Difficult Year Showing In Soybean Yields

Bruce Schultz, Guidry, Kurt M., Whitam, Kenneth, Baldwin, Jack L., Lanclos, David Y.  |  4/19/2005 10:29:02 PM

News Release Distributed 09/07/04

CROWLEY – Growing soybeans in Southwest Louisiana has been difficult this year, and the yields show it, but the bean crop north of Alexandria has fared well, according to Dr. David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist.

Farmers attending the Acadia Parish Soybean Field Tour last week (Sept. 1) also learned that a new pest, the red-shouldered stink bug, has taken up residence in Louisiana, and a potential pest, soybean rust, could be in Louisiana soon.

Lanclos said many farmers planted soybeans early to take advantage of this year’s early delivery premium offered for beans harvested in August. That incentive had a lot to do with the 2004 soybean acreage increasing to 1.07 million acres – roughly 270,000 acres more than in 2003, Lanclos said.

"Overall, I think we’ve been very pleased," he said.

This year, he said, farmers who planted early for the August premium were fortunate that no frosts hit the state in March.

But soybean crops were damaged by large amounts of rain early in the growing season in Southwest Louisiana, Lanclos said. Areas with heavy rainfall had a better crop if farmers planted on rows instead of flat ground, he said.

Lanclos said he was surprised that the state’s bean crop is doing as well as it has.

"I had no idea beans could take 30 inches of rain and still bounce back," he said.

Many sugarcane farmers are planting soybeans on their fallow ground, Lanclos said, and he expects that trend to continue.

Yields statewide range from 20 bushels an acre to 60 bushels an acre, the LSU AgCenter expert said, predicting yields for the state probably will average in the low 30s, compared to last year’s 35-bushel average.

Lanclos said the LSU AgCenter’s recommended varieties for next year’s bean plantings will be out in about six weeks.

Regarding pests, LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Jack Baldwin said the red-shouldered stink bug, which gets its name from an orange band behind its head, is tougher to control than the green stink bug and that it equals the green stink bug’s potential for damage.

The newer pest started showing up in parishes that grow sugarcane, he said, adding that it has been a menace for farmers in Argentina and Brazil.

Acephate, the generic name for Orthene, is the best chemical for controlling the pest, according to Baldwin, who said he got word late Friday (Sept. 3) that its use will be allowed for controlling red-shouldered stink bugs in soybeans.

Barrett Courville, LSU AgCenter county agent for soybeans in Acadia Parish, said red-shouldered stink bugs started showing up this year in the eastern and southeastern parts of the parish.

Worse yet, an additional pest is knocking on the door of American farmers.

LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Dr. Ken Whitam said soybean rust was found recently in Colombia, north of the equator, and that it’s only a matter of time before it hits the United States.

All it would take is a well-placed hurricane to blow the spores from that area to the Gulf South, he said.

"The bad news is it’s going to add $50 to $60 to your production costs," Whitam said.

"It’s caused a lot of problems in Brazil," he said, explaining that it has caused losses there in the range of 60 percent to 70 percent. "It could change the whole soybean industry in Louisiana."

He said farmers who use soybeans as a rotational crop may want to reduce their soybean acreage just in case the disease enters Louisiana during the growing season.

Several chemicals have been authorized to fight the pest if it is found in the United States, Whitam said.

More than 40 different plants in the United States, including kudzu, could serve as a host to the plant and perpetuate its existence, according to the LSU AgCenter expert, who stressed that existing soybean varieties are helpless against the disease without a fungicide.

"There’s no resistance in the germplasm," he said.

Moving to prices farmers can expect for this year’s soybean crop, LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Kurt Guidry said he thought earlier this year that soybeans would hit $10 a bushel. Instead, prices took a nosedive and have settled in the $6 range, he said.

The crop in Brazil and Argentina had problems, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimate of 105 million bushels on hand at the end of the crushing season appears to have been an overestimate.

On the other hand, Guidry said the midwestern United States has had an excellent growing season so far, boosting the projected yield – although fears of an early frost are keeping prices up.

"We’re going to have a big crop," the LSU AgCenter economist said. "It’s just a matter of how big it’s going to be."

The USDA has estimated the crop will be 25 percent to 30 percent larger than last year, and uncertainties with China’s future purchase of soybeans have decreased demand.


David Lanclos at (318) 473-6530 or dlanclos@agcenter.lsu.edu
Jack Baldwin at (225) 578-2369 or jbaldwin@agcenter.lsu.edu
Ken Whitam at (225) 578-2186 or kwhitam@agcenter.lsu.edu
Kurt Guidry at (225) 578-4567 or kmguidry@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or       bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu 

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