Louisiana Farmers Deal with Excessive Moisture in Fields

July 14, 2015 09:15 PM
Louisiana Farmers Deal with Excessive Moisture in Fields

Spring downpours have washed away chances for a record year in Louisiana, though there's still chance for above-average corn, cotton and soybean crops, Louisiana State University AgCenter experts say.

Another AgCenter expert said the rains also washed weed-control herbicides into lower layers of soil where it wouldn't affect weeds.

"Farmers are just having a difficult time. Any time they would spray a herbicide, it would rain," said Daniel Stephenson, a weed specialist at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria.

Usually, he said, herbicide is applied just behind the planter to control weeds before the crop emerges. Now it will take multiple sprayings of herbicide to deal with weeds that ordinarily could be controlled more easily, he said in a news release.

Cotton and corn specialist Dan Fromme and soybean specialist Ron Levy described the season's crop potential to farmers at the station's field day last week.

Rain delayed planting and waterlogged soil hurt growth, a separate news release quoted them as saying.

Fromme said farmers may have as many as 130,000 acres of cotton. "This year may not break our record low of 2013, when we had 125,000 acres," he said.

But he held up a root to show how excessive moisture had hurt some plants.

The corn crop, he said, is likely to reach 160 bushels per acre, though he said some farmers have complained that ears are short of grain at the tips. Cloudy skies and waterlogged soil probably caused that, he said. Last year's crop averaged 180 bushels an acre.

Levy said farmers were unable to plant soybeans early — something that's good for the crop — and wet, cloudy weather held the crop back. "We want to have soybeans producing fruit when it's cooler," he said.

Plant pathologist Trey Price said some farmers are reporting a soybean disease that causes spotted leaves and blackened, rotting roots. He said he and pathologists in Mississippi and Arkansas are working identify the pathogen.

Price said the condition is found most often in no-till fields, and crop rotation is a good strategy to prevent it.

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