Now is the time producers start to make that critical decision as to when to put that planter into the field. Also, with the signing of the 2014 Farm Bill producers will soon be faced with numerous other important decisions as well.

The South Texas Cotton & Grain Association has done an outstanding job of working with the National cotton Council to schedule a series of farm bill meetings in the area to provide their members with information on the provisions of the new law. One is scheduled for 8:30 am, February 25th at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds Conference Center Ballroom B in Robstown. It will be open to all producers, cotton industry firms, agri-businesses and agricultural lenders. This will be an excellent opportunity for producers to educate themselves on new provisions of the farm bill so they can make informed decisions.

Planting sorghum is a balancing act between getting it in soon enough to reduce the risk of midge and flowering under hotter conditions and late enough to keep cool air and soil temperatures from delaying growth. While the optimal soil temperature for sorghum germination is between 60 and 65F, potential for coastal storms also have to be considered. The minimal soil temperature for germination at planting depth is about 55F. However, growers can expect slow growth and emergence at this temperature.

The Crop-Weather Program for South Texas is an easy-to-use tool that can be accessed via the internet at http://cwp.tamu.edu. This program provides information about weather conditions, crop growth and development, crop water use, and soil water storage and is maintained by Dr. Carlos Fernandez at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in Corpus Christi. According to these stations the current soil temperature had been hovering around 50F in Nueces County at a 3-inch depth, but quickly jumped into the 60F range on Monday.

There are several rules of thumb as to when the planting window is open and some time they conflict so there is no substitute of practical experience. It is suggested that sorghum be planted no earlier than two weeks after the average last spring freeze. However, if soil temperatures have not reached a five day average of 60F at planting depth a delay might be considered. On the other hand, cooler soil temperatures that may delay or slow emergence may be the better option to minimize the combination of sorghum midge and hotter nighttime temperatures during flowering down the road. The target flowering date for to minimize sorghum midge is May 26th.

Individuals with disabilities, who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodation in order to participate in any of the mentioned activities, are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office eight days before all programs for assistance. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.