
measure of range values. The results of these
studies are applicable to all range areas of the
Southwest.
The results obtained from one study which
was made of two adjacent pastures separated
only by a wire fence are typical. There was a
decided difference in the plant cover on op­
posite sides of the fence. Blue grama and
western wheatgrass made up most of the
vegetation. Three-quarters of the total cover
on the better range was western wheatgrass
and one-quarter was blue grama. The density
of plant cover was only slightly greater on
the better pasture. Clipped two inches above
ground, the better range yielded 1,055 pounds
per acre, while the range in poor condition
yielded only 404 pounds of grass, or a little
less than one-half as much available forage.
The difference in yield per acre was enough
to maintain one cow for a month in winter
or to provide a month’s good green grazing
for a yearling.
Such results are significant in that the in­
crease in volume production of forage accom­
panied increased value of the grass plants.
The better ranges studied were making good
use of the moisture and producing a greater
tonnage of forage. Comparing results of
studies made by the SCS, Mr. McCorkle says
that it appears that a change in composition
of plant cover would not affect this difference
in the ability of plants to respond to favor­

able weather factors. It is stated, however,
that under normal rainfall the yield differ­
ences observed might have been less. Further­
more, these differences may to some degree
reflect past grazing practices. It seems evident,
he says, that failure on the part of the opera­
tor of the "poor” range to note and be guided
by the needs of the forage plants, especially
the need of maintaining sufficient growth for
survival, resulted in a marked decline in
pounds of forage produced on the range. The
wide variation in forage production between
the two pastures mentioned above is sufficient
to point out the importance of adjusting man­
agement practices to get the higher yield.
The fact that good management on ranges
can more than double the tonnage of forage
is food for thought for southwestern range
operators, says Mr. McCorkle, especially when
the management involves no outlet of cash
—only stocking, so as to leave a generous
residue of litter, and practicing some deferred
summer use. Handling the range in such a
manner is like leaving one dollar on the range
this year to make two next year. Mr. McCorkle’s conclusion is that, "It is just good
business to be generous with the range.”
FARM MANAGEMENT

Controlling Root Rot in the Blacklands
Root rot occurs almost entirely on a black,
waxy upland soil which has been in cotton
for a long time. In the Blacklands of Texas,
farmers sometimes say that a tract of land
"dies cotton,” meaning that the soil-borne
disease likely will thwart any attempt to grow
a cotton crop. In an article prepared on this
subject by William R. Elder, Survey Su­
pervisor, Soil Conservation Service, Temple,
Texas, and published in the May 29 issue of
The Cotton Gin and Oil Mill Press, the char­
acter of root rot is defined and some sugges­
tions offered for its control. According to Mr.
Elder, root rot is a fungous disease that lives
in the soil and attacks tap rooted plants. Cot­
ton, the most prominent tap rooted plant in
the Blacklands, has suffered the greatest dam­
age. Fibrous rooted plants—corn, small grains,
sorghum, and prairie grasses—are not affected
by the disease or do not promote its growth

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

or spread. In the past, growing root-rot re­
sistant plants has been the only sound means
of using the Blacklands after the disease has
made cotton growing unprofitable. After a
few years in the resistant crops, the land
again could support cotton for a time.
In the past few years, according to Mr.
Elder, soil conservation districts have encour­
aged the use of vetch and Austrian winter
peas in the Blacklands. These crops provide
winter covering to prevent erosion and are
turned under in the spring to add organic
matter and nitrogen to the soil. More recently,
Hubam clover has been used to provide graz­
ing, profitable seed production, and soil im­
provement. Cotton planted on Blacklands
following crops of these soil improving le­
gume plants plowed into the soil was almost
free of root rot. Experiments have shown that
Hubam clover turned under preceding a
cotton crop will reduce cotton losses due to
root rot as much as 85 per cent. About three
crops of Austrian winter peas and vetch must
be turned under to reduce root rot to that
same degree.
Treatment for Coccidiosis
Coccidiosis, a disease which in some areas
causes more deaths among chicks from 5 to
14 weeks of age than all others combined,
can be effectively and economically controlled
by properly mixing sulphur and charcoal
with the chicks’ feed, according to the Louis­
iana Agricultural Extension Service. This
method, which was developed in several
years’ research at the Louisiana Agricultural
Experiment Station, was used by 79 demon­
strators in 11 Louisiana parishes last year in
managing 11,968 chicks with a loss of less
than two percent from coccidiosis. For con­
trol of this disease, it is recommended that
chicks be kept in the brooder or the brooder
house until they are six to seven weeks of
age. The brooder should be kept dry and
clean. Three or four days before the chicks
are to be turned out on the ground—but in
no case before they are six weeks of age—one
should begin feeding flowers of sulphur and
No. 10 hardwood charcoal by thoroughly
mixing five pounds of each with eyery 100

