farming

Poppy Tooker

Evan McCommon has been converting his family's timber ranch into a biodiverse farm. The changes have been slow, but his resolve steady as the 1,100 acres change from a dense forest to an open savannah. 

Dozens of aspiring small farmers in Central Louisiana are taking a six-week course on how to work their land and make it into a business.

For the first time, the Alexandria-based Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance or CLEDA is offering a course called “Exploring Your Small Farm Dream.”

Gary Perkins runs CLEDA’s business acceleration system. He says CLEDA partnered with LSU AgCenter to offer an overview on how to start a small farming operation.

Three new water experts have joined the research staff at LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station in Bossier City.

Economist Naveen Adusumilli is crunching the numbers on how smart irrigation techniques can benefit Louisiana farmers. He wants them to rethink how they irrigate their land and introduce them to soil moisture sensors and bookkeeping strategies that would reduce the amount of water they use on their crops and put more money in their wallet.

People planning Super Bowl crawfish boils may be out of luck. Farmers say cold has kept crawfish scarce all winter, and many ponds are now iced over.

LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist Craig Lutz says people may need to order ahead even at the peak of the season.

David Savoy of Church Point has been in the business 40 years. He says he's never seen such a slow start.

Louisiana Crawfish Promotion And Research Board director Stephen Minvielle says ponds in St. Landry Parish have up to an inch of ice, with one-third to one-half inch on ponds in New Iberia.

Guy Mouledoux

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization declared that 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming. Over the course of the next year, Louisiana Eats! will periodically profile local family farms to find out how their family farms impact our community.  

Dozens of pecan growers across Louisiana met at the LSU AgCenter Pecan Research Station in Shreveport earlier this month to discuss how proposed federal regulations could impact their operations. State pecan specialist Charlie Graham said the Food Safety Modernization Act will bring about more stringent guidelines that will be harder for small farmers to implement and adhere to. Under the proposed regulations, Graham said, pecan growers may not be able to run cattle in their orchards.

A $4 million freshwater diversion project will pump water from the Red River into depleted Red Bayou, offering farmers along the nine-mile-long waterway in northwest Louisiana summertime relief for their fields.

Water is most needed in the last months of the growing season, when as much as half of the bayou's channel is dry. Farmers currently use wells for nearly all irrigation.

By next summer, river water will pour into the bayou, providing irrigation for cotton, corn and soybeans.

The American Sugar Cane League will hold its annual meeting Feb. 5-6 in Lafayette.

The Daily Comet reports the Thibodaux-based group lobbies on cane growers and the sugar industry.

The meeting will be held at the Hilton Lafayette Hotel on Pinhook Road.

Speakers will include Jack Roney, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, and Jim Wiesemeyer, vice president of Informa Economics, a commodity, food industry and agribusiness consulting firm.

Despite uncertainty surrounding federal farm legislation, agricultural economists are optimistic about the market outlook for rice and soybeans with higher prices and more varieties expected.

The American Press reports that was the message given to more than 50 Southwest Louisiana rice and soybean growers attending an agriculture forum last week in Welsh, La.

Heavy rains in southwest Louisiana are flooding land and keeping some farmers out of the fields.

Calcasieu Parish County Agent Jimmy Meaux tells The American Press that although sugar cane harvesting is through in most areas, rice and soybean farmers are being kept from preparing their fields for the planting season.

Most farmers spend January and February getting fields in shape for spring planting, which can begin as early as March, he said.

Pages