MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Three weeks of rain in July came just in time to salvage acres of the state's soybeans on the verge of drought, and now the overall crop is in good shape.
Dan Poston, soybean agronomist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said the rains were extremely helpful except in low-lying areas.
“The dryland crop really got turned around,” Poston said. “For the earliest planted beans, it was too late, but the crop as a whole was late, so it helped.”
Poston said producers planted 1.5 million acres of soybeans in Mississippi this year, about 150,000 fewer acres than in 2006.
“Many producers intentionally planted late to manage soybean harvest behind corn, then there were three weeks of extremely dry weather in early to late April that made it too dry to plant when we normally plant,” Poston said.
Ben Spinks, Bolivar County director with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the rains didn't help flat soybean fields that followed rice and were not well-drained.
“The ditches were full and water stood on those fields a little longer,” Spinks said. “Some soybean fields with standing water lost plants.”
Overall, Spinks said Bolivar County growers are optimistic. “Even with the damage we got, we have a good dryland crop this year,” Spinks said.
Poston, who works from the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said about 20 percent of the state's soybean crop is mature and ready to dry before harvest. It will be early September before the rest of the crop nears harvest.
“We need some rains before then or we'll have to start irrigating again,” Poston said.
Asian soybean rust has not appeared in Mississippi soybeans, but it has been spotted in kudzu in Mississippi, and there are some fairly severe outbreaks in commercial soybeans in Louisiana. Growers in Warren County and south along the Mississippi River are spraying to prevent this potentially devastating fungus.
Poston said pressure from other diseases was fairly light until the July rains.
“After the rain, we started seeing problems with a new bacterial disease that is defoliating the lower canopy,” Poston said. “Some fields are 40 percent defoliated. It's going to hurt yields, and we don't have any registered foliar sprays that are effective against bacterial pathogens.”
Futures prices for soybeans are good, although cash prices are not. Poston predicted this year's average should be more than $6.50 a bushel, compared to about $6 last year.