Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIMONTON – The rain fell hard and heavy, but it didn’t stop more than 100 agricultural producers from attending the inaugural Upper Gulf Coast Ranch Expo at the 12,000-acre Twinwood Ranch near Simonton.
A choking rain of several inches within an hour canceled the bus tours scheduled to view the Akaushi cattle herd, pecan orchard and other aspects of the ranch. However, several presentations featuring Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts left many producers with several strategies to take home and apply to their operations, said Dr. Greg Kaase, AgriLife Extension economist.
“Though the rain kept us from showcasing some of the many visual aspects of Twinwood, the turnout was strong, all things considered, for our first event,” he said. “A lot of cattle producers are wanting information on building their herds and how to better manage forages. We think the speakers addressed many of the issues they are facing today.”
Dr. Doug Steele, AgriLife Extension director, told producers during the opening of the event, “This program provides you a critical look at where we are today with regards to the issues you are facing. And what better way to achieve that than by being together here face to face.”
Fort Bend County continues to be one of the fastest growing in the nation, said Vincent Mannino, AgriLife Extension director for the county. Population has doubled since the 2000 census as land has been sold to developers to meet the housing demand.
“But there’s still farming and ranching, and plenty of opportunity for small-farm operations as well,” he said.
Many producers were interested in learning more about body-condition scoring of cattle. Dr. Jason Cleere, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in College Station, provided an in-depth discussion of maintaining adequate body condition on cattle.
“There are two visual things you can observe,” Cleere said. “We can look at manure and what kind of nutrients are going through cattle. We look and see if the manure is stacking up, or if it is lower quality and runny in appearance. Those two things can help you determine what type of nutrition your cattle are receiving.”
Cleere said ranchers can also observe the amount of flesh on the animal to determine how much fat a cow has. He said a good body condition score is important for lactating cows with a calf by their side. Cows that are emaciated typically receive a body condition score of one, while a good fleshy cow ready to calve should have a body condition score of five.
Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Baumann, AgriLife Extension state weed specialist, told producers they need to tackle weeds early.
“Weeds from day one are picking your pocket,” he said. “The sooner you get those out, the better opportunity your forage grass can produce.”
Baumann reviewed a number of herbicides for producers to consider in battling weed problems, which have been prevalent throughout Texas for much of the year due to drought. Grassburs have been a problem for many, Baumann said. He discussed the use of Pastora and other strategies to get favorable results in control. Texas bull nettle is another weed that many producers have been battling struggling with on rangeland.
“If you think you going to get control with just one squirt of herbicide, think again,” he said. “You are not going to get long-term root kill.”