There is cause for some optimism for the alfalfa and forage growers, dairy producers and industry professionals who will gather in Parlier and Visalia Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 for the 40th annual California Alfalfa and Forage Symposium.

Pressure eased on hay producers this past year, when, in spite of lower-than normal yields, prices picked up and the weather supported a good quality crop, said UC Davis Cooperative Extension alfalfa specialist Dan Putnam. But the industry is still challenged by severe economic, water, pest management and environmental issues.

Hay (alfalfa and miscellaneous hay) is grown on more acres than any other crop in California and is valued at more $1.5 billion per year. The nearly 1 million acres of alfalfa hay and more than 400,000 acres of corn silage are the principle feeds for California's $7 billion dairy industry, and also supply feed for the state's large population of horses, sheep and beef, as well as for export. California is the leading U.S. dairy state and largest producer of alfalfa hay.

The 2010 California Alfalfa and Forage Symposium takes place at two venues. On Nov. 30, UC experts will present a one-day intensive IPM workshop and field tour at the Kearney Research and Extension Center, 9240 S. Riverbend Ave., in Parlier. The event, titled "Managing Pests while Protecting the Environment," covers pest biology, specific pest management strategies and techniques, and diagnostic skills for insects, weeds and diseases. The session will emphasize protection of air and water quality. Separate registration is required.

The preponderance of symposium sessions and an industry trade show take place Dec. 1 and 2 at the Visalia Convention Center, 303 E Acequia Ave. in Visalia.

Forty-two speakers from the University of California, other agencies and the industry will present information on economic trends, environmental issues, water and pest management. The conference is intended for the alfalfa-forage industry, including farmers, dairy operators, pest control advisers, scientists, agencies and related businesses.

This year, the California Alfalfa and Forage Symposium includes a mini symposium focusing on corn and small grain silage, a major crop in the San Joaquin Valley. The Dec. 1 mini symposium will have presentations from local and national experts about silage safety and quality, genetic innovations and environmental impacts of silages.

"This symposium has a long and proud history, beginning in Fresno in 1971 when it was organized by Dr. Vern Marble and UC Cooperative Extension's Alfalfa Workgroup," said Putnam, the conference chair. "This year it returns to its roots in the San Joaquin Valley, which is the center of California dairy, hay and silage production."

Registration before Nov. 3 is $125. The IPM workshop registration is $65. Complete program and lodging information and online registration for the conference is at http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu. PCA and CCA credits are offered.

Contacts:

Sherry Cooper, registration, (530) 752-1581, slcooper@ucdavis.edu

Dan Putnam, symposium chair, (530) 752-8982, dhputnam@ucdavis.edu