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Southern soybean growers push for earlier planting

Soybean growers in the South continue to test the barriers of early planting, according to findings of the Agriculture Online field tour this week.

Phil Rizzo, a Bolivar County, Mississippi, farmer, planted a soybean field on March 3 that was visited on the tour by Agriculture Online Editor Mike McGinnis. Rizzo expected the beans to be ready for harvest in the last week of July.

Rizzo is a prime example of Mississippi farmers planting earlier and earlier each year in a push for higher yields.

Rizzo's soybean yield average was 50 bushels per acre, and just to break even, Rizzo said he needs higher-than-average yields. He plans to plant 3,000 acres of soybeans this year, slightly higher than a year ago. As of Tuesday, Rizzo had 60% of his soybeans planted. Despite some group-5 soybeans to be planted on April 25, Rizzo considers his planting to be on schedule.

A number of Delta soybean growers were able to plant all of their crop in a 10-day period before heavy rains last weekend.

The Agriculture Online tour also stopped at a test plot at an experiment station in Stoneville, Mississippi, where Trey Koger, a USDA soybean agronomist, hand-planted soybeans in late January.

The beans survived three frosts, one as cold as 28 degrees. Koger said Mississippi farmers want to plant earlier and earlier, so he is trying to find out just how early soybeans will survive. It's important to note, Mississippi had a mild month of February this year, he said. In another plot, Koger planted soybeans on January 5 that didn't make it.

Soybean growers in the South continue to test the barriers of early planting, according to findings of the Agriculture Online field tour this week.

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