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|Heavy rainfall thwarts harvest|
More than twice the normal rainfall in the month of August has some area farmers beginning to worry about timely harvests.
LSU AgCenter's Bill McLemore at the sweet potato research station said almost 7 inches have fallen since Aug. 3.
That's more than double the normal amount of rain for the month. Typically, 3.5 inches of rain will fall in August.
Heavy rain means wet fields and that has farmers concerned the corn crops might begin to show signs of damage.
Franklin Parish farmer Jesse Young said corn and cotton are beginning to show weather-related wear.
"There's quite a bit of damage to the cotton and corn," said Young. "I guess we got about 8.5 inches here."
Early cotton had already gone to lint when the first rains came earlier this month. That means wet fibers which could stain.
Also, unirrigated cotton planted on some fields had been stunted by the summer heat and has now entered a second growth spurt, meaning bolls lower on the plant are beginning to show signs of rot.
The most pressing concern for corn producers is getting the crops out of the fields before stalks become too brittle and begin to fall.
"Once it's flat on the ground, it's almost impossible to pick it up and harvest," Young said.
Even though Franklin Parish is ahead of the mark for August precipitation, McLemore said we're still behind on the year-to-date mark.
At the end of August, year-to-date precipitation should be around 36 inches. So far, Franklin Parish has only seen 32 inches.
"So we're still 6 inches behind," McLemore said.
Area corn and soybean producers are looking for a window of dry weather to give them an opportunity to get into the fields without damaging the ground.
"Most of these fields we plant back on the same rows year after year," Young said.
Harvesting a wet field damages the rows and means repairing and retilling land.
"We've got to harvest the crop but it will do some damage to the land," Young said.
With the crops still in the field well into the harvest, Young and other producers are keeping an eye on the skies, looking for dry weather.
One thing is on the minds of farmers, however.
That's Hurricane Gustav, in the Caribbean.
Though it's still days away from landfall in the United States, Young said farmers are already watching it, hoping it goes somewhere other than here.