LSU AgCenter agent Dennis Burns told Vidalia Lions Club members on August 21 that the current crop season has been a good one.
Burns serves Catahoula, Concordia and Tensas parishes, and he specializes in agricultural technology, including drones, irrigation and yield maps.
"This year was a tough spring, slow getting started," Burns said. "We had a lot of rain and the river stayed high for so long. Between Concordia, Tensas and Catahoula parishes we had almost 45,000 acres of seepage water.”
He said that “if you got on the levee in north Tensas and rode down to Concordia to Blackhawk you can see a lot of land that did not get planted. Based on the corn crop cutting now it's going to be about average, somewhere around 180 bushels (per acre). Helena Plantation cut about 190. It's going to end up being a normal crop."
Burns, a native of Waterproof who began working for the ag center in 1994, said the rice crop is doing well and soybeans have been really good.
"We've got some really late soybeans behind seepage water," Burns said. "Overall, beans have been good and I think they will continue to do well. We've had a few dry pockets and beans need another good shot of rain or two.”
He said the grain elevators on the river are open.
“Three weeks ago we weren't sure that would happen,” he said due to prolong high rivers stages. “We were looking to haul beans to Waverly. The corn is about 50 percent through and with the cotton it will be another week or two before we see foliage go out."
Burns flew drones for agricultural use long before they became popular and used by businesses and for recreation.
"We learned how to crash because what goes up comes down,” Burns said. "I bounced some off the hood of my truck."
Concerning other crops, Burns said one issue in the area now is pecan scab, the most economically significant disease of pecan trees in the southeastern United States, he said. Fusicladium effusum is a fungal plant pathogen that causes pecan scab.
"If you notice black spots on pecans, that's scab," Burns said. "It started in Madison Parish three years ago and actually came from the east around Georgia. Now it is reaching Ferriday."
Burns said that in 2018 the Louisiana had 6,000 acres of row rice in the state.
"Tensas, Concordia and Catahoula had half of it," Burns said.
He also said that Vidalia Denim should benefit local farmers.
"We grow short staple cotton here and what they want from Denim is that type of cotton," Burns said. "They are looking for what we grow, which is upland cotton."
Burns was honored by the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association as County Agent of the Year at the organization’s annual conference on Feb. 11-13 in Marksville.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in ag business from LSU and his master’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He was on a group that won the AgCenter Tipton Team Research Award in 2006 for his work on precision agriculture, and he was named the Precision Ag Researcher of the Year at the 2015 National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference.
Burns is a participant in a podcast on Louisiana Delta Crop Podcast with Kylie Miller and R.L. Frazier