Farmers Exploring Alternative Crops - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Farmers Exploring Alternative Crops

Some Texoma farmers are now reaping the benefits of alternative crops.  Farmers today are looking to explore all of their options when it comes to types of crops and what benefits they bring to their fields.  While crops like canola and sesame are more expensive to plant than a traditional crops, farmers like Kenneth McAlister are learning, it may be worth it.

"A lot of people have done cotton in years past and it's a pretty good crop, but it's a year to year deal, it's going to depend on what mother nature provides us," says McAlister. 

And with the weather we saw this past year, he says he's looking at other options.  "Wheat farming is you've got all your eggs in one basket and with alternative crops it gives you an option to go different ways."

Traditionally a wheat and cotton farmer, McAlister says it was a few years back when there was trouble selling wheat that caused many to think outside the box.

He says,"That was probably one of the big pushes to help us to understand we needed to find alternative crops."

Since then he has experimented with sesame and canola in his fields and he says the benefits have been noticeable.  "It kind of helps build the soil a little.  It kind of helps pull deep fertilizer to the top."

These crops can also better withstand cheaper weed killing chemicals, and may even be more drought resistant than some traditional crops.  There may also be the potential of bringing in more money.

"Yes, there is a good possibility of some money potential to harvest some, but there's also with this crop, a little higher risk of getting it put in," explains McAlister. 

It's not uncommon for canola to cost about $25 per acre to plant, a definite increase from about $10 an acre for wheat.  Even though the cost may be higher, some farmers like McAlister say it may be worth trying.  

"We've been doing something so long.  We've been stuck in a rut and we need to find a way out of it and for us to do that, some of us guys are just going to have to try it, experience it," says McAlister.

Another benefit McAlister mentioned is that some of these alternative crops may even keep pests like deer and hogs at bay.  Some experts say with the high usage of oil products, canola and sesame oils can be a commodity that could bring economic benefits if added to a farmers crop rotation.

Taelor Rian, Newschannel 6.

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