Louisiana farmers welcome weekend rains

CROWLEY – After relatively low rainfall amounts in recent weeks, Louisiana farmers are benefitting from the results of the past weekend rains, according to LSU AgCenter experts.

“This rain is good for the rice industry,” said Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter’s Southwest Region and rice breeder at the AgCenter’s Rice Research Station in Crowley. “It’s going to provide some surface water for irrigation in Vermilion, Calcasieu, Cameron and the southern part of Jeff Davis parishes. It’s been so dry.”

Linscombe said between the past weekend and the rains from Hurricane Ike in September 2008, the Rice Research Station had recorded only 7.5 inches of rain compared to a typical 25-30 inches during the same time.

“The rain won’t totally take care of some people, but it will help,” Linscombe said.

“For the areas with milder salinity, it will help wash away some of the salt. We’re hoping this means more acres can be put into rice.

“It will allow some people to put land into production that they couldn’t have otherwise,” he added.

All told, the rains were widespread throughout Louisiana.

“The rain was delivered in a way that was really effective,” said LSU AgCenter climatologist Jay Grymes. “We got just about what we needed when we needed it.”

Grymes pointed out that normal Louisiana winter rains sometimes lead to flooding problems, but a “good, steady light rain allows maximum penetration rather than runoff,” he said.

Farmers in other parts of the state also enjoyed the advantages of the rains.

“These were very beneficial rains,” said Dr. Don Boquet at the LSU AgCenter’s Macon Ridge Research Station in Winnsboro.

Boquet said the 2-4 inches of rain were needed to allow farmers to finish planting corn and to help the corn that already had been planted to emerge from the ground. The wheat crop, which was planted in the fall for harvest this summer, also benefited from the rain.

“It’s good to have moisture now to carry into soybean and cotton planting,” Boquet said. Soybean planting will begin in about two weeks, and cotton planting will start shortly after.

“Farmers needed this,” Boquet said. “It will help with corn and wheat and future planting of soybeans and cotton.”

Dr. Ron Levy with the LSU AgCenter at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Station in Alexandria said central Louisiana farmers had been able to get a “good bit of corn planted, but farmers in the northwest part of the state stopped to wait for rain.”

 With the recent rain, corn farmers will begin planting again as soon as the fields are dry enough, Levy said.

 “Everything needed a little bit of rain,” Levy said, pointing out that some parts of the state were about 10 inches behind for the year.

 Some soybeans have been planted, Levy said, but soybean planting will start in earnest in about two weeks.

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