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 A Prism Business Media Publication June 6, 2006 |  
Ehay WEEKLY CONTENTS
Dairymen Still Need Quality Hay
Top of the News Alabama Has Strong Horse Industry
Insect Update Identifying Good And Bad Alfalfa Insects Michigan Minnesota Ohio
State Reports Kansas Pennsylvania Eastern U.S.
Events Silvopasture Field Day Is June 15 In Georgia Calendar
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Dairymen Still Need Quality Hay
Lower milk prices are causing cash-flow problems for some dairy farmers, but their cows still need high-quality hay to keep production high, according to dairy industry experts. "If you want healthy cows that are producing efficiently, you have to purchase good-quality hay," says Mireille Chahine, University of Idaho extension dairy specialist. "So I don't think dairy producers will be looking for lower-quality hay. I think they may be looking at working out different payment arrangements, or may buy their hay in smaller amounts, depending on their cash flow."

Bob Parsons, University of Vermont ag business management specialist, says some dairy producers have barely paid down extra debt incurred when milk prices dipped four years ago. "The difference now vs. when milk prices went down in 2002 is that producers now have to pay even more both for the feed and for the delivery of it," says Parsons. "When milk prices went down before, producers didn't have to contend with increases in feed and fuel costs at the same time. When producers are getting hit several ways, it can be hard to be optimistic."

The U.S. dairy industry is still growing in some parts of the country in spite of lower milk prices. "We are seeing growth in New Mexico, Texas, Idaho and Colorado, for example, while we in the Northeast are trying to figure out how we can stop losing production," Parsons states. "Producers in the Northeast face a disadvantage in costs of production and we don't have the land base to support dairy industry expansion. Many dairy producers here are struggling to meet all their production costs.

"Class III milk was down to $10.80 for May, and it looks like it's going to go back up to $11.30 for June, but it's still expected to peak this fall at $12.50, and that is a lot different from the $14 that was the average of the last year or so," Parsons adds. "Some farmers were able to lock in higher milk prices, but a peak of $12.50 is not exactly overwhelming. Many of these guys need a $14 Class III milk price."

Although Idaho is held up as an example of dairy industry growth, that state's dairy industry has actually changed quite a bit due to consolidation in recent years. "We might in total have a greater number of cows, but they are owned by a smaller number of people," Chahine says. "This may give some hay buyers the capacity to negotiate more because one person is buying hay for a larger number of cows." She says feed costs are about 50% or more of the cost of dairying, but she urges producers to focus on hay quality whenever possible. "It (feed cost) is a huge chunk of money to be dealing with on a day-to-day basis, and quality is the key," she says. "I always emphasize, whether I'm talking to dairy producers or hay producers, that we have to keep thinking about the cows."

Neal Martin, director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, WI, also reminds producers to focus on the importance of feeding quality forage, even when it may be tempting to lean more toward least-cost ration formulation. "I think high-quality forage is always a good buy, and always in high demand," Martin says. "The problem as I see it, is the question about what makes up a high-quality forage." He says producers should make sure they are buying quality hay based on fiber level, digestible fiber level, and physical fiber effectiveness. "When those factors are there, then high-quality hay easily demands the highest price," he continues. "In low-milk years you want to maximize profit. One of the ways to maximize profit is to hold your income up, which means milk production. So if you have that high-quality forage, you will be able to utilize it with many of your dietary components."

Contact Chahine at 208-736-3609, Parsons at 802-656-2109, and Martin at 608-890-0050.

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Top of the News
Alabama Has Strong Horse Industry
A recent Auburn University study seems to indicate that there's a strong market for horse hay in Alabama. The Opelika-Auburn News reports on a two-year study by Auburn University rural sociologist Joe Molnar and extension horse specialist Cindy McCall. They found that the state's equine industry is worth nearly $2.4 billion annually. According to the study, the state's horse population stands at almost 187,000, up 44% from the 1997 total of 130,000 horses. That means one in every 20 Alabama households owns or leases at least one horse.

About 90% of Alabama's horses are for recreational use only; even so, owners spend an average of $8,705 per horse annually. Another 9.9% of the state's horses are used for light-to-moderate showing, for competition or as breeding stock, and an average of $28,260 is spent annually per horse. For the remaining one-tenth of 1%, classified as high-value animals and used for regional or national showing and competition, owners spend an average of $69,080 annually per horse.

Almost $2.4 billion was linked to spending on horse care and maintenance, including feed, bedding, veterinary services, medications and insurance. Alabama, with its mild climate, abundant land, low taxes and low land costs, is primed for further growth of the equine industry.

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Insect Update
Identifying Good And Bad Alfalfa Insects
Iowa State University offers an online reminder of the types of insects Midwestern alfalfa producers may find in their fields. Entomologist Marlin Rice put together an article with identification pictures for the ISU Integrated Crop Management online newsletter. Find it at www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/2006/5-22/alfalfainsects.html.

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Michigan
Alfalfa weevil defoliation remains a big issue, especially in central Michigan, reports Christina DiFonzo, Michigan State University entomologist. Weevils have been thriving in fields where wet weather prevented foliar insecticide applications. At this point, cutting is the management strategy of choice, although larvae are quite small and can survive cutting, according to central Michigan extension educators. Growers should watch regrowth for weevil numbers and damage. The economic threshold for spraying regrowth is six to eight larvae per square foot or 25% of new tips damaged.

Potato leafhoppers have been reported in southern Michigan.

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Minnesota
Potato leafhoppers are starting to show up in some Minnesota alfalfa fields, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Light numbers of alfalfa weevil larvae have also been observed. Light numbers of armyworms were reported in southern Minnesota; high numbers were reported in the margin bordering one west-central Minnesota alfalfa field last week.

