BATON ROUGE, La. — Following one of Louisiana's wettest Octobers on record, the remaining soybean crop is a disaster. It has become difficult for producers to be optimistic. Dealing with three tropical storm systems and having 25 to 35 percent (roughly 240,000 acres) of the remaining crop at physiological maturity is additional stress that producers simply do not need.
Before the rains, Louisiana potentially had the best overall soybean crop in many years.
Before Lili, 45 percent of the soybean crop was still in the field, and yields up to that point had been excellent. Group IV beans had averaged 35 to 40 bushels an acre (if not higher), and Group V and Group VI beans were yielding just as well.
The crop acreage most devastated by Lili was ready to be harvested before the storm, but because of time constraints was not harvested and will not be harvested. After Lili, there were three days of good weather, and a substantial amount of soybean acreage was harvested.
Then the rains started and did not stop for over a week, dropping anywhere from 2 to 8 inches across the soybean-producing regions.
During the three days that producers were actually able to harvest, yield reports and damage assessments were positive from producers and elevator contacts — considering what the crop had endured.
Thomas Pay, Bungee district manager in Greenville, Miss., said, "The worst damage was coming from late Group IVs and Group Vs that were not harvested before the storm. Damage from white mold and general weathering was in the 3 percent to 6 percent range, and there is stinkbug and other insect damage."
Johnny O'Neal, manager of Central Louisiana Grain Cooperative, said, "Beans that were ready before the storm and not chemically defoliated had 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent damage, and test weight had dropped off about half a pound. Damage was mainly weathering and white mold."
Heath Finley of Terral Farm Service in Delhi, La., said, "The highest damage that we had seen was about 10 percent to 12 percent, and beans were coming in as dry as 13 percent. Seventy-five percent of the damage we were seeing was white mold and the other 25 percent was from general weathering and insects."
These early reports of high yields were good news for the crop, which had had its share of problems throughout the season. However, after the week-long rain system moved through, we are seeing an alarming amount of acreage that simply is not worth harvesting.
Even the latest-planted beans (early July) are now showing severe damage due to extreme weathering.
In many fields, the beans are either completely rotten, swelling or sprouting in the pods and will sustain a minimum 25 percent damage reduction if harvest could begin again tomorrow. Discounts will also come from reduced test weights and higher seed moisture.
The best-case scenario is for the sunshine to continue and the wetter weather that is predicted for this weekend (Nov. 1-3) to dissipate. However, if the rain system does come through, then that will probably eliminate any possibility of salvaging any of the remaining crop.
The fields that I have visited across the state are muddy and in many cases still have standing water. Under these adverse conditions, it will require at least another five to six days of sunshine before any equipment could be put in the fields to attempt to harvest a crop that could have been.
David Y. Lanclos is the soybean, corn and grain sorghum specialist at LSU AgCenter. [email protected]