MACON RIDGE, La. – LSU AgCenter scientists shared the latest research findings and progress with participants who braved sweltering heat at the Macon Ridge Research Station near Winnsboro on Sept. 5.
After a growing season that presented Louisiana farmers with new insects and new diseases to battle, a number of them took time from their operations to find out what’s new and information needed to remain profitable.
Donnie Miller, research station coordinator, discussed the research at the station and gave an outline of future improvements.
“Here at Macon Ridge we have a very droughty soil type, so a lot of the research that we conduct here, whether from a pest management or crop production standpoint, takes the lack of moisture into account,” Miller said. “Here, you can get a good 1 inch rain one day and the next day you are ready to get back in the field.”
Key research areas at the station include the timely use of water and management of diseases, insects and weeds, Miller said.
During the field tour LSU AgCenter entomologists David Kerns and Sebe Brown gave an update on controlling the sugarcane aphid in grain sorghum and the fall armyworm in corn.
“The sugarcane aphid is a problem in sugarcane and grain sorghum around the world,” Brown said. “But this is the first time that we’ve seen these type numbers in Louisiana.”
At high enough numbers, this pest along with its honeydew can choke a combine, causing belts to burn, Brown said.
Two main chemical controls have proven to be effective for the control of this insect – Dimethoate and Chlorpyrifos. The problem is both have fairly long pre-harvest intervals, Brown said.
Rick Mascagni, an LSU AgCenter agronomist at the Northeast Research Station at St. Joseph discussed the influence of starter fertilizer on corn and grain sorghum yield and plant development.
"We got a lot of early growth response,” Mascagni said. “We pulled ear samples every four or five days, but didn’t really get any yield response.”
LSU AgCenter agronomist Josh Lofton presented information on the effect of management practices on late-season soybean quality.
“In soybean production, management is important. And though yield is important, seed quality can be almost as important as the yield,” Lofton said.
Kerns and Brown discussed some of the innovative insect management strategies they are using in their research projects.
With the corn harvest moving full-speed ahead, Lofton and LSU AgCenter soil scientist Beatrix Haggard talked about the best ways to manage corn residue and the use of cover crops in production systems.
“When the crop rotation is corn-behind-corn-behind-corn, over the years that crop residue will build up in the soil,” Loften said. “There are a number of ways to handle this residue, but the grower has to weigh the positive benefits versus the negative.”
Haggard is looking at cover crops that can be included in the corn cropping system that will not stress the corn because they are competing for the same nutrients.
LSU AgCenter pesticide technology application specialist Randy Price discussed drift control while spraying chemicals and proper equipment such as nozzles.
LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator Kim Pope talked about the importance of producers cleaning their tanks to avoid applying chemicals remaining in the tank that may injure non-targeted crops instead of the targeted weeds and grasses.
LSU AgCenter agronomist Wink Alison and Donal Day, a researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute, discussed the different crops that are being evaluated as biofuels.
“Right now, this is in its research and development stage,” Alison said. “So if you call next year telling me that you have 500 acres or just five acres, I won’t be able to tell you what to do with it.”
LSU AgCenter plant pathologists Trey Price and Clayton Hollier closed out the field tour with some strategies they’ve found helpful for disease management.
“If you have the new Goss’s wilt disease in your corn crop this year, burning the residue is a general recommendation, but I would go a step further and bury it also,” Hollier said. “Burying the residue will kill the pathogen. And you could also rotate to a non-host crop such as soybeans next year.”
Following the field tours Lofton discussed wheat variety selection and production practices.
Haggard discussed the importance of getting soil tests done before applying fall fertilizer.
“Before you guys head for the deer stand or the duck blinds, get those soils tested,” she said. “And remember, the lighter the soil, the more often they need to be tested because they lose those nutrients quicker.”
LSU AgCenter soil testing recommendations for silt loams and clay soils are every three years, Haggad said.
LSU AgCenter weed scientist Jim Griffin talked about soybean harvest aids, their benefits and how they should be used.
“I think the label is unclear as to when you should apply, but what you really want to do is be able to remove the leaves as quickly as possible after the application without affecting the seed weight on the soybeans,” Griffin said.
Miller gave an update on herbicide resistance and fall applications. He said there are no new information on resistance.
“We are still dealing with the pigweed obviously,” Miller said. “But people have watched the resistance issues and thrown in some residual herbicides, which are the main ways to combat resistance.”
Miller said producers also should be rotating their crops in an effort to stay ahead of resistance.
LSU AgCenter plant scientist Raj Singh presented a pushcard with details of the services provided to producers through the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center.
Don Labonte, director of the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, discussed some of the services provided through the soils lab on the LSU campus.
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