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|Farmers enduring credit crunch, uncertainty|
Instead of deciding how many acres will be devoted to various crops next spring, many Concordia farmers are wondering nowadays if they'll have credit to operate.
"That's a big issue right now," said County Agent Glen Daniels. "The deal is cash flow and many farmers are unsure if they'll have any."
Due to drought conditions during much of the growing season, many farmers were satisfied with the crops they were harvesting in late summer, Daniels said. In August, the rice harvest was yielding 200 bushels per acre and cotton yields were about 1,000 pounds per acre.
Then, on Labor Day, Sept. 1, 2008, the winds and rains of Hurricane Gustav moved in. About 20 inches of rain flooded crops, wiping out more than half of the cotton.
Daniels looks for cotton acreage to continue a decline in Concordia when planting begins next spring and expects another increase in soybean acreage.
He said cotton acreage totaled 30,000 acres this year with only about 2,000 acres harvested prior to Gustav.
"We had picked very little cotton," he said. "Probably 60 percent of the cotton crop was destroyed and of the fields that were harvested, the yield was down by half, about 500 pounds per acre."
Daniels said one Concordia gin, with an average harvest output of 24,000 pounds, ginned only 2,400 pounds this fall. Some area gins didn't produce a single bale, said Daniels.
While some farmers booked their cotton for 90 cents a pound this past season, he said the price now "is below 39 cents a pound."
Soybean acreage totaled 67,000 acres this year. Forty-five percent of the crop was a total loss and another 20 to 30 percent heavily damaged, said Daniels.
Farmers who were able to salvage their soybeans recorded an average yield of 25 bushels an acre.
"We'll see an increase in soybean acreage next year because cotton prices are so low," said Daniels.
He said rice yields were in the 200-bushel range prior to the hurricane before dropping to a 125-bushel average.
"We were already going through a drought before the hurricane hit," said Daniels. "That impacted our yields."
Wheat acreage was about 6,000 this year, but will like drop by half next year, Daniels said.
"Basic costs are up and farmers need to continue putting nutrients back in the soil," said Daniels. "Phosphate and potash is so high right now it's basically unaffordable."
"This past harvest was the worst I've ever seen," said Daniels, who has more than three decades experience as a county agent.
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