If you faced challenges raising soybeans in Arkansas this year, you should attend one of two upcoming winter conferences designed for soybean producers, says Lanny Ashlock, soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

The 2001 Arkansas Soybean Research Conference is set for Dec. 12 at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. The Tri-State Soybean Forum/Southern Soybean Conference is set Jan. 4 at the Dumas Convention Center. The Southern Soybean Conference and Tri-State Soybean Forum were merged.

University experts will present the latest research and educational efforts to help farmers address the issues facing them at the two meetings, Ashlock said.

“Because of the pressure for soybean producers to remain competitive and for the soybean industry to remain a viable part of the agricultural economy it's important for all of us to be aware of the newest developments and major issues,” Ashlock said.

“One of the main reasons for the soybean conference at Jonesboro, is to report back to growers how we're using the checkoff money they provide the university's Division of Agriculture,” Ashlock said. “The other reason is to help growers decide if there are other areas they would like to see us redirect these finite resources to for their benefit.”

The conference is sponsored by the Arkansas Research and Promotion Board, which represents the interests of farmers. Ashlock said the board wants all farmers to know how their money is being spent.

He said the conference also helps Extension specialists, researchers, consultants and county agents.

“We get a feel for where we're going and what's being seen and this can impact the direction of our research and education program,” Ashlock said. He said farmers and people who advise them can learn from each other.

Ashlock said these have been tough times for soybean farmers. Years of poor market prices and drought have taken their toll. This makes it even more important that farmers attend the meeting and learn more about the issues facing them and how the university is responding.

“Their margin of error is very close. Growers are looking for anything that gives them an edge, that makes them more efficient and cost effective.”

Farmers have been beset by various production challenges. The program will address these challenges, including the stinkbug, which cost farmers a lot of money in insecticides and losses in grain quality.

“We'll have reports on efforts to fight it and learn how it relates to greenbean syndrome that we're seeing in southeast Arkansas,” the agronomist said.

“We also ran into a grain quality problem this year caused by phomopsis in Group IV soybeans. They were already mature and started getting a lot of rain in south Arkansas. We don't normally see it become a problem. This year the organism on the seed just exploded.”

Nematodes reemerged in 2001 as a threat to the crop. An emerging problem for some farmers in northeast Arkansas came from boron deficiency. “This will probably cause us to change our fertilizer recommendation for farmers in that area,” Ashlock said.

Just because growers haven't had one of these problems in their area before doesn't mean it won't be a problem next year, he said.

Besides production issues, farmers will learn about the marketing situation and farm policy issues.

Ashlock said the Tri-State Soybean Forum/Southern Soybean Conference will overlap on some issues with the Jonesboro conference, but will mainly discuss more issues related to south Arkansas and Mississippi and Louisiana.


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