[Image: Beatrix Haggard]
News Release Distributed 07/15/14
WINNSBORO, La. – Growers in northeast Louisiana toured fellow growers’ fields and research plots at the LSU AgCenter Macon Ridge Research Station on July 10 to get a better feel for this year’s crop.
Ronnie Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, discussed core block variety trials, which are a little different from what farmers are used to but give them more specialized information.
“What we do is actually plant the variety on the grower’s farm, and this allows him to see exactly how the variety will perform on his farm,” Levy said.
LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Trey Price discussed fungicide use in soybeans and some of the diseases in corn this year.
“In soybeans right now, we’re seeing a lot of frogeye leaf spot popping up right now,” Price said. “This is a disease that can cause some major damage and is able to spread rapidly with our current hot, wet conditions.”
The good thing about the disease is that there are fungicides that can be used to take care of it. “If the disease is not treated, it has the ability to defoliate the plants and to greatly affect yields,” Price said.
The tour headed north from the research station to a cotton field in Rayville where LSU AgCenter agent Keith Collins and cotton specialist Dan Fromme discussed the cotton core block demonstrations.
Fromme said there are 12 of these cotton demonstrations across the state where the most popular cotton varieties are being compared.
He said cotton acres have been down in the state for the past several years, but they seem to be on the increase.
“In 2013, we only had 125,000 acres planted in Louisiana,” Fromme said. “This year we are estimating somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 acres. But that’s still way down from the 800,000 we had a few years ago.”
He said a big reason for that decline in acreage has been the depressed prices for cotton over the past few years as corn and soybean prices increased.
“Cotton prices right now are hovering around 75 cents per pound, which is down from $1.10-$1.20 just a few years ago,” Fromme said. “So cotton is not very attractive right now.”
Louisiana has had record cotton yields for the past two years, with some growers making up to four bales per acre, Fromme said.
“This year, with continued timely rainfall through the first week of August, we could have another record year for cotton production,” he said.
Fromme said he attributes four things to the record cotton crops of the past few years – improved genetics, biotechnology for insect and disease resistance, timely rainfall and the eradication of the boll weevil.
LSU AgCenter entomologist David Kerns discussed how improved varieties of corn and cotton are helping decrease insect and disease pressure.
“So far this year we have had a relatively quiet year in corn and cotton, but right now is when we normally see an increase in pest pressure,” Kerns said.
LSU AgCenter agent Carol Pinnell-Alison from Franklin Parish and Fromme discussed the corn core block demonstration and how important the crop is to north Louisiana.
“Last year in northeast Louisiana, we had 84 percent of the state’s total corn acreage and 74 percent of the state’s cotton crop,” Pinnell-Alison said. “We have been first or second in wheat and corn production for the past couple years.”
The final two stops at the research station looked at enhanced-efficiency nitrogen products and foliar fertilizers in row crops.
AgCenter soils specialist Beatrix Haggard discussed research she is continuing from last year.
“Most of the products that we’re looking at right now are nitrogen-based, so they are products that we are coating onto urea fertilizer, which is a granular source,” Haggard said. “We’re also looking at a liquid form of nitrogen, which is more traditionally used in this area.”
Haggard said the main goal of the research is to reduce the amount of nitrogen loss in the field either through gas losses into the atmosphere or into the groundwater through leaching.
LSU AgCenter agronomist Josh Lofton presented findings from his study, which is looking at applying foliar fertilizers in row crops. The study is looking at applying these fertilizers over the top of the plants.
“Applying foliar fertilizer can be expensive,” Lofton said. “But one of the selling points now is they are already going across the field with their spray rigs putting out herbicide, insecticide or fungicide applications. So a lot of guys are selling them fertilizer as an additive into those passes.”
Lofton said one problem that a grower may encounter is mixing issues, so the grower would really need to pay close attention to the label before adding fertilizer to these mixes.
Other speakers included Donnie Miller, coordinator at the Macon Ridge Research Station; Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor; Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; and Ron Curry, director of Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is making stops across the state to get input from growers on proposed revisions to the Clean Water Act.