Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Cajun Files

So I was on yet another fertilizer mission this week.  I went down to one of my favorite areas to visit: Louisiana.  We have had some contract research down between Alexandria and Lafayette for 3 years now, and have had some very good results that I have even reported in the AgroLiquid newletter.  Below we see SAM Reid looking at some sugarcane in a plot with one of our contract researchers.  This is the third year, or the second stubble crop (as the first crop from the planted cane is called the plant cane crop).  Usually this will be the last crop for this cane, as production begins to drop off after the second stubble crop.  Some keep it for a third stubble crop, but usually it is time to replant. Plots are looking good though.
Here is a nearby grower field that has existing cane next to a field that will be planted in August or September.  The way they do it is to lay in stalks of sugarcane in furrows in the bed, with about a 10% overlap of the pieces.  Then they are covered up.  They usually don't put fertilizer on in the fall in Louisiana as they don't want to promote fall growth prior to winter.  At planting, they don't like to cut the cane into smaller pieces due to concerns of disease in the cut pieces.  I have never seen this with my own eyes, but think it would be somethig to experience.  Then the cane sends out shoots the next spring and then this plant cane crop is harvested in the fall.  They said there is around 70,000 acres of sugarcane in this county south of Alexandria.  But the mill is around 100 miles away.
After that we went to another location where we have some plots in cotton.  It has been a difficult year for growers here due to considerable rain and cool weather.  The cotton was planted on May 21, but crusting resulted from heavy rain and no crop emergence.  So it was re-planted on June 5 by planting in the same spot with no additional fertilizer.  Below we see Reid discussing something important with the researcher.
Here is the cotton test as it looked yesterday.  There is a good stand now.  We have a number of replicated treatments evaluating planter fertilizers, different nitrogens, experimentals and foliars.  They had just sidedressed the nitrogen a few days prior to our visit.
The fertilizer recommendation was for  85-65-65 of N-Phosphate-potassium (as K2O potash) pounds per acre.  Below is a check treatment that just had nitrogen and no P or K.
Next is the grower standard for the area of a broadcast dry fertilizer and sidedress with 32% UAN.  I think the plants are a little bigger.
And here is a treatment with AgroLiquid fertilizer.  Now our recommendation is not to exceed 3 gal/A on the seed in-furrrow.  So the extra fertilizer was part of the pre-plant broadcast.  This is why I am anxious to try the Ag Xcel planter fertilizer tool on more crops like this here cotton.  Hopefully next year.  But I do think it looks better than the other cotton.  Hopefully the yield proves it.  Again, there are many other treatments being evaluated in this experiment.  I hope I can come back later to see how it looks all bolled up.
We also have some fertilizer treatments on soybeans.  Again because of the wet spring, these were just planted recently on June 24.  But they will certainly grow to maturity.  They were just cracking through.  These are in 19 inch rows.  That is because cotton is often planted in 38 inch rows, and this just puts a row down the middle of that spacing.  Again we have some test fertilizers both through the planter and foliars. 
Now, we got done with business stuff in late afternoon.  So that gave me some time to find something interesting to experience while in Louisiana.  You know how you look at a map and there are points of interest written in red, like historic sites and the like.  Well, South of Lafayette there was something called Rip Van Winkle Gardens.  Now who wouldn't want to see that?  As we learned after arrival, it was originally owned by a rich actor in the late 1800's named Joe Jefferson.  He was wealthy and wanted a place to hunt and fish, and bought this site that was actually on a salt dome.  He built the mansion below in 1870.  So why Rip Van Winkle?  Well after he died, his family sold it and the person who bought it named it after a role that old Joe made famous in his acting days.  Elaborate gardens were planted around the place.  I just feel sorry for the poor guy that had to mow that lawn back before there were riding lawnmowers.
There are southern live oaks all over with Spanish moss.  Looks cool.
And Joe Jefferson, being a famous actor and all, knew lots of other famous people who would come down to spend time here.  One was President Grover Cleveland who would often take siestas beneath this 350 year old oak tree.  So now it is called the Cleveland Oak.  I didn't know that Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.  That was in 1884 and 1892.  He actually won the popular vote in 1888, but lost the electoral vote to Benjamin Harrison.  Not sure if President Harrison also took siestas here as there is no Harrison oak. (See how much you learn from this blog!)
Now another farmous event occurred here on November 20, 1980.  There is a Lake Peigneur (pronounced Pen yore) next to this property.  It used to be a shallow (10 feet deep) fresh water lake.  The Jefferson property was on a salt dome, and there was a very large salt mine underground that had been around since 1919.  Well, on this lake there was also a Texaco oil derrick, as there is often oil around these salt domes.  Due to a miscalculation, the 14 inch oil bit penetrated the salt mine, causing a massive whirlpool that sucked in the derrick and barges that were on the lake at the time, as the water filled the massive mine.  It also sucked in a house that was attached to this chimney in the picture.  There were 65 acres of land that were lost to the accident.  Fortunately the 55 miners got out safely as well as the crew on the oil derrick.  But there was a canal that drained out from the lake to the Gulf of Mexico, and the suction of water into the mine caused the water to reverse.  This brought in salt water, and today the lake is salt water where it used to be fresh water.  Naturally there were settlements and compensation by Texaco.  But I sure don't recall that event, even though it was a pretty big deal.  So I learned something else!
So make it a point to visit some of those red ink spots on a map.  You never know what you will find.
Oh yes, the cajun food was excellent.  You havent lived until you have eaten some boudin balls!