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Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication May 30, 2006 |  
Tracking Weather Online
Top of the News Livestock, Dairy Market Outlook Released Congressional Hearing To Explore Midwestern Dairy Industry
Insect Update Minnesota Ohio
State Reports Idaho Nebraska Pennsylvania South Carolina
Events Idaho Meeting Focuses On Irrigated Pasture Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...

This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Tracking Weather Online
Hay growers who use the Internet to its fullest advantage can get help with everything from timing irrigation, herbicide or insecticide applications to diagnosing and assessing crop pests and crop injury. So says Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota extension meteorologist and climatologist. Seeley says many National Weather Service data-stream details, ranging from hourly observations to forecast updates, can now be found on various Web services. "Much of the forecast information is now derived from five-kilometer grid analysis, and is therefore much more locally specific," Seeley explains.

National Weather Service forecasts and real-time radar and satellite displays are available at This site contains two especially good features: severe weather watch and warning information and delineation, and graphical displays of hour-by-hour forecasts out to seven days, he says.

The University of Kentucky lists precision county-by-county ag forecasts at "Though this site duplicates much of the information contained on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Web site, it is specifically formatted and tailored to the needs of agriculture, and offers a county level of detail for each weather element," Seeley explains. A written narrative forecast, as well as detailed tables and graphs, are some of this site's strong points. Some elements forecasted include leaf wetness, livestock heat stress, potential evapotranspiration, crop spraying conditions, and drying conditions.

The Minnesota Climatology Working Group site hosts hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual climate data, along with a weekly newsletter, Minnesota WeatherTalk, and other information from the University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers and the National Weather Service. Visit the site at The "Retrieve Historical Data" section allows users to access real-time hourly observations from the National Weather Service automated station network. Air temperature, dewpoint, air pressure, visibility, windchill and heat index can be mapped and displayed.

For drought information, visit the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Drought Resources and Information Web page at, or the U.S. Drought Monitor Web site at

But what about your favorite weather sites? Which are a crucial part of your hay operation? Email us your favorites and we'll share them with other eHay Weekly readers. Just drop us an email at, using weather in the title subject area.

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Top of the News
Livestock, Dairy Market Outlook Released
Hay growers may be able to market more hay if milk production and cow numbers continue to increase, as predicted in USDA's recent Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook.

Milk production for 2007 is estimated at 183.1 billion pounds, up from 182 billion projected for 2006. This year's production is expected to be 2.8% higher than 2005's because cow numbers and output per cow should increase. Cow numbers will likely expand through the second quarter of 2006, hold steady in the third quarter, and then begin a decline that will continue through 2007. That decline, however, will be a scant 0.3%.

Lower year-to-year heifer prices this spring may indicate a weakening demand for replacements, and could lead to more culling by summer's end. Expected higher feed prices and continued declines in milk prices throughout 2006 could provide an incentive for smaller operators to exit. However, exit decisions will likely be delayed until later in the season, when Milk Income Loss Contract Program payments are assured. The decline in the all-milk price that began in early 2005 will continue this year. The all-milk price is expected to average between $12.35 and $12.85/cwt. for 2006, down from $15.14 in 2005.

If you sell hay to the beef market, you may be interested to hear that relatively large numbers of heavier feeder cattle have been placed on feed over the last several months. Feeder cattle supplies outside feedlots are relatively tight. If recent rains throughout the Great Plains, especially in the Southern Plains, continue, the outlook for spring and summer pasture will improve, boosting stocker cattle demand and improving prices.

Despite increased demand for corn for ethanol, and lower planting intentions, corn prices are not expected to increase to the point of significantly affecting feeder cattle placements. Corn prices will move higher if the new crop is as short as expected due to reduced acreage and increased demand for ethanol. This could keep downward pressure on cattle feeding margins through most of 2007. Higher grain prices will be offset by increasing supplies of distillers' grains. As ethanol production rises, supplies of wet distillers' grains will likely be readily available at favorable prices.

Forage prospects continue to be a concern as the grazing season begins. The first pasture and range conditions release for 2006 indicated the following states with the proportion of conditions in the poor-to-very-poor range: Texas at 52%, Oklahoma at 45%, New Mexico at 62%, Colorado at 48% and Arizona at 75%. Recent rains in the Southern Plains have helped replenish stock ponds and should improve pasture and range conditions. Conditions in the Southwest continue to be poor, with only light showers reported.

