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Story Archives: Rain hinders harvests
|Rain hinders harvests|
Despite more than six inches of rain in recent days, the Franklin Parish sweet potato crop is still relatively safe, according to LSU AgCenter researcher Tara Smith.
Smith pointed out the rains have been much lighter in Franklin than in neighboring parishes, where as much as twelve inches of rain have fallen in recent weeks.
However, Smith said the harvest window is growing narrow because of the weather.
"It needs to quit," said Smith, who specializes in sweet potatoes for the AgCenter. "It's going to put a damper on a good crop."
One contributing factor to the continuing health of the crop is the way the rains have fallen in the area.
While sweet potato producers in northern parishes have seen heavy rains which have soaked into the soil, Smith said Franklin Parish have been incremental.
"The crop has been able to handle that," Smith said.
However, Smith did warn that the region will need 5 to 6 weeks of favorable weather to complete the harvest before another major threat sets in.
"It's reasonable to assume we'll have an early, light frost towards the end of the month or early next month," Smith said. "So we need to get the crop out of the ground."
Also, Smith suggested another round of heavy precipitation could be devastating.
"If a major rain comes, it will definitely cause some problems," Smith said.
Overall, though, the Franklin Parish sweet potato crop still looks promising.
Smith said producers should expect an average crop, which is good news to growers hit hard last year by flash floods and more than two weeks of torrential downpours thanks to Hurricane Gustav.
"It's not like last year," Smith said.
Two other area cash crops are starting to feel the brunt of the weather, according to Buckshot Sims.
An agriculture consultant and farmer, Sims said the area needs the weather to change before it severely impacts cotton and soybean crops.
"We need some dry weather," said Sims. "Sun, wind, everything because it's definitely affecting the soybeans and the cotton that's still in the field.
Sims said cotton harvesting in the area has been slowed by the weather.
"We were just really getting started," Sims said. "We're just barely into the harvest."
Cotton quality is the biggest concern now, as wet cotton can lead to boll rot. Sims said it is too soon to guess how well the bulk of the cotton crop has faired.
"It's just hard to say," Sims said. "Maybe next week we'll have a better picture."
Soybeans also have taken a hit thanks to the wet weather.
While the harvest was farther along than cotton, Sims said continued rains are threatening beans still in the field.
"Anytime you get rain like this, the quality of the bean suffers," Sims said. "Another thing is the condition of our fields to harvest in."
The rains have made it difficult for farmers to get into the fields and harvest their crops.
Sims said without a run of dry weather, a decent growing year could turn dismal quickly.
"It needs to clear out, quick," Sims said.