Roy Jurica and Raymond Brandl believe in a sound rotation program to improve overall profit potential for their Victoria County, Texas, farms.

But they believe in it even more when grain sorghum and soybean prices provide a profit margin that rivals their mainstay, cotton.

“My soybean acreage is up this year because of price,” Jurica said recently during a Victoria County farm tour. Jurica's farm featured a soybean variety trial test plot.

“I have about 415 acres of soybeans planted this year,” he said. “I usually plant only 200 or 300. I may bump up to 500 acres next year.”

Brandl said soybeans make a good rotation with corn, cotton and grain sorghum. “It helps a lot with weed and grass problems and it makes a difference in yield potential.”

He agrees that a profitable price makes the rotation plan even more attractive.

“I've been working with soybeans since 1980,” Brandl said. “I've planted variety trials also and I used to plant them myself. It's a big advantage to have Extension help out with the plots now.”

He and Jurica are expecting a good crop. “If we get some rain in late June and early July, we should make decent yields,” Brandl said. “Soybeans respond to timely rains as much as corn does. I've made as much as 63 or 64 bushels of soybeans per acre on a 150-acre field. But I've also averaged 20 bushels when rainfall was short.”

“My yield goal is 40 to 50 bushels per acre,” Jurica said. “We can make that if we get enough rain.”

They've had plenty of water so far. “This is the wettest season I've seen since 1972,” Brandl said. “We had way too much rain early.”

Jurica said soybean profit margin also looks promising. “Production costs runs about half that of cotton.”

Sorghum prospects

Jurica said grain sorghum, a mainstay in his rotation scheme, also promises a potential profit as it nears harvest.

“Maize is up by $1.25 a hundredweight,” he said. “It feels good to have a rotation crop that offers some profit potential.”

He said his sorghum crop, “looks good. I've had to spray for midge and headworms.”

Spraying for midge pays off, said Roy Parker, Texas Extension entomologist from the Corpus Christi Research Center.

“There is no excuse for not controlling midge,” Parker said at the sorghum variety trial stop on Brandl's farm. “You can make money by controlling midge in sorghum, but it takes a lot of time to scout for them. With about $2 per acre for the pyrethroid insecticide, a sorghum farmer can improve yield potential as much as 2,000 pounds per acre.”

Parker said farmers may need two or three treatments. “Make the first spray and then another after 72 hours. You may get by with just two treatments but check again,” he said, adding that farmers who plant extremely late may get by without treating for midge.

“Also check for headworms and stinkbugs. With a 6,000-pound-per-acre yield potential, just one-half a headworm per head is all that's necessary to justify spraying.”

For rice stinkbug on sorghum, use a treatment threshold of “about 3 per head in milk to dough stage sorghum, with a good yield potential.”

Parker said that stinkbug control may require “the higher labeled pyrethroid rates.”

Some fields scheduled for walking tours as part of the annual event got windshield treatment because plots were too wet to walk, said County Extension Agent Joe Janak.

Tour participants also looked at corn rootworm control, corn nitrogen placement trials and variety trials.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com