Soybean South

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Rice Ground Goes Into Beans

Arkansas rice and soybean farmer Wayne Vines explains why he intends to plant
more soybeans this year. Vines also reveals where he goes to get
production advice when he needs it.

 

High diesel bills will take a lot of ground out of rice production in 2006. Arkansas rice/soybean farmer Wayne Vines, who farms in northern Jackson County, plans to switch more of his operation to soybean production this year.

“If a field is not absolutely prime rice ground, we cannot afford to plant it to rice,” explains Vines. “My sandy ground will be planted to soybeans. I rotate beans and rice, and I’m normally 60 percent soybeans and 40 percent rice. This year, I will probably not have more than 30 percent of my farm in rice production.

“The high input costs, particularly diesel, plus low rice prices, are the main reasons why I will plant more soybeans this year. Fuel and fertilizer are just too expensive, and a producer cannot afford to cut back on fertilizer, so diesel is the prohibitive cost. I’m not convinced you can burn over $2/gallon diesel and still raise rice profitably.”

Vines normally starts planting soybeans around May 10, depending on the weather. He always tries to plant rice before he starts planting soybeans; he plants both with a 7.5-inch spacing drill.

Going no-till is another way Vines plans to cut back on the amount of diesel that he will burn this season. “I have a no-till drill and haven’t really done much no-till in the past but I’ll do it for sure this year to reduce the amount of diesel that I’ll use,” he says.

Vines planted all Group Vs in 2005, but might plant some Group IVs on some of his dryland ground since he will plant less rice than normal this year. He planted Delta King Seed soybean varieties last year and plans to do the same this year. “Delta King offers good soybean varieties that perform consistently across the board on different soil types,” he says. “Last year, I planted DK 5567 RR, DK 5161 RR and DK 5967 RR.

“Keeping up with all the different soybean and rice varieties is difficult. Having a consultant helps me a whole lot with variety selection.”

Vines’ consultants ‘walk the walk’
Vines’ consultant is Marlow Wiggins of the Lawhon Farm Services. Wiggins, who is based at the Grubbs location, is involved in the recommendation and application of chemicals, fertilizer, fungicides and water management for all crops grown in his area. “We also make timing recommendations,” says Wiggins, who, like the other Lawhon consultants, is a Certified Crop Advisor accredited by the American Society of Agronomy and the Arkansas Consulting Licensing program.

Wiggins pulls soil samples and determines the crop’s nutrient needs on a field-by-field basis. Vines says, “My father was a firm believer in pulling soil samples, but I now depend on Wiggins to do it for me. Having another man walk my fields helps me out tremendously.

“Additionally, Lawhon has a top technical soybean man, Bill Rushing, who is the seed production manager for Delta King. I had a problem in one soybean field in 2004. We thought it was SDS, so Bill pulled samples and found that nematodes were causing the problems in the field. He was real thorough and really impressed me.”

Pre-season planning pays off
Wiggins continues working for Vines during the off-season. In addition to pulling soil samples, he tries to keep Vines and his growers informed as much as he can.

“For example, when the University of Arkansas publishes their variety yield results at the end of the year, I always take a copy to my growers to help them in variety selection,” Wiggins says. “Information is as important to them as products and practices.”

Vines adds, “We meet several times during the winter for pre-season planning, such as determining what varieties we need to plant on what field.”

He flood irrigates about 60 percent of his bean acreage. Vines also farms dryland beans – even more this year with his shift away from rice. He markets all of his soybeans and a little rice through Riceland Foods. The Arkansas producer markets most of his rice through Poinsett Rice and Grain.

“Poinsett has a great marketing organization and they’re locally owned by a good, honest man,” he explains. Vines grew up farming on the family operation. After graduating from college, he taught for five years, but returned to the farm in 1973 to farm with his father, who passed away in 1981.

Delta King Seed Company contributed information for this article.