Though he understands the significance of having a strong root system under a plant, the North Carolina grower is much more interested in what happens above the ground. “On these treated soybeans, it is clear to me that there are 20-25 percent more pods on the treated beans,” he says.

Getting more soybeans out of 200 acres of soybeans is a good thing, but the big bonus Branton says is what happened with his tobacco.

His total average for his farm in 2011 was just over 3,300 pounds per acre — a good crop and nearly 1,000 pounds per acre more than his target. The 12 acres he sprayed with Quick-Sol came in at a whopping 4,975 pounds per acre.

“Normally, big tobacco doesn’t cure as well as smaller leaves. I carried the top of these bigger leaves from the Quick-Sol field to sell to Phillip Morris tobacco buyers. A score of ‘1’ is about as good as it gets with tobacco quality and when this over-sized tobacco hit the conveyer belt, the buyer turned to me and asked me if ‘1’ was good enough,” Branton says.

Normally, big and heavy tobacco will turn down the stalk. But this field of tobacco held the leaves up all the way through the growing season, he notes.

Despite his 30-plus years making a living growing tobacco and other crops, Branton says he is at a loss to explain exactly how Quick-Sol helped his tobacco crop. “It does something to allow the plant to feed better. I think it’s taking a lot of the yield-robbing things, like diseases, out of the picture — I don’t know how it does that, but I saw it happen,” he adds.

“I’ve seen enough to know that every crop I plant next year will be sprayed with the product,” Branton stresses. Farmers and agribusiness people who know the conservative nature and ‘show me’ attitude of Lawrence Branton may be shocked by that statement says Bobby Vause, owner and manager of Vause Equipment Company in Fayetteville, N.C.  Vause, who has sold New Holland equipment to Branton for many years, says he has never seen the North Carolina farmer so committed to any product.

Branton says he is confident the soybeans he treated with the left over spray last year will produce 20 percent more beans than the untreated fields on his farm. At the early November price of soybeans that would be roughly $100 per acre more than his farm average for soybeans.

“What we saw on soybeans was just by accident — it was eye-catching and may help us grow more soybeans, but the real test was on our tobacco,” Branton stresses.

In a second tobacco field, treated with the same three applications of Quick-Sol (12 ounces at layby, 10 ounces at topping and 4 ounces late-season), the North Carolina farmer harvested 3,860 pounds of tobacco per acre. “This field is historically among the worst tobacco land I plant. It has some black-shank in it and it just doesn’t yield as good as other parts of my farm,” he says.

Though significantly less than the 12-acre field that topped 4,900 pounds per acre, this field of tobacco still topped his on-farm average by more than 500 pounds per acre and his target yield by well over 1,000 pounds per acre.

“We had an excellent growing season for tobacco, with just enough rain at the right time and that obviously played a role in our high yields. But, I’ve been growing crops a long time, and I know there is more to getting these extremely high yields and high quality tobacco than just good weather,” the North Carolina grower says.

rroberson@farmpress.com