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Planting Season Rapidly Approaching As Area
Soil Temperatures Begin Moving Up

Friday, April 24, 2009                                By Shawn Wade

      Soil temperatures are rapidly approaching the 60-degree mark in many areas and that means West Texas farmers are busy preparing for another whirlwind planting season.

      Depending on the crops they will plant, some producers may have already put planters in the field. The rest are, for now, willing to wait for conditions to improve as they complete field preparations and get planting rigs and tractors ready to roll.

      Regardless of their status, the one thing growers have in common this time of year is the need to keep track of the weather. From helping them determine when conditions are right to begin planting or when the next thunderstorm is likely to hit, having timely weather information is critical to their operation.


      Whether they are waiting for a planting rain, for soil temperatures to warm a little more or both, the information growers need to keep track of current weather conditions and forecasts is easily accessible from one convenient location – the Plains Cotton Growers website.

      Just click the "PCG Weather Pages" link at the top of the PCG Home page ( and you are instantly transported to PCG's Weather Page.

      There you will find 3- and 7-day forecast data, current conditions and a bevy of links on the left-hand side of the page through which growers can access data from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Amarillo and Lubbock as well as Texas Tech Mesonet.

Area Soil Temperatures Updated Daily

      Of primary concern to producers this time of year are soil temperatures and Heat Units. Growers can use the "Soil Temperatures" link on the left-hand side of the PCG Weather page to get Lubbock NWS soil temperature information excerpted from the daily NWS weather summary. To go directly to the soil temperature page use the following direct link:

      Also accessible through the PCG Weather page is information gathered by the West Texas Mesonet and provided courtesy of the Texas Tech University College of Engineering.

      With more than 50 weather stations available across the High and Rolling Plains, growers and consultants can easily access locally relevant weather information from a location nearby to help manage the 2009 cotton crop.

      Information available on the West Texas Mesonet site includes current weather conditions, soil data, daily summaries and links to the NWS.


Doug Caruso Appointed To Head USDA Farm Service
Agency; State Appointments Pending

Friday, April 24, 2009                                By Shawn Wade

      Another piece of the USDA hierarchy was installed earlier this week with the naming of Mr. Doug Caruso, a former State Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Farm Service Agency, to be Director the USDA's Farm Service Agency.

      In taking the top job at FSA, Caruso leaves is current position as CEO of Wisconsin Farmers Union Specialty Cheese, to head the Agency that administers and manages farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster and loan programs through a network of federal, state and county offices. FSA programs help producers manage business risks and improve the stability and strength of the domestic agricultural economy.

State Level Appointments Still Pending

      With Caruso's selection, USDA and the Obama Administration are expected to begin finalizing State Executive Director appointments and naming new Chairmen to lead State FSA Committee's in Texas and other states.

      From 1993 to 2001, Caruso was at USDA as State Executive Director of FSA in Wisconsin, which served approximately 100,000 farmers and rural landowners through a network of sixty county offices. From 1989 to 1993, he worked as State Director for United States Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin) and before that as general manager and communications director for the nation's sixth largest farmer-owned milk marketing cooperative.

      While at FSA in Wisconsin, Caruso participated in multi-agency USDA initiatives and worked on the initial implementation of the Milk Income Loss Contract payment program in 2000, developed new labor and client service practices, and reduced loan delinquencies to among the lowest in the nation.

      In 2000, he was honored by FSA as "Outstanding State Executive Director" for "exemplary leadership, superior management skills, and significant contributions to the betterment of the Farm Service Agency at all levels."

      Caruso is a member of the USDA/USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee on Dairy and of the International Dairy Committee. He resides in Middleton, Wisconsin.


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