State’s soybean crop looks strong early on
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s anticipated soybean acreage -- 2.35 million acres -- is higher than in recent years, and it may grow even larger by the end of planting season.
Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Mississippi growers have already exceeded the 2.22 million planted in 2021. The anticipated soybean acreage this year will be the largest planted since 1988.
“At the end of the day, we could even be a little higher than that estimate, as we’ve had some acres shift from other crops into soybeans,” Irby said. “There will also be a few more acres planted as double-crop soybeans are planted behind harvested wheat.”
Irby said the crop had a good start in the state, with a respectable amount planted in April.
“That sets the bar for greater yield potential across those earliest planted acres,” he said.
Mississippi has had wet and cold springs in recent years, but 2022 has not followed that trend exactly. While some areas stayed too wet to plant for an extended time, other areas suffered from drought-like conditions.
“This resulted in those wet areas being delayed in planting, while other areas made a big push in planting but had to stop to wait for rain to replenish moisture before they could resume,” Irby said. “This year, soybeans were planted wherever possible as soon as possible and progressed according to weather conditions.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates crop progress and condition each week of the growing season. On June 5, USDA estimated the Mississippi soybean crop was 95% planted, which is slightly ahead of the 5-year average. They also estimated 80% of the crop was in good or excellent condition, 16% was good and only 4% fair. None was rated as poor.
Irby said growers harvested a state average of 54 bushels an acre in 2021. The actual number of irrigated fields in the state varies each year, but more than half of the soybean acreage is irrigated in any given year.
“We have a lot of irrigated land in the state, but the crop that is planted on that land changes depending on market price and several other factors,” Irby said.
While soybeans were once grown in Mississippi when it was not possible to grow anything else, the crop started to become significant to the state in the mid- to late 2000s.
“The last decade has changed it even more as growers adopted better management practices,” Irby said.
As yields grew, interest in the crop grew. Today, soybeans are a major part of Mississippi agriculture and the most valuable row crop in the state, worth an estimated $1.49 billion in 2021.
Will Maples, Extension agricultural economist, said USDA projects a 2022–2023 average farm price of $14.40 a bushel for soybeans. This price is up from the $13.25 average in 2021.
“The soybean market remains positive and is influenced by strong export demand for U.S. soybeans,” Maples said. “This demand should remain high, as the U.S. will be the only major source of soybeans for the next eight months.”
Nationally, about 50% of the soybean crop is exported, and the remainder is crushed for oil and meal, which is used for animal feed.