Meeting will be held on Jan. 17 at the Clinton Building
SIKESTON - An upcoming crop conference in Sikeston could give local farmers the information they need to kick-start the growing season after a disappointing soybean crop in 2007.
Set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Clinton Building in Sikeston, the conference will focus on soybeans and feature a wide array of speakers from the Delta Research Center in Portageville, the University of Missouri Extension in Columbia and the Missouri Soybean Association.
"It probably won't double their yields, but attending the conference will give farmers the information they need to add a bushel here and there," said David Reinbott, ag business specialist for Scott County University of Missouri Extension.
Reinbott said the conference will also provide an opportunity for farmers to talk to state specialists one-on-one -- and for free.
"Sometimes you need to listen to people on other side even if you may not agree with them," Reinbott said.
The experts also benefit from the growers' attendance. "These folks also enjoy hearing from the farmers who are actually out there doing it. They like to hear what research farmers would like to see done," Reinbott said.
Among topics to be addressed include soybean production practices, Asian soybean rust, soybean varieties, nematology, Dectes stem borer, irrigation and soybean fertility.
The Kip Cullers methodology will also be discussed. Cullers is a Missouri farmer who broke the soybean yield record by harvesting 155 bushels of soybeans per acre in October 2007.
"Laura Sweets, a pathologist who spearheads the soybean rust research for Missouri, will give an overview and bring us up to date and talk about what we plan to do in 2008 with rust," said Anthony Ohmes, agronomist for Mississippi County University of Missouri Extension.
Another issue for farmers are the current premiums and high prices. Many farmers are trying to decide whether to make a switch from corn to soybeans or stay with growing corn.
"A lot of wheat is being grown this year because the wheat price is so strong. Soybean prices are also very good right now. That looks very good to a grower and soybeans are less complicated to grow," Ohmes said.
Corn input costs, especially fertilizer, which averages about 50 cents a unit for nitrogen, are a lot higher than soybeans, Ohmes said. But corn prices are also good right now, he pointed out.
"A lot of people are sitting on the fence on whether or not to plant corn because if corn prices continue to go up, the input costs won't look so bad," Ohmes said.
Another factor for farmers to consider is that due to a bad soybean season, the seed supply will be low this year, Ohmes said. As a result, farmers can't wait too long to book their seed.
"We can't make decisions for them but we can give them the tools we have," Reinbott noted.
The conference comes at a time when farmers are reeling from the worst soybean crop in years.
"I think a lot of people kind of knew we were setting ourselves up for a not so great year anyway because we had extremely dry weather. The months we needed rain we didn't get it," Ohmes said.
It rained well in June and the last measurable rain the area received since July 5 was on Sept. 6 and 7 when half an inch fell over the two-day period, Ohmes
"That's a critical period of time for soybeans to grow," Ohmes said.
In addition to the rain woes, soybean rust began showing up in Southeast Missouri late in the growing season in 2007. Overall, the disease was found in 37 counties throughout the state. Another soybean pest, Dectes stem borer, showed up in the area late in the season, too.
"We're going to have a lot of information crammed into a short amount of time but that's good," Ohmes said. "It gives the speakers a chance to hit the highlights and then growers will take with them."