SIKESTON -- Southeast Missouri farmers may not be working in fields during winter, but many of them do use the time to brush up on the latest developments in agriculture.
"We try to have informational meetings on a range of topics -- from production to managing to marketing," said David Reinbott, agriculture business program director for University of Missouri Extension's Scott County office and Southeast Region. "It's information to help growers make decisions this time of year on their seed varieties, herbicides, crop rotations, soil fertility or insect control."
And the information is the newest and most updated research of the moment, Reinbott noted.
"Usually from about Thanksgiving to March 15 is what I call our meeting season, and that's when we try to conduct most of our meetings," said Dr. Van Ayers, agriculture and rural development specialist for the University of Missouri Extension's Stoddard County office and Southeast Region.
Since most of Southeast Missouri's producers have finished their harvests by Thanksgiving, the winter months are an opportune time to reach the farmers, Ayers said.
Among topics to be addressed by the University of Missouri Extension and other partners this winter include energy, corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and irrigation.
One of the first meetings offered is the fifth annual Southeast Missouri Energy Conference, set for 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Clinton Building in Sikeston. This year's conference will have a special focus on biomass and biomass-to-energy projects.
"We've got some good speakers coming in -- Doug Bice and Joaquin Alarcon of Abengoa Bioenergy Company," Ayers said. "Abengoa is building a biomass-to-ethanol facility in Hugoton, Kan., and potentially considering Southeast Missouri for a second site."
Ayers pointed out Abengoa is a global biotech ethanol company.
"It's not often the representatives from a company like this speak here (in Southeast Missouri)," Ayers said.
Ayers also noted Tim Woolridge of MFA will present information on their miscanthus project, presently MFA is contracting with farmers to plant miscanthus, which is a perennial grass, in Arkansas and Missouri.
"This conference will provide a range of detailed information for the farmer, landowner, public official or any other individual or group with interests in energy," Ayers said.
Then on Dec. 13, a free regional corn meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at the Clinton Building.
"We'll talk about the grain marketing outlook and strategies for the crop farmers may still have in storage and about the crop from this year," Reinbott said. "We'll give an update on what's new and go from there to help them for this year."
A free irrigation tillage meeting will be from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 20 at the USDA Service Center, located on Highway 25, between Dexter and Bloomfield.
"Irrigation has become a required agriculture practice in Southeast Missouri," Ayers said. "The maintenance of high crop yields and the value of agriculture land in the region are directly related to the adoption and proper usage of irrigation."
A minimum tillage meeting will follow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 20, also at the Stoddard County USDA Center.
A free regional soybean meeting will be from 8 a.m. to noon Jan. 18, 2012, at the Clinton Building in Sikeston. A cotton meeting at the Jake Fisher Delta Center in Portageville and rice meeting at Eagles Lodge in Dexter are being planned for February 2012, but dates and times for these fee meetings have not been set.
For the entire story, see the Dec. 2 Standard Democrat or click here to log on to the electronic edition.