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Growers proceed 'full speed ahead' for 2005 soybeans
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean growers will not be deterred by the threat of Asian rust or spring rains as they work to plant the 2005 crop as soon as possible.
Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said growers have been running later than last year, but not significantly off the five-year average.
"Soybean plantings are about 20 percent behind last year, but growers are making rapid progress," Blaine said. "Mississippi farmers likely will plant 1.65 million acres in soybeans or slightly more because of the wet weather that hampered corn planting."
Growers have been planting earlier each year in an attempt to increase yields as plants mature before the hottest, driest part of the summer. An additional incentive this year is to attempt to avoid the new threat of Asian soybean rust, discovered in the United States for the first time last fall.
"It appears the fungus did not overwinter in much of the country, so early plantings may serve as a way to avoid dealing with rust. Regardless of rust, we need to use the planting system that offers greatest profit potential. History has proven that method is planting early," Blaine said.
Soybean rust is a fungal disease spread by spores. It can be carried by wind for hundreds of miles, transported on people or machinery, or spread by infected plant material. Under ideal conditions and left untreated, it completely defoliates and often kills a plant, reducing yields by as much as 80 percent.
"Soybean rust can be managed with fungicides, but early detection is essential for the most effective management of the disease," Blaine said. "We recommend growers monitor soybean fields and adjacent areas throughout the growing season."
Blaine said 23 sentinel plots have been planted across Mississippi this year to help watch for Asian rust activity.
"Eighteen of the plots were planted extremely early (between Feb. 18 and March 18). Each plot has four soybean varieties and two planting dates," Blaine said. "As soon as we detect Asian rust, we will then determine when spray applications should occur and which fungicide growers should use."
Bolivar County Extension director Don Respess said all growers budgeted for at least one fungicide application.
"Typically, we have some disease pressure, but those diseases do not have the devastating potential to the crop like Asian rust has," Respess said. "If we can get by with just one fungicide application, we will be doing well. Any more than that will hurt growers' pocketbooks."
Respess said most Bolivar County fields missed the heavy spring rains, and growers have been able to plant earlier than normal.