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.
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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
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
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
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
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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.
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
Contact Birkey at 734-240-3170.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Trust us. Your cows will thank
you for it.
Treat your alfalfa with SENCOR® Herbicide. It takes care
of winter annuals that can seriously reduce nutritional value. So you
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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
**Sept. 17 & 24 -- Northern Michigan Grazing School, Wolverine
and Harrisville, respectively. Contact Norman Suverly at 989-724-6478 or
** 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 email@example.com.
** 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
**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 email@example.com, 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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