Soybean South


Dryland Beans Demand
Strategic Management

Mississippi farmers describe the overall production strategies that help them
stay on top of 100 percent no-till dryland soybeans. They say staggering
variety maturities is key.


Brothers Mike and Mark Pannell feel that matching the right soybean variety with the right soil type while staggering maturity at the same time is so important that these New Albany, Miss., producers plant 15 different varieties on their family farm.

Mike explains, “You never know whether you’ll catch early or late season rains, so we spread out our maturity groups with 15 different varieties. We also want to match each variety with the appropriate soil type. We’ve seen some varieties that yielded high in university variety trials, but they weren’t suited for our soils, which range anywhere from sandy loam to gumbo.”

Mark adds, “We formerly planted late Group 3s and early Group 4s that came off in August, which sometimes conflicted with our corn harvest. Last year, we switched to Group 4.5s up to Group 5.9s that matured a little later and gave us more time to pull corn. “We started cutting beans the middle of September. For the last two years, our later beans have done better for us than our earlier beans; we made crops on the later rains from the tropical storms. However, you never know when the rain will fall so we spread out our maturities.”

Back-up support is appreciated
The Pannells are long-time users of Delta King brand and Armor brand soybeans – both brands are provided by Cullum Seeds, LLC.

In 2007, they planted three Delta King brand varieties: DK 4866, DK 4667 and DK 4968. They also planted two Armor brand varieties: GP-488 and GP-533. These five Roundup Ready varieties accounted for about 30 percent of their soybean acreage last year.

Mark says, “DK 4866 and GP-488 were our two top yielding beans last year. They were 10 bushels ahead of everything else and withstood the hot and dry weather better than anything else.”

A soybean company that backs up its variety also makes a big difference on what varieties these Mississippi brothers decide to plant.

Mark says, “Instead of just seeing a variety number on a piece of paper and checking variety trial results, it’s always good to have reps like Randy Willis of Cullum Seeds coming around to help you place that bean in the soil type where it will perform best.

“A good sales rep can really help you. You need somebody who comes out during the season, looks at the beans and helps you make decisions.”

No-till: The system of choice
For the Pannells, a new season for dryland bean production begins in the fall when they pull soil samples and apply lime. Partly because 30 percent of their land is considered highly erodable, they farm 100 percent no-till. Some of their fields have been in continuous no-till production for 12 years. Their fields average about 30 acres although they have several 150-acre fields.

Mike says, “In early March, we begin our burndown with Roundup and 2,4-D. And as soon as the ground gets dry enough, we put out fertilizer, usually 250 pounds of 0-23-30 per acre, according to soil sampling results.

“By mid-April, we start planting soybeans. If there’s a flush of warm season grasses, like broadleaf signalgrass in the low spots, we hit them with Roundup.”

They use a John Deere 1780 planter to plant soybeans on 15-inch rows. The brothers plant 140,000 seeds per acre with the goal of having one plant every three inches. All of their seed is treated with ApronMaxx through their seed cart. The Pannells have treated their soybean seed for the last 30 years.

Pest control strategies
From 14 to 21 days after planting, they hit the weeds again with Roundup and come back two weeks later with another shot of the herbicide if it is needed.

Mark says, “For the last couple of years, we’ve gotten by with one Roundup application. If our fields are clean at planting, and we hit that first flush a few weeks later and the beans are coming up well, we don’t have to spray again.”

A Headline fungicide application is made between R3 and R4. Mark says, “We gained a 15- to 20-bushel increase the first year we applied a fungicide. For the last two years, the weather turned off hot and dry, and diseases weren’t a problem.”

At that same time of the season, the Pannells also scout for stink bugs.

Mike says, “I always keep a sweep net in my truck and scout the fields often. We keep a sharp eye out for stink bugs and apply Warrior pyrethroid when it’s needed.”

Soybean acres increase
Come harvest, they use two Case IH 2188 combines. With their inputs and soil types, the Pannells expect a 10-year average of 30-35 bushels per acre. With a timely rain, however, they can average in the 40-bushel range, with some fields yielding in the 50s and 60s.

In 2007, these brothers planted 2,000 acres of beans and 700 acres of corn. This year they expect to farm much less corn because of input costs and high soybean prices.

Mike says, “You can break even with 25-bushel beans priced at $12 and 75-bushel corn at $4.50. That’s based on our pre-paid prices back in November. However, if we had to go out and buy fertilizer today, we’d lose on 75-bushel corn priced at $4.50.”

Cullum Seed Co. contributed the information for this article.

Storage & Marketing: Know When To Hold ‘Em

Mike and Mark Pannell store 100 percent of their beans and corn in on-farm bins. They have a total storage capacity of 150,000 bushels.

Mike says, “In the last three years, we added 80,000 bushels. On-farm storage quickly pays for itself.

“We’ve always handled our own marketing. We know how many bushels we harvested; how much we need to pay for production; and at what price we need to sell.

“On-farm storage for beans lets us take advantage of rising markets. We hold back on some of our beans every year for pricing opportunities. With $5 to $6 soybeans, it doesn’t hurt to hold some. We’ve held beans for two years and later sold them for $3 to $4 a bushel more than what we would’ve made otherwise.”