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Serving: Central

Soybean harvest advances following storms

BATON ROUGE -- Hurricane Lili, which fortunately was a tropical storm by the time it passed over most of the soybean-growing portions of Louisiana, left a reminder of what could have been if, indeed, she had remained at hurricane strength.

Crop destruction was severe, especially in areas over which the eye of the storm passed. Damage to portions of the cotton and sugarcane crops appears to be more severe than damage that was sustained by the soybean crop, in part because a great deal of acreage was already in the process of drying down when the two tropical systems came through.

Isidore produced a tremendous amount of precipitation that impeded harvesting of beans that were ready to be cut.

Lili was more destructive from Alexandria southward. Crop damage in the form of lodging was more severe in Rapides, St. Landry, Evangeline, Acadia, Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Lafayette and St. Martin parishes. Most of the lodging can be classified as moderate to heavy (45 to 60 degrees), with a few fields unable to be harvested.

Before Lili, 45 percent of the soybean crop was still in the field and yields up to that point had been excellent. Group IV beans have averaged 35 to 40 bushels an acre (if not higher), and Group V and Group VI beans have the potential to yield just as well.

The portion of the crop most devastated by Lili was acreage that was ready to be harvested before the storm but which because of time and equipment restraints, did not get harvested. This accounted for about 15 percent of the remaining acreage, and it will be the most affected by general weathering and seed rotting, with seed quality damage assessments that could be as high as 25 percent. On this acreage, yield reductions are expected to be between 5 percent and 10 percent of the crop's potential before the storm.

Reports are positive about the shape of the beans as they are brought to the elevators.

Around the Catahoula and Concordia areas, reports are that seed moisture is around 14.5 percent and damage only about 4 percent to 5 percent, which correlates to about 8 cents to 10 cents per bushel reduction, with most of the quality dockage caused by white mold.

Another contact in central Louisiana stated that average damage is about 5 percent to 8 percent, although some loads have had as high as 30 percent damage, and it seems that damage is somewhat variety sensitive.

Thomas Pay, Bungee district manager in Greenville, Miss., says, "The worst damage is coming from late Group IVs and Group Vs that could not be harvested before the storm. Damage from white mold and general weathering is in the 3 percent to 6 percent range, and we are also seeing stinkbug and other insect damage."

Johnny O'Neal, manager of Central Louisiana Grain Cooperative, says, "Beans that were ready before the storm that were not chemically defoliated are running around 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent damage, and test weight has dropped off about half a pound. Damage that we are seeing is mainly weathering and white mold."

Heath Finley of Terral Farm Service in Delhi, La., says, "The highest damage that we have seen so far is about 10 percent to 12 percent and beans are coming in as dry as 13 percent moisture. Seventy-five percent of the damage we are seeing is white mold and the other 25 percent is from general weathering and insects."

These reports are good news for the crop, which has had its share of problems throughout the season. Recently, I have been called to look at fields that show symptoms of green bean syndrome and overall "weathering" symptoms that could have been caused by numerous reasons, not including two tropical storms.

However, producers with whom I have spoken who have begun harvesting again are saying they are slowing the combines down to harvest more efficiently and are pleased with the moisture of the crop. They also report slight yield reductions from 2 to 5 bushels per acre compared to what they were cutting before the storm, but yields are still relatively good.

David Y. Lanclos is the soybean, corn and grain sorghum specialist at LSU AgCenter.

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