To help cope, the ongoing drought and its many implications will be the focus of the sixth Rio Grande Irrigation Conference and Trade Show on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the McAllen Civic Center.

"We remain in a very critical drought situation here in the Valley," said Brad Cowan, Texas Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture in Hidalgo County. "That's why we're inviting all growers and irrigation district managers to this very important conference. We've got a lot to discuss and learn, from how we're rehabilitating our aging irrigation districts to the many advances we've made in saving water on the farm."

Experts from throughout the area and the state are slated to make presentations throughout the day. Various companies also will have exhibits set up and representatives on hand to visit with participants.

The registration fee is $10 and includes breakfast, lunch and break fare, plus admission to the trade show and all technical sessions. Organizers say two hours of CEU credit for Texas Department of Agriculture license holders will be offered, and four hours of CCA credits have been applied for.

Registration, the trade show and breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m. The program starts at 8:30 a.m.

The current water supply situation and the forecast for the 2004 season will be provided by Carlos Rubinstein, Rio Grande watermaster. A report on federal and state funding for water district rehabilitation will be delivered by Wayne Halbert of the Harlingen Irrigation District.

A panel of irrigation district managers will then discuss successful irrigation district projects and new management programs for improved on farm irrigation.

Other topics of discussion in the morning program include the use of advanced tools for district modernization, an update on irrigation demonstration projects, improved irrigation technologies and agronomic considerations in irrigation management.

Concurrent workshops to be held after lunch include a center-pivot workshop, another on furrow irrigation and a third on drip irrigation. The day-long activities will conclude with a manufacturers' panel to discuss product options and recommendations.

"This is an excellent opportunity to meet and glean information from any highly experienced and knowledgeable experts in the field of irrigation. The contacts that can be made at a conference like this are invaluable," said Jose Amador, center director of the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.

The conference is sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Water District Managers Association.

For more information, contact an Extension agent in your county, or log on to http://itc.tamu.edu.

Rod Santa Ana III is a writer for Texas A&M University.

e-mail: r-santaana@tamu.edu