Tri-Parish Ag News October 2020

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2020 LA Soybean Production Season Review

David Moseley, Daniel Stephenson, Sebe Brown, Boyd Padgett, Trey Price, Michael Deliberto, LSU AgCenter Scientists

2020 Soybean Season Summary

The 2020 soybean season has been one for the history books.

In March, the USDA estimated Louisiana producers would increase soybean acres by 10% from 2019, for a total of 980,000 acres planted to soybean in 2020. Before the season could really get started, COVID-19 restrictions disrupted many operations. In addition, dry conditions in the south and wet conditions in the north slowed the planting progress in late March/early April. However, the progress increased in mid-April, and 68% of the crop had been planted by May 10th. The planting progress during the optimum planting window was as high as 17% faster than in 2019. This efficiency did not remain after May 10th as persistent rains prevented planting and caused some acres to be replanted; However, the LA soybean crop was 100% planted by June 21st, just ahead of the five-year average. In October, the USDA increased their estimate of acres planted to 1.05 million acres.

The soybean crop condition was good for most of the growing season. Producers and parish agents reported they were optimistic for high yields, and the USDA rated the LA crop at least 85% good -excellent from July 5th to August 23rd.

Hurricane Laura hit landfall on August 29th when the soybean crop was approximately 50% mature and 33% harvested. Parish agents estimated 13-16% of the crop was impacted, consisting mostly of light to heavy lodging. The economic impact was estimated to be approximately 1 to 1.5% yield reduction of pre-storm production. After Hurricane Laura, the crop rating dropped to 60% good - excellent.

In late September, Tropical Storm Beta dropped a lot of rain and delayed harvest in some areas. On October 9th, Hurricane Delta hit landfall closely following the path of Hurricane Laura. When Delta hit, approximately 94% of the crop was mature and 90% harvested. Once again, parish agents estimated flood and wind damage caused an approximate 1% yield reduction of total pre-storm production.

On October 18th, the USDA estimated 93% of the soybean crop had been harvested, equal to the five-year average. Furthermore, the harvested acre projection was 1.02 million acres with an estimated yield of 55 bu/A. The LA production forecast was 56.1 million bushels, up 36% from 2019.

Insect Pressure

Insect issues in soybean fields during 2020 were heavy across much of Louisiana. The winter of 2019-2020 was the second in a row of unseasonably warm temperatures that had very little impact on red banded and native stink bugs. Clover began to appear in late fall across the state and began to bloom in South and Central Louisiana in February. This early green up and bloom of clover allowed for large populations of red banded stink bugs to migrate into soybeans once the clover senesced. It was not uncommon for producers to make several applications for stink bugs (especially red banded stink bugs) in 2020. Caterpillar populations were also higher in 2020 than years previous. Corn earworm infestations in soybeans from R1 to R4 were common throughout the state. Fields near corn were infested with large numbers of earworms for extended periods of time. Defoliating worms such as velvet bean caterpillars and soybean loopers were present in fields around Louisiana at economically damaging levels. According to several consultants, the level of defoliating worms in 2020 were higher than several previous decades.

Disease Pressure

Early in the season, southern blight and taproot decline were prevalent causing significant losses in some cases. Foliar diseases were not much of an issue until mid-season. Aerial blight, soybean rust, target spot, and Cercospora leaf blight were the major diseases impacting soybean in Louisiana. Hurricanes Laura and Delta provided conditions throughout the state that promoted disease development. Many texts, phone calls, and farm visits indicated that Cercospora leaf blight was particularly bad across the state, and in some cases played a role in preventing fields from being harvested. Green stem syndrome (influenced by variety, planting date, stinkbug pressure, disease pressure, and environmental stresses) was prevalent on some farms resulting in severe losses. Timely application of fungicides helped suppress diseases and preserved yield in some cases. Rains during the harvest season have caused seed quality issues in some cases. Looking forward to next season, producers should rotate fields to corn, cotton, sugarcane, or grain sorghum.

