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Soy summit: extension service hosts a look at plant progress in neutral soil

Farmer Heath Cutrell of Heath Cutrell Farms in Chesapeake inspects soybean plants in a test plot during a field day organized by the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Virginia Beach. Cutrell grows 1,800 acres of the plant. Cutrell said the field day “gives a kind of insight of what’s going on at this point of growth, and it gives us a game plan for next year.” [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Farmer Heath Cutrell of Heath Cutrell Farms in Chesapeake inspects soybean plants in a test plot during a field day organized by the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Virginia Beach. Cutrell grows 1,800 acres of the plant. Cutrell said the field day “gives a kind of insight of what’s going on at this point of growth, and it gives us a game plan for next year.” [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

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.”

Dr. Hillary Mehl, assistant professor of plant pathology, speaks to growers during the 2015 Southest Virginia Soybean Field Day that brought growers and experts together in Virginia Beach to discuss the valuable crop. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Dr. Hillary Mehl, assistant professor of plant pathology, speaks to growers during the 2015 Southest Virginia Soybean Field Day that brought growers and experts together in Virginia Beach to discuss the valuable crop. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Below, Dr. Ames Herbert Jr., professor of entomology, discussed the insects that both help and potentially harm soy, using a plant to make a point while speaking with growers. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Dr. Ames Herbert Jr., professor of entomology, discussed the insects that both help and potentially harm soy, using a plant to make a point while speaking with growers. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

The Independent News

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