Heavy rains have caused problems for some Louisiana soybean and corn farmers, especially in the north part of the state where a storm system brought as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas in the one week, but sugarcane and rice are not as affected by the weather, according to LSU AgCenter experts.
Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said some fields of young soybeans have been too wet. “We may have some losses and have to replant.”
He said he talked with a north Louisiana farmer who had 7 inches of rain. “With that much rain, it fills up all the ditches and drainage areas, so it takes longer for the water to run off.”
Levy said some farmers have been waiting to plant, but the excess moisture makes that difficult.
Delayed planting will probably mean yields will be affected, he said. “We’re already to a point where we’ll see yields drop off.”
A late-planted soybean crop faces more stress from intense summer heat and more disease and insect pressure, Levy said.
In southwest Louisiana, as much as a third of the soybean crop may have to be replanted, said Barrett Courville, LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia and Jefferson Davis parishes.
Many fields where beans are up have excess moisture. “The soil is so saturated that they’re not growing,” Courville said.
The wet ground is delaying farmers from getting into the fields to spray herbicides, Courville said. But some areas haven’t received much rain, and the fields are ready to be planted.
Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter corn specialist, said the corn benefits from the rain as long as the fields are not flooded. “We’re in the rapid growth stage right now.”
Some fields hit by high winds had lodged corn, he said. Corn will suffer from a lack of oxygen in fields with waterlogged soil. Corn farmers had to deal with excess moisture during planting in March and April.
Cotton in Louisiana is 80 to 90 percent planted, but flooding for that commodity is not good for the crop, he said.
Donna Lee, LSU AgCenter county agent in East Carroll Parish, and Keith Collins, county agent in Richland Parish, said water from recent heavy rains appear to have drained, but low-lying areas have standing water. Additional rain this week resulted in wetter fields.
“We were needing rain, but we didn’t need 4 and 5 inches,” Lee said. “Now we need sunny weather.”
She said the cotton, corn, soybeans and milo she has seen in northeast Louisiana look good so far. But cool weather that came on May 21 could slow plant growth.
“The most susceptible crops were those that are small,” said Collins.
He said some fields of young soybeans were underwater and that could affect those crops. Some fields may need to be replanted, he said.
Sugarcane is not as affected by heavy rains now, said Kenneth Gravois, LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist. “At this stage, cane is pretty resilient.”
He said sugarcane farmers have made herbicide and fertilizer applications.
“It would be better if it were a bit drier, but going into the summer with good moisture is good. Overall prospects for the crop continue to look good,” Gravois said.
Even though rice thrives in a wet environment, the frequent rainfall has caused problems for rice farmers.
“In a lot of places, farmers are struggling to get done what’s needed in the fields,” said Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter rice specialist.
He said landing strips for airplanes have been too wet to use for midseason nitrogen fertilizer applications. Flying services are using hard-surfaced runways, which are often several miles from a field, and the extra distance is resulting in higher fees, he said.
He said young rice is struggling, and an early outbreak of leaf blast disease has been found.
Don Groth, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said frequent rains have made ideal conditions for blast.
“The rain has increased the probability of each spore being successful in infecting a plant that it lands on. Then the lesions that form can produce more spores due to the moisture,” Groth said.
The heavy rainfall also is affecting pastures. Grazing conditions are good, but fields for hay production have been too wet, according to Vince Deshotel, LSU AgCenter county agent and Central Region beef cattle coordinator.
“We certainly need a break to get things done in the field,” Deshotel said.
Even if hay producers are able to get into their fields for cutting grass, the wet conditions won’t allow hay to dry for baling.
“Probably everybody is a month behind,” he said. “As a hay producer myself, I typically have a cutting done by now.”
The wet conditions are also setting the stage for potential cattle health problems. Deshotel said the high mosquito population will stress cattle, and muddy ground could cause hoof problems and an increase in parasites.