Soybean seed supplies fall short for 2008

Soybean seed supplies fall short for 2008
With increasing diesel fuel prices and record fertilizer costs, farmers across the region take a daily gamble when producing food. Factor in Mother Nature, and that gamble becomes a risk to actually turn a profit and get the most out of the row-crops planted each season.
Last year reportedly offered some of the most unusual weather patterns farmers in Northwest Tennessee had faced. From a last-season frost, which took its toll on winter wheat crops to the lack of rain toward the end of harvest season for soybeans, those weather patterns had an adverse affect on this year’s plantings.
Soybean seed shortages weigh heavy on farmers’ minds as they look once again to Mother Nature to provide plenty of rainfall to give soybean plants the start they need for a successful crop.
“This year there is not enough seed to go around. If farmers have to replant soybeans like they did last year because of the lack of rainfall in the beginning, there will not be enough seeds for replanting,” Thomas Chandler, Weakley Farmer’s Co-op manager, explained.
According to Chandler, last year’s drought made for poor seed quality when soybeans were harvested, in turn, affecting this year’s supply.
The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service claims soybeans are planted on more acres than any row crop in Tennessee, with over 1 million acres grown annually. Soybeans are among the top three cash crops in the state. Reportedly, many counties suffered from early and extended dry weather, which caused moderate to severe yield reduction.
“Many states have lowered their standards to allow farmers to plant soybeans that have a lower germination rate. Tennessee is not one of those states. By law, soybeans planted in this state must have an 80 percent germination rate and higher,” Weakley County Ag Extension Director Jeff Lannom explained.
Soybeans harvested last year are testing at a 60 percent germination rate or better, but Lannom said those rates would only hurt farmers.
“It takes nearly twice as many 60 percent germination soybeans to produce a stand and land is a limitation,” Lannom added.
Soybean yields are heavily dependent on available moisture. The lack of adequate rainfall last season left yields averaging a 20-year low at 18 bushels per acre.
States such as Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia have also reported the affects of last year’s poor yields claiming there will be limited seed supply this year with none available for replanting.
In light of recent shortage woes, there are advantages to planting soybeans such as price stability into 2009.
According to Farm Press, prices are climbing with November 2008 futures reaching $14 per bushel. With increased costs in nitrogen fertilizer, soybeans are considered a low-demanding nitrogen crop.
Seed company Pioneer is offering a new system for farmers which targets soybean product selections based on high-yielding genetics and traits to maximize profit potential as opposed to seed count.
Local farmers will gear up for soybean planting later on in the month. Chandler said many farmers have already pre-ordered their soybean seed and will wait for optimum weather conditions before planting.
WCP 5.01.08

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