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Soybeans replace cotton in ag value
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybeans have snatched the No. 3 spot among the state's top agricultural commodities from cotton, long-heralded among the row crops as king in Mississippi.
Poultry remained in first place among all agricultural commodities with a value of $2.3 billion, and forestry was second at $1.9 billion.
John Anderson, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, is predicting the 2007 farm-gate value of soybeans to be $511 million, an increase of 91 percent. He estimated corn at fourth with a value of $438 million, up 309 percent, and cotton dropped to fifth at $434 million, down 21 percent.
“Most of the increases among the row crops can be explained by acreage shifts. The exceptions would be declines in soybeans and cotton. Soybean harvested acreage actually declined from 1.65 million acres in 2006 to 1.43 million in 2007,” Anderson said. “Prices and yields across the board were good, and in some cases, very good. For soybeans, the improvements from 2006 were dramatic.”
Despite a second year of drought conditions, soybean fields averaged 41 bushels per acre, compared to 26 bushels in 2006. The average prices for the 2007-08 marketing year are projected to top $8.70 per bushel, which is almost $2.50 per bushel higher than the previous year.
“Market prices are even higher now than at harvest, and looking like they will be even better in 2008, possibly reaching record levels,” Anderson said.
Dan Poston, soybean agronomist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in Stoneville, said he expects a significant increase in the 2008 soybean acres.
“The success of the 2007 crop, the forecast for strong soybean prices and the high cost of fertilizer that would be required for other crops are all factors that make soybeans attractive,” Poston said. “Next year, we could see more than 2 million acres of soybeans. The only thing that could reduce planting intentions would be seed shortages.”
Poston said the 2007 crop benefitted from a timely planting season and July rains worth millions of dollars to Mississippi farmers.
“The majority of the Delta got enough rain to keep the crop alive until the three weeks of rain arrived in July,” he said. “Without those showers, we might be looking at a 30-bushel state average, instead of 41, and it would be that good only because the irrigated crop was good. About 35 percent of Mississippi's soybean crop is irrigated.”
Poston said much of the soybean acreage expansion in 2008 will come from cotton, unless seed shortages force growers to stay with cotton or corn. He said growers are likely to plant soybeans behind winter wheat if seed supplies allow.