It’s all a matter of timing
For Winters, Texas, producer Roger Kruse, a workable rotation is all a matter of timing — especially when dealing with crop rotations along with cattle in the equation. Some luck comes in handy, too, as in rains occasionally blessing the area. Cattle, wheat and cotton work together well.
Kruse runs a cow-calf operation of mostly crossbred cattle. He puts crossbred cows with either Angus or Maine-Anjou cross bulls. It is rugged ranch country, but they adapt well.
He catches runoff water in stock tanks, but after many months of dry weather, he did have to haul some water over the winter. That takes time and money, but it’s something that can be solved by some good rains.
• Timing critical in making cattle, wheat and cotton all click.
• Cattle are removed from wheat to allow wheat to make grain.
• Cotton planting follows wheat in a good rotation of ground.
Mesquite brush robs water, and Kruse sprays some mesquite every year with Remedy or Reclaim using ground rigs. For him, mesquite is a worse problem than prickly pear.
Much of the rangeland is native grass, but Kruse also has some coastal bermudagrass pastures, and runs cattle on winter wheat pasture, too.
Most of his cows calve in the spring, which enables him to wean calves the next fall and place them on winter wheat for forage. “The winter wheat pasture sure saves on feed,” Kruse notes. During this bitter winter, he also fed protein range cubes to help condition the cattle.
The timing comes with the decision of when to remove cattle from wheat pasture to let it mature for grain harvest. For Kruse that can vary from mid-February to early March, depending on the maturity of the wheat variety he is growing in a particular field, when it was planted and its growth stage. Kruse likes to follow wheat with cotton. That’s his favorite rotation.
He doesn’t consider himself a no-till grower but rather a minimum-till farmer. “We plow wheat stubble ground one time, and put out Treflan as a preplant incorporated herbicide,” Kruse says. “I still think it is money well spent. ”To save some dollars, Kruse will put down fertilizer simultaneously in that same field operation.
If the weather cooperates, he plants cotton in 40-inch rows within a window of May 10 to June 10. He grows all Fiber-Max stacked-gene cotton varieties that give him an edge on both worms and weeds.
With the Bt in his stacked-gene cotton keeping worms under control, and the Boll Weevil Eradication Program putting weevils out of the picture, Kruse says he doesn’t have to worry much about cotton insect pests most seasons.
“Since we don’t have to spray for boll weevils anymore, that has really helped,” Kruse notes. “We mainly just watch for thrips and fleahoppers early on.”
Meanwhile, having Roundup Ready cotton lets Kruse come in with glyphosate, as needed, as a follow-up to the earlier preplant treatment for weeds.
“You can really save your moisture that way, and we have to save all the moisture we can in this country,” Kruse says.
At harvest season, he uses boll openers and Prep as harvest aids, waits two weeks, and desiccates the cotton with Gramoxone. “That does a good job,” Kruse says.
He had a great cotton harvest in 2010, and he hopes for a repeat performance in 2011, transporting his cotton again to the Wingate Gin.
This article published in the April, 2011 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.