Rains dampen otherwise optimistic outlook for Louisiana soybeans

Louisiana soybean harvest
Two combines harvest soybeans in Avoyelles Parish on the Ike and Joey Boudreaux farm. Statewide, the Louisiana soybean crop is more than half harvested, and yields are down slightly from last year because of weather conditions. Farmers in some areas are dealing with grain quality issues — photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter

With more than half the Louisiana soybean crop harvested, many farmers are looking at a good year, according to LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Todd Spivey.

“About 60 percent of the crop is out of the field,” he says.

Farmers were reporting better yields and grain quality before Tropical Storm Gordon moved inland after Sept. 4, Spivey says. After the storm, however, grain quality slipped, with a damage total of 5 to 10 percent, compared to 1 to 3 percent before Gordon.

Farmers had to plant when windows of dry weather were open, and that spread out planting from late March until May. The start of the growing season after planting was interrupted with wet, cool weather, and then the rains stopped in many areas.

Disease and insects were not as much of a problem this year, Spivey says.

The cold winter apparently had an effect on redbanded stink bugs because they were not the problem they have been in previous years, Spivey says. Some farmers only sprayed once for the pest, and some didn’t spray at all.

Dry weather in June and July contributed to less disease, but some areas of the state were too dry. Many parts of southwest Louisiana went without rain from May until August. Then the rains started at harvest time and prevented farmers from getting in the field when the crop was ready to harvest.

The overall yield is good, but it’s not likely the state will set a yield record, although some producers might have their individual best harvests. “Apart from the southwest part of the state, the crop looks really good,” Spivey says.

Farmer Johnny Hensgens, of Lake Charles, says soybeans had potential until the rain started at harvest time. “We had a good crop, with a good stand and timely showers,” he says.

But the crop has been ruined by rain that started at harvest time. “It’s been raining for three weeks. We had an inch and a half yesterday,” Hensgens says.

His last truckload of soybeans was rejected with 27 percent damage. He says the harvest started with yield of 36 to 27 bushels an acre, but now the yields have low test weights.

Farmer Joey Boudreaux, of Palmetto, says problems have developed with grain buyers rejecting beans with damage exceeding 5 percent. He still has more than half his crop in the field, and he’s running out of bin space. He has a contract with one buyer, but he can’t start delivery until Oct. 1.

“It is a mess,” Boudreaux says.

He says his yields were more than 50 bushels per acre in fields that received rain and in the mid-40s for fields that didn’t get as much moisture.

Farmer Damian Bollich, of Bastrop, says he will start harvesting soybeans after he cuts the last of his rice.

He says the bean crop is promising, and he hopes the rain will hold back.

“This is one of the best bean crops I’ve seen,” Bollich says. “If we can get it out, it will be good.”

Keith Collins, AgCenter agent in Richland Parish, says harvest is roughly 70 percent complete in his area.

The harvest will be less than in 2017. Yields have ranged from 60 bushels per acre to the mid-80s on irrigated land. On non-irrigated land, yields reflected extended periods of drought, with many fields producing 25 to 30 bushels per acre, Collins says.

“Up to this point, the quality has been good,” Collins says. But the prediction for extended periods of rain could change that.

The Louisiana State University AgCenter contributed this article.

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