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By Fae Holin
Managing Editor, Hay & Forage Grower
If grown in rotation with corn, alfalfa could be a biofuel crop destined
to help attain the Renewable Fuel Standards' biofuel production goal of
36 billion gallons by 2022. But a number of challenges must be overcome
before an alfalfa-corn production system – producing cellulosic
biomass for biofuels and livestock feed – can become reality. So said
speakers and others at a workshop in Johnston, IA, last week.
“Alfalfa/Corn Rotations for Sustainable Cellulosic Biofuels
Production” was hosted by the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance
(NAFA) and National Corn Growers Association. Sponsored by alfalfa seed
companies and seed producer organizations, the workshop speakers
included USDA and university researchers as well as representatives from
four biofuel companies.
Two-year rotations of alfalfa with corn could supply cellulosic biomass
for biofuels as well as food and feed, improve corn yield by 5-15% with
alfalfa’s soil-holding properties and nitrogen-fixing capabilities,
and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, speakers contended. Research on
equipment that separates alfalfa leaves and stems, using stems as
biomass and leaves as high-protein feed, have been in the works for
years. See “Alfalfa:
Queen of Biomass, Too?”
here to read the entire story.
By Fae Holin
Managing Editor, Hay & Forage Grower
Forage producers should be optimistic about their future, said Matt
Boatright, a former Missouri state representative, longtime grazier,
vice president of FCS Financial in Sedalia and keynote speaker at the
American Forage & Grassland Council's annual conference last month in
Boatright, who owns a beef cattle and meat-goat operation near Sedalia,
said farmers have the advantage of having a marketing margin. “This
marketing margin is all about trading what you have for what someone
else wants. We live in a hungry world, folks. We have a lot of people
out there whose main goals in life are to increase their standards of
living enough to graduate from a bean and rice diet to a meat protein
diet. If you look at statistics the world over, and one major area of
this world, Asia, you see the prediction of about 300 million more
consumers coming into a middle-class lifestyle ... when they move from
$300/year annual income to $1,000/year annual income.
“Folks desire animal protein and as soon as they have the opportunity
in their budgets, they will buy it.”
here to read the entire story.
U.S. hay growers expect to harvest 59.7 million acres of all hay in
2010, down slightly from last year’s figure, according to an acreage
report issued last week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics
Expected harvested area of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures, at 20.7 million
acres, is down 2%, and all other types of hay total 38.9 million acres,
Acreage of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures is expected to decrease or
remain unchanged from last year in all estimating states except Arizona,
Montana, New York, Oregon, Texas and Utah. While Montana’s acreage is
expected to increase by 100,000 acres, large declines are expected in
North Dakota and Minnesota, down 180,000 and 100,000 acres,
respectively. Other states with decreases of 50,000 acres or more
include California, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Compared with last year, harvested acreage of all other types of hay is
expected to increase or remain unchanged in all but 10 states. Increases
of 100,000 acres or more are expected in Missouri, Montana, Texas,
Virginia and Washington. Texas is expecting the largest increase (more
than 300,000 acres) as producers there look to replenish hay supplies
after last year’s severe drought. Decreases of 100,000 acres or more
are expected in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
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If you baled some first-cutting hay a little tough due to high
humidity and frequent rain showers, be on the lookout for mold, spoiling
or heat damage, advises University of Nebraska Extension forage
specialist Bruce Anderson.
“Excessive heat can cause hay, and especially the protein, to be less
digestible,” says Anderson. “Heat-damaged hay often turns brownish
and has a sweet caramel odor. Cattle often eat this hay readily, but
because of the heat damage, its nutritional value may be low.”
Most heat in hay is caused by the metabolic activity of microorganisms.
Millions of these microbes exist in all hay, but they thrive when
moisture is abundant.
As the metabolic activity of the microbes increases, the hay temperature
increases. Hay with only a little excess moisture probably won’t get
warmer than 120 degrees F. Wetter hay, though, can quickly get as warm
as 150 degrees. Hay that gets this warm nearly always becomes
discolored, and nutritional value can be very low.
If hay temperatures rise above 170 degrees, chemical reactions can
produce enough heat to quickly raise temperatures to over 400 degrees
and cause a fire. “Be alert to this potential fire hazard and store
wet hay away from buildings and other hay,” says Anderson. “Also,
before feeding wet hay, be sure to get a thorough forage test to
determine its nutritional value.”
“Seldom are high court opinions that one-sided. Farmers and
American business won. Environmental wackos lost.” – Harry
Cline, editor of Western Farm Press, commenting about claims made
by the Center for Food Safety that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent
seven-to-one decision in favor of Monsanto’s position on Roundup Ready
Alfalfa was actually a victory for opponents of genetically engineered
the entire editorial.
