A prolonged, drying sun can’t reach the Mid-South quickly enough for farmers. And following weeks of rain, fears for soybean seed quality have ratcheted up.

“It’s hard to be patient but what else can we do?” says Brent Griffin, Arkansas’ Prairie County Extension staff chair. “We’re doing a seed quality survey to get an early sample of what to expect. It looks like we may be in a severe state regarding quality soybean seed to plant in 2010. I’m hearing the situation looks close to the problems we saw in 2007. And I’m sure growers remember what the seed quality looked like in 2008.”

In southeast Missouri, Grover Shannon echoes the concern. A soybean breeder and University of Missouri professor stationed at the Delta Center in Portageville, Mo., Shannon says the region is waterlogged.

“Since October began there have been only a couple of days without rain around here. There is still corn left in the field. Only a few people have gotten beans harvested. There’s a long way to go before harvest is over.”

Bootheel growers are seeing “a bit of pod-cracking and problems like that. But because the weather has been so cool, we may be better off than fields farther south. Our crop is late anyway, so that’s helped as well — the beans haven’t been as ripe as those in other areas of the Mid-South.”

One “for sure” worry of Shannon is seed beans. “It’ll be interesting to see how good quality ends up being. We had a good supply in 2009, but it’s much more iffy for 2010. The beans have just sat out too long.”

Shannon’s worries extend to the Midwest. “Conditions may not as bad there, but everyone has been wet. A lot of the Mid-South Group 4 seed is grown in Illinois. They’ve been wet, too. A saving grace may be the cooler temperatures — but that doesn’t change my concerns because this crop has been sitting for so long. That can’t be helpful, especially for vigor.”

Calls related to Shannon’s work with conventional beans continue to roll in (For more see http://deltafarmpress.com/soybeans/conventional-soybeans-0403/index.html). “Seed dealers are calling, people that don’t have a supply of conventional seed. Folks are asking about certified varieties like Jake and Stoddard.”

The interest, says Shannon, is largely due to the rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds. “Farmers are afraid of the price of some of the (GM) seeds. Let me tell you: some of the new (GM) varieties are very good, I’ve seen them. But farmers get sticker-shock when they see $70 per bag.

“They tell me, ‘Well, with these resistant weeds, I’m using a conventional herbicide and have to go back to doing things the old way anyway. I might as well try some conventional varieties. Then, I’ll have a little more control over my seed.’”

Calls to Shannon haven’t just come from the South. “Folks in Minnesota and other northern states are interested. They know we’re still working with conventional beans here. So, even up there they’re talking about conventional. There’s a revival of interest in them.

“Who knows what will happen? But farmers seem to have had good luck going back to conventional beans. We’re hearing fields of Jake, even this year, are looking good. Jake, an early Group 5, has good nematode resistance and does well on pretty much any soil type.”

Shannon is surprised, “but we’re selling certified Hutchinson. We know Jake will beat Hutchinson, but farmers like that variety. They’re happy sticking with a bean that doesn’t yield as much but that they’re comfortable with. No problem — they must be making money.”

As for other crops, Southeast Missouri cotton “is soggy and having trouble. A bunch of people tell me it’s only half-opened and they’re increasingly desperate. At one point, the crop had promise and looked good, so maybe it’ll pull through.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com