RFQ Results Help Market Grass
The University of Georgia has worked to develop and
refine a relative forage quality (RFQ) index for evaluating and
marketing grass hay, according to Billy Skaggs, Hall County extension
agent, Gainesville, GA. The RFQ index was initially developed at the
University of Wisconsin to predict the fiber digestibility and animal
intake of harvested crops. "Unfortunately, these equations were not
applicable to warm-season forages like bermudagrass," says Skaggs. In
2003, Georgia researchers approached the Wisconsin group and proposed
including warm-season forage crops in the index so that a useful
equation could be developed for the Southeast.
Skaggs says more than 200 grass samples have since been used to develop
an RFQ equation for bermudagrass and other warm-season forages.
Currently, all forage sample results from the University of Georgia Feed
and Forage Testing Lab in Athens contain an estimate of RFQ. This value
is a single, easy-to-interpret number that helps the producer establish
a fair market value for the product. "Relative forage quality will allow
hay producers to easily categorize and price hay lots by quality,"
Skaggs says. "Cattle producers can purchase hay according to its end
use. For example, there is little need to feed high-quality hay to
livestock that could easily use a lesser-quality forage. It is also easy
to see that relative forage quality could provide the framework for a
quality hay marketing system."
Skaggs asks why hay produced in Georgia, Alabama and Florida isn't sold
on a quality or weight basis. "When hay is sold on a per-bale basis, hay
producers are not rewarded for producing quality hay and livestock
producers fail to consider the economic value and biological importance
of quality hay," he says. "One possible reason hay is not marketed on a
quality basis is that pricing hay on a crude protein or TDN basis is
The RFQ system has recently been used to evaluate entries submitted to
both the 2004 American Forage Grassland Council hay contest, held in
Roanoke, VA, and the Tri-State Hay Show, held in October 2004 in
Moultrie, GA. Several Georgia counties have also used RFQ to rank local
hay contest entries. Entries for the 2005 Tri-State Hay Show will be
accepted until Sept. 16. Entry forms and contest information are
available at www.georgiaforages.com.
For more information, contact Skaggs at 770-531-6988.
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Top of the News
Legume Information Network To Be
The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR)
announced that it has been awarded
$225,000 by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for initial
development of a Legume Information Network (LIN). The network will
bring together legume information resources and provide users with the
ability to answer specific questions, such as identifying allergens in
legumes through comparative genomics.
Today's biological research is multidisciplinary and involves
integrating many types of experimental information. Biologists
frequently work with information that is distributed across dozens of
Web information resources. This can cause logistical frustration for
biologists because they have to search multiple, often unlinked Web
sites to find data, information, and analysis tools to support their
research. The LIN will allow researchers and legume biologists to find
information and data without having to "jump" among multiple Web sites.
NCGR will collaborate with USDA-ARS at Ames, IA, and the Center for
Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics (CCGB) at the University of
Minnesota to develop the network.
Hurricane Katrina Impacts Dairy
Dairyline News reports that destruction of grain, grass
and other feedstuffs will have long-term effects on U.S. milk production
trends. According to the Louisiana State University AgCenter's 2004
Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 308 Louisiana dairy farms
produced milk worth $77.4 million in on-farm value. The High Plains
Journal quoted Gary Hay of the AgCenter's dairy science department
as saying milk producers were forced to dump milk last week because they
were without enough electric power to operate their coolers, and trucks
were unable to pick up the milk from farms. Of the six milk-processing
plants in southeastern Louisiana, four were operating last week, and two
others were down because of lack of power or water. Fuel availability is
also an issue around New Orleans. The people evacuating the area
exhausted nearly all fuel supplies. At the farm level, it's not known
how much fuel farmers have on-hand to run generators or how much feed is
available for the animals.
Farm milk is being picked up as best as possible, but with flooded or
washed-out roads and bridges, in addition to downed trees and power
lines, haulers are unable to reach some farms. Having a spot to ship the
milk is another story. Some plants have been reopened, but some of these
are jammed with milk and, depending on the geography of their customer
base, some have nowhere to send the finished product. With stores shut
down or destroyed, there is no outlet for bottled milk and other
Milk output is said to be somewhat steady in Florida, and that state's
milk needs and milk imports continue. Milk haulers, particularly from
Southwestern suppliers, are being rerouted around the storm-damaged
areas. This adds miles, time and cost to the trip. Grade A milk
shipments into other Southeastern states also continue.
Source: Dairyline Radio News.
Forage Sorghum Can Replace
Cattle can munch more efficiently if producers are
willing to look at forage sorghum, according to two Texas A&M University
extension specialists. Stocker cattle grazing systems, confined cattle
feeding and a budding dairy industry create a growing demand for quality
silage. The demand has traditionally been met with corn silage. However,
agronomist Brent Bean and beef specialist Ted McCollum say five years of
trials show that forage sorghum can help meet the need for high-quality
silage. And it can meet that need while saving precious irrigation
"The potential for replacing corn with forage sorghum exists with the
recent development of productive, high-quality forage sorghum
varieties," Bean says. Producers can get the same tonnage of forage
sorghum as corn and use at least 25% less water, he notes. Also, the
quality of certain sorghum varieties equals that of corn, and the fuel
costs are less to grow forage sorghum, Bean says.
The key consideration, however, will be for producers to be paid
according to the value of the crop. "The old conventional method of
saying forage sorghums are worth less than corn silage is not
necessarily true," McCollum says. In feed quality trials, he reports,
corn silage has been replaced with forage sorghum without lowering the
rate of gain or feed efficiency.
Both Bean and McCollum warn that there is more variability in sorghum
than in corn, so it's more important for producers to study variety
trials. More than 80 sorghum varieties are growing next to corn in
trials at the Texas Ag Experiment Station's James Bush Research Farm
north of Bushland. Results will be posted at the end of the season.
