Soybean planting well behind schedule

(05/06/21) BATCHELOR, La. — When they can, Louisiana soybean farmers have been busy planting as many acres as the weather allows. Unfortunately, many producers have not been able to get in their fields as often as they would like.

According to a May 3 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, approximately 24% of the state’s intended soybean acres had been planted. The five-year average for this date is 47%.

“We are behind,” said David Moseley, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist. “It basically starts at the winter storms in February and the consistent rains since then. The fields have stayed wet.”

Last year, Louisiana grew 1.1 million acres of soybeans. Many expect that number to grow as prices for beans are up significantly compared to last year.

“I’ve heard a lot of talk about planting marginal land,” Moseley said. “Planting some acres that were not in soybeans last year, or even three, four or five years ago.”

A weaker U.S. dollar and growing demand in China are helping to fuel rising soybean prices.

“Since last year,” Moseley said, “it’s gone from around $8 something a bushel, to now, we’re seeing prices in the $15 per bushel range.”

Moseley would not be surprised to see quite a few acres planted after the optimal planting window, which is May 15 for Louisiana. Soybeans planted after the optimal planting date tend to have lower yields. Even though yields may suffer, higher prices may offset those losses.

“Even if you lose a little bit of yield because of late planting, the price is good,” Moseley said. “You should be able to be profitable this year even with a small decrease in yield.”

Moseley expects state yield totals to drop because of beans being planted outside the optimal window and on marginal lands.

Moseley said planting in Louisiana did not really begin until the first week of April for many growers, which is much later than normal. Much of the beans that have been planted are on fallow sugarcane fields. Growers will want to harvest these beans in August, and then plant sugarcane in those fields.

Man looking at soybeans plants.

David Moseley, LSU AgCenter state soybean specialist, examines young soybeans on a farm in Pointe Coupee Parish. Louisiana soybean growers are behind schedule for their bean planting as April 2021 was one of the wettest on record. Growers had only planted 24% of the state’s intended acres by May 3. Photo by Craig Gautreaux/LSU AgCenter

Man loading a planter.

James Curtis fills up a planter with soybean seed on a farm in Pointe Coupee Parish while Tommy Kirkland looks on. A wet April has many growers behind on their planting. To optimize yield, soybeans should be planted by May 15 in Louisiana. Photo by Craig Gautreaux/LSU AgCenter

5/6/2021 6:53:40 PM
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