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Weather Hampers Early Plantings
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains and cool temperatures have delayed plantings for some Mississippi crops. Soybean growers, who have turned to earlier planting in recent years, may not have the luxury to take full advantage of this opportunity if conditions continue.
"Growers are becoming more convinced each year that early planting has a place in Mississippi," said Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University. "Last year, we had about 35 percent of the crop planted by this time, compared to 24 percent this year. We're still doing better than the five-year average of 12 percent."
Blaine said one of the major problems with the state soybean yield is that frequently growers plant 25 to 30 percent of the crop after the recommended cut-off date in mid-June.
"Once we move into May, growers need to plant maturity group V, VI and VII varieties," Blaine said. "We've still got opportunity to have Mississippi's soybeans in the ground on time."
The agronomist said if Mississippi's soybean growers could shift their plantings forward 30 days, it would have a tremendous impact on yields.
"The reduction in yield for later plantings is real; growers need to keep in mind the cut-off date recommendations," Blaine said.
"Earlier maturing varieties offer the opportunity to plant sooner, but as it gets later, their advantage is sometimes lessened," Blaine said. "The results all depend on the growing season."
Robert Martin, area soybean specialist in Issaquena County, said farmers have delayed soybean plantings by giving priority to other crops such as cotton and rice.
"We're not as far behind as some years, but we're further behind than we want to be," Martin said. "Heavy rains have not only delayed field work but also have caused 5,000 to 6,000 acres to be replanted in this area."
Blaine said supersaturated soils have been a bigger problem for soybeans than the cool temperatures.
"The exception to our earlier-is-better policy is in fields with irrigation, those with deep soils or where growers are planting behind flood water," Blaine said.
The soybean market also has not yielded much good news for growers in recent days. November futures reached their life-of- contract high of $6.19 per bushel on April 11. Since that date prices have fallen about 30 cents.
"Some of the factors hurting soybean prices include record crops in South America and a decline in soyoil and soymeal prices," said Dr. Bob Williams, extension agricultural economist at MSU. "Corn plantings have been delayed in the Midwest, which usually means increases in soybean plantings."
Williams said he expects a rally in soybean prices near the $6.25 level within the next couple of months.