Louisiana soybean farmers are on the brink of a successful year with good prices as harvesting starts on more than one million acres of the commodity.

Early harvest yields have been exceptional and will probably surpass state averages in Arkansas and Mississippi, said Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, at the southwest Louisiana soybean tour on Thursday (Sept. 16).

“We’re hearing some yields are close to 90 bushels an acre,” he said.

The crop is not without problems. Insects, especially the three-cornered alfalfa leaf hopper, have caused damage in some fields.

Disease pressure has not been widespread, said Boyd Padgett, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist. Asian soybean rust has not been found in the state, even on kudzu, and it was found just a few days ago in Florida for the first time this year.

Several soybean fields have been hit with Cercospora, including some that were sprayed with fungicide at the proper time, said Alan Hogan, LSU AgCenter county agent in Jefferson Davis Parish. “The fungicide hasn’t changed, but the Cercospora has.”

Soybean prices, now above $10 a bushel, probably won’t continue once the harvest gets underway, said Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter economist. A harvest of 78 million acres -- with a projected yield of a record 44.7 bushels per acre -- would more than double U.S. ending stocks to 350 million bushels.

“With that large an increase in ending stocks, we would expect some downward pressure on prices,” Guidry said. “Even if the projected yield of 44.7 bushels per acre is too high,I think it’s safe to say we will have a large crop this year.

“Despite the large crop looming on the horizon, there seem to be enough positives in the market that should limit the price decline that would be expected as harvest continues to move along.”

Trade with China and a weaker U.S. dollar have helped export demand and market speculation that has boosted prices of corn and wheat has had a spillover effect on soybeans.

Guidry said the expected price drop could bring the market to between $9 and $10 per bushel. “I don’t think we’re going to get below $8 soybeans.”

The picture for rice is not as good. A large increase in rice acreage this year is expected to result a huge crop in 2010 and significantly increase the amount of surplus rice.