Farmers are usually worried about something, whether it’s yields, crop prices or the cost of fertilizer. Currently in Louisiana, most of their concerns surround the extent of the drought they’re enduring, especially in the northwest region, where it began more than a year ago. According to the National Weather Service, northwest Louisiana has had 9.69 inches of rain since January. During the same period in 2010, there were 10.66 inches of rain. The average rainfall for this time period is 14.39 inches. In Baton Rouge, 14.27 inches of rain have fallen this year, well below the average rainfall of 18.35 inches.
While farmers admit the precipitation levels are at a critical stage, they say it’s still too early in the planting season to panic. The situation has not become dire, as it was in 1998, when farmers suffered through one of the hottest, driest springs and summers in recent memory, followed by heavy rains in the fall. Johnny LaVasseur, LSU AgCenter agent for Caddo Parish, says the drought of 1998 resulted in terrible yields for farmers. “It was a really devastating year for the majority of farmers in the area,” he says. “We are still a ways away from being where it was in 1998, but the (drought) is starting to weigh on the crops pretty heavy.”