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Midseason showers help soybean fields
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- July rains hold a special place in soybean growers’ hearts – and in their pocketbooks.
“July is typically a very hot, dry month, but it’s also one when soybeans still need water to grow and fill out pods,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “There have been some exceptions, but most growers have been lucky to get some showers to help their crops along.
“It’s difficult to put an exact value on timely rains, but during this part of the season, they can mean the difference between reaching yield goals and seeing drastic reductions,” he said.
Rains made planting season a challenge, especially for corn fields, where some growers had to switch to soybeans that can be planted later. Mississippi growers planted slightly more soybeans than originally planned, about 2.05 million acres for 2016.
Growers were set to decrease their soybean acreage primarily because of market prices before planting. Extension agricultural economist Brian Williams said prices are not rallying much as the season progresses.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s July 25 crop progress report rated the U.S. soybean crop as 71 percent good or excellent condition, which points toward a bumper crop come harvest time.
Williams said soybean prices have been trading for just over $10 per bushel, which is about the same as they were a year ago. Soybeans have trended down the last weeks of July, mostly due to favorable growing conditions nationally.
“The one bright spot for soybeans comes on the international front,” he said. “South America’s soybean crop was smaller than expected, and exports for U.S. soybeans have been very strong. That has helped to limit some of the surplus that we have here domestically.”
Extension entomologist Angus Catchot said as soybeans approach the home stretch, growers will need to scout intensely for insect pests.
“In mid-July, we started receiving reports of bollworm moths and small larvae in soybeans,” he said. “MSU entomologists have removed all pyrethroids from our control guide for bollworms in cotton and soybean because of the widespread tolerance and poor performance in recent years. While some growers still want to use pyrethroids, they need to remember: the most expensive product is the one that does not work.”
Catchot said armyworms have been a major challenge this year in numerous crops, creating an urgent problem in soybeans.
Catchot cautioned growers to scout the grasses before applying any herbicide. Look for the white etching or window-paning on key grasses such as signal grass, browntop millet and crabgrass.
“Part the grass back and look on the ground for worms,” he said. “If numbers exceed four or five per square foot, then add an insecticide into the herbicide application. As long as it is the grass-strain fall armyworm, growers can obtain good control with pyrethroids.”
Extension plant pathologist Tom Allen said reports of disease in the soybean crop have been light for the most part, but foliar diseases are picking up throughout the state due to the frequent rain showers over the past two weeks.
“As soybeans reach more advanced reproductive growth stages, the stem and root diseases tend to be more frequently observed,” he said. “In addition, over the past several weeks, reports of root-knot nematodes in soybean fields have increased. Scout and sample now to aid in decisions for next season.”