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Drought conditions limiting disease pressure in Louisiana row crops

Drought has hampered crop growth for many Louisiana farmers but the upside is less disease pressure.

Louisiana farmers got a little rain in mid-June but may still be concerned about drought conditions, but one upside is they’re also experiencing the least amount of disease pressure they’ve seen in years.

Boyd Padgett, LSU Extension pathologist who works mostly the central and southern parts of the state, says Louisiana farmers typically deal with plant diseases, but says so far this season, pressure has been light..

Trey Price, LSU AgCenter research pathologist, works primarily the northern part of the state and into central Louisiana. He agrees with Padgett that the disease situation this season has been light, especially with corn. “We’re hardly seeing anything. We are getting some pictures in from consultants showing foliar diseases with minor severity in the lower part of the canopy. They do not call for any action with a fungicide spray. Overall, it’s been light, which is good for our growers because they are spending a chunk of money on irrigation.”

Boyd says producers should stay vigilant. “First, I’d have them check variety resistance. With soybeans, we have resistant varieties. Frog eye, for instance, is a problem, but we do have genetic resistance, and that’s going to be the No. 1 way to manage disease.”

He encourages growers to look into the leaf canopy, where disease is likely to start because wetness periods are longer and conditions are conducive to disease development.

 “I’m having trouble finding disease pressure in the northern part of the state,” Price says. He can’t find disease in his research plots. “I hope that changes for our research, but I hope it stays the same for our farmers.”

Early cotton had some problems. “We had a few seedling disease outbreaks in cotton that some farmers planted a little too early in cold wet conditions,” Price says.

With warm weather at the end of April, “cotton took off and weather has been conducive to cotton development — hot and dry.” He’s not seeing any serious foliar diseases. “But if it starts raining in July or the middle of August, we’re going to have problems with target spot. We hope the weather will be better for cotton growers this year.”

For now, cotton, corn and soybeans would benefit from a good rain.

Padgett and Price talked about the disease outlook during the recent LSU AgCenter Field Day in Winnsboro.


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