Heavy rains may be too much for LA farming industry

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana's agriculture industry lives and dies by rainfall or the lack of it. But this week's deluge means different things out in the fields of Louisiana, depending on the crop.

The week's wet weather is proof that too much of a good thing may not be such a good thing.

"Our farmers have been experiencing drought the last couple of years, so the rain had been good for them. But now, with this much rain at one time, we've had a good bit of saturation and the water is not draining off as quickly as we'd like," said Copper Alvarez, with the Red Stick Farmer's Market.

Alvarez says what's saving crops for dozens of farmers is the fact that they planted them before the heavy rains started.

"If the crop is already growing, it's got a better chance of survival in just rain than if you planted new seeds or new crops because those sometimes get washed away," said Alvarez.

As far as crawfish farming goes, many may believe that heavy rains are actually helpful to the industry. Researchers say that's not the case.

"This time of the year, usually if you've got a rain event that comes through and the cool rain freshens up the pond, and the crawfish like that," said Dr. Greg Lutz, a professor at LSU's Aquaculture Research Center. "They get to move more, and the water is a little cleaner for them."

Lutz says the amount of rainfall this past week could actually flood some crawfish ponds and cause a number of problems.

"Wild fish, trash fish come into the pond...things like bullheads and green sun fish. And a bullhead catfish, between now and the end of the season can eat a sack of crawfish all by itself," said Lutz.

Dr. Lutz says more rain could mean farmers will not harvest as many crawfish. But since it's a time of the year when prices are already high, it's too early to tell how prices will be impacted later in the season.

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