Urban Garden Centers Market Hay, Straw To Area
Some producers have found a market for small square hay
and straw bales at urban garden centers that strive to help meet
gardeners' autumn needs. "We sell around 5,000 bales of hay and straw
during the season," says Gary Affolter, garden hard goods buyer for
Gertens Garden Center, Inver Grove Heights, MN. Gertens mainly caters to
gardeners in the suburbs and communities surrounding Minneapolis and St.
Paul. "Some of our customers buy bales for covering perennials and roses
for the winter, while some bales are sold for fall decorating," Affolter
explains. "We carry hay year-round and sell around 200 bales per month
in May and June too, as people are looking for hay to use as mulch in
gardens." Affolter notes that most of his hay-buying customers leave the
store with between 2-6 bales.
Gertens Garden Center sells small square bales of reed canarygrass hay,
alfalfa, and wheat straw for around $6/bale. Affolter says customers ask
specifically for reed canarygrass for their gardens, perhaps because
they know it has fewer weed seeds than other grasses. "We are looking
for the cleanest hay we can find," Affolter says. He gets most of the
garden center's hay and straw from producers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and
North Dakota. Miniature straw bales are a popular item in Gertens'
decorating department. "We sell plastic-wrapped straw bales that are
about one-fourth the size of a regular bale," Affolter says. "We can
hardly keep up with the demand for the mini bales. I'm always on the
lookout for additional suppliers."
Contact Affolter at 651-239-1307.
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New 6,000-Cow Dairy Planned In Iowa
A proposed Iowa dairy could become a potential customer
for the state's dairy hay producers, according to recent news reports.
Natural Milk Production, LLP, Shelby County Dairy, is expected to
operate a 6,000-cow herd, employ 60 people on-site and use 600,000 lbs
of feed per day when in full production, according to reports in the
Harlan Tribune. A permit application for the new dairy has been
submitted to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources with hopes for a
December approval. Plans are to begin dirt work construction as early as
January and barn construction by April or May. Project managers
anticipate being able to start milking a limited amount of cattle around
October 2006, although it will take up to two years for the facility to
operate at full capacity. Upon completion, the new dairy will milk cows
24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Source: Harlan Tribune.
Alfalfa Is Sensitive To Low Soil pH
Of the forage crops, alfalfa is the most sensitive to
soil pH, according to research reports in both the Pennsylvania
Forage & Grassland News and University of Kentucky Forage
News. The most pH-sensitive forage crops after alfalfa include red
clover, white clover, birdsfoot trefoil and then the forage grasses. Low
soil pH levels, according to researchers, influence the nitrogen
fixation ability of the plants. The bacteria that live in legume roots
and are responsible for nitrogen fixation aren't very active in low-pH
soils. This means the crop can become nitrogen-deficient and lose yield.
However, if N is applied to the low-pH soils, alfalfa yield stays high.
As University of Kentucky forage experts explain it, it all boils down
to adding less-expensive lime to maintain the proper pH or adding N.
Sources: University of Kentucky Forage News and Pennsylvania
Forage & Grassland News.
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Ron Tombaugh, owner of Dart Hay Service, Inc., was
making baleage on his farm near Streator, IL, last week to try to make
up for some of the lost yield from a dry 2005 growing season. "I only
got about half of my hay crop this year because of the drought," he
reports. "We've been exceptionally dry all year. Our corn crop normally
yields around 150 bu/acre and it was in the 80- to 90-bu/acre range."
Hay demand is good, both locally and nationwide, Tombaugh says. "Fuel
prices are playing a big part in getting the hay to where it needs to
be," he notes. "Fuel prices have added another 15-18% to the freight
Tombaugh delivers hay throughout the country. Because his farm is
located on a state highway, he can ship hay year-round. He raises 400
acres of hay and produces wheat and barley straw. He has a contract to
supply a mushroom farm with 4 x 4 bales of straw, directly out of the
field. He also produces 1-lb, 5 x 7" bales of straw for sale to craft
markets and decorators throughout the U.S.
Tombaugh was recently elected vice president of the National Hay
Association. He is a past member of the National Forage Testing
Association Board of Directors and past president of the American Forage
and Grassland Council (AFGC).
Call Tombaugh at 309-531-HAAY, or visit his web site at www.DartHay.com.
