Growing soybeans behind rice takes sweat, heavy chains and a dogged commitment to get across the field.

That becomes increasingly obvious with every photo that Mississippi producer Jeremy Jack flashes on the screen. Pictures of canyon-like ruts and tractors half-buried in mud parade by.

“I farm in Humphreys County in the middle of the south Delta,” says Jack at the mid-January Cotton and Rice Conference in Tunica. “We grow cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and wheat and are about 98 percent irrigated. Most everything is land-leveled and row-watered. We put out a lot of polypipe.”

Since the operation grows five crops, “we have a lot of rotations on our many soil types. That gives us a lot of diversity and in years when our sandy ground might not be as profitable our heavier ground will come through. (The heavier soils) may not be as attractive as others, but if you treat it correctly, you can make it profitable.”

So, how do you grow soybeans behind rice on heavy soils?

The practice, admits Jack, can be “more a headache than a job. There’s an art to it. When you get out in a rice field with ruts up to your knees and have two or three weeks of planting time left, maybe a shower or two in the springtime, you’re forced to do whatever it takes to get the crop in the ground.”

Do it correctly, though, and the rewards will come.

“The type of soil I’m talking about is heavy clay gumbo. That stuff can be nasty. We call it ‘friendly mud’ because you stick to it and it sticks to you.

“It’s very tough on equipment, very tough on your crew, very tough on your budget when it’s been a wet fall. During dry falls, we try to put our rice ground going to beans into rows. Once spring comes, that works very nicely.”

During wet falls, though, there are a lot of ruts.

“One thing to do is keep a large chain handy – or, on our place, we keep three chains handy. We’ve had to hook probably 200 yards together in order to pull tractors out. But that’s what it takes to get the crop in. It can be very frustrating. You need patience.”