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 A Prism Business Media Publication June 20, 2006 |  
Ehay WEEKLY CONTENTS
Canadian Offers Hay Marketing Insight
Top of the News CRP Acres Released In Drought-Stressed States Three States Form Dairy Pact Washington State Offers Organics Major
Insect Update Nebraska
State Reports Arkansas Iowa Vermont Wisconsin
Events Iowa Haying And Grazing Field Day Is June 27 Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...


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Canadian Offers Hay Marketing Insight
By Don Allan, Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada
Editor's Note: Don Allan, a longtime eHay Weekly reader, offered to share some information about marketing hay in Alberta. Allan says his Web site is a crucial selling tool.

One of the biggest challenges to hay growers in our province for the past couple of years has been inclement weather during the harvesting season and the resulting marketing situation. Most of the hay in our area is put up in large round bales with more large square bales appearing on the scene each year. With the export timothy market having softened due to a number of factors, there appears to be a shift to the production of more mixed hay (alfalfa and grass) in large round bales for the beef cattle market.

Due to the exposure we have through our Web site, at allanhay.com, our marketing area has expanded considerably. While the hay demand in our immediate area is relatively soft due to carryover the past two years, we have found a market for our hay to horse feeders at greater distances. The current fuel cost has limited the distance that hay can be hauled and still remain competitive in the buyer's local market area. Due to the nature of Alberta, where beef cattle numbers are relatively high compared to dairy cattle and horses, we typically move most of our hay to cow-calf or beef backgrounding operations.

Our focus is to present the best-quality hay we possibly can to the marketplace. Many horse people have been frustrated at the challenge of finding dust-free hay over the past two years as a lot of mixed farming operations are primarily growing hay for their own use and selling any surplus. The "feed the best and sell the rest" philosophy is very present. A range cow doesn't mind a bit of dust, so the hay is often baled a little tougher than it should be just to get it off before the next shower comes through.

As specialized hay growers, we monitor the moisture content very closely when baling to enable us to provide the cleanest hay possible. Sometimes this means hay will get a shower on it, but we prefer to allow this to happen rather than baling it before it is properly cured.

The key to the horse market in our province is clean hay and friendly service. We package the bales according to the needs of the buyer. We contact our customers prior to baling and ask what kind of bales they want. No-rain hay (a challenge in our area) in round bales is net-wrapped with three layers to minimize spoilage due to rain. We have found that this is almost as effective and much more economical than tarping. Small squares need to be stacked and tarped right away, of course. For the most part, we haul our own round bales with a self-unloading single-axle farm truck or a 45' semi-trailer. Small square bales are picked up by the customers or are custom-hauled to them by commercial truckers with retrievers or self-unloading decks.

When orders come in that we are unable to fill out of our own production, we help out friends and neighbors in the area by selling their hay to our customers. On a weekly basis during the marketing season, we take a semi-trailer load (32 bales) of mid-grade hay to the auction market at Ponoka, Alberta. We pick up a lot of new customers there. Marketing hay into a regional surplus situation is the biggest challenge growers have faced in our area recently. Twine-tied round bales can only be kept outside so long before there is too much spoilage for them to hold their value. As a result, much hay has been dumped into the marketplace at about half the cost of production.

With the advent of online search engines, finding hay sources on the Internet has become a popular pastime for hay connoisseurs. Having found its value to us as primary producers and fledgling brokers, we are in the process of setting up an agricultural Web design division to assist other growers in capitalizing on this new marketing tool. Our planned start-up date is Aug. 1, 2006.

Contact Allan at 403-887-1728, write to him at RR1 Box 1069B, Sylvan Lake, AB T4S 1X6, Canada, or email dballan@telus.net.

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Top of the News
CRP Acres Released In Drought-Stressed States
As drought conditions worsen in many areas of the country, USDA is releasing additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage for emergency grazing. It recently released CRP lands in 31 Kansas counties due to serious, long-term drought conditions. Additionally, CRP lands have been released in various counties in Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, and other states are urging the administration to respond to local conditions.

The U.S. Drought Monitor (www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html) reports that more than half of the lower 48 states were classified as abnormally dry or worse, with 35% experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, an area 17% larger than it was last week. In addition, above-average temperatures are predicted for a large portion of the central and eastern states in the near future.

Source: U.S. AgNet.

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Three States Form Dairy Pact
New York state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Brennan and his counterparts in Pennsylvania and Vermont have entered into an agreement to work cooperatively to enhance the dairy industries in all three states. New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont together make up one of the country's three major milk producing regions. Collectively, they produce over 25 billion pounds of milk annually, nearly 15% of the nation's total milk supply. The three states share similar concerns about maintaining a viable dairy industry in the region at the same time the national dairy market sees rapid expansion in the West.

The pact also calls for the creation of a tri-state dairy advisory board, to be made up of representatives of each state's dairy industry.

Source: New York Business Review.

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Washington State Offers Organics Major
This fall, Washington State University (WSU) will be the country's first university to offer a major in organic agriculture systems and is leading a movement among ag schools to put organic farming in the curriculum. "WSU has been conducting research in organics for more than 25-30 years. It seemed only natural to have a program in it," says John Reganold, a soil scientist who conceived the new major. The trend reflects rising consumer demand for food grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones or genetic engineering. "Organics are 2% of the market, with dairy being the fastest growing," says Reganold. That figure is expected to double by 2010. The increased availability is expected to cause prices of organic foods to drop. Retail sales of organic foods have escalated 20% annually since 1990, according to a 2002 USDA report.

