Last Modified: Friday, June 22, 2012 12:35 PM
Thanks to recent rains — and a warm dry spring — area rice crops are right where they should be, LSU AgCenter officials said Wednesday.
“The weather has been much better than the previous two years. We haven’t had as many hot nights, which are a negative for us,” said AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk.
“Right now we don’t need anymore rain on the crops. The fields are flooded and approaching maturity and will be drained in two to three weeks.”
Rice growers should remain vigilant for disease, especially for rice blast, which appears worse than in previous years, Saichuk said. Recent blast outbreaks may have stemmed from rice that grew through the mild winter or in fields used to harvest crawfish.
Jimmy Meaux, Calcasieu Parish county agent, said the recent rainfall has been a relief to rice farms because they do not rely on pumping their own water. He said the rain has been good for soybeans, but that too much water could have a negative effect.
“Soybeans do not like a lot of water,” he said. “Some areas are too wet, but most are just right.”
As for hay production, the water has helped the grass, which also helps cattle. Meaux said it is hard to project what will happen in the next month, but hopefully it will be better than last year.
Diane Borden-Billiot, visitor services manager with the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said the increase in rains has helped vegetation and wildlife.
“With a lot of rain, you have more opportunities for better habitats,” she said. “Alligators have better nesting, and they can move around to feed better. Alligators need fresh water, and they have plenty of it now.”
She said there is enough vegetation and shallow water for birds to feed on invertebrates. The lush green is a nice change from the last few summers, which were short on rainfall, she said.
“When it is dry, it is real harsh on the animals,” Borden-Billiot said. “The alligators will stay in their hole. But if you have it wet, it is chain reaction. Right now, we have lots of water.”