Drought, heat sapping crops: Louisiana

“This is the type of year when farmers argue over who has the worst crop,” writes Roger Carter of Agricultural Management Services. “Drought and a 105+ heat index are tolling a toll on non-mature crops” in east central Louisiana.

Crop conditions reported by Carter in his July 27 AMS Ag Report:

CORN — Corn harvest is progressing with more farmers beginning. Reports are of no aflatoxin and 105 to 130 bushels-per-acre dryland yields. This is amazing considering the lack of rainfall.

Initial thoughts on next year’s corn crop are that it will take a net price of $6 per bushel before farmers will begin to consider paying $200 per acre for 180 to 200 units of nitrogen to plant corn. This does not count the $40 to $50 per acre for potash and the same for phosphate. Three hundred dollars per acre just for fertilizer does not compute.

GRAIN SORGHUM — Borer intensity in late grain sorghum has diminished. Midge applications are now beginning. We have not noted any fresh borer activity in grain sorghum once three strong shots of pyrethroid are applied for midge. The older grain sorghum crop has matured without any borer injury.

Grain sorghum yields have been pleasantly surprising with early-planted dryland grain sorghum at 100 bushels per acre and that planted two weeks or so later at 70 to 80 bushels per acre.

However, the “B” word — basis — has killed the enthusiasm of higher-than-expected yields. We don’t understand all there is to know about basis, but we don’t know that anyone else does either. In most cases the amount of dollars in basis per acre is greater than the net dollars per acre farmers are netting.

One co-op elevator operator says basis is high because the grain is not moving from ports. How can we go from a grain shortage to a grain surplus with use rates increasing and little grain yet harvested? As Ricky Ricardo used to say, “Someone needs to ‘splain’ this to us.”

SOYBEANS — Oldest soybeans will be harvested within 10 days. Youngest are at V7 and many of those are dying from drought.

Fungicide salesmen will have to pick up cans along the road to make ends meet this winter. Dry weather has taken a heavy toll on fungicide use in soybeans. The shortages of certain fungicides have not hurt our yield potential.

Stink bugs are present at treatable, yet lighter-than-expected numbers in a few fields reaching R5. RBSB are present, but currently at lower percentages than we have seen the past few years. However, we do have a larger number of Group V soybeans this year and we are expecting severe pressure from all soybean insects in any soybeans that are not burned up.

Numbers of banded cucumber beetles exceeded three per sweep in several fields, but only minor leaf injury was noted and the population diminished. Bean leaf beetles are increasing in a few fields to treatable levels.

Three-cornered alfalfa hopper numbers are all over the board with droughty beans having fewer numbers.

Loopers are at threshold levels in some irrigated soybeans that are near cotton fields. Intrepid at 4 ounces per acre plus 1 percent of crop oil was recommended.

Some whole fields have only 20 percent viable soybean plants with the remaining plants dead.

Soybeans may be the cheapest crop we can raise, but they are more susceptible to drought than grain sorghum and cotton (555 variety).

COTTON — Open bolls present in up to 10 percent of our acreage. Youngest is at 13th true leaf. NAWF is 3 or less on 65 percent of cotton. Five to 10 percent of acres will not be scouted this week due to lack of yield potential, fruit, etc.

And we have acres that still have not been treated with any insecticide.

Plant bugs are still a nuisance in a few fields, but these are primarily irrigated fields near corn. Our best treatment for plant bugs has been Brigade/Discipline/Sniper/etc. plus 0.5 pounds of Orthene per acre plus either 1 percent crop oil or 0.25 gallon of Trisert/Coron per acre. The bifenthrin has reduced the possibility of flaring more spider mites and has aided the Orthene in controlling plant bugs.

Several thousand acres (perhaps as high as 10 percent) of our acres have been treated for spider mites. Portal at 1 pint per acre or Zeal at 0.8 ounce per acre or Abba at 4 ounces per acre or Zephyr at 4 ounces per acre have all been used. All have given adequate control when either 1 percent crop oil or 0.25 gallon of Trisert/Coron was added.

We were not able to obtain any dicofol, which is the least expensive miticide, but offers a shorter residual.

Bollworms are present in most fields but at very low numbers.

Beet armyworms required treatment on several hundred acres in southern Tensas Parish. Intrepid did an excellent job at the 5 ounces-per-acre rate when added to 1/65 gallon of Karate Z per acre and 1 percent crop oil.

Salt marsh caterpillars were at treatable levels on several hundred acres in northern Catahoula Parish. Intrepid at 4 ounces per acre gave excellent control.

Cotton yield potential is decreasing daily. DPL 555 and perhaps some 141B2F appear to be the varieties that withstood the drought in clay soils the longest. Most Flex varieties gave up long ago.

Tim White, Walter Myers, Wil Miller, Matt Myers, Lydia Ellett, and Roger Carter of Agricultural Management Services, Inc., are located in east central Louisiana, serving Catahoula, Concordia, northern Avoyelles, southern Franklin, and southern Tensas parishes.

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