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Soybean farmers battle weeds, weather to plant
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi soybean farmers have started planting in spite of unpredictable spring weather that has brought strong wind and heavy rains to some areas while leaving other regions dry.
About 10 percent to 20 percent of the soybean crop is planted.
“We are a little behind where we would like to be normally because the weather has hampered planting,” said Tom Eubank, assistant research and Extension professor at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center, where he serves as the soybean weed specialist. “The wind has really played havoc this year with a lot of producers who have been trying to get burndown applications of herbicides applied. There has been a near-constant wind in many areas for the past couple of months.”
Proper field preparation before planting is one weapon in the fight against glyphosate-resistant weeds.
“The key issue Mississippi soybean growers are facing right now is glyphosate-resistant weeds, and the most concerning of these is pigweed,” Eubank said. “Glyphosate-resistant pigweed has been documented in 11 Mississippi counties and that number is increasing rapidly. We are encouraging the use of residual herbicides to aid in controlling pigweed, regardless of whether they have resistance or not.”
Pigweed is so pervasive that in many cases, it’s already emerging when the planter is going through the field.
“In these scenarios, we are encouraging them to include the herbicide paraquat with their residual herbicides to ensure a weed-free crop at emergence,” Eubank said.
In addition to battling resistant weeds in the field, soybean farmers have to contend with a recent decline in exports and the allure of higher cotton and corn prices. Exports have been one of the bright spots for most agricultural commodities, but soybean exports the past few weeks have not maintained the fast pace of competing commodities.
“Brazil and Argentina are expected to have more beans available than anticipated, which has added pressure to the market,” said John Michael Riley, agricultural economist with the MSU Extension Service. “Also, China has not been as aggressive in purchasing beans as they were earlier in the year.”
On the whole, Mississippi’s decrease in soybean acres is more substantial than the national average decrease.
“Soybean acres planted in the United States this year are down about 1 percent, 76.6 million compared to 77.4 million in 2010,” Riley said. “But Mississippi is predicted to show a decrease in soybean acres of 7.5 percent with current projections at 1.85 million acres for 2011 versus 2 million in 2010.”
Keith and Beth Morton of Morton Farms in Falkner have planted 145 acres of soybeans in between rain showers. Keith is on the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board and remains optimistic about this season’s harvest.
“Regardless of the recent export news, soybean prices are at very profitable levels, and now is a good time to lock in prices at more than $13 per bushel,” he said. “Our soybean weed specialist, Tom Eubank, has been stressing a ‘start clean, stay clean’ approach all winter long concerning the control of glyphosate-resistant weeds. For growers who are heeding this advice, I believe that we have a great opportunity to produce a very profitable soybean crop this year.”
Last week’s harvest future prices for the September 2011 contracts are $13.42 per bushel. The price for the 2011 crop at the Greenville elevator was $13.30 per bushel.