An outbreak of soybean rust will cut profits for Louisiana farmers and force producers in the southwestern part of the state to abandon the crop entirely, industry experts say, according to Dow Jones news.



"The bottom line is producers will have to spend more money to make the same crop or a lesser crop," said David Y. Lanclos, an LSU AgCenter specialist based in Alexandria.



State Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom said farmers can treat the fungus by spraying crops twice per season with fungicide, one more time than usual. But the added expense means that farmers must produce 1,800 pounds of soybeans per acre, or 30 bushels, to make any money, he said.



However, Lanclos said the yields in Acadia, Jefferson Davis, Beauregard, Vermilion, parts of St. Landry and Calcasieu parishes usually range between 1,080 to 1,500 pounds per acre. With prices expected at $5 to $5.50 per bushel, those farmers cannot pay for two fungicide treatments, Lanclos said.



Louisiana farmers plant 800,000 to 1 million acres in soybeans each year, about one-third of the state's farmland. In 2003, the Louisiana crop was worth $163.4 million. "We estimate 100,000 acres will be lost because of soybean rust," Lanclos said.



Farmers in southwestern Louisiana will have to switch to crawfish, cattle or hay production, Lanclos said.