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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication June 13, 2006 |  
Drought Hits Nebraska, South Dakota
Top of the News Enter Southeastern Hay Contest
Insect Update Michigan Nebraska Oregon
State Reports Alabama Oregon
Events Ohio State Hay Day Is June 17 Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Drought Hits Nebraska, South Dakota
Extremely dry conditions are causing anxiety among cattle producers in Nebraska and South Dakota. Many areas in western and central Nebraska are again facing severe drought. But this year's drought is different from the previous ones and may force livestock producers to make some hard feeding decisions, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska extension forage specialist. Hay is running between $80 and $100/ton, so the economics of producers feeding their way out of drought have changed dramatically. Before, producers could find hay for $30, $40 or at most, $60/ton. Grain prices are also up. "Can you really afford to feed all your cows until next spring?" Anderson asks. "And how much rain will you have by then? Given these factors, it may be time for livestock producers to make some tough decisions."

Anderson says this year's drought has affected Nebraska's pastures and crops much earlier than most other years. "Cool-season grasses are virtually done growing for the year; even with good rainfall they will no longer produce like they would have if moisture had been available during spring," he states. "Warm-season grasses still can respond well with decent rainfall in June, but if significant rains are delayed until mid-July, these grasses will have little ability to grow."

In central South Dakota, more cattle than usual are heading to sale barns. The Red River Farm Network reports that drought is forcing cow-calf producers to sell off some of their herds. More than 1,000 pairs and 1,000 summer- and fall-calving cows sold in last week's sale at the Fort Pierre Livestock Auction. Officials say a lack of pasture is also bringing a large run of feeder cattle to market for this week's sale.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has confirmed that part of north-central South Dakota is in a severe drought--a D2 designation on its drought scale. The drought monitor ranks droughts in severity from D0, abnormally dry, to D4, exceptional drought. In addition to the South Dakota counties in severe drought, a broad strip of the state's middle region is classified as being either abnormally dry or in moderate drought.

"Along with our day-to-day chores, we have to worry if our cattle will have enough feed and water to make it through the upcoming hot summer months," says Mike Stahly, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association president.

Source: University of Nebraska Crop Watch newsletter, Red River Farm Net News.

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Enter Southeastern Hay Contest
By John Andrae, Clemson University Extension Forage Specialist
County agents and forage specialists from the land-grant universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, in conjunction with the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition, have organized the Third Annual Southeastern Hay Contest. The show will be held at the Sunbelt Ag Exposition in Moultrie, GA, Oct. 17-19. In addition to the forage quality contest, there will be educational programs on producing quality hay and forage. The winning entries will be on display at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in the beef pavilion.

The contest will have eight categories (warm- and cool-season grass hay, legume hay, mixed hay, and grass and legume baleage) It's open to any hay producer from Louisiana eastward to Virginia who wants to enter, but entries must be submitted by the farm where the forage was grown. Hay samples, entry fees ($10 per sample) and an entry form must be received by Sept. 22. Print out the contest rules and entry form at or at

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Insect Update
Weevils are actively feeding in southeastern Michigan alfalfa fields. Potato leafhoppers are present and will need to be watched for the second and subsequent cuttings. Potato leafhoppers also made their expected return to southwestern parts of the state over Memorial Day weekend. Their numbers are expected to increase, so growers are urged to watch regrowth alfalfa very carefully. The treatment threshold for 0 to 3" alfalfa is 0.2 leafhopper per sweep. Harvest is moving along around rain showers, and the earliest harvested fields are approaching second cutting already.

Alfalfa weevil damage is severe in some west-central Michigan fields. Meanwhile, most growers are opting for cutting vs. spraying in central Michigan, hoping weather will allow for a speedy completion because alfalfa weevils are taking a toll on quality and yield. Michigan State University entomologists have seen second cutting fields over threshold. The potato leafhoppers are also present in most fields at low levels.

Source: Michigan State University

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Alfalfa weevil adults have prevented regrowth in a number of fields in the Hartington area in Cedar County and needed to be sprayed last week, according to Keith Jarvi, University of Nebraska entomologist. On June 8, Jarvi scouted seven fields with a local farmer. The combination of weevil feeding and lack of rain kept a large proportion of three fields brown. In addition to causing moisture stress on the plants, the lack of rainfall reduces the incidence of a fungal disease that often decimates weevil populations. Almost all regrowth problems after first cutting are associated with below-normal rainfall, Jarvi reports. Weevil feeding may still occur for seven or more days.

