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Combine harvesting soybeans

What’s happening with the Arkansas and Mississippi soybean harvest?

Late-season rains leading to damage reports

The Arkansas soybean has been early all growing season — until harvest, that is.

“Now, we’re delayed and the rains haven’t really helped,” says Jeremy Ross, Arkansas Extension soybean specialist in early October. “We’re a couple of weeks behind. The (NASS) numbers that came out (Oct. 1) said we’re at 28 percent harvested and the five-year average is around 37 percent.”

In addition “there are reports of growers getting pretty hefty dockage because of damaged beans. There are also some instances of beans sprouting in the pods. Once it’s ready to harvest, I’ve always said nothing good can happen to a soybean crop until it’s being driven to the elevator.

“I’m hoping we can get out of some of the early-planted crop that’s showing some problems and find the more full-season, later-planted beans looking a lot better. Time will tell.

“That’s kind of what happened in 2017. We had an initial flush of April-planted beans and once we got out of those, better quality came on.”

See also: Louisiana soybeans suffer in soggy September

In Mississippi, “how things are looking really depends on where you’re standing,” says Trent Irby, Mississippi Extension soybean specialist. “We’ve had some really, really good yields. Unfortunately, some of those good yields have got some damage.

“I’ve lost count of how many waves of rain this crop has been exposed to. We had rains in late September that were almost statewide — some extensive.”

As far as progress, harvest in Mississippi is “north of 50 percent. With some sunshine and barring equipment breakdowns, we should really power through some of the acres still out there.”

The damage in Mississippi is “kind of going on along with where a particular crop was in terms of maturity when the rains, humidity, cloudy weather and humidity hit hard. Everyone I’ve talked to lately has experienced some damage.”

If the weather holds for a week, how big a dent can be made in the harvest?

If weather holds

“It would be significant,” says Ross. “Most everyone is wrapping up rice harvest in the next couple of weeks and corn is also close. That will leave things open for the beans. We just need dry weather.

“Talking to consultants, producers and Extension agents who are seeing some poorer quality, a lot of the soybeans were ready to harvest 10 days ago. Then, it rained and the beans have just been sitting there. Without the bad weather, I don’t think we’d have had nearly the quality problem. It might not have been entirely eliminated but there wouldn’t have been the mold and mildew that has come in.”

Ross also says it’s worth considering the current situation may be due to “a combination of guys trying to plant really early-maturing varieties that aren’t totally adapted for the Mid-South. They make good yields but the quality may tail off a bit — even when they’re planted where they’re supposed to be farther north.

“Another part of it is the early-maturing varieties, obviously, come off earlier. But that’s right in the middle of rice or corn needing to be harvested, as well. That means the beans sit in the field waiting.”

So, what could have been done?

“Not much, honestly,” says Ross. “I don’t think a fungicide would have helped with a lot of the issues we’re seeing. The beans are simply ready and need to be harvested.”

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