Saturday, July 16, 2011

Way, and I Mean Way, Down South

So I was on a fertilizer mission to LA last week. No, not Los Angeles, but Southern Louisiana. I reported from there last March about how we were planning some research plots there this year. This was my mid-season visit. I was accompanied by Sales Account Manager Reid Abbot and Agronomy Manager Alan Parkinson. Now these were replicated plots conducted by contract researchers, or independent researchers who conduct fresearch plots for various agricultural companies. For a fee, of course. Below we see Reid taking a look at a cotton plant in a plot. Reid works a lot with cotton in South Texas where he lives. The cotton looks great. Couldn't really see any treatment differences at this time. A crop where we have customer use, but not much research, is sugarcane. We have several different comparisons here with Liquid fertilizer where dry P and K fertilizers and 32% UAN are the norms. Below Alan surveys a plot. Not much sugarcane in Idaho where Alan lives though.
Sugarcane is a pretty tough plant. The leaf edges are very stiff and sharp due to sharp barbs along the margins. The picture below is a shot through a had lens showing the barbs.
At another location we have some rice fertilizer test plots. Again, we are mainly comparing the normal dry program with a Liquid program. They all look good, and couldn't really tell any differences at this time. There are quite a few acres in Arkansas using Liquid fertilizer with good success.
The rice heads are out and they are flowering now. It was pretty to see.

In this part of the South, rice is grown in rotation with soybeans. Now rice ground is poorly drained, and usually high in magnesium, so it is tight. Since the land is so flat, and there is normally a lot of rain in the South, this ground can become very saturated and even flooded. So in this test we are simulating the effects of heavy rainfall on soybeans, such that they are turned yellow. We want to see if application of foliar fertilizers will enhance recovery. Now as it turns out, this part of the South is experiencing drought this summer. So these plots are actually in small rice plot levees where flood water can be introduced. The plots below had water on them for up to five days, and then removed. The beans turned yellow, and were sprayed three days ago. So we will see.

We also visited several farm fields that had been sprayed with foliar fertilizers. One problem around here is wild hogs, a.k.a. ferel pigs. They come out and ruin portions of soybeans fields. We could see hoof prints. There were several areas like this. We were told that this is tiny damage compared to some fields that have very large areas of damage.

Speaking of pigs, as you may know, one of my favorite things to do while visiting Louisiana is to eat Cajun food. Now many years ago I ate at a restaurant in New Orleans called Mulates. But the original restaurant is in Breaux Bridge, just East of Lafayette. So there we went, had a great dinner and listed to a Cajun band there. In fact, this place is a Who's Who of well-know Cajun bands that have played there. So it was a great evening.

And a great fertilizer research mission as well.