Not too late to plant soybeans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; With most of the corn safely in the ground, area farmers are taking advantage of

&8220;perfect&8221; ground conditions to get their soybeans planted.

In farming, timing is everything.

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There are 13 official soybean maturity groups ranging from 000 to X (10), the lower the group number, the earlier the beans mature. Both the LSU and Mississippi State agriculture extension services recommend using earlier maturing varieties. Most will plant group IV &8212; VI beans varieties.

Research by both institutions has shown that earlier maturing varieties, planted earlier, can dramatically improve yield potential.

And that&8217;s the name of the game.

LSU AgCenter soybean specialist David Lanclos said getting soybeans planted earlier in the year was definitely a good idea but there was no need to panic if you haven&8217;t done so yet.

&8220;I am for early planting, but let&8217;s put it in perspective: five years ago, May 15 was early planting,&8221; Lanclos said.

&8220;To maximize yield, you&8217;re going to want to plant in the first to third week of April,&8221; he added.

For many in the Miss-Lou, the time is right now.

Cecil Parker, who runs a farming consulting firm AgriServices and plants as well, said the conditions were right and he was advising his clients to plant.

He said the early spring has warmed the ground above the magic 60-degree mark and a test plot he planted eight days ago showed an impressive half-inch sprout after just three days.

&8220;It typically takes 10 days to two weeks to come up,&8221; he said.

&8220;Now I&8217;m going to say they&8217;ll be up within 10 days.&8221;

Planting earlier gives the crop more time to mature in the pleasant spring and early summer months.

There are dangers involved, however, to planting early.

&8220;Everyone&8217;s worried about an Easter snap,&8221; Parker said. &8220;That would slow us down. A frost wouldn&8217;t hurt, but a hard freeze would decimate the crop and we&8217;d have to start again.&8221;

But for many farmers in the area, the weather is good enough to take the risk.

Lynn White, who farms with Jason and Gene Tiffee as part of T & W Farm in Deer Park, said they like to plant as close as they can to the beginning of April and waxed poetic in describing the soil conditions.

&8220;We&8217;ve got plenty of moisture,&8221; White said.

&8220;It&8217;s real mellow and in good shape, it&8217;s planting-perfect.&8221;

Cy Abernathy of Black River Farm Supply in Monterey said the farmers he sells to feel the same way, but the conditions won&8217;t last.

&8220;It&8217;s perfect right now, but the window for planting is small,&8221; he said.

&8220;If we don&8217;t get a little bit of rain before the middle of the week, it might get too dry.&8221;

Last year, 87,000 acres of soybeans were planted in Concordia Parish.

Adams County planted about 9,500 acres.

With the high price of fertilizer chasing people away from corn and grain sorghum (milo) and a high soybean yield in 2005 &8212; 35 bushels per acre &8212; those numbers are expected to rise this season.