Small Louisiana Wheat Crop This Year

Small Louisiana Wheat Crop This Year

May 2, 2016

Story provided by LSU Ag Center

Several farmers and ranchers are concentrated on planting. But for those with crops already in the ground, disease is on the mind.
LSU Ag Center correspondent Craig Gautreaux shares how last year's disappointing wheat harvest has led to a dramatic reduction in Louisiana wheat acreage.

Last year’s wheat crop in Louisiana was devastated by scab disease. Its lingering effects are still being felt as farmers have drastically reduced acreage this year. LSU Ag Center wheat specialist Boyd Padgett says Louisiana has about 60,000 acres of wheat this year, a significant decrease from the typical 200,000 acres. 

"It just left a bad taste in grower’s mouths," says Padgett. "They did not want to plant wheat. They were skittish. Combine that with low commodity prices, quite frankly i wouldn’t have planted wheat as well."

Padgett says the year following a severe outbreak of scab disease, crops are at risk of having a reoccurrence. He said fungicides offer limited control, and recommendations are to apply them by ground spray rigs, which is difficult when fields are wet.

"You could expect with a perfect application," says Padgett. "about 50 percent suppression. So if you back up and put it out by air, it’s even going to be less."

With wheat prices low, farmers must consider the potential value of the crop to both the fungicide and the application costs.

"If you’re growing wheat," says Padgett, "you need to make money, and you need to recoup your application costs plus some more. It’s not a good scenario."

While not a major crop in Louisiana, there are benefits for farmers to grow wheat.

"It’s grown as a cover crop," says Padgett, "so it conserves soil moisture and serves as organic matter, and that’s in addition to growing the crop as a grain. It provides additional income to producers year-round."

According to Padgett, this year’s crop is in fair to good shape, but it is now entering the growth stage where it is most susceptible to scab.  R
esearchers with the ag-center are working on varieties with a greater resistance to scab disease and are seeing some promising results.

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