Lanny Ashlock says the Arkansas soybean crop has the potential to be a “good crop, maybe an outstanding crop,” if farmers will take care of business.

With only a few weeks to go before the 3-million-acre crop is finished, the crop is showing signs of heat stress, and insects continue to be a problem in southeast Arkansas, says Ashlock, soybean agronomist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

“We're so close. We're a few weeks away from a heck of a crop. It could go either way. I just want to remind growers that they have a lot of money invested in the crop. Somehow, they've got to reach down and take care of business for a few more weeks, then the crop will be made. Everything they've done could slip away if they don't take care of business.

He said farmers are worn out and soybean prices are discouraging. Meanwhile, the rice and corn look good, and farmers are giving them their attention. “But what we might make on those crops, let's not give it away by letting the soybean crop go.”

Ashlock said timely rains throughout the growing season have helped produce a soybean crop with good yield potential.

Now the heat's coming back, and farmers are seeing beans start to stress. In this heat, he said, soybean plants need a quarter-inch to three-tenths of an inch of water daily.

Ashlock said water is becoming available to farmers for irrigating beans. They're through watering corn, and they're draining rice fields. “If you have access to water, water the crop until we get a good rain.”

South Arkansas farmers have an additional problem. They can't shake free of problems with stinkbugs and loopers. More recently, corn earworms are becoming a problem in some doublecrop plantings in central Arkansas. Farmers should call their county agent or consultant for help, Ashlock said.

“We've got to continue to scout and treat if we need to. Before they start cutting other crops in the morning, farmers need to be out scouting beans, looking for potential problems. We have too much money and work in this crop to get discouraged and walk away from it.”

He said the crop has the potential to produce about 30 bushels an acre.

“Growers don't like to talk about yields, but the Arkansas soybean crop doesn't influence the market,” he said. All indications are that the Midwestern soybean crop is going to be another big crop, and prices are going to be below the government loan rate.

With prices being so low, the only thing farmers have going for them is yield, according to Ashlock. “What it boils down to is yield. Farmers must make good yields.”

Ashlock recommended that farmers participate in the 2001 Soybean Research Verification Program tour Sept. 19-20. He said tour will visit fields of participating farmers in north Arkansas and southeast Arkansas.

He said it's a chance for farmers to see how Extension used research-based information to help their neighbors address the same problems they have and to see how their investment in the soybean checkoff program is being used.

For information about the tour in your area, call your county Extension agent.


Lamar James is an Extension communications specialist with the University of Arkansas.