wheat file photo

What’s driving those dramatic rallies in the commodities market of late, and what’s the outlook for 2021?

Crop economist and marketing specialist Dr. Frayne Olson has a few ideas about that and how things could be shaping up for 202. He will be sharing those insights at the upcoming National Hard Spring Wheat Show, set for Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, after a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s wheat show in Williston will be available in two formats, one in person and the other virtual. In person attendance will have an occupancy limit, while virtual attendance is unlimited.

The conference will be one day only, however, and there will be neither meal, nor hands-on activities.

“We are doing that to be mindful of limiting COVID-19 transmission,” cropping specialist Dr. Clair Keene said. She is among those helping to organize the event.

Those who prefer to attend virtually can register to do that at https://forms.gle/DnK317kfW6tWoqEWA. The Zoom link can then be shared with virtual attendees by email.

Another talk that should be of great interest to area producers will be the weed update by Williams County, North Dakota, and Roosevelt County, Montana, Extension agents Kelly Leo and Jeff Chilson.

Leo has found a couple of new noxious weeds in Williams County since joining as the county extension agent for agriculture, and, in Montana, at a farm in Roosevelt County, water hemp has been identified.

Another highlight for the event will be the weather outlook, given this year by Daryl Ritchison, the director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network.

“Daryl hasn’t been here in person for three, four years,” Keene said. “So we are excited to have him back, and I think people will be really interested in the weather outlook obviously, coming off a. very severe drought, which we are all concerned about. How much soil moisture we have right now and how much we will be able to get before we can plant is a concern I have right now, and so I wil lbe very interested in what he has to say and the climate models showing seasonal outlook for precipitation.”

There will also be updates on soil acidification research, which is having a bigger and bigger impact on agriculture throughout the region. Soil scientists Dr. Dave Franzen and Dr. Jim Staricka, as well as Chilson, will present information to help producers with this issue.

Bread Day, a perennial favorite, will also happen, but it’s being modified due to COVID-19. Bakken Elementary will get bread kits that the kids will do in class or from home using video instructions. Other classes that want to participate may also be sent kits, and the schools signed up also include a few in Montana such as Culbertson and Bainville.

Keene said it’s possible the virtual format might stick around for some time after the pandemic.

“I think we do see the value of it for extension broadly,” Keene said. “Several of the programs that have happened via Zoom have seen good attendance — more than could normally fit in a room. And they were people from multiple states across a region, which is pretty awesome. So I think yes, we will probably be attempting to do more hybrid programming in the future because it does make things more accessible.”

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