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Soybeans growers have reasons for optimism
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers are expected to plant the same number of acres as they did in 2000, but the outcome should be drastically different.
The year 2000 was the last time the state's farmers planted as much as 1.7 million acres of soybeans. That year, the average yield was 22 bushels. In the last three years, growers have averaged 37 to 39 bushels per acre.
“Producers have been doing an excellent job of variety selection,” said Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Shortages of some of the top performers is frustrating to growers, but it tells me that they are all on the same page.”
Blaine said growers should base their variety selections on three things: “yield, yield and yield.” Producers planted about 75 percent of last year's soybeans in the earlier maturing Group IVs.
“The genetic yield potential is greater with Group IVs than with Group Vs, but some individual varieties can be similar,” Blaine said. “The biggest challenge is getting the crop up to a stand and staying on track throughout the season.”
Blaine said insects and diseases will continue to need monitoring.
“Soybean rust is not going to be as big of a challenge as some fear, but it is still a concern. We need to stay on top of the disease situation and know why we do or don't do certain things,” Blaine said. “Mississippi will conduct an extensive scouting program again this year to help growers know where problems are.”
Jerry Singleton, area agronomic crops agent based in Leflore County, said spring planting has gone very well.
“We're more than 50 percent planted, and the weather has allowed a good planting window,” Singleton said. “The only problem has been hail damage from storms that came through on April 7. Some fields needed replanting because of the stems broken by hail.”
Singleton said growers based replanting decisions on anticipated yields.
“Fuel prices enter in, but the potential yield is the driving force behind replanting decisions,” he said. “Growers are trying to make a minimum number of trips across the fields to keep production costs down. That's a big reason growers are planting more soybeans this year. They will not require as much fertilizer as corn.”