Learning the tricks of the trade and using technology to increase their chances of a more profitable harvest was the focus of the 2007 McCulloch/Concho County Wheat Tour held Tuesday in Millersview. In a day-long seminar open to any wheat producer in the two-county area, organizers gave presentations to more than 75 farmers who registered for the event. County extension agents Jerry Kidd and Michael Palmer organized the event in cooperation with Millersview area farmers as well as David, Mary and Ceth Holubec of Melvin. The day began with pesticide applicator laws and regulations discussions led by Cory Pence, an inspector with the Texas Department of Agriculture. Dr. Rick Machen, son of Bradyites Mr. and Mrs. Al Machen, attended the meeting and spoke on the value of wheat forage in a livestock operation. “One thing that I try to communicate to the farmers today is the potential to diversify their risk and increase the profitability of their operation,” said Dr. Machen, an Associate Professor and Extension Livestock Specialist. “There are many critical decisions that must be made based upon the past, current and future range conditions. “We are hoping for continued rain which will help everyone, but we are coming off of terrible conditions last year where hay prices were high, supply was low and supplemental feed costs were extremely costly for the farmers. Right now, as bad as it was last fall, we are looking at range conditions that are extremely good this spring. The fact that a lot of producers have lower livestock numbers due to selling them off last fall is also allowing the rangeland a quicker recovery time than normal.” Rachel Meyers, director of legislative affairs for the Texas Wheat Producers Board also attended the seminar as a speaker. She updated the farmers on what political moves are being made on behalf of the board to market domestic wheat to both foreign and domestic entities. “The best part about this wheat tour is that it gives producers an opportunity to visit with fellow farmers as well as with specialists,” said Mrs. Myers. “These professionals deal with these particular topics on a regular basis and know the latest data about how best to optimize their operations. “Fuel prices are forcing farmers to consider new trends and with the fact that the industry is losing farmers at an alarming rate, it is very beneficial to these producers to hear about what is going on in today’s wheat market. My job centers around marketing our commodity because 50 percent of the wheat harvested in Texas is exported to foreign markets.” A variety of other speakers covered topics ranging from small grain diseases to no-till conservation farming to the wheat market outlook. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration representative Hector Guerrero gave a presentation about the latest climate predictions for the region. “The best data we can compile shows that we are now in the process of trending out of the El Ni’o, or warming trend, and moving toward the La Ni’a or cooler temperatures over the next two or three months,” said Guerrero. “The moisture we have experienced so far this year has ended the producer drouth, but our rivers and reservoirs are still in poor shape. What we need now is for some additional rain to fall so we can maximize the runoff.” The tour continued after a catered catfish lunch with presentations about the economics of biofuels and wheat production and also about fertilizers and small grain production. Several chemical representatives introduced their products before the group adjourned to several test plots located in both Concho and McCulloch Counties.