Soybean producers hopeful about harvest

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 7, 2009

NATCHEZ — Adams County’s soybean producers are heading into the harvest hopeful for a bountiful take but remembering the summer that has preceded it.

“It has not been a cheap year,” Adams County farmer Ross McGehee said.

That’s because the county’s soybeans were afflicted with similar ailments as those in Concordia Parish — green bean, stink bugs, and all kinds of worms and fungus.

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“We just got a bill for the latest chemical application, and there were four different insecticides and two fungicides in one tank,” McGehee said. “That was $5,000 for just the chemical.”

Some of that application was for threats to crops that were present, but some was purely preventative.

Earlier in the summer, soybean rust was discovered across the river in St. Joseph.

“When that happens, you cannot afford to risk it, so you spend another $30 an acre putting out preventative medicine.”

Even before rust was discovered, soybean farmers had to deal with flooding in the county’s low-lying areas during the spring high water, flooding that lasted until June.

As soon as the waters receded, the summer heat kicked in, effectively killing the beans that were planted behind the retreating water.

“Normally, beans planted behind high water do well, and (this year) they would swell up to germinate, but the absolute heat in that soil would shrivel them up,” McGehee said. “It was like a Turkish steam bath in there.”

But not all beans languished under the sun, and McGehee said the contrast is often typical of farming — feast or famine.

“We have some fields that will cut 60 bushels (an acre), and we have some we will not combine at all,” he said.

“The good thing is that the price of beans is high enough that we have a good chance of making some money.”