Drought impacts corn crop

Drought negatively impacts corn harvest

(KSLA) - ArkLaTex corn farmers are busying harvesting, but this year's crop isn't going to be nearly as good as last year's crop.

For corn farmers, the drought could not have hit at a worse time.

Only 4.44" of rain was recorded May 1-Aug. 8 at Shreveport Regional Airport. That's more than 10" below average.

Severe and extreme drought conditions developed across the area.

"May and June around here is when corn's water demands are the highest," said Ryan Kirby, of Kirby Farms at Belcher.

"With one rain in early June that amounted to anything, it adversely affected our dry-line corn crop tremendously."

When Mother Nature isn't providing enough water farmers will turn to irrigating.

"Irrigation is just the process of putting water into the soil for the plant to use for growth purposes. And so it is a supplement to rainfall," said Stacia Davis-Conger, of LSU AgCenter's Red River Research Center.

"You are only supposed to irrigate when you don't have the rainfall naturally."

Irrigation costs an average of $8 to $12 an acre, she said.

If a farmer has 1,000 acres to irrigate, the cost can really add up, especially if the farmer has to irrigate multiple times.

"We had to irrigate a whole lot more that the past couple of years," Kirby observed.

He said he has irrigated about six times this year, which is about double the amount he typically irrigates.

"Our diesel expenses are way up from last year."

If it rains now, Kirby said, it will be too late to help his corn crop.

In fact, he added, it would just slow his harvest.

A lot of heavy rain in August also could lead to bad soybean and cotton harvests.

"It will start rotting the cotton and soybeans," Kirby said.

"This will be the third summer where we have had an extended wet period in August. ... It has really hurt our soybean and cotton crops the last two years."

Unfortunately, the best corn this year won't be coming from Louisiana farmers.

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