Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Living off the Land
Nov. 24, 1998
Pima planting pays off for farmers
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Long-staple cotton is a staple in the Sam Miller farming
enterprise. He prefers pima to the short-staple upland crop
because its selling price is higher.
This year, other Reeves County farmers looked at the pima
market - nearly twice that of upland - and joined Miller to
bring the total pima acreage to 2,782.1 acres.
"The market is better on pima, and that's the reason for
extended planting," said Bob Bickley, executive director for
the Trans-Pecos Cotton Association.
"It just looked like, especially this year, we had a better
market for pima," Miller said. "Probably a week or two ago,
the price on pima was $1.02 or $1.03 per pound."
The price on upland cotton varies, but 60 cents per pound is
Miller said he planted 1,100 acres of pima this year, but
lost much of the crop in the Barilla area to a hail in late
"It was a pretty significant hail, so I am not too happy
with anything right now," Miller said. "The yield is
probably not going to be very good."
Don Kerley, manager of the Alamo-Kerley roller gin, said
they are "just getting started" with the pima harvest and
had ginned 500 bales early last week.
"You have to pick pima," Miller said. "It can't be stripped.
That makes it a little more expensive to harvest."
Other expenses are about the same as for upland, except that
a producer may apply a little more fertilizer to pima in an
attempt to increase the yield, he said.
"We probably have a few more problems with pink boll worms,
but less with regular boll worm," Miller said. Pima is not
protected against insects like the Bt upland cotton.
Miller planted 600 acres of upland this year.
"Most people think you get 20 percent less yield on pima
than on upland," he said. "Sometimes, in years past, we
haven't seen that much difference."
And many times the market price for pima has been $1.20 per
Market prices are lower on everything this year, Miller
said. "Except equipment and labor."
Automated equipment saves some on labor costs, but "it is
still fairly labor intensive when you irrigate. On dry land,
it is an entirely different thing."
Rain that makes crops possible on dry land farms just
irritates Reeves County farmers, Bickley said.
"The most detrimental thing is the rain. We understand we
need the rain badly, but it is difficult for us to harvest,"
Because pima requires a longer growing season, it stays in
the field longer than upland.
Bickley said that pima was a popular crop in years past
because it can be planted early in this area.
And pima can get by with a little less water than upland,
said Miller. Reeves County producers planted 7,817.8 acres
of upland this year.
Farmers in the Coyanosa area stuck with upland on all their
acreage this year, but are producing a long staple that
resembles pima, said Gail Fritter, general manager for the
Coyanosa Co-op gin and farm store.
Long-staple cotton produces a smooth, silky fabric that is
used in men's dress shirts, women's fashions and other
Yields are so good that the same acreage that produced 8,000
bales last year is promising 10,000 to 11,000 this year,
"Bt cotton is doing it for us," she said. "It has been a
good year and a good fall."
Insects do not attack Bt cotton, so farmers have not had to
spray insecticide except for "a little for stink bugs on a
couple of farms," Fritter said.
"Grades are excellent, the whitest you can get. And staples
have been 36, 37 and 38 - in pima class. It was a long
Balmorhea Lake's back to life
By JON FULBRIGHT
The `death' and `rebirth' of Balmorhea Lake didn't take very
long, and fishermen from across West Texas have been taking
advantage of the last few warm days of 1998 to try out the
lake, which was restocked last month as part of the effort
to preserve an endangered minnow.
Eight million fish were killed in August by the Texas Parks
and Wildlife Department, working with the lake's owner,
Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 1. But three
months later fishermen are showing up at the Balmorhea Lake
store to get permits to try for some of the 3,000 catfish
that were put into the lake on Oct. 14.
Pam Castaneda of the Balmorhea Lake Store said the fishermen
were quick to return to the lake since its restocking last
month. "On the weekend it ranges from 100 to 200 people.
During the week it's anywhere from 10 to 20," she said.
"We get some in from Odessa-Midland, and we've gotten some
from El Paso. Because it's been in the news, it's really
picked up business, not only for us, but for the little
grocery stores in town," she said.
