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The 2017 International Crop Expo concludes Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. (Nick Nelson/Agweek)

International Crop Expo returns

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The International Crop Expo began 17 years ago as the fusion of three small farm shows. It's grown into a longstanding success that's regarded by some as the unofficial end of the area's general-farm-show winter season.

The event returns Feb. 21-22 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Roughly 4,000 people and 170 exhibitors are expected to attend. It begins at 9 a.m. both days and ends at 5 p.m Feb. 21 and 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Admission and parking are free.

"We think there's a lot of good speakers and good information again this year," said Lionel Olson, an agronomist with Integrated Ag Services in Northwood, N.D. who has helped to manage the show for many years.

The Crop Expo — created by the combination of events hosted individually by small grains, potato and soybean groups after the Alerus Center opened — will again host educational sessions geared specifically to spuds, small grains and soybeans/dry beans.

But many sessions are of general interest and can benefit people involved in other aspects of ag, too, Olson said.

Two examples: presentations on grain marketing and pest management using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Historically, the Crop Expo has stressed its two keynote speakers, one on each of its two days, and that's the case this year, too, Olson said.

At 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21, Matt Roberts, an ag economist and national speaker on the grain and energy markets, gives the first keynote presentation. He'll provide an economic summary and outlook for key markets and examine trade policy and issues.

At 1:30 p.m. Feb. 22, Russ Tweiten, vice president of agribusiness consulting and succession retirement planning for AgCountry, gives the second keynote presentation. He'll provide an overview of the succession planning process.

His presentation includes a discussion with four agriculturalists: Chuck Nelson of Thompson, N.D., Deb Gebeke, Mark Lemley and Josh Ihry, all of Hope, N.D.

Both succession planning and market factors are important issues drawing widespread interest in agriculture, Olson said.

As in past years, the potato segment will attract national potato industry leaders. This year, the list includes Blair Richardson, president and CEO of Potatoes USA, the nation's potato marketing agency, who will speak at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 21, and John Keeling, executive vice president of the National Potato Council, which represents potato growers on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental and trade issues, who will speak at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 21.

The potato program also includes a presentation at 11 a.m. Feb. 21 by Daryl Ritchison, interim director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, on inversion monitoring through NDAWN, which consists of 91 weather stations in North Dakota and border regions of surrounding states.

Many agriculturalists will be interested in Ritchison's presentation, Olson said.

The show's exhibit space is full again this year, with exhibitors offering services and products aimed at a wide range of agriculturalists, not only one involved with wheat, soybeans and potatoes, Olson said.

Most attendees come from within 100 miles of Grand Forks, N.D., in the northeast part of the state. That area includes Canada, which helps to explain the event's full name.

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