Wet spring may limit Louisiana’s soybean acres, yield prospects

Throughout the spring, farmers were indicating they intended to plant more acres of soybeans because they felt that was the crop they could lose the least money on in 2015.

That may have been their intention, but someone forgot to order up the weather required to make those plans a reality, especially in Louisiana where conditions were unfavorable for planting throughout the state.

“Today is really the first day that I’ve seen a lot of sunshine,” said Ronnie Levy, Extension soybean specialist who is based at the Dean Lee Research Station in Alexandria, La. “We’ve had a terrible year as far as getting soybeans in the ground.”

Speaking at the conclusion of the Pest Management and Crop Production Field Day at the LSU AgCenter’s Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph, La., Dr. Levy said he is expecting 1.51 million to 1.52 million acres of soybeans to be grown in Louisiana in 2015. The field day was held under sunny skies on June 17.

“Due to the weather conditions, a lot of the Southwest area didn’t get planted in time, and with the June 15 deadline there will probably be a lot of those acres that won’t get planted,” he said. “We still have some of our university trials that we hope to get planted in June if the weather will permit.”

Dr. Levy believes the total will be “little higher than what we planted last year, which was 1.4 million acres. Because of the weather conditions at corn planting, we feel like soybeans took over a few of the acres that would have gone to corn.”

The same situation occurred with grain sorghum, he said, although there were reports of farmers planting the latter the week before the field day to capture the premium being offered for the crop at area elevators.

Many of the soybean acres that were planted are late, he noted. “Very few soybean acres were planted in April this year. We did get a few planted in some locations in the last part of March. Some of the sugarcane acres look really good. As we get into the northeast part of the state some of those acres look good, as well.”

Northwest Louisiana, which has been pounded by heavy rains and has also felt the impact of flooding from the Red River in Texas and Oklahoma, is a different story.

“When we get into the Shreveport area, one of the producers called me and asked how long could soybeans stay under water?” said Levy. “He was thinking about trying to pump off, and I said ‘Let’s wait until the water starts to go down and re-evaluate.’ Ten days later the water was still going up.

“We still have water on those fields, and we don’t think they’re going to make it.”

With dryer weather in other areas of the state more recently, the crop has begun to turn around, he said, leading to thoughts of last year’s crop.

“Most of you know we had the highest state average yield in the nation (57 bushels an acre), which was a first for Louisiana last year,” said Levy. “I’m going to say it again because I probably won’t be able to say it this year.”

Levy credited early planting as part of the reason for the 2014 yield, which marked the third year in a row Louisiana has had record yields. “This year we have a late crop, and that will affect yields, but we could still have some good yields out there overall.”

For more information on soybean yields across the nation, visit http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/cropan15.pdf.

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