Diseases and weather are being blamed for a drastic drop in Louisiana’s wheat acreage, which LSU AgCenter experts said covered about 150,000 acres three years ago and now covers just 16,000.
The experts, speaking at an April 19 LSU AgCenter field day, said fusarium head blight, a wheat fungal disease also known as scab, is the main reason for the acreage reduction.
“It’s been a devastating disease for the state, and this is the third year in a row that it has just killed us,” AgCenter plant pathologist Trey Price said.
Available fungicides have been marginally effective, Price said, adding that the fungicides cannot be properly applied when it’s raining. Two other diseases also have appeared within recent weeks, adding to the problems Louisiana farmers are experiencing with their wheat crops.
“Producers have had their backs against the wall,” said AgCenter wheat specialist Boyd Padgett.
Still, AgCenter experts said wheat remains a good fit for a farm rotation system, and the additional revenue generated from the crop will benefit farmers when operating costs increase in the early spring.
“Fusarium is a big problem. Stripe rust has been a problem. And growers have faced a lot of other issues,” said AgCenter wheat and oat breeder Steve Harrison. “But there are new varieties coming that will help solve some of those issues.”