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 In Today's eHay Weekly
 July 20, 2010

Wanted In The East: Rain
Texas, Arkansas Get Weather Relief
Cellulosic Target Cuts No Surprise
Quick Clicks
State Reports: Iowa, North Dakota
Leafhoppers Showing Up In Nebraska
Arkansas Field Day Set For July 29
New Mexico Meeting Is Next Week
Calendar Of Events
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Top Of The News

Wanted In The East: Rain
While overabundant moisture this growing season has posed a major challenge for haymakers in areas stretching from the Pacific Northwest through the Upper Midwest, producers in parts of the eastern U.S. have been battling heat and lack of precipitation.

“Things around here are pretty brown,” says Tyrone Fisher. He’s executive director for North Carolina Extension in Warren County, one of 18 counties in the state listed as being in moderate drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Fisher reports that hay growers had adequate moisture for putting up a good first crop of fescue and bermudagrass at the end of May and into early June. Since then, though, rain has been hard to come by and temperatures have climbed. “As a result, we haven’t seen much in the way of growth,” he says. “Our second cutting is definely at risk.”

Click here to read the entire story.

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Texas, Arkansas Get Weather Relief
Recent rains in many parts of Texas and southern Arkansas have taken the pressure off livestock producers to line up supplemental feed supplies.

Just two weeks ago, producers in Somervell County, TX (southwest of Dallas) were already feeding hay to supplement pastures that had been all but burned up by an extended dry spell. But several rains resulting from a tropical depression following Hurricane Alex helped turned things around. “There was another round of showers last week, with reports ranging from 1 to 1.5”,” says Joshua Blanek, ag agent for Texas AgriLife Extension. “This was icing on the cake. Producers who hadn’t already were busy fertilizing hayfields and were excited about getting a good second cutting of hay. Everybody’s happy.”

In Coryell County (northwest of Temple), sorghum, pastures and native grasses responded to the rain, but many producers will probably harvest what corn there is for silage rather than grain. “The corn was planted early when it was so dry, and it didn't get any rain,” says AgriLife Extension agent Lyle Zoeller. “We're very excited about the forages, though.”

A series of rain events over the past two weeks was also welcome news in southern Arkansas. “I had heard from some livestock producers who were thinking of selling some of their cattle because pastures were burning up and they were running out of grass,” says Chad Norton, staff chairman for University of Arkansas Extension in Lincoln County. “But pastures have recovered the past couple of weeks. The rains will provide a second hay cutting, which was in doubt before. We would have been very short on hay otherwise.”

Cellulosic Target Cuts No Surprise
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement last week that it is lowering the target for U.S. production of cellulosic biofuel in 2011 (see "EPA Cuts Cellulosic Ethanol Production Target") shouldn’t be considered a surprise, says Cole Gustafson, biofuels economist with North Dakota State University Extension.

EPA now expects less than 25 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel to be produced in the U.S. next year. When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 originally went into effect, the agency had set a target for cellulosic biofuel production in 2011 at 250 million gallons.

“The EPA had no choice in lowering the target because the development of cellulosic biofuel has been slower than initially expected,” Gustafson writes in his regular New Energy Economics column. “Several root causes have been the lack of financial capital for investment and commercialization of cellulosic biofuel production, gaps in U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee programs supporting industry growth and increased availability of sugarcane ethanol that competes as an advanced biofuel.”

Gustafon notes that there has been an intense debate on whether EPA should have kept its original renewable fuel mandates. “In doing so, market prices for cellulosic biofuel would have risen, which would have increased the profitability of cellulosic biofuel investment projects. On the other hand, the mandate also includes several loopholes that give blenders credit for cellulosic biofuel they have blended in past years. This would have lessened the price increase.”

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Quick Clicks
  • The University of Wisconsin’s Team Forage recently updated its Effect of Wheel Traffic on Alfalfa Yield fact sheet. Authored by Extension forage specialist Dan Undersander, the publication explains how wheel traffic causes forage loss, details how much forage can be lost and offers tips for reducing losses. See the fact sheet.

  • Common Terms Used In Animal Feeding and Nutrition, a new publication from University of Georgia Extension, explains terms commonly used by animal nutritionists, veterinarians, feed salesmen and laboratory managers, Extension personnel and other industry professionals when discussing animal nutrition. The publication is available at the Georgia Forages Web site.

  • World Ag Expo is soliciting recommendations for seminar topics at next year’s expo, scheduled for Feb. 8-10 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, CA. Seminar categories include hay and forage, beef, career and education, dairy, general agriculture, international trade, irrigation and women in agriculture. Get more information.

  • The Enviro-weather Program provides Michigan producers with quick access to current weather conditions, historical weather data and local forecasts. Developed by Michigan State University, the program offers information on current degree-day accumulations, predictions on when to cut alfalfa, recommendations on when to irrigate field crops and more. Data for the program is collected from a network of 64 weather stations around the state.

