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 In Today's eHay Weekly
 April 7, 2009

Seeding Depth, Soil Contact Are Crucial
Autosteer, Other Advice Available Online
Need Hay? Contact Noble Foundation
Hay Contest Deadline Approaches
New Blog Up, Running In South Dakota
Numbers Of Note
State Reports: Minnesota, New York
Georgia Hay School Is This Month
Calendar Of Events
Quick Links

Hay & Forage Grower

USDA Hay Prices

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Top Of The News

Seeding Depth, Soil Contact Are Crucial
Improper seeding depth is the No. 1 cause of establishment failures in forages, according to Penn State University extension forage specialist Marvin Hall. “If seeding depth isn’t correct, you might as well not bother to plant,” he says.

Forage seeds have a very small supply of stored energy to support seedlings until they emerge and begin making their own energy, Hall notes. Seeds placed too deep are not likely to emerge.

Optimum seeding depth varies with soil type, soil moisture, time of seeding and seedbed firmness. Generally though, it’s not more than 3/8” deep. “A rule of thumb is that 5-10% of the forages seeds planted should be on the surface after seeding,” Hall says.

A firm seedbed will help ensure seeds are placed at proper depth. “It is extremely difficult to accurately regulate seeding depth if the soil is soft and fluffy,” says Hall. “On properly firmed soil, an adult’s footprint should not be deeper than ½”. Seeds should be covered with enough soil to provide moist conditions for germination but not so deep that the shoot cannot reach the surface.”

Dribbling a basketball on the field is another way to determine whether an alfalfa or grass seedbed is firm enough for planting, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska extension forage specialist. “The ball will bounce easily on a firm seedbed,” he says. “If it doesn’t bounce, the bed isn’t ready. Firm the seedbed with a flat harrow, a roller or maybe even irrigate.”

Anderson notes that loose seedbeds can have up to 50% dead air space in the seeding zone. “The first roots that emerge into that dead air space often do not live, and your stand will suffer,” he says. “A firm seedbed reduces the dead air space, which helps you get thicker stands that develop more rapidly.”




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Autosteer, Other Advice Available Online
If you haven’t bought into autosteer yet, this may be the year to do so, says Todd Vogel, product specialist with Riesterer & Schnell Inc., a Chilton, WI, dealership.

“The last couple of years, a lot of growers upgraded their machines, most of which are equipped with steering valves and wiring harnessing for autosteer systems. Now they’re at a point where they’re saying, ‘Let’s add some technology on and start reducing input costs,’ ” Vogel says.

Without being brand specific, he offers growers and custom harvesters tips on what to consider before buying global positioning systems in the April issue of Hay & Forage Grower. That issue, which reaches nearly 30,000 custom harvesters nationwide, can be read online at hayandforage.com under the heading, “Most Recent Issue.”

The issue also covers how Tennessee and Iowa farmers convert big bales into small ones to make transporting and marketing their product more profitable. If you want information on preserving hay, shoring up your business costs and hiring employees, this issue, although it’s geared toward custom harvesters, can give you some pointers.

What forage experts expect in the way of new harvesting equipment, as well as a report by dealers on what the equipment supply may look like this year, are other stories in this issue.

CLICK HERE to see a listing of more stories.




Need Hay? Contact Noble Foundation
Buyers in need of hay in Oklahoma and neighboring states may find it worthwhile to check out the Noble Foundation’s online hay listing service at www.noble.org/WebApps/WebListings/HayandPasture.

Noble ag consultant Jim Johnson, Ardmore, OK, reports that as of late March there were 34 listings on the site with sellers primarily from Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. “We had quite a few new listings this year,” says Johnson. “The listings stay on the site for six months unless the seller requests they be removed before that time is up.”

The listing service is free to buyers and sellers. For more details, contact Johnson at 580-224-6431 or jpjohnson@noble.org.




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Hay Contest Deadline Approaches
The clock is ticking for members of the American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) and affiliate organizations looking to enter this year’s National Hay Show. The deadline for entries is April 20.

