Long overdue rainlast week in late June 2011 was a welcome relief to area crop producers and cattlemen.
Most of the parish received 1.5 - 4 inches or more of rain, which gave irrigation units a break and much needed rain on pastures and hay meadows. Dry conditions have not been uncommon in recent years, but dry weather began early in 2011 going back to mid-May and earlier in some locations. This will make for a more expensive corn crop due to more irrigations and the costs associated with it, i.e., fuel and electricity.
Much of the young soybean and cotton crop required earlier irrigations due to drought conditions as well but still has much growing season left. Most of the corn crop will be physiologically mature in the next two to four weeks but all crops can benefit from timely rains.
Richland Parish crops are heavily irrigated and must be to remain profitable. While nothing replaces a timely rain, irrigation is the best risk management tool for our producers. A good example is the rainfall received last week which was too late for the small amount of non-irrigated corn acres in the parish. As mentioned already, fuel and energy prices have made irrigating very expensive but it is what keeps producers in business and the local economy going.
Unfortunately, very few pastures and hay meadows are irrigated so the drought really took its toll on cattlemen. Prior to recent rain, some cattlemen were already supplementing hay due to lack of green grass following a shortage of hay last year. Hopefully, last week’s rain will produce enough grass for grazing and hay production. Although most cattlemen managed a first cutting of hay, they will need more to get through the winter months ahead.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture