NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's harvests this year include record yields for at least five crops — corn, soybeans, cotton, grain sorghum and rice — and sugarcane, still being harvested, could be close to a record, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
More irrigation, better crop varieties and luck with the weather are among reasons for the bounty, LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry said.
Rice farmers got 6,500 pounds per acre, 180 more than last year's record, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. However, LSU rice expert John K. Saichuk cautioned that the AgCenter's more detailed survey is still going on, and a disease called blast may have cut rice yields below that estimate.
The USDA said grain sorghum yielded 100 bushels an acre, up 3 bushels from a mark set in 2005. Corn, soybeans and cotton broke marks set in 2007. Farmers averaged 44 bushels per acre for soybeans, up 1; 170 for corn, up 10; and 1,025 pounds of cotton per acre, up 8 pounds per acre.
"It's kind of a head-scratcher in terms of why we've had the yields we've had this year" because 2012 was relatively dry, Guidry said.
"But rains, when they came, were at opportune times," he said. "So even on dry-land production, crops didn't suffer and really had relatively very good growing conditions."
He said the growth of irrigation in Louisiana is probably a major reason. USDA surveys only recently began listing irrigated and "dry" acreage, he said, but its use has increased a great deal over the past five to 10 years, especially in north Louisiana. About two-thirds of the 530,000 acres of corn harvested this year had been irrigated, he said.
Drought in other parts of the country kept prices high for corn, soybeans, grain sorghum and wheat, with corn and soybeans selling at prices in the top 5 percent of all prices in history, Guidry said.
Corn paid $6 to $8 a bushel and is now about $7, and soybeans ran from $13 to $16 and are now about $13.50, he said.
Cotton prices are down from last year, and corn and soybean stocks are tight heading into 2013. That means farmers may move some land from cotton to the other two crops, Guidry said.
Louisiana farmers harvested more than 1.1 million acres of soybeans; 220,000 acres of cotton; 400,000 acres of rice; and 105,000 of grain sorghum. They also are harvesting 420,000 acres of sugar cane.
Yields in the northeast were fantastic, with dry weather bringing good yields.
"It's a combination of weather, the better varieties we have today and better management — but weather makes a huge difference, always," Saichuk said.
But he said the disease hit hard in south Louisiana fields growing a strain that is cultivated because it is naturally resistant to some herbicides.
He also noted that the number of pounds per acre isn't everything. In the past couple of years, he said, the AgCenter has released varieties with lower yields but better grain quality than some currently popular varieties.
"We may see yields drop a little bit in an effort to supply good quality rice," he said.
He said state records show 395,000 acres in rice, though that acreage could decline if prices don't improve.
And, he said, even if the state hits 6,500 pounds an acre this year, it wouldn't be a record under state figures. "We've broken that more than once," he said.
State figures set the record yield at last year's 6,717 pounds per acre. It is not uncommon for LSU's figures to sometimes differ from those calculated by federal officials.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.