Larry Earnest, Station Director
Rohwer Research Station
140 Experiment Station Loop
P.O. Box 155
Rohwer, AR 71666
The Station’s emphasis is row crop research on cotton, corn, rice, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat, and bio-energy crops with objectives focusing on crop fertilization and soil fertility; variety testing; weed, insect, and disease management; agronomic crop production practices including rotation and cover crops; and irrigation research. The work is coordinated with the overall research program of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station to help solve problems related to agricultural production in southeast Arkansas.
- Encompasses 634 acres in Desha County located near the intersection of Hwy 138 and Hwy 1
- Approximately 580 tillable acres
- Multiple soil textures that range from silt loam to clay with the primary series including the Sharkey and Desha clays and silt loams, Hebert silt loam, and Rilla silt loam series
- Soils are generally alkaline from long-term irrigation using water from the alluvial aquifer
- Staff consists of the director, fiscal support analyst, 3 research associates, and 3 full-time farm employees
- Meeting facility with seating capacity of 150
- 580 acres in precision-graded fields for research and production
- 85 acres under overhead lateral and pivot irrigation
- 304 acres with silt loam texture
- 330 acres with clay loam or clay texture
- Mixing, storage, and containment area for pesticide research
- Field and specialized research equipment for crop planting, maintenance, irrigation and harvest.
- Dry lab facility for plot/seed preparation, cleaning, and storage
In 1957, the Agricultural Experiment Station established the Southeast Branch Experiment Station at Rohwer to provide research and demonstration fields as a basis for recommendations to southeast Arkansas farmers, many who had returned from WWII eager to pursue new ideas and innovation in practices, machinery, inputs, and other technologies. John Baxter of Baxter Land Company gifted 134 acres to the new branch station and the AES purchased another 500 acres bringing the total to 634 acres representative of the soils of the region. The U.S. Department of Interior established a fish farming experiment station on 200 acres adjoining the station, but ceased operations in the 1970s and the land was made available through a long-term lease for use by the Agricultural Experiment Station until 2018.
Part of the land now occupied by the Rohwer Research Station was used for the Rohwer Relocation Camp for Japanese Americans from 1942 to 1945. Some 274 men from the Rohwer camp volunteered for military service during the war while their families remained under detention. They served in the 442nd regimental combat team, one of the army’s most decorated units, and many died in Italy, France, and Germany, where they freed prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp.
Not all area farmers embraced the idea of mixing science with farming, but the credibility of the Rohwer station increased year by year as more and more farmers adopted the new research-proven practices. A major advantage was the ability of the station to test experimental varieties of crop seed under local soil and environmental conditions.
Improvements to the station over the years include precision leveled fields; a lateral-move, overhead irrigation system; new irrigation wells; and modern tillage, planting, and harvesting equipment. Research has grown to an average of 175 field trials with about 18,000 plots per year. In 1977, the Rohwer station was made a division of the newly created Southeast Research & Extension Center (SEREC) at Monticello. A new headquarters building with laboratory and meeting space was constructed in 2008. In 2018, the Rohwer Research Station became a separate unit under the Agricultural Experiment Station with the closure of SEREC.