Northwest Florida Beef Conference & Trade Show – February 13

Northwest Florida Beef Conference & Trade Show – February 13

Cattle ranchers, employees, and family members from the Tri-state Region (FL, AL, GA) are invited to attend the 34th annual Northwest Florida Beef Conference and Trade Show, to be held on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 in Marianna, Florida.  The Conference will be held at the Jackson County Extension Office, located at 2741 Penn Avenue, Marianna, Florida. There will be a $5 per person registration fee, payable at the door.  Registration and the Trade Show open at 7:30 AM central time, the program starts at 8:15 AM, and concludes with a steak lunch.


 Beef Confernce Crowd

2018 Northwest Florida Beef Conference & Trade Show. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

2019 Focus:  Rebuilding for a Better Future

The Tri-state area was hammered by Hurricane Michael, so cattle producers in this region survived a very challenging year in 2018.  Because of this, the 2019 Beef Conference educational program will focus on Rebuilding for a Better Future. Dr. Jared Decker, Beef Genetics Extension Specialist, University of Missouri, will be the keynote speaker. He will discuss genomic-enhanced EPDs and EPD Indexes to help producers make effective choices to improve the genetics of their herd. Michael Archibald, Deseret Cattle and Timber will share diversification options to consider.  Ken Kelley, Alabama Regional Farm management Agent, will discuss improving income through cattle marketing options.   Other topics will focus on potential supplemental income from pastures, and controlling trees and brush in rebuilt fence lines.

Schedule of Events (all Central Time)
  •  7:30 – Trade Show & Registration Opens
  •  8:15 – Welcome & Program Introduction
  •  8:30 – Diversification to Add Income to Your Cattle Operation
                Michael Archibald, General Manager Deseret Cattle & Timber
  •  9:00 – Using Genomic-Enhanced EPDs and EPD Indexes to Build a Better Herd
                Jared Decker, Beef Genetics Extension Specialist, University of Missouri
  •  9:45 – Trade Show & Snack Break
  • 10:30 – Marketing Options to Improve Income
                 Ken Kelley, Alabama Regional Farm and Agribusiness Management Agent
  • 11:00 – Income Potential from Pastures
                 Doug Mayo, County Director, UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County
  • 11:30 – Killing Trees and Brush in Your Fence Lines
                 Mark Mauldin, Ag Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Washington County
  • 12:00 – Grilled Steak Lunch (thanks to JCCA Cooking Crew)
  • 12:30 – 1:30 Trade Show Open

Trade Show

18 Beef Conference Trade Show

The Beef Conference will also feature a Trade Show of businesses and agencies that offer goods and services to cattle producers. Credit Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

In addition to the educational program, the Beef Conference will also feature a Trade Show of businesses and agencies that offer goods and services to cattle producers. There will be time allotted on the schedule to visit with the company representatives to learn about specific products and services they offer for cattle producers in this region. The program will have designated times for ranchers to visit with the Trade Show Exhibitors:  45 minutes during registration, 45 minutes in the middle of the program, and 1 hour immediately after lunch is served.

If you are interested in participating in the as an exhibitor/sponsor, utilize the Trade Show Eventbrite Registration website .  You will be entering the required information online and paying in one simple step.  No other action required. Registration deadline is Friday, February 8.

Trade Show booth at the Northwest Florida Beef Conference.

The Northwest Florida Beef Conference and Trade Show is an educational program provided by the UF/IFAS Panhandle Agriculture Extension Team. For more information on the Beef Conference, or participating in the Trade Show as an exhibitor, contact Doug Mayo, at 850-482-9620.

Carinata Summit 2019 & SPARC Annual Meeting – March 5-6

Carinata Summit 2019 & SPARC Annual Meeting – March 5-6

The 2019 Carinata Summit will be held March 5 and 6 at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research & Education Center in Quincy, Florida (155 Research Road, Quincy, FL).  Topics for discussion at the event will include:  the public-private partnership for carinata supply chain development, focus groups related to feedstock development and best management practices, adoption and outreach, fuel and bioproduct development, enhancing carinata meal value, system sustainability, and carinata field tours.  This two-day event provides a great venue for networking, and identifying opportunities to collaborate.

