When it comes to soybean yields, it is hard to compete with a county like Poinsett, or a family like the Wrays.
Members of the Wray family — Eddie Wray, his wife, Barbara Annette Wray and their son James Wray, were the top three contenders in the 2016 Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Contest, is administered by the Arkansas Soybean Association and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and funded by Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.
James took top honors in the state, with more than 118.8 bushels per acre. His parents were close behind, with Eddie Wray’s contest field yielding more than 109.7 bushels per acre, and Barbara Wray’s contest field edging past her husband’s at more than 109.8 bushels per acre.
James Wray’s 118.8 bushels per acre put him within a whisker of the goal of the 120 By 2020 Yield Challenge. Producers achieving 120 bushels per acre will be eligible for an additional $10,000 prize.
Justin Chlapecka, Poinsett County extension agent with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the silty soils throughout the eastern portion of his county and parts of the rest of the Delta tend to drain well, a fact that clearly benefitted other high-yielding growers in eastern counties of Arkansas such as Phillips, Desha and Chicot counties.
“Crowley’s Ridge divides Poinsett County into almost two entirely different kinds of land,” Chlapecka said. “It’s not unusual to see strong soybean yields east of the ridge.”
In Arkansas, overall soybean acreage dropped slightly in 2016 to 3.15 million acres, from about 3.2 million in 2015. Price swings, as well as the droughts and flooding that impacted many crops in the state made a difficult year for soybean farmers.
Chlapecka said soybean growers in Poinsett County battled target spot, a disease many growers had not encountered until 2016.
According to the Arkansas Soybean Association, 95 producers entered the Grow for the Green Soybean yield contest, six of whom had yields exceeding 100 bushels per acre. In addition to the Wray family of Poinsett County, Mike Taylor, Jr., of Phillips County yielded more than 101.3 bushels per acre, Martin Henry of Desha County yielded more than 113.8 bushels per acre and Layne Miles of Chicot County yielded more than 100.9 bushels per acre.
Cash prizes for the top three producers who yielded at least 60 bushels per acre in each of seven geographic regions, as well as a statewide non-GMO division, will be awarded at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Soybean Association on Jan. 24 at the Arkansas State University Student Center in Newport. Awards for each division were first place: $7,500; second place $5,000; and third place, $2,500. In addition, $10,000 will be awarded to the state’s overall yield winner.