Farmers ending an erratic crop year have help ahead. To get it, they should enroll for the MU Crop Management Conference in Columbia.

Organizer Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri plant scientist, says the annual event fills quickly. He opened enrollment early for the Dec. 17-18 event.

There’s plenty to talk about. Bradley and coworkers lined up 19 speakers for 33 sessions in two days. It’s a three-track meeting with speakers from MU and other land-grant universities.

Recognizing a tough year for farmers, the keynote talk looks at hard choices and responses to rural stress. Sean Brotherson, professor from North Dakota, leads off the meeting. This year stress piles up. That includes prices, weather, floods, trade, frosty harvest and more.

Next, MU economist Scott Brown will give price outlooks based on trade, policy, diseases and weather. Agricultural markets feel stresses also.

Usual crop management practices reflect many changes in farming. Topics range from flood recovery, increased use of cover crops and never-ending changes in weed control. New this year will be talks on a possibly profitable cash crop—hemp. They’ll talk about fiber varieties, not medicinal.

Bradley, who is an MU Extension weed specialist, promises to talk about more than dicamba herbicide. He looks ahead to weed control of the future, which may take more than herbicides. Crop management talks go far beyond pest control, he adds.

Some speakers will meet some misconceptions head-on.

One example: Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois, will talk on “Today’s Corn Hybrids.” It’s known that genetics raised corn yields in recent years. But an idea persists that high yields take high inputs. Nafziger knows research showing that’s not always right.

Near home, MU specialists have new farm-based results to offer from four years of strip trials. Farmers and scientists work together, especially on cover crops.

Farmer interest in the conference has grown. The meetings originally started to help Certified Crop Advisers earn needed credits. Those working for farm service companies can earn up to 13 credits.

After a while, farmers began enrolling as well. They seek latest crop tips from MU researchers. Farmers get a discount on registration.

The Columbia meetings are at Holiday Inn Express near the Stadium Blvd. exit off Interstate 70. The first session, the keynote, is 8 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17. Conference ends after 3:30 p.m., Dec. 18.

Sign-up details and agenda are at