Weed Pressure

In 2020, weedy grasses, especially Barnyardgrass, prickly sida (teaweed), and glyphosate-resistant pigweed were the most common weed issues in Louisiana. Difficulty in managing these weeds was often associated with a program consisting of only postemergence application(s) of glyphosate plus dicamba (Engenia, FeXapan, Tavium, or XtendiMax) in Xtend soybean. Weedy grass control was reduced following glyphosate plus dicamba because of antagonism – meaning the dicamba prevented the glyphosate from preforming the way it should on weedy grasses. Neither glyphosate nor dicamba have ever provided excellent control of prickly sida, so control was quite poor following their application. Control of glyphosate-resistant pigweed is highly influenced by the weed height at application, so dicamba applied to pigweeds bigger than 4-inches resulted in less than acceptable control. An additional, unexpected, herbicide application was usually needed to manage these pests. Clethodim or Assure II was applied for grass control. One to two applications of glyphosate plus a PPO-inhibiting herbicide like fomesafen or glyphosate plus Classic was needed for prickly sida, but sometimes that did not provide desired control. Everything was thrown at glyphosate-resistant pigweed because no herbicide provides good control of a big pigweed. Growers should plan to implement a program that includes a residual herbicide applied preemergence followed by a residual herbicide tank-mixed with their first postemergence application, usually 2-3 weeks after soybean emergence, to help manage weedy grasses, prickly sida, and glyphosate-resistant pigweed in 2021.Finally, above all, apply postemergence herbicides to weeds that are less than 3-inches tall.


Trade was the prominent theme dominating market news for the 2019/20 marketing year. That undertone continues to be persistent in the 2020/21 marketing year. The U.S/China Phase One agreement offers hope that U.S. soybeans would gain traction and displace Brazilian soybeans destined for China. Ultimately, that may or may not be the case, as strong export competition from Brazil (combined with a weak Brazilian real) signaled a reduction in U.S. soybean market share in China. China, whose swine sector has been ravaged by African Swine Fever, is beginning to show signs of economic recovery with added calls for diversifying shipment sources for soybeans to meet growing feed demand. As the 2020/21 marketing year progressed, soybean futures started to price in the smaller crop, additionally, export sales to China also helped to spur a rally for soybeans.

COVID-19 proved to be a major challenge for all sectors of both the U.S. and global economies. Logistical and governmental regulatory restrictions did affect agricultural supply chains. China bought cargoes of Brazilian soybeans for fall delivery, normally the peak U.S. shipping season to China. As the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil continued to escalate, concerns about possible supply chains disruptions emerged in Brazil.

In October 2020, the USDA estimated the 2020/21 U.S. soybean crop at 4.268 billion bushels from 83.1 million acres sown. The estimated acres planted is down slightly from the March estimate of 83.5 million acres.

With strong export sales to China, the USDA raised its forecast of 2020/21 soybean exports to a record 2.2 billion bushels. The lower supply and higher export demand are forecast to reduce season-ending soybean stocks for 2020/21 by 170 million bushels to 290 million - a significant revision to the supply/demand balance sheet and supportive of soybean prices. The fast pace of early-season U.S. soybean shipments reflects unimpeded harvesting efforts and a record volume of new-crop sales. The latter is due largely to a sharp increase for export sales to China.

The tighter outlook prompted the USDA to boost its forecast of the 2020/21 U.S. average farm price to $9.80 per bushel from $9.25 last month. This is the first-time near-term soybean futures have reached the $10.00 mark since early June 2018. The dynamics behind the mid-August to mid-September price surge reflect a rebound in China purchases of U.S. soybeans and limited availability of exportable supplies in South America. Recovery of China’s pork industry from African Swine Fever has spurred imports by the Asian nation.

Recently, soybean futures are again finding support from strong Chinese demand and Brazilian planting delays. Prices have rallied about $1.75 since mid-August when the USDA initially began revising new crop bean production lower. If we go back to March and May, prices have gone up about 27%. The market has rallied from $8.30 per bushel to $10.50 more recently. Much of this occurred in the past month or two.

In a global perspective, the downsized U.S. crop, and an increase for foreign use of soybeans in 2020/21 should continue to tighten global soybean stocks. For China, 2020/21 soybean imports are forecasted higher on account of strengthening demand.

Brazil has already begun planting their 2020/21 soybean crop. Progress is slow, however, due to a lack of rainfall. Dryness is unlikely to affect the soybean area sown in Brazil for 2020/21 but could delay the arrival of new-crop deliveries next year. A likely extension of the country’s tight old-crop supply has swelled Brazilian price quotes (relative to Chicago futures) for 2021 shipments. This signals that U.S. exporters may shoulder the burden of supplying China with soybean imports well into next year.

