UPDATED September 19, 2016
As floodwaters recede in late August, the Louisiana agriculture sector is watching the skies hoping for a break in near-daily rains. With the prospect of a difficult harvest season a real possibility, the state is also facing estimated losses well over $100 million. That estimate is expected to rise as economists get a better handle on the damage.
Quality concerns have also become an issue for crops, both in Louisiana and Arkansas.
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Through LSU AgCenter and University of Arkansas specialists and state officials, Delta Farm Press has followed the latest events as they have unfolded. The list of stories below will be updated as warranted. Check back.
Will Congress answer the call to assist Louisiana agriculture?
Added together, flooding in both the spring and in August has cost Louisiana agriculture around $350 million. Now, state officials and lawmakers are asking Congress for assistance. What can farmers expect? Read Louisiana officials, lawmakers work to bring home federal flood relief.
A wet, flooded northeast Arkansas in midst of ‘catastrophic event’
August rains hammered portions of northeast Arkansas to the extent that crops have been lost and long-time farmers may be forced out of the profession. “Until the last couple of weeks, I never called any of our (congressional) delegation asking for help in a disaster,” says producer Jerry Morgan. “We sucked it up and went on. But this flood we can’t withstand.” Read Morgan’s account of the disaster in Severe northeast Arkansas flooding largely under the radar.
Louisiana August flood, rain damages now stand at $277 million
Damages from the August rains and flooding were initially pegged at $110 million. Skip ahead several weeks, and Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter economist, says a new tabulation has moved the damage estimate to $277 million – and that may need to be revised upwards in the future. Read Louisiana flood damage estimates make marked jump.
Louisiana ag sector shows big heart during floods, clean-up
Think farmers and ranchers don’t band together in tough times? You’ll change your mind after reading about the assistance and generosity displayed during and after recent flooding that destroyed some 40,000 homes. Read the report of Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Allie Doise: Louisiana farmers pulling together to help neighbors in tough times.
Are you a Louisiana farmer? How USDA programs can help following floods
With Louisiana producers heading to USDA offices to inquire about post-flood assistance, several experts discuss the options available. Listen to the audio file USDA Has Programs That Could Help Louisiana Farmers Hit by Floods.
How crops are faring in flood’s early days
In August, much of south Louisiana received 18 inches to more than 24 inches of rain in a short period. Flooding ensued, hitting many crops that needed to be harvested. Facing road closures and dodging frequent showers, LSU AgCenter specialists explain what the flooding has done to major crops in the state. Check out Rains, Flooding leave south Louisiana agriculture reeling.
State agricultural head Mike Strain talks recovery, clean-up concerns
As floodwaters move throughout the state, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain explains the vast problems that have been created: shelters, infrastructure damage, the need for coordination between agencies. He also provides a list of things to watch out for once clean-up begins. Read Agriculture commissioner on Louisiana floods, expectations.
Rains mean Arkansas harvest moved back
Just as crops reach harvest time, August rains have left Arkansas producers with little choice but to leave equipment in the shed. Among other problems, the abundance of moisture has kept grain moisture levels high. Read Mary Hightower’s Rising water levels pushing Arkansas crop harvest back 7-10 days.
Wet August bedeviling Arkansas rice?
Reports out of Northwest Arkansas say rather immature rice in a handful of counties is sprouting. Jarrod Hardke, Arkansas Extension rice specialist, fears it could be “the tip of the iceberg.” Lodging is also a fear if winds pick up when the rice is ready for harvest. Check out Ryan McGeeney’s Warm weather, rains trigger sprouting in unharvested Arkansas rice.
Might it be time to consider climate change?
Delta Farm Press editor Forrest Laws laments the damage and trauma to friends in the flood zone. Pointing out this is the state’s second flood event of the year, he also asks if climate change is a reason the region’s flooding has become more common. Check out Louisiana flood disasters leading many to question why?
No break for Louisiana farmers as rains settle in
Flooding may largely be over with but the aftermath isn’t pretty. Continuing rains threaten to push harvest back and quality concerns have popped up as crops begin to exhibit problems with sprouting and disease. Damage estimates are on the rise as LSU AgCenter specialists update major crops and have little good news to report. Read Daily rains damage Louisiana crops.
Louisiana, Arkansas grain sorghum sprouting
Continuing rains and wet conditions are doing grain sorghum in both Arkansas and Louisiana no favors. Both Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension grain specialist, and Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter grain specialist, have prepared reports. Read Fromme’s Grain sorghum sprouting pre-harvest – Louisiana and Kelley’s Pre-harvest sprouting damages Arkansas grain sorghum.
Will flooding spoil the coming crawfish season?
Crawfish boils are a Louisiana tradition so it’s well worth learning how mudbugs react to flooding. Three crawfish experts offer insights and advice to crawfish farmers. Read Johnny Morgan’s story Researchers must wait to see how Louisiana flooding affects crawfish.
Late-August Arkansas soybean pods splitting, sprouting
Like other major crops in the state, Arkansas soybeans are reacting to excess moisture. Jeremy Ross, Extension soybean specialist, writes ‘Many are asking, “What is causing the pod to split?” The reason is not clear, but it definitely is related to the wet conditions we have had over the last two weeks.’ Read his report Arkansas soybeans: Splitting pods, seed sprouting in pods.