Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on June 11, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Growers Need Bumper Soybean Crop To Off-Set Prices
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi soybean growers, much like other 1999 row crop producers, need a bumper crop to compensate for the depressed market prices.
"When the market is this low and the prospects are this bleak, growers always want to produce record yields to lower their break-even costs," said Dr. Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Jones said current soybean prices at Mississippi elevators are between $4.56 and $4.71 per bushel. With a large surplus of beans in storage and the possibility that soybean acreage will be more than expected, the likelihood of better prices is slim.
"On average, it costs growers about $184 per acre to produce soybeans. If they have a yield this year of 30 bushels per acre, the break-even price will be $4.80 per bushel," Jones said.
The economist said many more farmers are taking advantage of the government loan program this year because of the low market prices. Growers sign up for the program at their local Farm Service Agency offices. In 1998, Mississippi growers in the loan program received $5.27 to $5.37 per bushel.
"Growers who enroll acreage in the program can redeem their crop at any time, sell for market prices instead of the government payments or forfeit the crop for the payment at the end of nine months if prices don't rebound," Jones said.
Heat and drought in 1998 had growers struggling to produce an average of 25 bushels per acre, compared to the record yield of 31 bushels per acre the year before.
Bolivar County agent Don Respess said soybeans are off to a good start with adequate moisture so far.
"Growers haven't started irrigating yet, unlike last year at this time. Every year, it seems like we have more soybeans in irrigated fields," Respess said. "Drought was our primary yield-reducer last year."
Respess said many growers were able to harvest wheat seven to 10 days early, which has enabled them to plant soybeans earlier. For years, MSU agronomists have advised growers to plant soybeans early.
Dr. David Shaw, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station weed scientist, said the state is probably in the best shape ever from early planting.
"We have the potential for a good crop. The state has had a lot of success from planting early," Shaw said. "We've seen some isolated cases of too much or too little rain, but the state has mostly benefitted from recent rains, and now growers are making decisions on postemergence herbicides."