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Published December 02, 2013, 09:43 AM

Prairie Grains returns

The annual Grand Forks, N.D., ag conference is set for Dec. 11 and 12.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Another crop season has ended, which means it’s time for another Prairie Grains Conference.

The annual conference, the unofficial kick-off to the area’s winter ag meeting season, is set for Dec. 11 and 12 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. More than 700 people and 50 exhibitors are expected to attend.

“We think it will be another good show,” says Dave Torgerson, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, one of seven organizations behind the event.

Other conference partners are the Minnesota Barley Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Northland Community & Technical College Farm Business Management, North Dakota Barley Council and Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Sessions on the 2014 weather outlook, the 2014 crop marketing outlook and the world fertilizer industry should be of widespread interest, Torgerson says.

The conference begins with grower and industry meetings on Dec. 11. Torgerson notes the day’s keynote speech, which begins at 11 a.m., will be relevant to many agriculturalists who live in or near the Red River Valley.

Tom Hebert, president of Bayard Ridge Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying company, will speak on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, which limits the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments that make their way into the Chesapeake Bay.

Dec. 12 sessions

Activities on Dec. 12 begin at 7 a.m. with research and reporting sessions, led by North Dakota and Minnesota extension officials, aimed specifically at wheat and soybean growers.

“We try to make these sessions as useful as possible, with information they can take back to the farm,” Torgerson says.

Three general sessions are scheduled later on Dec. 12:

• At 9:20 a.m., Leon Osborne will speak on the 2014 weather outlook. Osborne, president and CEO of Meridian Environmental Technology, speaks every year at the Prairie Grains Conference. Osborne’s presentation is always popular, Torgerson says.

• At 10 a.m., Don Pottinger, CEO of Northern Plains Nitrogen, will speak on volatility in the global fertilizer industry. Northern Plains Nitrogen wants to build a nitrogen fertilizer plant in Grand Forks; Pottinger’s presentation will focus on the global fertilizer situation, not the proposed plant, Torgerson says.

• At 1:30 p.m., Gerry Gulke will speak on crop marketing and planting decisions in 2014. Gulke, a North Dakota native who’s involved in farming in both North Dakota and Illinois, heads the Gulke Group, a Chicago consulting company.

• At 11:10 a.m., after Pottinger’s presentation, a number of 50- to 60-minute breakout sessions are scheduled. Conference-goers pick one session to attend. Topics include irrigation, a 2013 tax update, the value of wheat in crop rotations and Minnesota’s GreenStar Farms Initiative.

The conference is free to anyone who belongs to one of the partner organizations. A $20 fee will be charged for people who aren’t members of one of the organizations; the fee can be paid at the door, but preregistration is preferred.

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