  • Economists with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis say things are looking up for livestock producers in the Upper Midwest after a tough 2009. Higher meat and dairy product prices, along with lower feed costs get the credit. Learn more.

  • State Reports: Iowa, North Dakota
    Top-end dairy-quality hay prices have dropped off from just a few months ago, but all indications are they’ll head higher toward the end of the year, says Dale Leslein, manager of the Dyersville Hay Auction in Dyersville.

    Currently, alfalfa testing 160 relative feed value or above is bringing $150-175/ton. “That’s still pretty good for this time of year, and considering the tough times dairy producers are going through, it’s very good,” says Leslein.

    As the year goes on, though, he looks for prices to rise sharply. He notes that supplies of high-quality dairy alfalfa hay will be on the short side due to poor haymaking weather in much of the Midwest. “It’s the most challenging year we’ve ever had for getting good hay made,” he says. “In our area, we’ve only had five to six decent days to make hay. And the story is pretty much the same in other parts of Iowa, Illinois, southern Wisconsin, South Dakota and Nebraska.”

    Rising corn prices will likely play a role as well. “The corn crop is really suffering in Iowa and Illinois,” he says. “It seems like just about every field you drive by has some damage.”

    Couple the weather-related problems with more corn going into ethanol production, he says, and chances of seeing $5 corn by next spring are pretty good. “And as the corn price goes up, it will drag the price of high-quality hay along with it.

    “I know times are tough in dairy right now, but I’ve been telling dairy producers that if they can afford to buy any dairy-quality hay, they should put it away now.”

    Sales at Dyersville Hay Auction are held every Wednesday starting at 11 a.m. To contact Leslein, phone 563-875-2481 or email

    North Dakota
    The alfalfa growing season is off to a good start in the south-central part of the state. “Things are looking really good,” says Jorey Dahners, North Dakota State University Extension agent for Grant and Sioux counties. “We’re seeing some of the best yields we’ve seen in a decade.”

    Typically, alfalfa growers in the region get just one cutting. This year, though, Dahner says many people will be able to take two. “The alfalfa that has been taken off so far has come back pretty nicely, though we could use a little shot of rain again to help it along. If we get it, people should be in pretty good shape heading into the winter. We’ve had a pretty good grass hay crop, too.”

    He adds that some producers are just starting to report seeing grasshoppers in fields and pastures. “Our counts were pretty high here last year, so people are a little nervous. We had some wet and cool weather early in the season (during the grasshopper hatch), and we’re hoping that will hold the numbers in check a little. Even so, we’ll likely see some hot spots. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out.”

    Dahners can be reached at 701-622-3470 or

    Social Networking For Forage Producers
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    Hay & Forage Grower is also on Twitter, a micro-blogging site that provides brief status updates on people, groups or organizations. Users can "follow" people or groups, including news organizations that they want to keep up-to-date with. Follow Hay & Forage Grower on Twitter!

    Insect Update

    Leafhoppers Showing Up In Nebraska
    Potato leafhoppers have built up in eastern Nebraska and damage is evident in some fields, says Bob Wright, University of Nebraska Extension entomologist.

    First-year, spring-planted alfalfa fields are particularly vulnerable to potato leafhoppers. In older fields, the insects are usually a problem on second and third cuttings.

    Newly developed, resistant varieties provide fairly good protection from potato leafhoppers. But alfalfa in the seedling stage may still be damaged. All fields should still be scouted, as large numbers of leafhoppers may cause a problem, even in resistant-variety fields.

    See tables on treatment thresholds.
    See a list of recommended insecticides.


    Arkansas Field Day Set For July 29
    Biofuel and traditional crops will be featured at an upcoming University of Arkansas field day. The field day is set for July 29 at the Rohwer Research Station near Dumas.

    The biofuel tour segment will chronicle research efforts to produce crops for the biofuels market. Test plots of switchgrass, giant miscanthus, sweet sorghum and cottonwood trees will be on display during presentations. Tours of traditional crops will include cotton, rice, soybeans and corn. A catfish lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the tours.

    For more information, contact Kelly Bryant at 870-460-1091 or

    New Mexico Meeting Is Next Week
    New Mexico State University’s Valencia County Extension Service will be hosting a forage production workshop on Friday, July 30. Site of the event is the Student Community Center at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus in Los Lunas.

    The workshop will include sessions on common forage insects, soil health for optimal crop production, post-harvest management, alfalfa production, annual forage crop production, weed identification and control, horse forages and matching herbicides with plant species.

    Due to limited space, early registration is encouraged. Call the Valencia County Extension office at 505-565-3002 or send an email to

    Calendar Of Events
    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

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

    For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.


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