Alfalfa Baleage Fits Producer's Schedule, Serves
Producing high-quality alfalfa baleage works well for
Don C. Myers, Spring Mills, PA. His careful attention to quality has
helped him maintain a consistent market with area dairy producers. He
discovered that making round bale silage gives him some flexibility when
dealing with weather pressure, too. This flexibility was appreciated
after years of trying to contend with rain showers and quality losses
while making hay, he says.
Myers raises 50 acres of alfalfa in central Pennsylvania. He usually
produces around 500 bales of silage per year; however, dry conditions
this season cut that total almost in half. "I'm very particular about
quality," he says. "When I got into baleage about seven years ago, a lot
of other people were getting into it, too, because it seemed like an
easy way to make hay without the weather risk. I figured I would have to
do something different in order to make customers choose my product over
John Doe's baleage."
Myers focused on producing a premium product. "I bale in the evening in
order to take advantage of the dew. I put preservatives in my baleage
and triple-wrap the bales, while most universities say to double-wrap,"
he says. "I'm very particular in terms of management and my customers
know they are getting a consistent product from me. My customers are
getting a product that generally tests over 150 relative feed value,
with some testing over 200." He tries to keep his baleage in the 50-55%
moisture range. He's very conscientious about weed control and proper
He charges in the neighborhood of $50/bale. "My bales are 4' x 4'4" and
normally have 850 to 950 lbs of dry hay equivalent in them, so at
$50/bale I'm getting about $110 to $112/ton for dry hay equivalent," he
says. "In my area it would be impossible to get that amount of hay put
up as dry hay without some loss due to rain. I can do 20 acres of
baleage per day and I get it cut when it should be cut. I eliminate
weather risk and increase yield without the harvest and storage loss I
would have with dry hay. It works well with my schedule." Myers
typically gets four to five cuttings per year.
He maintains a Web site to show potential customers how his product is
produced. "I started the site when I was working to get a market
established," he says. "I had a harder time initially getting the right
market for my product. I sold some baleage at an auction and advertised
in local ag publications before I found a consistent market." Most of
his baleage now goes to Amish dairy farmers, and he gets many new
customers by word of mouth.
In an effort to help other farmers, Myers recently made a DVD outlining
the steps he takes to produce quality baleage. The DVD will be available
later this winter.
Contact Myers at 814-422-8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or
learn more about the Myers Farm operation at myersfarm.com.
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
Illinois Growers Can Certify Weed-Free Hay And Straw,
Illinois hay producers will now be able to show proof
to buyers that their bales don't contain noxious weeds, thanks to a new
Certified Weed Free Forage and Mulch Program.
The Illinois Crop Improvement Association (ICIA), through the North
American Weed Management Association, is offering the program. It's much
like Indiana's Noxious Weed Seed-Free Forage and Mulch Certification
Program mentioned in last weeks' eHay Weekly.
For complete information on the Illinois program, visit www.nawma.org or contact
Ryan Johnson at 217-359-4053 or email@example.com. For more on
both programs, read the weed-free article on Hay & Forage
Grower's home page at www.hayandforage.com.
Texas Irrigation Scheduling Network
The Texas High Plains Evapotranspiration Network, which
provides plant water-use data to irrigators, has been upgraded and is
easier to use. The improved network now provides users with data in
several formats that can be plotted over the Web.
A new automated emailing system emails weather station outputs and data
files to users rather than having them faxed. A user can then easily
select single or multiple stations from which to get crop water use and
meteorological data on a daily basis, says Thomas Marek, Texas Ag
Experiment Station ag engineer.
The new database Web site is located at txhighplainset.tamu.edu. It provides convenient access
to the network data sets, background information on data applications,
network structure, and other information and tools. Users can select
hourly or daily data for specific dates and get the information in
either a data table, text file, graph or advance graph form. Current
electronic users can continue to download daily files through the
current Web site, but the new site has query or search capability for
individual data parameters, such as soil temperature or wind speed, for
"Knowing how much crop water is required in real time is key to true
irrigation scheduling for area producers and is what the (network)
provides in a direct, user-friendly format," says Marek. He and Dana
Porter, Texas extension irrigation specialist and experiment station
engineer from Lubbock, will unveil the latest changes and capabilities
at the Panhandle Farm and Ranch Management Symposium, Dec. 1 during the
Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show.