Earlier trial results can be found at amarillo.tamu.edu/programs/agronomy/publications.
Source: Texas A&M University.
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The remains of Hurricane Katrina brought rain to a large
portion of Kentucky last week, according to US AgNet. University of
Kentucky forage specialist Ray Smith says the recent rain could improve
pasture prospects for the fall.
"This is good across the board except where there is standing water," he
says. "Standing water can cause stand losses in sensitive forage crops
like alfalfa. But overall, it's purely a help and will fuel good pasture
growth." Smith says farmers might have a good hay cutting at the end of
September, depending on future weather conditions. "It came about as
late as it could to help forage producers," Smith emphasizes. "Farmers
who had put nitrogen on for stockpiling fall forages should see a real
The bluegrass climate zone in Kentucky has been in severe drought for
several weeks, and west and central zones have been in moderate drought,
reports Tom Priddy, University of Kentucky ag meteorologist. "For the
most part, the recent rainfall has improved conditions in Kentucky, and
while it's true we needed many inches of rain to pull us out of the
drought, some areas got it too quickly," he notes.
In western areas of the state, some communities saw as much as 11" of
rain over several days, including some that fell before Katrina hit the
area. In Hopkinsville, high water closed several roads and businesses
after 6" fell in a few hours.
Preliminary August prices for other hay were up,
according to USDA's South Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service. The
all-hay price for August, at $59/ton, was down $2 from the July price
but unchanged from the August 2004 level. The alfalfa price, at $62/ton,
was the same as in July and last August. The other hay price, at $50,
was up $5 from the July price and $3 from the August 2004 price.
Meanwhile, alfalfa and grass hay prices were holding steady as of the
end of last week, with some producers wrapping up the final cutting of
alfalfa for the season. USDA reports that, in large square bales,
supreme alfalfa hay was selling for $120-125/ton, premium alfalfa for
$92.50-110/ton, and good alfalfa for $70-80/ton.
In large round bales, premium alfalfa sold for $90-100/ton in eastern
South Dakota, while good round bales brought $65-85/ton; fair,
$50-60/ton and utility, $35-45/ton.
Small square bales of grass hay brought $70-80/ton. Large square bales
of premium grass hay brought $100/ton and good large square bales of
grass hay sold for $80/ton. In round bales, good grass hay brought
$60-75/ton; fair, $45-55/ton, according to USDA.
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Calendar of Events
** Sept. 8 -- Forage Management Workshop, Purdue
Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center near West Lafayette, IN.
Hands-on crop diagnostic training session, concentrating on forage
management issues. Contact Corey Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Sept. 17 & 24 -- Northern Michigan Grazing School, Wolverine
and Harrisville, MI, respectively. Contact Norman Suverly at
989-724-6478 or email@example.com.
** Sept. 29-Oct. 1 -- National Hay Association 110th Annual
Convention, Embassy Suites Hotel, Lexington, KY. Call the National
Hay Association at 800-707-0014.
** Oct. 4-8 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison,
WI. Visit www.world-dairy-expo.com/.
** Nov. 29-30 -- Western Hay Business Conference and Expo, The
Ranch, Loveland, CO. Learn more by calling Cindy Kramer at 952-851-4698,
or by visiting the conference Web site at www.hayconference.com.
**Dec. 2 -- Sheep and Meat Goat Training Program, Kirksville, MO.
Contact Bruce Lane at 660-665-9866 or Garry Mathes at 660-665-7049. Or
go to missourilivestock.com and click on Sheep and Meat Goat
**Dec. 2-3 -- Missouri Livestock Symposium, Kirksville. Programs
on sheep, meat goats, stock and guard dogs, horses, beef cattle,
forages, swine, crops and more. Name entertainment and trade show.
Details at missourilivestock.com, or call Bruce Lane at
660-665-9866 or Garry Mathes at 660-665-7049.
**Dec. 6-7 -- Midwest Dairy Expo, St. Cloud Civic Center, St.
Cloud, MN. The 2005 expo features nationally known speakers, educational
programs and exhibits of dairy supplies and services. Contact trade show
coordinator Eir Garcia-Silva of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association
at 320-203-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Dec. 7-8 -- Midwest Forage Association Farm Bill Forum and
Research Summit, Holiday Inn Select, Minneapolis, MN. Contact
Midwest Forage Association for more information at 651-484-3888.
**Dec 12-14 -- California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium and Trade
Show, Visalia. Learn more at alfalfa.ucdavis.edu or contact email@example.com.
**Dec. 15 -- Alabama Forage Conference, Troy. Learn more at www.alabamaforages.com or call Don Ball at
** Jan. 18-19, 2006 -- Washington State Hay Growers Association
Convention and Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center,
Kennewick. Learn more at www.wa-hay.org.
**Jan. 19-20, 2006 -- Southwest Hay Conference & Trade Show,
Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 505-626-5677 or
**Jan. 25-26, 2006 -- Heart of America Grazing Conference, Cave
City, KY. Call 270-365-7541.
** Feb. 7-8, 2006 -- Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's
Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Kearney. Contact Barb Kinnan at
800-743-1649 or visit www.nebraska-alfalfa.com.
**Feb. 23, 2006 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Lexington.
Contact Garry Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202.
** Feb. 27-28, 2006 -- Idaho Hay and Forage Association Meeting,
Red Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. Learn more at www.idahohay.com/.
** Mar. 10-14, 2006 -- 2006 American Forage and Grassland Council
Conference, Westin Riverwalk Hotel, San Antonio, TX. Learn more at
www.afgc.org, or call
Dana Tucker at 800-944-2342.
**March 14-15, 2006 -- Midwest Hay Business Conference and Expo,
Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD. Sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower.
Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor,
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