Drought has farmers considering new crops
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Jeff Davis has been farming his whole life, and on Tuesday, he was joined by dozens of other Central Texas producers for the annual field day at Stile’s Farm in Thrall.
Organized by the Texas Agrilife Extension Service, it's their chance to see the latest equipment and learn about new developments in fertilizers, pesticides and growing techniques.
"Farming has changed so much in the last few years, it's hard to keep up with everything," Davis said.
Business has been tough for the small producers over the last few years, and all of them agree, changes in the weather patterns mean they have to adapt and change the way they do business.
"The future of farming is related to water. There are many areas that are getting water deficiencies, and as a result, they're going to have to change their cropping mix,” Stiles Farm Manager Archie Abrameit said."Folks are looking at different ways that they can blend different crops into their system."
One crop that has farmers talking is sesame. Drought and insect resistant, 90 percent of the world's sesame is picked by hand, but a new variety has been developed that can be machine-harvested.
"Grows like okra, fruits like cotton," Crop Consultant Charles Stichler said."It combines like wheat and sorghum and corn and everything else, uses all the same equipment."
However, it's not as easy to plant a new crop of farmers.
"The average age of farmers in Texas is 50-plus. We're concerned about where the next generation of farmers is going to be coming from,” Abrameit said.
The Stiles Farm is a nonprofit, self-supporting institution for the advancement of agriculture to benefit all Texans.