Can someone please tell me where the last several months have gone? It seems as though I was just writing a Regional Report a couple of days ago and here it is time to write it again. So, I will apologize in advance for this report as I am totally unprepared.
First of all, planning for the Regional Meeting is happening as I write this. We are going to have it at Texas Bloomers, early like last year, May 20th. We will probably have already had the meeting by the time you read this so I hope everyone who attended had a good time, I know I did!
I don’t know about the rest of the country but most of us in the South Central region are in desperate need of moisture.  It has been serious for a while and continues down that path. The local weather reported that the last 120 days here had been the driest on record. That means dryer than the Dust Bowl years and believe me, I’m beginning to get a little worried. Here in Stillwater, we have had no measurable rain since October of 2005. I’m hoping that by the time you read this we will have had some moisture. Since last October, over 1 million acres in Oklahoma have burned due to wildfires. The bad news is I saw baby grasshoppers in January and the good news is the drought has taken care of the ticks. It’s always like that isn’t it, good things and bad things about any situation.
So what new thing(s) is everyone going to try this year? I actually have several things on my list including cotton. I’m also going to try the relative to the hairy balls, the cotton bush which is also an Asclepias or Gomphocarpus. The description says the pods are shaped like cotton pods so by growing them both, I’ll see which one my customers like the best. The really big thing we are doing this year is planting in plastic mulch. I’ve decided to go this route for several reasons. I had to do something about the weeds and I actually think it will help a lot with our water usage. We shouldn’t have to water as often since the wind won’t be able to dry out the beds as fast with the plastic on them. That was one of those things I said I’d ‘never’ do and now I’m doing it. I had to get comfortable with the idea and plus it finally got to the point that we just couldn’t keep up with the area we have planted. I really don’t want to increase our planting area until we get much better at the production of what we have. Right now I’m betting the plastic mulch can help that a lot. We also have a huge advantage in the fact we have a recycle facility here that will take that plastic when we are done with it. They also take our old drip tape, plastic off the greenhouses and basically anything plastic. It’s wonderful that it’s all being recycled and put to good use instead of buried in the dump.
I hope everyone has a great and productive season and I’m already looking forward to the National Conference in San Jose this fall. Don’t miss this one, it’s going to be great. Brenda Smith has been working very hard on the schedule and I know it will be good if she’s working on it. If anyone in the South Central region has a question or needs anything, please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me.