Exploring A New Market For Alfalfa
A $150 million to $250 million worldwide market exists
for lutein, a naturally occurring caretenoid product found in alfalfa,
says Todd Leonard, St. Paul, MN. As president of a new company called
NuTein, he's working to develop alfalfa-based human nutritional products
containing lutein. His company has collaborated with a number of other
companies, such as Forage Genetics and Croplan Genetics, to develop
products that utilize the natural substance. Studies have shown that it
may help protect against eye diseases such as age-related macular
degeneration, in addition to providing other health benefits. NuTein
owns patents for eyedrops, dietary supplements and sports drinks
containing lutein. A pilot manufacturing plant was opened in Cozad, NE,
in the spring of 2004, and plans call for two or three additional plants
within the U.S.
Leonard told attendees at Hay & Forage Grower's recent Midwest
Hay Business Conference & Expo that alfalfa growers can contract with
the company and will be encouraged to plant specific varieties in order
to produce alfalfa that works best for lutein production. Growers will
harvest the crop in the preflower stage and deliver freshly cut alfalfa
to the processing plant.
Contact Leonard at 651-632-9600.
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National Alfalfa And Forage Alliance
The recently formed National Alfalfa and Forage
Alliance (NAFA) is a hybrid of the existing National Alfalfa Alliance
(NAA) with membership from additional industry stakeholders. It was
formed to significantly enhance and broaden what the NAA had been doing,
according to NAA Executive Director Rod Christensen, Ag Management,
Inc., Kennewick, WA. Although NAA bylaws contained provisions for
membership of forage groups and allied industries, there were no
provisions giving them significant membership on the organization's
board of directors. The newly adopted NAFA bylaws resolve this
condition, Christensen says.
NAFA has an 18-member board of directors, including equal representation
from alfalfa seed growers, alfalfa seed suppliers, state and regional
hay and forage associations and allied industries. There is also a
provision for ex-officio participation from the university-extension
segment, as well as potential involvement by sister organizations and
government regulatory agencies. A primary tenet of the new organization
is that it's an "umbrella" organization, Christensen says. "There is no
intention of displacing any of the member organizations or any other
organization currently established in the industry. In fact, the
opposite is the case. NAFA will strive to work in concert with existing
organizations to achieve mutual goals and to avoid duplicity of
efforts," he states.
NAFA will be administered by co-executive directors Beth Nelson of Beth
C.W. Nelson & Associates, Inc., St. Paul, MN, and Christensen. Nelson's
primary focus will be legislative/regulatory matters. Christensen will
coordinate all other administrative matters. "It's very exciting to see
the industry come together in the way it has on this effort,"
Christensen says. "The new board of directors is dedicated to the NAFA
objective of being a forum for consensus-building among the various
alfalfa and forage industry stakeholders and to be an effective
political advocate on behalf of the industry. Our mission is to ensure
the ability of all segments of the industry to compete effectively and
profitably, both domestically and abroad. Alfalfa and forages rank third
in the U.S. in value of production and yet we've not had a single voice
telling our story. NAFA is dedicated to doing so."
Membership is available to any U.S. individual, association, firm or
corporation actively engaged in growing, producing, handling, processing
or purchasing hay, haylage or alfalfa seed in the U.S., or in supplying
goods or commercial services to producers. The existing Web site at www.alfalfa.org is being
rebuilt and will serve as a focal point for information, bulletins and
updates on NAFA activities. The popular Alfalfa Intensive Training
Seminars will continue, with the next seminar taking place Oct. 24-26 in
Las Vegas. The annual Fall Dormancy and Pest Resistance Ratings for
Alfalfa is continuing, with publication of the 2006-2007 issue
expected in mid-September.
For further information on NAFA and on becoming a member, call
509-585-5460, fax 509-585-2671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider Forages When Water Is Limited
If it looks like Midwestern water supplies may be too
short to plant usual crops this spring, Bruce Anderson, University of
Nebraska extension forage specialist, suggests that producers consider
planting forages. Many irrigated acres won't receive enough water this
summer to grow their usual grain or root crop. Forage crops also need
water for high production, but unlike many crops, at least some useful
yield can be gathered when total available water is very low, Anderson
says. He urges growers to consider whether water limits are expected to
continue for several more years. If so, a perennial forage would
eliminate the cost and time of establishing a new crop each year, he
Switchgrass is one good choice because it's less expensive to plant,
needs water mostly during early summer when water usually is available,
and can be used for hay or pasture. Other good warm-season grass options
include big or sand bluestem and indiangrass, especially for grazing.
