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State soybeans struggle toward decent '07 yields
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Drought, Asian soybean rust, then rain at harvest combined to make Mississippi soybean production a struggle this year, but high prices are making producers happy with their harvest.
Dan Poston, soybean agronomist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in Stoneville, predicts a “decent crop” for most producers.
“I think we may have a state yield average in the mid-30-bushels-an-acre range,” Poston said. “That's a large improvement over the 26 bushels an acre we had last year, and close to our state five-year average of 34.2 bushels per acre.”
Soybeans got a later-than-usual start in Mississippi this year. Corn planting and harvest schedules were a priority for many producers who delayed planting soybeans to avoid overlapping harvest times with corn. Dry weather in April postponed some planting until rains softened soils enough for planting to resume.
About 65 percent of the state's soybeans are grown without irrigation. The summer was very dry until rains fell heavily in July.
“These rains were a kind of catch-22,” Poston said. “They were really good for a lot of the dryland acres. Those with good drainage made some respectable yields because of this rain. But many irrigated fields are flat with poor drainage, and the rains brought too much moisture to some of these fields.”
Most soybeans in northeast Mississippi are nonirrigated and received very little rain at any point in the growing season. Yields in some fields are so low that they may not be harvested.
Soybean harvest was almost 70 percent complete by the last week of September. This is behind schedule because of the late planting dates and rains that fell throughout the month.
“Rain came during harvest when we didn't need it. Now we're concerned about pod quality and seed rot,” Poston said. “Our test weights are low compared to what they should be. This results in a price deduction at the grain elevator.”
Producers are getting $10 a bushel for soybeans delivered now, and January contracts are more than $10.50 a bushel. Last year, soybean producers got between $5 and $6 a bushel.
Growers had few problems other than drought this summer, even though Asian soybean rust is present in the state.
MSU plant pathologist emeritus Billy Moore said Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas had historically high rainfall amounts that caused soybean rust to develop much faster than in Mississippi. Kentucky and South Carolina also had a few areas with rust.
“Rust apparently followed the weather patterns this year,” Moore said. “I don't think commercial fields in Mississippi will have any measurable losses to soybean rust.”
Soybean rust is no longer a threat to most of the state's soybeans. Some beans were double-cropped with wheat and were planted quite late. These fields are still in production and are being closely monitored for soybean rust. Moore said that even if rust infects these acres, it probably will not have time to become a problem.
Rust was found in commercial soybean fields in Washington, Tunica, DeSoto, Sunflower, Bolivar, Coahoma, Quitman, Tallahatchie and Leflore counties in the Delta, and Adams, Hancock, Pearl River and Wilkinson counties in southwest Mississippi.
“I suspect a lot more fields have rust in them, but conditions were not favorable for the disease to develop,” Moore said.
Those wanting regular updates on Asian soybean rust in the state can call the soybean rust hotline at (866) 641-1847, and then press 3 for Mississippi information.
Contact: Dr. Dan Poston, (662) 686-9311