Soybean planting hits home stretch ahead of schedule

Published 10:36 am Friday, June 9, 2023

By Nathan Gregory
MSU Extension Service

Anytime conditions allow soybean growers in Mississippi to begin planting in April, they have started on the right foot.

On the week ending June 4, 93% of the state’s crop was in the ground, and 87% was reported emerged; both percentages are just ahead of state five-year averages.

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“We got a fair amount of field work done last fall, which meant that we were able to hit the ground running in most cases with 2023 planting,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Most of the crop is progressing through vegetative stages, with the earliest planted portion being in full bloom right now.

“We initiated irrigation during the last week of May on a fair number of early-planted soybeans that were already in full bloom,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates crop progress and condition each week of the growing season through its National Agricultural Statistics Service. In addition to the reported progress of 2023 soybeans, it rates 77% of the crop to be in good or excellent condition.

Irby said early planting weather was variable, as temperatures were sometimes below normal in April. Seeds required some extra time to germinate with limited heat. Soil moisture was adequate for planting until recently.

“Planting progress really just depended on where you were standing,” Irby said, “but anytime we can cover a lot of ground planting during April, we can expect greater yield potential across those acres.

“It seemed like we started getting those summertime scattered rains a little earlier in May than normal. As a result, some areas were wet and planting was delayed a little, while other areas finished right on time or even ahead of schedule,” he added. “One good thing was that until the last part of May, we maintained adequate soil moisture across many areas.”

In March, USDA predicted Mississippi growers would plant 2.35 million acres of soybeans. Irby said it looks like the state will hit that number or see a slight increase. This is despite prices trending downwards since the beginning of the year.

On Jan. 1, the November Chicago Board of Trade soybeans future contract was $13.97 per bushel. This past Friday, the same contract closed at $11.83 per bushel.

Will Maples, MSU Extension agricultural economist, said this price is significantly lower than growers were seeing this time last year.

“At this time of year, weather is driving the market. We saw a bit of a rally in soybean prices at the end of last week as the forecast for dry conditions was extended in the central and eastern Midwest,” Maples said. “If rain does not enter the forecast for these regions as June progresses, we can expect to see a market rally. The extent of any rally and how long it hangs around though is conditional on an improving demand picture.”

Maples said the outlook for exports for this upcoming crop year is weaker than the previous two years. The USDA currently projects the U.S. to have 335 million bushels of ending stocks compared to 215 million bushels last year.

“This is largely driven by a record expected production, which is based on a trend model for yield,” Maples said. “Weather will play a key role in where yield ends up. Over the next couple of months, weather forecasts will increase volatility in the market. Producers are encouraged to be prepared for any weather rallies and understand they will likely not last long.”