Linda Benedict, Chaney, John A., Harrison, Stephen A., Lanclos, David Y., Twidwell, Edward K. | 4/13/2007 1:19:39 AM
ALEXANDRIA – The unusually cool weather this past Easter weekend slowed the growth of most of the corn and grain sorghum in Louisiana, but experts say farmers are lucky because the crops are expected to easily recover.
With more than 600,000 acres of corn planted in the state, "We were lucky the temperatures did not drop below freezing in state this weekend," said LSU AgCenter soybean and feed grain specialist Dr. David Lanclos.
"The lowest temperature in the state I heard about while surveying producers in the state was 38 degrees," Lanclos said, adding the crop should easily recover from the cool weather.
Corn and milo can tolerate cooler weather and recover because their growing points remain underground and protected longer than dicot crops such as cotton or soybeans. The growing point on corn remains protected underground until the plant reaches around the 6-leaf stage and milo until it is 8 inches tall.
"Most of the growing points on the corn and milo were still protected," said Lanclos.
In addition, the soil has been soaked with water recently, which reduced nitrogen uptake by the roots of the plants. This condition caused the corn and milo to grow slower than normal, since nitrogen is an element in fertilizer that enhances plant growth.
Although the cool weather didn’t appear to damage crops in the ground, experts said the recent cool, wet weather conditions may hamper farmers’ ability to finish planting the corn crop before the recommended cutoff date of April 15.
"If this happens, farmers could potentially alter their farm plans and shift some corn acreage to cotton or soybeans," said Lanclos. "Farmers still have more than 100,000 acres of corn to plant in the state to meet the current USDA’s predictions."
Turning to wheat, LSU AgCenter wheat breeder Dr. Steve Harrison said Louisiana farmers were fortunate.
"Wheat farmers in the state were also lucky that temperatures remained above freezing," Harrison said, LSU adding that farmers in parts of Mississippi and some northern wheat-producing states were less fortunate.
Wheat is a cool-season crop that is currently flowering, and setting grain. It is more susceptible to freeze damage at this time of the year, because it is flowering and the tender flowers can be easily damaged by freezing temperatures.
"We have a good wheat crop in the state," said LSU AgCenter forage specialist Dr. Ed Twidwell, noting that more than 250,000 acres of wheat are approaching harvest in Louisiana.
For more information on the crop situation or agricultural issues in the state, as well as the latest on issues ranging from family life to nutrition and health, contact a parish office of the LSU AgCenter or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or email@example.com
Steve Harrison at (225) 578-1308 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Chaney at (318) 715-2263 or email@example.com