Soybean leaves

Soybean acres forecasted to exceed last year’s totals

How are Mississippi soybeans doing? Late start for many acres.

Mississippi soybean farmers are projected to harvest the most acres in over 25 years despite narrow planting windows and issues getting the crop established.

Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said planting challenges as a result of wet spring weather hampered early plantings, but the crop has rebounded despite recent hot weather with sporadic rain relief.

“There were areas where excessive rain caused issues with the crop that was planted,” Irby said. “Some producers have had to replant two or three times in some cases to get this year’s soybean crop established.”

Recent USDA estimates indicate that the total soybean area planted in Mississippi will reach about 2.35 million acres, up 130,000 acres from last year and 50,000 from March planting projections. Irby said producers are still on pace to reach that number as weather and market conditions swayed some producers into switching some fields from other intended crops to soybean.

“We already expected to have an increase in soybean acres this year. Some producers were unable to get other crops planted because of rain. Our projections increased 50,000 acres in that time period. This increase likely came from intended corn acres that were unable to be planted during that planting window.”

If current market and production trends continue on into harvest, prices will not be as impressive this year compared to recent years. While prices have gone up slightly since last month, trading is down $2 per bushel from this time last year. Greenville cash soybeans are trading for $10.61 a bushel compared to $12.47 a year ago. Recent prices are $10.26 a bushel in Belzoni and $10.36 a bushel in Indianola.

Brian Williams, Extension agricultural economist, said there are currently just over 625 million bushels of stored soybeans in the United States, and while soybean prices typically decrease once harvest begins and additional grain floods the market, what the crop looks like compared to expectations will dictate harvest-time prices.

“One thing that we can always expect in Mississippi soybean prices as harvest begins is a weakening of the basis, which is basically the difference between cash prices in Mississippi and futures prices as traded in Chicago,” he said. “Demand, on the other hand, is typically unaffected by harvest.”

Despite the hot, mostly dry spell since Independence Day, Irby said the crop continues to progress. “Producers are doing a good job of staying on top of irrigation and giving the crop what it needs when it needs it. We have a large number of irrigated acres in the state but also a lot of dry land. The latter will need some timely rains from here on out. Moisture is important anytime you go a significant period when it’s this hot outside. Water demand is at its highest during reproductive growth stages.”

Irby said nearly the entire soybean crop is planted, but it is in three different stages. Early plantings have nearly finished filling pods and will be approaching maturity in the coming weeks. The middle set of acres is early in reproduction, having just passed flowering and are beginning to set pod. Later plantings are still in vegetative stages and will begin to flower soon.

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