‘Most Crop per Drop’ winners announced

by George Jared ([email protected]) 728 views 

Rice Research Center in Newport. Photo courtesy of UA System Division of Agriculture. @AginArk

When it comes to the annual Arkansas Irrigation Yield Contest, less means more.

The annual University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture program — referred to as “Most Crop per Drop” — promotes the use of irrigation management practices and rewards growers who demonstrate the highest water use efficiency in corn, rice and soybean production.

Winners were announced during the 34th annual Arkansas Water and Soil Education Conference recently held in Jonesboro. This year’s top winners share something in common. They’ve all previously won top honors in another crop category. This year, the top three finishers in each crop category each received more than $20,000 in cash and prizes from industry sponsors.

“The contest is an opportunity for farmers to explore their individual aptitude to reduce energy, water use, labor and improve profitability,” said Chris Henry, associate professor and water management engineer for the Division of Agriculture.

Last year, 29 producers from 16 counties throughout the Arkansas Delta competed. Two of the growers entered multiple crops and fields. Each producer — except for flooded rice entries — used at least one irrigation management tool such as computerized hole-selection, multiple-inlet rice irrigation, soil moisture sensors or surge irrigation.

Jefferson County producer Chad Render has competed four years. On his first try, he didn’t place. The following year he won the corn category after using Delta Plastics’ Pipe Planner program, watermark sensors and cover crops, all of which aid in conservation efforts. Last year, he won the soybean category, and this year he took top honors in the furrow rice category. He is also the overall winner in the rice division.

“Chad has become comfortable with managing his water and not overwatering,” said Russ Parker, a program associate based at the Rice Research and Extension Center, part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “He’s very involved personally in scheduling the irrigation of his fields.”

Mississippi County producer Cody Fincher, who farms in Dyess, previously won first place in rice last year, and is this year’s soybean winner. He achieved a water use efficiency of 4.25 bushels per inch – the highest water use efficiency since the contest began five years ago.

Newcomers Rieves Wallace and his father, John Wallace, of Crittenden County placed in three crop categories, second place in row rice and soybean, and third place in flooded rice.

The first-place winners in corn and soybean received $8,000 each; second-place winners, $3,000; and third-place winners, $1,000. The overall rice winner received $2,000 and a Ricetec seed credit worth $11,000.

Here is a list of all winners:

Corn Winners

1st place — James Wray, 12.43 bushels/inch, Poinsett County
2nd place — Heath Donner, 7.23 bushels/inch, Mississippi County
3rd place — Terry Smith, 6.11 bushels/inch, Greene County

Soybean winners

1st place — Cody Fincher, 4.25 bushels/inch, Mississippi County
2nd place — Rieves Wallace and John Wallace, 3.65 bushels/inch, Crittenden County
3rd place — Karl Garner, 3.57 bushels/inch, Cross County

Flooded Rice Winners

1st place — Karl Garner, 7.66 bushels/inch, Cross County
2nd place — Mark Felker, 6.56 bushels/inch, Crittenden County
3rd place — Rieves Wallace and John Wallace, 4.57 bushels/inch, Crittenden County

Furrow Rice Winners

1st place — Chad Render, 7.94 bushels/inch, Jefferson County
2nd place — Rieves and John Wallace, 6.38 bushels/inch, Crittenden County
3rd place — Matt Morris, 6.22 bushels/inch, Lonoke County.