Soybean South


Multiple Factors Dictate Variety Selection

The level of salt tolerance, type of disease package and ability to
respond to irrigation determine which varieties a family
of Arkansas producers decides to plant.


For the Borgognoni family in Lake Village, Ark., a soybean has to tolerate levels of salt and disease pressure and respond well to irrigation. “Our bean not only needs to be salt tolerant, it has to be phytophthora and stem canker tolerant, and it needs to respond to irrigation,” says Tracy Borgognoni.

In fact, irrigation is an essential component to maintaining consistent high yields for the Borgognonis. All of their ground is precision leveled with a slight grade. The 50- and 80-acre blocks are surrounded by raised turnrows. They use reservoirs and canals, and their farm is located between two rivers, Big Bayou and Beouff River. They pump water from the rivers into the canals and into the reservoirs.

“We have a 50-acre reservoir,” Borgognoni says. “We enlarged the canals with dirt buckets so they’re essentially pit reservoirs – at the same time you’re pumping in, you’re pumping out of the tail water recovery system. We have 40-foot wide canals that run about four miles long.

“We put three or four pumps in a field and try to flood it up in one day and let the water off. Then we’ll catch it in a tail water recovery system and move the pumps to another field and water that one. Then we’ll rotate to another field. We water a field a day for about a week. About the time we’re watered up, we have to start over and re-water.

  “We normally irrigate beans four times. Last year we did a lot more than that. In 2006, both Beouff River and Big Bayou went dry – at a time when we needed water the most. David Yokum, the owner of Alice-Sidney north of us, told me he planned to let some water out of his reservoirs. Had we not caught that water, we would’ve been in real trouble.”

Disease package
The disease package of a soybean product also is critical to the Borgognonis. “Delta King’s DK 5366 RR was the bean that we liked the best, and it did very well on our soil,” Borgognoni says. “However, with later Group V beans you run a higher risk of getting Asian rust. So this year for the first time, we’re going to plant all Group IIIs and IVs.

“Delta King has always been conscientious and tries to get us the exact products that we need for our soil types. Bill Rushing and others have come out during the growing season whenever we had issues like a stem canker problem with the DK 5366 RR variety.

“The bean still cut 50 bushels per acre in some fields. We’re pleased with the disease package of the Delta King products.”

Yearly crop rotation
The Borgognonis normally use a 50/50 bean and rice rotation on a yearly basis. They feel that beans following rice can mean a 10-bushel yield boost.

“We’ve always grown rice,” Borgognoni says. “It spreads our risks, and it helps the ground. However, with the rising cost of fuel and fertilizer and the increasing bean price, we’re leaning strongly toward a whole lot more beans than rice.

“We normally plant 2,000 acres of beans and 2,000 acres of rice. We’ve been going less on rice acres and more on beans the last few years. This year we might go 1,000 acres of rice and 3,000 acres of beans.”

The Borgognonis purchase all of their soybeans through Alice-Sidney, which is located in Dermott, Ark. Alice-Sidney treats the beans with Apron Max and molybdenum.

“We pick up our soybean seed in mini-bulk, which helps reduce our manpower and time,” Borgognoni says. “We start planting beans any time after the first week in April.

“Because of our bean and rice rotation, we plant our beans flat. The precision leveled ground is soft enough that while we’re planting, the tractor tires make furrows through the field that help irrigation and drainage.”

A John Deere 22-row planter places the beans on 20-inch spacings. The Borgognonis plant 65 pounds per acre to ensure that they get a good stand on their heavy clay. They feel a heavier plant population helps their yields and decreases the weed pressure.

Since the advent of Roundup Ready technology, this family farm mostly uses Roundup herbicide. They sometimes add Classic or Reflex for coffeebeans and to help out on morningglories.

The Borgognonis have traditionally planted Group V beans, partly because their maturity does not interfere with rice harvest.

“We also always thought the later beans made better, but Delta King’s DK 3964 RR has made excellent yields for several years in a row,” Borgognoni says. “In some fields, it has cut 65 bushels per acre. Sixty bushels is phenomenal for us. The best crop we ever made was in 2005 when we averaged 53 bushels per acre across the farm. We normally make 40 to 45 bushels.

“We also like DK 3964 RR because it comes off early enough that we can cut it before we start cutting rice. The later you get into Group IVs, like 4.6 and 4.8, the more you get into trouble. We need from a 4.3 down so we can cut our beans first and rice later. Then we’ll start picking cotton.”

The Borgognonis start cutting their beans with four combines the first week in August and wrap up Sept. 1 so they can start cutting rice. They truck their beans to Alice-Sidney and their rice to Portland Gin, which is a gin and a rice dryer.

“We just bought a used combine for $26,000 because a new one costs $240,000,” Borgognoni says. “Everything costs so much, and the fuel is so exorbitant that we need to do everything possible to maximize profit and minimize cost.”

Delta King Seed Co. contributed information for this article.

Choose Beans Tolerant To High Salinity Levels

The importance of planting a salt-tolerant bean proved itself to the Borgognonis six years ago. They had planted several different varieties, some of which were intolerant to salt. The beans had reached the stage where they needed some water.

“We’re in a salt area, which has been documented for 40 years,” Borgognoni says. “The ground water has high salinity levels. We watered and afterwards – to the row – you could see that the includers suffered badly and the excluders did well.

“At the end of the season, the excluder beans cut 60 bushel beans per acre and the includer beans cut 25 to 30. One seed company couldn’t do enough to help us. And that was Delta King Seed.

“Delta King and its Sales & Marketing Director, Randy Currier, immediately recognized that we had a problem and tried to help us.

“They stood behind their product, helped us work through the immediate situation and continued to follow-up by identifying beans that are suitable to our area and our particular situation.

“In fact, Currier helped me get soil tests and water samples on the salinity problem in order to determine what would be the best approach in selecting our varieties.

“They have sent company representatives, including Bill Rushing and Lamar Barnett, several times over the years since then. They’re always eager to help us with any problem we have.

“We made good yields before that salt incident and have made very good yields since then. We’ll always be loyal to Delta King – more than half of our soybean production is planted to Delta King products.”