With last year’s state yield record and good prices, Louisiana soybean farmers seem eager to get their 2007 crop planted.

During a recent meeting of the Louisiana Soybean Association at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research, Extension and Livestock Facility near Alexandria, AgCenter soybean specialist David Lanclos recalled that the approach to the 2006 crop was not as optimistic.

Lanclos said he expects Louisiana soybean acreage could remain static at 800,000 acres. Last year’s harvest set a record at 35 bushels an acre, compared to the 2005 harvest of 34 bushels.

“The record is a big compliment to our producers, consultants and county agents,” Lanclos said during the meeting.

J.K. Bordelon of Moreauville, La., said he is concerned about the possibility of disease hurting his crop, so he will plant the same amount of soybeans, 800 acres, this year, along with 600 acres of cotton and 800 acres of feed grain.

Farmer Mike Wartelle of St. Landry Parish, La., said his soybean crop was hurt by late drought last year.

“With late-season rain at harvest, we also had quality problems,” he said.

Wartelle said he expects to plant the same amount of beans this year, 750 acres, in addition to continuing with 300 acres of corn. Steady rainfall this month will help restore soil moisture, he said.

“Last winter we didn’t get the rains, and towards the end of summer we ran out of moisture,” Wartelle said.

Lanclos advised farmers in south Louisiana to plant Maturity Group 5 beans, although he said some farmers will pick Group 4 varieties.

Insects and diseases are worse south of Alexandria, he said, which limits yields.

Lanclos said raised beds continue to out-produce flat ground by 5 bushels to 7 bushels per acre because of superior drainage.

Lanclos said irrigation is a worthwhile expense, but it’s best used on furrows.

Another speaker during the meeting, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Boyd Padgett, said the threat of Asian soybean rust will continue. Last year, the disease was found in 274 counties among 26 states, he said, including 26 parishes of Louisiana.

For 2007, the disease already has been detected in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, he said, adding that monitoring in Louisiana is focusing on kudzu patches.

“It seems we’re starting to see the disease earlier and earlier every year,” Padgett said.

The LSU AgCenter expert also advised farmers not to let their guard down against other diseases such as cercospora and aerial blight that afflict soybeans.

Farmers also heard from Jonathan Siebert, Monsanto research manager, who outlined several genetically modified soybeans under development by the company.

He said 21 countries have accepted new crops developed with biotechnology.

Varieties in the pipeline include beans that have insect protection, nematode resistance, drought tolerance, increased yields, dicamba herbicide resistance and high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Siebert said acreage will increase this year for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Vistive beans that reduce trans fats in cooking oil. Kentucky Fried Chicken will be the major user of the product, he said.

The Louisiana Soybean Association also chose its new officers during the January meeting, re-electing Charles Cannatella of St. Landry Parish as president. Joey Olivier of St. Landry Parish was chosen as vice-president, and Donald Zaunbrecher of West Baton Rouge Parish as secretary-treasurer. Lanclos was chosen as executive director.

e-mail: bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu.