Hurricane Wallops Hay Growers And Their
Mississippi hay growers seem to have taken the hardest
hit from Hurricane Katrina, but producers in Louisiana and Alabama also
suffered damage. The damage was so severe that more than two weeks after
the storm, it was still difficult to obtain reports from some of the
Some officials estimate more than $2 billion in damage to agricultural
industries in Mississippi and $1 billion in Louisiana. Alabama, which
was less severely affected, has not yet compiled official damage
figures. USDA has designated all of Mississippi's 82 counties disaster
areas, making them eligible for federal assistance programs.
Mississippi -- Close to two-thirds of the state's hayfields were
damaged. "Initial damage assessments look pretty bad," says Richard
Watson, Mississippi State University extension forage specialist. "There
are an estimated total 750,000 acres of hay grown in Mississippi, and I
would say maybe 500,000 acres of them are in the southern half of the
state. You are probably looking at $40-50 million worth of hay that has
Hancock and Harrison counties along the Gulf Coast were subjected to a
tidal surge that left pastures and hayfields filled with saltwater.
"Just about every hay barn in the southern end of the state has probably
been blown over," Watson says. "What hay has been put up this year in
that area has been affected in some way, either rained on or blown away.
There is significant loss."
Pastures were damaged extensively, too. That means winter grazing may
not be an option in southern Mississippi. Bill Herndon, Mississippi
State University extension economist, points out that the damages and a
lack of time and tractor fuel will also have a huge impact on ryegrass
planting. Ryegrass serves as a major feed source for dairy producers
from October or November until April or May each year. Dairy farmers
unable to plant ryegrass will be forced to replace this forage crop with
hay and feedgrains.
Herndon notes that the majority of the dairy farms in both Mississippi
and Louisiana are located in the hurricane-ravaged area. There are
around 230 dairies in Mississippi and about 320 dairies in Louisiana, he
says. At least 60% of those dairies are located in that most heavily
impacted area. Dairies have had to dump their milk because they were
without power; they were also unable to get fuel to power generators.
The hurricane winds blew the wrappings off baleage too, resulting in
spoiled feed. Fences were ruined
by falling trees and debris.
Watson notes that some northern Mississippi producers have donated hay
to help their southern neighbors. But many roads are still blocked, fuel
is not readily available, equipment is damaged and communication with
that part of the state is still hit and miss. "It isn't just the lack of
hay and feed down there; there are logistical problems as well."
Prior to the hurricane, eastern and southern Mississippi had a good hay
season with regular rainfall throughout the summer and good yields.
"We're probably going to have yields of over 3 tons/acre, which is
pretty good for the state," says Watson. "There was plenty of hay
around, but a good amount of that hay will be ruined, washed away, or
will have salt on it. It's going to put a lot of pressure on livestock
producers in the southern end of the state as they try to find enough
feed from now through the winter." North of Interstate 20, hay that was
under cover should be safe because there wasn't much wind. Producers in
northern Mississippi experienced minimal hay losses, according to
To learn more about donating hay or fencing supplies, call Watson at
Louisiana -- Ed Twidwell, Louisiana State University agronomist,
says there will be opportunities for hay growers outside the state to
sell to Louisiana customers. "We had been having a dry summer in
Louisiana and there hadn't been as much hay available to start with, so
hay supplies are tight. Most producers who were not affected by the
storm will not cut as much hay as they had hoped to this fall," he
Twidwell says most of the damage to both dairy and forage production is
centered in southeastern Louisiana. In Plaquemines Parish, located south
New Orleans, saltwater damaged pasture grasses, and wind and falling
trees took out fences in the area. There may be a problem finding
cattle and horses, he adds. In parishes directly north of New Orleans,
there should be a market for both dairy and horse hay because people are
concerned about having enough hay and pasture to get through the
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Texas And New Mexico See Growing Demand For Dairy
The dairy industry is thriving in West Texas and
eastern New Mexico, so many crop producers in the region are looking at
alfalfa as an alternative or rotation crop, according to Texas A&M
University. The university is working to educate hay growers on how they
can produce a better product and market successfully to the dairy
Bryan Boehning, a Bailey County dairyman, provided some insight at a
recent Texas Cooperative Extension regional alfalfa workshop. "It's this
in a nutshell -- we want hay with a good green color, 12-15% moisture
content, and the highest relative feed value (RFV) we can get," says
Boehning. "An RFV of 150 is the bottom end of what I will take. I prefer
hay rated at 185 to 190. Anything rated from 190 to 230 is what we
consider premium hay."
The alfalfa sector in parts of West Texas and eastern New Mexico is
turning from producing horse hay to selling high-quality dairy hay,
which requires a higher level of management, explains Curtis Preston, an
extension agent in Bailey County. "Knowing your buyer and what he wants
in terms of feed value is a crucial component of successful marketing,"
"We test everything on our place before it is fed," says Boehning. "Our
nutritionist uses two or three different labs to get all our feed
analyzed. We blend a variety of protein and starches with our hay to
make the total ration. That includes corn, sorghum and wheat silage and
some distillers' grain from the ethanol plant in Portales, NM. We also
blend hays because what we buy falls into a range of feed values. For
that reason, we will take all the 180 to 200 RFV hay we can find."
Boehning's cows produce an average of 72 lbs of milk per day from three
milkings. Plenty of hay is kept on hand to help make the blended ration.
"We keep a stockpile of hay on hand at all times," Boehning says. "We
try to buy and stockpile enough hay by January to last us through May.
