Top Of The News
by Rick Mooney
Editor, eHay Weekly
Anyone who doubts that hay growers have entered a new age of marketing and communication should talk with the Round brothers – Clint and Casey – about their experiences in setting up The Hay Connection Facebook page.
Clint, a 30-year-old insurance adjuster in Glenpool, OK, came up with the idea after hearing how producers and horse owners in the drought-stricken southwestern U.S. were having difficulties locating hay supplies. "My brother and I were raised on a ranch (near Jay, OK), and we still have a lot of connections to agriculture," says Clint, who has an ag communications degree. "I started thinking that Facebook would be a great way to connect buyers, sellers and haulers."
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Farm and non-farm organizations in several states are helping livestock producers in drought regions gain hay supplies for the upcoming feeding season. Among the projects:
Iowa: Cattle and horse hay is being collected for shipment to livestock producers in Texas by the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Iowa group is also accepting monetary donations to alleviate transportation costs and seeking drivers and trucks to transport the hay. For more information, contact Rev. Harold McMillin at 563-880-5052 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nebraska: The Nebraska Cattlemen continues updating a list of individuals with available grass for lease or other type of forage for sale. The list is being distributed to cattle associations in drought-affected states. Individuals from outside Nebraska can also sign up. All agreements will be handled between the producers involved. For more information, call 402-475-2333.
New York: The Chenango County Farm Bureau asks local farmers to donate hay for distribution in Texas. It would like to hear from anyone willing to provide transportation or to help load. For more information, call 607-334-6061.
Ohio: The Ohio Cattlemen's Association (OCA) and Ohio Department of Agriculture are looking for state cattle producers interested in selling or donating hay to counterparts in Texas and other drought-stricken states. Many Ohio cattlemen will donate hay if recipients pay for shipping, according to officials. They should email email@example.com or call the OCA office at 614-873-6736 with the following information: amount of hay available (tons), age of hay (2011 or 2010 crop), type of hay (grass, etc.), bale type, purchase price or available for donation (recipient pays shipping), name and contact information.
Wisconsin: Family Farm Defenders, a farmer-organized non-profit, is collecting donations of any type of quality hay – small square, large round or square bales – for delivery to Oklahoma. Those interested can contact Randy Jasper at 608-553-2203 or John Kinsman at 608-986-3815 for drop-off locations and times. The group also welcomes financial contributions to support the hay-lift effort. Send checks to Family Farm Defenders, P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701. (Write "hay lift" in the memo line.) Gifts are tax-deductible.
Editor's Note: If you know of other organizations or individuals involved in similar efforts or projects, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include phone or email contact information.
Fall armyworm populations have been growing in parts of the southern U.S. during recent weeks. Reports out of the southern two-thirds of Georgia have been on the increase, says Dennis Hancock.
Producers should scout at least three times weekly and spray if they find more than three larvae per square foot or they see or hear of treatable levels in their area, says the University of Georgia Extension forage specialist.
Populations are now well above treatment levels in pastures and hayfields in areas of Arkansas where rains have returned or acreage is under irrigation, reports Kelly Loftin, University of Arkansas Extension entomologist.
"Now that bermuda has greened up and grass is growing, tremendous populations are occurring." It's not uncommon to find more than 25 worms per square foot, he says. Loftin also recommends a treatment threshhold level of three armyworms per square foot. Some fields have shown a mixed population of large and small worms, which indicates overlapping generations.
When scouting, Loftin recommends carefully examining grass blades, stems and organic debris at the plant base and soil surface in a 1-square-foot area. Take at least 10 random, square-foot samples across the pasture or hay meadow. Use a 1-square-foot sampling device made of stiff wire or PVC pipe to make sampling easier. "Female fall armyworm moths prefer to lay eggs in areas of abundant growth, so be sure to include a few of these areas in your 10 samples."
Producers who plan to treat the pest with insecticides should consider local availability of products labeled for control, grazing-harvest restrictions, cost per acre and residual activity.
In general, insect growth regulators (such as Intrepid) provide longer residual activity than pyrethroids (Mustang Max, Baythroid, Karate or generics), Loftin notes. "(That) could make the difference between having to spray once or twice vs. two or three times to make a hay crop."
