Cover crops, weed control featured at field day

(7/29/16) OAK GROVE, La. – Rain moved presentations by LSU AgCenter specialists and researchers indoors during a recent field day in northeast Louisiana.

“If you want to break the back of a drought in northeast Louisiana, plan a field day,” said West Carroll Parish AgCenter agent Bruce Garner. “This is the second year in a row we’ve planned rolling field demonstrations, and Mother Nature prevented us from actually getting into the fields.”

At the first stop, north of Lake Providence on the Howard farm, Robbie Howard told about his no-till and cover crop operation.

“Mr. Howard has definitely seen a benefit from using cover crops,” said R.L. Frazier, AgCenter agent in Madison Parish. “Even in the fields where he planted sun hemp two years ago, it’s still having a positive effect.”

Cover crops help because they provide protection to the soil during rainy winter months, said Steve Nipper with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“There’s better root penetration,” Nipper said. “With no-till and cover, the roots go past the few inches of depth of conventional planting.”

Nipper said producers should go beyond just one species of cover crop and use a variety.

AgCenter weed scientist Josh Copes and Donna Lee, AgCenter agent in East Carroll Parish, showed a weed control demonstration they conducted with producers Robbie and Keith Howard.

“It’s important to starting clean at planting, especially when dealing with glyphosate-resistant weeds,” Copes said.

Incorporating glufosinate into a herbicide program is beneficial when glyphosate-resistant weeds are present. Herbicide selection should always be made field-by-field with knowledge of the weed spectrum, Copes said.

Producers also heard about the latest regulations with the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard.

Kim Pope, AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator, said one of the biggest changes this year is the requirement of training in-field pesticide handlers every year instead of every three years.

“You’ll get paperwork from the EPA about your worker training,” Pope said. “It’s very important you keep good records and keep it on file.”

Marty Pousson, with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, echoed Pope’s remarks about keeping records.

“Worker Protection Standard is not going away,” Pousson said. “It will only get harder. LDAF will look at the records and for posted signs on the farm designed to protect workers.”

The second tour stop was at the Lingo Center in Oak Grove.

AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy gave an update on this year’s soybean crop, which comprises 1.25 million acres in Louisiana.

That number is down slightly because of lower soybean prices. But Levy said the number might actually be higher because many farmers planted late as a result of heavy spring rains and those acres may not have been included in the latest USDA planted acreage count.

Soybeans planted late in the year struggle more than those planted early. “Soybeans cannibalize the sugars they make during the day to stay cool at night,” Levy said. “When you plant late and the plant has to work that hard in July and August heat to stay cool at night, it affects how they make seed.”

AgCenter corn, cotton and grain sorghum specialist Dan Fromme said Louisiana producers have planted about 625,000 acres of corn this year. That’s up about 200,000 acres from last year.

The corn crop in south Louisiana is faring a little better than the crop in north Louisiana where spring rains caused many farmers to replant corn or switch to another crop, Fromme said.

AgCenter plant pathologist Trey Price said frogeye leaf spot recently showed up.

“If you’ve got resistant varieties of soybeans, there’s no need for fungicide, but scouting is critical,” Price said. “I don’t recommend fungicide without the presence of disease. It’s not for plant health.”

Taproot decline, a disease that tends to show up in no-till or minimally tilled soybean fields, is bad in West Carroll Parish, Price said. Tillage and crop rotation are the best tools against taproot decline.

“You’re investing in Bt technology, let it work for you,” AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown told the group at the LaFoe farm in Morehouse Parish.

Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president, said he’s impressed with the cooperation among the different agencies in Louisiana.

“LDAF, NRCS, FSA, U.S. Forest Service and many more all work together to benefit our farmers,” Leonard said. “It’s up to us to provide the right information to the producer and share information where we can.”

What the agencies do “has never been more important than right now because of the economy, said Craig McCain, state director for the Farm Service Agency. “At the end of the day, if the farmer succeeds, we all succeed. We’ve got to work together.”

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LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator Kim Pope talks with producers about new regulations regarding Worker Protection Standards at the Howard Farm north of Lake Providence, Louisiana, during a recent farm tour. Photo by Tammi Arender

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LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ron Levy speaks to attendees at a rolling field day at the Lingo Center in Oak Grove, Louisiana. Levy brought the outdoors indoors for his talk on soybeans because rain moved demonstrations inside. Photo by Tammi Arender

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Producers in northeast Louisiana gather at the Macon LaFoe farm in Morehouse Parish to hear AgCenter agent Richard Letlow discuss irrigation and provide an update on crops in the area during a recent field tour. Photo by Tammi Arender

7/29/2016 9:03:55 PM
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