Winter production meetings, a long-running staple of the Cooperative Extension Service, will again be in-person throughout the state in 2022.
Production meetings provide an opportunity for agronomists, researchers and Cooperative Extension Service agents with the Division of Agriculture to share the latest findings and recommendations with producers, consultants and other agriculture industry professionals. The meetings also give those in attendance the chance to interact directly with those experts.
During the winter months of early 2021, all production meetings were delivered via the Zoom online platform. Each presentation focused on a major commodity, such as rice or soybeans. Vic Ford, associate vice president for agriculture and natural resources for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the 2022 meetings will be organized by geography rather than commodity, with each meeting dealing with crops common to the local area.
“We’re going to be more traditional about having cotton and corn together, and soybeans and rice together,” Ford said. He said most meetings will serve two or three contiguous counties.
In addition to the relevant commodity crops, the 2022 meetings will deal with rising input prices, especially fertilizer.
“We’re recommending getting a sharp pencil, and looking at each field,” Ford said. “Any given field may have soil test recommendations, but growers will need to do the math as far as the cost-effectiveness of using fertilizer. There are going to be some fields growers think about not fertilizing, knowing the yield may be less.”
Protocols addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be in place at each meeting, including the use of face coverings, social distancing and hand sanitizer. Although there will not be a cap on attendance, Ford said venues will be selected to accommodate expected participation, which rarely exceeds 100.
“The county agents know their counties,” Ford said. “We’re relying on their local knowledge to handle all of that.”
Ford said the meetings will also address the physical and mental health of farmers and farm workers.
“People already know that there are a lot of issues in agriculture right now related to rising input costs,” Ford said. “But we’re also concerned with the health of the farmer. We’re going to be sharing information on dealing with stress.
“We’re concerned with agricultural production, but we’re also concerned with how these rising costs and squeezing margins will affect the mental and physical health of our producers,” he said.
Winter production meetings begin in January. Dates and locations for individual meetings may be subject to change, due to weather, COVID or other factors. For specific production meeting details, contact your county extension office.
Jan. 7— Tri-State Soybean Meeting — Stoneville, Mississippi
Jan. 10 — Rice/Soybean — Cross County
Jan. 11— Rice/Soybean – Poinsett County
Jan. 12 — Rice /Soybean/ Corn – Prairie, Lonoke, and Pulaski Counties
Jan. 13 — Rice/Soybean Tri-County — Drew, Desha, and Lincoln
Jan. 13 — Corn/Cotton — Clay and Greene Counties
Jan. 18-20 — Crop Management Conference, North Little Rock
Jan. 21 — Corn/Soybean — Conway Co. Fairgrounds
Jan. 31-Feb. 2 — No-Till Conference – Jonesboro.