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Future Lacks Promise For State's Soybeans
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some Mississippi farmers are banking on early soybean varieties to produce the yields of recent years because the markets are not going to be much help.
Dr. Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said there is more potential for soybean prices to go down than there is for them to increase.
"U.S. soybean acreage is up slightly, South American crops are strong and the forecast is for good growing conditions this year," Jones said. "There is just no reason for prices to come up anytime soon."
The economist said these conditions increase the importance for farmers to keep good records. Growers need to know how much it costs them to produce a crop so they will know when to lock in on a price.
"Farmers needed to price some of this year's crop back in January or February," Jones said. "Between 30 and 50 percent of their crop should be marketed when the price is near $6.30 or better. Currently, prices are around $6.25."
Dr. Alan Blaine, Extension soybean specialist, said growers have been trying to plant soybeans earlier in recent years. Normally, they aim to begin planting in mid-April, but some started planting the last week of March this year.
As of the end of April, about one-third of the state's soybeans were planted, primarily in the Delta. Some hail damage resulted in replantings.
The early varieties (Group IV) have been successful for Mississippi growers in recent years. Blaine said farmers are turning to earlier varieties even when they are planting later in the season.
"Some of the earlier varieties have yielded as well or better than the later maturing varieties, even when growers didn't follow preferred planting dates," Blaine said.
Saturated soil conditions are a concern for many. Rains are a factor across Mississippi, but especially along the Mississippi River where flooding becomes an issue on some fields. The crest date and level are both concerns for area farmers.
Warren County Extension agent Terry Rector said last year's 49-foot Vicksburg crest was not too traumatic because it occurred in March when little had been invested in the fields. This year, a crest of over 43 feet is expected the first week of May, depending on upstream rains.
"Parts of some corn fields could flood, but so far, no soybeans are planted in low-lying fields," Rector said.
With less than 10 percent of the soybeans planted by the end of April, Rector said county growers would have planted sooner but fields were too dry, then too wet.