Mississippi soybean farmers set a new record with a state yield average of 52 bushels per acre in 2014, a big increase over the 45 bushels per acre seen in 2013.
As always, weather played a major part in the 2014 yields, but the production and management practices soybean farmers used to produce these yields are another major factor. Mississippi farmers and Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension personnel stress the importance of soil sampling, variety selection, weed management and more.
Macon farmer Dale Weaver saw an average of 60 bushels per acre on his dryland fields this year. Working with mostly silty clay soils, Weaver samples his soil every other year and says this is an essential tool in maximizing yields.
“Sampling is extremely beneficial,” Weaver says. “If you didn’t sample, it would be like shooting in the dark.”
Bobby Golden, Ph.D., soil fertility extension/research specialist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, says potassium deficiency is the primary nutrient deficiency in Mississippi. The best remedy to avoid potassium deficiency is conducting frequent soil sampling and responding appropriately. Maintaining fertility is important for optimizing yields on both a short-term and a long-term basis.
Through variety trials, farmers are able to choose varieties with proven yield potential, by maturity group and resistance to nematodes, diseases and herbicides. Bill Spain, from Booneville, spends hours researching and testing different varieties. He’s averaging yields in the high 40s to low 50s per acre.
“We use Mississippi State’s trials, because they provide accurate, unbiased information,” Spain says. “We take their variety short list, their test results and study that. We then try to grow varieties they recommend.”
The majority of Mississippi soybean farmers now face herbicide-resistant weeds in their fields, most notably weeds resistant to glyphosate. This major production problem threatens farmer profitability.
Having a diverse weed-management approach that not only takes into account the type of herbicide resistance but also the weed’s biology is essential in maximizing yields. It’s important to control weeds present in soybean fields year-round, including before planting, at planting, postemergence and after harvest.