Some of the wheatgrasses and bromegrasses, as well as alfalfa, can work
with limited irrigation. But these cool-season plants respond best to
water applied during spring. For some irrigators, water doesn't become
available until after the most efficient time has passed.
Another set of options are annual forages like pearl and foxtail millet,
cane and sorghum-sudangrass. These forages are relatively
water-efficient and their yield will be proportional to the amount of
water they receive. Small grains like rye, triticale and oats for fall
and spring forage may also work well if you have moisture at those
times. Anderson says it might not be what producers hoped for, but
growing forages under limited irrigation may help make the best out of a
Source: Nebraska Crop Watch Newsletter.
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It's time to watch for alfalfa weevils in Illinois,
according University of Illinois entomologists. The Bulletin newsletter
offers some tips for scouting for alfalfa weevil larvae. Be sure to look
for weevils and their feeding symptoms throughout the field, not just
along the edges. Look at areas of the field that may warm up early, such
as south-facing slopes and areas of lighter soil. The best way to count
the larvae is to snap stems off at ground level and place them top down
in a white bucket.
The entomologists recommend collecting stems at random locations by
walking in a U-shaped pattern through the field. After collecting 30
stems, beat the stems, a few at a time, against the sides of the bucket
to dislodge the larvae. Sample plant heights throughout the field, or
randomly select a sample of 10 of the stems to measure the height.
Clover leaf weevils can be present in alfalfa fields just before alfalfa
weevils are noticed. The entomologists urge producers to make sure to
properly identify the weevil larvae before making any treatment
Source: University of Illinois.
Alfalfa weevil larvae are present in many southern
Missouri alfalfa fields, requiring insecticide applications in some
fields, according to Wayne Bailey, University of Missouri entomologist.
Producers in southern and central Missouri counties are encouraged to
scout for weevils and damage. Although most larvae in southern Missouri
are small to medium in size, economic damage has resulted in the need
for use of control measures. Damage is expected farther north as eggs
continue to hatch and larvae develop.
Although numbers of alfalfa weevil eggs are high in most areas of the
state, high egg numbers don't always result in high numbers of larvae or
heavy yield loss, Bailey notes. In years with cool, wet springs, a
fungal pathogen often infects and quickly kills alfalfa weevil larvae.
Recent rainfall and cool nighttime temperatures throughout the state
increase the potential for development of the fungus. Infected larvae
change from their normal green to more yellow in color, move more slowly
and generally die within two or three days. So far, Bailey says the
fungus has not been found infecting alfalfa weevil larvae in the state.
The main management option for early weevil infestations on small
alfalfa is an application of a labeled insecticide. Early harvest,
either by machine or livestock, may be a viable option for some
producers. If early harvest by machine is selected as a control
strategy, the crop should be cut seven to 10 days prior to the normal
plant growth stage of 1/10th bloom. Data from a Missouri study indicates
that weevil larvae numbers may be reduced by about 98% with mechanical
harvest, and about 90% by cattle in a management-intensive grazing
system. Producers using grazing as a control strategy must be aware of
the bloat risk to cattle grazing green alfalfa, and the risk to the
alfalfa stand due to trampling during wet conditions.
Scattered problems with cowpea and pea aphids have been reported in
southwestern Missouri. The cowpea aphid, dark-colored to black, tends to
feed on the tips of alfalfa during early spring, and can cause yellowing
of plant leaflets from the bottom upward. Although no formal economic
threshold is available, the one used for pea aphids would be a good
starting point. If an average of 50 or more aphids are present per
alfalfa stem, control may be justified. If plants are under drought
stress or are growing slowly due to cool weather, the threshold number
would be reduced. Treatment also may be justified if plants are
yellowing and aphids are present, Bailey suggests.
The pea aphid is larger, green in color and can be identified by a dark
band around the base of the antennal segments. Pea aphid problems are
most severe on slow-growing alfalfa during early spring. Later
infestations during spring may cause economic problems, but generally
plants 10" or more in height can withstand higher aphid numbers. As with
cowpea aphids, pea aphids can cause yellowing and sometimes wilting of
plants due to their removal of plant juices.
Contact Bailey at 573-882-2838.
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Heavy rains in the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin
valleys have slowed the harvest plans of most area hay growers,
according to Dan Putnam, statewide alfalfa and forage extension
specialist, University of California, Davis. The Sacramento and San
Joaquin valleys together are referred to as California's Central Valley.