Improved pasture and range conditions and rebuilt hay stocks will be important to maintain herd expansion. USDA's May Crop Production report indicated a sharp draw-down of hay stocks, the result of short 2005 hay harvests and heavy supplemental feeding in drought areas.

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Congressional Hearing To Explore Midwestern Dairy Industry
A congressional hearing on the state of the Midwestern dairy industry will be held May 31 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Kryszko Commons at Winona State University in Winona, MN. Rep. Gil Gutknect, R-MN, will hear testimony from high-profile dairy industry representatives, including Kemps CEO James Green and Dana Allen, a director of the Minnesota Milk Producer's Association. Subsidy and grant programs, the continuing tension between expanding dairies and townships and rural landowners, and the future of the Milk Income Loss Program are likely to be discussed.

Source: Winona Daily News.

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Insect Update
What appears to be an excellent first crop of alfalfa is awaiting harvest in southwestern Minnesota. Pea aphids are increasing, but not at threatening levels. Insect predators are abundant in many fields. Potato leafhoppers have not shown up yet, but University of Minnesota entomologists speculate that nearby weather events may bring leafhoppers to the area in time for the second cutting.

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Alfalfa growers are urged to be on the lookout for potato leafhoppers, says Ron Hammond, Ohio State University research entomologist. "We're getting beyond the concern for alfalfa weevil, but growers should begin sampling their fields for potato leafhopper," he states. "The insect could become a problem as alfalfa starts to regrow anywhere from 3 to 5" after its first cutting. The pest has arrived from Southern states and we know that it's in apple trees where the first generation builds up."

For more information on pests that affect field crops, log on to Ohio State's Agronomic Crops Team Web site at

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State Reports
Hay supplies are tight in Idaho, says Glenn Shewmaker, University of Idaho extension forage specialist. "I've personally gotten calls from Florida and California looking mostly for horse hay, and we don't seem to have any extra in the area," he states. "There are still a lot of cows in the area, too, and they are using up hay supplies. I have heard of large increases in (hay) acreage in some cases, but I think it is just going to keep up with the number of cows. I've heard of one farm that converted several thousand acres of potatoes, cereal grains and sugar beets to hay as a cash crop."

He says some producers have experienced clover root curculio damage. "I've seen clover root curculio reduce some older stands down to where the stands had to be taken out one to two years earlier than normal," Shewmaker reports. "And rodents seem to be everywhere. The ground is just crawling with voles, ground squirrels and all kinds of rodents. We had snow cover that protected them the past few winters and there has been a population boom."

Shewmaker says good winter snow-pack and abundant rainfall mean irrigation supplies should be more than adequate in Idaho. "We lost a little more than average acreage due to flooding in some small local areas," he reports. "Like much of the West, we are probably running one week to 10 days, or perhaps even two weeks, behind because of cool temperatures and frosts. We began the season slow, but now we are tending to get caught up."

Quite a bit of hay had been cut and was laying down as of late last week and a storm system put an inch of rain on it, he says. "That hay is no longer dairy quality and wet soil is going to delay cutting the hay that is still standing for a week or so."

Contact Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or

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High temperatures and winds are scorching a good portion of western Nebraska's winter wheat crop and pastures, while the eastern half of the state needs to continue getting timely rains to avoid going back into a drought, says Al Dutcher, state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Although the current U.S. Drought Monitor puts a good portion of eastern and north-central Nebraska out of the drought, Dutcher says these areas are abnormally dry. Soil moisture profiles in eastern Nebraska are within 1-1 1/2" of normal, but in western Nebraska, they're largely depleted.

The above-average Rocky Mountain snow-pack has been depleted. Although the snow-pack was above normal through March, snow came to a halt in April. "The lack of significant snowfall during that period, along with temperatures rising above normal, led to earlier melt and a decrease in stream flows," says Dutcher. The latest Platte River Valley stream-flow projections for June through August are for 75-85% of normal projections issued at the beginning of March.

Warm-season pastures are getting off to a slow start in northeastern Nebraska's Holt and Boyd counties. Cool-season pastures are short. Many cattle were placed in pastures with little growth. Alfalfa growth has slowed to the point that many producers have decided to cut early. Alfalfa weevils and pea aphids are common in alfalfa fields, but generally not in economic numbers.

The lack of rain is a major concern in Dawson County in the south-central part of the state, where this year's total rainfall is less than 1-2". Some pivot irrigators have irrigated three to four times. Pastures are said to already look like they usually do around Aug. 1, and some producers who turned their cattle into pastures in April are considering pulling them out. The first alfalfa cutting is proceeding rapidly, with about half of the crop harvested. Much of it has been baled without rain damage, so the quality is high.

