Farm calendars clutter up as winter meetings abound

Duane Dailey

Tis the season for winter meetings. Farmers have crops in the bin, or sold. Most calves weaned and sent to market or feedlots.

This makes time, supposedly, to attend Extension meetings to learn how to improve farming for next year. From my view, it seems there are meetings to attend every day. How to decide which one?

They might not look like it but Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Sales are educational meetings. Any herd owner thinking of boosting beef quality should check ‘em out. There are six sales, selling spring-calving heifers this fall. Seeing the heifer quality, reading the catalog of data gives background. Watching bidders give top prices for proven genetics teaches a lesson.

Then Dec. 1-2 in Kirksville comes the Livestock Symposium. A farmer committee choses the topics which is a good sign. Planners ask innovators who lead in new ideas to come talk. The meeting gives a big array of livestock topics ranging from bees to horses. The beef meeting gets my attention.

The Kirksville Symposium has a sold-out trade show. It’s all held in the Matthews Middle School and gym.

Maybe what draws crowds are great free meals. There’s a beef dinner Friday night. What is called the Governor’s lunch comes on Saturday. Planners copied the meal idea from the Governor’s Conference (another winter ag meeting) where commodity groups provide their products for the meal. There may be sheep or goat on the menu.

A more traditional winter meeting the MU Extension Crop Management Conference comes to the Holiday Inn Expo Center here in Columbia. Actually, the Expo has a trade show from the co-meeting of MO-AG winter meeting. Those registered for the Extension conference get in free. The common date of Dec. 14-15 helps both groups.

MU crop management was originally to train Certified Crop Advisors. Now top farmers know they get early looks at new research. That’s not only from MU farms and centers, but also other Land-Grant Universities. They pay up and come.

The farmer fee is $100. A grower put that in perspective. If I don’t learn to grow enough bushels of soybeans to cover that, I wasted my time. Knowledge has value.

The hottest topic of the year, Dicamba weed killer drift damage and related problems, will be a major draw, I’m sure. Kevin Bradley, MU Extension weed specialist became nationally known for his research and extension. This makes a true Land-Grant University event.

I try to keep my personal calendar up to date. My pocket calendar proves lacking in space. Being old fashioned, I still keep a desk calendar book beside my computer. An advantage of computerized calendars is that they can “ding” a reminder a day ahead of time.

Beef owners have their own special “Red Book” pocket calendars where they jot breeding and calving dates. Plus they note vet treatments. Many herd owners have stacks of little books, going back years.

Now, that data should be transcribed into a computer spread sheet. That would help bring precision agriculture to beef herds.

MU regional livestock specialists provide red books for their Show-Me-Select herd owners.

I wouldn’t mind going back to boyhood days on the farm. Then a huge calendar on the kitchen wall reminded of event dates. It also kept a record of the daily weather at the farm. I’d like to have one of those with big spaces for jotting notes.

On campus there are overwhelming numbers of meetings and seminars.

In agronomy and animal science halls I walk, flyers cover bulletin boards. Those jog my memory better than my computer.

Extension meetings are only part of the farmer’s winter agenda.

Most farm and commodity groups hold meetings in the next three months. Those are can’t miss events.

Then come priority events: Ballgames and other sports at home and away.

Between all come Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those feature food from the farm.

Write or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203.