Hay Production Dropped 5% In 2005
USDA has estimated that U.S. growers harvested 151
million tons of dry hay last year, 5% less than in 2004. In its January
Crop Production report, released last week, USDA put the total harvested
hay acreage at 61.6 million, down less than 1% from 2004 acreage. The
average yield, at 2.44 tons/acre, was down 0.11 ton.
Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures totaled 75.8 million tons in
2005, up slightly from the 2004 figure. Harvested area, at 22.4 million
acres, was 3% higher than in 2004. Yields averaged 3.38 tons/acre, down
While harvested hay acreage increased in 2005, it was still the
second-lowest acreage since 1952. Compared to 2004, states in the
northern Great Plains showed the largest increases in harvested acreage
last year. Montana and North Dakota both harvested 350,000 acres more
than in the previous year as a result of improved soil moisture
conditions. This allowed growers to make multiple cuttings of alfalfa.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Coast states all showed declines in harvested
acreage, with Oregon showing the greatest decline -- 80,000 acres.
Yields declined across most of the southern Great Plains and Corn Belt,
as weather conditions throughout much of the growing season were less
favorable than in 2004. Drought in several of these states limited the
number of cuttings and reduced yields. The largest decreases in yield
from 2004 occurred in Arkansas and Missouri -- 1.2 and 1.1 tons,
Production of all other hay in 2005 totaled 74.8 million tons, down 10%
from the 2004 total. Area for harvest, at 39.3 million acres, was 2%
below the 2004 figure. The average yield is estimated at 1.91 tons/acre,
down 0.15 ton from 2004's record high yield.
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Dec. 1 Hay Stocks Decline 8%
Stocks of all hay stored on farms totaled 105 million
tons on Dec. 1, 2005, 8% less than on that date the previous year, USDA
reports. Hay disappearance from May to December totaled 73.3 million
tons compared to 69.7 million tons for the same period in 2004.
Compared to Dec. 1, 2004, hay stocks decreased in most of the Corn Belt
and southern Great Plains states. In many of these states, drought
conditions during the summer months resulted in increased supplemental
hay feeding. Meanwhile, stocks increased compared to 2004 in most of the
northern Great Plains states, as above-average rainfall and warm
temperatures allowed farmers to get multiple cuttings and provided good
pasture and grazing conditions.
New Alfalfa Seedings Increase
Growers seeded 3.29 million acres of alfalfa and
alfalfa mixtures during 2005, 18% more than the 2.79 million acres
seeded in 2004. Seeded acreage increased or was unchanged from last year
in all but six states. The largest increases occurred in Wisconsin, New
York and Minnesota, with increases of 150,000, 70,000 and 55,000 acres,
USDA Reports Total Forage Production For 18
The 2005 total haylage and green-chop production for 18
states in USDA's forage program was 29.4 million tons, of which 21
million tons were from alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures. Wisconsin, the
leading haylage and green-chop state, harvested 1.6 million acres of
them in 2005, including 1.4 million acres of alfalfa and alfalfa
mixtures. The total area harvested in the 18 states was 38.2 million
acres, including 16.9 million acres of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures.
The forage program measures annual production of forage crops, with an
emphasis on total alfalfa production. Before 2005, only eight states
were in the program. Acres, yield and production are reported for
haylage and green-chop together, and for total forage production.
Haylage and green-chop production is converted to 13% moisture and
combined with dry hay production to derive the total forage production.
Tough Times In Texas And Oklahoma
According to the Herald Democrat newspaper,
recent grass fires across Texas and Oklahoma have compounded the misery
of many farmers and ranchers dealing with the effects of one of the
worst dry spells on record. The grass fires have forced some ranchers to
buy hay to feed their livestock or to lease new grazing land.
Dozens of farmers and ranchers across Texas have lost property, income
and livestock to the blazes that have ravaged more than 250,000 acres in
northern and western Texas since late December. Besides cattle and hay,
the losses included hundreds of miles of fences and dozens of barns,
tractors and other equipment. Grass fires have burned more than 400,000
acres in Oklahoma since Nov. 1.
Exact financial losses are not yet available because ranchers are still
assessing the damage, according to USDA. Even before the wildfires,
Texas' hay crop was expected to be worth only about half as much as
2004's $800 million crop because of the drought, according to Carl
Anderson, retired Texas A&M University ag economist. Last fall, before
the wildfires, Texas agriculture officials estimated the drought could
cost $1 billion by spring, including lost income from low hay
production, higher feed costs and the selling of cows sooner and for
lower prices. President Bush has issued a disaster declaration that
makes federal aid available to nine Texas counties.
