N.M. farmers may plant less this year

PORTALES, N.M. – There’s a good chance fewer acres of crops will be planted in eastern New Mexico and West Texas, said agriculture officials.

“Just my gut feeling, the next two months will impact a lot of what people decide to do,” said Roosevelt County, N.M., Agriculture Agent Patrick Kircher. “If we get some moisture, it may make folks feel more positive about their crops.”

Kircher said he does not know what local dryland farmers plan to do, but he thinks most will exercise minimum tillage, which means disturbing top soil as little as possible to conserve moisture in the soil.

Roosevelt County farmer Rick Ledbetter said he not only will till his crops as little as possible for the summer, but he also will not be double cropping most of his crops, which means when his winter wheat is pulled, no other crops will be planted in its place.

Ledbetter said a majority of his summer crops will be wheat because it is the crop currently bringing in money, along with silage, because both are the main sources for cattle feed.

“The only reason I’ll have good crops this year is because my crops are irrigated,” Ledbetter said. “If rain doesn’t come soon, these dryland crops are never gonna make it.”

Ledbetter said he also will be planting green chile and carrots for color extraction.

Curry County farmer Frank Blackburn said the normal raining season for the local area is approaching so he has hopes of crop conditions improving.

“Some of mine are irrigated so we’ll be able to plant that but the dryland, we’ll have to wait for the wheat in the fall (first of September),” Blackburn said if not enough rain falls. “The normal planting time for milo and sorghum silage is the last two weeks of May or June, so it’s too early to say if it’s going to rain or not. If it does rain, I’ll plant the normal amount.”

Blackburn said if rain does not come or not enough comes, he will be planting less crops than normal.

Blackburn and Ledbetter said when and how the rain comes will be the deciding factor in how many and what kind of crops are planted.

According to Albuquerque National Weather Service officials, the next two months is predicted to bring a 40 percent chance of above normal temperatures.