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 A Prism Business Media Publication March 13, 2006 |  
Ehay WEEKLY CONTENTS
Top of the News Horse Hay Product Is Good Business Texas Equine Business Center Is Possible Global Demand Spikes Fuel Prices Graze Stressed Pastures Carefully, Texans Warned
State Reports Midwest Auction Report Wisconsin
Events Minnesota Forage Day Will Be March 28 Calendar
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Top of the News
Horse Hay Product Is Good Business
A sweet-smelling hay has made business sweet for Godfrey Poyser, a former English dairyman who grows timothy and alfalfa near Coaldale, Alberta. Poyser and his son Michael make big square bales of timothy in the 20-30% moisture range. Then they wrap them. The end result is a new horse feed called "sweet hay," marketed by a company called A1 Feeds, Coaldale.

Poyser, who operates the business, will be one of three speakers at the March 14, 1 p.m. opening general session of the Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo. Poyser, Bob Bleeker of Dakota Premium Hay, Yankton, SD, and Dave Storms of Muscoda, WI, who wraps big square haylage bales for U.S. and Puerto Rican dairymen, will tell how they've opened new markets and expanded sales.

For more information on the conference, to be held March 14-15 at the Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD, visit www.hayconference.com. Or call 800-722-5334 and ask for Cindy Kramer.

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Texas Equine Business Center Is Possible
Some of the first-ever detailed data on the estimated $102 billion equine industry could be generated by a proposed Center for Equine Business Studies at Texas A&M University. So says Ernie Davis, center director. "Something like this is badly needed," Davis says. "This would really bring the whole industry together and tell an accurate story of how much the equine industry contributes each year."

The center concept has been approved by the Texas A&M Board of Regents, but funding will depend on outside support. "There's no standard marketing mechanism for the horse industry," Davis says. "We could get greater market exposure for the horse industry by providing some trend data that various associations and retailers could use in promotion."

Such data could also influence legislation "that can either negatively or positively affect the use of horses by the public," says Bill Moyer, center associate director and head of veterinary large animal and surgery at Texas A&M. It could also affect handicapped riding programs, promote entrepreneurial efforts in selected areas, and help in the selection of marketing approaches, Moyer adds. "The impact could be far-reaching."

Source: Texas A&M Agriculture News.

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Global Demand Spikes Fuel Prices
Strong global demand, rather than a shortage of supply in the U.S., is the driving force behind the current high cost of gasoline, according to Matthew Roberts, Ohio State University extension economist.

Unrest in the Middle East and Iran's nuclear aspirations are causing fuel supply fears. Several factors within the U.S. will also impact fuel costs. One is a government regulation that requires dramatic reductions in sulfur content in gasoline and diesel starting this summer.

"Right now, ultra-low-sulfur fuels represent less than 1% of all the fuel being produced. This number needs to rise to 70% or 80% by this summer," Roberts says. "Refineries will have to be taken off-line to make the adjustments so they can meet those targets. When you are not producing fuel and living off the inventories we have, that's going to cause prices to rise."

Also, refineries across the U.S. are phasing out the fuel additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) and replacing it with ethanol. Analysts speculate this phase-out, which California is expected to complete this year, will stretch the country's gas supply.

Roberts predicts that certain regions of the country may see gas at $3/gallon or higher this summer. He urges those with fuel storage to stock up now. "It would probably be wise to fill fuel storage for use through June, and if you have any additional capacity, to fill up all tanks at this point."

U.S. consumers are already seeing a taste of what might come in a few months. According to the Department of Energy, average retail gas prices have risen nearly 8 cents from the previous two weeks. Roberts says prices are likely to continue to climb well into April as the refinery maintenance season begins.

Source: Ohio State University.

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Graze Stressed Pastures Carefully, Texans Warned
Grazing too early this year could further damage already stressed bermudagrass pastures, says a Texas Cooperative Extension expert. Beset by drought and wildfires, north-central Texas producers may be tempted to turn cattle into their bunch grasses or Coastal and Tifton 85 bermudagrass pastures greening up from recent rains.

But don't "jump into pastures" just yet, cautions Yoana Newman, extension forage specialist at the Texas A&M University ag research center at Stephenville.

