Overall, “from a statewide yield average standpoint,” Trey Koger believes the Mississippi soybean crop will be “pretty good.” If that belief proves true it won’t be because the crop has been hurdle-free.
The state’s soybeans “shed a lot of flowers and small pods,” said the Mississippi Extension soybean specialist on July 28. “To some degree, that happens every year. Group 5s tend to shed more and, this year, we’ve seen excessive shed because of the hot conditions.
“When temperatures get much above 90 degrees, the viability of soybean pollen goes down significantly. When that happens, the plants abort flowers that are not pollinated.”
However, the early-planted portion of the south Delta crop “got far enough along that it was able to better handle the hot, dry weather we’ve had recently. Those beans didn’t experience as much loss as they would have if planted in May and they have also avoided the bulk of the insect and disease pressure.”
Much of the early-planted crop in the south Delta “we don’t have a whole lot of money in. And we’re going to make pretty good yields.
“As a general rule, the east side of the state — east of I-55, anyway — has caught more timely rains. In some areas, the crop is very good.”
Many growers in the Tupelo area — where “it stayed so wet for so long” — have a late crop. But if farmers there continue to get rainfall, “the northeast part of the state has a chance for a really nice crop.”
The area south of Highway 6 running into the Delta hasn’t had much rainfall all summer. Where the crop has been irrigated, it looks pretty good, said Koger.
However, dryland acres there are “shakier. Planting date has had a big influence. Some of the dryland crop has burnt up and some of it looks okay.”
As for pests, “to this point, the only thing that’s blown up — and this has been a persistent problem since mid-July and will continue to be for the next few weeks — are bollworms. There’s a lot of bollworm pressure in fields that are just now flowering to fields that are at R-5/R-6.”
Growers have treated “a lot of acres for bollworms and we’ll continue to treat. Some fields will be treated two and, maybe, three times.”
Bollworms are worse in soybeans that are near corn. “The corn/soybean interface means moths can come out of the corn and move right into the beans.
“We can do a really-good-to-decent job of managing bollworms with timely applications of pyrethroids. But what we run into — and we saw the same thing last year — is when a grower has a big, growthy crop it’s very difficult to get an insecticide down into plants to reach the worms.”
Another troublesome pest scouts are finding in the crop is budworms.
“We can’t control budworms with a pyrethroid. Fortunately, budworms have only been found in a few fields. And in some of those fields, the worms don’t make up enough of the overall mix to warrant applying an expensive pesticide.”