Area crops doing well, farmers say

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Just last week, &uot;it had gotten so dry that our crop began to stress out,&uot; according to Vidalia farmer and consultant Cecil Parker.

But thanks to Monday night’s rains, Concordia Parish crops are stressed no more, said parish farmers and County Agent Glen Daniels.

As of Sunday, the area’s rainfall was three inches above normal for the year to date, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most areas of Concordia Parish received two inches of rain Monday night, Daniels said.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;But the cool temperatures and winds have been drying up our (soil’s) top moisture, and April’s been a dry month anyway,&uot; said Ferriday farmer A.J. Vangilder. &uot;We actually needed this rain.&uot;

&uot;It had gotten so dry that our crop began to stress out,&uot; Parker said. &uot;The corn, especially, had begun to need the rain. Now it looks good, and we probably won’t need rain for another two weeks.&uot;

Earlier this month, heavy rainfall delayed planting of corn and caused some farmers to plant those acres in other crops – if they could afford to invest in crops with higher production costs, such as cotton.

As of result, less corn – 28,000 acres, versus 30,000 acres in a typical year – and more cotton – 50,000 acres versus a usual 46,000 acres – will be planted this year, Daniels estimated.

But planting has almost caught up, Daniels said. Almost all of Concordia Parish’s corn has been planted by now. And at least 60 percent of milo, 50 percent of cotton and 45 percent of soybeans have been planted.

Fewer soybeans will be planted this year, about 70,000 acres compared with 75,000 acres in a typical year. &uot;That’s because the price for soybeans is so low,&uot; Daniels said.

The price of soybeans has fallen from 569 cents to 433 1/4 cents per bushel in the last year. Meanwhile, cotton’s price has fallen from 56.72 cents to 44.60 cents per pound, and corn has dropped from 258 3/4 cents to 230 cents per bushel.

Other than low prices, the only major problems this year’s crop is facing so far are low temperatures and armyworms.

Higher temperatures are needed to warm the soil up enough for cotton to grow, and so far this spring has been unseasonably cool, Vangilder said.

And extensive use of herbicide has killed the grasses and weeds on which armyworms feed, causing them to feed on neighboring rows of sorghum and corn, Daniels said.

&uot;But so far, the crop looks good,&uot; Daniels said.sample head: Concordia jobless rate remains Louisiana’s fourth-highest

From staff and wire reports

VIDALIA, La. – Concordia Parish’s unemployment rate fell slightly from February to March but remained the state’s fourth-highest.

Concordia posted a jobless rate of 13.4 percent in March, down from 13.5 percent in February, according to figures released Wednesday by the Louisiana Department of Labor.

Catahoula Parish reported an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent in March, up from 13 percent the month before. Tensas Parish posted a jobless rate of 10.1 percent, the same as February.

For the state as a whole, year-to-year growth in non-farm jobs, a key barometer of the state’s economic health, slowed somewhat in March although the state hovered near record employment.

Service-producing jobs continued to far outstrip the creation of goods-producing jobs, although the current boom in natural gas and oil prices has added 3,900 petroleum jobs over the past year.

Louisiana had 30,800 more non-farm jobs last month than in March 2000. The February-to-February comparison showed 34,100 more non-farm positions. The seasonally adjusted non-farm figure for March was the second-highest level in state history, said Labor Secretary Garey Forster.

The jobless rate for March was 5.6 percent, unchanged from February. In March 2000, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.

Because the unemployment rate is subject to several variables, including the number of people collecting jobless benefits and those actively seeking work, economists prefer to use year-to-year comparisons of non-farm job growth.

In March, there were 6,400 more goods-producing jobs than a year ago. Besides the jump in petroleum-related employment, there were 5,400 more construction jobs. However, manufacturing was down by 2,900 jobs.

The service-producing sector was fueled by 15,100 more jobs in the general services category and 9,700 more positions in retail trade.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas:

4Baton Rouge had 8,200 more non-farm jobs than a year ago, including 1,700 in goods-producing and 6,500 in the service-producing sector.

4New Orleans was down by 100 jobs. A 500-job gain in the goods-producing sector was offset by a 900-job decline in the service-producing sector, which has been responsible for the lion’s share of the area’s gains for much of the past decade.

The petroleum industry, which has been shrinking constantly in the area since the early 1990s, had 800 more jobs in March than a year ago.

4Shreveport-Bossier was up by 3,800 non-farm jobs, all but 200 in the service-producing sector.

4Alexandria had 700 more non-farm jobs, all but 100 in the service-producing sector.

4Houma-Thibodaux was up by 3,700 non-farm jobs, including 800 in petroleum, 300 in manufacturing and 100 in construction. The oil-dependent area also added 600 service-producing jobs.

4Lafayette had 5,800 more non-farm jobs than a year ago, including 1,500 in petroleum. All goods-producing sectors rose by 2,000 jobs, while the service-producing sector added 3,800 jobs.

4Lake Charles lost 400 non-farm jobs, consisting of a gain of 200 service-producing jobs and a loss of 600 goods-producing jobs.

4Monroe gained 2,600 non-farm jobs, all but 100 in the service-producing sector.