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September 13, 2005 A PRIMEDIA Property
eHay Weekly Contents
Crop Report Shows Fewer Hay Acres Harvested In 2005

Register Now For Western Hay Business Conference And Expo

NHA To Meet In Kentucky

Wyoming, South Dakota Cattlemen
Target Organic Markets

Kentucky Ag Department Offers
Online Hay Directory

California

Michigan

Missouri

Ohio

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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Crop Report Shows Fewer Hay Acres Harvested In 2005
In its Sept. 12 Crop Production report, USDA estimates that 61.7 million acres of hay were harvested in 2005 compared to 61.9 million in 2004. Alfalfa acres increased to 22.1 million acres from 21.7 million last year. A total of 39.6 million acres of hay other than alfalfa were harvested in 2005, down from 40.2 million acres in 2004.

Corn production is forecast at 10.6 billion bushels, up 3% from USDA's August forecast, but 10% below 2004 production. If realized, this would be the second largest crop on record. Based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yields are expected to average 143.2 bu/acre, up 4 bu from the August estimate but 17.2 bu below last year's record yield. Forecast yields are down in all Corn Belt states except Michigan and Wisconsin. The largest yield decreases are expected in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and New Jersey. Farmers expect to harvest 74.3 million acres of corn for grain, up 1% from last year's acreage.

Source: USDA.



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Top of the News
Register Now For Western Hay Business Conference And Expo
Don't forget to register for the 2005 Western Hay Business Conference and Expo, Nov. 29-30 in Loveland, CO. It will be held at The Ranch conference facility in Loveland. Learn more about the conference and register by calling Cindy Kramer at 952-851-4698, or by visiting the conference Web site at www.hayconference.com.

NHA To Meet In Kentucky
The National Hay Association (NHA) will hold its 110th annual meeting Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington, KY. A number of speakers will address topics of interest to professional hay growers, says Don Kieffer, NHA executive director.

Steve Jackson, an equine nutritionist from Versailles, KY, will tell attendees about how different types of hay fit into horse rations. Steve Johnson, manager of a thoroughbred horse farm near Lexington, will talk about how he manages horse nutrition programs. Henry Richmond, a Lexington attorney, will talk about estate planning issues. NHA president Tom Creech will host a tour of the Charles T. Creech, Inc. hay and compost facilities. Additional educational visits will be made to the Keeneland horse racing facilities, and to the prestigious Gainesway Farm.

Contact Kieffer at 727-367-9702 or 800-707-0014. The $269 registration fee can be paid in advance or at the door.


Wyoming, South Dakota Cattlemen
Target Organic Markets

Organic hay producers may be interested to learn that a coalition of cattlemen and businessmen in Wyoming have announced plans to build a beef slaughter and processing plant that will service the market for organic products.

"We're responding to a market segment that is growing by 20% each year," Taylor Haynes, an organic cattle producer in Cheyenne, told the Associated Press. "The driving force is the market, and these people are willing to pay a premium to get what they want."

The coalition has formed a new organization, called Farm to Form Inc., to be the parent company for the plant, which would operate under the name Rocky Mountain Custom Cuts and be built in Park County. The cooperative scheme would allow cattlemen to share in the profits of the beef sold to the organic market.

At the same time, producers from neighboring South Dakota announced the launch of a new Certified Organic Beef program at a new Whole Foods supermarket in Columbus, OH, according to US AgNet. Dakota Beef LLC, Howard, SD, will supply the store with a full range of steaks, roasts and other cuts, in addition to organic, all-beef frankfurters. Dakota Beef is the store's sole beef provider.

According to the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic meat and poultry in the U.S. grew 78% in 2003, making the segment comprising these products the fastest-growing segment in the retail organic food business.

Source: Associated Press and US AgNet.


Kentucky Ag Department Offers
Online Hay Directory

Listings of Kentucky farms with hay for sale can be found by going to the Hay and Forage Program page of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Web site, www.kyagr.com, and clicking on Hay/Forage Sales Directory.

"This summer's drought has affected pastures and hay crops through much of the commonwealth, but farmers in some parts of the state have been able to make a hay crop," says Richie Farmer, Kentucky's ag commissioner. "The Hay and Forage Program page enables buyers and sellers to find each other."

