For use in local newspapers, week of August 14,2014:
The irrigation pumps are running again this summer in Monterey, La., but this time they’re not putting water into the fields.
According to the National Weather Service, there are parts of the state which received more than three times the normal amount of rainfall over the last month and a half. The latest rain system dumped nearly six inches of rain in just one day on soybean fields like the ones belonging to Landon White, leaving his crops under water.
“I’m tired of it,” White said. “Very tired of the wet weather. These rains have come, not a little a time, but two and four inch rains at a time. It’s been huge rains and too much water too quickly with nowhere to go.”
If you want to know how much rain fell when the last storms passed through, all you have to do is look at Landon’s old, trusty rain gauge: nearly five inches. It’s not the first time he’s seen that this crop year.
“This is the third time I’ve had to pump water off of some of the graded fields that we have,” he said.
LSU AgCenter weather specialist Jay Grymes sympathizes with White and not just for the cost of pumps running.
“For harvesting operations, that is a serious headache,” Grymes said.
In a normal summer, Louisiana sees about five cold fronts. Grymes said those fronts not only bring rain, but also cooler temperatures which slow evaporation.
“The soil we can think of in simple terms as a can,” he said. “Once the can is full, that’s it and the water has no place to go. So, when it rains on saturated soils, it either just sits there or has to wait to run off.
“With that reduced evaporation, standing water just stays that much longer,” Grymes added. “In this situation where farmers are trying to get out into the fields, every day with standing water is costing them money.”
Eric Cooper also grows soybeans in Concordia Parish. He’s worried that his soybeans will either begin sprouting or rotting in the field. If that happens now, after he’s already fully invested in this crop with time, seed and fertilizer, it may cost him everything.
“It’d be an economic disaster for me,” Cooper said. “I mean, we’ve got crop insurance, but it’s not enough. So, we definitely need to get this crop out of the fields.”
Jay Grymes said what farmers like White and Landon need now is drier than normal weather. At least for the time being that looks promising but with so much moisture in the soil, it’s going to take a while for everything to dry out.
“From the planting day to the harvest day, too much rain means big problems through the crop cycle,” he said. “The problem basically ends up transferring into dollars lost.”