Baiting and Hunting of Migratory Birds Over Rice Fields

Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter Rice Agronomist

Hurricane Delta shattered a significant amount of rice grain from ratoon rice fields in southwest Louisiana and many first crop rice fields in northeast Louisiana. Many growers may have questions on how this shattered grain, which was caused by a hurricane, relates to the baiting laws and the legality of hunting over those fields. Therefore, I thought it would be pertinent to review the language in the law to clear up any questions related to the subject.

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The law relating to the hunting of migratory waterfowl over agriculture fields is covered in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) document under Title 50, Chapter 1, Subchapter B, Part 20, Subpart C, §20.21. Here is a link to the current online electronic version of the CFR for this section: CFR Title 50 Part 20. The law was updated on August 8, 2019, to include wording clarifying the law as it relates to ratooning and post-disaster grain shattering events like hurricanes and storms. Here is how the current law reads specifically regarding this issue:

§20.21 What hunting methods are illegal?

Migratory birds on which open seasons are prescribed in this part may be taken by any method except those prohibited in this section. No persons shall take migratory game birds:

(i) By the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. However, nothing in this paragraph prohibits:

(1) the taking of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas—

(i) Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics); standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, rice ratooning, post-disaster flooding, or normal soil stabilization practice.

Definitions of what constitutes “normal agriculture practices” and other terms within the above section are described in-depth in docket FWS-HQ-2019-008. According to this document you allowed to:

Current regulations allow rice producers to grow rice to completion, harvest it, post-harvest manipulate it, flood it, and hunt over it. Rice growers may also grow rice to completion, not harvest or manipulate it, flood the rice, and hunt over it. If a rice grower chooses to manipulate un-harvested rice, then the growing area constitutes a baited area until all grain is removed at least 10 days prior to hunting. Under this rule, growers can grow rice to completion, harvest it, let the second growth establish, and hunt over it. Growers cannot manipulate the second growth in any way that may expose seed. If the second growth is manipulated, the growing area constitutes a baited area until all grain is removed at least 10 days prior to hunting.

Regulations currently allow the grower of any crop to grow, harvest, post-harvest manipulate, flood, and hunt over the crop. A grower can raise a crop to completion, not harvest or manipulate it, then intentionally flood the crop for the purposes of hunting. If a grower does not harvest a completed crop and decides to manipulate it, the grower must adhere to the 10-day baiting rule prior to hunting. The revised regulations will allow hunting over a crop that is rendered “not harvestable” because of a disaster declaration under the Stafford Act and for which the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation has declared that the crop may be destroyed by flooding (and only flooding). No other manipulation is allowed. If the crop is manipulated by any means other than flooding, the growing area would be considered a baited area until all the grain is removed at least 10 days prior to hunting.

Beef Brunch Educational Webinar Series

This online educational webinar series was developed specifically for beef cattle producers. The goal of this series is to bring timely educational information to our beef cattle producers across the state. More information on upcoming webinars can be found online at the Beef Brunch Educational series page.

Central Region Horticulture Hints

Our Regional Horticulture Agents and specialists put together the Horticulture Hints for the Central Region in Louisiana. These are done quarterly and have great information on timely issues happening across our region. Great resource and information for any homeowner or commercial horticulturalist.

All Hay Is Not Created Equal

Ed Twidwell, Extension Forage Specialist, LSU AgCenter

Unlike grain crops that have different grades to determine quality, hay is a much more variable commodity. When buying and selling hay, one has to consider bale weight and quality differences. With regards to bale weight, it has always been interesting to me that in many states hay is bought and sold on a ton rather than an individual bale basis. Keep in mind that a bale is not a true unit of measurement; rather it is a form of packaging. Cows do not really consume bales; they consume pounds of forage. If you do not know the weight of the bales, then you may be either spending too much for your hay, or you may be getting a real bargain from your hay supplier.

If you are buying hay from someone and they claim that all their bales weigh 1000 pounds, ask them how do they know that to be true? Many producers think they are making 1000-pound bales because “the owner’s manual says so”. Unfortunately, bales rarely weigh what the baler’s manual says it will. Several years ago, at the

University of Missouri Forage Research Center at Linneus, Missouri, they held a “Big Bale Weigh Off”. They invited 4 companies to each make their “normal-sized bale” and then they asked the producers in attendance to estimate the weight of the bales. In some cases, the estimates were 20-25% off the actual weight of the bales. The most obvious point brought out by this demonstration was that there are differences between machines, operators, and density of the bales which affect weight, and consequently the value of the hay.