Our equipment is set up to handle large square bales. We prefer 4 x 8'
"New and existing dairies on the High Plains are the main market for
alfalfa producers here," says Calvin Trostle, extension agronomist based
at Lubbock. According to the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service,
Texas producers harvested more than 855,000 tons of alfalfa from 150,000
acres in 2004, with an average yield of 5.7 tons per acre. They received
an average price of $132/ton, and generated more than $112 million in
farm-gate receipts statewide.
Trostle has put together a packet of alfalfa information for West Texas
and High Plains producers that includes university alfalfa variety
trials, and guides to common production problems and considerations.
It's available on the Internet at lubbock.tamu.edu/othercrops. Trostle can be reached at
806-746-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Iowa Hay Auction Report
The Dyersville Sales Company, Dyersville, IA, reports
moderate summertime offerings with fairly good demand at its Sept. 14
hay auction. A total of 543 tons were sold. Top on hay was a load of
fourth-cutting alfalfa that sold for $115/ ton. A load of 208 relative
feed value hay from Nebraska sold for $155/ton delivered directly to the
buyer. Premium-quality round bales averaged $80-90/ton and good round
bales sold for $50-70/ton. Demand was very good for second-, third- and
fourth-cutting square bales.
"Very nice, top-end fancy round bales net-wrapped with color all sold
well, while lower-end hay, and round bales of hay with twine sold
lower," says Dale Leslein, hay auction manager. A thousand small square
bales sold for $1.90-2.30/bale. "Overall demand was good for better-end
hay with color and made right, and if it didn't fall into that category,
demand was lower," Leslein says. The straw market was lower, with 3 x 3'
bales of good wheat straw selling for $27.50/bale and large round bales
of fair straw bringing $15/bale.
"Locally we have had some of the best weather in years for baling," says
Leslein. "The ground is bone dry and rock hard and we have had lots of
wind and sun, which have led to some of the highest-quality hay made in
years. The third and fourth cuttings being made are outstanding in tons
and quality. A few farmers will get a fifth crop made for the first time
The next sale will be held at 11 a.m., Wed., Sept. 21. Visit the
Dyersville Sales Company hay auction Web site at www.dyersvillesales.com/content/hay_auction.html, or
contact Leslein at 563-875-2481 or email@example.com.
Hay demand is good in parts of Nevada, says Pete
Cassinelli, Winnemucca. However, he says hot nights have meant hay isn't
testing quite as well as in some years. Cassinelli sells mostly to the
dairy market. He says demand is good for hay that tests 55% TDN and
above. He has been selling some small bales this year to the horse
Cassinelli raises 700 acres of hay in addition to being a seed dealer.
Two weeks ago he planted 125 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa. "I am
hoping to gain back the additional cost of the seed because I'm hoping
my herbicide costs will be less, yield will be better and the stand will
last longer," he says.
Contact Cassinelli at 775-421-2459.
Hay producers are working on their last cutting in
central Oregon, reports Mylen Bohle, area extension crops agent at
Prineville. "The latter part of the summer has provided good harvest
weather, whereas we ran into a lot of rain showers with the first
cutting," he says. "Overall it has been a good year without many insect
problems." Because some first cuttings were delayed in central Oregon,
and the first and second cuttings were damaged by rain in the Columbia
Basin, there may not be quite as much quality hay as usual in the state.
However, second-, third- and fourth-cutting hay quality seems to be
pretty good in central Oregon, according to Bohle. Demand is expected to
remain strong from area dairies into the winter.
Some irrigation districts are running low on water in Oregon. "The rains
we got in late spring and early summer helped stretch our irrigation
water this year, but snow pack last winter was below average, which will
affect next year's irrigation water supplies," says Bohle. "Our Cascade
Mountain range is pretty bare right now and I would suspect we will be
looking at irrigation shortages in 2006."
Bohle says a few fields of Roundup Ready alfalfa are being planted in
central Oregon. Some producers are waiting for export approval before
planting the new product. "Producers need to pencil out whether Roundup
Ready alfalfa is a good choice for them," he says. "I think it could be
a very useful tool for producers who have tough weeds in certain
Producers growing spring wheat for hay in the area have seen some
reduced yields and lower palatability due to stripe rust infestation
this summer. "There have been about a dozen new rust strains come
through the Pacific Northwest and they have just decimated some spring
wheat fields," Bohle says.
He's encouraging Oregon growers to enter the Oregon Hay King Contest.
The hay quality contest will be held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds
in Madras, Oct. 15. Learn more about the contest by contacting Bohle at
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Register Now For Western Hay Business Conference And
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.
**Sept. 17 & 24 -- Northern Michigan Grazing
School, Wolverine and Harrisville, respectively. Contact Norman
Suverly at 989-724-6478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**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/.
**Oct. 15 -- Oregon Hay King Contest, Jefferson County
Fairgrounds, Madras, OR. Contact Mylen Bohle for more information at
**Oct. 31-Nov.4 -- Pacific Northwest Forage Worker's Conference,
Research and Extension Center, Prosser, WA. Contact Mylen Bohle at
541-447-6228, or Steve Fransen at 509-786-9266,
**Nov. 21-22 -- Iowa Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting,
Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn. Contact Joan O'Brien at 800-383-1682.
**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 -- Washington State Hay Growers Association Convention
and Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick. Learn
more at www.wa-hay.org.
**Jan. 19-20 -- 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 -- Heart of America Grazing Conference, Cave City,
KY. Call 270-365-7541.
**Feb. 7-8 -- Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America
Alfalfa Expo, Kearney. Contact Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649 or visit
**Feb. 23 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Lexington. Contact
Garry Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202.
**Feb. 27-28 -- Idaho Hay and Forage Association Meeting, Red
Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. Learn more at www.idahohay.com/.
**Mar. 10-14 -- 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 -- Midwest Hay Business Conference and Expo,
Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD. Sponsored by Hay & Forage
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