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 A Prism Business Media Publication March 28, 2006 |  
Ehay WEEKLY CONTENTS
Stay Focused When Marketing New Products
Top of the News Ag-Weather Site Is User-Friendly
State Reports Kansas Kentucky Pennsylvania Hay Auctions
Events Calendar
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Stay Focused When Marketing New Products
Developing and making money from new hay products means staying focused on specific goals and enduring more setbacks than might be expected, says Harlan Anderson, Cokato, MN. "Developing a new product will take longer than you think, cost more than you think, and will have more frustrations than you think," Anderson told attendees at the recent Midwest Hay Business Conference and Expo in Sioux Falls, SD. The innovative grower, a former equine veterinarian, developed a product called Nutra-Rich Alfalfa Mulch to create a market for his rained-on hay. The product is sold in urban garden centers in 35-lb, breathable bags. Anderson markets it as a natural, nutrient-rich garden mulch.

Anderson also developed an alfalfa and grass hay-based complete feed for horses. The product is sold in soft cube or biscuit form, in 50-lb bags or locally in bulk. Anderson's horse feed is designed to improve horse health. Five variations of the product are offered in brightly colored bags. Senior Supper is for older horses, while Winner's Circle targets performance horse owners. Happy Horse is for horses on a maintenance diet, and Next Generation is for growing foals. A Cube Light version is for overweight horses. Anderson says Cube Light was developed in response to customer demand for a horse product that mimicked the popular Atkins Diet.

He developed the products with the ultimate goal of increasing the profit margins for his hay. In order to be more efficient, he worked to create products that can be manufactured during the off-season when more time is available on the farm. He was able to develop the market for his products in the Minneapolis area. He says producing them close to the end user is a definite advantage.

He offers the following suggestions to producers interested in developing new hay products:
  • You must set specific goals that you want to accomplish.
  • You must stay focused.
  • You must know the properties of your raw product.
  • You must know the needs of your customers better than they do.
  • You must know your costs to be able to price your product.
  • You must know your production and marketing skills, strengths and weaknesses.
  • You must know the most profitable locations in which to market.
  • You must be open to changes in the market.
  • Customer service will determine profit.
  • On-time delivery is a valuable service.
  • A customer-friendly package is required.
He reminds hay growers that successful product marketing includes networking, advertising, attractive packaging and educating people about the product. Anderson told hay conference attendees that new product successes will be more profitable, more rewarding and can help keep producers in business.

Contact Anderson at 320-286-5040, or visit his Web site at www.idleacres.com.

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Top of the News
Ag-Weather Site Is User-Friendly
The University of Kentucky has put together a user-friendly Internet site to help hay and forage producers find information to make their jobs a little easier. The extensive agricultural weather site not only shows up-to-the minute predictions and weather information for Kentucky, but also shows how weather conditions are shaping up in other parts of the South and Southeast. Visit the site at www.agwx.ca.uky.edu/.

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State Reports
Kansas
Alfalfa weevils are off to an early start in Kansas, according to Kansas State University entomologist Jeff Whitworth. Alfalfa weevil eggs are hatching and small larvae are feeding on the new growth in some fields. "This is somewhat earlier than normal, and it is probably due to eggs laid last fall or early winter," Whitworth says.

Dry conditions through much of the winter have taken a toll on the state's alfalfa crop. Rain and snow across much of the state last week may not have been enough to help the struggling crop, he says. Whitworth urges producers to inspect new alfalfa growth closely now for evidence of larval feeding, because the leaves probably only show pinhole-sized damage. As the larvae grow and feeding progresses, the damage will become more apparent. Surviving larvae will resume feeding and additional eggs are likely to hatch when the weather warms back into the 50-plus degree range.

"We do not recommend treating alfalfa weevils until the weather is projected to be above 50 degrees for a few days, as freezing temperatures with freezing precipitation may impact the plants and/or the alfalfa weevil populations," Whitworth says. "What you find prior to cold weather may be totally changed after the cold weather. Be aware, however, that weevils are starting to feed, at least south of Interstate 70, and will probably be hatching and feeding north of I-70 shortly after the return of warm weather."

Contact Whitworth at 785-532-5656.

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Kentucky
Kentucky has been fairly dry this winter; however, mid-March rains helped conditions a bit, reports Tom Keene, University of Kentucky hay marketing specialist. "We are very cool for this time of year, averaging from 10 to 15 degrees below normal," he says. "That has slowed down pasture growth, so people are finding themselves feeding hay a little longer. We need some warm weather and moisture to get our grasses out of the ground, because we are a little behind right now." Many people fed hay early last fall due to the dry weather. "We got a little bit of rain out of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and that helped us," says Keene. "The thing that helped carry the hay supply was the mild winter. If we had had a bitter cold winter with a lot of snow cover, we would have been in a much more severe state as far as having a shortage of hay." Hay prices were strong throughout the winter. The combination of the dry weather and cool spring have helped clean up old hay supplies.

Keene says Kentucky hay producers are about 40 days from first cutting, unless the cool weather causes delays. "We typically are getting our first cutting of alfalfa during the first week in May."

He helps Kentucky hay growers improve their hay production and marketing. He urges producers to take advantage of resources on the World Wide Web such as the Kentucky agricultural weather site at www.agwx.ca.uky.edu/, and the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service hay price reports site at www.ams.usda.gov/lsmnpubs/hayw.htm. Visit the University of Kentucky Forage Extension site at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/.

Contact Keene at 859-257-3144.

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Pennsylvania Hay Auctions
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reports that 263 loads of hay were sold in Lancaster-area hay auctions during the week ending March 18. Alfalfa sold for $135-205/ton, while mixed hay brought $130-215/ton. Timothy sold for $130-210/ton, and 33 loads of straw sold for $115-180/ton.

A total of 162 loads of hay sold at auctions in central Pennsylvania, with alfalfa bringing $115-220/ton; mixed hay, $120-210/ton; timothy, $130-165/ton; and straw, $105-175/ton.

Ninety loads of hay sold at the March 13 sale at the Diffenbach Auction in New Holland, PA. Alfalfa brought $135-205/ton. Mixed hay sold for $130-215/ton, with a small amount bringing $250/ton. Timothy brought $140-207/ton; grass hay, $140-222/ton; and straw, $130-170/ton.

View more Pennsylvania auction reports at www.agriculture.state.pa.us/agriculture/cwp/view.asp?a=391&q=131582.

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Events
Calendar
**March 28 -- Minnesota Forage Day, Good Times Restaurant, Caledonia, MN, 10 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Contact 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.

**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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Comments from Readers
Send Questions & Comments To...

Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

hfg@prismb2b.com

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