Farmland occupies 3.3 million hectares (8.1 million acres), or 30 percent of the total area of Louisiana. Crops are raised on 58 percent of all farmland in the state. Most of the remaining farmland is used for pasture.
Crops accounted for 60 percent of farm income in Louisiana in 2006. Cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, rice, and corn are the most important crops and were the top agricultural products overall in 1996, according to cash value. Soybeans for a time was the leading crop harvested but its production has recently declined. Livestock and livestock products accounted for 40 percent of all farm income in 2006. Poultry, broilers (young chickens used for meat), and eggs are the most economically important livestock.
There were 30,000 farms in the state in 2008, averaging 108 hectares (268 acres) in size. The largest farms are the highly mechanized farms located in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and in the sugar- and rice-producing areas of the West Gulf Coastal Plain.
The five leading crops are cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, rice, and corn. In 1997 Louisiana ranked sixth in the United States in production of cotton, second in sugarcane (behind Florida), and third in the production of rice (behind Arkansas and California). Cotton is grown primarily on the fertile bottomlands of the Mississippi and Red river valleys, and sugarcane chiefly on the bottomlands of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain south of Baton Rouge and west of New Orleans. The raising of soybeans, used mostly as livestock feed, increased rapidly from the early 1960s to become the most important crop in the 1970s and early 1980s but has since declined.
Rice is grown on the prairie sections east of Lake Charles, in the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Another important crop is corn, which is used both for human consumption and as animal feed. Mechanization and other advances in technology have dramatically changed agriculture since the 1940s, leading to larger farms with fewer laborers. Improved species and new crops have also affected this sector of the economy. Government farm programs dating from the 1930s add to the list of influences affecting the acreage planted and value of crops produced in the state. In 1997 Louisiana ranked second in the production of sweet potatoes, behind North Carolina. Specialty crops grown in the state include pecans, strawberries, peaches, peppers, perique tobacco, and tung nuts. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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