The lake was mostly drained before the pecicide rotenone was
applied by aerial spraying, in order to increase its
effectiveness. "I'm sure they were all dead. There was
nothing in that lake," Castaneda said. "The only thing that
survived were the turtles."
The lake began to refill after that, and still has a ways to
go to cover some sections that are normally underwater, but
looking out from the window of the store, Castaneda said,
"It's filled up quite a bit. Before you could stand here and
not see any water, so it's come up a lot."
The fish kill was conducted the final weekend in August, in
order to eliminate the sheepshead minnow from Balmorhea
Lake. The small fish was imported from the Gulf Coast to
Balmorhea in the 1960s, according to the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department, and began to inbreed with the native
Comanche Springs pupfish whose habitat is San Solomon
Springs, which feeds into Balmorhea Lake.
Sheepshead minnows were also taken from Balmorhea Lake to be
used as bait fish in other West Texas lakes and streams,
threatening the Leon Springs pupfish near Fort Stockton and
the Pecos River pupfish. The Comanche Springs and Leon
Springs pupfish already are on the endangered species lists,
designation of the Pecos River pupfish, and the federal
water flow controls it would entail, is currently being
fought by the Red Bluff Water Power Control District.
Farmers in southern Reeves County also faced controls on
their water use due to the endangered species status of the
Comanche Springs pupfish. The creation of a man-made cinega
in Balmorhea State Park - replacing the original wetland
where the Balmorhea swimming pool in currently located - was
the first step taken two years ago, in an effort to satisfy
"We have restored a portion of the natural wetland they used
to live in by creating San Solomon Cinega at Balmorhea State
Park," Garrett said last month. "Now it is time to deal with
the issue of hybridization."
At that time the cinega was being built, TP&W talked about
undertaking the fish kill in Balmorhea Lake, but it met with
some protests from area residents. This year's effort was
carried out at the same time three islands were being
constructed for use as a wildlife habitat, and facilities
nears the main lake parking area were being upgraded.
That includes a pond connected to the rest of the lake by
two pipes at the bottom of an earthen dike. "For the pond
they're going to put a gazebo in the middle of it and have
ramps down to it," Castaneda said. "We have a lot of people
in wheelchairs who'll be able to get down there without
getting into the rocks," which line the lake's shore. "It
will be more handicapped-friendly."
Garrett said of the 8 million fish killed by the rotenone,
about 5½ million of those were sheepshead minnows. Other
fish TP&W were forced to kill off included carp, gizzard
shad and other minnows, though the state allowed unlimited
fishing the weekend before the rotenone spraying was
TP&W said those fish are being replaced with better and more
diverse species. A first stocking of 3,000 channel catfish
and blue catfish was done five weeks ago, and 29,000 more
are due by the end of the year. Others restockings are
scheduled to be introduced into the lake over the next three
years. "In February they're putting in crappie and blue
gill, and they'll be Florida bass between 1999 and 2001, "
While the fish will return according to a time schedule,
birds have already come back to the lake with the cold
weather approaching. Some were just passing through on their
winter migration, while Castaneda said others have been
making their home here for a while even before the bird
habitat islands were completed.
"The geese have been here though July. They hang out here
because I feed them, which is why they stay around, they get
free food here," she said. "We also had the Sandhill cranes
here two or three weeks ago and it was awesome looking to
see about 200 of them all coming in at the same time."
By Sue Toone
This month we will talk about basil whose botanical name is
Ocimum. This is a group of tender, annual herbs, plus is
also a member of the Lamiaceae (Mint family). Basil, like so
many other herbs, is easily grown and has few pests
(sometimes aphids are a problem, but just spray a little
water with a tad of soap on the backside of the leaves to
wash them away). Basil transplants and seeds can be found in
many catalogs and garden centers. In fact, the seed and
plant catalogs are my main source of information about
herbs. Every spring, there seems to be a new or exotic herb
that I just have to have. There is always an adequate
description of the plant, and a carefully worded explanation
about a certain feature of the plant to be bought. And if
that doesn't get you, the glossy, colored picture will.
So today we will talk about the different varieties of
basil, give a short description of each and note some of the
different ways the herbs are used. So get ready. Get your
pen and paper and jot down the botanical names of the basils
you might be thinking about growing next spring.
