The 93rd annual meeting Arkansas Seed Growers Association is scheduled for Jan. 21. “This is one of the oldest agricultural organizations in the state,” says Scooter Hodges, president of the association.

“It isn’t expensive for a voting membership — only $75. And we need an increased membership. I’d like to have 100 full-time members, if possible.”

The keynote speaker will be Joel Cape, a New Orleans-based attorney, who will speak on biofuel opportunities for agriculture. In 2006, Cape spoke at the meeting on seed patent laws.

For more see U.S. seed law history: a primer.

“We’ll also have University of Arkansas specialists in to speak. Topics may shift a bit, but Jason Kelley will speak on the latest production technology for feed grains. Scott Stiles, an economist out of ASU, will speak on the markets. Chuck Wilson will speak on how to maximize the newest technologies in rice. Jeremy Ross will speak on the best way to maximize soybean yields.”

To encourage attendance, “we’re hoping to provide topics that won’t be covered in other meetings. My target is to help everyone learn some new things. With the changes occurring in agriculture, we need all the help and advice we can get.”

After lunch, there will be Plant Board reports, a foundation seed program report, and a brief business meeting.

As harvest season picks up speed, what is Hodges — who works at Stratton Seed in Stuttgart, Ark. — hearing from farmers?

“I’m told Louisiana’s Clearfield rice is supposedly the best in years. And the medium-grain crop down there is doing well.”

In Arkansas, “the rice that’s been cut so far is inconsistent. Some looks good — maybe 150 bushels — and some is even better, in the 195-plus bushel range. But it’s hard to draw any conclusions because the harvest is just beginning. The crop is late.”

Corn yields are running anywhere from 130 bushels to 220 bushels. “That’s a big range and a lot depends on when the seed was planted. I understand there were some pollination issues, as well. And in the last half of June, there was a lot of excessive heat.”

Looking towards 2010, Hodges said farmers asking about the availability of conventional soybean seed. “There should be a good supply of that. Of course, you never know what the weather will do between now and harvest.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com