Glenn Pendleton likes to make one point perfectly clear: He couldn’t have won last year’s annual North Carolina Soybean Yield Contest alone. It was a team effort all the way.
“I had a lot of good help,” the Pasquotank County farmer says.
Pendleton’s daughter Renee Otts has farmed in partnership with her dad since 2012 and was instrumental in managing the verified three-ace test plot that delivered a new North Carolina record yield of 93.3 bushels per acre. The old record was 92.9 bushels per acre set by Phil and Mike McLain of Iredell County in 2006. The contest is administered by North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension and sponsored by the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association.
Just as winning the yield contest was a team effort, Pendleton stresses that succeeding on the farm is a team effort as well. He credits the advice of his Extension agent, Al Wood, and the support of well known and respected Extension soybean expert Jim Dunphy and Extension corn expert Ron Heiniger.
In addition to producing soybeans, the Pendletons grow wheat, corn and Irish potatoes near Elizabeth City, just few miles from the Pasquotank River. Pendleton has been farming since his father’s untimely death in 1975.
“I get a lot of help from my family and I have a dependable crew of people that help me every day,” Pendleton says.
One thing is certain. Pendleton is glad to have daughter Renee back on the farm and she is a true partner in every way. Renee has farmed full time with her dad since 2012, but her love for the farm came at a very young age.
Renee is the middle child in a family of five. Glenn is also the middle child, in a family of seven. “In addition to raising crops, my wife Sharon and I grew a crop of kids,” Pendleton says.
To help pay the bills to raise a family of five, Sharon took a job as a teacher’s assistant at a local school. That meant when Renee was young, she would tag along with her dad on the farm. “When Renee was three and four, she was my shadow. She would play in the fields, ditches, creeks and ponds and catch salamanders and frogs and tadpoles. She loved it,” he says.
Shooting for 100-plus bushels this year
This interest in the environment and aquatic life developed and prompted her to earn a degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. “Renee’s degree has been helpful by making us more conservation minded. We are able to incorporate some of the conservation ideas she learned on our farm,” Pendleton explains.
As farmers face ever-increasing regulations, Renee points out that this environmental awareness is making a big difference in how they manage their land. “We try to be mindful about what we are doing,” she says. “On some ditch banks we’ve established buffer areas which we don’t spray. We have an awareness and appreciation of nature and make efforts to take a balanced approach.”
After graduating from UNC in Wilmington, Renee had planned to teach biology, but that didn’t work out. She took a job with a pharmaceutical contract research organization, but decided that wasn’t for her. She knew that it was time to come home to the farm. “I grew up playing in the dirt and I came back to play in the dirt,” she says with a smile.
Both Glenn and Renee are looking for ways to improve. For instance, they are shooting for 100+ bushel per acre soybean yields this year. They credit the guidance of Wood, Heiniger and other consultants who provide them with valuable information. “It’s a pleasure to work with them. They love what they are doing and they make us better at what we do,” Pendleton says.
“There is always room for improvement,” Pendleton says. “Hopefully Renee will build on what I’ve learned and achieved. With advancements in machinery and plant technology 150 bushel beans is a goal which I believe will be possible for her within the next 25 years.”
Glenn, Sharon, and Renee agree that they will continue to cultivate new ideas and apply them in their business. “The agriculture business is certainly full of challenges, hard work,and long hours of commitment,” Pendleton says. “We know that with faith, hope, and the grace of God to guide us and by working with the dedicated people in our community and state, that higher achievements and greater rewards are always possible in the future.”