Source: Washington State University.

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Insect Update
Nebraska
Potato leafhoppers have recently been a problem in the eastern third of the state. According to the Nebraska Crop Watch newsletter, potato leafhoppers have the potential to hurt alfalfa in Nebraska every year, usually in the second and third cuttings. Southerly winds bring them into the state. Some damage has been reported, so it is time to begin scouting.

Source: Nebraska Crop Watch Newsletter. Learn more at cropwatch.unl.edu.

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State Reports
Arkansas
A very dry winter was followed by an extremely dry spring, leaving Arkansas hay growers with about 50-60% of their normal crop, reports John Jennings, University of Arkansas extension forage specialist. "Fescue and ryegrass fields matured quickly due to hot, dry weather in April. That suppressed the warm-season grass that was trying to start up at that time. The cool-season grass crop was short, and the bermudagrass crop is late," Jennings says. "We normally have a good harvest by now. Some bermudagrass has been harvested, but we aren't getting nearly normal yields." Last year was also dry in Arkansas, with low hay yields. Consequently, most of the extra hay has been used up. "A lot of producers are facing a short crop with no reserves on-hand," Jennings says. "Prices are staying up there because the supply is so low, but there is not a lot of hay being sold." The forecast is not favorable for a turnaround anytime soon.

"We're making a hard push for stockpiling bermudagrass and fescue for grazing this fall to help reduce the need for hay; that may help save a few folks, especially with this short crop," he says. Pastures are still in fair shape, although they're starting to show signs of drought stress. "We're at the point where we just wait to see what the weather does."

Contact Jennings at 501-671-2350.

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Iowa
Quite a bit or northwestern Iowa got much-needed rain over the weekend, says Joel DeJong, Plymouth County extension crops and field agent in LeMars. Most alfalfa growers got pretty good first cuttings, but dryness was affecting regrowth. "The second cutting is maturing a little quicker and we are seeing buds on these plants around 21 days," says DeJong. Established alfalfa and bromegrass stands performed okay in spite of the dryness. However, new alfalfa seedings were struggling.

Grass hay had good growth early, but high temperatures and less moisture in the last five weeks had some impact on yield.

Hayfields made it through last winter in good shape. Soil moisture was good going into spring, but then the rain stopped in early May. "Forage demand is probably going to go up because pastures haven't been very productive so far this year; many pastures are dormant," says DeJong.

Contact DeJong at 712-546-7835.

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Vermont
It's going to be a rough year for forages in Vermont, predicts Sidney Bosworth, University of Vermont extension forage agronomist. Record rainfall in May and June delayed the first cutting. Many fields haven't been harvested yet. "Over the past weekend, weather was improved enough that many fields have now been chopped, and more are on the way," Bosworth reports. "However, first-cut quality is going to be way below normal."

Contact Bosworth at 802-656-0478.

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Wisconsin
Rain in mid-May delayed hay harvest in parts of Wisconsin as growers tried to avoid tearing up wet fields. Most first-crop hay has now been harvested in Fond du Lac County, says Mike Rankin, county extension agent. Quality was variable, depending on how much rain fell on the hay after cutting. "By and large we were pretty pleased with yields," says Rankin. "A lot of the stands on the eastern side of the state are new seedings from last year because we lost so much due to winterkill the winter before."

Alfalfa weevils chewed on some second-crop regrowth, especially in the southern part of the state. Overall, regrowth has been good, with plenty of moisture state-wide. "Some of the new seedings this spring didn't establish very well because of rain or likely diseases associated with wetter soil conditions, and some of those stands needed to be torn up and reseeded," Rankin says.

After unusually wet conditions in 2004, then extremely dry weather in 2005, growers didn't have large hay inventories. "This growing season is a catch-up season after two bad years," he says.

Meanwhile, most first-crop hay has been harvested in Dane County, with some second-crop cutting expected this week, according to David Fischer, county crops and soils agent, Madison. "Our first crop, for the most part, was of excellent quality," he reports. "We did have some rained-on hay, but that happens every year. Our first-crop quantity was average at best. We had a lot of high winds during the first to middle part of May, and we had a lot of lodging in our first crop. There was a lot of difficulty cutting some of these fields. It was a shorter crop." Winterkill was not a problem in the area this year. There are some localized alfalfa weevil problems in second-crop regrowth. "I think we are on the end of the weevil problems," Fischer says. Potato leafhoppers have not been a problem as of yet, but he expects they could be coming at any time.

Contact Rankin at 920-929-3171. Contact Fischer at 608-224-3716.

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Events
Iowa Haying And Grazing Field Day Is June 27
A haying and grazing field day is planned for Tuesday, June 27, beginning at the Jimmy Carpenter farm, six miles east of Millerton, IA, on county highway J22. Demonstrations at the Carpenter farm will include 2005 air-seeded alfalfa without a cover crop, 2005-2006 yields using three fertilizer rates, forage testing and hay quality analysis, and costs and returns from hay production in southern Iowa.

The second stop on the schedule is the Bruce George farm to see a split grazing of pantheon canary grass. Demonstrations at this stop will include cost-and-return comparisons for nitrogen vs. non-fertilized pastures and a look at what can make stocker/grazing programs profitable.

For more information, contact Joe Sellers, Lucas County Extension, at 641-774-2016.

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Calendar
**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.

**Oct. 17-19 -- Sunbelt Ag Exposition, Moultrie, GA.

**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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