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Soybeans benefit from August rains
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Much of the state's soybeans, like Mississippi's other row crops, are benefitting from August showers, but some fields still are lacking.
"The rains have been very variable. Everyone doesn't want rain on the same day or in the same amount," said Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "We really needed (tropical storm) Barry to come right through the middle of the state the first week of August and provide a good general rain, but that didn't happen."
Blaine said August is ideal for hurricane rains which would benefit most crops.
"Mississippi farmers have suffered through three years of drought, so any rains this year have helped," Blaine said. "The problem is that when the prices are this low, we need more than just a good yield."
Tropical rains were especially kind to northeast Mississippi. Clint Young, Lee County Extension agricultural agent, said recent rains hampered some weed control efforts, but generally just helped fill out pods and the growth of later varieties.
"Barry hit the nail on the head. We weren't overly dry, but we needed just what we got at the right time. Anytime you can get some rain in August, you appreciate it," Young said. "Group IV soybeans are filling out pods, and Group V soybeans needed the water for plant growth."
Across the state in Bolivar County, growers have enjoyed the difference in 2001 compared to previous years. Crops did not have to contend this year with extended days around 100 degrees or the lack of rains.
"We've had some good moisture and irrigation in between showers. Growers were able to plant early and even the double-cropped beans are looking good," said Don Respess, Bolivar County agricultural agent. "We received an unusually good soaking rain in July and scattered showers since then."
Respess said the crop may not produce record yields, but should be good. Growers are opting for cotton, corn and rice instead of soybeans. Bolivar County soybean acreage is 176,000, down from 218,000 last year. Statewide, soybeans are down about 310,000 acres for a total of 1.27 million acres.
Charlie Forrest, Extension agricultural economist, said soybean prices through mid-July have been about 50 cents higher than the previous month and 35 cents higher than the previous year. The market remains volatile and dependant on the weather's impact on final yields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's crop estimates released Aug. 10 revealed higher expectations than the 2000 production.
"USDA is predicting a 4 percent increase nationally for soybeans and a 2 percent increase in Mississippi. The August estimate for 2001 crop production shows potential record production for soybeans nationally," Forrest said. "With indications that demand will remain strong, prices should continue to improve slightly. Producers need to pay close attention to this market and look for some forward-pricing opportunities."