Missouri rice growers will hear the latest market, policy and production information at the 2006 Rice Producers Conference, Feb. 22 in Dexter, Mo.

“Missouri has continued to expand in rice production due to good prices,” said Bruce Beck, a University of Missouri Extension agronomist and conference chair. “Growers also are facing higher production costs due to higher irrigation and fertilizer costs related to higher petroleum prices. So we should have good discussions during the conference.”

The event, at the Eagles Club off U.S. Highway 25 in Dexter, begins at 8 a.m. with registration, coffee and doughnuts. At 8:30 a.m., John Kruse, agricultural economist with the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute in Columbia, Mo., will present “Rice Issues and Market Update.”

Kruse said though interest in rice production remains keen in many parts of southeast Missouri, FAPRI analysts are predicting a drop in overall U.S. rice acreage.

“As long as we continue to have fairly strong world prices, I expect the loan deficiency payment (LDP) U.S. growers receive will be relatively low going into spring planting,” Kruse said. “That, and much higher fuel and fertilizer prices for irrigated rice compared to a crop such as soybeans, will likely mean less rice acreage overall.”

Missouri producers attending the conference also will hear details of production costs, and how to hold the line on them, from MU researchers.

Gene Stevens, MU Extension agronomist, will present recent nitrogen fertilizer research and suggest ways to economically apply adequate fertilizer for top rice yields. Joe Henggeler, MU Extension agricultural engineer, will speak on the economics of different irrigation systems and practices.

Additional topics include: new measures for controlling weeds in rice fields and top-yielding rice varieties from southeast Missouri trials.

“Growers will also get to hear general rice production recommendations from our new rice specialist, Brian Ottis,” Beck said. “Brian came to MU just after the 2005 conference, and he brings a great deal of experience to Missouri's rice country.”

Speakers will discuss hot topics in soybean and other crop issues, including Asian soybean rust and results of fungicide trials for rust and other diseases; signs of soybean cyst nematode resistance; and the status and outlook for genetically modified crops.