"Just because they green up doesn't mean pastures have recovered," she says. "The green color is accentuated by the dark color of the burnt ground, giving the impression that there is more herbage than there actually is. Whether they have bunch grasses or sod-forming Coastal or Tifton 85, they need to allow more time to ensure restoration of the sugar reserves that foster growth before the animals graze the pasture again."

Newman recommends the following:
  • Bermudagrass stands should be at least 8" tall before being grazed.


  • Collect soil samples now, if you haven't already, and base pasture fertilization on soil test results. "Due to drought and lack of growth, soils may have more nutrients than anticipated," Newman says.


  • Wait until nighttime temperature reaches 60 degrees for several days in a row before fertilizing. "Fertilizing too early will be the equivalent of fertilizing weeds, since warm-season grasses are still dormant when nighttime temperatures are below 60," Newman says.


  • Apply total fertilizer over several days in a row, not all in one day.


  • Wait until rain is forecast, and target fertilization just prior to a rain.


  • Control weeds when moisture is present. "Moisture is necessary for many herbicides to work properly and to be translocated inside the weed plant."
"Buying hay for a few more weeks will more than offset the potential damages and expenses (like weed control, replanting, etc.) that will result from grazing too early," says Newman. "Delaying grazing now, controlling your weeds and fertilizing your pastures will translate into solid summer pastures."

Source: Texas A&M Agriculture News.

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State Reports
Midwest Auction Report
Midwestern hay prices were staying moderate, according to the University of Wisconsin's March 3 hay auction report. South Dakota prices were trending lower than in previous weeks, while prices were steady in Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. Trade activity and demand were reported to be very good in Nebraska, good in Missouri, light to moderate in Iowa and moderate in South Dakota.

Record-high temperatures greeted many areas of Missouri during the last week of February, doing little to help already dry and severely dry areas. Yet a very wet spring is predicted. If warm temperatures remain, alfalfa growers could be spraying for alfalfa weevils very early this year, increasing crop input costs.

Southwestern Minnesota hay prices were lower than they had been, but sales activity was good. Prices at the Lomira, WI, hay auction were 38% higher than prices in the rest of the Midwest but 4% lower than those paid at the Feb. 3 auction. Sales activity and buyer demand were light but higher than at the February auction.

Illinois hay had moderate-to-active sales activity, with steady prices and a light to moderate supply. Since the first of the year, a larger offering of hay for sale has kept buyers content, adding some price stability. The available supply of alfalfa hay mixed with grass and grass hay in small squares continued to be light with very good demand. Demand for dairy and beef hay remained moderate to good. Many northern and central Illinois hay producers are concerned with the lack of moisture, which has been below normal over the fall and winter. Demand for straw was moderate to good, with light to moderate supplies; prices were mostly steady. Higher prices for straw have started to limit demand.

Straw prices in the Midwest averaged $2.18/small square bale, $32.75/large square bale and $17.56/large round bale. Compared to the previous week, straw prices for small square bales were down 14%. Large square bale prices were up 51%, mainly due to Illinois prices. Large round bale prices were down 18%.

Prime hay greater than 151 RFV/RFQ, brought an average of $122/ton for small square bales in the Midwest, with a minimum price of $60/ton and a maximum of $160. Large square bales of prime hay averaged $104/ton, ranging from $60 to $150. Large round bales of prime hay averaged $87.92/ton, ranging from $59 to $142.50.

Grade 1 hay, at 125-150 RFV/RFQ, averaged $92.08/ton for small squares, with an $80 minimum price and a $110 maximum price. Large square bales averaged $84.62/ton, ranging from $70 to $110. Large round bales averaged $60.52/ton, claiming a $50 minimum price and an $85 maximum.

Grade 2 hay, at 103-124 RFV/RFQ, brought an average price of $76/ton for small square bales, ranging from $32 to $130. Large square bales ranged from $40 to $127/ton, averaging $76. Large round bales averaged $55.60/ton, ranging from $27 to $85.

Grade 3 hay, at 87-102 RFV/RFQ, brought $95/ton in large square bales.

