Louisiana corn, grain sorghum crops suffer losses during flood

Craig Gautreaux cgautreaux@agcenter.lsu.edu
Corn kernels show signs of sprouting because of the recent flooding rains. For the most part, the kernels are protected by the shucks, but kernels on the end are more likely to sprout because of their exposure to the rain and sun. About 30 percent of the state’s corn acreage has been harvested with about 380,000 remaining. Early LSU AgCenter crop damage estimates have corn losses at nearly $11 million.

While thousands of homes in Louisiana were being inundated by floodwaters, the rains that caused the flooding also damaged the state’s corn and grain sorghum crops.

Virtually all of the grain sorghum left to be harvested is showing signs or has actually begun to sprout. This will cause test weights to be reduced, leading to a deduction in price being paid to the farmer,” said Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter corn and grain sorghum specialist.

Approximately 65 percent of the state’s 75,000 acres of sorghum has been harvested. Before the rain, Fromme said that yields for sorghum were running in the 110-to-130-bushel range, which is excellent for Louisiana. “We were getting reports of a few fields in the 140-to-150-bushel range.”

There are few remedies available to farmers when weather conditions promote germination. The best solution is to promptly harvest the grain, but field conditions are not allowing harvesting. According to Fromme, grain sorghum can be harvested at higher moisture levels, but drying it in grain bins is an added cost.

According to preliminary figures provided by AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry, losses for grain sorghum are approximately $415,000, which is low because of less-than-average sorghum acreage this year.

Corn, while escaping major damage from the flood, still suffered losses of nearly $11 million, according to Guidry’s early figures.

The corn crop is still hanging on. We haven’t seen a lot of lodging, which would make harvesting very difficult,” Fromme said. Lodging is the term used when crops fall over from water or wind damage.

Only about 30 percent of the state’s corn acreage has been harvested. With approximately 380,000 acres left to harvest, farmers are anxious to get back into the fields.

Prior to the rain, yields were encouraging. We had a lot of reports in the 180-to-200-bushel range,” Fromme said.

Fromme expected this year’s statewide yield to be slightly lower than previous years because of the flooding that struck north Louisiana this spring, where much of the state’s corn acreage is located. The spring flood led to a later planted corn crop, which results in lower yields. The recent floods will complicate the harvest and could also adversely affect yields.

Any additional rainfall may cause further losses in yield and grain quality.