Louisiana Struggles with Slow Harvest

September 9, 2016 12:36 PM

Fall harvest in Indiana has been tough after August’s record rainfall, swamping the state. 

Most years, the state’s sugar cane is usually completely planted. This year, only half is. Sugar cane isn’t the only struggling crop. Sorghum and corn shelling has been having difficulties as well. 

Louisiana farmers were seeing exceptional yields for grain sorghum this year before flooding rains hit the state, turning a promising season into a disappointing one. Crops that weren’t harvested are mostly left to rot in the fields because elevators won’t take the grain sorghum. If they do, it’s a drastic reduction in price, 50 to 75 percent.

This makes it difficult to justify the cost associated with harvesting. According to Dan Fromme of Louisiana State University, approximately 17,000 of the 75,000 acres of grain sorghum planted were not harvested prior to the flood.

Corn harvesting was also underway, and it also suffered from the rain. Many corn plants lodged, resulting in the ear falling to the ground and the combine not being able to pick it up the ear. 

Economists with the LSU AgCenter estimate the damage to corn to be nearly $11 million. 

The Pelican State’s cotton crop was also affected by the wet weather. In fields with open bolls, some seeds sprouted, causing both seed and lint quality to be diminished. Some fields have lost between a half a bale to a bale per acre.

Sugar cane planting is normally finished in August, but many farmers are getting back into their fields. It comes as poor timing because planting needs to be finished quickly so farmers can pay attention to fall harvest. 

Mills are expected to open in late September, with some expected to open as early as Sept. 22. Farmers are also worried about an early killing freeze that would damage the sugar cane. 

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