Farmers report birds hurting rice crops this year

BATON ROUGE (AP) — South Louisiana farmers have been struggling this year to fight off birds feasting on newly planted rice seed.

LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk told The Advocate blackbirds and ducks love rice, and it seems the spring weather here has not been hot enough to nudge the birds north for the summer.

South Louisiana has both year-round and migratory flocks of various species of blackbirds and ducks.

Steve Linscombe, who heads the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley, said all the birds like rice, but much of the migratory population has usually moved on by the time rice season gets into full swing.

Jeffery Sylvester said some farmers this year have even delayed planting while waiting for the birds to leave.