Predicting the dangers crops face each growing season can be like betting on Missouri weather: you never know. This season’s brew of bad weather, diseases, floods, weeds and pests underscores the challenges of Mother Nature.

Agriculture consultants, University of Missouri (MU) Extension specialists and farmers can learn to identify and solve crop-injury problems at two crop-injury diagnostic clinics, July 22-23 or July 24-25, at the MU Bradford Research and Extension Center near Columbia.

“In these clinics, we’re training people how to diagnose field crop problems and manage crop health,” said Tim Reinbott, superintendent of Bradford Center.

At each two-day clinic, led by MU Extension specialists, attendees choose seven two-hour sessions from among 11 available topics. Each clinic is limited to 70 people to allow hands-on learning.

New topics this year include water deficit stress in crop plants, led by MU plant physiologist Felix Fritschi.

“We’ll discuss differences between corn and soybeans, some of the tools used to measure water status in plants and explore plant traits that influence their sensitivity to water deficit stress,” Fritschi said. He will also discuss MU research on flood tolerance of plants.

A new field-crop disease session will include an overview of historical, recent and forecasted weather patterns in Missouri by MU Extension climatologist Pat Guinan.

In a session on biofuels, Bill Wiebold, MU Extension corn and soybean specialist, will talk about ethanol and biodiesel crops, the pros and cons of starch-based versus cellulose-based ethanol, and other issues involving plant-based fuels.

Other topics include herbicide injury symptoms; field-crop insects; invasive plants; stored-grain insects; nutrient deficiencies and soil properties related to organic matter; selecting and calibrating sprayer nozzles; and using grass buffers to reduce herbicide runoff.

Registration is $150/person and includes educational materials, lunches and a dinner.

To enroll, print the registration form at the University of Missouri extension site and fax it to 573-884-5554, or call Thresa Chism at 573-884-7945.

Bradford Center is located at 4968 Rangeline Road, 6.5 miles east of Columbia and two miles south of Highway WW.