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Soybeans likely unfazed by weekend storms

By Ryan McGeeney
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

    • Soybean planting progress now ahead of 5-year average
    • Most of crop planted along eastern border of state, where storms have been less intense
    • Some growers may experience isolated crusting/emergence problems

(500 words)

LITTLE ROCK — Despite heavy rains taking place squarely in the middle of the Arkansas soybean planting window, the state’s No. 1 crop will likely emerge unaffected, experts said this week. 

Weekend storms battered and flooded portions of southwest Arkansas, including a suspected tornado in Howard County that left two dead. Rains flooded creeks and rivers, in turn sending inches or feet of water over surrounding crop pastures. Eastern Arkansas saw rains as well, although it fell after several weeks of dry weather, allowing many farmers to make up time lost to a generally wet spring, said Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

“With the dry weather we had last week, we made pretty good strides on getting a lot of the crop planted,” Ross said. “We’re actually ahead of the 5-year average by several percentage points, after having been behind most of the season.” 

According to a crop progress and condition report published May 11 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, six of the state’s major crops — corn, cotton, rice, sorghum, soybeans and winter wheat — have all now pulled past their respective five-year averages for planting progress for this point in time. Soybeans were listed as 46 percent planted, compared to the crop’s historic average of 38 percent in the first week of May. 

While there is a cluster of soybean crop production in southwest Arkansas, primarily in Miller, Lafayette, Hempstead and Little River counties, the vast majority of the state’s approximately 3.2 million acres of soybeans are planted along the eastern boarder of the state. 

Ross said it was unlikely that many soybeans would be planted this week, and may be further delayed if the state is soaked again this coming weekend. 

“We’re getting into that pattern where, about the time it gets ready to plant again, we get another shower and are delayed another couple of days,” he said. 

All nine portions of Arkansas charted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported above-average rainfall for the past four weeks, with two areas — the west central, which reported 8.88 inches, and southwest, which reported 10.51 inches — approximately doubling their historic four-week norms. The south central area of the state also received rainfall well above historic norms, with 7.45 inches of rain over the last month. 

Ross said that problems encountered by soybean growers are likely to be isolated rather than widespread, and primarily limited to rows that were planted only a day or two before heavy rains. 

“Once it dries out, we could have some crusting issues, with a hard layer on top of the soil that can cause problems with emergence,” Ross said. “Or, if we catch this rain at the end of the week and the soil stays saturated, there’s a possibility of those seeds starting to rot.” 

“Everything that was planted last week, we’ve got to give it at least until the end of this week to see what’s going to come up,” he said. 

For more information about soybean production, contact your county extension office or visit or 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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