Into the second week of August, there are two big things facing Arkansas’ soybean farmers.
“First, is the high heat,” says Jeremy Ross, Arkansas Extension soybean specialist. “Usually, 86 degrees is optimum for soybeans. We’ve been well above that for several weeks — 20 degrees in some places.
“Even though a lot of our acreage is irrigated, it’s still susceptible to heat stress. With irrigation, you’re able to eliminate a bit of that stress but it’s still evident, especially once temperatures are over 100 degrees. I’ve had calls from farmers worrying about blooms and smaller pods being shed.
“Second, fields are experiencing a bollworm outbreak. Some growers have had to spray twice and are likely going to have to treat a third. The bollworms have been very bad.”
What about disease and fungicide use? Has the weather kept disease tamped down?
“It’s been a bit hot for disease to develop. However, we are beginning to see some charcoal rot and other stress-related diseases in the dryland fields. We’re also picking up — especially in some overhead irrigation systems — some frogeye and aerial blight.
“It’s true that the heat has helped keep disease from spreading. Disease isn’t nearly as bad as it would be if we had cooler temperatures and more frequent rainfall.”
Some Arkansas fields received some rain in early August and “that brought temperatures down a little and helped reduce stress. Other areas didn’t get the latest rains and that could be tough on soybeans. The forecast says temperatures will be around 99/100 for the next few days. The best thing for growers is to try and get water on and off as quickly as possible.
“Corn harvest is about the kick off with shelling and some producers are preparing to harvest rice. Hopefully, between harvesting corn and rice, growers will be able to keep up with irrigating their beans.”
What about yield outlook?
“I got a report on some beans already harvested a few days ago out of Chicot County. That was a dryland field, an early Group 4, that made around 35 or 40 bushels.
“Balance that out with a couple of calls I got a week ago from producers wondering about the best way to plant so late. If they go through with it, it’ll be November before those beans will even be close to done. That means harvest will be spread out over several months.
“There’s still time to have a good crop. We’re a little ahead of the curve compared to the last five years. Hopefully, a lot of the early-planted crop will be able to withstand this heat and fill pods. The percentage of the crop that was later-planted will take a hit, but overall, I don’t think the heat will be extremely detrimental. Of course, we’ll just have to wait and see.
“It would be so beneficial if we could just get some rain and break this cycle of 95-plus degree days.”