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Ag losses prompt course redesign

STARKVILLE — Mississippi agriculture has changed a great deal in the last 25 years, and the challenges of 2009 reminded many farmers that there is still much to learn.

To address the growing needs of the state’s farmers, the Mississippi State University Extension Service redesigned its 25-year-old annual cotton short course and offered a two-and-a-half day meeting dedicated to all state row crops instead. The expansion to other crops and the recent historic losses helped triple attendance numbers over recent years.

Extension soybean specialist Trey Koger helped organize this December’s program, which attracted more than 300 growers, consultants and industry and retail distribution representatives from across the state. The short course addressed issues related to cotton, corn and soybeans.

Koger said the meeting allowed farmers the opportunity to reflect on the past seasons and learn about ongoing research efforts.

“Cotton acreage has been declining in Mississippi, and other crops have been filling in that part of our agricultural landscape,” Koger said. “We wanted to expand from the cotton short course to include other row crops and reflect the need for diversity and crop rotation.”

In addition to the traditional presentations, Koger said the new program gave growers some hands-on opportunities, including a grain inspection clinic. These sessions reviewed some material covered in summer clinics on how soybeans are graded at the elevators and what growers can do if they have a discrepancy with the elevator.

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