Fall Growth Won't Smother Alfalfa This
Alfalfa has grown exceptionally well in Ohio this fall,
reports Mark Sulc, Ohio State University agronomist. "I have received
many questions as to whether this amount of growth going into the winter
can harm the stand," he reports. "The fear is that the alfalfa will
smother itself out this winter."
Sulc assures producers the excessive alfalfa growth won't harm the
stand. "I have let stands of alfalfa go into winter with as much growth
as we see this fall, and I've never experienced a problem or seen the
crop smother out," he says. "Think about this: 75-80% of the alfalfa
crop this time of year is water. In other words, the dry matter content
is around 20-25%. So divide what you see out there by four, and that
will be how much residue remains after a couple of hard frosts. There
will be much less residue left than it appears right now."
If it were to snow early on warm soils covered with lush alfalfa, and
the snow were to stay all winter, producers might see some snow mold on
the alfalfa, Sulc notes. But that would be very rare in Ohio, with the
exception of the lakeside snow belt. In southern Ohio, it's possible
that alfalfa weevils could lay eggs in the alfalfa, potentially
increasing weevil populations early next spring. However, that scenario
could happen even with a lot less growth, and other factors also
influence weevil populations in spring.
"There really is no need to take a cutting now in order to remove the
large amount of alfalfa growth," says Sulc. Considering all factors,
cutting earlier in October probably holds more risk to the stand than
not cutting. Cutting too early in October means there will likely be
enough good weather left for the alfalfa to regrow. "Regrowth will burn
up precious root reserves that are needed for the winter and early
spring," Sulc says. If the forage is really needed, he recommends
considering a late fall harvest if the soil is well-drained. "By late, I
mean as close as possible to a killing frost of alfalfa, which is 25
degrees Fahrenheit for several hours," he says. This often doesn't
happen until sometime in November in Ohio. "I know that the weather is
usually lousy in November for cutting forage, but waiting to get closer
to the killing frost will prevent regrowth and loss of energy reserves,
and will reduce the risk of less vigorous stands next spring."
A late-fall harvest should only be considered if the soil is
well-drained and there is no history or risk of heaving on that soil.
Without residue cover, the soil temperature will fluctuate much more and
heaving is more likely. "This happened in a study at Wooster, when a
Nov. 1 cutting resulted in heaving of up to 50% of the plants," Sulc
reports. "Where no fall cutting was made, less than 10% of the plants
Fall management is one of the few controllable factors that will
potentially influence the health of an alfalfa stand next spring, Sulc
says. "If you don't need the forage, walk away from it and let it
insulate your stand this winter. It won't smother out because of
excessive alfalfa growth. If you need the forage, then take a cutting
the last week of October or early November, and only on well-drained
soils. Also, leave a 6" stubble. If you do cut this fall, leave some
strips or areas that you don't cut within the same field. You might
learn something interesting next spring about fall cutting on your farm
by having those side-by-side comparisons!"
Contact Sulc at 614-292-9084.
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Taking A Closer Look At Rail Transportation
The Red River Farm Network reports that South Dakota
Sen. Tim Johnson wants the Federal Trade Commission's inspector general
to investigate the high cost of rail transportation. While rail rates
have come down, they remain at least triple what they were a year ago.
"We're currently seeing prices between $1,800 and $2,000 per car for a
110-car shuttle train; rates have spiked as much as $2,600 per car,"
said Johnson. "Last year at this same time, prices hovered at around
$600 per car."
The National Grain and Feed Association is asking the Surface
Transportation Board to establish a more balanced regulatory oversight
for the rail industry, according to the network. Without it, the group
warns that U.S. agriculture faces a huge capacity challenge in the years
ahead. A combination of tight rail capacity, problems on the upper
Mississippi and Illinois waterways and hurricane-related disruptions
will impact this harvest season.
Meanwhile, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has outlined a fuel
surcharge program that will take effect Jan. 1. The new system for
agriculture and coal customers is based on mileage. A BNSF spokesman
said a mileage-based fuel surcharge is considered a more fair and
equitable way of sharing transportation costs.
Source: Red River Farm Network.
Vietnamese Dairy Herds Create Possible Market For U.S.