So if you are paying $30 for a bale of hay that you “think” weighs 1000 pounds, but in reality it only weighs 800 pounds, then you are probably not getting your money’s worth for the hay. It would probably be worthwhile for you to know an “average” bale weight from a hay supplier before you agree to purchase the hay. Small square bales can easily be weighed to determine an average weight. It becomes more difficult to weigh large round bales, but it can be done.

The other aspect of dealing with hay is quality. There are many factors that affect hay quality. I do not have enough space in this column to describe all these factors in detail, so I will focus on several of the major ones. In my opinion, the most important factor affecting hay quality is maturity stage at harvest. Bermudagrass harvested every 4 weeks will have much higher crude protein and TDN levels than will bermudagrass harvested every 8 weeks. As plants mature, they produce more stem material and consequently the forage quality of the plant decreases. When evaluating hay quality, it is important to visually observe the amount of stem material present on the plants. I also like to look for the presence of seed heads. If there are a lot of seed heads present, this indicates that the plants were harvested at a mature stage of growth and the forage quality may be low.

Another major factor affecting hay quality is hay storage. Hay that has been stored outside without any protection may have a weathered layer that the cows will not consume. A 2-inch layer of weathered material on the bale surface represents about 15% of the volume of a large round bale. Even more dramatic is a 4-inch weathered layer, which represents about 30% of the bale volume. Research from several states has shown that hay stored in a barn shows zero or very minimal losses in forage quality, even after long periods of storage. So, if you are purchasing hay, a very good question to ask the supplier is “Was this hay stored inside or outside?” This may have a big impact on the price that you negotiate for the hay.

When evaluating hay quality, a visual evaluation can give you a rough estimate of the overall quality of the hay. Things to look at include color, odor, texture, and presence of foreign material such as weeds or mold. However, while these factors are important, they are not always good predictors of the true feeding value of the hay. A chemical evaluation can give a much more accurate assessment of hay quality. When you have the hay tested, you will know for sure what the crude protein and TDN values of the hay are.

In summary, purchasing hay is a major investment for many cattle producers. Just like making any major purchase such as a new bull, a piece of farm equipment or even a truck, you need to know some basic information about these items before you decide on which specific breed or brand to buy. When it comes to purchasing hay, some basic information you can use to make an intelligent decision on which load of hay to select includes knowing the weight and the quality of the bales.

Cold Weather May Bring Unwanted House Guests

When the mercury on the thermometer starts to plunge, we start to think about the upcoming holiday season. With these thoughts we think of relatives coming to visit. However, I am not speaking of those house guests. I am talking about the unwanted rats and mice that may seek food and shelter indoors from the colder weather. These rodents stay active throughout the winter, and if your house is as inviting as a holiday party, they may very well decide to overstay their welcome.

Rats and mice eat and contaminate human, pet, and livestock foods. They also destroy property by chewing wires, which may cause fires. They have also been known to gnaw pipes, chew water hoses and damage wood doors, floors, walls, clothing, and furniture. In some cases, they have been known to make their home in the warm places under your vehicle’s hood. On top of all these things, they also carry diseases harmful to humans and our domestic animals.

Effective prevention and control require an integrated approach to rodent management. A program using rodenticides and traps, removal of shelter, removal of food and water, and rodent-proofing is most effective.

An important part of rodent prevention is sanitation. Remove items that may provide shelter for them, such as woodpiles, waste piles and empty boxes or cartons. Materials should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground or floor, and with space between the items and the wall. Store foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers such as glass or metal and dispose of waste and garbage in tightly covered metal cans.

If baits are used, be sure to place them in rodent travel ways or near their burrows and harborages. Do not expect rats or mice to go out of their way to find the bait. See if you can find a location where there has been a sign of activity or that you think would be in the rodents’ normal line of travel. Make sure to place baits in such a way that neither people nor domestic animals have access to them.

Rodent traps such as snap traps, cage traps and glue boards are recommended where the use of rodenticides seems inadvisable, and in places where there are few rats and mice. The best place to set traps is along travel routes where rodent signs are evident. Snap traps should be set in a location where the rodent is likely to pass over it.

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Exclusion is the key to rodent control. Rodents have a biting power of 7,000 psi, which means it is no challenge for them to chew through wood and expanding foam. All openings rodents can enter through should be covered with resistant materials such as sheet metal, steel wool, hardware cloth or copper mesh.

If these efforts do not produce the desired results, then it may be necessary to contact a professional exterminator.

5/10/2021 8:16:24 PM
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