Overall, grain sorghum fields look good, and there have been no major reports of insects with the exception of insecticide applications for stink bugs during the last couple of weeks. I have also gotten reports of spraying for sorghum webworms and isolated midge. Throughout the state, we are 80 percent or more headed on the grain sorghum that was planted at an optimal planting date. Unfortunately, many producers are still planting sorghum behind failed cotton or corn crops. Late-planted grain sorghum will make up a large portion of our total acreage this year. The reasoning behind the late planting is something I cannot explain (especially with no insurance protection), but I strongly encourage anyone who is contemplating planting more sorghum to switch to soybeans.
The rains received the past couple of weeks have been a lifesaver for the corn crop. Much of the state’s corn crop began very slowly, with low temperatures and overall poor growing conditions. After the corn began to grow, a large portion of south Louisiana was under drought-stress conditions in contrast to portions of north Louisiana, where there was just too much rain. We are well past tasseling, even on the latest-planted corn, and the rain received over much of the state should enable the dry-land corn to maximize its yield potential. The problems thus far in corn include the borer complexes in addition to stink bugs. I am optimistic about corn yields this year.
Soybeans are still being planted as of today (June 23). Most of the state has adequate moisture to plant and, in many areas, this is really the first opportunity producers have had to plant soybeans. This late-planted acreage will make up a large portion of our total acreage this year, as it always does. Last year, of the 770,000 acres of beans that were planted, I estimated that more than 150,000 of those acres were planted the last week of June. In parts of the state, the soybean crop is struggling to survive and may not make it. We have had to start spraying for stink bugs and loopers in isolated cases. Aerial blight is showing up in a non-discriminating manner, and fungicide applications have started in some parishes. Most of the fields in which I have worked complaints thus far barely justify a fungicide application because of lack of pods on the plants.
The main problems with the bean crop right now are the lack of weed control and “wet feet syndrome.” Ground rigs and planes have sat idle because of the muddy fields and wet runways, respectively. At this point, you may want to consider adding a tank-mix partner such as Classic, Reflex or Flexstar with a glyphosate product to control many of the annual broadleaves now present. Wet feet syndrome, for lack of a better term, is simply beans that are becoming water stressed because of too much water sitting in the fields. Symptoms include a fluorescent or neon green haze across the latest emerging trifoliate, indicating water stress. Some of the more severe cases have already resulted in portions of fields that have died.
A major concern right now is that our youngest beans on flat ground are fighting to stay alive in field after field where they have received too much rain. In south Louisiana, you can really see the levee effect of beans doing much better and continuing to grow when their counterparts on the lower sides of the levee are not growing. Another problem I see is a tremendous amount of stunting across maturity groups and planting dates. I attribute this to different stresses the crop has had to endure during the growing season, primarily too much or not enough water.
If we can get some sunshine over the next few days, the outlook for all three crops will improve. If rains continue, however, much of our soybean crop will be in jeopardy because of water stress. The good news about this much rain is that we will have adequate moisture reserves for at least the next week and half or so for the corn and grain sorghum during early seed fill.
David Lanclos is Extension corn, grain sorghum and soybean specialist with the LSU AgCenter.