NORTH LANDING — Along North Landing Road, near a large test plot tended for the Virginia Cooperative Extension by Curtis Wolfarth, dozens of local growers joined agriculture officials, as well as seed company representatives, to see how soybeans had grown.
They also traded notes and heard about trends and science from folks from the Tidewater Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Suffolk. Topics during the Southeast Virginia Soybean Field Day this past month included disease, insects and weeds.
And, toward the end of the morning, growers inspected varieties of soybeans planted in two maturity groups. The different types and brands were planted on May 26.
“We wanted to plant everybody’s seeds, treat them the same, and let the ironman win,” Wolfarth, 54, said, adding that the seeds had only basic fertilizer and farming practices to see what they would yield.“They had no love on them, I can tell you that.”
There were more than 50 varieties.
The field day was introduced by Watson Lawrence, senior agriculture extension agent in Chesapeake, and Roy Flanagan, agriculture extension agent in Virginia Beach. [So readers are aware – John Doucette, editor of The Independent News and author of this story, is Flanagan’s brother-in-law.]
The goal was to bring growers together with specialists to trade notes, and for the growers to have a chance to ask questions. Lawrence said information might help local growers increase yields. For example, Dr. Hillary Mehl, assistant professor of plant pathology at the Suffolk center, discussed diseases that can attack soybean plants.
When treatments are applied can mean a lot of things to farmers, from expense of a fungicide to whether or not a treatment catches potential disease in time.
Mehl said they working to develop a way to provide an advisory system that would help growers time what they apply to crops.
Later in the day, farmer Robert White, Jr., 62, of Pungo said it was good to have the extension involvement in the tests plots, especially for documentation. The exchange let people hear about practices and techniques.
He was there, he said, with his “mind wide open and hopeful to learn something.”