Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Primedia Property September 27, 2005 |  
Should You Keep That Alfalfa Stand?
Top of the News
Pricing Hay And Haylage In The Field
Report Shows Fewer Dairy Cattle Culled
State Reports
Calendar of Events
Register Now For Western Hay Business Conference And Expo
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Should You Keep That Alfalfa Stand?
As winter weather approaches, producers question if their alfalfa stands should be kept for another year or rotated to corn next spring. "Unfortunately, this is not always a yes or no decision," says Marvin Hall, Penn State University agronomist. He suggests recent research can help in assessing the productivity and profitability of a questionable alfalfa stand.

The magic number of plants that traditionally indicated when it was time to rotate out of alfalfa was four to five per square foot. However, depending on fertility and weed invasion, alfalfa stands with five plants per square foot can yield as much as a stand with 10 or 15, Hall notes. "The correlation between plants per square foot and yield is very low since individual alfalfa plants respond to decreasing stand density by producing more stems," he says. "Increased stems per plant compensates for fewer plants and maintains the yield."

The number of stems per square foot may be a better indicator of the productivity of an alfalfa stand. Fields with 55 or more stems per square foot produce maximum yields, according to Hall. As the stem number declines below 55 per square foot, yields begin to decline. Once stem numbers fall below 40 per square foot, alfalfa fields begin to lose profitability and should be rotated out of alfalfa.

Contact Marvin Hall at

Source: Penn State University.


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Top of the News
Pricing Hay And Haylage In The Field
Selling hay or haylage as a standing crop is essentially the same as renting established hay land, says William Edwards, Iowa State University extension economist. "Cash rent for land with an established grass-legume hay crop varies widely depending on yield, hay quality and local demand," he explains. Across Iowa, hay rental rates range from $70 to $90 per acre in northern Iowa and from $50 to $70 in southern Iowa. For established alfalfa, rental rates are from $100 to $120 in northern Iowa and from $60 to $80 in southern Iowa. For the first cutting of hay or haylage, Edwards says a charge equal to 40-50% of the yearly rent is appropriate. Later cuttings are usually worth only 25-35% of the yearly rent. The value of standing hay can also be estimated by subtracting harvesting costs from the market value of the same hay. Custom rates can be used to estimate harvesting costs. For example, if the price of alfalfa hay is $3/bale, and harvesting costs are 80 cents/bale, the value of the hay in the field would be $2.20/bale.

When pricing haylage, the feed value of a ton of 40-50% moisture, unharvested haylage can be estimated as equal to roughly half that of a ton of dry hay, minus the costs for windrowing, harvesting and hauling. Therefore, if hay costs $70/ton, and harvesting costs are $16/ton, the value of the standing haylage would be $19/ton.

Some owners prefer to keep part of the hay crop instead of charging cash rent. For an established crop for which the owner pays all the fertility costs, the owner is probably entitled to about 60%. If the person who harvests the crop pays part of the establishment and fertility costs, the owner's share should probably be only 40-50%.

Contact Edwards at 515-294-6161 or .

Source: Iowa State University.

Report Shows Fewer Dairy Cattle Culled
USDA's latest Livestock Slaughter report, issued last week, shows that 190,000 dairy cows were culled in August, up from 162,000 in July but 10,000 less than in August 2004. From January through August, a total of 1.45 million cows left the dairy business, down from 1.55 million during the same period of 2004.

Source: USDA.

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State Reports
Most of Alabama's forage producers escaped significant damage from Hurricane Katrina, reports Don Ball, Auburn University forage agronomist. Three counties in the southwestern part of the state were the hardest hit. Some hay barns lost roofs or were otherwise damaged in those areas. "There was some disruption of the hay market in that southwestern area because of the hurricane, but if we had not had the problem with damage to hay facilities, we would not have had much impact on the forage and livestock business," he says. Ball estimates that less than 5% of the state's hay producers are located in the storm-damaged area.

"This year has been very favorable for forage growth in most of Alabama because we have had a lot of rainfall," says Ball. "The downside is that it has been difficult to bale hay without it getting rained on." Alabama producers are preparing to plant cool-season forage crops. Ball says there has been a lot of recent interest in planting forage crops for wildlife. "There are some counties in Alabama where there is more forage seed sold for wildlife plantings than for livestock," he notes.

Learn more about Alabama forage production by visiting the Auburn University forage Web page at

David and Stacia Kohler report they're selling small bales of first-cutting grass hay for $2.50/bale, alfalfa-grass mixes from the second and third cuttings for $4/bale and second- and third-cutting alfalfa for $5/bale. Kohler Farms is north of New Albany, OH, near Columbus. The majority of the Kohlers' business is done within the horse market. "Our customers range from people with one or two horses to 30 horses," David says. Kohler Farms' most popular hay products are 60-70 lb bales of timothy, orchardgrass-alfalfa and timothy-alfalfa, and 50-60lb bales of reed canarygrass mixed with orchardgrass. In addition to horse customers, the Kohlers sell alfalfa hay to meat goat breeders, and orchardgrass-alfalfa mixes to alpaca owners. They also operate a 40-horse boarding stable.

Rain from the remnants of Hurricane Katrina arrived too late to benefit most of Ohio's drought-stressed corn crop, according to USDA. Because of the drought, USDA has been asked to designate 72 Ohio counties as disaster areas, enabling affected farmers to apply for federal assistance.

Visit the Kohler Farms Web site at Contact David Kohler at 614-332-2184.


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 get hay that's worth more and you'll get the kind of quality cuttings cows can really sink their teeth into.
Calendar of Events
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

**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

**Oct. 15 -- Oregon Hay King Contest, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Madras, OR. Contact Mylen Bohle for more information at 541-447-6228.

**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

**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 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, 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

**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 or contact

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

**Jan. 18-19 -- Washington State Hay Growers Association Convention and Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick. Learn more at

**Jan. 19-20 -- Southwest Hay Conference & Trade Show, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at, or call 505-626-5677 or 505-622-8080.

**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

**Mar. 10-14 -- 2006 American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Westin Riverwalk Hotel, San Antonio, TX. Learn more at, 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 Grower.

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,


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