Farmers have above-average year with soybeans

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, December 7, 2011


COURTLAND—Western Tidewater farmers are experiencing an aboveaverage yield with this year’s soybean crop, said Southampton County Agriculture Extension Agent Chris Drake.

“Usually it’s the last crop to harvest,” Drake said. “My dad just finished harvesting those last week, as a matter of fact.”

Cautious gathering between sun and rain is needed.

“The problem that people are going to run into is the land getting wet and the ground getting torn up by harvest equipment,” he said.

The price for the soybeans is $11.35 per bushel.

While there are farmers selling for the cash, others are holding on in the hope that the price will rebound in early winter or spring, Drake said. Soybeans can be held for a year.

He added that commodity markets could see a 50- to 60-cent change in a day.

“It’s not out of the realm to see $12,” Drake said.

The crop is used as meal for cattle, hog and chicken feed. Soybean oil is also a major use.

Out of the 1,100 acres at Sandy Bridge Farms in Newsoms, Westley Drake devoted 200 acres to soybeans.

“We’re almost finished,” said Westley Drake, adding that recent rain delayed harvesting.

At the family farm, there was a double crop of soybeans and winter wheat, with the former being planted behind the grain, which was harvested in June.

Westley Drake said that some years the late-planted beans do better than early ones, and vice-versa. He credited Hurricane Irene and subsequent rains for success with the former.

“The later ones had not yet flowered and got moisture at the right time,” he said. “Early ones flowered in the hot sun, but the lack of moisture meant not as many pods.”

He’ll hold the beans until the price is right.

Janet Spencer, the agricultural agent for Isle of Wight County, said farmers are in the middle of harvesting their 17,000 acres of soybeans.

“But we’ve hit another snag with the weather,” Spencer said. “Farmers are being delayed. It’s a very slow process now.”

Jimmy Oliver at Longview Farms said out of the 1,100 acres, 425 are devoted to soybeans, and 175 acres are intended for seed soybeans. Oliver finished harvesting the day after Thanksgiving.

He also had a double crop with wheat collected first in the summer. The output was above average.

“Early beans were planted in May,” said Oliver. “They were average. Some good, some not as good. The later ones planted benefited from the rains and the hurricane.”

A good portion of his soybeans is contracted to sell.