Listings on the Hay/Forage Sales Directory page can be sorted by any combination of county, relative feed value (RFV), bale size and type of hay. Each listing describes the lot's type, cutting date, cutting number, bale size and weight, color, odor, RFV and other characteristics. Some listings contain digital images of the forage.

The Kentucky ag department also offers a hay testing service. Hay and haylage are sampled on farms and analyzed in the department's forage testing lab. If the hay is to be sold, a visual evaluation is made and often a digital photo is taken for use in the listing on the Hay Sales Directory page. The producer receives an analysis of the forage's nutritional value. A $10 per sample fee is charged for the service.

For more information on the Hay and Forage Program, call the toll-free Hay Hotline, 800-248-4628, or contact Kim Field at kim.field@ky.gov.

Source: Kentucky Department of Agriculture.



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State Reports
California
Hay prices have been at record-high levels in many parts of California throughout the summer, reports Dan Putnam, University of California forage extension specialist. "There have been reports of high-quality alfalfa hay selling for over $200/ton in the central valley," Putnam says. "Even rained-on hay has been selling for a lot more than usual." Much of the state experienced a very wet spring that resulted in an abundance of rained-on hay, he explains. The wet weather means some growers will get fewer cuttings this year. Producers near Davis, CA, are expecting to get only five or six cuttings instead of their usual seven for the year, while San Joaquin Valley growers will probably get six or seven cuttings instead of their usual eight. Hot weather during the summer months meant good growth but poorer quality. The high fuel costs and environmental restrictions for water quailty are important concerns, mitigated only by higher-than-usual prices.

Armyworms have been a problem in many parts of the state this summer, and many growers have had to spray, Putnam says. California is gearing up for its California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium to be held Dec. 12-15 in Visalia in Tulare County, which probably has the largest concentration of dairy animals in the nation. If Tulare County were a state, it would be the fourth largest dairy state, he says.

Visit the University of California alfalfa and forage Web site at alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/, or call Putnam at 530-752-8982.


Michigan
Alfalfa quality in southeastern Michigan has been good this year because of the lack of rain falling on downed hay, according to Ned Birkey, extension agent in Monroe County. Potato leafhopper levels are very low. Some fourth cutting is finished while other producers haven't gotten a third cutting put up yet. There has been some renewed interest in seeding alfalfa partly because of high corn input costs and soybean pest problems, Birkey notes. The high price of fuel and fertilizer will impact farmer decisions for 2006 and is increasing the custom rates being charged for fieldwork, according to Birkey.

"In this area we're short about 7" of rain since Apr. 1, and are running over 15% ahead on growing degree days," he says. "We've had over 30 days of 88 to 97 degrees this summer, compared to only five days all of last year."

Contact Birkey at 734-240-3170.


Missouri
U.S. Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Thursday announced that USDA will send an additional $1,753,000 in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds to 28 counties in Missouri to help farmers and ranchers cope with this year's drought. "We are experiencing one of the driest growing seasons in recent memory," Talent says. Livestock producers have been devastated, and some are being forced to sell their animals. An estimated 75% of the state's pastures are in poor or very poor condition.

Last month, Talent announced that USDA approved Gov. Matt Blunt's request to declare most of Missouri a disaster area due to the severe drought. That declaration will make all qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The Missouri branch of the U.S. Ag Statistics Service says supreme-quality alfalfa hay with a relative feed value (RFV) greater than 185 sold for $120-145/ton last week. Premium-quality alfalfa with an RFV of 170-180 sold for $90-125/ton. Round alfalfa bales of fair-to-good quality (130-170 RFV) brought $30-80/ton.

Good-quality mixed alfalfa and grass hay sold for $2.50-3.50 per small square bale and $25-50 per large round bale. Fair to good prairie hay brought $40-60/ton. Good to premium brome sold for $90-100/ton in large squares, and good-quality brome sold for $40-70/ton. Round bales of fair-quality brome, some mixed with other grass, sold for $10-25/bale.

Good-quality timothy hay claimed $3-4.50 per small square bale, while good-quality red clover hay brought $25-50/ton. Good-quality mixed grass hay sold for $20-30/ton in round bales and $1.25-2.50 per small square bale. Fair-quality large round bales of fescue brought $10-25 per bale.

