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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

December 26, 2013

Record Breaking Year For Louisiana Agriculture

For all major agricultural commodities, 2013 was a good year, making it the second year in a row Louisiana farmers saw high yields and good prices, according to LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry.

"We've had about as good a year as we could," Guidry said. "We're going to set state records in terms of yields for most of our row crop commodities."

Corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, cotton and rice all had record yields. While wheat and sugarcane didn't set records, yields were still high.

The prices farmers received for their crops in 2013 came down slightly from the high prices they saw in 2012.

"From a historical standpoint, the prices were still very strong - just maybe not to the prices that we saw in 2012," Guidry said.

Farmers are still operating without a permanent farm bill, which leaves some uncertainty heading in 2014. Guidry said this uncertainty makes it extremely difficult for farmers to decide which crops to plant and how many acres.

Guidry predicts that some acreage will shift in 2014 because of falling prices in corn.

"Corn doesn't nearly have the same advantage over soybeans in terms of profitability per acre that we've seen in the last few years," he said.

Guidry said some corn acreage will move into soybeans. Cotton, which has seen historically low acres, could pick up a few more in 2014. "I think we will see some producers who prefer to grow cotton but didn't because of high corn prices - these farmers will move back into cotton."

Fuel and fertilizer costs were down in 2013, and Guidry said this trend is expected to continue in 2014.

Louisiana set a record for the value of agriculture in 2012, based on record or near-record yields for many commodities, coupled with historically high prices. It is still too early to predict what the total farm gate value will be for 2013, but Guidry said there is potential to reach last year's record.

High Quality Corn Ready To Market

Record production, high quality, and minor weather-related impacts are the top-line findings of the 2013/2014 Corn Harvest Quality Report, released by the U.S. Grains Council.

Total U.S. corn production of 13,989 million bushels (355.3 million metric tons) is an all-time record, and the average yield of 160.4 bushels/acre (10.1 tons/hectare) is the second highest on record. Weather was again the challenge, as a cold and wet spring delayed planting across much of the cornbelt. Some areas also experienced flash-drought conditions in mid-summer, although this was generally offset by cooler temperatures.

These weather adversities slightly reduced planted acreage and yield, while harvest quality remained very high. As compared to prior years, weather related impacts were modest and predictable. Aflatoxins were significantly lower than in the 2012 crop, with 99.4 percent of the samples testing below the FDA aflatoxin action level of 20 parts per billion. Starch content was up, while protein content, which is inversely related to starch, was down slightly. Oil content was similar to 2011 and 2012. Moisture content, reflecting weather conditions, was slightly higher, as were stress cracks, but total damage levels remained very low, comparable to 2012 and below 2011 levels. Average test weight remained well above the limit for No. 1 grade corn, indicating overall good quality.

Corn quality will be affected by further handling, so the Council annually publishes a second report, the Corn Export Quality Report, which assesses quality at the point of loading for international shipment. The 2013/2014 Export Quality Report will be published in March 2014.

January Rice Clinics

The LSU AgCenter will conduct a series of rice clinics in January throughout the rice-growing areas of Louisiana to help farmers get ready for the upcoming crop year. Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, said farmers will be able to get advice about key decisions they must make early in the year, including variety selection and field preparations.

"Topics to be covered in the clinics will include controlling weeds, insects and diseases," Linscombe said. "We also will talk about our research to be conducted in 2014 for new variety development and agronomic practices, in addition to an economic outlook for rice."

The sessions will be held on the following dates:

- Jan. 6 in Bunkie at the Masonic Lodge, 300 Floyd St., starting at 8:15 a.m.

- Jan. 7 in Welsh at the Welsh Community Center, 101 Palmer St., starting at 8 a.m.

- Jan. 8 in Ville Platte at the Civic Center, 704 N. Soileau St., starting at 8 a.m.

- Jan. 9 in Crowley at the Acadia Parish Extension Office, 157 Cherokee Drive, starting at 8 a.m.

- Jan. 10 in Kaplan at the American Legion Hall, 1504 American Legion Road, starting at 8 a.m.

- Jan. 29 in Rayville at the Rayville Civic Center, 827 Louisa St., starting at 9:25 a.m.

Accepting nominations for the 2014 Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction

We are accepting nominations for the 2014 Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction. Nominations are open to anyone connected with Louisiana agriculture including any person who has passed away. Nomination forms can be found at our website. Just click on the logo at left.

A panel representing the Louisiana Farm Bureau Agri-News Radio Network, LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will select the inductees. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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