Good management and improved genetics continue to make soybeans a good option for Alabama farmers, says Dennis Delaney, Auburn University Extension soybean specialist.

“Last year, Alabama soybean producers dropped their acres back to about 300,000 harvested,” said Delaney at the East-Central Alabama Row Crops Workshop in Shorter.

“When all was said and done, USDA pegged us at 33 bushels per acre in 2011. We had about 200,000 acres of wheat last year, and most of that was double-cropped with soybeans. Considering that, 33 bushels was pretty good, and it speaks well for good management and genetics.”

Looking at long-term trends, Alabama’s soybean acreage started to decrease significantly in the early 1980s, and has been up and down in recent years, says Delaney. Overall, yields appear to be trending higher.

There are many new soybean varieties from which to choose this year, with plenty of Roundup Ready 2 Yield options available.

“With Roundup Ready 2, growers basically follow the same management practices as with the Roundup Ready 1 varieties. The only difference is that the newer varieties hopefully will yield better. So basically, you just compare Roundup Ready 1 with Roundup Ready 2 head to head on yield,” he says.

The patent on Roundup Ready 1 soybeans is expiring in 2014, says Delaney, and after that time, Monsanto no longer will collect fees on the technology.

“More Liberty Link varieties will be labeled for planting this year, through various companies. And in the future, dicamba and 2, 4-D-resistant varieties will be available,” he says.

With the rapid increase in soybean production in the Black Belt region of the Southeastern U.S., and changing cropping practices, iron chlorosis deficiency of soybeans has become a problem in high pH clay soils, says Delaney, and researchers are looking at ways to minimize it.