Hurricane Laura damages some Louisiana soybeans, other row crops

lodged soybeans
Soybean plants lean after having been blown over by winds from Hurricane Laura at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria — photo by David Moseley/LSU AgCenter

Most Louisiana soybean fields are in decent shape following Hurricane Laura, but there are pockets of serious damage in areas that received strong winds and rain.

“Statewide, the crop fared pretty well,” said LSU AgCenter soybean specialist David Moseley, who is based at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria. “In some places, the soybean is still standing upright and still looks pretty good. But a lot of soybean across the state has some degree of leaning, which is called lodging.”

Most of the lodging is minor, and Moseley doesn’t predict any big problems in those fields. It’s possible that upcoming harvest operations will be a little slower than usual, he said.

Prospects for badly lodged fields are less encouraging.

“If the plants lean on the ground and touch the soil, you’re going to have some moisture issues,” Moseley said. “You’re going to have quality issues if it’s close to the ground and you happen to have flooding.”

Louisiana has roughly 1 million acres of soybeans, 61% of which had been harvested as of Aug. 30, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The extent of the damage depends on the location and other factors, such as soybean variety and how mature the crop was when the storm hit.

“Within one field at Dean Lee, I have slight lodging to severe lodging,” Moseley said. That field contains many different varieties of soybeans that were planted on different dates for his research.

Lodging widespread in Northeast Louisiana

In northeast Louisiana, soybean lodging is widespread, said Bruce Garner, AgCenter agent in Morehouse and West Carroll parishes. But the amount of damage varies: It’s “pretty bad” in some Morehouse Parish fields, while most of it is “not too bad” in neighboring West Carroll Parish, he said.

Taller plants seem to be leaning worse than those that are only waist-high, said Keith Collins, AgCenter agent in Richland, Franklin and Ouachita parishes.

Vince Deshotel, AgCenter agent in St. Landry Parish, said soybeans had minimal lodging in his area. But farmers are concerned about what will happen if more rain comes.

“If it persists and the beans stay wet, then that’s another issue,” Deshotel said.

As for other crops:

• Corn harvest was about 85% to 90% complete when Hurricane Laura arrived, Garner said. “Harvest should able to continue once field conditions allow. Some lodging of corn stalks will slow combines down in parts of some fields,” he said. The little bit of remaining corn in St. Landry Parish is still standing after the storm, Deshotel said.

• Garner and Collins reported that many northeast Louisiana cotton fields are lodged — especially those that have a heavy boll load. These conditions could increase boll rot, make for a slower harvest and make it difficult to harvest all bolls, Collins said.

• Rice in northeast Louisiana — which develops later than in south Louisiana and mostly has not been harvested yet — saw some lodging. It’s “erratic from field to field,” Collins said. “Taller rice lodging is worse. If it will stay dry, impact will be less.”

• Sweet potato fields experienced little damage. Harvest may be delayed slightly, Garner said, adding that most farms have not begun harvest yet.

LSU AgCenter contributed this article.

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