By Craig Gautreaux, LSU AgCenter
ALEXANDRIA — Louisiana corn farmers are harvesting what could be a record corn crop — when the weather allows them to run their combines through the fields.
Rain showers, particularly in the afternoon, have been plaguing farmers recently. Still, many farmers are saying this year’s crop could be their best one, said Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter corn specialist.
The state record average yield is approximately 184 bushels per acre. Fromme has reports of non-irrigated fields producing well above 200 bushels. Non-irrigated fields typically have lower averages than irrigated fields, but Fromme does not expect to see much difference between the two because of ample and timely rainfall.
“Central Louisiana and on south doesn’t have much irrigation, and when that yield monitor is well over 200 bushels and not being irrigated, you get excited pretty quick,” Fromme said.
Kyle Lemoine, who grows corn in Avoyelles Parish near Moreauville, said favorable conditions have led to one of his better corn crops.
“The corn was planted early, got adequate rainfall throughout the season, and the yields look like some of our better yields than we have ever cut before,” Lemoine said.
A key to a successful corn crop is getting an early start, and this year’s mild winter allowed farmers to begin planting as early as late February. Unlike last year, there were no major flooding events in the spring caused significant replanting.
The crop was well established before heavier spring rains began to fall, but Lemoine said those rains, along with the ability to plant early, helped his crop.
“You have a chance to catch some of the better rainfall that happens in the early spring, and the cooler temperatures give you a better pollination of the corn crop. And also, you kind of beat the insect pressure,” Lemoine said.
Because of plentiful rains, many growers did not have to heavily irrigate their corn fields. In fact, some did not irrigate at all, reducing the cost of producing the crop by saving on fuel and electricity to operate the pumps.
“Many didn’t have to roll that pipe out,” Fromme said. “You don’t have to pump that water and avoid pumping costs. It’s always a good feeling when you don’t have to spend that money on water.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Louisiana Crop Progress and Condition Report said nearly 30 percent of the state corn crop had harvested as of August 7, which is ahead of last year’s pace.
Louisiana farmers are expected to harvest about 420,000 acres of corn, about 100,000 acres fewer acres than last year. The primary reason for the lower acreage is low corn prices. Many farmers are storing their corn and taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I think I’m going to sit on my corn awhile to see if we can get a better price on it as the season progresses,” Lemoine said.