Fertilizer prices are on everyone's mind. According to Larry Oldham, Extension soils specialist at Mississippi State University, increased wheat acreage erased what many thought would be decreased fertilizer demand after a large 2007 corn acreage.

With increased fertilizer demand overseas and the possibility of limited availability due to transportation and supply issues, this situation requires management, starting now, says Oldham. Here are his tips:

  • Maintain soil pH to maximize availability of both applied and native phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Lime programs are always expensive, but they are critical to maximizing efficient nutrient use in the current fertilizer situation.

  • P and K needs are only determined by soil testing. Producers should be testing on a one- or two-year schedule.

  • Consider banding nitrogen (N) and P applications on row crops to improve plant use efficiency.

  • If you aren't already, split N applications to minimize potential leaching or volitization losses associated with large, one-time applications.

  • Inject N applications for cotton or corn to lessen potential losses.

  • Meet early and often with your fertilizer suppliers to determine availability, delivery and cost so you have the product when you need it.

FARM & GIN SHOW

The Midsouth Farm & Gin Show will be held in Memphis, Feb. 29 through March 1. The 56th year for the event that draws thousands will showcase the industry's latest offerings and offer growers and ginners a firsthand look at a broad array of new ag products and technologies.

Along with more than 400 exhibits, seminars will focus on the outlook for major Midsouth crops, as well as key farm issues, legislation and special sessions on marketing for profit in the volatile markets of today.

For more information on the show, go to www.southerncottonginners.org and click on the Farm & Gin Show link along the top, or call 901-947-3104.

SORGHUM CHECKOFF FEES DOUBLING

At current prices, the proposed National Sorghum Checkoff would nearly double what Arkansas sorghum producers pay in state-collected checkoff fees, which cutting funds passed back to the state by half, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau (AFB) and the Grain and Sorghum Producers of Arkansas.

The national checkoff would require all U.S. sorghum producers to pay 0.6% of the value of their sorghum research. Under the proposed checkoff, collections would rise to over $200,000, with 15-25% returned to individual states for research. At the highest level, 25%, just over $50,000 would be returned, according to AFB figures. Initial objectives of the national checkoff investments would be used for increased crop yields, technology improvement, market enhancement and increased sorghum awareness.

Using the current state program, Arkansas corn and sorghum farmers pay 1ยข/bu. to a state checkoff program, 95% of which is returned to the state. As of the end of last November, $106,000 had been collected through the state checkoff, with $103,000 being returned for local research and promotional activities. The funds collected are used for testing sorghum varieties under local conditions and soil type, according to AFB.

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has already approved the National Sorghum Checkoff, and it's posted on the Federal Register and is taking public comments until Jan. 22. To view proposed legislation, make a comment or for more information, go to www.regulations.gov or call 202-720-1115. The document ID is AMS-LS-07-0056-0001.

SWEETER EDAMAME

Veggie soybeans are about to get even sweeter. New varieties of sweeter edamame soybeans are being developed by Virginia State University and Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Scientists have found five types of vegetable soybeans with higher-than-usual sugar levels, which will serve as the parent lines for the new varieties.