By STEVE BINDER
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — From a detailed climate history to strategies for breaking world yield records, wheat growers and processors are in for a wide variety of topics at this year’s annual Winter Wheat Forum.
About 200 people routinely attend the annual event, which is sponsored by the Illinois Wheat Assoc. (IWA) with the support of the USDA Risk Management Agency and Illinois Farm Bureau.
“We’ve added afternoon sessions this year, so there will be a lot going on,” said the IWA’s Diane Handley.
This year’s forum will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Mt. Vernon. The cost is $15 for association members and $30 for non-members; the fee includes lunch. The IWA annual meeting also is conducted at the end of the forum.
In addition to a variety of exhibitors, attendees will participate in sessions about 2012 high wheat yield research results, managing risk in a volatile market, weather trends, fertilizer manufacturing and expansion in the Midwest and an update on the drought-lowered Mississippi River, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Agronomist Steve Ebelhar kicks off the sessions with a presentation about the limits to high wheat yields in Illinois with an emphasis on his own research at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in southern Illinois.
Several of his plots last year had yields that were double the average in the state, and he’ll discuss whether the region can compete for the world wheat yield record. Ebelhar also will address whether it’s economical for growers to chase record yields.
Wheat planting and projections for the current growing season are looking good. Nationally, growers planted 42.1 million acres of winter wheat in the fall, up 1.8 percent, with total wheat seedings for 2013 projected at 57.16 million, up 2.5 percent.
Cory Winstead, an account manager with AgriVisor, LLC, will address the corn, bean and wheat markets and all of the variables at play, including world demand, weather conditions and current stock supplies.
Before the lunch break, WSIL-TV weatherman Jim Rasor will discuss 20 years of interpretations in climate change and shifts in southern Illinois and how that compares to global observations.
After lunch, Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Assoc. President Jean Payne will look at the drought’s impact on the industry, as well as the expansion under way in the Midwest for manufacturing and distribution.
Representatives from the Corps will finish the forum with an update on the status of work to remove bedrock in a stretch of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, work that so far has helped keep the vital shipping route open to barge traffic.
For more information about the forum, contact Handley at 309-557-3662 or go to www.illinoiswheat.org
Attendees may register at the door between 8-9 a.m. Feb. 11.