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is the most popular for
cooking and probably the most commonly grown basil. Sweet
basil leaves are bright green and the plant has small creamy
white flowers. Plant leaves are used in vinegars, tomato
sauces, salads, and is a major ingredient in the flavorful
green Italian sauce, pesto.
Other sweet basils include:
Anise Basil (O.b) The plants have aromatic green leaves,
purple stems and pinkish flowers and is used in almost any
Cinnamon Basil (O.b.) has a cinnamon flavor and fragrance
and leaves are used in tea, jelly, or fruit salad.
Licorice Basil (O.b.) of course tastes like licorice candy.
Basil Fino Verde (O.b `Fino Verde') is a twelve to
fifteen-inch plant well adapted to container growing. The
1-inch leaves grow in clusters. Used, along with a bit of
garlic and olive oil, to butter bread.
Spicy Globe Basil (O.B. `Spicy Globe') a compact, dwarf
variety of sweet basil with small, strong flavored leaves
and a perfect plant for a container or can be used as a
border plant. The tiny leaves look wonderful in vinegars.
Another dwarf variety is Bush Basil (O.b.`Minimum') which
has many branches and grows about one-foot tall.
Lemon Basil (O.b. `Citriodorum') has a wonderful
lemon/citrus fragrance and pale, silver-green leaves and
white flowers. It is used in potpouri, herbal teas and
salads. This compact growing basil does will in a container.
Place the container in the walking area of the patio or near
the sidewalk so the brushing by the plant will release its
The purple basils are next. (O.b. `Purpurascens'),
(O.b.`Purple Ruffles'), (O.b. `Purple Opal'), and (O.b.
`Dark Opal') These basils are wonderful coloring for
vinegars because of the wide variety of colors ranging from
reds to pinks. They are also beautiful accent border plants
in the landscape and well as used in cooking.
Now, if you happen to need and insect repellent, you might
plant some camphor basil (O. kilimandscharicum), said to be
a native of Africa. This tall plant's leaves have a very
strong camphor odor and it is said to be helpful in
Next month we will discuss the cultivation of basil, how to
harvest for later use, a few cooling ideas, some household
tips for uses, a few cosmetic uses, and how it was used for
healing back in another time.
Record rains fail to change bad forecast
AUSTIN - Heavy rain and flooding during October caused
property damage and loss of livestock, but 1998
drought-stricken crop production prospects were unaffected
according to the November 1 forecast released by the Texas
Agricultural Statistics Service.
The 1998 Texas Upland cotton crop is expected to total 3.0
million bales, 42 percent less than in 1997 and 31 percent
less than 1996. "Harvested acreage is estimated at 3.05
million acres, 41 percent less than last year, as
significant acreage was lost to drought and poor stands,"
according to Dennis Findley, State Statistician. Yield is
now expected to average 472 pounds per acre, 7 pounds less
than last year.
Corn production is forecast at 175.8 million bushels, down
29 percent from last year's record production and 13 percent
less than 1996. Based on November 1 conditions, statewide
yield is expected to average 95 bushels per acre, 43 bushels
less than 1997. Harvested acreage is up 3 percent from last
Texas peanut production is expected to increase 9 percent
from last year to 900 million pounds.
Statewide yield, at 2,500 pounds per acre, is down 110
pounds from last year, while harvested acreage increased 14
percent to 360 thousand acres.
Sorghum production is forecast at 56.7 million hundredweight
(cwt), 46 percent less than last year and 45 percent less
than 1996. Harvested acreage is estimated at 2.3 million
acres, down 27 percent from last year. Sorghum replaced some
lost cotton acreage this year, but much of the late planted
acreage also failed. Yield, at 2,464 pounds per acre, is
expected to be 840 pounds less than last year.
Rice producers expect to harvest 14.2 million cwt. about the
same as in 1997. Yield is forecast at 5,600 pounds per acre,
100 pounds more than a year ago.
The 1998 Texas soybean crop is forecast at 8.14 million
bushels, down 27 percent from last year's production.
