Expo continues despite inclimate weather


While a snowstorm rolling into Kansas Jan. 8 and 9 may have impeded many Kansas Soybean Expo hopeful attendees, it could not halt the education and engagement taking place in Maner Conference Center Jan. 10.

The 43rd annual Expo prepares soybean growers for the upcoming crop season by bringing industry experts together for a day of learning and networking. With economics, research and weather on the table for 2024, attendees walked away with a better grasp of soybean price trends, checkoff deliverables and La Nina weather patterns. Hosting the esteemed former U.S. Senator Pat Roberts as the luncheon speaker and capping the day with the Game Show Road Show was a memorable event.

“It was a great event,” Expo co-chair Matthew Atkinson, Columbus, says. “We got some great information on weather and marketing; we got insight on how K-State research is progressing. Getting to see Senator Roberts was a treat and the game show at the end of the day was a blast.”

Dan O’Brien, K-State Research and Extension economist, and Mark Nelson, Kansas Farm Bureau Director of Commodities, kicked off the event with their perspectives on managing risk in the marketplace. Pricing proved to be a key topic in the presentation. The duo spoke on post-harvest pricing on-farm versus commercial storage and how to gauge various scenarios using pricing formulas.

“Storage does not pay every year. This year it has not, though it typically does,” Nelson informed the crowd.

Nelson advised listeners to take the emotion out of marketing and implement a strong pricing plan to guide decisions.

“Every plan needs to have pricing increments,” he says. “Pricing targets is maybe the biggest one, ‘which future prices do I think is the highest?’ Pricing dates drive you to action. Create an objective plan and implement the plan.”

O’Brien’s portion of the presentation covered South American markets, world stocks and marketplace uncertainties.

Of note, O’Brien told attendees, “Futures are underrepresenting the uncertainty in the marketplace.”

Rounding out the morning, four Kansas State University College of Agriculture researchers participated in a panel moderated by Jane Schuh, K-State director of agricultural research. Drs. Ignacio Ciampitti, Sarah Lancaster, Rodrigo Onofre and William Schapaugh spoke on their respective areas of expertise and explained how the soybean checkoff furthers the industry’s knowledge of growing soybeans.

Kansas Soybean Commissioner Ron Ohlde, who serves on the North Central Soybean Research Program board, says herbicides generated considerable interest from attendees. Lancaster, a weed science specialist, presented how she utilizes checkoff funds to conduct research on herbicides, residual and biological weed control methods.

Ohlde says Onofre’s information on plant diseases, primarily sudden death syndrome, struck a chord with the audience.

“SDS is really becoming an issue,” Ohlde says. “Rodrigo is out scouting for it and examining different remedies. He had attendees’ attention on that.”

Schapaugh’s explanation of the breeding process and Ciampitti’s take on seed size and yield brought value to the discussion.

Drawing the largest crowd of the day, Pat Roberts regaled the luncheon attendees with stories from his 40 years in the political sphere. Even when Roberts’ incoming flight rerouted from the weather Tuesday, he found alternate transportation to make the event by Wednesday.

“If there’s a soybean meeting, by golly I will be there,” he proclaimed during his speech.

The upcoming Farm Bill – and its many delays – drew interest from the audience, as did recent actions from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Following the 2023 Yield and Value Contests results, Joe Lauria, FOX4 Kansas City meteorologist, took the state to surmise 2024 weather forecasts.

Lauria joked that growers might expect “La Nada” over the summer as he explained how La Nina and El Nino weather patterns interact.

“I left the session with the feeling we might have more rain this year,” John Pracht, Kansas Soybean Association District 3 director, recalls.

Weather models proved a hot topic for the audience. Lauria state that society can be over-reliant on imperfect weather models and the human element continues to be reduced. When relying on a model, he shared that NexLab is his go-to resource and demonstrated where to find and utilize the site’s weather data.

“It was good that he showed us some website where we could go to look at models ourselves,” Pracht says.

Inevitable questions about climate change surfaced during the hourlong session. Lauria asked the audience, “Are you seeing changes?” with notable acknowledgment.

“You’re seeing changes, how can you react?” Lauria asked, continuing, “Hopefully technology helps you out.”

Dave Lewis closed the day with the Game Show Road Show.

“We have brought in comedians in the past,” Atkinson says. “This type of session is a great way to break up the day and add something lighthearted into the schedule. We got to end the day on a high-note and leave feeling good.”

The Kansas Soybean Expo is an event from the Kansas Soybean Association made possible by the Kansas Soybean Commission and soybean checkoff.