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Verification program rewards at harvest

When Poinsett County producer Herrick Norcross thought he’d accomplished the best yields he could on his own, he turned to the University of Arkansas’ Soybean Research Verification Program, enrolling two fields, each with a different challenge.

Through funding from the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, the Soybean Research Verification Program provides producers with research-based information that helps them plan and adjust their growing season.

“I felt like my bean yield had reached its peak a little bit and just wasn’t doing anything more,” says Norcross of Harrisburg, Ark. “I thought I’d see how the university would approach the situation and see what I could learn that would perk up my bean yield.”

The verification program is a two-year commitment for participants. Norcross was involved in 2004 and 2005.

“The field we enrolled in 2004 was a center-pivot irrigated field,” Norcross says.

Trey Reaper, soybean program associate for the UA Cooperative Extension Service, says Norcross’ field in 2004 yielded 56.2 bushels an acre, 14 bushels an acre higher than the state average that year.

The 2005 growing season was a different story. “It was a little tougher because it was dry so early in the season,” explains Norcross. “I gave the program a different field from the year before and we almost got caught in a tough situation.”

Norcross explains he enrolled a level field to see if he could no-till right behind it. He almost ended up not having enough plant size to water, which became an issue with the drought in May.

“We ended up working with Phil Tacker (UA associate professor and Extension engineer) to get our borders set up and get the field watered.” Norcross says the first watering got everything growing and the season turned out all right.

Norcross yielded 57 bushels an acre in 2005, compared to the state average of 39 bushels an acre.

“Sometimes with a rice rotation, a producer doesn’t want to establish raised beds, so Phil’s border irrigation was something we really wanted to look at,” Reaper says. “I think the border irrigation helped him save about 10 bushels because he was able to irrigate small plants and get water off the field quicker.”

Reaper says a great thing about the verification program is that researchers and specialists collaborate throughout the process to get the best results for the producer.

Norcross says he was pleased with his two years in the verification program. “Both years we had fields that certainly weren’t the easiest fields for growing a great crop, but through the verification program I did better than I would have done on my own,” Norcross says. “I was real pleased with how both fields turned out.”

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