My dad drove a Ford 9N tractor with an iron seat, wearing a straw hat for protection from the Texas sun. Planting 10 acres a day was bragging rights, as was harvesting 30 bushels of corn. My, how times have changed. Today’s tractors have climate control and GIS (geographic information systems) and harvest 100 acres per day at 130 plus bushels per acre.
The horse industry has followed other economic trends over the years, and with the current recession, this appears to hold true. The equine population equals 1 horse per 24 people in Denton County, and with the economic downturn, a few horse owners are looking for some type of relief from the expenses associated with equine ownership.
The drought of 2011 yielded less than 50 percent of an average hay crop in Denton County and depleted most of what was in reserve. This year, with good spring rains, agricultural producers are looking to replenish those hay reserves and then some. Proper fertilization is a key factor.
With an estimated 50,000-plus acres of Bermuda grass in Denton County, it would be considered the forage of choice. Bermuda grass is the most important warm-season perennial grass in the southeastern United States. There are 25 million acres of hybrid Bermuda grass grown worldwide, with six different subspecies.
February through May is the time of year we think of establishing, improving or renovating our Bermuda grass pastures. With 10 soil types in Denton County —ranging from stony clay to fine sandy loam — this can be a challenge. And when you consider there are 12 varieties of hybrid Bermuda grass — such as Coastal, propagated from sprigs — and many seeded Bermuda grass varieties and blends — such as common, propagated from seeds — the question of which one to use gets complicated.
Most of the soil in Denton County is alkaline and will never need lime application. However, there are a few exceptions, with several pockets of acid soil existing in the county. Soil testing is recommended if landowners suspect that an acid soil is in need of lime.
The Denton County equine industry generates an estimated $111 million annually for the local economy and includes more than 26,000 horses. With that in mind, there might be a chance that someone in the county will receive a horse or pony for Christmas. Eddie Baggs