6th Carinata Biomaterial Summit & 2nd SPARC Annual Meeting
Tentative Agenda (All times listed in Eastern Time Zone)
March 5, 2019 (Industry Focus)
8:00-8:30 AM: Check-in
8:30-8:45 AM: Welcome Address
8:45-10:00 AM: 1st slot of talks (Speaker 1: Agrisoma; Speaker 2: TBC; Speaker 3: TBC)
10:00-10:30 AM: Break and Poster Session
10:30-Noon-2nd slot of talks (high level-Speaker 1: ARA; Speaker 2: TBC; Speaker 3: CAAFI)
Noon to 1:30 PM-Lunch and Networking
1:30-3:00 PM-Presentations-agronomy & breeding, best management practices, meal and coproducts, fuel (15 minutes limit)
3:00-3:30 PM-Break and Poster Session
3:30-5:00 PM-Presentations-system metrics, supply chain, social science, extension, education and workforce development (15 minutes limit)
Dinner and Adjourn

March 6, 2019 (Producer Focus)
8:00-8:30 AM: Check-in
8:30-9:30 AM: Welcome address & talks (carinata supply chain, crop insurance, whole farm economics)
9:30 to 11:00 AM: Field day-tours of select carinata studies in Quincy with in-field talks
11:15 AM-12:30 PM: Panel or fishbowl conversation with producers, researchers, extension agents, industry partners-Social Science Team facilitates
12:30-1:30 PM: Lunch
Larger summit group adjourns – SPARC convenes for 2nd SPARC Annual Meeting

To register call or email:
Sheeja George at
850-284-1334 / 850-875-7136

Alabama Row Crops Shortcourse – December 13-14

Alabama Row Crops Shortcourse – December 13-14

It’s not too late to register for the 2018 Alabama Row Crops Short Course that will be held in Auburn next Thursday, December 13th and Friday December 14th. An event agenda and program updates are available by visiting Continuing education units and pesticide points will also be available for all attendees. Register online at There is no registration fee, however, advanced registration is required. Additionally, interested producers may find updates via the Alabama Crops Facebook page or the Alabama Cooperative Extension Facebook page.



Gadsden Tomato Forum – December 6

Gadsden Tomato Forum – December 6

Freshly picked tomatoes

Freshly picked tomatoes. Credit: UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

The annual Tomato Forum will be held in Gadsden County on Thursday, December 6, 2018.  The event will be hosted by the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM eastern time.

Topics to be covered will include tomato variety selection, recommended production practices, pest and disease management, and best management practices for water quality protection. Pesticide CEUs will also be provided for restricted pesticide applicators who attend this event.  The annual meeting of the Gadsden County Tomato Growers Association will be held immediately following a sponsored lunch.

Meeting Agenda (All Times Eastern)

  • 8:00 AM     Registration and coffee
  • 8:15     Opening remarks – Dr. Glen Aiken – NFREC Center Director
  • 8:30     Update on Tomato Varieties and Soil-borne Pest Management Strategies – Dr. Josh Freeman, UF NFREC
  • 9:00     Update on Tomato Diseases Management for 2019 Planning – Dr. Mathews Paret, UF NFREC
  • 9:30     Use of Soil Moisture Probes for Irrigation Scheduling Rad Yager – Certified Ag Resources, Camilla, GA
  • 10:00   Break
  • 10:15   Pest Management Updates in Tomatoes – Dr. Xavier Martini, UF NFREC
  • 10:45   Cover Crops for Tomato and Vegetable Production – Dr. Cheryl Mackowiak, UF NFREC
  • 11:15   Drone Research on Melon Disease Assessment Dr. Melanie Kalischuk, UF NFREC Research Associate
  • 11:30   Continuous Water Tracking for Optimum Crop Productivity – Doug Crawford – BMP Logic, Inc.
  • 11:45   BMP’s and Available Cost Share for Producers – Dr. Andrea Albertin – UF Regional Specialized Water Agent
  • 12:00 PM  Q&A and Sponsors Presentation
  • 12:15   Lunch
  • 1:00   Annual meeting of Gadsden Tomato Growers