Evapotranspiration is calculated by applying climate data, such as
temperature, solar radiation, wind and relative humidity. This data is
collected from different weather stations to estimate the water demand
for a specific panhandle area. Some state networks use alfalfa as a
reference or control crop, but the Texas High Plains network uses a
well-watered tall fescue grass as a reference crop, which is more suited
for the region, Marek says.
Source: Texas A&M.
Hay Barn Web Site Helps Gulf Coast Ranchers Locate
An online classified advertising site that lists hay,
hay equipment and haying services for sale is offering help to Gulf
Coast ranchers hard-hit by hurricanes. The Hay Barn Web site, www.haybarn.com, is
offering growers in that area a free hay-wanted ad on the site. Hay
producers and sellers in neighboring regions can then contact those
needing hay directly.
As winter approaches, hay is becoming increasingly difficult to find in
parts of the Gulf Coast. Unusually dry conditions in southern and
eastern Texas this summer reduced the number of hay cuttings, further
limiting the hay supply to hurricane-damaged states. According to USDA's
Drought Monitor, moderate drought conditions extend from Texas through
Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Hay shortages extend as far as
Missouri, where state officials are waiving permit fees for hauling hay
within the state through Dec. 31.
"Hay is in short supply, and quality hay is going at premium rates this
fall," says Leslie Neal, owner of the Hay Barn site. "We're looking to
help broaden the source region for Gulf Coast producers, bringing in hay
from farther out."
For more information, visit www.haybarn.com or e-mail Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For industry-leading cutting capacity, no
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a new level of CONTROL that makes you more productive. Choose from a
broad selection of sickle, disc and draper headers to match your
capacity and performance needs. To learn more, see your local New
Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377. www.newholland.com/h4/
Northern Florida has been experiencing unseasonably
warm temperatures and dry weather this fall, according to Andy Burns,
Larsen Farms, Alachua. Early summer was unusually wet and some producers
had a difficult time getting hay put up in May and well into June. "The
unseasonably warm weather this fall meant pasture was still available
and hay from outside the state had been moving slowly until recently,"
he says. "Now there is brisk demand." The Ocala area received the first
significant frost of the season last week. Burns says the quality of
locally grown hay is lower than normal. He doesn't expect a lot of
quality hay will be available in northern Florida, so prices may be
moving higher. Fuel has been a hot topic among hay producers and
customers during the last six to eight weeks, too.
Some racetracks sustained damage when Hurricane Wilma moved across
southern Florida earlier this fall. Some dairies were impacted as well,
He works for the Florida branch of Larsen Farms, a hay operation based
in Idaho. "Larsen Farms ships hay products by rail primarily from the
western U.S. into the southeastern part of the country for sale to
dairies and horse farms," Burns explains.
Learn more about Larsen Farms at larsenfarms.com/hay_feed_overview.asp,
or call Burns at 386-755-3300.
Iowa Auction Results
The Nov. 23 hay auction at Fort Atkinson Hay, Fort
Atkinson, IA, had offerings from Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and many
parts of Iowa. A load of small square bales sold for $230/ton. That was
the top price among four loads of fourth-cutting small squares. The
lowest price was $125/ton. Six loads of first-cutting small squares
brought $95-115/ton, while one load of second-cutting small squares sold
for $100/ton. Eight loads of third-crop small squares ranged from $85 to
Two loads of second-crop big square bales sold for $60 and $95/ton,
while five loads of third-crop big squares ranged from $65 and $120/ton.
Two loads of fourth-crop big squares sold for $60/ton.
Thirteen loads of first-cutting round bales topped at $70/ton and
bottomed at $40/ton. Five loads of second-crop round bales sold for
$40-70/ton, and six loads of third-crop round bales brought $65-80/ton.
Five loads of fourth-crop round bales ranged from $30 to $90/ton.
Three loads of new-seeding round bales sold sold for $50-65/ton.
Eight loads of small square straw bales brought between $100 and
$145/ton. One load of big square straw bales sold for $80/ton, and one
load of big round straw bales sold for $60/ton.
Two loads of round-baled cornstalks sold for $40/ton.