Contest winners will be announced during AFGC’s annual meeting in Grand Rapids, MI, June 21-24. To see the rules and regulations for this year’s contest, go to www.afgc.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=39937 or contact Tim Dietz at 517-355-2287 or dietzt@msu.edu.




New Blog Up, Running In South Dakota
South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension has launched a new blog focused on pasture and range livestock production at sdpastureandrangelivestockproduction.blogspot.com/.

SDSU extension livestock educator Rebecca Schafer, author of the blog, hopes it provides another avenue for producers to connect across the state. "We created the blog to serve as a way to get a better understanding of producers' interests and programming needs," she says. "While it is very new, we hope it will help serve pasture and range livestock producers, giving them a chance to ask questions and get answers."

Schafer says this blog, like all blogs, thrives due to community involvement. "We want this platform to be a place where many share ideas and perspectives on a wide range of topics," she says. "While I will create content for it, we hope to have more and more producers leaving comments or creating threads on which extension personnel can assist them. We want the blog's content to create a more personal connection with producers."

Schafer can be contacted at 605-874-2681.




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Numbers Of Note
9 hay probes included in the National Forage Testing Association’s Listing of Hay Probes. To see the list, along with contact information for respective manufacturers/distributors, go to alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/+producing/forage_quality.
23 leading milk production states covered in USDA’s Monthly Milk Costs Of Production report available at www.ers.usda.gov/Data/CostsAndReturns.
107 average relative forage quality (RFQ) of the 113 bermudagrass hay samples entered in this year’s Benton County, AR, Quality Forage Program. Average relative feed value (RFV) was 91; TDN, 64%; and crude protein, 13.3%. Participants are from Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. For more information on the program, contact Benton County extension agent Robert Seay at 479-271-1060 or Rseay@uaex.edu.
115 formal complaints about herbicide drift received last year by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Of the total, 73 were classified as agriculture cases, 25 as lawn care and 17 as “other,” according to a summary compiled by University of Illinois Extension. To see the report, go to web.extension.uiuc.edu/.
$165 average per-ton price, (as of late March) of alfalfa hay sold to dairies in the Modesto, CA, area, according to a report in the Modesto Bee. A year ago, the average price for alfalfa hay in the area was $261/ton.
50,000 people who attended the 2008 Minnesota Horse Expo in St. Paul. This year’s expo takes place April 24-26 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. For details, go to www.mnhorseexpo.org/.




State Reports: Minnesota, New York

Minnesota
Backing off on hay acres to accommodate a crop rotation has forced a change in marketing strategy for 2009 at Nelson Hay Company in Hadley, MN, reports owner Kevin Nelson. In a typical year, Nelson puts up 750 acres of alfalfa-orchardgrass and straight alfalfa in small-square and medium-square bale packages. This year, though, he’ll plant corn on about 130 acres as part of his rotation.

Nelson’s market: horse owners in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. He sent out contracts to his 2008 customers in mid-March and gave them until April 10 to respond. “I’ll use those responses to do my calculations on tonnage and then get back to them by April 25,” he says. ”I let people know that if they don’t meet that April 10 deadline, I’ll have to move them to the bottom of the list and may not be able to meet all of their needs because of the reduced acreage this year.”

As part of this year’s contract, Nelson will hold prices at 2008 levels. “Our fuel costs have come down from last year,” he says. “But we’re gambling on fertilizer prices. And cash rent prices have gone up in our area. We think we have to eat some of those additional costs to help our customers. With the general economy the way it is, everybody is feeling the pinch right now.”

Repeat customers are a priority for Nelson. He makes it a point to stay in touch via an electronic newsletter three or four times during the growing season. Currently, he has about 350 people on his mailing list. “The toughest thing about it is keeping the list updated,” he says. “People will change their email addresses but won’t always notify us.”

A farm Web site developed by his daughter, Danielle, is another component of Nelson’s customer relations program. You can visit the site at www.nelsonhayco.com. To contact Nelson, phone 507-836-6181.


New York
Hay sales to horse owners in the northeastern U.S. have dropped off significantly in recent months, due mostly to a huge supply of average-quality hay, reports Trumansburg, NY, hay grower Steve Huber. “Last year at this time, I had two bales left in the barn,” says the owner of Poppycock Farm. “This year, though, we still have a lot of hay left to sell.” In a typical year, Huber makes 30,000-32,000 small square bales of grass-timothy and grass-alfalfa for the horse market in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Huber says last year’s weather had a lot to do with creating the supply glut. “In this area, we had a lot of rain throughout the summer,” he says. “It was good for yields, but the quality suffered overall.”

Declining animal numbers are also playing a role. “People are getting thriftier,” says Huber, who sells primarily to racetracks and boarding stables. “They’re not keeping as many horses as they used to.”

As a result, Huber says, the price for good-quality first-cutting hay has dropped from a high of $180-190/ton in late summer-early fall to $160/ton now. “That’s if you can move it,” he says. “We’ve even started delivering for free locally (within a 10- to 15-mile radius of the farm) just to clear out our inventory. That’s something we’ve never had to do before.”

For the year ahead, Huber expects prices to remain flat. “A lot of people are getting out of the horse business,” he says. “And most of the dairy producers in our area are feeding silage rather than hay. They might feed lower-quality hay to their dry cows. But there will still be plenty of that kind of hay around from this past year. I think the market has peaked out.”Huber may be contacted at 607-387-5579 or tinkerin@zoom-dsl.com.




Events

Georgia Hay School Is This Month
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s second-annual Hay Production School is scheduled for April 21. The site for this year’s event is Stuckey Auditorium at the university’s Griffin Campus.

Along with a full day of learning, the school will offer growers the opportunity to interact with other hay growers. Presentation topics will include hay production economics and outlook, fertilization strategies, weed and insect management options, marketing tips, storage options and more.

Registration fee for the event is $75 (plus $35 for each additional person from the same farm). An online registration form, map and directions to the Griffin Campus and additional details are available at www.georgiaforages.com.




Calendar Of Events
April 8 -- Manitoba Forage And Grassland Strategic Workshop, William Glesby Center, Portage la Praire, MB. For more information, call the Manitoba Forage Council at 204-726-9393.

April 17-19 -- Midwest Horse Fair, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Go to midwesthorsefair.com/.

April 24-26 -- 2009 Minnesota Horse Expo, Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul. Go to www.mnhorseexpo.org/.

May 8 -- Southwest Dairy Day, Sierra Dairy, Dublin TX. Visit texasdairymatters.org or email c-holley@tamu.edu.

June 21-23 -- American Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI. Call 800-944-2342 or email info@afgc.org.

June 27 -- 2009 Equine Field Day, University of Kentucky’s Maine Chance Equine Campus, Lexington. For more information, phone 859-257-2226 or go to www.ca.uky.edu/equine.

July 23 -- University Of Kentucky All Commodity Field Day, UK Research and Education Center, Princeton, KY. Details forthcoming at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/.

July 29-30 -- U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center Getting More From Forages Conference, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison, WI. Visit www.dfrc.ars.usda.gov/forages/Program.html for more details.

Aug. 27 -- 2009 Arlington Agronomy And Soils Field Day, University of Wisconsin Agricultural Research Station, Arlington. (Agenda details will be available in early May.)

Sept. 17-19 -- National Hay Association Convention, Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort, Deadwood, SD. Contact Don Kieffer at 800-707-0014 or visit www.nationalhay.org.

Sept. 29-Oct. 3 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Visit www.worlddairyexpo.com.

Nov. 10- 11 -- BEEF Quality Summit, Stoney Creek Inn, St. Joseph, MO, hosted by BEEF magazine. Visit beefconference.com.

Nov 18-19 -- McCook Farm And Ranch Expo, Red Willow County Fairgrounds, McCook, NE. Visit mccookfarmandranchexpo.net or call 866-685-0989.

Feb 16-17, 2010 -- Idaho Hay And Forage Conference, Best Western Burley Inn. Contact Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or gshew@uidaho.



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