Soaked Fields Delay Louisiana Corn Crop

MONROE, LA (AP) — Franklin Parish farmer Adam Faulk had his entire corn crop planted by this time last year.

         But this spring, Faulk and most farmers throughout Louisiana haven't sowed the first seed of corn because rains have kept them out of their fields.

         "I'm about to pull my hair out," Faulk said. "Usually I'm through with corn by now and getting ready to plant beans in early April."

         Caldwell Parish grower Drew Keahey's fields were similarly soaked.

         "I'm riding around in my truck right now looking for any dry spot to plant," he said.

         It's the same story throughout the state, said Dan Fromme, the LSU AgCenter's corn specialist.

         "We're probably only 5 percent planted, maybe less, and it's just scattered pockets," Fromme said. "We've still got some time, but I can understand they're getting anxious."

         The LSU AgCenter recommends corn be planted by April 1. Most Louisiana farmers prefer to have it planted by mid-March or earlier. "The risk goes up significantly if you get beyond April 10," Collins said.

         "It's important to get corn in as early as you can to beat some of the summer heat later on," Faulk said. "When the temperature gets into the mid-90s, it affects pollination and drags on your yield."

         Keith Collins, an LSU AgCenter agent in Richland Parish, said he doesn't remember a March this wet since 1991.

         "But that was before the corn era in Louisiana, when everything was planted in cotton, which doesn't go in until later," Collins said. "I don't remember anything like this since we've gone to corn."

         Keahey said he intended to start planting March 10.

         "In some spots water has just been standing," he said. "Not only was it wet, but we didn't have good drying conditions when it wasn't raining — it was cloudy and cool."

         Faulk said a two-week planting delay "can make a big difference in yield with corn. We need to get going in a hurry."

         That could happen as soon as this weekend if the weather holds, but the forecast is for another chance of rain Thursday.

         "If we miss this rain (Thursday) producers can really get rolling in a hurry," Collins said.

         "If it doesn't rain (Thursday) I'll be out there Sunday or Monday," said Keahey, who plans to plant 1,300 acres of corn.

         Faulk is also hoping to get started this weekend.

         "We really need to get it in the ground," he said.

         – by AP/ Reporter Greg Hilburn with The News-Star

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