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With this year's wet conditions in many parts of the country, growers need to be vigilant for signs of hay overheating, which can lead to fire, says J.W. Schroeder, dairy specialist with North Dakota State University Extension. He recommends these steps to minimize the risk:
Check hay regularly. "If you detect a slight caramel odor or distinct musty smell, chances are your hay is heating," says Schroeder. "At this point, checking the moisture is too late; you'll need to keep monitoring the hay's temperature."
If you suspect hay is heating, insert a simple probe into the haystack to monitor the temperature. You can make a probe from a 10' piece of pipe or electrical tubing. Sharpen one end of the pipe or screw a pointed dowel to one end, then drill several ¼"-diameter holes in the tube just above the dowel. Drive the probe into the haystack and lower a thermometer on a string into the probe. Probe several parts of the stack and leave the thermometer in place for 10 minutes at each site.
Before surveying the tops of stacks, place long planks on top of the hay – don't walk on the hay mass. Always attach a safety line to yourself and have another person on the other end in a safe location to pull you out should the hay surface collapse into what likely is a fire pocket.
Use extreme caution when fighting a fire in hay that's been treated with preservatives containing ethoxyquin and butylated hydroxytoluene. They can produce deadly hydrogen cyanide gas at about 240 degrees F (115 degrees C).
If you suspect a fire could develop, spread bales in an area away from other feeds and buildings. Temperatures above 175 degrees in hay mean a fire is imminent. The smell or sight of smoke means a fire is burning somewhere in the hay. "In any of these cases, call the fire department immediately," Schroeder advises. "Do not move any of the hay. This would expose the overheated or smoldering hay to oxygen and may result in a fire raging out of control."
Recent rainfalls in parts of Indiana could offer some hope for a "respectable" last harvest, says Purdue University Extension forage specialist Keith Johnson. Early season wet and dry weather hurt first-crop quality and yields, he adds.
Bottom line, Johnson expects the supply situation heading into the fall and winter to be a mixed bag. "We've seen years where supplies have been tighter," he says. "Overall production may be off by 10-20%. But we certainly don't have the world of hurt that they do in the southwestern U.S."
He advises livestock producers to inventory forage and assess winter feeding needs as soon as possible. "And with the variability of the crop this year, people definitely need to be forage testing."
To contact Johnson, call 765-494-4800 or email email@example.com.
Extremely tight hay supplies continue to push up alfalfa hay prices in the southeastern part of the state, reports Wayne Cox, agriculture agent for New Mexico State University Extension in Lea County.
Large square bales of premium-quality hay are currently selling for $320/ton and higher. "It's slowly been moving up," says Cox. "A month ago, it was selling in the $250-280 range. Last year at this time, that kind of hay was bringing $200-220/ton."
Good-quality hay, which is slightly less leafy than premium quality, has been selling for $300-plus. Even rained-on hay brought in from other areas has been selling for $250/ton and up.
Widespread, early season grass fires that burned nearly 160,000 acres of rangeland set the stage for the supply shortage that pushed prices upward. "On top of that, we just haven't had any rain to bring new growth back," says Cox. "It's as dry as I've ever seen it."
He looks for prices to continue moving higher well into fall. "Even if we got some heavy rains at this point, we're getting pretty late into the growing season. It wouldn't do a lot of good for potential new growth for the coming winter."
Contact Cox by calling 575-396-2819 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The future looks pretty darn optimistic in the cattle business. We're telling people: 'Don't sell if you can hold on.' " – University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Eldon Cole, commenting on how drought-induced beef culling in the southwestern U.S. might affect the industry long-term. Source: Springfield News Leader, Springfield, MO.
"When South Dakota has faced drought conditions, people in other states have helped us out." – South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones, explaining why the state recently suspended some permit requirements for hay haulers transporting hay to drought areas. Source: Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD.
"The winners are the people providing feed … They're going to have a very good year on the balance sheet." – Stephen Koontz, ag economist at Colorado State University, commenting on what tight supplies this year mean for hay producers in his region. Source: Associated Press.
A free webinar on reducing hay loss when feeding horses will be conducted by Krishona Martinson, equine specialist with University of Minnesota Extension. The online event is scheduled for Sept. 27.
Martinson notes that reducing hay waste starts with buying quality hay and storing it properly. Waste can also be reduced through feeding management and careful selection of a feeder. As part of the webinar, she'll discuss the results of her research on hay waste and the economics of nine unique round bale feeders.
Get more details and/or register. A high-speed Internet connection is needed to participate in the webinar.