Wheat hay sold for $40-60/ton, while wheat straw brought $2-3.50 per small square bale.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has a hay hotline available for both buyers and sellers. To be listed, or for a directory, call 800-877-4429.


Ohio
Most of Ohio received 2-4" of slow, soaking rain from Hurricane Katrina, which helped improve hay and pasture conditions across the state. However, some regions had been so dry that forage growth continues to be slow, reports Mark Sulc, Ohio State University forage specialist.

Alfalfa is shorter than normal, and some hay producers have considered delaying the last cutting to accumulate more yield. Once the crop begins to flower, some additional yield accumulation is possible. But the little tonnage gained probably is not worth the increased risk of cutting during the critical fall period, according to Sulc.

The first half of September is ideal for taking the last cutting in Ohio. "The timing of this cutting can be very important to the long-term health of the stand," he says. "It's best for alfalfa to not be cut during the five- to six-week period before a killing frost. During this critical period, cold resistance and energy reserves for winter survival are built up."

A killing frost for alfalfa occurs when temperatures drop to 25 degrees or less for several hours, Sulc says. So the period from mid-September through October is the critical fall rest period in Ohio. Harvesting during this period disrupts accumulation of energy and protein reserves in crowns and roots and development of the plant's cold hardiness.

Producers often harvest alfalfa during the critical fall period despite the increased risk of winter injury. Research shows that the tonnage gained by cutting then often is lost in the first cutting the following year. Plus there is the increased risk of winter injury and ultimately shorter stand life by stressing alfalfa in this way.

The tonnage expected from a cutting and the need for the forage should be high before considering a cutting during the critical fall period, Sulc advises. According to him, when harvesting alfalfa in fall, several factors can help reduce the risk of winter injury, although none are fail-safe:

1. Young, healthy stands are less susceptible to winter injury from fall harvesting than older stands. On the other hand, more future production potential is lost if a younger stand is injured from fall cutting.

2. Forages in well-drained soils will be at lower risk of injury than those with marginal drainage. Fall cutting should not be attempted on soils prone to heaving. Removal of the topgrowth increases the potential for heaving injury.

3. Length of harvest interval during the growing season is often more important than the actual date of fall cutting. Making a third cutting during fall is less risky than making a fourth cutting then, because a three-cut schedule allows longer intervals for plant recovery between cuttings. Likewise, a growth interval of 45 days before a fall harvest will reduce the risk of injury compared with a preharvest growth interval of 30 days. The longer growth period allows more energy buildup before the fall harvest, lessening the amount of energy reserves needing to be built up after harvest.

4. Fields with optimal soil fertility levels (pH, phosphorus, potassium) are at less risk than where fertility levels are lower.

5. Disease-resistant and winterhardy varieties lessen the risk of injury from fall cutting.

6. Alfalfa that was not under stress during the summer will be at lower risk. Any stress (wet soils, potato leafhopper injury, etc) that weakened the crop can increase the risk of damage from fall cutting.

7. Cutting after a killing frost (25 degrees for several hours) in late October or early November can be an option for well-drained soils only. Leave a 6" stubble after a late fall cutting. Cutting that late prevents regrowth that burns up energy and protein reserves; however, late removal of plant cover increases the risk of frost heaving. Fall cutting should not be practiced on soils prone to heaving.

Contact Sulc at 614-292-9084 for more information about fall harvest management for the Ohio Valley region.



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Calendar of Events

**Sept. 14 -- University of California Kearney Alfalfa Field Day, Contact Janice Corner at 530-752-7091, or visit ucce.ucdavis.edu/calendar/eventdisplay.cfm?caleventnum=9433.

**Sept. 17 & 24 -- Northern Michigan Grazing School, Wolverine and Harrisville, respectively. Contact Norman Suverly at 989-724-6478 or suverly@msu.edu.

** 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 Training Program.

**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 mmpa@mnmilk.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 dhputnam@ucdavis.edu.

**Dec. 15 -- Alabama Forage Conference, Troy. Learn more at www.alabamaforages.com or call Don Ball at 334-844-5491.

** 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 info@nmhay.com, or call 505-626-5677 or 505-622-8080.

**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.


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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

hfg@primediabusiness.com



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