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Local corn farmers have been slightly hindered not by coronavirus-related problems but by a more familiar foe: the weather.

Spurts of rain made many Franklin Parish fields too wet for operating planting equipment, but due to soil type, water quickly drained and should soon be dry enough to plant, said Carol Pinnell-Alison, LSU AgCenter Extension Agent.

“In Franklin Parish on the Macon Ridge silt loam soils, we have made good progress getting corn planted,” Alison said. “Some of the heavier soils don’t dry out as fast and planting gets delayed.”

Alison said local farmers got a jump on planting this season.

“Franklin Parish started planting early this year,” Alison said. “The three inches of rain we received recently did not help matters, but we are still within our planting range.”

For corn, ideal planting dates range from March 10 to April 10 in north Louisiana and Feb. 25 to March 23 for southern Louisiana.

Planting during optimum windows is important to the corn crop, said LSU AgCenter corn specialist Dan Fromme. Delays can prevent crops from performing to their fullest potential.

As time goes by and temperatures heat up, “we begin to slowly lose yield,” Fromme said.

Fromme predicts Louisiana will have 550,000 to 600,000 acres of corn this year, a slight increase from 2019.

Last year, Franklin Parish farmers planted 97,547 acres of corn while neighboring parish Catahoula planted 25,958 acres. Northern neighbor, Richland Parish, planted 43,962, and Tensas Parish planted 52,896 acres, according to Farm Service Agency numbers.

“Everything’s a go right now as far as corn planting is concerned in Louisiana,” Fromme said.

Additionally, all Parish Extension offices are closed to visitors and all AgCenter personnel, according to LSU AgCenter’s website. At press time, research stations remain open, but all personnel that are able to work remotely are being asked to do so.

The closures come in response to recent COVID-19 mandates.

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