Rough year for rice farmers after hurricanes Laura and Delta

Rough year for rice farmers after hurricanes Laura and Delta
Rough year for rice farmers after hurricanes Laura and Delta

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Whether wind or rain, farmers across Southwest Louisiana are used to adjusting to Mother Nature, but after COVID, and hurricanes Laura and Delta it hasn’t been an easy year.

Rice and crawfish farmer, Joel Stelly believes he got lucky.

“For Laura, I was fortunate I had all my crops were in the bins,” Stelly said. "I had some minor damage on some of my bins but I saved all of my rice.”

Some of his fellow farmers in Iowa, however, lost the fruits of their labor as a result of the storms.

“Some of my neighbors were less fortunate south of me,” Stelly said. "They lost rice in their bins and in their field. And the ones that were in the fields, whenever they harvested it, there was a severe crop reduction in yield due to the wind knocked the botanicals off the wind. It was a pretty tough situation for the people in this area.”

County Agent for the LSU Ag Center, Jimmy Meaux explained, not just crops were damaged by the hurricanes.

“A lot of them, their infrastructure got damaged,” Meaux said. "A lot of their bins that they harvest that they keep the rice in, got destroyed. A lot of them are damaged, they’re not about to use them anymore. A lot of their equipment, some of their equipment sheds got damaged.”

An overall rough year for rice for farmers, which Stelly said is a job hazard when you’re dealing with Mother Nature.

“Farmers cannot control Mother Nature in any aspect," Stelly said. "Some years she’s great to us, some years she takes it from us. Each year, we take what she gives us and make the best out of it.”

Meaux estimates around 80 to 100 thousand acres were damaged as a result of the hurricanes.

Copyright 2020 KPLC. All rights reserved.