News Release Distributed 04/09/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – In a trend mirroring much of the Midsouth region, Louisiana farmers are expected to plant more soybeans than they did last year, according to LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ronnie Levy. He expects growers to plant 1.3 million acres as compared to 1.1 million acres in 2013.
“We’ve been on a steady climb the past 10 years in terms of both acreage and yields for soybeans,” Levy said. “Because of unfavorable, wet planting conditions for corn, the increase in acres for soybeans will come primarily from those corn acres.”
Also working against corn and for soybeans is the price for those commodities. Corn prices are much lower than last year’s prices, while the price for soybeans remains strong.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s March 31 Prospective Planting report, which is compiled based on farmers’ stated planting intentions, corn acreage across the United States is expected to be four percent lower and is estimated to be 91.7 million acres.
The planting report estimates a national record number of acres in soybeans. Farmers are expected to plant 81.5 million acres, an increase of six percent.
Levy said the past two years have been good for Louisiana soybean producers. “We’re coming off two consecutive years of record yields. In fact, our yields have been comparable to the highest-yielding states.”
According to the LSU AgCenter Ag Summary, soybeans producers averaged 48.9 bushels per acre with gross farm value of $773.4 million in 2013.
The two highest-yielding sections of the state are in the central and northeast areas with lower yields found in the southwest, where most of the state’s rice is grown.
“The yields are lower there primarily because of their rotation with rice. Most soybeans are not grown on rows when in rotation with rice. The rotation with soybeans aids in the control of weeds in rice, but drainage can be a problem in wet years,” Levy said. “And in dry years they don’t have the capacity to irrigate their rice and soybeans.”
At this time last year, producers had nearly one-quarter of their crop planted, as compared to less than one percent as of April 9, according to Levy. He said the optimal planting dates for soybeans in Louisiana varies according to maturity group, but early April to early May plantings have produced excellent yields.
Planting after early May increases the risks of lowered yields because of more insect and disease issues, a shorter growing season and higher temperatures during crop development.