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State soybeans are off to an early start
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi is growing the earliest crop of soybeans it has ever planted as weather has been very cooperative through mid-May.
Alan Blaine, Extension soybean specialist with Mississippi State University, said farmers started planting soybeans around March 10 rather than the end of March, when planting usually begins. Nearly 80 percent of the crop was planted by the end of April. As of May 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported 89 percent of the crop in the ground.
"We had April weather in March and March weather in April," Blaine said. "We didn't have a wet April and avoided some prolonged saturated conditions that often occur in April as most storm systems skirted the state."
Blaine said many farmers were hoping for an early planting so they could have an early harvest and take advantage of better pricing opportunities in August. Soybean prices began rising last fall after a few years of extremely low prices.
When all the planting is complete, the state is expected to have 1.6 million to 1.7 million acres of soybeans, up 250,000 to 300,000 acres from last year. Blaine said acreage that remains to be planted primarily is being double-cropped with wheat, and should be planted by mid-June.
"Price and weather made the difference in acreage this year," Blaine said. "Good weather let producers stay out in the field and since it was too early to plant cotton, they just kept planting soybeans mostly because of their improved prices."
Spells of cool spring temperatures have not hurt the emerging crop. Blaine said he received several calls from concerned producers, but found no damage at any of the fields he checked.
"With the bulk of the crop planted early, many growers learned a lot about what early- planted soybeans can withstand," Blaine said. "This season will really expand growers' knowledge of early-planted beans."
Jerry Singleton, Extension area agronomic crops agent in Greenwood, said the soybean crop in the five counties he covers in the central Delta is earlier than any he has seen in the past. Soybeans are the major row crop by acreage in his area.
"The crop is up and looking good and we're off to an excellent start," Singleton said.
He credited this to favorable weather and widespread use of 12-row planting equipment.
"For the last four years, we've been seeing the switch from eight-row to 12-row equipment, and producers are getting across a lot more acres faster than before," Singleton said. "Producers are finishing planting a week or so earlier than they did before getting this new equipment."