Hay auctions are held every Wednesday at 1 p.m. central time. Contact
the auction at 563-534-7513, or visit www.fortatkinsonhay.com.
Hay prices are strong in Kansas, says Steve Hessman,
Kansas Hay Market News, Kansas Department of Agriculture. It's very
difficult to find dairy hay in the state. "I thought all of our dairies
had their hay needs covered, but I recently found out that one of the
state's largest dairies could use another 1,500 tons, and I don't know
where it's going to find it," he says. "We have not seen the prices on
dairy hay like they have on the West Coast or in Pennsylvania, but
they're still good. Supreme-quality hay is in the $120-140/ton range,
with premium selling for $110-120. Some lower-quality hay with 160 RFV
(relative feed value) and some 150 RFV hay with a good green color have
been selling for about $90/ton, with some hay selling for up to $105/ton
that we would not normally think of as dairy hay."
Hessman says much of the state had a good first cutting with quite a few
tons of dairy hay put up during that cutting. "Then it turned hot with
some dry spells and a lot of hay was put up dry and green, but it didn't
test well," he notes. "Alfalfa likes sunshine, but it doesn't like
extreme heat and we had quite a bit of that this summer." As a result,
not a lot of dairy hay was put up in the second, third and fourth
cuttings. Unless irrigators had their fourth cutting off early, they
didn't water the fifth cutting because it became too expensive to
justify the cost of gas to run the wells. "We didn't have as many acres
irrigated, so we didn't have as many tons produced on that last cutting
as we would have had the gas price been lower," Hessman explains. "But
there was a ready, waiting market for the hay. Much of the good,
irrigated hay was bought right out of the field behind the baler. That
was a good indicator that there was strong demand for that kind of hay."
The grinding-hay market was fairly flat for two years, until recently,
Hessman reports. "Grinding hay came up about $5/ton about four weeks ago
in central Kansas," he says. "I attribute that to having a few more
cattle on feed and some lighter-weight cattle because the drought areas
of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri weaned their calves and shipped them out
when they didn't have feed for them. I think some of those calves ended
up in feedyards that our southwestern Kansas grinders deliver hay to in
Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma." There has been good hay movement from
Kansas into the drought areas in surrounding states. Hessman expects the
movement to those areas to remain fairly active all winter.
"We did have good prospects for wheat pasture, and that always
encourages more cattle and calves to be bought and brought to western
Kansas for grazing," Hessman continues. "When you're getting those
cattle started, they eat hay, too, until they get turned out, so that
helped the movement of hay." All of these factors have contributed to a
good market for both grinding and stock cow hay. Three weeks ago, hay
prices in southwestern Kansas jumped $10/ton in a three- to four-day
period. "When markets jump that much at once, everyone takes notice,"
Hessman says. "The market has been active ever since as people work to
make sure they have their needs covered."
Contact Hessman at 620-227-8881.
NK Brand Alfalfas deliver
more quality AND more yield. Our premium alfalfas, like Genoa,
Expedition and Boulder, combine high nutritional values with high
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healthier stands. The result? More profit from your alfalfa acres -
whether you feed it or sell it. www.nk-us.com
MFA Farm Bill Forum Is Dec. 7-8
The Midwest Forage Association will host a Farm Bill
Forum and Research Summit, Dec. 7-8 at the Holiday Inn Select
International Airport Hotel in Bloomington, MN. The association is
holding this meeting to identify farm policy issues on which the
organization should focus, as well as to give producers an update on
forage research. There is no charge to attend. Organizers say producer
input is crucial to help create a focused message from forage producers
as part of the farm bill debate.
A variety of speakers will address topics ranging from the ag
appropriations process and the next farm bill, to the impact of alfalfa
hay NDF digestibility on dairy cow performance and Roundup Ready
alfalfa. Current forage industry research projects will be explained in
presentations and via poster sessions.
Learn more about the program at www.midwestforage.org, or contact the Midwest Forage
Association at 651-484-3888 or email@example.com.
**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 -- 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. 14-15 -- Kansas Hay and Grazing Conference, Hutchinson, at
the fairgrounds. For pre-registration or more information, call KFRM
Radio at 888-550-5376.
**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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