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Heat hurts Louisiana corn

Statewide yield numbers for Louisiana corn should be decent, despite the uncooperative weather conditions this season.

That was the assessment given by LSU AgCenter specialist David Lanclos during Terral Seed Inc.’s Corn, Soybean and Sorghum Research Field Day, held July 14 near Greenville, Miss.

“Weather conditions have not been the best, especially for Louisiana producers,” Lanclos said. “We got the crop in the ground and it turned dry. In some cases it didn’t receive moisture for upwards of six weeks.

“That corn is burning up — physiologically dying.”

Lanclos explained that lack of moisture affects corn maturity in two basic ways: it diminishes photosynthesis, causing smaller leaves and it lowers nitrogen levels causing smaller ears.

Farmers who irrigated their corn likely should not see the detrimental affects of the drought, but farmers who didn’t irrigate will, he surmised.

Historically, Louisiana produces an average 150 bushels to 180 bushels an acre on irrigated cornfields, and between 120 bushels and 150 bushels an acre on dryland cornfields.

This season, Lanclos calculates Louisiana would produce an average 120 to 140 bushels an acre for irrigated and non-irrigated corn combined.

Lanclos, however, remains upbeat about final tallies. “Believe it or not, the news is not that catastrophic. I’m still optimistic about where we are going to be in corn. Some reduction, yes, but we’re not out of the game by any means.”

Lanclos said in a worst-case scenario, there could be a 10 percent to 15 percent decline in bushels on dryland corn.

“But I am optimistic about the irrigated corn, which we irrigated earlier than ever before. The farmers who did are going to be very pleased when they put the combine in the field. They are not going to see the negative yield effect of drought.”

Lanclos said that after conversations with peer scientists in Arkansas and Mississippi, all three sates are all facing similar yields for corn.

For Louisiana, he said corn acreage was slightly down (515,000 acres) from the previous year, due to market price and weather conditions.

He noted that while farmers endured drought conditions, insects and diseases were not big problems.

He predicted better yields for the near future. “I think we’re still going to have a good strong corn crop, and I think we’re going to come back with more acreage next year and have an exceptional year.”

During an afternoon in which farmers from as far away as Texas and North Carolina explored various crop varieties at a research station, Lanclos’ prescriptive comments only reinforced such exploration.

He said the way to combat adverse conditions, such as drought and disease during the growing season, is to carefully select resistant varieties ahead of time.

“Guys who are still planting inferior genetics are paying the price, they are paying the price when they put their combines in the field,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of farmers reviewing seed options with their county agents or preferred seed company representatives.

“You have got to look at university trials and company trials because they mean something,” he said. “Varieties are the No. 1 thing you can control in farming, and they are probably the No. 1 thing not paid enough attention.”


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