The meeting location address is:

North Florida Research and Education Center (Quincy)
155 Research Road,
Quincy, FL  32351

For more information, contact:
Shep Eubanks


Highlights and Presentations from the 2018 Forage Legume Conference

Highlights and Presentations from the 2018 Forage Legume Conference

105 cattle and hay producers, industry representatives, extension agents, and researchers from three states took part in the Forage Legume Conference in Marianna, FL. Credit: Doug Mayo

Jose Dubeux, Forage Management Specialist, North Florida Research and Education Center, lead the team that organized the Forage Legume Conference, that was held on March 15, 2018, in Marianna, Florida. There were 105 cattle and hay producers, industry representatives, as well as extension and research faculty, and students from the University of Florida that participated in the event.  The morning session featured presentations from five forage experts from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.  The morning session concluded with a panel of four forage producers, who have successfully integrated legumes on their operations.  The afternoon session featured a tour of forage legume research at the Marianna Beef Research Unit, at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center.

Legumes are plants that are able to secure their own nitrogen from a symbiotic relationship with specific beneficial bacteria.  Adding legumes to forage grass systems offers many benefits, such as increased soil nitrogen availability for the grass, higher nutrient quality for increased animal performance, and increased production from extension of the grazing season.  The six invited speakers provided the most current research-based recommendations for integrating legumes into grazing and hay operations.  Many of the participants at the Conference asked for a copy of the presentations that were provided, so the purpose of this article is to share them in a printer friendly PDF format.

1.  Alfalfa in the South

Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Extension Specialist.

Dr. Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Specialist, provided an update of several years of research and on-farm testing for interseeding alfalfa into Bermudagrass hay fields.  The main idea of this project was to evaluate use of alfalfa to reduce nitrogen fertilization, and also increase hay nutrient quality. In addition to the presentation below, Dr. Hancock also has a web page with links to more information on this topic:  Alfalfa in the South

Presentation link:  Hancock – Alfalfa in the South


2.  Integrating Rhizoma Peanut in Grazing Systems

Dr. Lynn Sollenberger, UF Agronomy Department, shared the results of several years of research on techniques to integrate rhizoma peanut (aka perennial peanut) into bahigrass pastures.  The main concept was to develop a management system which could reduce or eliminate nitrogen fertilization, with equal or improved animal performance.  His team’s research has been focusing on variety selection, timing of planting, and the challenges with the grass suppression and weed control needed to establish strips of rhizoma peanut in existing bahiagrass pastures.

Presentation link:  Sollenberger – Integrating Rhizoma Perennial Peanut Into Grazing Systems


3.  Using Clovers in the Southern Coastal Plains

Dr. Don Ball, emeritus Alabama Forage Extension Specialist, shared some of his vast knowledge from a career of research and on-farm work with integrating clovers into grass based grazing systems.  In his presentation, Dr. Ball answers the key question of, “Why grow clovers?

Presentation link:  Ball – Clovers in the Coastal Plains


4.  Warm Season Annual Legumes:  Past, Present, and Future

Dr. Joe Vendramini, Forage Specialist, UF Range Cattle Research and Education Center, provided a presentation summarizing research that his team has conducted on three warm season annual legumes:  aeschynomene, cowpea, and sunn hemp.  Aeschynomene is a proven reseeding annual legume that grows better in wetter, poorly drained soils than other legumes.  Cowpea can be utilized as a cover crop, or temporary grazing, but was not competitive when integrated into grass pastures.  Sunn hemp has shown real potential, so current research is focusing on the best varieties and management techniques to integrate it with grass pastures.

