Arkansas farmer wins second soy yield contest

Jerry Simpson has done it again. The Eudora, Ark., farmer has won the soybean yield contest sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Association for the second year in a row.

“I got lucky one more time,” a modest Simpson said. But luck had little to do with it. He planted the winning crop on highly productive soil, used irrigation and relied on the advice of his county Extension agent.

Gary Sitzer of Weiner, Ark., an Arkansas Soybean Association board member, said Simpson won the association's 2002 yield challenge contest with an average yield of 76.9 bushels an acre on a 5-acre plot.

Dallas Roberts of Pocahontas, Ark., placed second with 71.3 bushels, and Tim Smith of Clarendon, Ark., was third with 68.8 bushels.

Simpson grew Monsanto's Hartz 4884 variety, while Roberts and Smith grew Armor's 47-G7 variety.

Simpson won the use of a Caterpillar Challenger tractor, compliments of J.A. Riggs Tractor Co. of Little Rock, Ark., for 50 hours or two weeks. Roberts and Smith won the use of a Riggs Caterpillar backhoe loader for 40 hours or one week. Monsanto and Armor provided seed supplies to the winners.

The winners were announced at the 39th annual meeting of the soybean association recently at Brinkley, Ark. The contest recognizes and rewards the efforts of soybean farmers while acquiring valuable data to share with other farmers.

The average yield over the contest's five-year history is 75.3 bushels per acre. The record is 79.4 bushels, set last year by Simpson. “A lot of us wonder how much potential these varieties have. This contest demonstrates their potential,” Sitzer said.

Simpson credited Mother Nature, in large part, to his success. “She let us hit a home run with the contest, but she always bats last. We averaged 53 bushels on all the beans we harvested until the first hurricane hit.” He said subsequent rains caused yield losses of more than 90 percent on 300 acres of late Group V beans that he wasn't able to harvest in time.

His contest plot consisted of early-maturing Group IV beans planted on productive cotton soil around April 10. Simpson farms 1,500 acres, but less than 100 acres has “premium soil,” Simpson said. He used flexible-pipe irrigation.

“We had premium weather for a while. We had our Group IVs out of the field when the hurricanes and rains hit.”

Lamar James is an Extension communications specialist with the University of Arkansas.

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