Field day provides plethora of information

(07/07/16) PALMETTO, La. – An LSU AgCenter field day held on July 6 at the Charlie Fontenot farm in St. Landry Parish offered a smorgasbord of information on a variety of crops and ways to grow them.

Fontenot, who grows corn, rice, soybeans and milo, this year planted a cotton variety trial after a grain buyer suggested he consider growing cotton. Fontenot admitted he knows nothing about the crop, but that’s why he wanted to start with a test to see which of eight varieties perform well on his farm.

Vince Deshotel, AgCenter county agent in St. Landry Parish, said cotton acreage in the parish suffered a setback after Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

AgCenter cotton and corn specialist Dan Fromme said estimates of Louisiana cotton acreage this year range from 135,000 to 155,000 acres. He said a global oversupply continues to depress prices.

Thrips have shown up on cotton plants at the AgCenter Dean Lee Research Station at Alexandria. “I’ve never seen thrips pressure that heavy, that early,” Fromme said.

Texas growers south of Houston are having a tough year with bollworms. “The numbers are overwhelming below Houston, and even in the drier climate around Corpus Christi,” he said.

The boll weevil continues to be a problem on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cotton varieties are replaced after just three or four years, resulting in the need for variety trials to test the new genetics, Fromme said.

Corn and milo are doing well in areas of south Louisiana that did not receive too much rainfall in the spring, Fromme said. The corn and milo crop in north Louisiana, however, has struggled after flooding rains caused many farmers to replant.

AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy said Louisiana soybean acreage has been estimated at 1.25 million. The total would have been higher if parts of southwest Louisiana hadn’t received so much rain.

Farmers who still intend to plant soybeans should consider an early-maturing variety, Levy said.

AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth said bacterial panicle blight in rice could become a problem this year because of high temperatures at night. But he said fungicides should only be used if a crop has signs of disease.

Fungicides with different modes of action should be rotated, and applications should be made before seed heads emerge, he said.

AgCenter rice specialist Dustin Harrell said this year’s crop appears to be progressing well, although he’s not expecting a record crop.

Low nighttime temperatures of 80 degrees usually foster the development of bacterial panicle blight. The past few nights, the lows have only reached 78 to 79 degrees. “That’s a perfect storm for bacterial panicle blight to blow up this year,” Harrell said.

AgCenter entomologist Mike Stout said insect pressure in rice has been intense this year. “This has probably the worth year for insects in my 20 years here,” he said.

The South American rice miner has been a problem in many fields, but the rice usually recovers, Stout said.

AgCenter entomologist Jeff Davis said red-banded stinkbugs can be expected to hit soybeans this year. The insect has been active during the winter, even in north Louisiana.

AgCenter plant pathologist Boyd Padgett said disease pressure has been light in soybeans. “I have not seen a lot of disease,” he said.

Conditions are good for aerial blight, he said, but he has not seen any signs of it on soybeans.

Fontenot also showed a 40-acre rice field that has been irrigated enough to keep the soil wet but not flooded. The crop has been grown with 48 percent less water than a field of conventionally flooded rice.

Fontenot said he used an additional application of herbicide, but so far disease pressure has been minimal, although he used a preventive fungicide application.

“It’s everything we hoped it to be,” he said.

The project is a joint venture with Ducks Unlimited and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said prices for soybeans and corn have fallen in the past few days. Soybeans prices were above $11.50 a bushel until this week, when they dropped by 90 cents.

Activity by speculators probably caused some of the decline, along with a 6-million-acre increase in corn production, and a 1.4-million-acre increase in soybeans, Guidry said.

High stocks of both commodities have suppressed prices, and corn probably will stay in the $3 to $4 range, with soybeans between $9.50 and $10.50.

Rice prices, now at $17-18 a barrel for long-grain rice, are not expected to increase without consistent export demand, and the price could drop below $16, Guidry said.

AgCenter rice breeder Steve Linscombe said the new medium-grain variety CL272 will be tested by Kellogg’s this year to see if it meets the company’s standards. “The plan is to have enough rice to do a plant run, probably at Battle Creek, Michigan,” he said.

The new variety has superior yield potential to CL271 but with better quality, Linscombe said. The new long-grain variety CL153 is high-yielding and it has excellent quality.

Linscombe said the herbicide-resistant Provisia rice should be available in 2018.

AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso said new technology at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station has allowed a substantial increase in the number of breeding lines that can be analyzed in the lab. But the equipment is part of a long-term project that will take time to produce results.

“We’re not going to be out here next year talking about a new product because of this investment,” he said.

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St. Landry Parish farmer Charlie Fontenot explains an experimental rice crop grown on a 40-acre field with limited irrigation during an LSU AgCenter field day held on his farm on July 6. Fontenot said the crop used 48 percent less water than an adjacent field that was conventionally flooded. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dan Fromme examines a cotton plant on Charlie Fontenot’s farm in St. Landry Parish where an LSU AgCenter field day was held on July 6. Fromme said estimates of Louisiana’s cotton acreage this year are roughly 135,000 to 155,000 acres. Photo by Bruce Schultz

7/7/2016 4:20:06 PM
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