Dry fields put soybeans in distress

By Bonnie Coblentz/Mississippi State University

STARKVILLE – The status of the state’s soybean crop depends almost entirely on location, with many east Mississippi fields in good shape while half of Delta fields struggle.
Tom Eubank, a soybean weed scientist and agronomist at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said some Delta fields have soybeans setting pods while others are being planted.
“In the northern Delta, we have a late crop. In the southern Delta, we have an extremely late crop,” Eubank said. “The more central Delta acres were planted on time.”
South Delta fields were late because of river flooding, while excessive rain kept some north Delta fields too wet to plant on time.
The biggest problem now is that the entire Delta is facing severe drought-like conditions.
Dennis Reginelli, Extension area agronomic crops agent in Noxubee County, said soybean fields in the Noxubee and Lowndes County area have received enough scattered rain to show excellent promise.
Scattered rains the last week of June and in early July made a big difference in the growth and development of the crop.
“The plants were sitting there with a good root system just waiting for some moisture,” Reginelli said. “They have responded well, and if we continue to catch timely rainfall, we should have a pretty good soybean crop. It only takes a little bit of rain every week.”
Soybean producers in east Mississippi typically plant on 30-inch rows, rather than the 38-inch rows more commonly found in the Delta. The narrow row allows vegetation from the plants on either side to meet, or canopy over, quickly, helping retain moisture and control weeds.
For those who harvest a good soybean crop, this year has profit potential. John Michael Riley, Extension agricultural economist, said new crop contract prices at Greenville for beans harvested this coming fall were $13.07 a bushel on July 5. This is higher than in years past but lower than it was just days earlier.
“Prices took a hit when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual acreage report June 30,” Riley said. “Despite soybean acres coming in less than expected, corn led other crops lower, and more soybeans were in storage than expected, both of which pushed prices lower.”