Presentation link:  Vendramini – Annual Warm-Season Legumes


5.  Economics of Forage Legumes vs. N Fertilization

Chris Prevatt, UF Livestock Economist, shared a presentation that analyzed comparison of past research on grazing systems that included legumes, versus grass systems for stocker cattle performance.  He is also currently contributing to the ongoing research with Jose Dubeux’s team by calculating the cost/benefits of rhizoma peanut/bahiagrass systems, as compared to traditional nitrogen fertilized grass only systems.

Presentation link: Prevatt – Legume Economics vs N Fertilizer


For more information on forage legumes, contact your local County Extension Agent, or use the links to fact sheets on the following topics:


US Cattle Herd Expansion Slows but Continues through 2017

US Cattle Herd Expansion Slows but Continues through 2017


On January 31, 2018 the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released their annual January 1 Cattle Inventory Report.  The total U.S. cattle inventory was estimated to be 94.4 million head, which was a 1% increase as compared to 93.7 million on January 1, 2017. Since January 1, 2014 the total cattle inventory has risen from 87.7 million to 94.4 million head, a 7% increase.  The U.S. beef cow herd increased to 41.1 million head, up 2% last year, and the dairy herd increased 1%, up to 31.7 million head.

While the total number of cattle in the U.S. has steadily increased, there were some classes of cattle that declined in 2017.  This may be a signal that expansion has peaked?  Beef replacement heifers declined 4%, and two year old beef heifers that are expected to calve in 2018 declined 5%.  Dairy replacements grew 1%, while bred dairy heifers declined 1%.  Since 2014 the U.S. beef cow herd has increased 9%, but 2017 was the first year since 2014 with a reduction in the number of replacement heifers being added to the U.S. herd.

Since 2014 the U.S. beef cow herd has increased 9%, but 2017 was the first year since 2014 with a reduction in the number of replacement heifers being added to the U.S. herd. Source: NASS Cattle January 2018

Much of this increase in national inventory has not taken place in the Southeast, however.  The chart below compares beef herd expansion in five Southeastern states to expansion in Texas and Oklahoma.  Only Alabama has seen significant beef herd increase over the past four years.  Much of the herd expansion in other parts of the country relates to long-term weather condition improvement.

So What?

Why is there so much focus and discussion about U.S. cattle herd expansion?  It is the old economic principles of supply and demand.  Typically as supply increases market prices fall.  Last year was somewhat unique in that cattle prices actually improved later in the year, even though there were more cattle to sell.  The basic reason was the export and domestic demand improved as the economy improved. As supply continues to increase, many experts are predicting lower returns for cow-calf producers with each increase in supply. Randy Bloch, Cattle Fax CEO recently shared his best estimates for 2018 at the NCBA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. CattleFax expects the national average price for a 550 pound weaned steer in 2018 to be $1.58 per pound with a range of $1.80 this spring to a low of $1.35 this fall.  Remember that Southeastern cattle are discounted due to freight going west, so these predictions don’t directly relate to local prices.  He also said, “2018 will be the largest beef production year in our history. That will build as we go into the end of the decade.”  As supply increases, prices will adjust, unless there is an equal increase in domestic or export demand.

The Bottom Line

Cow-calf ranchers will need to find ways to reduce costs and be even more efficient in the years ahead to remain profitable.  As the U.S cattle herd continues to expand, market prices will continue to fall, unless demand increases significantly.  Eventually these lower prices will force herd liquidation, but it may take a while.  Expansion appears to be slowing down, but the herd is still very large compared to four years ago.

So as a cow-calf rancher what should you do to fine-tune your management?  This is the exact focus of the Northwest Florida Beef Conference & Trade Show that was held on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 in Marianna.  Five experts shared ideas to make suggestions on how cow-calf ranchers can reduce costs or improve the efficiency of their operations.  For more information, use the following link:

Highlights, Presentations, and Decision Aids from the 2018 Northwest Florida Beef Conference

Sources used for the information in this article include:

 SSN: 1948-9099 USDA Cattle January 2018

Highlights from CattleFax’s 2018 Outlook Seminar