AP News

Outstanding north Louisiana soybean harvest

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Soybean yields are great in north Louisiana, where most of the harvest is in, but rains in the south are delaying harvest in the southwest and Hurricane Isaac destroyed fields in the southeast, says LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ronnie Levy.

"If it wouldn't have been for the hurricane, we probably would have had record yields set in Louisiana," Levy said. "We still may be able to do that, depending on some of these later soybeans and how they perform."

Statewide, about 60 percent of the 1.1 million acres have been harvested. Levy said about 5 percent, mostly in the southeast, was lost to Isaac.

Farmers in the south generally plant later-ripening beans than those in the north, he said, but southwestern fields were ready when the rains began. "Producers aren't able to get in to harvest them so they're sitting in the field an additional week to 10 days. We're seeing a lot of quality damage," he said.

Levy said stink bugs have caused minor damage because farmers weren't able to apply pesticides before the hurricane.

The disease Asian soybean rust has shown up in later-planted soybeans, but Levy doesn't expect major damage. "Most of those have been treated with fungicides that help reduce the problem with rust in the field," he said.

Despite problems, farmers should do well this year, Levy said. Drought in other parts of the country has driven up soybean prices.

"They're probably the highest prices I've known of in my days of soybean production — in the $17 to $18 per bushel range," Levy said.

Other good news for growers is they now have access to soybean varieties better suited for the South. This is helping them achieve record-level yields.

"In the past, most of them were developed for the Midwest for different growing conditions, different diseases and different problems than we have in the South," Levy said.

With good varieties and high prices, Levy expects soybean acreage to increase in Louisiana next year.

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