About one percent of Louisiana’s corn crop is in the ground. This is unusual for mid-March when farmers typically have much of the crop planted.
LSU AgCenter corn specialist Dan Fromme said cold, wet weather has kept farmers out of their fields.
“We always talk about planting corn when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees. We’re now just starting to see some of that,” Fromme said.
Farmers also like to see daytime temperatures in the 70s and lows in the 50s when they plant.
Fromme said the window for planting corn will last about three more weeks. He projects that the state could have around 600,000 acres – slightly less than last year. But with continued cooler temperatures, some farmers may not plant corn.
“I’ve already heard talk about that,” he said. “If they can’t get planted in the next week, they may shift to another crop.”
Fromme said farmers may switch to grain sorghum or cotton.
Also because of wet conditions, many farmers haven’t had the opportunity to rid their fields of weeds. The cutworm, a common pest on corn, feeds on weeds and grasses in fields.
“That gives cutworms in the soil something to feed on,” Fromme said. “We like to have that vegetation destroyed a minimum of four – preferably six – weeks before we plant.”
Killing weeds prior to planting helps remove the cutworm population from those fields.
Corn farmers have enjoyed good prices in recent years, but prices are down this year.