Damaged soybeans as the result of excess moisture at harvest time. Many farmers are having trouble selling their soybeans because the damage amount exceeds the limits set by buyers. (Photo by Todd Spivey/LSU AgCenter)
Wet weather causes problems for soybean farmers
The 2018 soybean harvest started well for most farmers, however the tides have changed, putting farmers in a situation where a large portion of the crop is being left in the field.
Local farmer, Richard Fontenot, who farms with his brother in the Vidrine area, said, “50 percent of soybeans in Louisiana are being left in the field due to field damage. And, of the 50 pct. being harvested, only half of it is being marketed.”
According to Richard, of the 25,000 acres of soybeans planted in Evangeline Parish, only 25 pct. is ready for the market at this time. This “phenomenon,” as Richard called it, has forced him and his brother Neal to leave more crops in the field then they have in the last 20 years.
The wet weather recently experienced in the state has played a crucial role in the problem soybean farmers are facing.
In terms of this issue, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Todd Spivey said, “Because of this wet weather, many producers have not been able to harvest a crop that has been ready to harvest for as long as three weeks. This extended period of wet conditions has reduced grain quality tremendously, with samples harvested by producers being graded with as much as 60 pct. total damage. This has led to countless acres that will go unharvested in 2018.”
According to Spivey, who made a recent visit to Evangeline Parish, during the first two and half weeks of September, “harvest had been progressing quickly.” However, he said, harvesting “has since stalled with only three pct. of the statewide crop being harvested from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30, compared to 15 pct. in the week prior.”
With the soybean crop being left in the field, the next issue that arises for farmers is the fact that grain quality is becoming reduced. This causes a problem when it comes to storing and selling their product.
Some grain elevators, or places to store the crop once harvested, are not accepting soybeans with a total damage over five pct.
According to LSU AgCenter County Agent Todd Fontenot, when it comes to storing the soybean crop, one thing some farmers in Evangeline Parish have going for them is the fact that they have their own storage facility. This he said is because a lot of soybean farmers in Evangeline are also rice farmers who have their own grain bins for their rice.
Todd said, “The advantage to having your own grain bin is that some farmers can try to make room to store some of their soybean crop. However, that doesn’t mean their product will make it to market to be sold. It’s a very sticky and sever situation our farmers are facing right now.”
Soybean farmers are also now making less money selling their crop due to newly imposed tariffs.
“We took a 20 pct. hit in the price of soybeans because of tariffs that are a result of the Trump administration,” said Richard. “Farmers are the ultimate optimists though, so we are hoping this issue can be resolved. It is still a little to early to tell if that will make the market change. But we are optimistic that trade negotiations with Mexico and Canada regarding the NAFTA agreement will resolve some of these issues.”
Richard, along with others in the agriculture business, are set to have a meeting in New Orleans this Friday with leaders including Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain to discuss the issues farmers in Louisiana are facing and how this problem can be solved. Look for an update from this meeting in a future edition of the Ville Platte Gazette.