Corn acreage reached record levels in Louisiana several years ago. However, an LSU AgCenter specialist predicts acres dedicated to the feed grain will drop again this year.

Louisiana corn growers will plant around 510,000 acres, said Rob Ferguson, LSU AgCenter Extension associate. “We have heard some farmers, because the conditions were good early on, put in a few more acres than they anticipated, but overall we’re still going to see a reduction for the year.”

The cost of fuel and fertilizer has dropped, but so have corn prices, and some farmers believe they have a greater potential for profits by growing other commodities.

“Probably the biggest increase is in soybean production,” Ferguson said.

Other growers will plant rice instead of corn. “We have seen some ground that farmers are putting into rice production that hasn’t been in rice for a while.”

Some growers were able to get their corn planted early, but heavy rains may have hurt early fertilizer applications.

“Growers have some concerns about how much fertilizer was lost due to the filtration into the soil surface. So farmers are going to be watching that closely right now, wondering, ‘Do I need to go back and put some on or is it economically feasible?’”

Ferguson said growers should be prepared for the potential of stink bug infestations. “Even though we have Bt technology, we still have to scout for stink bugs in our corn crop.”

Ferguson estimates 80 percent of this year’s corn crop was planted by the beginning of April, but rain has kept some farmers from finishing planting, and the window to plant is closing. The specialist said for optimum yields, growers should finish by mid- to late April.

“Later-planted corn is exposed to some of the more severe environmental conditions — drought and potential hurricanes. You’re also going to see increased disease and insect problems on a late crop.”

Louisiana’s corn acreage is concentrated in the northeast and central portions of the state.