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Soybean values increase nearly 50 percent in '03
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Timely planting of early-maturing varieties coupled with ideal weather gave Mississippi soybean producers record yields in 2003.
"Growers have learned to think outside the box when it comes to choosing soybean varieties," said Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "They are realizing what good variety selection can do for them, and they're also continuing to capitalize on early planting."
Blaine expects a 38 to 40 bushel per acre crop, although U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates put that number at 36 bushels. Official USDA numbers will not be released until February 2004.
By mid-May 2003, 80 percent of Mississippi's soybean crop was planted. Neighboring states the experienced early-season rains missed that early start on planting.
"Because our crop went in early, there's no doubt in my mind that we have a higher number than Arkansas," Blaine said. "Regardless of some problems we had this year, this is going to be the best crop ever, with yields exceeding by four bushels the 1992 per acre record of 34 bushels."
Value of production for soybeans is estimated to increase by 49 percent from the 2002 crop to the 2003 crop. In 2002 the value was $243 million, up from $164 million in 2001. The 2003 value of production is $363 million.
In 2002, growers averaged 32 bushels per acre on 40,000 fewer acres harvested than in 2003. The increase in total production plus a 30 percent increase in prices are contributing to the jump in Mississippi's soybean value.
Cooperative temperature and rainfall made an exceptional crop even better, providing ideal conditions for planting, growing and harvesting soybeans.
Blaine said one of the major problems with the 2003 soybean crop was a widespread occurrence of late-season cercospora.
"This is not something we see every year, so if we continue to plant high-yielding, early-maturing varieties, this should not be a consistent problem," Blaine added.
The exceptional 2003 crop may encourage growers to plant more acres in soybeans, but some concerns remain over whether the prices will hold or improve. Current reports indicate growers have reason to feel optimistic about price increases.
"Carry-over stocks are down, Midwest yields are down, and there are reports of problems with the South American crop," Blaine said. "Those are the things we need to happen to increase prices."
Hot, dry weather in the Midwest reduced soybean yields and helped Mississippi growers get premium prices for their crop.
"If there was one thing we could take back, it would be pre-selling our soybeans at a lower price. But we had no idea the Midwest crop would have problems, so there really was no way we could have known not to pre-sell," Blaine said. "Deciding whether or not to pre-sell is like investing in the stock market -- it's not a bad idea, but you never know what's going to happen."