Farmers and friends attending the 2009 Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition Field Day, scheduled for July 7, will get to see some new varieties and crops, some new ways of crop production and a lot of valuable variety information on staple crops of the Southeast.

Farm Manager Michael Williams says alfalfa will be a new crop for this year’s field day. Visitors will see two alfalfa varieties, both suited for growth in the lower Southeast.

One of the varieties was planted in mid-April and will be ready for cutting at the time of the field day. “Both alfalfa varieties look good so far,” Williams says. For sure they will be ready to cut by July 7, and may have already been cut once by then, he notes.

Growers will see the ‘latest and greatest’ in cotton, corn, soybean, and peanut varieties, Williams says. Of special interest will likely be the 2010 class cotton varieties. Last year’s Expo Field Day featured the Class 2009 cotton varieties from the leading cotton seed suppliers and 2010 promises to offer some exciting new options for cotton growers.

These so called ‘fast track’ varieties are planted at test sites, like the Sunbelt Expo Research Farm and with farmers across the Cotton Belt. Most growers don’t get a chance to see multiple fast track cotton varieties all in one place, so the field day will offer a rare glance at the future of cotton varieties in back to back to back fields.

“All the class 2009 cotton varieties we tested last year proved to be high yielders. We expect the 2010 class will be even better — at least that’s what the company reps are telling us,” Williams says.

Water management has been a big issue among Southeast farmers the past few years and the 2009 field day will offer growers a chance to see several different irrigation systems, including some that are GPS driven.

Reinke, a leading manufacturer of mechanized irrigation systems, is planning to have their new OnTrac system in place for the 2009 Ag Expo Field Day. OnTrac uses Satellite technology to communicate with irrigation systems, thereby eliminating the communication issues experienced by its growers using cell phones to turn irrigation systems on and off.

Growers will get to see the latest in nozzles and tips for irrigation pivots. The idea is to get maximum use of irrigation water and several demonstrations will show some of the latest technology available to monitor and more wisely use irrigation water.

With peanut acreage down significantly and cotton acreage continuing to decline, many growers in the Southeast are looking at soybeans as a replacement crop for some of this acreage.

Growers attending the 2009 Field Day will get a chance to look at four soybean varieties that performed extremely well in tests at the Ag Expo Research Farm in 2008. Each of these varieties topped 60 bushels per acre in 10 acre plots.

This year the top four yielding varieties from last year will be planted in 18-inch rows seeded with a drill. The other half of the test will be planted in twin-rows using a planter similar to the one commonly used by peanut growers.

“If we can get yields, using the twin-row planter, comparable to the yields we got last year planting in narrow-rows with a drill, then growers in our area can look to get by without buying new equipment. Essentially, we’re trying to find a low cost way for our growers to produce soybeans comparable to the yields growers get in the Midwest,” Williams says.

Williams points out that each of the four varieties in last year’s test produced 70-80 bushels per acre. By increasing the total seed population this year, he contends yields should be comparable and could be higher than the same varieties in last year’s test.

Cotton growers will get to see side-by-side testing of glyphosate resistance management herbicide programs. University of Georgia Weed Scientist Stanley Culpepper will be on hand at the field day to discuss the many herbicide options available to growers to avoid or reduce weed resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides.

The reduction of peanut acreage in particular has spurred some interest in grain sorghum because it is a better rotation crop for peanuts. Thinking short-term in peanut cutbacks, many growers are looking at grain sorghum as an option.

Williams says Pioneer has two grain sorghum varieties in the 2009 Ag Expo Field Day.

During the 2009 Ag Expo Field Day, the 600-acre Ag Expo research farm will be officially named, The Darrell Williams Research Farm at Sunbelt Ag Expo. Williams, who managed the research facility for more than 20 years, died Feb. 6, after a short, but gallant battle against cancer.

e-mail: rroberson@farmpress.com