Early soybean crop looks good as it nears harvest
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s 2.3 million acre soybean crop is looking strong late in its growing season, thanks to somewhat earlier planting dates and almost ideal conditions through the end of July.
TThe U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 72% of the crop is in good or excellent condition. They estimate more than 96% of the crop is blooming, and 7% is coloring as it nears harvest.
Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said harvest should begin in early August, although the majority won’t be harvested until early September.
“We’re a little ahead of schedule because we got a few more acres planted earlier than we do on average,” Irby said. “The optimal planting window is in April, and soybeans respond to an early planting date. After a certain point, your yield potential declines regardless of what you do for the crop.”
Somewhat unusual weather patterns for much of this year provided an April that was warm enough and dry enough to allow many soybean acres to be planted. Some soybeans were even planted in March as soon as the corn crop was in the ground.
“Even though we want early planting, soybeans are sometimes planted later in the planting window for a variety of reasons,” Irby said. “You can still plant the crop all the way out through June and be successful, but yield potential is affected by a delay in planting.”
Recent hot and dry conditions have challenged the crop a bit, but the biggest adversity so far came in June with hail damage in many acres across multiple counties scattered over 10 days.
“There will be some level of yield loss due to the damage that the hail inflicted, depending on the growth stage of the soybean at the time of the hail event,” Irby said.
Disease and insect pressures have been normal, with growers able to manage them without trouble.
More than half the soybean crop is irrigated. Well-timed rains across most of the growing area mean irrigated acres required less water and dryland acreage got good moisture.
Will Maples, Extension agricultural economist, said overall input prices are down slightly this year from previous years, but supply is expected to be tight.
“The USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service Acreage Report shocked the soybean market at the end of June with a 4 million acre reduction in plantings,” Maples said. “This means the supply picture will be much tighter than previously thought.”
Since the end of June, the November soybean futures contract has been up by over a dollar, at $13.98 a bushel on July 27.
“But even though the supply side is looking tighter, soybeans are suffering from weak demand, with exports currently projected to be down over 6% from last year,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out into harvest. Any decrease in the yield outlook and strengthening of exports will be a perfect storm for soybean prices to rally higher.”