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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Primedia Property October 18, 2005 |  
USDA Report Shows Slightly More Alfalfa, Less Other Hay
Top of the News Western Hay Business Conference & Expo Promises Profit Tips Get A Handle On Operating Expenses Two Armyworm Species March On Central Texas
State Reports California Iowa Auction Report Manitoba Texas
Events Calendar
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USDA Report Shows Slightly More Alfalfa, Less Other Hay
Production of alfalfa hay and alfalfa-mixed hay is forecast at 75.9 million tons for 2005, up 3% from USDA's August estimate and up 1% from last year's production, according to the agency's Oct. 12 Crop Production report. Yields are expected to average 3.43 tons per acre, up 0.09 ton from the August prediction, but down 0.04 ton from the 2004 figure. Harvested area is forecast at 22.1 million acres, unchanged from August but up 2% from last year's acreage.

Across most of the Corn Belt and southern Great Plains, weather conditions were less favorable for hay production when compared to last year, according to USDA. Illinois and Missouri, down 1.2 and 0.7 ton/acre, respectively, are expecting the largest decreases in production, as drought conditions this year severely hurt yields. Meanwhile, the largest increase in yield is expected in North Dakota, where the average yield is forecast at 2.10 tons/acre, up 0.6 ton from the 2004 figure. In North Dakota, ample soil moisture last spring helped promote excellent growth, while dry conditions during July helped complete the first cutting.

Production of other hay is forecast at 76.9 million tons, down 7% from last year's amount. Based on Oct. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 1.94 tons, down 0.11 ton. Harvested area, at 39.6 million acres, is down 2%.

Yields are at or below last year's levels in 19 States. But abundant moisture in the Pacific Northwest, northern Great Plains and Southeast last spring boosted expected yields in those regions compared with last year. With the exception of Georgia, all states in the Southeast are expecting yields that tie or break their previous record highs.

Source: USDA.

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Western Hay Business Conference & Expo Promises Profit Tips
The 2005 Western Hay Business Conference and Expo kicks off Nov. 29 with innovative hay growers talking about opening new markets and expanding sales. Ron Anderson, a hay marketer and past president of the National Hay Association (NHA), will talk about how the NHA is taking U.S. alfalfa to Vietnamese dairies. Ken Vaupel, president of Ohio Blenders, will tell conference attendees about his experiences designing alfalfa products tailored to specific market needs. Bill Wailes, Colorado State University, will discuss organic hay markets, and Barney Little, hay buyer for Aurora Organic Dairy, will tell what he's looking for from hay growers.

Targeting hay sales to the fast-growing horse market will be the first day's final topic. Included will be a look at the size of the U.S. horse market, where it's located, and what drives horse and boarding stable owners in their quest for quality hay.

On Nov. 30, conference attendees will learn how researchers are designing alfalfa for better performance in dairy rations. Dan Smith, Colorado State University, will help producers understand how to get the most alfalfa out of the least irrigation water. In breakout sessions, growers can learn about computerizing their hay businesses or get the latest information on Roundup Ready alfalfa. Conservation-friendly alfalfa and timothy seedbed establishment and a discussion of relative feed value (RFV) vs. relative forage quality (RFQ) will conclude the conference.

Plan now to attend the Western Hay Business Conference & Expo at The Ranch conference facility in Loveland, CO, on Nov. 29-30. Learn more about the conference and find contact information for local hotels at Call Cindy Kramer at 952-851-4698 for more information.

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Get A Handle On Operating Expenses
The Brownfield Ag Network reports that a couple of Wisconsin ag bankers are telling producers to take a serious look at locking in some long-term interest rates, and at operating costs. Gary Sipiorski with Citizens State Bank of Loyal is well known in the dairy industry for his "Benchmarks for Dairy Financing." He says high energy prices are going to change everything. "Everything you touch either comes on a truck or leaves on a truck," he states. Consequently, he stresses the need to get a handle on operating costs for next year. Sipiorski fears a number of producers have no idea what their costs will be. He also suspects the high energy prices will make livestock producers take a closer look at custom planters and harvesters as they look at what it costs them to grow alfalfa and corn for grain or silage. He says many producers have already realized they can't justify big combines or choppers.

Source: Brownfield Ag Network.

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Two Armyworm Species March On Central Texas
Hordes of fall armyworms and true armyworms have invaded several central Texas counties, and the assault will likely continue, according to Noel Troxclair, Texas A& M entomologist. He says numbers of both species have increased significantly in recent weeks. "This increase has caused problems for many area producers as there has been an associated increase in the destruction of green grass crops in the area," he says. "In areas of Atascosa, Frio, Medina and Zavala counties, pastures and hayfields have been completely stripped. And the affected area is probably more extensive and will continue to expand." Extension agents in these and nearby counties have been asked to alert producers to be on the lookout for possible armyworm infestations. "We're trying to get producers in the region to scout their pastures, hayfields and early planted grains for armyworms because any green grass crop may be at risk," says Troxclair.

In spite of their names, fall armyworms and true armyworms are not worms but the immature caterpillar form of moths. Troxclair points out that, while fall armyworms feed around the clock, true armyworms feed primarily at night and won't be found far up on plants during the day. "Producers should look for armyworms down in the crowns of plants and under debris on the soil surface," he says. The fall armyworm has an inverted, cream-colored Y shape that contrasts with its dark brown head capsule. "The true armyworm doesn't have this feature," he says, "And the head capsule is a lighter brown." Troxclair adds that if the worms are feeding during the day, they're probably fall armyworms.

"There are different ways to manage these two species," he says. "If a producer has armyworms in a hayfield, it may be possible to mow and let it dry down. And if there are livestock, the producer can run those animals in the affected area to eat the grass before the armyworms get to it. But these methods require close monitoring to ensure any surviving larvae don't prevent grass regrowth."

