Over the years we’ve heard a number of growers say they didn’t attend the Alfalfa and Forage Symposium because the two-day event was scheduled too close to Christmas. This year there’s plenty of time to get to the symposium and finish Christmas shopping, as well. The upcoming symposium is earlier than in previous years, with the two-day event starting on Dec. 3.

If you haven’t checked out the agenda for the 2008 Alfalfa & Forage Symposium & Western Alfalfa Seed Conference, there’s still time to see what’s in store and make plans to attend. This year’s location is the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego and, as usual, there’s a pre-symposium tour.

The Imperial Valley is the location for the Dec. 2 pre-symposium tour, which departs from the hotel at 8 a.m. and returns at about 6 p.m. Some of the stops during the tour will likely include alfalfa production on beds, deficit irrigation experiments, and a discussion of water transfer issues.

This year’s symposium is a joint effort that includes the Western Seed Growers Association and a large turnout is expected. While alfalfa may be the dominant crop at the symposium, other forage crops — sudangrass, corn, Tef and sorghum — are also featured on the agenda.

The first day’s opening session features an always popular topic, Hay Market Trends. The presenter is Seth Hoyt, who is well known and respected for his expertise in market analysis. Hoyt’s market analysis articles for CAFA News have always been a popular feature and one that growers greatly appreciate. Before launching the weekly Hoyt Report newsletter, he worked for the National Ag Statistics Service and spent 33 years at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Other agenda items on the morning of the first day of the symposium include dairy industry topics, seed industry trends, plus a Regulatory Review of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, which will be presented by Virgil Meier, Biotechnology Regulatory Service, USDA-APHIS.

Afternoon breakout sessions offer a wide variety of topics to choose from. They range from alfalfa weed control to controlling worms, weevils, aphids and nematodes, plus lygus and other insects in seed alfalfa. Other sessions are Irrigation & Water Management, Manure and Tillage, and a discussion of other forage crops.

This year CAFA again will host an auction that takes place the evening of Dec. 3, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. CAFA’s annual meeting breakfast will be held the following morning. The meeting room will open at 6:15 a.m., for food service and the CAFA program will start at 7 a.m. and adjourn at 8 a.m. The CAFA breakfast is open to members and non-members. Seating is limited and tickets will be available at the CAFA booth.

The second day of the symposium begins with an Equipment Innovations, Water and Biofuels session starting at 8 a.m. The second session of the day starts at 10:30 a.m., and features Water, Fertilizer and Food Security. The meeting adjourns at 12:30 p.m.

You can register for the symposium at the UC Alfalfa Work Group’s Web site, http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu. For hotel reservations call the Town & Country at 619/291-7131. Or log on to towncountry.com.