Source: Herald Democrat Online.
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Hay and forage crops went into the winter in good
shape, with no dry weather concerns, reports Keith Johnson, Purdue
University agronomist. "The greatest fear I have right now is that
extensive periods of warm weather, followed by winter conditions, may
cause heaving of alfalfa tap roots, especially on less-than-well-drained
sites," he says. "If we have many more of these roller coaster rides
from warm to cold weather, people need to scout their fields during the
late winter and very early spring to see if there is crop damage."
Johnson says cold weather in December caused snow to stay on the ground
for three weeks, which is unusual in Indiana. "Stockpiling had occurred
in many rotationally grazed pastures. There wasn't enough snow to
prevent grazing, and some grazing is still occurring," he says. With
recent warmer temperatures, cattle haven't eaten as much hay as they
might have had it been colder. Even with the warm weather, there is
still good demand for hay, Johnson reports.
He says it will be interesting to see how much Roundup Ready alfalfa
gets planted in the Midwest in the next few years. "It will probably
best fit the niche of people who have special weed problems that cannot
be easily controlled with alternative means," Johnson says. "Curly dock
can be a problem, particularly in the cash hay crop. The stems of that
weed do not dry down as quickly as does alfalfa. So not only does it not
make desirable-looking hay, many times I have seen enough moisture
retention in curly dock stems that they can cause pockets of mold in
hay. Examples like that may increase people's willingness to purchase
Roundup Ready seed."
Johnson says Indiana hay and straw producers now have the opportunity to
certify their crops as noxious weed and troublesome-plant free. "The
Indiana Crop Improvement Association has taken the lead in the state to
be the inspectors," he says. He notes that growers will probably be more
willing to pay the necessary fees to have fields scouted and certified
if customer demand for certified hay and straw increases. Horse owners,
landscapers and highway construction project managers may benefit most
from certified noxious weed and troublesome plant-free forages.
According to recent USDA figures, Indiana's alfalfa hay production
declined 10% in 2005, to 1.29 million tons. Other hay production, at
775,000 tons, decreased 11%.
Contact Johnson at 765-494-4800 or email@example.com.
It has been a relatively warm winter in most of
Tennessee, says Gary Bates, University of Tennessee extension forage
specialist, Knoxville. Although western Tennessee received moisture from
the remnants of Hurricane Katrina, parts of the state are hungry for
moisture. "People didn't get as much pasture reseeding done as they
would have liked because of the dry weather, and we didn't get as much
fescue growth in the fall as we are used to," Bates says. However, there
seems to be enough hay to meet demand, he adds.
The hottest topic in the state's hay industry is an increased interest
in growing bermudagrass for the horse hay market. "People are taking
some acres out of orchardgrass or fescue in order to grow bermudagrass,
and are also looking to get into the horse hay market to replace tobacco
as a cash crop," Bates explains. "I'm getting more questions about
producing hay for the horse market than any other hay-related topic
Contact Bates at 865-974-7208.
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both seedling and established alfalfa can have a significant effect
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Plan For 2006 Midwest Hay Business Conference And
Commercial hay growers can discuss the latest in
innovative markets, forage testing and more at the Midwest Hay Business
Conference & Expo. Sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower, it will be
held March 14-15 at the Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD.
The first day of the program will include a panel of growers who have
researched and marketed their forage products into new venues. Experts
will also analyze the costs and pricing to achieve a profitable hay
business and offer tips for successful selling to the fast-growing horse
University of Wisconsin forage specialist Dan Undersander will examine
forage analyses and whether they're accurate and worth the cost on March
15. Creating a successful dairy hay business using artificial drying and
a unique soil fertility plan, opening new markets by changing the
package, alfalfas with added value and new anti-terrorism legislation
and how it affects hay growers, will also be discussed.
Registration costs $150/person and includes the two-day program, five
hours of trade-show exhibits, an evening reception on day one and
breakfast and lunch on day two. A second person from the same operation
can attend for $125. Registration deadline is Feb. 19. For more
information, or to register, call 800-722-5334 and ask for Cindy Kramer.
Or visit hayconference.com.
Early registrants may also want to make hotel reservations at
605-336-0650 and ask for discounted rooms at $69/night.
Indiana Forage Council Meeting Is Feb.
