Isaac’s yield, economic losses low for most La. commodities

Tobie Blanchard, Guidry, Kurt M.  |  9/8/2012 3:24:53 AM

News Release Distributed 09/07/12

Louisiana’s individual agricultural commodities escaped major damage from Hurricane Isaac, according to analyses from the LSU AgCenter.

LSU AgCenter county agents and crop specialists spent the week surveying damage and determined agriculture in the state loss three percent of its pre-storm value.

LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry puts damage across the state at $100 million. This figure is low compared with drought damage last year and damage from other storms in recent years.

“I think overall we are fortunate,” Guidry said. “Certainly we had some significant impacts in some areas, but the damage was not as severe as we feared.”

Yield losses for crops receiving the most damage included vegetables at 85 percent, citrus at 37 percent and pecans at 24 percent. Combined, these represent about an $8 million loss.

The greatest economic loss, however, was felt in sugarcane with close to $60 million or a seven percent loss of its pre-storm value, Guidry said. This represents an eight percent loss in yield.

The current sugarcane crop experienced wind damage, and farmers were still planting next year’s crop.

“This will result in either a change in planting methods – going from whole-stalk planting to billet planting – or a change in the planting ratio,” Guidry said. “Both of these changes require additional acres to be harvested for planting and, therefore, reduce the number of acres a producer would normally have to harvest for sugar.”

The reduction in acres for sugar production reduces the overall revenue producers can expect, Guidry said.

Cotton will see a nine percent reduction in yield, leading to an $11 million economic loss according to Guidry’s estimates.

About 11 percent of the state’s rice yield was affected by the storm, resulting in a $4 million loss.

Fewer soybean acres were damaged – about five percent – but that represents about $14 million loss.

Sweet potatoes also experienced a five percent reduction in yield, or a loss of $1.6 million.

Louisiana agriculture was positioned to have a strong year, with near-record yields for several commodities. Despite the damages, Guidry said, the state could still have a good year.

“The exact nature of the impact on many of these commodities continues to evolve and will continue to be determined based on weather conditions that persist following the storm,” he said. “A return to favorable weather would likely limit the impacts while continued rains would likely result in additional impacts.”

For many of these commodities, a final assessment of Isaac’s effects will not be possible until harvest is completed, Guidry said.

Tobie Blanchard
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