Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mecklenburg Farmers Find Dairying Profitable, 1949

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, as published in the Charlotte Observer, Dec. 19, 1949

Cotton allotments, peanut allotments, wheat allotments, tobacco allotments, and even corn allotments in some counties, are causing North Carolina farmers one headache after another. What to do about them? How to use the land released from these cash crops? What to do about tenants who must be displaced if some profitable way of using the land cannot be found? These are just a few of the perplexing questions faced by North Carolina farmers as they start another year.

Most farmers have finished harvesting all the 1949 crops and most of them have planted all the winter crops they will use this winter and next spring. Some folks will have to change their farming practices in 1950. Many others should change.

Farm management experts say that it is a good thing to make a definite farm plan for 1950. This plan should include a selection of crops to be grown in 1950; a selection of the particular fields on which the crops will be grown; selection of the amount and kind of livestock that can be grown and fed; selection of the amount of grazing crops, grain, hay, and other feeds that will be needed; choosing the soil conservation practices that will be followed so as to earn all the payments that may be coming to your farm; determining the new buildings and the fencing needed; and the farm machinery. This planning should not only include the things to be done, says Dr. Brice Ratchford, but also when they are to be done. For instance, one man said he would need a new hay storage shed and he has set February as the proper time to build it.

It pays to have a plan. The man who rushes into the 1950 season with not plan at all may find himself facing all kinds of difficulties….

E.M. Brown of Charlotte, Route 3, Mecklenburg County, says that soybeans have been helpful to him. He planted 42 acres to the comparatively new Roanoke variety this year. Of the 42 acres planted, 27 acres were seeded in rows and the other planted broadcast with the grain drill. The beans were fertilized with 400 pounds per acre of a 2-12-12 fertilizer mixture.

Mr. Brown did all of the work himself, using modern tractor-drawn machinery to plant, cultivate and harvest. He hired a man to tie the sacks of beans as they were combined. He harvested a little over 1,000 bushels of beans from 38 acres, or an average of 27.5 bushels an acre. Last year he sold his entire output as seed for $3.25 a bushel. If he sells the beans this year at the market price for crushing for oil, he will get around $2 a bushel. Anyway you figure it, Mr. Brown stands to clear $1,500 from his beans. He also figures that his soil is being improved by growing the soybeans. Looking forward to 1950, Mr. Brown says that with a smaller cotton crop generally over the South and therefore less cotton seed, the price of soybeans and should improve.

Frank and Eugene Hodges, brothers and dairymen of the Newell Community in Mecklenburg County, have found out that cows pay well, especially when the cows are fed properly. These men milk about 65 head of Holsteins and they sell about a ton of milk every day. R.C. Laney, assistant farm agent, says that if you want to see a beautiful sight, drive out to the well-kept home and farm of Hodges Brothers.  Mr. Laney says it is a sight you will never forget. Get there about 10 o’clock in the morning and the chances are that you will see these 65 animals silhouetted against a background of green alfalfa. The brothers have 50 acres in alfalfa and they graze the cows a part of each day on a part of this 50 acres. Usually, the cows have access to about 10 acres at a time.

That’s the way to make money, say these two men. Have good cows and feed them with the best feed that can be grown. There is no better crop than alfalfa for hay and grazing, and North Carolina soil will grow just as good alfalfa as can be grown in Kansas, Oklahoma, or anywhere else.

Mecklenburg dairymen are fully aware of the fact that the great war-boom market for milk is gone. They know that prices will be lower and competition keener in the future. That’s why they are adding silos and producing and saving so much of their feed on the home farm. That’s also why they are keeping records and finding out which cow pays the most for the feed she is given.

Brawly Brothers, in the Robinson Church section of Mecklenburg County, have been keeping these herd records for one year. They know what their individual cows are doing in the way of producing profitable milk. Out of 20 cows on test, they had five to officially produce over 18,000 pounds of milk last year. Three produced 20,000 pounds. Only one cow in this herd produced less than 10,000 pounds of milk last year.

Records kept by Mecklenburg dairymen are also used to determine if their herd sires are any good. If a sire proves that he can transmit high milk production to his daughters, then he is a valuable animal to keep on the farm. George Hoover, Hodges Brothers, Joe and Crosby Dunn, W.T. Harris, Brawley Brothers, and Morrocroft Farms are all keeping such records so as to prove the value of the sires that they are using. Then, too, when a new cow comes into a Mecklenburg dairy herd, she is placed on test. Careful records are kept of her feed intake and her milk production, with the amount of butterfat in the milk. If this cow does not produce as she should in the face of the evidence, then she leaves that herd.  This is the way that Mecklenburg dairymen cull their non-paying animals.

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