3

pounds of the chicks’ mash. Feeding at this
rate should be continued until the chicks
have been on the ground for three or four
days, which will be about a week after the
sulphur and charcoal were started. At that
time the chicks should be on grain in addi­
tion to their mash. This will require two
feeders—one for mash containing five percent
charcoal and one for the grain. If the chicks
are kept on an all-mash feed, the amounts of
sulphur and charcoal in every 100 pounds of
mash should be reduced to 2/ 2 pounds each.
Feeding at this rate should be continued until
the chicks are 12 to 14 weeks of age, at which
time the use of sulphur and charcoal may be
discontinued.
2, 4-D Dust in Weed Killing Flights Prohibited
Dusting of weed-killing 2,4-D dusts from
airplanes has been prohibited by D. W. Rentzer, administrator of the CAA, at the request
of the Department of Agriculture, following
many complaints that drifting dust had in­
jured cotton and other broadleafed crops.
When waivers are issued to operators using
aircraft for dusting or spraying, a special pro­
vision will be included which will prohibit
the use of 2,4-D in dust form. The restric­
tion will not apply to 2,4-D sprays or to in­
secticide and fungicide dusts such as are used
to destroy the boll weevil and specific plant
diseases.
FARM PRICES

New Support Prices Announced
A program to support the price of 1948crop rice at 90 percent of parity as of August
1, 1948, was announced recently by the
United States Department of Agriculture.
Non-recourse loans will be made available by
the Commodity Credit Corporation to pro­
ducers and associations of producers, from time
of harvest through December 31, 1948, on
rough rice stored on farms and in approved
warehouses. The loans will mature on April
30, 1949, or earlier upon demand from the
farmer.
CCC non-recourse loans, at $5.00 per cwt.
for sound dry edible beans and $3.50 per cwt.

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AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

is expected to be smaller in 1948 than in 1947,
but the largest reduction will be in beef.
Department of Agriculture forecasts indi­
cate that hog prices are likely to rise more
than seasonally this summer, since the sum­
mer drop in marketing is expected to be more
marked than usual. Prices of fed cattle are
expected to rise seasonally. Prices of grass
cattle may decline less than usual, because a
strong demand for feeders is in prospect if
feed crops are good. Prices of lambs are likely
to be lower during the latter part of the year
Farm Land Values in Texas Reached Record than during the early part of the spring mar­
Levels, Sales Showed Decline, During 1947 keting season.
During 1947, prices of farm land in Texas
ANNOUNCEMENTS
advanced to record levels in three sample
Meeting
areas included in the land market study made
by the Texas A. & M. College and reported
The Annual Louisiana State University
by John H. Southern and Joe R. Motheral in Farm and Home Week will be held on the
Progress Report 1119. In two of the three University campus from August 10 to 12.
counties for special study—Ellis, Jones, and Short courses on many aspects of farming
Nacogdoches—prices reached the highest level will be offered by the Agricultural Extension
since the sales summaries were inaugurated in staff.
1920. Only in Ellis County, in the Texas
Black Prairie, have prices failed to reach an
Publications
all-time high. In contrast with these price
trends, the volume of sales declined substan­ New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Sta­
tially during 1947. Both number of sales and
tion, New Mexico College of Agriculture
the acreage involved were down in 1947 to
and Mechanic Arts, State College:
about the levels of the first war year, 1942.
Improved Strains of Cotton for New
Farmers who were owner-operators bought a Mexico,
Bulletin 337, by G. N. Stroman.
majority of the tracts sold, as they have done
Increasing
Irish Potato Yields in New
throughout the war and postwar years. Mexico, Bulletin
342, by J. V. Enzie and
Slightly less than half of those who sold land J. R. Eyer.
were farm operators. Little change occurred
Protein Roughage for Fattening Cat­
in the proportion of cash sales during 1947, tle,Loiv
Bulletin
343, by J. H. Knox.
which ranged between 40 and 50 percent of
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Agri­
all sales in the three counties.
cultural and Mechanical College of Texas,
College Station:
Sales
of Farm Land in Three Texas Counties,
COMMODITY NOTES
1947,
Progress
Report 1119, by R. D. Lewis.
The Meat Situation
Crossbreeding to Increase 'Weight of Cattle
Meat production in 1948 probably will be in Coastal Areas, Progress Report 1121, by
around 10 percent less than the 23.4 billion R. D. Lewis.
pounds produced in 1947, according to the
Neivcastle Disease is Costly to Poultry
United States Department of Agriculture. Raisers,
Progress Report 1122, by R. D. Lewis.
This expected output will be the smallest
Copies of these publications may be secured
since 1941 but larger than in any year prior
to that time. Production of each class of meat by request to their respective publishers.
for sound whole peas of standard varieties,
except $3.25 for Colorado White, will be
made available to producers and associations
of producers from harvest time through De­
cember 31, 1948. Stocks delivered to the CCC
as collateral for loans must grade No. 2 or
better.
Complete information on support prices is
available from local Production and Market­
ing Administration offices.