Resuource tips at third annual Southwest Crops Conference, Expo A FARMER panel will discuss tactics to improve profitability during the Feb. 13 Southwest Crops Production Conference and Expo.

The third annual conference, slated for the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, also will give Texas High Plains farmers an opportunity to hear the latest strategies for pest control, cotton marketing and alternative crops.

"But one of the highlights will be a farmer panel," says Ron Smith, Editor of Southwest Farm Press, one of the conference sponsors. "We've always believed farmers want to hear other farmers explain how they make new technology or products work," Smith says. "We're putting a farmer panel together to look at tactics they've used successfully to reduce production expenses, save time, and conserve their natural resources. Wayne Keeling, Texas Experiment Station agronomist, will moderate the panel.

"Resource management will be a key ingredient for 2001 as farmers look at significantly higher production costs," Smith said. "Fertilizer, natural gas and electricity costs, for instance, likely will be much higher than last year. Anything a grower can do to trim those costs will make profit a little easier to attain.

"Managing expenses is especially important with the double whammy of higher costs and stagnant commodity prices."

A session on cotton marketing also will help farmers plan sales strategies for the 2001 crop.

"And we've asked Kenneth Stokes, a Texas Extension Service economist, to provide some insight in how changes in the Federal Crop Insurance regulations will affect producers."

Also on tap will be an update on the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program.

"The boll weevil took some major hits in Texas last year," Smith says. "One zone has succeeded in knocking weevils numbers back to a `functionally eradicated' status. A number of new zones will come into the program in 2001 and several others are looking at the possibilities.

Lindy Patton, Executive Director of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Inc., will provide an update on what the program has accomplished so far and what's ahead for the next few years.

In addition to Southwest Farm Press, sponsors include: Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Lubbock; College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University; The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station; the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service.

Farmers and private pesticide applicators will receive continuing education units (CEUs).

In addition to the seminars, some of the area's top farm industries will exhibit the latest in equipment and technology at the agricultural Expo.

Registration for the Conference and Expo is free. Lunch will be available for a nominal fee. Sponsors encourage pre-registration to help plan for lunch. All participants who pre-register will be eligible for a door prize.

Conference registration begins at 8 a.m. and seminars begin promptly at 9 a.m. The Conference and Expo will close at 5 p.m.