You could hear David Bennett smiling over the phone on Thursday. And the only thing busier than Bennett -- in the middle of harvest -- was his phone, “which is ringing off the hook,” he said.
Bennett, one of the entrants in the Arkansas Soybean Association’s Grow for the Green contest, had been certified at 112.012 bushels per acre. He’s the fourth Arkansas soybean grower to pass the century mark in yields and surpassed the contest yield record of 107.63 bushel an acre set in 2013 by Matt and Sherri Kay Miles of McGehee.
Only a few hours earlier Thursday, the Arkansas Soybean Association announced the Miles broke the 100-bushel barrier for the second straight year – the first Arkansas farmer to pull off a double.
News traveled fast through the southern Arkansas farming community.
““I talked to the guy who had the last record,” he said over the noise of combine. “He told me, ‘You don’t know what you’re in for’.”
Help from his agent
“I didn’t do anything special. I’ve got Gus Wilson, my county agent – I owe most of it to him. He stayed out in the field most of the year watching them for me. I’d done everything at the right time.”
Bennett grew Asgrow4632, the same variety the Mileses used in setting the record in 2013. Bennett planted his crop April 22 and harvested on Thursday.
Wilson, Chicot County Extension staff chair, said Bennett had a sweet spot “right around the lake and that’s some good strong land. He’s a very good farmer and a very, very good producer and a good cooperator.”
Even so, “I about fell out when I got that ticket showing 112 bushels” at the elevator. “I still have butterflies in my stomach,” Wilson said.
Roots in the ‘90s
When he heard of the high yield figure, Rick Cartwright, associate director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, instantly thought of the late Carl Hayden, a former Extension staff chair in Chicot County.
Hayden worked with former Extension Soybean Specialist Lanny Ashlock, now with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, taking the research and getting farmers to put the science to work. Among the techniques he encouraged was early planting, proper planting populations and furrow irrigation that result in really high yields.
“He didn’t know the upper limit. He got yields up in the 80s in Chicot County back in the ‘90s,” Cartwright said. “This would’ve made his whole career.”
For more information about soybean production, contact your county Extension office or visit www.uaex.edu or http://arkansascrops.com.
For more information about the Grow for the Green contest, visit www.arkansassoybean.com.