Beginning at 2:00 p.m. Jan. 15, Jim Dunphy, North Carolina State University soybean specialist, will lead off this year’s round of Extension presentations. With 1.5 million of soybeans annually, North Carolina is by far the largest soybean producing state in the Southeast. This year’s soybean crop was planted late and took a major hit from extended rainy, cloudy weather. After a record-breaking 39 bushel per acre statewide yield in 2012, growers saw yields tumble in 2013 for a number of reasons, ranging from weather to an early outbreak of Asian Soybean Rust on a late-planted crop.

Ron Heiniger, Extension crops specialist and unofficial corn guru in the state, will talk about the surprisingly high yields of corn in last year’s rain-plagued growing season and provide updates on production for the 2014 growing season. Heiniger has been instrumental in the tremendous growth in acreage of grain sorghum and can provide growers with some insights on growing sorghum.

Randy Weisz, Extension small grain specialist at North Carolina State, will give wheat and small grain growers an update on the 2013-2014 crop, which was generally planted late because of the weather-related push-back on harvesting of spring-planted crops. The rainy 2013 produced some interesting disease challenges that aren’t always a problem in the state and Weisz will likely address those and some harvesting obstacles.

Alan York, recognized globally as a leader in weed management, especially in management of herbicide resistant weeds, will discuss some of the challenges faced by cotton growers in the 2013 season.

One of the highlights of the annual joint commodity conference is the presentation of awards by the various grower associations.  Despite one of the most unique growing seasons from a weather perspective, there were pockets of high production in all the crops represented and perhaps more so than in any other year, yield winners are likely to come from parts of the state least impacted by the protracted cool, damp, rainy weather.

Another highlight of the annual event is a chance to visit informally with the grower- presidents of each of North Carolina’s commodity associations for an early risers breakfast session. This year Jay Sullivan, representing corn growers; Donny Lassiter, representing North Carolina cotton growers; Clifton Paul, representing small grain growers; and Bernard Lennon, representing soybean growers will be available during an informal chat session, which will be held during breakfast.

At 8:00 a.m. on Jan. 17, attendees will get a chance to see and hear about some of the newest technology available to growers for the 2014 season. Greg Wichman, DuPont Pioneer and Roy Gorena, Syngenta, both veteran agriculture technology leaders, will provide information on new technology available to growers for the 2014 season. The discussion will be led by Rhonda Garrison, with the Southern Farm Network.