Louisiana farmers see good yields after tough growing conditions

Halen Doughty
Anthony Plattsmier harvests soybeans in St. Landry Parish. Soybean yields were about five bushels per acre higher than last year, but the beans suffered damage from excessive rainfall.

Despite some tough growing conditions throughout the year, Louisiana farmers saw good yields. After getting off to a good start in the early spring, a wet summer later kept them from reaching their potential and hurting the quality.

According to the LSU AgCenter, tropical storms Cindy and Harvey impacted the state's rice crop and hurt the quality of some soybeans. But the good news is several crops have above-average yields, despite the unfavorable weather conditions.

The statewide average for corn yields is 183 bushels per acre, according to preliminary figures. That's near the state record of 186 bushels per acre.

While the soybean crop was affected by the weather, causing producers to suffer a price reduction, yields actually increased over the previous year. The statewide average increased to 54 bushels per acre, up five bushels from 2016.

Cotton acreage increased a whopping 50 percent from last year. But it was also a victim of the wet weather, and yield and quality projections took a dive from earlier in the season. Yields are now only expected to reach 850 to 900 pounds per acre, which is 50 to 100 pounds per acre less than last year.

LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth expects the Bayou State will produce a record amount of sugarcane per acre. The record was set in 2012 at more than 8,400 pounds per acre.

This year we have good sugar recovery,” said Gravois . “In addition, we have good tons of cane per acre. So we have sugar and tonnage, and that’s a great combination,” he said.

Louisiana's rice crop was majorly affected by Tropical Storm Cindy. The windy and overcast conditions hit when the rice was at the pollination state, causing the grains to go unfilled. Then Tropical Storm Harvey hit southwest Louisiana and caused some acres to go unharvested. AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said producers were disappointed because the crops were in great condition before the rains.

I think we had significant crops out there for most of our commodities,” Guidry said. “And then the heavy rains, the late-season rains, really kind of limited our ability to reach those potential yields that were out there.”

Commodity prices are putting more pressure on farmers as they remain stagnant or even decrease. Good yields are essential for farmers to make up for the drop in prices. Guidry said production has been good, which led to a surplus and decline in price.

Our producers can handle lower commodity prices as long as we’re getting some of our above-average or near-record yields,” Guidry said. “So weather is obviously a big component in terms of them being able to do that.”

But we did see a rise in rice prices because of a national reduction in production acreage. Arkansas saw a significant reduction in acres this year, which had a huge impact since our neighbor to the north is the leading rice producer in the country.

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