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First-cutting yields of all forage crops have been down significantly across southern Pennsylvania, according to Penn State University. Prior to harvest, forage supplies were already short due to the 2005 drought. The potential for limited forage supplies has increased interest in small-grain silages and summer annual crops.

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South Carolina
A cool but dry spring will probably result in lower-than-normal fescue yields in South Carolina, reports John Andrae, Clemson University forage specialist. "The first cutting of bermudagrass is also probably going to be delayed two to three weeks due to the cool weather," he says. "Last year was an excellent hay year. It rained at all the right times last summer and we were able to get hay cured and put up without it getting rained on. Then we had a dry fall and we were wet in the winter. Now we are probably 12-15" behind normal rainfall for the year."

Contact Andrae at 864-656-3504 or

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Get a pair of authentic DICKEY-john work gloves with Hay Moisture Tester orders placed by June 16! Find the optimum baling time and maximize your crop's value with the hay producer's most essential instrument. Precise and portable, it measures bales or windrows.

Visit for more details and the distributor nearest you.
Idaho Meeting Focuses On Irrigated Pasture
Build your skills in intensive management of irrigated pastures at the University of Idaho's Lost River Grazing Academy, June 12-15 at the new Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center north of Salmon. Topics will include forage allocation, low-stress livestock handling, power fencing, pasture evaluation, nutrient cycling, pasture economics, irrigation management, extending the grazing season and niche production. Participants will form groups and put what they've learned into practice.

The hands-on workshop is taught by grazing lands consultant Jim Gerrish, area rancher Joe Miller, and University of Idaho and Utah State University extension faculty in forages, economics and veterinary medicine. Pre-registration is required by June 7.

Co-sponsors include the Butte, Custer and Lemhi Soil and Water Conservation Districts, USDA Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The cost of the program is $450 per person. Farmers and ranchers who register as part of a management team pay $450 for the first team member and $225 for each additional member. Continental breakfasts, seven meals and all materials are included. Local participants can register for the daylight portion of the program for $125 per day. To register, call Jim Hawkins at 208-879-2344 or toll-free 877-854-9386.

The Alternative Careers for Idaho Farmers program may provide qualified Idaho ranch and farm operators with up to 100% support to attend the academy. For more information, contact ACIF program manager Brad Jahn at 208-301-3832.

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**June 3 -- Clemson Beef And Forage Field Day, Wateree Farms, Rembert, SC, 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m. Call the Sumter County extension office at 803-773-5561 by May 31 to register and get directions.

**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.

**June 15 -- Purdue University Forage Management Workshop, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Registration is $80/person. Registration forms and workshop brochures are available at For more information, contact call 765-496-3755 or email

**June 21 -- Intergenerational Transfer, New Swing 10 Parlor and Freestall Tour and Intensive Grazing Pasture Walk, Chris and Angie Neis Farm, 12433 Loran Road, Mt. Carroll, IL. Jim Morrison, University of Illinois Extension, will discuss pasture species renovation and fertility management. Contact Kevin Bernhardt, 608-342-1365.

**June 22 -- Montana Hay Day And Field Research Tour, Montana State University Central Agricultural Research Center, 2 miles west of Moccasin. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and tours at 9:30. A lunch is scheduled. For more information, contact the center at 406-423-5421, or David Wichman at 406-423-5421 or

**July 6-8 -- Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference, University of Missouri Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon. Learn more about the conference and tours at Mail registration to Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference, University of Missouri Extension, 700 Main Street, Suite 4, Cassville, MO 65625 or call 417-847-3161.

**July 19 -- Northeast Florida Beef and Forage Group Regional Hay Field Day, North Florida Research and Education Center, Suwannee Valley, Live Oak, FL. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Refreshments, lunch and packet included for $5 registration fee. Call Elena Toro at 386-752-5384 by July 14.

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

**Sept. 12 -- Kentucky Forage And Grassland Council Field Day, Dobbs Shady Meadow Farm, Campbell County. Learn more at

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

**Nov. 21 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County Extension Office, Lexington. Learn more at

**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Reno, NV. Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or, or Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or

**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, New Mexico. Contact Doug Whitney at, or call Gina Sterrett at 505-626-5677.

**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn, Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Garry Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202, or

**Feb. 27 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention Center. Learn more at

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Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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