"We can't control when the rains come, the winds blow or when the sun
will shine. Agriculture is in a partnership with mother nature when it
comes to weather." – Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire commenting
on why she asked USDA chief Tom Vilsack to declare an agriculture
disaster for 29 counties. In some parts of the state, more than 90% of
first-crop alfalfa was damaged by rains in May and June. Source:
KNDO-TV, Yakima, WA.
"It's looking good across the board. With hay off to a slow start
this extra forage has really helped our ranchers out. The only downside
is that the heat will turn the grass brown awfully quick at the lower
elevations." – Idaho Farm Bureau range expert Wally Butler
explaining the effects of steady spring rains for ranchers in Adams
County, ID. Butler expects hay prices to stay strong until the supply
improves later this summer. Source: Idaho
Farm Bureau blog.
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It’s been a tough year for making good-quality horse hay in
east-central Minnesota, says Butch Cardinal of Cardinal Brothers Hay
Sales in Hugo.
“We started out just fine,” says Cardinal. He and his brother, Jim,
grow alfalfa-grass and straight grass (mostly orchardgrass and timothy)
on 650 acres. They package most of their hay in small square bales
weighing 55-70 lbs. Their primary market is made up of horse owners
living within a 70-mile radius of the Twin Cities.
“The stuff we cut early was really nice. We were able to get a couple
hundred acres put up. But then in mid-May it started raining and it kept
up all the way through June.”
As of late last week, they still had 150 acres of first-crop hay to
harvest. “We should be getting going on second crop by now,” says
Cardinal. “Ordinarily, we’ll get three cuttings a year. But this
year we’re probably only going to get two on a lot of our grass
He reports that, so far in 2010, hay prices are running fairly close to
last year’s level. “Where they go from here is anybody’s guess,”
he says. “With all the rain we’ve had, there’s going to be a lot
of beef hay around. But good horse hay might be tough to find. I look
for prices to hold steady and maybe even get a little stronger,
depending on what happens with the weather.”
Read more about the Cardinals in the Hay & Forage Grower
The Horse Market” and “Tracking
To reach them, phone 612-325-2749 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Educating horse owners about the value of high-quality hay is an ongoing
battle for Charles Roff, owner of Old Dominion Hay Co. in Smithfield.
Roff buys high-quality hay from growers nation-wide for resale in
“With the economy the way it is, a lot of horse owners are trying to
get by as cheaply as they can,” he says. “They’re looking for
bargains. Rather than pay $20 for a 100-lb bale of high-quality hay out
of the Western U.S., they’ll spend $8 for a 30-lb bale of weed-patch
hay. They don’t understand that, when they buy lower-quality hay,
they’re shortchanging the horse on digestible energy. What they save
on their hay bill now, they end up spending later for concentrates or
for a vet bill if the horse gets sick. In the feed business, cheap is
generally the most expensive.”
The sluggish recovery in the general economy continues to hinder demand
for horse hay in his area. For the just-ended 2009-10 fiscal year,
business at Old Dominion Hay was down 20% from the previous year’s
number. “A lot of people were getting rid of their horses because they
just didn’t have the disposable income, and a horse is an expensive
animal to feed,” he says. “It seems like horse numbers are leveling
off now, but if we get a double-dip recession, that could turn things
around the other way again. It could be four or five years before we get
back to previous levels.”
To contact Roff, phone 757-357-4878 or email email@example.com.
A Forage Field Day will be held July 20 at the Mountain Research
Station near Waynesville, NC.
Along with a demonstration and calibration of seeding equipment, a
demonstration of strip grazing and herbicide spraying are also planned.
Educational presentations on weed identification, soil sampling and
livestock watering equipment will also be part of the day’s
Several hay equipment manufacturers will be on hand to display and
demonstrate equipment for cutting, tedding, raking and baling hay.
Additionally, distributors of hay storage systems, hay feeding
equipment, animal health products and chemical applicators will be in
attendance to answer questions about products.
For more information, contact the station at 828-456-3943.
Educating area ranchers and the community on range and pasture
improvement and the different options they have for managing their
properties will be the focal point of a range management workshop
scheduled for July 26 at the Kinney County Civic Center in
Sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension, the workshop will include
presentations on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. Landowners planning to attend are
encouraged to bring along forb, grass or shrub species they need help
The cost is $5. Attendees are asked to RSVP by July 23. For more
information, contact the AgriLife Extension office in Kinney County,
July 15 -- Central Wisconsin Forage Council Summer Field Day.
1-3 p.m., Bill Herr Farm, Greenwood. Get info.
July 20-22 -- Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, Roger and Bev
Peterson farm, south of River Falls. Get details.
July 21-- Illinois Forage Expo/Hay Contest, 9 a.m-3 p.m., Law-Rae
Dairy Farm, Manteno. Get
details or call 815-772-4075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
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