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Texas crop and weather report - Focus on sunflower
College Station, Texas
September 13, 2005

Sunflower demand will keep up with production, which has more than doubled statewide,
Texas Cooperative Extension reports.

Dr. Travis Miller, Extension specialist and Texas A&M University associate department head for soil and crop sciences, said 38,000 acres were harvested in 2004 and an estimated 80,000 acres will be harvested this year.
"Conditions were good in the High Plains for sunflowers, with above-average moisture," he said, "Historically, most of our sunflower production has been in the High Plains, but in the last couple of years, we have seen a significant increase in South Texas."

More acres were planted this year on the High Plains because stormy weather and hail damaged the cotton crop in June, Miller said. Farmers planted sunflowers to replace lost cotton acreage.

Dr. Stephen Livingston, Extension agronomist in Corpus Christi, said sunflowers have become a popular crop choice in South Texas because of price. Lower-than-average production in northern states made prices skyrocket.
"The price of sunflowers has increased from 12 (cents) to 16 cents per pound," he said, "and when that happens, it makes sense to plant what brings profit."

According to the National Sunflower Association, North Dakota is the leading state for production and South Dakota ranks second.

"They simply haven't been able to get enough confectionary-type sunflowers planted in South Dakota," he said, "and it's a good crop for Texas, (so) I expect acreage to (continue to increase)."

Miller said confectionary sunflowers "are the type you see salted and roasted for human consumption, or perhaps in salad bars to add a little protein and crunch to your salad.

"They have nearly twice the market value of oilseed sunflowers, although we typically have higher yields on the oilseed types. Sunflowers are also grown for birdseed."

Dr. Calvin Trostle, Extension agronomist in Lubbock, said harvest was late in South Dakota because weather conditions delayed planting.

"The quickest way to cover (that) shortfall was to contract acres below San Antonio, in the Corpus Christi region, and in the lower Rio Grande Valley."

One of the big reasons sunflowers are in high demand is because so many people are becoming allergic to peanuts, Livingston said.

"Sunbutter can substitute for peanut butter, and many school systems are starting to (use) it."

Trostle said the most recent advancement in oilseed sunflower is the trademark "NuSun," a mid-oleic oilseed.
"The genetics were developed by USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) in partnership with (the) National Sunflower Association," he said.

Sunflower oil reduces saturation in fatty acids, making a better product that can withstand high temperatures during cooking.

"Products made with NuSun also last longer in storage," Trostle said, "and NuSun sunflowers are healthier than many other oils, including oils from the traditional sunflower."

Demand for sunflower seed is predicted to remain steady, Livingston said, and Texas farmers are expected to plant even more in 2006.

The following livestock, crop and weather conditions were reported by Extension districts:

PANHANDLE: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Isolated thunderstorms were reported. Corn kernels were dented in about 90 percent of the fields. Silage harvest continued. Cotton was rated fair to good; bolls continued to open. Bollworm and fall armyworms caused problems in many fields. Verticillium wilt, caused by fungi, was reported. Peanuts were rated fair to good; leaf spot was reported in isolated fields. Sorghum was 95 percent headed and 37 percent was coloring. Headworms were reported. Sorghum silage harvest continued. Soybeans were rated fair to good. Wheat was 40 percent planted. Rangelands were rated fair. Cattle were in good condition, but were pestered by flies.

SOUTH PLAINS: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Warm temperatures were reported. Cotton was in good condition; farmers are about to defoliate plants and harvest. Corn harvest started on early hybrids. Sorghum harvest will begin soon. Irrigated yield potential looked good, but less will be harvested in some dryland fields due to dry conditions. Winter wheat planting continued. Pumpkin harvest started. Reported yields were average. Peanuts were in good condition. They had grown rapidly and were maturing nicely. Pastures and rangelands were in fair to good condition; native grasses did well. Cattle were in good condition.

ROLLING PLAINS: Soil moisture is short. Dry conditions continued. Water for livestock was a concern to area ranchers. Fields were prepped for winter crops. Cotton matured quickly in the hot, dry weather. Rangelands and pastures were still in good shape. Many livestock producers weaned calves and fed hay to cattle. Wheat planting was stalled due to dry conditions.

NORTH: Soil moisture is very short to short. Hot, dry conditions continued. Grain sorghums and soybeans were being harvested; early yields were below average. Corn harvest was almost complete, and yields were slightly below average. Rangelands and pastures were drying up. Many ponds were reported completely dry. Grasshoppers and armyworms were reported in Hopkins County.

EAST TEXAS: Soil moisture is short. Hot, dry conditions were reported. Hay harvest continued. Dry condition hampered the preparation for winter pasture planting. Continued armyworm infestations and horn flies were reported. Cattle remained in good condition. Producers weaned calves. Sweet potatoes were dug up.

FAR WEST: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Moderate temperatures were reported. Cotton was in fair to excellent condition. Pastures, rangelands and livestock were in poor to good condition. Farmers began preparing fields for wheat planting. Pecans entered the "hardening" stage. Livestock remained in good condition; ranchers prepared for fall weaning and vaccinations and to ship stocker cattle.

WEST CENTRAL: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Very hot, dry conditions were reported. Crops progressed well. Cotton bolls began to open; worms were a problem in some fields. Hay was hauled out of fields. Some hay fields were grazed out and will be planted with small grains. Other fields were prepared for fall planting. Some producers were waiting for rain before planting. Rangeland and pasture conditions were fair to good but needed rain. Livestock remained in fair to good condition; cattle prices held steady. Pecan orchards were irrigated.

CENTRAL: Soil moisture is very short. Farm work was slowed due to lack of rain. Cattle were given supplemental feed. Cotton yields were higher that expected with one bale per acre. Pecan yields are expected to improve from last year. Pecan weevils and shuckworms were reported. Small grains were planted.

SOUTHEAST: Soil moisture is short. Scattered showers were reported. Soybeans suffered from drought. Ratoon rice crop looked good. Armyworms were reported. Livestock was in fair to good condition. Peanuts need rain. Hay production slowed due to dry conditions. Feral hogs were reported in hay meadows, lawns and pastures.

SOUTHWEST: Soil moisture is short. Cooler afternoons and sporadic rain showers were reported. Cotton harvest was stalled due to rain; some modules stored in fields may be damaged. Almost one-half of the district's harvest is stored in field modules; some were sitting in 2 to 3 inches of rain water. The quality of some of that cotton is expected to be lower. Peanuts, cabbage and other fall vegetables will benefit from recent rain and cool weather. Most producers applied pre-plant irrigation to fields.

COASTAL BEND: Soil moisture is short to adequate. Light rainfall and cooler temperatures were reported. Farmers began deep-tilling fields and cotton stalk destruction. Pastures needed rainfall. Livestock were fed supplements due to lack of forage. Soil was prepared for fall vegetables.

SOUTH: Soil moisture is short. Conditions improved due to rain. Fall planting preparations continued. Producers pre-irrigated fields for cabbage and spinach. Fall melon planting was completed and under heavy irrigation. Dryland oat and wheat planting was stalled due to extremely dry field conditions. Ginning of this year's cotton crop continued. Corn progressed well. Scattered showers improved pastures and rangelands. Supplemental livestock feeding was reported.

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