Soybeans off to good start

Extended cool weather in May slowed growth in some areas but had minimal effect on the emerged soybean crop in Mississippi. Ironically, the earliest portion of this crop fared emergence, moisture and insect problems better than later plantings. The most difficult timeframe occurred on plantings from mid-April to late April.

I recognize that there is some risk in planting early, but this is the sixth year in a row that the earliest plantings have been the most trouble-free. It is too early to predict yield potential on these earliest plantings, but based on appearance and stage of growth, I have little doubt as to their potential.

The recent rains caused widespread concern due to extended saturated conditions and flooding. A lot of growers were concerned about flooding and the crop's potential, but every field must be evaluated individually.

The first response from many is that a field that went under water needs to be replanted. This is far from true, but several factors make flooding this time of year different from flooding that occurs in July.

First, ambient temperatures were cool. This contributed to a cooler water temperature. Another factor that helped out is moving water. For whatever reason, water that comes up and goes down or has some current to it can be the difference between live and dead plants.

Dirt deposited on the plants due to flooding is superficial only. The next rain will clean off plant tissue. Although plant growth may be slowed, dirt deposited on the leaves is no more of a detriment than the saturated soil the plant is trying to survive in.

I am sure some plants were lost due to flooding, but statewide it was minimal. Older plants will fare better than young plants.

Situations such as this point out the benefits of adequate drainage. Flat plantings were a little slower to recover than row plantings. Heavy ground is more of a concern than mixed/sandy soils.

I realize this information is after the fact, but take note of what occurred and it should prove beneficial in the future.

Heavy rains were a concern in early May, but conditions changed rapidly. This crop is early and most could not believe how fast it went from too wet to too dry. Failure to address this from an irrigation perspective results in delayed maturity and reduced yields.

Alan Blaine is the Mississippi Extension soybean specialist. e-mail: [email protected]

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