LSU AgCenter specialists are in the process of collecting information about the damage to agricultural commodities across the state as a result of Hurricane Isaac. But to a large extent, the actual dollar losses will depend on weather conditions over the next few weeks.
Kurt Guidry, AgCenter economist, puts a rough figure of about $92 million so far in crop yield losses from Isaac, adding that he has no numbers yet on losses in the livestock industry. His estimate includes sugarcane, rice, corn, cotton, sweet potatoes, grain sorghum and pecans.
“That only includes estimates on yield losses – not increased production costs or quality damage,” Guidry said.
Guidry will continue to gather information from assessments being conducted statewide by county agents and commodity production specialists.
“This ongoing effort could lead to additional impacts being identified for these commodities as well as other commodities,” he said.
He said if rain continues, many farmers will likely experience delayed harvest, increased harvest costs and increased quality losses for their crops. But dry weather with some sunshine would help limit some of the losses producers may face, especially with sugarcane.
Kenneth Gravois, AgCenter sugarcane specialist, said dry weather and sunshine can help sugarcane blown over by fierce winds right itself and recover.
“The true extent of any sugarcane loss won’t be known until harvest,” he said, adding that maturity will be delayed, and the cost of harvest and planting will be increased.
So far, there appear to be no losses in the poultry industry, which is Louisiana’s largest animal industry. Assessment of the beef cattle business is continuing.
“Based on the path of the storm, it would appear that the most significant impacts to the cattle industry will be confined to the southeastern portion of the state,” Guidry said.
Dairy farmers had to deal with some isolated cases of fences being damaged, said Ronnie Bardwell, extension dairy agent at the Southeast Research Station in Franklinton. He said there may be some temporary decline in production because of cow stress.
After natural disasters, such as hurricanes, LSU AgCenter economists put together as quickly as possible numbers for losses, which are then used by farmers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. AgCenter commodity specialists gather information from farmers and extension agents in the affected parishes.