Almost every producer across the South has worn many a pencil to the nub this year trying to figure out what crops to plant in light of stunning commodity prices across the board. For the past couple of years, it appeared that King Cotton had taken off his crown and slipped into the shadows. Many wondered if he were contemplating permanent retirement as soybean and corn took over acres that traditionally were planted to cotton.
However, when cotton prices began to soar, everyone looked on in speechless awe. No one had ever seen anything like it and wondered if it were a fluke or was it for real. Apparently, many producers have decided to jump back on the cotton bandwagon at the expense of soybean acres. King Cotton has triumphantly picked up his crown and proudly announced, “I’m back!”
However, that doesn’t mean soybeans have been left out of the crop mix. They are still a viable option and haven’t been completely shunned by Southern producers.
The good news for soybeans is that their recent growth in popularity has given producers, consultants, Extension personnel, researchers and industry a chance to observe how this crop reacts under different environmental conditions, see how new varieties perform and develop strategies for combating weed and insect pests. This issue of Soybean South addresses several of these topics, providing valuable information for farmers to absorb prior to the 2011 growing season.
For example, respected Arkansas entomologist Gus Lorenz discusses the results of multiple insecticide seed treatment (IST) studies conducted across the Mid-South. Industry has brought forward several new IST products for soybeans, and, according to Lorenz, in nearly 80 percent of research trials, ISTs have provided a positive return in the Mid-South.
Go to here to see more details about ISTs and where they may have a fit in your operation.
On pages 8 and 9, veteran agronomist Dr. Normie Buehring with Mississippi State University shares the findings of a five-year non-irrigated study that examined yield response to bed height in no-till controlled traffic systems. Buehring presents several different scenarios involving various equipment setups. He also comments on how long old beds can be used without showing a yield loss.
Southern producers also may be interested in a product typically used in a cotton defoliation program that is now labeled for postemerge control of glyphosate-resistant weeds in soybeans. Kip Roberson, a North Carolina producer, talks about his experience with this new soybean weed control tool on page 13.
With glyphosate-resistant weeds, especially pigweed, on top of everyone’s “hot topic list” for 2011, Southern soybean growers are taking a much closer look at their early season weed control options. To help farmers put it all in perspective, experienced Extension weed specialist Bob Scott, with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, offers some efficacious weed control strategies to help farmers start clean and stay clean. See what he has to say about the role of residual herbicides on pages 14 and 15.
Although Southern soybeans may have conceded some acres to cotton this year, they are still part of the crop mix in many instances. That’s why it’s important to manage them for optimum ROI.