Less than stellar yields put sizable dent in area soybean prices
Farmers in the area are still feeling the effects of extreme rains in late 2015.
In September and October, it was reported recent harvests of soybeans, sweet potatoes, cotton and other crops had been set back due to several consecutive days of rainfall. The excessive water, coupled with a dip in commodity prices, had formed a perfect storm for many local farmers.
Coupled with a strangely humid December, the fears of farmers in Johnston County concerning late soybean yields have been confirmed. In short, it’s not good.
Soybeans are an important rotational crop for growers in the county, said Johnston County Extension agent Tim Britton this week. In fact, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Johnston County ranks in the top 10 in soybean acreage annually.
There were approximately 55,000 acres of soybeans planted in the county in 2015.
“It is hard to give an estimate of damaged acreage, but I would say that 60 to 70 percent of the acreage received some type of dockage (reduction in price) at the mill. Another major concern is the amount of damage to our soybean seed production,” explained Mr. Britton.
“Several of our growers produce seed for next year’s crop,” he added. “Damaged seed affects germination… . Growers get a premium for seed soybeans. When the soybeans are damaged, they cannot be sold for seed and are crushed for oil content and animal feed. This could be an issue next year.”
The planting and harvesting of the soybean is nothing short of a science.
The crop is divided into “maturity groups” that are adapted to a particular region and climate — from Canada to Florida. The maturity group is a key component in the seasonal yield of soybeans as it allows farmers to accurately predict a harvest period.
Johnston County farmers usually plant soybean maturity groups IV, V, VI and VII. Typical planting of IV and V groups occurs in May and with harvesting in early to mid-October, said Mr. Britton.
For groups VI and VII, planting usually occurs sometime in May to early June with yields in November and early December.
With damaged crops, bushel prices have been knocked down considerably, continued Mr. Britton.
“The IVs and Vs were ready when the rain started falling in October, which delayed harvest. Several acres of those early soybeans were damaged with (price reductions) from $2 to $6.50 per bushel. Today (Monday) soybeans were selling for $8.06 to $8.64 per bushel,” he said.
“So you can tell that this type of dockage can reduce prices below break even. The VIs and VIIs that were picked on time were good with little to no damage. However, the wet and humid weather we had over the holidays damaged these late soybeans,” said Mr. Britton. Story courtesy The Daily Record