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Although final figures have yet to be compiled, LSU AgCenter Extension Agent Dennis Burns said yields would be below average for the 2019 crop year.

He also noted that wheat production might rise while more farmers are interested in growing row rice and some are interested in farming industrial hemp.

Burns said the reasons for lower yields this year is due to a mixture of factors, including heavy, persistent rainfall during the early growing season followed by dry, hot weather in the late season.

But farmers are better able to handle varying factors due to diversity in the crops they plant, Burns said.

“Nowadays people are farming bigger acres that are spread out and they are more diversified with corn, cotton and soybeans,” Burns said. “Some have rice in the mix, but farmers are not tied to any one crop.

“One farmer had one place that had the best yield ever and on another farm didn’t do nearly as well,” Burns said.

He said the high water during the spring and early summer prevented the planting of some acreage. Even now, Burns said, farmers are watching the stage of the Mississippi River.

Corn yields were off five to 10 bushels per acre, and soybeans about the same.

“The yields were pretty good but we had some beans that yielded less than expected,” Burns said.

While a very small acreage of cotton remains to be harvested, Burns said yields thus far are between 1,000 and 1,100 pounds per acre.

“We had some really good cotton,” he said. “A lot of the later planted cotton picked 1,200 pounds while much of it was in the 1,000 pound range. A few fields with excessive rain picked less.

“One Tensas grower picked almost four bales per acre on one farm and a little over two on the other,” Burns said, noting the two farms had different soil.

One good thing, he added, was that the cost of growing cotton was lower, partly because “insect pressure was light.”

Rice yields are slightly down possibly due to high temps and the loss of fertilizer due to excessive rain.

“Row rice is gaining a lot in popularity throughout northeastern Louisiana,” he said. “Farmers like it. It seems to be the trend.”

One grower started with 40 acres and will increase his acreage next year.

“Farmers are getting a handle on growing it and still learning to manage the nitrogen to get the most out of it,” he said.

Additonally, Burns said interest in growing wheat is on the rise while many farmers are asking about the potential of industrial hemp.

“There was not much wheat this year, but the price has gone up and some farmers are looking at double cropping some acreage with wheat and soybeans,” he said. “The wheat outlook is positive and some longtime wheat farmers that had not grown wheat the last couple of years plan to plant wheat again. This gives us another crop to put in the mix.”

Meanwhile, Burns said farmers might want to attend a meeting on growing industrial hemp on Nov. 13 at the Louisiana State Evacuation Center, 8125 Hwy 71 South, Alexandria.

He said the meeting would allow interested parties to learn about the industry from experienced experts.

“I had a grower call on Monday who wondered if this is a legitimate option,” Burns said. “I get a steady number of calls about it.”

According to the LSU Ag Center, presentations “from hemp researchers, producers, and processors from other states will educate attendees about this new and emerging crop. A panel discussion with LSU AgCenter faculty and an update from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will follow the presentations. In addition, there will be exhibit booth spaces available for vendors to connect to future Louisiana growers.”

According to the AgCenter:

-- Louisiana did not participate in the industrial hemp pilot project program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and, therefore, no legal production can occur in the state at this time.

-- The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) must submit a state industrial hemp plan to be approved by USDA and adopt regulations for the administration of the program.

-- It is anticipated that Louisiana’s state plan will be approved by the USDA and regulations will be in place to accommodate the 2020 planting season.

-- Industrial hemp producers, processors, and transporters will be required to possess an annually approved license from LDAF prior to participation.

-- LDAF will begin accepting license applications once the state plan is approved and regulations are in place.

The $25 attendee registration fee for the meeting next week includes lunch and refreshments.

Advanced registration is required. For more information call 225-578-2906.

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