Variety Development – Bayou Bengals Edition

March 8, 2022 in Crops

Variety Development – Bayou Bengals Edition

New Orleans Hosting the 2022 Commodity Classic

Medius Ag will be heading out on the road again this week, this time to New Orleans, Louisiana for the annual Commodity Classic scheduled for March 10-12. The Classic bills itself as “the largest farmer-owned, farmer-run trade show event and is produced by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.”

Just like the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis last month, Medius will be a first-time exhibitor at the show and is excited to meet the farmers, researchers, and industry professionals who will also be attending the show. Nearly 400 exhibitors and thousands of attendees are expected to descend on the Crescent City to learn about new products, technologies, and best practices that can improve their businesses, whether on the farm, in the lab, or in the office. Medius Ag is proud to be exhibiting as a provider of the next generation of digital tools that empower farmers and researchers to save time and money through better decisions and actionable data. 

Since a trip to The Big Easy is in our near future, a snapshot of Louisiana’s agricultural landscape is in order. After all, the state is not limited to beignets and beads! So, without further introduction, let’s embark on our next stop of America’s Best Idea Tour. 

First, some basic facts about the State of Louisiana:

With that snapshot in hand, let’s take a closer look at individual crop values within the state. Although not included in USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates for 2021, Louisiana’s sugarcane industry led the state’s field crop in 2020 at $711 million in production value. Our opportunities to focus on sugarcane production are few and far between since production is reported in only three states: Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. If you’re like us then you’d probably benefit from this informative Louisiana sugarcane explainer video from the American Sugar Cane League

After sugarcane, at $695 million soybeans are the most valuable field crop in Louisiana according to 2021 NASS data. Corn follows right behind in the third spot at $538 million. In the fourth spot is rice, which is another crop unique to Louisiana and a handful of others. In fact, only six states reported production in 2020. By production value, those states include Arkansas ($1.34B), California ($1.02B), Louisiana ($406M), Texas ($194M), Missouri ($188M), and Mississippi ($153M). At $83 million in value, cotton plays an important role in Louisiana’s agricultural economy. And finally, sweet potato production in the state tallied $43.4 million in value in 2017. 

So how are Louisiana’s agricultural research needs adequately addressed? To start, they have Louisiana State University (founded in 1860) and Southern University and A&M College (founded in 1880). Both land-grant universities call Baton Rouge home. Most variety development and testing activities are housed within LSU’s College of Agriculture and its AgCenter, which together include all research, extension, and education activities. 

LSU centralizes much of its respective crop research geographically at one of its 15 research stations across the state. For example, the rice breeding program and variety trialing activities can be found at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley, Louisiana. Meanwhile, LSU’s sweet potato breeding program–one of only three active breeding programs in the U.S.–can be found at the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station in Chase. 

“It [The Sweet Potato Research Station] is the only facility of its kind devoted solely to sweet potato research.”

LSU AgCenter

You can also find most of LSU’s sugar research at the Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel, soybean breeding at the Red River Research Station, and pecan research at the Pecan Research and Extension Station in Bossier City. In addition, variety trials for corn, soybeans, cotton, sorghum, and small grains can be found at several locations throughout the state. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this very brief stop on our land-grant university journey as we surveyed the agricultural offerings of a truly unique state that just so happens to also be a key producer of some unique crops in the United States. If you’re planning to head to the Big Easy this week for the Commodity Classic, we hope you’ll make plans to come by and visit with us in Booth # 1809! 

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