Demonstration fields help farmers make management decisions

Frances Gould, Gautreaux, Craig  |  10/14/2016 5:50:36 PM

On-farm demonstrations allow producers a first-hand look at how well crop varieties perform on the many different soil types and environments found across Louisiana.

This year there were 57 on-farm variety trials — three for wheat, 15 for corn and 38 for soybeans. The fields can be found in 23 parishes.

This year’s abnormally wet spring played havoc with the planting of field trials across the state, but particularly in the central and northern part of the state. Five corn plots were lost or cancelled because of floods or conditions deemed too wet to plant. Those fields were in Morehouse, Madison, Grant, Avoyelles and Concordia parishes. Five soybean plots were cancelled because of adverse conditions. The parishes affected were Acadia, Jefferson Davis, Natchitoches, Tangipahoa and Vermilion.

“We are looking at different varieties and how well they perform yield-wise. We are also looking at some irrigation-related issues, trying eight different fungicides and seeing how well they perform, testing some insecticide treatments and examining selected herbicide technologies,” said Ronnie Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist.

Levy said soybean acreage comprised approximately 49 percent of the state’s cropland acreage in 2015 and stressed the importance of having a large number of trials on as many different soil types as possible. The majority of the soybeans are Group IV beans, but he said there are some in Groups III and V.

David Smith, who farms in Beauregard Parish, is a big proponent of demonstration fields. He has plots of wheat, corn and soybeans. He has participated in the program since the 1990s and says geography is one of the main reasons.

“Being in Beauregard Parish, we are in an area that is nontraditional when it comes to row crops,” Smith said.

Smith had 600 acres of wheat in his trial this year. He generally has close to 1,000 acres of wheat, but last year’s episode of scab disease and a wet harvest caused him to scale back on his acreage.

While he finds the information valuable, Smith doesn’t solely base his decisions on verification results. “But it lets me see what works in my fields,” he said.

Jeffrey Bordelon also has three crops in the variety trials — sorghum, wheat and soybeans. He is in his third year of participating in the program, and he has found the program to be useful to his Avoyelles Parish operation.

“I get to see first-hand how a particular variety performs and how disease-resistant certain varieties are. I have definitely used the information in determining what I will plant on my land,” he said. Craig Gautreaux

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