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Rains Delay Early Soybean Plantings
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent April showers may bring later May plantings for much of Mississippi's soybean crop. Heavy rains have muddied efforts to get the state's soybean crop in the ground, but sunny days are giving growers hope for a timely-planted crop.
Mississippi's soybean crop planting is about 15 percent complete.
In the southern and northern parts of the state, rainfall was not as widespread, but central Mississippi received heavy, flooding rains.
Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University, said heavy rains can cause a variety of problems for soybeans.
"Proper drainage is very important for early plantings, especially since soybeans often are planted on lower, heavier soils," Blaine said. "The recent rains are keeping growers out of fields, but hopefully that will change soon."
Eddie Harris, area soybean agent for Humphreys, Leflore and Sunflower counties, said growers are waiting for some sunshine to dry fields. Area growers are about 40 percent finished with planting.
The recent stormy weather is expected to keep growers out of fields until May, said Robert Martin, area soybean agent for Issaquena, Sharkey, Washington and south Bolivar counties.
"We had about 10 percent planted before the rains, and in some cases the showers actually helped crop emergence by breaking the crust of soil," Martin said.
In Monroe County, both rainfall and soybean acreage is up for 1996.
"We've had more than our share of rain," said Dr. David Roberts, Monroe County agent. "Recent soybean prices and problems last year with cotton have encouraged growers to plan to plant more than 50,000 acres of soybeans this year."
Growers should keep the weather in mind as soybean planting season continues, Blaine added.
"Growers are thinking about early-maturing varieties and
early planting dates now more than ever before," Blaine said. "Before deciding when to plant, consider the drainage capabilities in fields, the soil types and the weather forecast following planting."
USDA economists predict state soybean acreage to reach about 2 million acres for 1996. Blaine said the optimum window for planting early-maturing soybeans is mid-April through May 10.
"This window doesn't mean you can't plant earlier or later, but that this usually is the time when soil temperatures reach the acceptable level for germination," Blaine said.
The soybean specialist stressed that growers should carefully consider their planting dates, since given the grower demand this year, seed for early maturing varieties will be in short supply.
Growers should make sure to follow current planting date recommendations for the newer soybean varieties.
Soybean production in Mississippi has made significant gains in recent years. Producer support of research through the Soybean Promotion and Research Checkoff is responsible for much of that progress, said Dr. Tom Helms, former associate director of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station.
Money from the checkoff program, which is a percentage of the selling price of each bushel of soybeans sold, is used for both national and state research and promotion. The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board selects research projects for support in Mississippi.
Mississippi growers' investment in research is helping support projects that promise long-term benefits for producers.