The soybean planting season in Louisiana has had a slow start in 2021 due to weather conditions. The USDA-NASS report on March 28 indicated there were no soybean acres planted, where normally 2% of the soybean crop would have been planted. The ice storm in mid-February slowed down field preparation and weekly rains kept fields too wet to plant.
There were some reports of a small number of acres planted to soybean on ridges before the end of March. A cold front moved in across the state during the last few days of March preventing most producers from making progress before the Easter weekend. The soybean plants that had already emerged should have been fine during the cold snap.
The University of Minnesota reports soybean plants should survive if temperatures are above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Over the past week, the lowest temperature across the state occurred on April 2. The lowest temperatures were 42.7 degrees Fahrenheit (Ben Hur), 41.7 degrees Fahrenheit (Dean Lee), and 37.2 degrees Fahrenheit (Chase).
Soybean plants at the Dean Lee Research Station were between the VE and VC growth stage during the cold front and no visible damage was observed.
However, it is important the weather forecast is favorable when planting. The soil temperature should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit at least 48 hours after planting. The average soil temperatures for the previous week were 65.8 degrees Fahrenheit (Ben Hur), 63.9 degrees Fahrenheit (Dean Lee), and 61.9 degrees Fahrenheit (Chase).
After the weather warmed back up, producers were able to plant soybean and the USDA-NASS reported 1% of the crop planted by April 4 compared to the 5-year average of 6% planted. Soybean planting is still delayed in many areas due to saturated soils or possible crusting from expected rain. However, planting has picked up where conditions have allowed.
Although there has been a late start to planting, the Louisiana soybean producers are expected to plant 1.1 million acres in 2021, up 5% from 2020.