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Seminar will address decrease in acreage of cotton

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SIKESTON -- A cotton seminar on Thursday will address the decrease in acreage of the crop and teach farmers in the area how to be more efficient and get the most bang for their buck.

The University of Missouri Extension is sponsoring the morning event, which will be held at the Clinton Building in Sikeston.

"This is for the farmers in the northern part of our growing area," said David Reinbott, an extension agriculture business specialist who works at the Scott County Extension office in Benton.

A major discussion point at the seminar -- something that is on the mind of most cotton farmers -- is expected to be the drop in cotton acres for the year, predicted Reinbott and Jeff House, agronomy specialist for the New Madrid County Extension office.

Cotton acres are expected to drop by about 1.2 million nationally this year, said Reinbott.

"When you're looking at $12 soybeans and the price for corn, it's just real hard (for cotton farmers) to compete," said House. He added that the cost of fertilizers is also making it tougher for cotton farmers to turn a big profit.

Some of the farmers House works with in New Madrid County are among those farmers who swapped to other crops instead of cotton, he said.

But, some of the farmers who told him in December they would not be planting cotton have since changed their mind -- although they won't plant as many acres as they did in recent years, he said.

"I think we're going to see a drop," Reinbott agreed. "It's very expensive to grow a cotton crop."

The farmers who are continuing to plant are taking a risk. "A lot of them are hoping the prices are going to go up," said House.

Since the price of soybeans has more or less doubled in the past 18 months, Reinbott predicted that soybeans will be sowed on some of the acres normally used for cotton.

"The guys there will be wondering 'should I expand my acres (of other crops) or stay where I'm at?'" said Reinbott. He and House said that, through discussion, hopefully those questions can be answered. Growers will also trade tips on how to be more efficient and keep down costs.

But that isn't all that will be discussed at the seminar.

"We have several topics, and there's a variety of topics for any type of producer," said Reinbott.

He also noted that, instead of having just a few speakers talk about in-depth topics, the seminar has been broken down so each speaker will talk for 20 to 30 minutes on subjects such as soil testing, cotton marketing and cotton weed strategies, among others. Most of the instructors are local, with several coming from the Delta Center in Portageville, said Reinbott.

A new topic addresses re-plant decisions, said Reinbott. Another new topic is "Cotton Classing Office Update," which House said was suggested by participants at a previous seminar.

"Everything else just includes updates from last year or preceding years," said Reinbott.

House agreed: "A lot of this is just kind of to keep them up to date on what is going on."

Anyone involved in any part of the cotton process is encouraged to attend. For consultants or others who are eligible for continuing education credits, those are available, too.

House said that, with the drop in acreage, they were expecting numbers to be down this year, but that's turned around.

"I'm starting to see a lot of interest and I think we may have a pretty decent crowd," he said.

Registration for Thursday's seminar begins at 8:15 a.m. at the Clinton Building. The schedule and topics are as follows:

8:45-9:05 a.m. --Soil Testing 101

9:05-9:25 a.m. -- Cotton Insect Update

9:25-9:45 a.m. -- Boll Weevil Eradication

9:45-10:05 a.m. -- Cotton Irrigation

10:30-10:50 a.m. -- Re-Plant Decisions

10:50-11:10 a.m. -- Cotton Weed

Strategies

11:10-11:30 a.m. -- Cotton Marketing Outlook

11:30-11:50 a.m. -- Cotton Classing Office Update

Lunch will be provided; CEUs for those who qualify will be applied for.

For more, contact Jeff House, 573-748-5531; Andrea Phillips, 573-379-

5431; or David Reinbott, 573-545-3516.