Louisiana soybean harvest moving toward record yield

Farmers harvesting Louisiana crops continue to dodge late-season rains. Now on the tail-end of collecting the soybean crop, “harvest is progressing rapidly,” says David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean/corn specialist. “I'm extremely optimistic with how things are shaping up.

“Farmers are wrapping up the latest-planted soybeans in the sugarcane area. The average on those beans should be in the low 40-bushel range.”

Some 25 to 30 percent of the state's 830,000 to 850,000 acres of soybeans are left in the field. The acres left are primarily in southwest Louisiana.

“Most of the yield numbers from (the southwest) are in the high 30-bushel range up into the 40s and 50s. If that holds, we'll set a new state yield record in 2006.”

Barring stormy weather setting in, Lanclos is “comfortable the state will easily reach 36 to 37 bushels per acre. There hasn't been a really good cropping season in southwest Louisiana in a long time. This year, the soybeans are among the best we've seen in 15 years, or more. The conditions there this year have simply been conducive to growing beans.”

Louisiana's corn yield is expected to average between 130 bushels and 135 bushels per acre. “We had a lot of corn that cut 60 to 80 bushels. But there a lot cut 160 to 180 bushels.

“That's not far from what we were expecting. We knew we'd be impacted, at least slightly, by the drought. But the crop was maintained during the rough spots.”

Lanclos believes corn was saved because temperatures were cool during pollination. “Usually, temps are much hotter. Because of a great pollination period, our yields weren't impacted like they could have been. Considering the rough year we've had, being able to average 130 bushels is a real compliment to genetics and management.”

Is grain delivery being adversely impacted by any infrastructure damage from Katrina? “Most of the infrastructure troubles are in the sugarcane belt — refrigerators, roads, housing and rubble in fields. Most of the state isn't impacted by bad infrastructure now, though.”

There is one infrastructure problem: low water levels on the rivers. “Barge traffic is tough in some spots. Sometimes, the barges can only move with a half load.”

Already thinking about 2007, many soybean producers have been calling Lanclos voicing frustration with late beans — mostly Group 5s.

“We've seen a lot of disease pressure late this season. We haven't had this many disease problems in three years. There's a lot of talk in the state about going all Group 4s because of disease incidence and stink bugs. It's also true we've had some Asian soybean rust and producers have had to spray twice. But I want to caution folks not to rush into any decisions on maturity groups this early.”

With wheat planting expected to boom in the Mid-South, there have also been many questions about the best maturity group to plant behind wheat. Lanclos expects those questions to increase.

“I hear around 150,000 acres of wheat will be planted. Almost all of that will (be double-cropped) with soybeans. Some farmers in northern areas may try to double-crop cotton.”

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