After hay removal, producers should examine the stubble in several areas to determine if adults are present and feeding. Adult weevils are about 3/8" long and light brown with a darker brown stripe halfway down the back. They have a rigid, curved snout with tiny chewing mouthparts. Generally, if green-up isn't under way in three to five days, especially following rain, there is a good chance insects may be involved, says Jarvi. Variegated cutworms and clover leaf weevils also may be present, contributing to feeding damage. Once adult weevils are finished feeding, they enter a summer "estivation" period when they become inactive and cause no further damage.

Any one of several insecticides can be used to control alfalfa weevil adults when treatment is justified. Chemical control may be adversely influenced by weather, non-uniform or inadequate coverage, and poor choice of insecticides. To evaluate the effectiveness of chemical controls, Jarvi urges growers to carefully examine new growth several days after treatment.

Potato leafhoppers have also arrived and are seriously injuring alfalfa in many parts of Nebraska.

Source: University of Nebraska.

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Central Oregon hay growers have been having problems with winter grain mites and clover mites. "There is not an EPA-approved herbicide that helps combat clover mites," says Mylen Bohle, Oregon State University area extension crops agent. The mites attack orchardgrass and timothy hay fields. Cereal leaf beetles are proving to be a problem in Oregon as well. "We are working on getting two parasitoid wasps (Anaphes and T. Julius) released," Bohle says. Black grass bugs have moved into wheat fields. "Black grass bugs are usually a problem in grass pastures or range, but have moved into wheat fields this spring in central and north-central Oregon as well," he points out.

Contact Bohle at 541-447-6228.

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State Reports
Most of southern and parts of northern Alabama are dry, while rains in other parts of the state have made haying difficult, says Don Ball, extension agronomist at Auburn University. "We've gotten off to a bad start in some areas," he reports. Early dry conditions gave tall fescue a bit of a rough start in the northern part of the state. And cool temperatures at night during late May could have an impact on bermudagrass production.

Contact Ball at 334-844-5491.

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Oregon hay growers had to contend with rain storms and scattered showers during the last few weeks, when they wanted to be harvesting hay, according to Mylen Bohle, Oregon State University area extension crops agent. High nitrogen costs have motivated some growers to take out orchardgrass fields and put in alfalfa to help reduce input costs. "This may cause prices to go up for grass hay--less supply possibly," says Bohle. He expected alfalfa yields to be lower because of cooler weather this spring and early summer, but first cutting was delayed, which may offset that. Hay quality may be lower due to the wet weather and a much later harvest date. "This should be a good hay year, price-wise, for producers," he states. "The grass hay market has been strong, with lots of demand. Some orchardgrass hay was selling for $170/ton when there was just about no grass hay to be found locally. The horse market is continuing to increase in central Oregon. The dairy cow population is slowly rising, too, with some new dairies expanding in the state."

Because of increasing hay production costs, Bohle says some growers are stretching out alfalfa and grass stands. "People are seeding orchardgrass into alfalfa stands," Bohle says. "The high cost of nitrogen may mean we see more mixed stands of alfalfa and grasses. How much of this we see will ultimately depend on what the producer's clientele wants to buy." A couple of fields of Roundup Ready alfalfa have been seeded in central Oregon, and Bohle says more growers are investigating putting in Roundup Ready stands. "I advise producers to make sure they've got a good herbicide rotation program going through the life of the stand." he notes.

The last two years have brought tremendous vole problems in grass hay and alfalfa fields. "Lots of snow cover last winter gave the voles plenty of cover," he says.

Contact Bohle at 541-447-6228.

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Haying season is wide open with the BW Series self-propelled automatic bale wagon from New Holland. The BW makes your job of moving and stacking bales faster and more comfortable than ever, featuring a redesigned cab on the BW28 or BW38. Get ready to clear fields with speed and ease. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377.
Ohio State Hay Day Is June 17
Ohio State University's upcoming Hay Day will feature all that's new in hay-related science and technology. "This year's program will give you a chance to see and compare the latest forage harvesting equipment, working side by side," says Daryl Clark, Ohio State extension educator from Noble County. "And it will give you the chance to talk to company representatives one on one."

Field demonstrations begin at 9:30 a.m. and will include mowing, tedding, raking, baling of dry hay and wrapping of baleage. Presentations will include "Harvesting Quality Forages" by Clif Little, Guernsey County extension educator, and "Secrets of Making Quality Baleage" by Bill Weiss, animal scientist.

The event takes place June 17 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's Eastern Agricultural Research Station, 16870 Township Road 126, Belle Valley, OH. It's free, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, contact Clark at 740-732-5681 or

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**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 For more information, 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. 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

**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

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

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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