SW Crops Conference gives farmers something to chew on

Farmers leaving the fifth Annual Southwest Crops Production Conference and Expo allowed as they had a bit more to chew on than the chicken and catfish they had for lunch.

“We got a lot of information here,” said Lubbock County farmer David Jones.

“That's why we do this every year,” said Mike Gonitzke,” Publisher of Southwest Farm Press, one of the founders and co-sponsors of the event, which has become a mainstay for farmers looking for timely information just ahead of planting season.

“We want to provide farmers in this area with as much information as possible so they can make the best production decisions. We believe the conference has grown every year and that the presentations have become more timely,” he said.

Gonitzke said having Jim Little, administrator for the Farm Services Agency, as a keynote speaker offered farmers a unique opportunity to get information about deadlines and opportunities included in the farm bill passed last fall.

He also noted that a number of candidates running in the special election to replace Rep Larry Combest, R-Texas, who will resign in May, also were on hand to meet farmers and drum up votes.

Farmers heard updates on cotton and grain sorghum production, irrigation, peanut legislation, new pesticide regulations and cotton and grain market outlooks.

Calvin Trostle, Extension agronomist at the Lubbock center, said farmers were hungry for information.

“They picked up more copies of crop production literature than any meeting in recent memory. One grower, on seeing the wide variety of literature available on sorghum, cotton, forages, sunflower, and other crops said: ‘I didn't realize this much information was available, or that someone was even working on many of these alternative crops.’”

Trostle said many farmers were interested in reduced tillage systems and had begun to ask questions “even before the afternoon farmer/panel discussion, which included conservation tillage.

“Extension personnel noted discussions during lunch with producers, particularly from east Lubbock County, about practices and experiences with minimum till efforts.”

An Extension agronomist said some growers did not know what sorghum hybrid or alfalfa variety they had planted.

“This should be an area for Extension to address, the importance of careful variety selection, an important — and readily available — means to improve production,” Trostle said.

Some were interested in forages, he said. “One grower, noting he had first learned about brown midrib (BMR) forages at last year's conference, planted nearly 500 acres of dryland BMR sorghum/sudan, and received a premium of $5 to $10 a bale for the hay because is was BMR.

Yields being equal, he believes he pocketed $7500 more than he would have with a conventional sorghum/sudan.”

Estimates indicate attendance at more than 300.

Sponsors for the annual event include: the Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.; the Texas Cooperative Extension Service; the Texas A&M Agricultural Research Station; the USDA-ARS station at Lubbock; Texas Tech University; and Southwest Farm Press.

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