Ho Chi Minh City officials have expressed a goal to
expand the city's dairy herd to 80,000 cows by 2010, according to
reports in the Saigon Times. The city is working to turn acres
that have been devoted to rice cultivation into farmland to help support
the increased cow herd. The city currently has 54,000 dairy cows, with
plans to increase the herd to 57,000 cows by the end of 2005.
The National Hay Association has been working to develop a new market
for U.S. hay in Vietnam. The NHA has spent the past three years working
with dairy nutritionists and consultants, in addition to running field
trials with U.S. hay in Vietnamese dairies, says Don Kieffer, executive
director. Ron Anderson, Ellensburg, WA, will give a presentation about
opening the Vietnamese market for U.S. hay during the Western Hay
Business Conference & Expo in Loveland, CO, Nov. 29-30. Learn more about
the conference at www.hayconference.com.
Source: Saigon Times and Dairyline Radio.
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Alfalfa production is expected to be a bit below normal
in much of Idaho this year because cool, wet weather delayed first
cutting and prevented producers from managing second cutting in a timely
manner. That's according to a report in the state's Ag Weekly
publication. Spring rains may also have contributed to challenges in
finding high-quality hay, although some regions put up some extremely
good hay. Hay prices remained steady last week, with supreme-quality hay
bringing $128-135/ton and premium dairy hay selling for around $117.
Good-quality hay is worth around $100, with fair-quality hay in the
$70-75 range. Ag Weekly says adequate local forage crops and
falling commodity prices have put southern Idaho dairies in a good
position going into winter. According to USDA, Idaho dairy cow numbers
were 39,000 higher last month than in September 2004.
Minnesota Auction Report
The Pipestone Livestock Auction Market sold 10 loads of
hay and straw at its Oct. 18 sale. One load of utility-quality large
square bales of alfalfa sold for $42.50/ton. That same quality in large
round bales sold for $32.50/ton, while round bales of good-quality
alfalfa brought $70/ton. The top bid for good-quality small squares was
$82.50/ton. Good grass hay sold for $75/ton in small square bales;
$62.50/ton in large rounds.
Contact the Pipestone Livestock Auction Market at 507-825-3306.
Many hay producers in parts of Wisconsin faced a
challenging year of winterkill problems followed by dry weather. "We
didn't get off to the best start this year because we had some
winterkill concerns and that put folks in a position where they were
scrambling this spring in order find hay stocks to feed," explains Ryan
Tichich, Polk County extension agent, Balsam Lake. "Then people had to
make decisions whether hayfields needed to be tilled up and planted to
corn, which meant they had to make some unplanned changes in their
rotations." Tichich says ice cover in fields was one of the main
contributing factors to the winterkill. "Rain fell and snow melted and
then refroze," he notes. "We had a good 2" of ice on our fields for
around eight weeks, especially in some of the low areas. It was a lot
like putting pavement on the stand for eight weeks because the ice
suffocated the roots." Flat fields tended to be hit harder than rolling
hills because the water didn't drain off.
Excellent rain fell throughout the area through June. First crop was
sketchy for hay producers because it rained nearly every day. However,
the second crop had excellent yields and quality. "Moving into July and
August it got very dry and affected third-crop yields, plus new seedings
struggled with the dry conditions," Tichich says. The Spooner, WI,
research station had the driest July on record. "Folks in the northern
part of Polk County were hit pretty hard this year, first with
winterkill and then with the drought and lack of corn yields, too." He
says it remains to be seen how many people will strive for a late-fall
cutting after the first frost. "I think there is pretty good demand,"
Tichich says. "There is hay in western Wisconsin. But as you get into
the central and eastern parts of the state there was also tremendous
winterkill, and then they were hit hard by the drought. They are
scrambling to get hay or corn silage."
The state of Wisconsin is requiring all farms to have completed premises
identification by Nov. 1, as a step toward achieving animal
identification of all U.S. farm animals. This is a hot topic among the
state's livestock producers at the moment, Tichich says.
Contact Tichich at 715-485-8600.
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. www.bayercropscienceus.com
**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 visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
**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 alfalfa.ucdavis.edu or contact email@example.com.
**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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 505-626-5677 or
**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
**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 www.idahohay.com/.
**March 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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