Spring rain storms did not cause major problems for Avoyelles farmers

It has been a rainy year so far, but all indications are there has been only minimal crop damage from the weather, Avoyelles Parish County Agent Justin Dufour said.

“We have not had the significant impact from the spring flooding that we had expected,” Dufour said. “Some fields were flooded, there was some crop loss, some farmers had to replant and others had to change crops -- such as going from cotton to soybeans -- due to the rainy weather.”

While the planting season was wetter than usual, and some crops were under water for some time, farmers were fortunate that the weather was also cooler than usual.

“The cool weather helped to reduce the damage that we could have had,” Dufour said. “The damage is intensified when the water is heated, much more than if the sun is just beating down on the crop. The cool weather provided a cushion to withstand the flooding.”

Dufour said sweet potato farmers were probably the most affected by the rains.

“For many, their field work was delayed,” Dufour said.

The problem was not just the heavy rainstorms, but “the pesky little rains that followed,” he continued. “It kept the farmers out of the fields and kept them from clearing out between the rows and other field work.”

He said the parish agriculture emergency committee met recently and concluded the effect of the rainy spring and summer will not qualify Avoyelles for any disaster declaration.

Dufour said statewide projections of major crops predict increased acreage in cotton, medium grain rice and soybeans; no change in sweet potatoes; and fewer acres of corn, hay, long grain rice, sorghum and wheat.

The original estimate for sugarcane was 9,300 acres planted and the crop hasn’t suffered any major damage.

The 190,000 acres planted in cotton are the most since 2012 and represents a 36 percent increase over 2016.

The 20,000 acres of wheat are the lowest since 1955.

The largest percentage decrease is in grain sorghum, with 25,000 acres. That is the lowest number since 1965, when 17,000 acres of sorghum were planted. It represents a 52 percent decline from the 52,000 acres planted in 2016.

Dufour said there are no projections of crop acreage at the parish level.

The number of acres planted in each crop will be certified in Dec. or Jan.

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