Meeting season is taking on a decidedly different look for seed and cereal crop producers in Oregon this fall.

Oregon State University Extension’s fall seed and cereal crop production meetings are going virtual and the Oregon Seed League’s annual meeting has been canceled. Extending into next winter, the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association meeting, held each January in Albany, also has been canceled.

OSU Extension agent Nicole Anderson said she was holding out hope this summer that the fall seed and cereal crop production meetings, held each September in Salem, Albany and Forest Grove, could be in-person events. But with COVID-19 continuing to spread and with Gov. Kate Brown continuing to enforce an executive order banning large gatherings, doing so became impractical.

“It is very difficult based on past attendance records to see how that would be possible,” Anderson said of the in-person option. “With the current state restrictions, we didn’t see how it was possible to meet in person, nor did we want anyone to get sick or exposed to the virus at an OSU event.”

Meetings are being scaled back from four hours to 1.5 hours. And instead of one meeting covering multiple topics, extension is holding three meetings, each with its own focus.

“We’ve strategized the best way to do this,” Anderson said. “We didn’t think that anybody would enjoy sitting in a Zoom meeting for four hours, so we made the decision to separate our content into three shorter sessions.”

The sessions will be recorded and available on the OSU field crops website at a later date, but if growers want to obtain pesticide recertification credits, they need to pre-register and participate in the Zoom webinar to qualify.

The meetings are scheduled for Sept. 16, 17 and 23. All sessions begin at 8:30 a.m.

The first meeting will include presentations on vole management and soil fertility; the second will include presentations on slug control and fall weed management; the third session will include information on wheat production, as well as an opportunity to meet the new CEO of Oregon wheat, Amanda Hoey.

“Our goal with these meetings is to try to provide not only up-to-date research-based information to growers, but also to discuss any of the more relevant topics that have popped up in the most recent growing season or need to be considered for the future growing season,” Anderson said.

The webinars are free.

The registration link for the first meeting is https://beav.es/oZB; The registration link for the second meeting is https://beav.es/oZa; The registration link for the third meeting is https://beav.es/oZR.

Canceling the Oregon Seed Growers League’s annual meeting, typically held in early December each year, also was a tough decision, according to Bryan Ostlund, executive director of the Seed League, but one the league’s board felt was necessary.

The meeting has been drawing about 500 attendees in recent years, Ostlund said, and trying to put in place social distance protocols and other provisions that would have been necessary to conduct a meeting of that size just wasn’t feasible.

Shortly after the decision was made to cancel Seed League, the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association came to a similar decision and sent out an email announcing the cancellation of its 2021 annual meeting.

“It is unfortunate, but we don’t feel like we are going to be allowed to hold a meeting that large at that time (in January),” said Laurie Gibson, Oregon State University Extension liaison to the ORGA.

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