Many North Dakota hay producers found it difficult to
make high-quality hay this season, according to Dwain Meyer, North
Dakota State University extension agronomist. "Our hay yields were very
high this year because of above-normal precipitation. But our quality is
very poor because we had continuing rain problems while trying to get
hay up," Meyer says.
"We had some of the worst spring damage to alfalfa in a long time," he
adds. "The late-April frost came when alfalfa was in the 3-5" height
stage. "We got an 18-degree frost that occurred twice on back-to-back
nights. We had some of the worst stem loss ever seen in the 36 years I
have been here." Because of the frost, first-harvest yield was down
slightly. Overall yields for the season, however, were actually above
normal after the wet summer.
Meyer expects top-notch hay to be hard to find in North Dakota this
winter. "Beef is our No. 1 livestock unit in the state, and I would
expect beef-cow hay to be priced relatively low because of the increased
amount of poorer-quality hay available."
An increasing amount of organic hay is being produced in North Dakota.
"More organic crop producers are using organic alfalfa as a nitrogen
source in their rotations with cereal crops and soybeans," Meyer
explains. "And they are finding there is a growing market for organic
alfalfa, predominantly in the horse market close to the Twin Cities in
Contact Meyer at 701-231-8154, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of Texas is dry, and hay shortages are expected in
the near future, say extension experts. "Hay will be scarce and
expensive this fall and winter," reports Larry Redmon, Texas A&M
extension forage specialist. Hay producers in central Texas reported a
range of 50-75% crop loss. Travis Miller, extension program leader, says
the majority of the state's hay crop is produced in areas that have been
very dry this year, and hay harvests overall have been well-below
average. Normally, producers in eastern Texas take three to four cuts of
hay per year. This year they had one or two short cuts, says Joe
Vendramini, extension forage specialist in Overton.
Miller says this year's hay harvests in some areas of the state won't be
able to support livestock producers' hay needs. Carryover from a large
2004 hay crop, however, will help cover some of the shortage. Vendramini
notes past dry periods have also caused the nutritive value of eastern
Texas grasses to fall below average. In spite of this, Redmon says most
of the state's hay should still be of good quality.
Charles Stichler, extension agronomist in Uvalde, says producers in his
district have not cut adequate amounts of hay this year, and the quality
was low. Bermudagrass is the most common hay grown here, Miller says.
Sorghum-sudan, native grasses, and kleingrass are harvested in western
parts of the state. Brent Bean, extension agronomist in Amarillo, says
sorghum-sudangrass and alfalfa are common in his district. The
sorghum-sudan, generally grown on dry land or under limited irrigation,
is only cut once. Not a high-quality hay, it is mostly fed cattle during
winter. The alfalfa is grown under irrigation, and most producers get
five cuttings per year.
High-quality hay currently ranges $80-100/ton in parts of the state; the
average price is about $68-70/ton. Alfalfa sells for $170-175/ton.
"While it has been a very dry year for the eastern, coastal and southern
regions of the state, much of the High Plains and far western Texas have
seen above-average moisture conditions," Miller says.
Source: Texas A&M University.
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
Western Hay Business Conference And Expo, Nov.
The 2005 Western Hay Business Conference and Expo kicks
off Nov. 29 with tips from innovative hay growers on opening new markets
and expanding sales. Ron Anderson, a hay marketer and past president of
the National Hay Association (NHA), will talk about how 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. Speakers Bill
Wailes, Colorado State University, and Barney Little, Aurora Organic
Dairy, will offer views on organic hay markets, in addition to providing
tips about what organic-dairy hay buyers are looking for from hay
The popular topic of targeting hay sales to the fast-growing horse
market will be addressed in a session discussing the size of the U.S.
horse hay market. That session will also look at both where the market
is located and what horse or boarding stable owners consider quality
On Nov. 30, speakers will discuss how alfalfa is being designed 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. Breakout sessions will inform
participants about computerizing their hay businesses and about the
latest 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 complete the conference
Plan now to attend the Nov. 29-30 Western Hay Business Conference & Expo
at The Ranch conference facility in Loveland, CO. Learn more about
conference topics and find contact information for local hotels at www.hayconference.com. Call Cindy Kramer at
952-851-4698 for more information.
**Nov. 21-22 -- Iowa Forage and Grassland Council
Annual Meeting, Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn. Contact Joan O'Brien
**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 email@example.com.
**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 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.
**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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