The 2011 Arkansas Soybean Research Conference, to be held on Dec. 13 at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart, will feature an agenda tailored to address what producers experienced during the growing season.

“Portions of the growing season were pretty tough,” says Jeremy Ross, Arkansas Extension soybean specialist. “Some areas in the south half of the state probably had record yields. But north of I-40, yields really dropped off.”

That’s due to “the rains we had from mid-April through mid-May. That delayed planting. Some areas started planting around a month late. Actually, it was even later on acreage where the floodwaters didn’t retreat until June and July.”

So, “it was a tale of two crops, or two halves of the state,” says Ross. “The southern half was able to get into the field in a timely manner. Growers there benefited from some of the rains.”

Farther north, the story was different.

“I’ve talked to producers from Stuttgart north whose yields were off at least 20 percent. Guys that typically harvest 60 bushels only brought in 45 bushels.

“Throughout the bulk of the growing season we had to battle the heat. It was the hottest it’s been in years. That high heat started in early June when we normally have fairly mild conditions.”

Arkansas soybean fields didn’t have much disease “until the end when cercospora showed up. I don’t think we had any significant yield loss due to that, though.”

However, it was an extremely “wormy” year.

“Bollworms were in our soybeans in a big way. It wasn’t uncommon to hear from producers who had to spray three, four, five times. One of the verification fields had to be sprayed five times.

“That’ll likely be one of the hottest topics at winter meetings – why were the bollworms so bad and what can we do to control them?”

Arkansas’ soybean harvest should wrap up by late November.

“It’s been a dry harvest and that’s helped in some ways,” says Ross. “In other ways, though, it’s been difficult with a lot of splits. Growers have had to adjust combines to help keep from splitting the low-moisture beans. We could see some seed-quality issues next year because of the low moisture.”

As for 2012 soybean acreage, if prices hold, “I expect soybeans acres to stay steady in acreage,” says Ross. “At this point, anywhere from 1.1 million to 1.3 million acres wouldn’t surprise me.”

Among the speakers and topics lined up for the meeting:

  • Larry Purcell, professor/Altheimer Chair for Soybean Research – “Soybean stress effects on yield.”
  • Gus Lorenz, professor, integrated pest management coordinator – “Insect pest management in soybean.”
  • Nathan Slaton, professor and director of soil testing – “Soil testing and fertilization practices for high yielding soybean.”
  • Pengyin Chen, professor – “University of Arkansas soybean breeding update.” 
  • Kristofor Brye, professor – “Long-term effects of alternative management practices in a wheat-soybean double-crop production system.”
  • Jeremy Ross, assistant professor, “2011 soybean crop, a look back at what happened.”
  • Lanny Ashlock, assistant vice president for special programs and Arkansas and Mid-South Soybean Promotion Coordinator – “Research update and edamame project.”
  • Todd Allen, chairman, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board -- “Update from the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.”

The conference will be held Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Grand Prairie Center at Phillips County Community College in Stuttgart, at 2807 Highway 165 South. There is no cost to attend.

Registration opens at 8:00 a.m., with the program beginning at 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be served.

Participants are asked to RSVP to Ross at jross@uaex.edu by Dec. 9 so an accurate head count can be obtained.

The conference is sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.