Ray Schexnayder farms 1,800 acres of soybeans in Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike left his fields scattered with tree limbs, and some covered with water.
“We had 200 acres that flooded. There’s nothing to them, just a little dry stem now.”
Schexnayder anticipated harvesting around 50 bushels per acre, but the first few days of his harvest show yields closer to 30 to 35 bushels.
“We just thought it was going to be a real good year, and then one thing happens after another,” he said. “It’s not going to be good, but I think we’ll survive.”
The weather has been dry during the past few weeks, and farmers have been able to get into the fields and start harvesting their crops. The outlook for soybeans across the state is mixed. Some fields saw little damage from the storms.
LSU AgCenter’s soybean specialist Ronnie Levy says it is hard to determine how much damage the storms did to the crop.
“When you start talking about people’s crops and their lives, some people lost a great deal. If we look at it across the state, we’re probably seeing 30 to 35 percent losses from the storm.”
The rains that accompanied the storms kept farmers out of their fields for a while, and this kept them from spraying for disease and insects in a timely manner. Some fields have quality issues with pods producing smaller and damaged beans.
“The beans start to shrivel or they start to rot in the pods or sprout, and it will lower not only the value of the bean, but the yield as well,” the specialist said.
Diseases have been a problem in fields across the state. Cercospora has appeared in many fields. In other fields farmers are dealing with green bean syndrome — a problem that occurs when soybean plants won’t mature.
Levy said Asian soybean rust has been identified on soybeans across the state, including at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research Station, where he is headquartered.
“Once again soybean rust came in at the point where most soybeans won’t be affected,” Levy said. “We’ve seen this for several years. We’ve haven’t had a real problem from rust because people are using fungicides to help control it.”