The Indiana Forage Council Annual Meeting and Seminar
Presentation will be held Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Cornerstone Hall in
Salem. The meeting will be begin at 4 p.m., with a buffet meal to follow
at 6 p.m. A producer panel and featured speaker, Cliff Schuette, Breese,
IL, will follow dinner.
Schuette will speak on the topic, "Money-Making Annual Forages." Spring-
and fall-calving cow herds graze on different types of forages that can
grow or be stockpiled all year at Schuette Farms. Schuette will talk
about how he uses endophyte-friendly tall fescue, oats, turnips, rye,
red clover, pearl millet, BMR sorghum-sudangrass, annual ryegrass, corn
residues and crabgrass to graze year-round. He attains year-round
grazing by learning to match each forage crop to a time of the year, and
utilizes a management-intensive grazing system. During the last eight
years, feed costs have ranged from $58 to $150 per cow. A profit has
been guaranteed every year, even with low cattle prices.
Finished cattle are marketed through Schuette's cousins' five grocery
stores, thus ensuring a $50 to $100 premium, in addition to gaining
carcass data and consumer feedback.
The producer panel will consist of Paul Hirt, Decatur County; Roger Dale
Robinson, Orange County; and Norbert Schaefer, Jefferson County.
Attendance at the 4 p.m. annual meeting is not a requirement for
participation in the rest of the event. Contact Lisa Metts to RSVP by
Feb. 8, at firstname.lastname@example.org or
**Jan. 7-22 -- National Western Stock Show,
National Western Complex, Denver. Learn more at www.nationalwestern.com.
**Jan. 18 -- Tri-State Hay and Pasture Conference, Garret
College, McHenry, MD. Call 301-334-6960 for registration information.
Learn more at agnr.umd.edu/ForageEvents.
**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 -- Southern Maryland Hay and Pasture Conference, Isaac
Walton League Outdoor Education Center, Waldorf. Call 301-475-4484 or
**Jan. 19-20 -- Delmarva Hay and Pasture Conference, Delaware
State Fairgrounds, Harrington. Contact Richard Taylor at email@example.com or 302-831-1383, or
**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. 21 -- Winter Grazing of Tall Fescue Pasture Walk, Wye
Research and Education Center, Wye Angus Facility, Queenstown, MD. Learn
more at agnr.umd.edu/ForageEvents.
**Jan. 23-25 -- Silage for Dairy Farms Conference, Radisson Penn
Harris Hotel, Camp Hill, PA. Call 607-255-7654 or visit www.nraes.org.
**Jan. 24 -- Central Maryland Hay and Pasture Conference, Carroll
County Agricultural Center, Westminster. Contact Doug Tregoning at email@example.com, or call 301-590-2809.
**Jan. 25-26 -- Heart of America Grazing Conference, Cave City,
KY. Call 270-365-7541 or visit www.uky.edu/ag/forage.
**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. 7-9 -- Producing Cash Hay for Virginia's Equine Industry
Workshops, Feb. 7-Armory in Chatham; Feb. 8-Southern Piedmont
Research Station, Blackstone; Feb. 9-Tidewater Research Station,
Suffolk. Registration for each will begin at 8 a.m. and the programs
will end at 3:30 p.m. Early registration deadline is Jan. 27. Contact
Chris Teutsch at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call 434-0292-5331, ext. 234.
**Feb. 14-16 -- World Ag Expo, Tulare, CA. Learn more at www.worldagexpo.com.
**Feb. 16 -- Indiana Forage Council Annual Meeting and Seminar
Presentation, Cornerstone Hall, Salem. Contact Lisa Metts at email@example.com or 765-494-4783.
**Feb. 22-23 -- Pennsylvania Hay and Silage Conference, Holiday
Inn, Grantville. Contact Lisa Crytser at 814-865-2543.
**Feb. 23 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Lexington. Contact
Garry Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202.
**Feb. 25 -- Bi-State Forage Institute: Focus on Hay, The
Stratford Inn, Harvard, IL. Call 847-223-8627.
**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 Grower.
**April 21-23 -- Midwest Horse Fair, Alliant Energy Center,
Madison, WI. Learn more at www.midwesthorsefair.com.
**April 28-30 -- Minnesota Horse Expo, Minnesota State
Fairgrounds, St. Paul. Learn more at www.mnhorseexp.org.
**Sept. 7-9 -- National Hay Association 111th Annual Convention,
Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, WY.
**Oct. 3-7 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison,
WI. Learn more at www.worlddairyexpo.com.
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