Source: University of Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin
Wisconsin hay producers are hoping 2006 will be a better year, reports Tom Braun, owner of Hamp Haven Farms, Reedsville. "Because of winterkill we lost 85% of our hay crop in 2005," says Braun. "Then we had a summer drought and had very little forage going into winter. We had to chop a lot of corn silage to try to replace the hay. We also baled all of our soybean stubble." That's made for a short hay supply in Braun's area this winter. Big square alfalfa bales sold for $200/ton or more at the Reedsville hay auction several weeks ago, he adds.

"I bought a lot of 150-160 RFV hay for $140/ton last fall and then tried to make do with other protein sources in our dairy ration. But other sources just don't produce the milk like good alfalfa does."

Last spring, Braun planted a number of emergency forage crops to replace winterkilled alfalfa. He direct-seeded alfalfa and planted peas and oats with alfalfa, peas and barley with alfalfa, peas, oats and barley with alfalfa, Tetrabano Italian annual ryegrass, Monarque Italian annual ryegrass, ryegrass with alfalfa, BMR sorghum and sorghum-sudan. The dry summer was hard on these crops, too. Direct-seeded alfalfa only averaged 0.2 ton/acre, ryegrass averaged 0.3 ton/acre, and the small grains and peas averaged 0.6 ton/acre. "Due to the lack of rain, everything was dying or going dormant," he says. "We didn't even have enough hay there to pay for the fuel we used to harvest it. The crop insurance indemnity payments on destroyed alfalfa were not sufficient to buy even one ton/acre of good-quality hay. We were only paid $61/ton for the losses."

Hamp Haven Farms is a diversified operation consisting of more than 6,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Braun milks 650 cows and sells TMRs, haylage and corn silage. He also runs a custom harvesting business. Contact him at 920-754-4076.

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Events
Minnesota Forage Day Will Be March 28
The University of Minnesota Forage Day will be held March 28 from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Good Times Restaurant in Caledonia.

Program topics will include: what's new with Roundup Ready alfalfa, how to capitalize on forage legume N-fixation in rotations, seeding grasses with alfalfa, equipment strategies to speed hay and haylage drying, ways to reduce silage shrinkage and spoilage, interpreting and using forage tests and adjusting corn silage harvesters for better silage.

Featured program speaker will be Ron Schuler, University of Wisconsin ag engineer. University of Minnesota speakers will include: Jerry Tesmer, Fillmore-Houston-Winona extension technical advisor; Craig Sheaffer and Paul Peterson, forage agronomists; Neil Broadwater, extension educator, dairy; and Mary Raeth-Knight, dairy nutritionist.

For more information, call Lisa Behnken or Neil Broadwater at 888-241-4536 or Jerry Tesmer at 507-725-5807 or 507-765-3896. Or visit www.extension.umn.edu/cropenews/hay/2006/MNForageDays2006_Caledonia.pdf.

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Calendar
**March 14-15 -- Midwest Hay Business Conference and Expo, Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD. Sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower. Visit www.hayconference.com.

**March 22-23 -- Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Call the Manitoba Forage Council at 204-768-2782, or visit www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca/Default.htm.

**April 19-20 -- 2006 Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference, Arlington Hilton at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Sponsored by Texas A& M University Extension Service and the Texas Animal Nutrition Council. Contact Ellen Jordan at 972-952-9201 or e-jordan2@tamu.edu.

**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.mnhorseexpo.org.

**May 25 -- University of Florida Corn Silage and Forage Field Day, Plant Science Unit, Citra, FL. Contact Jerry Wasdin at 352-392-1120 or jwasdin@animal.ufl.edu, or visit www.animal.ufl.edu. Under "Dairy Cattle," click on "Corn Silage Field Day."

**June 14-15 -- 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference, Grand River Center, Dubuque, IA. Call Dave Fischer, 618-692-9434 or Leo Timms, 515-294-4522.

**Sept. 7-9 -- National Hay Association 111th Annual Convention, Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, WY. Call 800-707-0014 or visit www.nationalhay.org.

**Oct. 3-7 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Learn more at www.worlddairyexpo.com.

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

hfg@prismb2b.com

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