Kurt Guidry, Whatley, Jerry G., Schultz, Bruce, Lanclos, David Y. | 9/11/2007 7:45:20 PM
News Release Distributed 09/10/07
FENTON – A continuation of current strong soybean prices depends on next year’s production, farmers were told at a soybean and energy crop tour held Sept. 6 in Jefferson Davis Parish.
Dr. Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter economist, said a decrease in soybean acreage and increased demand this year helped boost prices.
But he said increased production in South America is expected, and U.S. farmers also will probably grow more soybeans next year.
Dr. David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said Louisiana’s soybean acreage could exceed 1 million acres next year, compared to the 585,000 acres this year, one of the smallest soybean crops grown in Louisiana in more than four decades.
He estimated the statewide average yield between 35 and 37 bushels per acre.
Soybean prices closed above $9 a bushel recently, and some economists are predicting prices could exceed $10 before year’s end.
Lanclos said corn production in Louisiana is at 735,000 acres this year, and the average yield is likely to hit 160 bushels an acre, a state record harvest.
“You’re not talking about breaking a state yield record,” he said. “You’re talking about shattering a state yield record.”
Farmers may enjoy strong commodity prices for several years because of the increased demand for corn, he said.
But farmer John Denison of Calcasieu Parish said without higher prices, farmers are not able to afford the higher costs of fuel and fertilizer.
“You’ve got to have these higher prices, or you’re not going to have any farmers left,” he said.
Rice and cotton prices have not kept up with increased production costs, Denison said.
Farmers and crop consultants toured a soybean demonstration field at the Jimmy Hoppe farm.
Also on the tour, farmers got a look at a potential crop – sweet sorghum – that could be grown for ethanol production.
Jerry Whatley, LSU AgCenter county agent in Calcasieu Parish, and Allen Hogan, LSU AgCenter county agent in Jefferson Davis Parish, grew four different varieties of sweet sorghum at the Diamond W ranch near Welsh.
Whatley said the plant is grown in some southern states to produce sorghum syrup.
A sugarcane harvester will be used to harvest the crop when it matures, Whatley said.
Whatley said it’s not certain if the crop could be a viable source of ethanol feedstock, but the pilot project will help determine that.
“Initial results make it a good potential crop,” Whatley said. “But we’ve got a lot of questions to be answered.”
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or Bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu