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 In Today's eHay Weekly
 April 13, 2010

Grasshopper Threat Looms In Western U.S.
Canadians Form Forage, Grassland Group
Plan Carefully When Reseeding Post-Flood
Kentucky Alfalfa Proceedings Now Online
Simply Stated
State Reports: Florida, New England
Tri-State Dairy Meeting Is Next Week
California Field Day Set For Tomorrow
Calendar Of Events
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Grasshopper Threat Looms In Western U.S.
by Rick Mooney
Editor, eHay Weekly

Hay growers and livestock producers in Western and Plains states are bracing for a potentially severe grasshopper outbreak this summer.

“In some states, we may see the highest populations of grasshoppers that we’ve seen in many years,” says Charles Brown, national grasshopper suppression program manager at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Based on fall 2009 APHIS surveys of adult grasshopper populations in the 17-state region covered by the APHIS program, Brown pegs Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska as states most likely to see severe outbreaks during the upcoming growing season. Utah, Idaho and Nevada could also see significant infestations.

According to APHIS’ 2010 Rangeland Grasshopper Hazard Map, nearly 48 million acres region-wide could see populations of 15 or more grasshoppers per square yard.

Spring weather will play a key role in determining just how severe outbreaks are, says Brown. “Warm temperatures, with little rainfall, are favorable for the hatching and development of grasshoppers. On the other hand, cool and wet conditions could limit grasshopper populations.”

USDA is currently exploring funding options for cost-sharing control efforts on federal, state and privately owned rangelands. “We’ll do our part to cooperate to the extent that budgets allow,” he says.

Some individual states are also taking steps to prepare for severe grasshopper outbreaks. Wyoming has announced a $2.7 million plan to help local pest districts and state agencies pay for spraying programs this summer. Last year, according to surveys, populations exceeding 15 grasshoppers per square yard were found on nearly 2.9 million acres in the state.

The southwestern, south-central and west-central regions of North Dakota could be hot spots for grasshopper outbreaks in 2010, says North Dakota State University Extension entomologist Janet Knodel. Producers will want to begin scouting their rangelands in early June following the hatch.

As a guideline, she says, treatment measures generally are economically warranted when nymph populations reach 30-45/square yard or adult numbers reach 8-15/square yard. “It’s best to get on top of the situation when the grasshoppers are emerging. Young grasshoppers are easier to kill.”

Knodel adds that several pesticides are labeled for controlling grasshoppers in hayfields and pastures in North Dakota, including Sevin, Dimilin 2L, Malathion 57EC and Mustang Max EC. “Some of these products require waiting one day after treating before you cut hay or allow livestock to feed,” she says. “So you’ll want to be sure to read labels carefully.”

Check out an APHIS fact sheet on grasshoppers and Mormon crickets.


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Canadians Form Forage, Grassland Group
After a year and a half of organizational work, the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) is up and running. “A national voice has been a long-term goal for many of us in the forage and grassland sector,” says Wayne Digby, executive director of the new organization. He’s also executive director of the Manitoba Forage Council. “We have worked long and hard to create an entity that will represent our forage and grassland industry at home and abroad and are very pleased with how it’s coming along.”

Developing a long-term international marketing strategy for Canadian forages is the CFGA’s first major project. Along with working to address barriers restricting market access – transportation costs, currency rates, energy costs and regional fracturing – the group plans to promote Canadian forage products through trade missions with current and developing markets, enhancement of current trade protocols and development of protocols for new markets. The group will also focus on developing a hay certification/traceability program.

CFGA also plans to support forage and grassland research and adaption trials; promote the use of forages in crop rotations and in fragile soils; and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, philosophies and research findings for everyone in the industry.

Ed Shaw, owner of International Quality Forage in Calgary, Alberta, will serve as chairman, and Ray Robertson, Ontario Forage Council manager, will be vice chair. The board of directors will consist of representatives from across the entire Canadian forage industry, including provincial forage associations/councils, the forage export sector, the livestock sector and research and Extension. Headquarters for the association will be in Brandon, Manitoba.

For more information, contact Digby at 204-726-9393.

Plan Carefully When Reseeding Post-Flood
While most forages in pastures and hay meadows damaged by spring flooding will likely recover, some areas eroded or covered with silt or sand could require reseeding. Producers considering changes in forage species as part of the reseeding program should ask the following questions, says Steve Barnhart, Iowa State University Extension forage agronomist:

  • Is seed of your selected forage species and varieties available?
  • Are the weather patterns and soil moisture conditions suitable to provide for establishment and stand development? “If soil moisture is not adequate and if timely rainfall for the remainder of the summer is uncertain, it would be best to delay planting until mid- to late-August or the first week of September,” says Barnhart. Weeds may grow on the flood-killed areas before you can accomplish the new seeding. Mowing closely before no-till seeding may be adequate; mowing and tilling may be necessary for seedbed preparation in some cases. If the seeding is delayed too late into fall, late-emerging seedlings may not have enough time to establish sufficiently to survive the winter.
  • Will weed competition be sufficiently controlled to provide for the successful establishment and persistence of the newly introduced species?
  • Will grazing animals be kept off newly seeded areas until new seedlings are established?
  • If the seeding activity leads to a temporary decrease in forage production, are there sufficient forage resources to support the existing animals until the forage improvements are realized?

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Kentucky Alfalfa Proceedings Now Online
Proceedings from the 30th Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, held this past February in Cave City, are available on the University of Kentucky Extension forage Web site and can be downloaded here.

Topics covered in the proceedings include advances in alfalfa seed coatings, value of alfalfa in rotation, alfalfa varieties for the future, growing alfalfa for wildlife, benefits of alfalfa baleage and more.

Next year’s conference is slated for Feb. 24 at the Fayette County Extension office in Lexington.

Simply Stated
“It doesn’t make sense that people are going hungry at the same time dairy farmers are going broke." – Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen, commenting on prospects for a recovery in the California dairy industry. Marsh spoke recently to the state chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. Source: California Farm Bureau Federation Ag Alert.

“The high court’s decision might hinge, in part, on its assessment of whether the gene-mingling that apparently is occurring is significant or minor. Likewise, it will have to assess the economic impact of the use of genetically engineered seeds to Monsanto, farmers who plant its seeds and farmers who do not.” – Editorial in the Omaha World Herald on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments later this month on a lower court’s 2007 ruling banning the sale and planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed prior to completion of an environmental impact statement by USDA. Read the complete editorial.

“I wish them success in their pursuit!” – Cole Gustafson, North Dakota State University (NDSU) biofuels economist, commenting on university research projects now under way in Wisconsin and Mississippi aiming to come up with a one-pass, on-farm cubing system for processing biomass. Gustafson says such a system, compared to baling, would offer efficiencies to electrical power and heating plants interested in combining cellulosic biofuels with coal for use as a fuel source. But, he adds, several major problems still need to be worked out. He wrote about the topic recently in his “New Energy Economics” column, published regularly on the NDSU Extension Web site.

Hay & Forage Grower – Digital Edition
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Here's a sneak peak of our special Custom Forage Harvesting issue mailed to custom operators across the U.S.:
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  • Optimize Your Chopper
  • Tractor Power
  • Employee Perks
Click here to view the digital edition.

State Reports: Florida, New England
Sales of high-quality Coastal bermudagrass hay have picked up sharply in recent weeks, according to Mark Randell of Mark Randell Family Hay Farms in Wellborn.

He notes that, even with the cold winter, hay wasn’t moving in December, January and February. “But last month it seemed like everybody was looking for quality hay. The volume of hay we moved out per week was double compared to what it had been earlier in the winter. I’m not quite sure why it worked out that way. Maybe people had finally just used up all of their inventory.”

He grows 500 acres of bermudagrass, packaging most of it in net-wrapped 54” round bales. He also buys and resells hay. Randell's primary customers are feed stores and brokers serving the small horse-owner market in northern Florida.

Even with the recent pickup in sales, Randell says most sellers in his area “are still a little long on hay” and that prices have backed off accordingly. He’s currently charging $38 for a roll weighing 650-700 lbs. That’s down a couple dollars per roll from what he was getting heading into the winter. “We had to drop the price to keep hay moving,” he says.