Harvested acreage dropped 7 percent, and yield is expected
to average 22 bushels per acre, compared with 28 bushels
United States corn production is forecast at 9.84 billion
bushels, up 5 percent from last year's crop and up 1 percent
from last month. A yield of 133.3 bushels per acre is
forecast, up 6.3 bushels from last year. The sorghum crop is
expected to drop 20 percent, to 291.7 million cwt. The U.S.
Upland cotton crop is expected to total 12.8 million bales,
down 30 percent from last year. Soybean production is
forecast at a record 2.76 billion bushels, up 2 percent from
last year. The U.S. peanut crop is estimated at 3.71 billion
pounds, up 5 percent from a year ago. U.S. rice production
is forecast at 180.4 million cwt. up 1 percent
Texas Forest Service offers seedlings for windbreaks
LUBBOCK -- A tree standing alone adds a certain aesthetic
quality to rural living. But the systematic planting of
trees and shrubs in a windbreak becomes a management tool
that effects every aspect of a farm or ranch, says a Texas
Forest Service official.
Now is the time for Reeves County landowners to order
windbreak seedlings produced by the Texas Forest Service
West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, before preferred stock is
sold out, says Robert Edwin, Texas Forest Service forester.
Windbreaks protect the soil, increase land value and crop
yields, and reduce livestock weight loss and death rate. But
producing a high performance windbreak requires more than
just planting a line of trees.
Prior to planting a windbreak, landowners should determine:
the area or structure in need of protection; tree species
adaptable to the planting region; and the planting
dimensions of the break, be it a homestead, livestock, field
or wildlife windbreak or a living snow fence.
A planting dimension, such as proper spacing, prevents
crowding and reduces tree stress, which also decreases
insect and disease susceptibility thus extending the life of
the windbreak. Generally, each tree row should be planted 20
feet apart with 10- to 25-foot spacing between each tree
within a that row.
When designing a windbreak also recommends planting multiple
rows of evergreens and deciduous trees and shrubs. The
purpose of the windbreak dictates the number of rows
Each row within a multiple row windbreak serves as a backup
in case one row is lost to pest damage or other casualties.
Generally, insects and diseases are confined to a species.
Also, within the multiple row structure a deciduous tree row
will provide early protection. Deciduous trees are faster
growing than evergreens, which are the backbone of multiple
Specie diversity in a multiple row windbreak also enhances
aesthetics with foliage that changes with the seasons
(depending on the species).
A single row of trees may suffice for a period, but a
multiple-row windbreak established with the recommended
dimensions can serve for a lifetime.
To order windbreak seedlings this fall or for more
information contact the Upper Pecos Soil and Water
Conservation District (915) 445-3196 or the Texas Forest
Service (806) 746-5801.
Feedlot cattle in Texas down slightly
AUSTIN -- Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in
Texas feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled
2.83 million head on November 1, down slightly from a year
According to the monthly report released by the Texas
Agricultural Statistics Service, the estimate was up 6
percent from the October 1 level. Producers placed 750,000
head in commercial feedlots during October, down 7 percent
from a year ago but up 17 percent from the September, 1998
Texas commercial feeders marketed 580,000 head during
October, up 12 percent from a year ago. Monthly marketings
were up 4 percent from the September, 1998 total.
On November 1 there were 2.3 million head of cattle and
calves on feed in the Northern High Plains, 81 percent of
the state's total. The number on feed across the area was
virtually unchanged from last year and was up 6 percent from
the October total.
October placements in the Northern High Plains totaled
623,000 head, up 17 percent from the September total.
Marketings were up 3 percent from last month at 479 thousand
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United
States in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more
totaled 10.76 million head on November 1, 1998. The
inventory was 2 percent below November 1, 1997.
Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.83 million
head, 3 percent below 1997. During October, placements of
cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds totaled
776,000 head; 600-699 pounds totaled 649,000 head; 700-799
pounds totaled 685,000 head; 800 pounds and greater totaled
719,000 head. Marketings of fed cattle during October
totaled 1.77 million, 2 percent below 1997 but 4 percent
Feeders in the historical seven monthly states with feedlots
having a capacity of 1,000 head or more reported 9.2 million
head on feed November 1, down 2 percent from last year but 8
percent above November 1, 1996.
