BRINKLEY, Ark. — Matt Fortenberry and Ned McAffry took first and second place, respectively, in the 2005 Arkansas Soybean Yield Challenge contest. Both men farm in Chicot County.

The results were announced at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Soybean Association. Eddie Tackett of Atkins, Ark., took the third spot.

Fortenberry received the use of a Challenger MT 700 series tractor (tracked) for 50 hours. J. A. Riggs Tractor Company of Little Rock, Ark., is providing the equipment.

Fortenberry, who planted Asgrow 4403, averaged 87.9 bushels an acre on a plot of a little over 5 acres.

Winning was nothing new for Fortenberry who previously won for his 2003 yields.

“We had an excellent production year all the way around,” he said. “I had one farm that averaged 78 bushels and another with 65 bushels. Cotton yields were great too.” He admits he was surprised by the soybean yield when he began harvesting the crop.

The farmer attributed part of his success to the advice of Carl Hayden, Chicot County staff chairman with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

McAffry, who manages a farm owned by his mother Brenda McAffry, was nipping at Fortenberry’s heels with 87.7 bushels. McAffry also grew Asgrow 4403.

McAffry attributed part of his success to the advice of Hayden and neighbors, but most of the success he attributed to the high-quality ground.

“We’ve been raising soybeans on that same ground since 1964 with no irrigation and no fertilizer. It’s unreal. A lot of it happens to do with the quality of beans.” He wins the use of a Challenger MT 600 wheeled-tractor from Riggs for 50 hours.

Hayden said, “These men did a fine job of farming, and Mother Nature helped us out a little with timely rains. Both farmers’ plots were on highly productive ground close to the Mississippi River.”

Tackett, who grew the Armor 44R5 variety, took third place, averaging 85.3 bushels an acre. He won the use of a Caterpillar backhoe from Riggs for 40 hours.

“There are a lot of great farmers in the state, and I’m honored to be able to run with the big boys,” he said.

“We’ve been fairly consistent for the last few years,” Tackett said. “I attribute a lot of the success to the technology that’s gone into the breeding of soybeans and a lot of good advice from our local and state and Extension personnel.

“I’ve been planting Armor beans for the last few years and working with Lanny Ashlock (retired Extension soybean specialist). The Good Lord also blessed me with some good ground.”

Rain was sparse during the growing season, and Tackett irrigated six times.

Gary Sitzer, a member of the soybean association’s board of directors, said the contest rewards top producers and passes their knowledge along to other producers.

“We’re showing them how much yield potential is possible,” he said. “We’re giving members an opportunity to learn from the best producers. We have one of the premier programs in the country with prizes that motivate people to participate.”

Sitzer said he’d like for landowners who aren’t active farmers to join the association and participate in the contest to see the potential of their land.

He said the Extension service benefits because it’s a “point of pride for agents to have entrants from their county who win or place and spotlight their programs. All these farmers are top users of Extension’s research-based recommendations and have good working relations with their agents.”

For information about the contest or soybean production, contact an Arkansas county Extension agent or the Arkansas Soybean Association.

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