The recent resurgence in soybean production in Alabama received a bit of setback this past year with a crop that was damaged by extreme drought and heat.

“We had about 350,000 acres of soybeans in 2010, and yields were down quite a bit to about 28 bushels per acre,” says Dennis Delaney, Auburn University Extension soybean specialist. “We got hit pretty hard by the drought. We made about 17 million bushels in Alabama in 2009 and only about 10 million this past year.”

The year 2009 was a very good one for Alabama soybean producers, with a record yield of 40 bushels per acre from approximately 430,000 acres.

“Agronomically, I think 350,000 acres is probably a better number for us. There are a lot of common diseases between soybeans and peanuts, so it’s better if we don’t have those two together in a common rotation. Sometimes you can get by with it, but other times, it’s a train wreck when you put one behind the other,” says Delaney.

This past year, in some areas where there might have been vegetation, producers just didn’t get pod set due to hot, dry conditions, he says. Even irrigated yields were down from where they should have been, he adds.

“We don’t have very much disease pressure in such a dry year,” says Delaney. “Early on, we had some non-lethal pythium, especially in heavier soils. When we used to plant without a seed treatment, we’d just lose a stand with wet weather early in the spring. But with fungicides on the seed, the plants hung around just long enough to barely survive.”

Asian soybean rust has been a hot topic in recent years, but in 2010, it didn’t show up at all until nearly harvest time. “One disease we did see a fair amount of last year was aerial web blight here and there across the state. The main control for it is fungicides, the strobilurin products, used as a preventative treatment.”