October placements totaled 2.4 million head, 2 percent below
last year and 6 percent below 1996. Marketings during
October, at 1.5 million head, were 1 percent below 1997 but
7 percent above 1996.
Boll weevilcaptures up, threat low
TRAPPING PROGRAM UPDATE
Bad News: Boll weevil capture increased significantly in
Good News: weevils now present are poor candidates for
surviving the winter
"Weevil captures increased fairly dramatically in October,
but this was not entirely unexpected," said Dr. Rex D.
Freisen, Texas Agricultural Extension Agent for Pecos,
Reeves and Loving counties.
"Although local infestations were very low this season,
those weevils that are out there would be expected to appear
as crops finish out. I suspect that most of our weevils
being captured now are the offspring of the "wave" of
weevils that came through the region in mid-September," he
said. "To try to help verify this, I collected live weevils
from traps in Coyanosa last week and sent them to Dr. Don
Rummel, the entomologist in Lubbock who analyzed the earlier
batch of weevils for diapause survivability.
"This sample, in contrast to the first batch, had very low
levels of fat built up and Dr. Rummel rated them as mostly
3's and 4's on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being the most
likely to survive winter (remember the previous sample came
back as mostly 1's and 2's). This is good news, suggesting
that those weevils that are out there now are unlikely to
survive the winter, and even if they do they will emerge
early because of low energy reserves."
"Dr. Rummel said that that best thing to hope for is a cold
winter to finish them off (rather than to keep spraying any
more this fall). The last two seasons we saw significant
increases in weevil captures in November (1996) and October
(1997), which coincided with the finishing out of the
majority of the cotton crops, Friesen said.
"Crop-wise, I think this season looks more like '97 than
'96, because by this time in 1996 there were still a lot of
green fields out there, plus our first killing freeze didn't
come until December that year."
Friesen said the presence of many "ns" (not sampled) in the
table below are due to the rain the area had the week of
Oct. 12-16 and do to vehicle problems he had on Oct. 19-23.
"How these numbers compare to the 1996 and 1997 seasons is
shown by counties on the graphs below (captures are averaged
by weevils per trap)." he said. "When considering individual
production areas, the most obvious difference in capture
patterns in Pecos County so far is that all production areas
except Belding saw reductions in October captures when
compared to 1997. Belding, however, showed twice as many
captures per trap as in 1997 (for October).
"Hopefully captures will not increase for November as they
did in 1996, but for locations checked so far this week
(Nov. 9-11), some were up from last week whiles others were
down. The most notable was Belding again, which increased
dramatically to 4,064! The reasons for this increase are
unknown," Friesen said.
Weekly Boll weevil Captures
(week end)10/9 10/16 10/23 10/30 11/6 11/13
Belding... 198 ns ns 1667 ns 4064
Coyanosa.. 148 ns ns 1482 2795 2655
Firestone.. 49 ns ns 239 774
Stock. Far.. 2 ns ns 19 ns
Imperial... ns ns ns 70 191
Girvin/Bak. ns ns ns 506 418
Barstow.....40 ns 22 ns 352
Grandfalls..ns ns 22 342 413
Balrnorhea..16 ns ns 137 16 134
Saragosa....12 ns 22 143 32 91
Verhalen.....8 ns 123 ns 464 218
Barilla......4 ns ns ns 88
Flattop......2 ns ns 48 ns
NW Pecos.....4 ns ns 329 ns
S. Pecos.....5 ns 101 ns 614 362
-The graphs show that compared to last year, we seem to be
in fairly good shape. Overall, October captures in Pecos
county dropped by approximately 60 percent from lnst year,
Reeves county by about 90%, and Ward county dropped by
approximately 55 percent However, the captures still
remained above 1996 levels (except Ward).
-Reminder-Plow-down date coming up on February 2. General
guidelines for increasing your effectiveness on PBW: shred
and bury crop debris as soon and as deep as possible (6"
best) (NOTE: in Bt colon this is a good resistance
management tool by reducing likelihood of possible
Ned Cantwell, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise