Good weather and ample moisture so far this growing season have kept Mississippi's dryland crop going a little longer than expected, meaning maturity dates growers had planned on “will be a little later than they expected,” says Mississippi Extension soybean specialist Alan Blaine.

But patience is the watchword as the end of the season nears, Blaine adds. “Yields could be higher than growers expected too. Even if you have the entire crop booked for August delivery, you're going to make more bushels on fewer acres, so you'll have the opportunity to fulfill your contract requirements. It's just that the entire crop is not going to come off at the same time.”

Some dryland yields could approach 50-60 bushels, thanks to the ample moisture that fell this season, noted Blaine. In addition, much of the crop is still on pace to be early. “In fact, we are going to cut some beans the last week in July, and by Aug. 15, we're going to be wide open.”

There is some concern at elevators that there could be some bottlenecks created with corn harvest coming off. “But the market wanted early beans and we planted the crop to deliver them,” Blaine said.

Irrigated beans are in excellent shape, too, noted Blaine. “In some areas, flooding on the lower ends of fields has reduced yields. But we're always 10 days away from a drought. You want a full profile of moisture when beans reach the R-6 stage, as they begin to move into that dry-down phase when the beans are fully squared off and touching in the pods.”

Blaine said irrigated beans planted April 1 are close to a final watering, while beans planted after April 15 will need two more and anything planted into May will probably need three more. It all depends on the rainfall. But this crop is over the hump, especially the early crop.”

Stink bugs are the primary insect worry at the end of the season, according to Blaine. “We still have questions about thresholds for stink bugs on early beans, but I remind growers that they cannot stand the amount of feeding on the early-maturing portion of the crop as they can on later-maturing portions.

“When it's hot, things happen very fast. I seriously doubt that any of these early-planted crops are going to get by without at least one spray. So look hard at stink bugs, because they can cause the most problems on the early crop. They can hit hard, and they can hit fast.”

Potato leaf hoppers have also been a widespread problem this year, according to Blaine. “You may have seen some rolling of leaves and yellowing around the edges.”

Growers should also watch out for three-cornered alfalfa hoppers late in the season. “They will girdle petioles in the top of the plant and the developing pods. They have been a lot worse in no-till plantings.” The best product for control is a pyrethroid or Orthene, according to Blaine. “Methyl parathion has not been effective.”

Blaine advises growers who are considering prematurely desiccating the crop “to not get in a big hurry. Don't pull the trigger too quickly. If this crop is still trying to maintain some green, that means it's making more bushels. We don't need to take it out too quickly.”

If you do desiccate, there are two options, noted Blaine. “If you're wanting to dry up some weeds, predominately grass, and you've waited until the end, Roundup is an option. Put it out two to two-and-a-half weeks prior to expected harvest. After maturity, for both weed desiccation and an aid in harvest, consider using a quarter of a pound of Gramoxone plus 3 pounds of chlorate plus a quarter-percent surfactant. That's done a good job for us.

“Wait until you get at least 80 percent leaf drop or 80 percent of the pods have begun to take on a golden color. Don't try to hit a bunch of green pods. Wait a little longer.”

Rainy weather has led to more disease pressure in this year's crop noted Blaine. “Frogeye leaf spot and sudden death syndrome have been the two major problems. We're also starting to see some late-season cercospora. There has been a lot of fungicide sprayed. And more acreage should have been sprayed, especially in the Hill area.”

The overall cost of producing the crop has been slightly above average because of increased fungicide use, according to Blaine. “People may feel like their costs are more, but it's because growers are paying more attention and doing a lot better job of managing the crop. But we're getting more yield.”

Better management should not just be a factor when prices are favorable, added Blaine. “We have found that we can make more money growing soybeans. Continued use of the early-planted system will insure this.”


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com