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Ryan Clement repairs a break in the levee of a craw­fish pond Thursday north of Jennings after heavy rains. (Doris Maricle / American Press)<br>

Ryan Clement repairs a break in the levee of a craw­fish pond Thursday north of Jennings after heavy rains. (Doris Maricle / American Press)

Rains could delay planting season

Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 12:32 PM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

Heavy rains in Southwest Louisiana are flooding land and keeping some farmers out of the fields.

Calcasieu Parish County Agent Jimmy Meaux said although sugar cane harvesting is through in most areas, rice and soybean farmers are being kept from preparing their fields for the planting season.

Most farmers spend January and February getting fields in shape for spring planting, which can begin as early as March, he said.

The wet, muddy fields prevent the farmers from walking in or moving heavy equipment into the fields.

“Hopefully we will get a dry period, but it is going to take a long time to get the fields dry,” Meaux said. “We are really saturated right now, and there is still more rain coming in next week.’’

The wet, muddy conditions are also making it harder for cattle farmers to get hay and rye grass to  their animals, he said.

Many areas in Southwest Louisiana, including Hayes and Grand Chenier, reported 5-10 inches of rain in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday. More rain is on the way.

“It looks like it is going to be a wet winter,” Meaux said. “We’ve had a few dry patterns, but things are sorta getting back to normal.”

Kevin Savoie, sea grant agent for the LSU AgCenter in Cameron Parish, said the rain is not all bad for crawfish farmers.

“The rain is providing them with a free source of water to flood their fields so they don’t have to pump water into the fields, but at some point they are going to have to try to get that water off,” Savoie said.

“The eastern half of Calcasieu Parish and Jeff Davis Parish are probably having to let off some of the overflow on the fields,” he said.

Many crawfish farmers are currently seeing stock crawfish from last year and juvenile crawfish. The spring crop will not peak until May.

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