2006 Better Year For Agriculture In Louisiana

Kurt Guidry, Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  12/23/2006 12:51:26 AM

Louisiana sugarcane growers were still harvesting their crop late in 2006, but the were reporting excellent yields until recent freezes. (LSU AgCenter file photo)

Rice growers have struggled over the past few years with low prices, but this year they saw some improvement. (LSU AgCenter file photo)

News Release Distributed 12/22/06

In Louisiana, 2006 likely will be remembered as the year after the hurricanes. But a relatively ordinary year was a welcome relief to many, including farmers.

While the hurricanes in 2005 took a toll on many agricultural producers, production this year was good for most commodities, according to LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Kurt Guidry.

"If you look at all the row crop commodities, all of those have average yields that will be right around or higher than the five-year average." Guidry said.

Sugarcane growers are still harvesting their crop and were reporting excellent yields until recent freezes.

"Overall I think this is still one of the best crops we’ve had in four years," said Dr. Ben Legendre, LSU AgCenter’s sugarcane specialist.

Prices were low for sugarcane and cotton, but most of the other commodities’ prices were either up or around average. Rice growers have struggled over the past few years with low prices, but this year they saw some improvement.

"In the case of rice, those prices have rebounded somewhat from 2005 with the expectation that they will continue to rebound in 2007," explained Guidry.

Even with good commodity prices, however, some growers had a difficult time making a profit because production costs were up.

"If you look at ammonium nitrate fertilizer, for example, it was 26 percent higher in 2006 versus 2005 according to USDA. If you look at diesel fuel, it was 16 percent higher in 2006 versus 2005," Guidry said.

Production costs can influence what farmers grow and how much of a crop they grow. Prices also influence planting decisions. The demand for ethanol is increasing the demand for corn and driving up corn prices.

"As a result, we’ve seen corn prices for next year at well above $3.50 a bushel," Guidry said.

That is more than a dollar increase over 2006 prices, and Guidry said this will drive up corn acres in 2007.

"We are going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of a 100,000 to a 200,000 increase in acreage, which is pretty substantial in Louisiana," said Guidry

Guidry is anticipating an increase in grain sorghum acreage, as well, while soybean acreage likely will remain stable and cotton will decrease.

"We probably will see a little bit of a downturn in cotton acres driven by an increase in corn and sorghum acres," he said.

Legendre said sugarcane farmers are excited about new sugarcane varieties. "Farmers are very optimistic about the future and were looking forward to harvesting plant cane in new varieties," he said.

For more information on agricultural production, as well as a variety of topics ranging from nutrition and health to family finances, visit www.lsuagcenter.com or contact an agent in your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office.

Kurt Guidry at (225) 578-4567 or kmguidry@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ben Legendre at (225) 642-0224 or blegendre@agcenter.lsu.edu
Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5649 or tblanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu

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