THE EXTENDED hot, dry weather conditions this summer are being blamed for an estimated $560 million in agricultural losses, statewide, in Louisiana.

Early estimates by economists peg row crop losses at $320 million and timber losses at $213 million.

Specifically, Extension economists Kurt Guidry, Linda Shoalmire and Albert Ortego estimate 2000 row crops losses will exceed $66 million for cotton; $14 million for corn; $2 million for grain sorghum; $21 million for rice; $54 million for soybeans; $1 million for wheat.

Sugar losses blamed on weather conditions are estimated at $135 million for the year and hay losses are estimated at $20 million.

In addition, Louisiana farmers are expected to experience crawfish losses of $24 million and catfish losses of $2.5 million.

According to Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom, in July and August, most of the state suffered through the driest two months since records have been kept. This is the third consecutive year Louisiana has experienced record drought conditions. The cumulative impact on the rural economies of Louisiana has been tremendous."

The losses estimated by the state's economists do not include six parishes that did not report figures. Several of the parishes are major row crop and timber parishes.