Steven H. Moore, Bagwell, Ralph D., Chaney, John A., Lanclos, David Y., Boethel, David J. | 4/19/2005 10:29:27 PM
ALEXANDRIA – More than 125 farmers and agribusiness people participated in the cotton and feed grain tours at the LSU AgCenter’s Rapides Parish/Dean Lee Crop Field Day August 26.
"The field day provides an opportunity to share research developments with area farmers and the public," said LSU AgCenter resident coordinator of the Dean Lee Research Station and weed scientist Roy Vidrine. "This year we added a feed grain tour to complement the traditional cotton research tour."
These tours give participants a choice of learning about the research and extension efforts being conducted on cotton and feed grains.
"It is our role to take some risk, study production problems and have answers to problems when they are needed," said Dr. David Boethel, an LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of research. "Now we also are trying to post the research data on the Internet in a timely manner so producers can make informed production decisions."
Extension demonstrations and recommended variety/hybrid data will be available on the Web in late October and can be accessed at www.lsuagcenter.com. This will allow producers to use data collected this year to select varieties for the next growing season.
"Selecting a variety to plant is one of the most important production decisions a farmer will make about the crop," said LSU AgCenter feed grain specialist Dr. David Y. Lanclos, continuing, "Farmers usually select and book their seed in the late fall and early winter for the next growing season."
With the high cost of improved cotton seed and technology fees, "it is important for farmers to know how many seed to plant per foot of row," said LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dr. Sandy Stewart. The current recommended planting rate for cotton is three to four seed per foot of row.
Stewart said in normal production, a less-thickly planted field may not produce the same overall yield as a thicker-planted field, but the costs of seed and other inputs could make the first field more profitable.
"The results should be viewed in terms of cost of production instead of yield," said Stewart.
This year, the early season heavy and persistent rains reduced field work, slowed crop growth and increased the competition of weeds, diseases and insects – especially in cotton.
"Now, the cotton crop is later maturing," said Stewart, adding that overall production depends on the weather conditions for the remainder of the growing season.
"We need hot dry weather to finish growing and harvest the cotton crop," he said.
The LSU AgCenter experts also said the persistent rains and poor condition of the cotton crop encouraged some producers to plow portions of their cotton acreage and devote more time to the fields with better production.
"Farmers had to spray their cotton fields numerous times to control plant bugs," said LSU AgCenter cotton entomologist Dr. Ralph Bagwell, adding that this has been a very expensive year to control insect pests.
With the increases in production costs, farmers are looking for ways to increase profits from their investments in land, machinery and crop production.
One alternative to offsetting the costs of production may be to double crop their land and grow two crops in one year, according to experts. One of the more common double cropping systems in the state is wheat and soybeans.
"We are researching several different stubble management practices, including varying stubble height as well as burning and disking treatments," said Lanclos.
Considering that 150,000-200,000 acres of wheat are planted in Louisiana annually, stubble management is very important. The goal is to maximize soybean yield potential with the right management practice.
"It appears the best treatment is to harvest wheat leaving a stubble 15 inches high and drill the soybeans into the wheat stubble," Lanclos said of what they’ve seen in the first year of data. He also explained the taller stubble causes the soybeans to stretch and grow taller earlier in the season and thus helps to suppress weeds.
Since the introduction of genetically modified crops, weed control in soybeans has been easier with glyphosate, which easily controls most weeds in the field, but there are some cautions from the experts.
"Farmers are urged to watch fields for the emergence of hard-to-control weeds like morningglories, hemp sesbania, sicklepod and smartweed," said LSU AgCenter weed scientist Roy Vidrine, continuing, "ET, an experimental herbicide mixed with glyphosate, shows promise in controlling these difficult weeds."
In another aspect of the field tours, LSU AgCenter agronomist Dr. Steve Moore discussed his research on developing weather-resistant soybeans, screening genes in corn and alflatoxin-resistant corn.
"Louisiana soybean growers lost more than $60 million in years 2001 and 2002 due to weather," said Moore, "The weather-resistant varieties being released in breeding programs this year shows promise in helping cut economic losses in the future caused by major weather events like hurricanes and storms."
More information can be obtained about the research being conducted at the Dean Lee Research Station by calling (318) 473-6520 or online through www.lsuagcenter.com
Roy Vidrine at (318) 473-6525 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Boethel at (225) 578-4181or email@example.com
David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6522 or email@example.com
Ralph Bagwell at (318) 435-2908 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Moore at (318) 473-6524 or email@example.com
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or firstname.lastname@example.org