Gateway Farm Expo Underway, Producers Talking Drought

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Gateway Farm Expo officials say that with harvest complete farmers are looking ahead to 2013, and the show's vendors and speakers are ready to help them make those plans.

"There's always something new and innovative," says Expo Show Chair James Friesen. "We've got speakers that are talking a lot about water issues since we're coming off a major drought year."

This year's yields varied greatly for producers thanks to the drought, but Friesen says irrigated fields fared much better than dryland acres.

But tight water rights means converting to irrigation isn't easy. However, speakers and vendors say there are other options out there.

DuPont Pioneer Account Manager Tim Lewandowski says that fertility and rotating crops are concerns corn producers have even where extra water is available.

"We have the drought concerns that are there, even in an irrigated environment," he says. "We worry about how that root system develops, or how it can silk through the heat."

Lewandowski says another dry year will have some farmers looking at cutting back on the number of plants per acre, but he says a drought tolerant hybrid can keep those numbers up.

"We can keep those populations there and adjust to that heat, adjust to the lack of water that we're having, adjust to a lot of the things mother nature's been giving us," he says.

But getting the right crop to grow is only part of the battle - deciding when to sell it is another.

Doug Simon of the Agricultural Risk Consulting Group out of Lincoln says with a flexible marketing plan, farmers can make an uncertain market work for them.

"With the volatility comes opportunity, you just have to be willing to step forward and do something about it when the opportunity presents itself," says Simon.

The Gateway Farm Expo will have more drought-related speakers sharing information with producers on Thursday.