Soybean South

 - From the Editor -

By Lia Guthrie

Having grown up on a farm in the Mississippi Delta, I remember each spring being viewed as a fresh start. Harvest season was always a time to be thankful, but there was something about a new beginning, a clean slate.

In this issue of Soybean South, you’ll read articles dealing with early planting strategies, weed control options as well as something relatively new that could help earn your Southern soybeans some marketshare…SoyDiesel.

Whether our editors are writing about cotton, rice, peanuts or soybeans, our main editorial objective is to provide our readers with profitable production strategies.

Management decisions early in the year are critical to your farming operation. Once the decision is made on some of them – like variety selection and tillage options – you live with that decision the rest of the year.

You’ll find variety update/availability for 2006 on pages 10 and 11 with the Southern grower specifically in mind. Tennessee farmer, Philip Moore, is improving his operation by comparing university test results with his own field trials when making variety selections. In addition, he has moved to earlier maturing varieties, now plants “beans per acre” instead of “pounds per acre” and is actively engaged in the marketing process.

Moore also believes in proper soil fertility. Arkansas is yielding some promising results by tending to proper fertility requirements, especially in silt loam soil conditions. You can read about it on page 4.

One thing we Southerners have always excelled at is supporting our Southern roots. Pioneer Noal Lawhon believes in keeping things close to home. Read about the benefits of SoyDiesel and how he is hoping to improve the economy of his home state. Some myths regarding biodiesel can be dispelled on pages 8 and 9 – as well as realizing the benefits of supporting the Southern soybean industry, creating a friendlier environment and becoming less dependent on foreign oil supplies.

Bob Ratliff with Mississippi State University feels that when biodiesel first came on the scene about 10 years ago, the group most reluctant to accept it were the ones who might benefit the most from its widespread use – farmers. The concern that they had was that using anything other than petroleum diesel might possibly harm engines or void manufacturers’ warranties.

Ratliff said that John Deere approved the use of a B5, or up to a 5 percent concentration level of a bio-component in their diesel fuel several years ago. According to Deere, farmers can use that in the John Deere Power Tec engines with no effect on warranty. In fact, every tractor and combine that leaves the factory now has biodiesel fuel in it.

This month, both of our featured Southern specialists anticipate soybean acreage to increase in their respective states of Tennessee and North Carolina. Both cite the rising cost of nitrogen in corn as the driving force behind the increase. Dr. Amanda Thompson of Tennessee also reminds growers that using tank mixes for burndowns is a good idea in her area – especially due to weed resistance problems. Dr. Jim Dunphy of North Carolina State University says that burndown is becoming a more common practice because farmers are using more no-till operations. We appreciate their insight into these early season production challenges.

We hope you enjoy your newest issue of Soybean South, designed, written and edited for the Southern producer. If you have comments or would like to make suggestions, please do not hesitate to call. Consider us home folks.

Best regards –

Lia Guthrie