Stephen Harrison, Stewart, Sandy, Chaney, John A., Vidrine, Paul R., Lanclos, David Y.
ALEXANDRIA – Participants heard about a variety of studies involving cotton, corn and soybeans during the recent Dean Lee Research and Extension Center Row Crop Field Day.
The Aug. 23 field day focused on potential record-breaking yields in corn and soybeans and the difficulty Louisiana farmers are having unloading their grain at the elevators.
"This has been a bin-buster year for corn farmers," said LSU AgCenter soybean and feed grain specialist Dr. David Lanclos. "Louisiana farmers are harvesting corn yields similar to the yields produced in the midwestern states."
With the harvest of corn and grain sorghum nearly completed in Louisiana, preliminary yields for corn range from 170 to 220 bushels per acre and grain sorghum 80 to 110 bushels per acre. In addition, with the state’s soybean harvest beginning, early yields are being reported to be 55 to 60 bushels per acre, the LSU AgCenter expert said.
"We will likely set new yield records for some crops in Louisiana this year," said Lanclos. "And in order to remain successful in crop production, we must maintain a sound crop rotation program."
Crop rotation is important to prevent problems caused by the buildup of insects, diseases, nematodes and weeds on the land, according to the experts, who explain crop rotation provides opportunities for farmers to use a wider variety of pesticides to control problems in a field.
To visually illustrate the importance of controlling weeds in corn, cotton and soybeans when they are small, researchers created an outdoor classroom of row crops, which were shown to field day participants. Crops were planted, and herbicides were sprayed on weekly intervals to control the weeds.
"As you can see from this weed-control demonstration, it is important to control weeds when they are small," said LSU AgCenter weed scientist Roy Vidrine while standing in the middle of the study. Participants on the tour could observe the difference in plant height where weeds were controlled compared to where weeds were not controlled.
"The difference in plant growth was amazing," said Terry Washington, a county agent with Southern University who is located in Rapides Parish. "Notice how the weed competition is restricting the growth of the crops."
Another problem beginning to surface in weed control is the development of weeds such as horseweed and pigweed that are resistant to glyphosate herbicides.
"We identified a horseweed that was resistant to glyphosate herbicide in Tennessee in 2001," said Dr. Larry Steckle, weed specialist with the University of Tennessee. "Now, the resistant horseweed is found throughout the state and reducing the farmers’ profits."
After answering a number of questions about horseweed, the expert said, "It is important to find resistant weeds early, jump on them with all you have, and try to contain them."
Another crop that shows promise for farmers to grow in rotation with cotton or soybeans is wheat.
The price of wheat has increased from near $4 per bushel to more than $6, and that will encourage farmers to plant more acres of wheat this winter. The acreage in Louisiana is expected to increase from a little more than 100,000 acres in 2007 to 300,000 or 400,000 in 2008.
"It is important to use Louisiana data and select wheat varieties that have been tested here," said LSU AgCenter wheat breeder Dr. Steve Harrison, explaining that even varieties recommended in Arkansas might be best adapted to the northern part of that state and might not do well here.
"Book your wheat seed early," Harrison advised, saying supplies of wheat seed are expected to be short this fall.
Wheat is a winter crop that is being planted in rotation with cotton and soybeans in the state. The new technology in growing cotton and soybeans in the summer provides an opportunity for farmers to plant wheat in the winter and benefit from another income source.
"Recent advancements in controlling pests in cotton and soybeans are helping farmers double-crop cotton following a wheat crop," said LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dr. Sandy Stewart. The state’s Boll Weevil Eradication Program, Bt Cotton, Roundup Ready Flex and minimum tillage technology are helping farmers grow later planted cotton and still control pests, the expert said.
"The new technology allows farmers to harvest a winter wheat crop one day and plant cotton the next day without extensive seedbed preparation," Stewart said, adding that timely planting and the ability to reliably get a stand are two keys to a double-crop cotton and wheat production system.
Other topics discussed at the field day, which drew more than 230 participants, included establishing planting for soybeans, the development of twin-row cotton, stunting in soybeans and the control of insect and other pests.
For more information on such field days and the scope of research being conducted in the LSU AgCenter, contact your nearest office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
Steve Harrison at (225) 578-1308 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or email@example.com
Sandy Stewart at (318) 473-6520 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Roy Vidrine at (318) 473-6520 or email@example.com
John Chaney at (318) 715-2263 or firstname.lastname@example.org