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Ohio
Ohio hay growers should be on the lookout for potato leafhoppers, according to Ohio State University reports. Fields should be scouted as alfalfa regrowth reaches sufficient height for sweep-net sampling. OSU experts say southern to central Ohio growers should start sampling now; northern growers should do the same within a week or so.

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State Reports
Kansas
U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) has asked Ag Secretary Mike Johanns to release 45 western Kansas counties for emergency Conservation Reserve Program haying and grazing as requested by the state Farm Service Agency. "Producers in western Kansas are experiencing extreme conditions," Moran says. "They will have to begin dispersing portions of their herds if extra forage sources are not made available soon."

The 45 counties are in the midst of a five- to six-year drought. Lack of winter and spring precipitation has led to significant forage shortages. In addition to degraded pasture conditions, recent fires resulting from unseasonably dry foliage have worsened the problem in some counties.

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Pennsylvania
A total of 109 loads of hay were sold at Lancaster-area hay auctions during the week ending May 22, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Web site. Alfalfa sold for $140-205/ton; mixed hay, for $130-205/ton; and timothy, for $160-192/ton. Thirty-eight loads of straw brought $120-170/ton.

Sixty-nine loads of hay were auctioned off in central Pennsylvania, with alfalfa selling for $170-225/ton. Mixed hay went for $120-200/ton and timothy, for $145-200/ton. Eight loads of straw brought $100-152/ton.

The Diffenbach Auction in New Holland sold 31 loads of hay. Alfalfa averaged $160-180/ton, with a few loads selling for $250/ton. Mixed hay ranged from $145 to $230/ton, with some bringing $260/ton. Timothy sold for $160-190/ton; grass hay, for $142-280/ton. Seven loads of straw ranged from $127 to $170/ton.

The Middleburg Auction sold 33 loads of hay. Alfalfa brought $185-225/ton; mixed hay brought $120-200/ton, with some hay going as high as $230/ton. Timothy went for $145-200/ton, and one load brought $250/ton. Grass hay sold for $117-150/ton. Two loads of straw brought $95 and $220/ton.

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

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Eastern U.S.
Demand has slowed, and there is not a lot of good-quality hay available in the East, reports Charles Roff, Old Dominion Hay Company, Smithfield, VA. Roff buys hay from throughout the country and services the equine market in the Southeast. "Markets in Pennsylvania shot up in February, March and April because supply was down," he states. "Normally the market starts to slow down in April, but both April and May were strong this year. Pennsylvania prices dictate our market, and if hay gets high in the area, I will buy more hay from the West or from Canada. However, it is early to say what is going on." Roff says Pennsylvania growers started making hay about two weeks ago, and growers in New York are just getting started. "New York's hay crop was short last year and prices got up to $150/ton at the barn, which is around $40-50/ton higher than we would normally see," he says.

Fuel prices and labor problems are constant challenges, Roff adds. He expects immigration reform will hit many agricultural employers hard. He has noticed that many smaller hay producers in his area are dropping out because of increased equipment costs. "I see a lot of the hay production moving West," he says.

Contact Roff at 757-357-4878.

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Events
Silvopasture Field Day Is June 15 In Georgia
A Silvopasture Field Day will be held Thursday, June 15, at the Mack Evans farm in Jakin, GA, near Blakely.

The major benefits of silvopasture, which manages tree and/or shrub production with forage crops and livestock, are that many cool- and warm-season grasses and legumes can yield high-quality forage when grown under shade. This concept is being used to design integrated timber/grazing systems in conifer stands, especially loblolly pine in the Southeast.

Evans, who is hosting the field day at his farm, received cost-share funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help plant pasture grass. "Farmers often don't have the time or know where to go for resources to implement new practices," says Donald Surrency, NRCS plant materials specialist. "Touring the Mack Evans farm may give other farmers just the motivation that they need to adopt practices like silvopasture."

The field day will begin at 10 a.m. and feature topics such as planting methods, forest stewardship, silvopasture concepts and the importance of native grasses. The event is sponsored by the USDA-NRCS Jimmy Carter Plant Materials Center, Auburn University, Fort Valley State University, Alabama A&M University, USDA National Agroforestry Center, USDA-NRCS, Georgia Forestry Commission and the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District.

For more information, contact Surrency at 706-595-1339, ext. 109, or don.surrency@ga.usda.gov. Learn more about the Jimmy Carter Plant Materials Center at plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/gapmc/.

Source: The Weekly, Peachtree Corners, GA.

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Calendar
**June 12-15 -- Lost River Grazing Academy, Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center north of Salmon, ID. Program cost: $450/person. Management teams pay $450 for the first member and $225 for each additional. Local participants can register for the daylight part of the program for $125/day. To register, call Jim Hawkins at 208-879-2344 or toll-free 877-854-9386.

**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 www.agry.purdue.edu/dtc/open.htm. For more information, call 765-496-3755 or email gerberc@purdue.edu.

**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 dwichman@montana.edu.

**July 6-8 -- Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference, University of Missouri Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon. Learn more about the conference and tours at agebb.missouri.edu/dairy/grazing/index.htm. 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. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Refreshments, lunch and packet included in $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 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. Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or dhputnam@ucdavis.edu, or Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or gshew@uidaho.edu.

**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, New Mexico. Contact Doug Whitney at dug@plateautel.net, 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 glacefie@uky.edu.

**Feb. 27 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention Center. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.

**Feb. 28-March 2 -- National Grassfed Beef Conference, Grantville, PA. Contact John Comerford at 814-863-3661 or jxc555@gmail.com, or Dave Hartman at 570-784-6660, ext. 12, or dwh2@psu.edu.

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Comments from Readers
Send Questions & Comments To...

Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

hfg@hayandforage.com

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