Troxclair says chemical control can be effective. "The products typically licensed for use on these two species have malathion, carbaryl or methomyl as their active ingredient," he points out. "While some insect control can be achieved by non-chemical means, pesticides like these provide a more effective and broader control of these pests. However, it's a good idea for producers to determine the extent of infestation and compare that with the cost of treatment to help determine which way to go."

Contact Troxclair at 830-278-9151.

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State Reports
California's Lake County Record-Bee reports that a proposed ordinance to place a moratorium on the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa was defeated in a vote by the county's board of supervisors last week. In a three-to-two decision, supervisors voted against adopting the ordinance, authored by the Lake County Coalition for Responsible Agriculture, to enforce a 30-month waiting period before Roundup Ready alfalfa could be planted in the county. According to the newspaper, while the ordinance had strictly addressed the issue of Roundup Ready alfalfa as the target of a 30-month fact-finding moratorium, opponents had consistently argued that it was simply the first salvo in an effort to ban all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from the county.

Meanwhile, Sonoma County, CA, voters will consider a county-wide ballot measure this November that would ban GMOs for 10 years, according to the Argus-Courier Online. Called Measure M, it's supported by a group called GE-Free Sonoma and the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Supporters say Measure M is needed as a time-out so scientists, researchers and farmers can learn more about the effects of genetically engineered seeds on local agriculture.

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Iowa Auction Report
The Oct. 12 Dyersville Hay Auction had light offerings with excellent demand, according to Dale Leslein, manager. "We had a lot of dairy hay buyers pushing the top-end hay sharply higher," Leslein notes. Large square bales of supreme hay sold for $155/ton delivered, with premium large square bales selling for $102.50 to $135/ton. Good hay sold for $72.50 to $85/ton in large square bales, $70 to $82.50/ton in large round bales. Large square bales of fair hay sold for $55 to $67.50/ton, with round bales of fair hay selling for $55 to $65/ton. A total of 216 tons of hay were sold. The next hay auction at the Dyersville Sales Company will begin at 11 a.m., Oct. 19.

Leslein says the last cutting is still not finished in the Dyersville area as weather has been terrible for baling. Since Oct. 1, trying to finish the last cutting of hay in parts of Iowa has been a nightmare. "Every day a heavy dew, almost like a rain, hangs around until early afternoon," says Leslein. "By 6 p.m. the sun starts down and you're done. A few hours of drying each day is all we're getting. Farmers have raked, inverted and tedded, but have not had any luck getting it dry. Some hay has been down going on three weeks." The soybean harvest is wrapping up and corn harvest is in full swing in the Dyersville area, he reports.

Contact Leslein at 563-875-2481, 563-588-0657 or

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Hay demand is expected to be very good going into winter in Manitoba, according to Carolyn MacKendrick, executive director, Manitoba Forage Council. Much of the province experienced a wet summer, making harvest difficult. "Some parts of the province got no cuttings at all, while other areas were delayed," says Jane Thornton, forage and pasture specialist with Manitoba Agriculture & Food's southwest region. "However, recent good weather has given producers the chance to put up high-quality, third-cut alfalfa. There is lots of beef cow hay on-hand, and below-average volumes of dairy-quality hay." Thornton expects hay acres may be down next year as many areas were flooded and some stands may be too thin to keep. "We may see a lot of reseeding next year," she states.

MacKendrick and Thornton recently returned from the World Dairy Expo. The Manitoba Forage Council takes producer-members and provincial hay and forage experts to the expo each year to act as ambassadors on behalf of Manitoba hay producers. "We attend that show to promote Manitoba hay," says MacKendrick. "There is a direct trade route for our hay into states such as Wisconsin, for example. We also take hay producers to the Midwest Horse Fair held in Madison, WI, each spring."

Learn more about the Manitoba Forage Council by visiting, or call MacKendrick at 204-482-6315. Reach Thornton at 204-726-6409 or

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Stung by the rising costs of fuel and other operating expenses, Lower Rio Grande Valley farmers and ranchers may find some relief from a free soil-testing campaign sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension. Producers can obtain soil sampling kits from their county extension offices and return their samples for shipment to the Texas A&M Soil Testing Laboratory in College Station. The analysis is also free and results are mailed directly to the grower. The free soil-testing campaign runs until Dec. 31. "The results of the soil test will tell a grower exactly what nutrients are in the soil so that he pays only for the nutrients that are needed to meet his yield goals," says Brad Cowan, an extension agent in Hidalgo County. "It just makes good sense to know the nutrient makeup of your soil before you add more nutrients."

Contact Cowan at 956-383-1026 or

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The biggest ideas in haying equipment come from New Holland. Like the BW Series self-propelled automatic bale wagon, featuring a new five-speed automatic transmission that provides excellent speed matching ability. Choose a slower ground speed in high-density crops, or fifth gear overdrive for no-load road speed. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377.
**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 visit

**Dec. 7-8 -- Midwest Forage Association Farm Bill Forum and Research Summit, Holiday Inn Select, Minneapolis, MN. Contact Midwest Forage Association at 651-484-3888.

**Dec. 7-8 -- Manitoba Grazing School, Keystone Centre, Brandon. Contact Marc Boulanger, Manitoba Agriculture, at 204-889-5699.

**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.

**Jan. 31- Feb. 1 -- Midwest Forage Association 2006 Symposium and Annual Meeting, Stoney Creek Inn, Mosinee, WI. Call MFA at 651-484-3888.

**Feb. 3 -- Northern Indiana Grazing Conference, Shipshewana. Call 260-463-3471, ext. 3.

**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

**March 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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