Soybean South


Seed Shortage Increases Production Risks

Southern soybean farmers are urged to research unfamiliar varieties. Consider,
among other factors, such aspects as the seed’s germination rating, disease resistance
and ability to withstand waterlogged conditions.

By Robert H. Wells

With soybean seed in short supply in 2008, Mississippi soybean growers are facing increased production risks, including unproven varieties and poor quality seed. Mississippi State University Extension Service specialists recommend producers research available varieties to minimize these risks.

“We’re not going to have replant options this year because of the seed shortage,” says Trey Koger, MSU Extension soybean specialist. “Most likely we are going to have one shot at getting a stand, and we don’t need to plant too early when conditions are cool and wet. Be aware of our optimal planting window from April 5 to April 20.”

Soybean seed demand is outpacing supply all over the state, with the most popular varieties proving to be the most difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Koger says for information about unfamiliar varieties, producers should refer to Extension personnel, seed distributors, seed companies, the Internet, other states’ variety trials and the Mississippi Soybean Variety Trials.

“Over the past three years, we’ve tested 830 different varieties in the Mississippi variety trials,” Koger says. “That’s going to be an excellent resource to fall back on to provide information on some varieties that we just don’t know a lot about.”

Results of the Mississippi Soybean Variety Trials are published annually and are available at county Extension offices and online at

Koger says a critical aspect to consider before buying soybean seed is its germination rating, which describes the seed’s chances of development. Other key traits to research include a variety’s disease resistance, ability to withstand waterlogged conditions, performance on different soil types – such as heavy clay – ability to grow on narrow or wide row spacings and accelerated aging test score, which is a good measure of overall seed quality.

Reasons for soybean seed shortage
Mississippi soybean acreage could approach two million in 2008 if weather permits and seed is available for planting, Koger said. Demand is high for soybeans in 2008 due to record price levels and comparatively low requirement for fertilizer.

Soybean seed supplies are limited because of adverse weather conditions last year in seed-growing regions of the country, says Dan Poston, MSU northwest district Extension soybean specialist.

“In southern Illinois, for example, extreme heat during pod fill decreased seed viability, and the hot, dry conditions reduced production volume,” Poston says. “Rain delayed harvest in several seed-growing regions, resulting in seed deterioration and overall reductions in seed quality. Consequently, seed companies have had to make major cuts in their supplies for 2008 to remove poor-quality seed.”

Floyd Trammell, general manager of Farmer’s Inc., a seed distributor in Greenville, said he normally orders enough soybean seed to cover typical customer needs, plus a little extra.

“When we did that this year, the seed companies came back and cut those allocations considerably, some more than 50 percent,” Trammell says.

He said the main varieties producers want are in the biggest demand and shortest supply.

“Asgrow 4703, DeKalb 46-51 and Pioneer 94B73 are three of the hottest ones that are being requested right now,” Trammell says.

Trammell said he bought varieties he usually does not buy in order to offset the cutbacks this year.

“We’ll have soybeans for our producers,” he says. “It just might not be the variety they asked for.”

Robert H. Wells is the Editor and Operations Coordinator at DREC in Stoneville, Miss.