La. farmers rushing harvest before Hurricane Laura hits

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RAYVILLE, La. — North Louisiana farmers are rushing to get their corn crop out of the field before Hurricane Laura hits, and so far, the crop looks good.

Keith Collins, LSU AgCenter agent in Richland, Franklin and Ouachita parishes, said about half of the corn crop has been harvested in his area.

According to Collins, the crops are looking good! “We’re going to end up about where we were last year, maybe better, but not a bumper crop,” Collins said.

The average yield appears to be about 185 bushels per acre.

Laura is expected to hit Louisiana near the Texas line as a hurricane and move into north Louisiana and Arkansas as a tropical storm however, Collins is worried about the hurricanes wind damage to the crops.

“This corn is dry and very susceptible to breakage,” he said.

According to the LSU AgCenter, Wind gusts over 60 miles per hour would cause damage but even 40 to 45 mph winds would lay the stalks down.

Harvesters can cut corn that has been knocked to the ground, but the process is slowed considerably. “If everything falls right with the rows, they are more apt to get it. If it’s off the ground at all, they can get it,” Collins said.

Bruce Garner, AgCenter agent in West Carroll and Morehouse parishes, said corn yields have been good in his area. With low corn prices, farmers need a high yield to break even. “Yield wise, we’re going to be a bit above average,” he said.

One producer entered a national yield contest with a 248-bushel-per-acre harvest on a small acreage.

To the south, the corn crop is doing well.

“It’s been really good,” said Justin Dufour, AgCenter agent in Avoyelles Parish. “I think a lot of the producers are satisfied.”

The weather cooperated through the growing season.

Yield reports have been good. “We’ve had multiple producers cut above a 200-bushel average,” Dufour said.

Sweet potato harvest has started with encouraging reports, and some farmers are starting to harvest soybeans.

According to Collins, the soybean crop looks good in his area, but it could be susceptible to wind damage. “It just depends on the height and how heavy the pod count is.”

AgCenter soybean specialist David Moseley said this year’s soybean crop looks good, and most growers have been anticipating a good harvest.

Moseley says what will happen to the crop with Laura is difficult to know. “I’m hoping for the best — that we don’t get a lot of lodging.”

Sugarcane producers who use soybeans in rotation have been reporting high yields. “Up until this system, everything has looked really good. Now we’re worried about weathering, lodging and delayed harvest,” Moseley said.

After soybeans mature, it’s unlikely they will be able to rebound if they are knocked down.

Soybeans ready for harvest could be damaged by heavy rain, and quality would suffer, he said. And fields with mature soybeans that are too wet to harvest after Laura are likely to have quality losses also, he said.

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