"We're seeing lots of damage to alfalfa growth and to some stands,"
Putnam reports. "Many producers in the Central Valley won't make a first
cut until late April or even May this year. This is fairly unusual,
since most years they have cut by now, sometimes in March." Putnam says
winter conditions were favorable for growth early on, but the wet
conditions will mean delays and possibly the loss of an entire cutting.
The wet weather has also caused leaf-disease challenges. Growers in the
intermountain area have been seeing a lot of stem nematode damage due to
this year's weather patterns, too.
Producers in the Imperial Valley are into their second, or possibly
third, alfalfa cutting during April. The first cutting typically takes
place in February. "The low-desert regions of Blythe and El Centro are
probably the only areas in the state where we had a fairly normal first
cutting, and even there it has been cold for the desert," Putnam says.
"Most of that hay will go up into the dairies in the Central Valley. We
don't have much carryover from last year anywhere in Nevada, Arizona or
California, so we're talking about relatively high prices. However, milk
prices are down quite a bit, so demand may be dampened."
The decision has been made to start selling Roundup Ready alfalfa in the
Imperial Valley with certain restrictions, starting next fall. It was
approved for sale in the U.S. in June 2005. At that time, seed sales
were restricted in Washington state and the Imperial Valley of
California due to market considerations for the hay and concerns about
cross-contamination with fields where non-Roundup Ready seed is
produced. When Roundup Ready seed is sold in the Imperial Valley, there
will be restrictions regarding how close the fields can be to
non-Roundup Ready alfalfa seed fields. "The Imperial Valley has quite a
concentration of alfalfa, with seed production located right next to hay
production," Putnam explains. "A lot of Imperial Valley hay goes to the
export market in Japan. Some of the export markets have been sensitive
to the presence of the genetically engineered traits."
The University of California Alfalfa Workgroup has put together a
comprehensive Web site pertaining to hay and forage production in the
state. A map on the site shows the major hay-production areas in
California. Visit the site at alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/.
Contact Putnam at 530-752-8982.
Parts of New Jersey are still suffering from drought
conditions this spring, reports Rick Crouse, Skyview Farms, Frenchtown.
"We had close to an inch of rain within the last week, but we still
really need more rain," he says. Extremely dry conditions last summer
cut Crouse's grass hay yield to about 60% of normal. Because of the
area's low production, demand for hay was strong during the winter and
into spring. In addition to growing their own hay, Rick and his wife,
Melissa, broker hay for other producers.
Skyview Farms primarily offers timothy hay for the horse market at both
the wholesale and retail levels. The Crouses also provide alfalfa, a
timothy-alfalfa mix and orchardgrass hay, as well as pellets, cubes and
double-compressed hay for the export market. Rick is currently looking
for sources of timothy and alfalfa hay in 3 x 3' or 3 x 4' bales.
Contact Skyview Farms at 908-996-7800.
Research trials conducted throughout the major alfalfa growing
regions of the U.S. prove the superior performance of Raptor®
herbicide: Controlling grasses and broadleaf weeds with Raptor in
both seedling and established alfalfa can have a significant effect
in improving the yield potential and forage quality of your
The chemical company.
Always read and follow label directions.
Raptor is a registered trademark of BASF. © 2005 BASF
All Rights Reserved.
APN 05-01-133-0010 b
**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
**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 4 -- Beef Cattle and Forage Crops Field Day, Kansas State
University, Southeast Agricultural Research Center, Mound Valley, KS.
Contact Lyle Lomas at 620-421-4826, ext. 12, or email@example.com, or visit www.oznet.ksu.edu/rc_serec/events.htm.
**May 9 -- University of California-Davis Alfalfa/Forage & Small
Grains Field Day, UC-Davis Agronomy Farm Field Headquarters,
Hutchison Road. Take Hutchison Road 1/3 mile west from Hwy. 113 near
Davis and look for headquarters on left.
**May 25 -- University of Florida Corn Silage and Forage Field
Day, Plant Science Unit, Citra, FL. Contact Jerry Wasdin at
352-392-1120 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Under "Dairy Cattle," click on "Corn Silage Field Day."
**June 14-15 -- Four-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.
**Sept. 12 -- Kentucky Forage And Grassland Council Field Day,
Dobbs Shady Meadow Farm, Campbell County. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Oct. 3-7 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison,
WI. Learn more at www.worlddairyexpo.com.
**Nov. 21 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County
Extension Office, Lexington. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Reno, NV.
**Jan. 24-25, 2007 -- Heart of America Grazing Conference,
Holiday Inn, Mount Vernon, IL.
**Feb. 27, 2007 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City
Convention Center. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
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