Randell can be reached at 386-208-2758 or

New England
Horse-hay sales volume has dropped off sharply in many parts of the country over the past year or so, but Chris and Donna Oliver, Burke, NY, have actually seen business pick up. Last year, the Olivers’ DBA Hay Express had a 10% increase in new customers and a record year for hay sales.

In a typical year, the Olivers buy horse hay, mostly grass, from 10-15 growers in upstate New York. Most of it is packaged in 45- to 50-lb bales. Their primary market is small horse-farm owners and stables and feed stores throughout New England (from northern Vermont to Massachusetts and Connecticut). They moved nearly 100,000 bales into the horse market last year.

Emphasizing quality has played a big part in enabling DBA to hold the line on prices, says Chris Oliver. Currently, the Olivers are selling top-quality first-crop grass hay for $6.50/bale delivered. Their best second-crop hay is bringing $7-7.50/bale, and lower-quality bales bring $5-5.50. All of those prices are in line with year-ago levels.

“Horse owners can be pretty fussy,” says Oliver. “If we come across a bale with even the smallest spot indicating there might be a problem with dust or mold, it doesn’t go on the truck. We also offer a 100% guarantee on all of our hay. If a customer is unhappy with a bale, we offer to replace it bale for bale, no questions asked. The way I look at it, my overall business is only as good as the last bale of hay I’ve sold. I always tell people that the real reason why we are so sucessful is because God owns our business. He just lets us run it.”

The couple is also working to build a market for mulch hay with construction firms and government agencies in New England. Last year they sold 80,000 bales into that market. Their biggest contract was with a company doing erosion-control work on a 52-mile-long power-line project running between Ludlow and Brattleboro, VT. “With all the rain we had last year, it was tough for many of our suppliers to make the kind of hay that’s in demand in the horse market. Construction hay turned out to be a good secondary market.”

The Olivers can be reached at 518-335-9787 (cell) or 888-429-3977 (office) or by email at


Tri-State Dairy Meeting Is Next Week
The 2010 Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference will be held April 20-21 at the Grand Wayne Center, Fort Wayne, IN. Featured sessions will address nutrition and animal health, heifer management and feeding-program management.

Registration fee for the conference, sponsored jointly by Ohio State University, Purdue University and Michigan State University, is $195. Get registration information. See papers from previous years’ conferences.

California Field Day Set For Tomorrow
The University of California will hold an Alfalfa, Forages and Biofuels Field Day tomorrow, April 14, at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in El Centro.

Topics to be addressed in the alfalfa and forages section include alfalfa varieties for the low desert, nematodes in alfalfa and insect pest management in alfalfa. In the biofuels section, topics will include prospects for crop-based biofuels, sorghum irrigation for forage or biofuel and switchgrass and miscanthus as biofuels. A barbecue lunch will be served at noon.

For more information, call the Imperial County Extension office at 760-352-9474.

Calendar Of Events
April 14-15 -- Kentucky Grazing School, University of Kentucky Research & Education Center, Princeton. Preregistration required. See a brochure.

April 16-18 -- Midwest Horse Fair, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Get more details.

April 23-25 -- Minnesota Horse Expo 2010, Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul. Learn more.

April 27 -- Buying And Feeding Hay (For Horse Owners), University of Tennessee Extension, Agricenter Showplace Arena WarmUp Barn and Meeting Place, Memphis. Call 901-752-1207 or email

May 6 -- Beef Cattle and Forage Crops Field Day, Kansas State University, Southeast Agricultural Research Center, Mound Valley Unit, Mound Valley. Contact Lyle Lomas at or 620-421-4826.

May 13 -- Legume Management In The Southeast: Field Day And Pasture Walk, Central Georgia Research & Education Center, Eatonton. Get more details.

May 19 -- University Of California Alfalfa & Forage Crops Field Day, UC-Davis Agronomy Field Headquarters, Davis. Get additional details.

June 21-23 -- American Forage And Grassland Council Annual Conference, University Plaza Hotel, Springfield, MO. Get details.

Aug. 9-10 -- Kentucky Grazing School, Woodford County Extension Office, Versailles. Preregistration required. See a brochure.

Sept. 1-4 -- National Hay Association Annual Meeting, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort, Lexington, KY. Watch for details.

Feb. 24, 2011 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Fayette County Extension office, Lexington. Watch for details.


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