By Robert Burns, Texas A&M University
Fall weather arrived, bringing cooler temperatures and, for most of the state, an improved agricultural situation, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service
If there are any dark shadows falling on this pretty fall picture, it would be feral hogs, said Wes Utley, AgriLife Extension agent in Haskell County, north of Abilene.
Peanuts are an important crop in his area, representing a big investment with a potentially big payoff of $800 or more per acre at harvest. But feral hogs are increasingly putting the crop at risk, he said.
"They can be very, very expensive for peanut growers," Utley said.
The trouble with wild hogs begins with spring planting, he said.
"The hogs will smell the seed in the ground and they'll come right to it, and root those seeds right out the ground," he said.
Count about 90 to 100 days later, and it's harvest time, Utley said. Rows are turned up so the peanuts, which finish growing underground, can dry out before being combined.
It's during this drying time that the peanuts are again at high risk.
"That's just easy pickings for the hogs to come right down the row and demolish them," he said. "Two or three hogs will go down a row, and if you get a herd of 20 out there, they can wipe out two or three acres in a night."
Hogs are nocturnal so farmers often hire farm hands or high school students to watch their fields.
"But of course, whatever fields they are sitting on, that's the one where the hogs won't come to that night."
East Texas AgriLife Extension agents in Shelby, Titus, Trinity, Nacogdoches and Henderson counties also reported increased feral hog damage to crops and pastures.