Soybean harvest is running ahead of schedule in the Mississippi Delta states, but yields, while still good, are far from last year's record levels.
“Soybean harvest is occurring more quickly than I was anticipating, given we were so late getting planted,” said Jeremy Ross, soybean specialist with the University of Arkansas. “It’s been exceptionally warm for September, which has speeded things up.”
According to USDA’s latest Crop Progress report, soybean harvest was 35% complete in Arkansas as of Sept. 27, compared with the five-year average of 29%. In Mississippi, bean harvest was 59% complete, compared to the five-year average of 51%. And in Louisiana, harvest was 75% complete, which is also ahead of the typical 68% for this time of year.
Yields across the Delta states, however, have been inconsistent. In Arkansas, for example, yields have ranged from 108 bu. per acre on a test plot to 15 bu. per acre on dry land, according to Ross.
He said he expects Arkansas’ yield to be below than USDA’s estimated 53 bu. per acre and lower than last year’s 50 bu. per acre, which was a record high.
“We don’t have the crop we had the last two years,” said Ross. “Southern Arkansas was planted in a timely manner, but north of I-40 rain delayed planting. A big portion of acres were not planted until late May or early June, and then we had stressful conditions in July and August.”
Early season rains, followed by summer heat and dryness was not exclusive to Arkansas. Producers in Mississippi and Louisiana battled similar weather conditions.
“Yields are not as good in Louisiana as we had in the past few years,” said Ronald Levy, soybean specialist with Louisiana State University AgCenter. “We had excessive rains early in the planting season followed by six weeks of drought. How can you compete with Mother Nature? The plants look good, but the seeds themselves are small.”
Last year, Louisiana’s statewide soybean yield hit a record-high 57 bu. per acre. This year, Levy said, the state’s average yield could drop to 47 bu. per acre or below.
Mississippi also expects a smaller crop this year.
Larry Falconer, agricultural economist with the Delta Research and Extension Center, said yields in Mississippi will likely be down 10% to 15% from last year’s record-high average yield of 52 bu. per acre.
But harvest is still progressing. “From the weather side, it looks fairly favorable for the next week or so,” says Falconer. “The majority of Mississippi’s soybeans will be harvested in the next two to three weeks.”
How is harvest going in your area? Check yields and enter your own data on AgWeb’s Harvest Maps.