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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication June 27, 2006 |  
What's In The Hay?
Top of the News Feed List Helps Drought-Stricken North Dakotans
Insect Update Nebraska Ohio
State Reports Michigan New York North Dakota
Events Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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What's In The Hay?
No matter how high the quality of your hay may be, if a customer finds foreign material such as metal pieces, machinery parts or dead animals inside a bale, your reputation could be harmed. Rollie Bernth, Ward Rugh, Inc., Ellensburg, WA, passed that message along in a recent issue of the National Hay Association's Hay There newsletter. "It's amazing what can be hidden inside a bale of hay," he says. "In many cases, the item or items cannot be seen from the exterior of the bale. These items can create real problems for the end user as well as the processor. For the end user, of course, there's the possibility an animal may try to eat an item and cause injury or death."

Speaking from a processor's perspective, Bernth says foreign material in bales can cause extensive damage to hay compressing equipment. Exporters have cause for concern as well. "If you are an exporter, you are very concerned about animal parts," Bernth notes. "As long as mad cow disease exists, we will need to be very cautious about sending any hay (for export) that would contain any animal protein or bone material."

He urges growers to be aware of machinery that may be losing parts while swathing, raking, baling and stacking. Try to find parts before they are part of a hay bale. "When swathing, be watchful of any animals that may have gotten in the way and remove them before the baling process begins," he adds.

Bernth, a member of NHA's board of directors, can be reached at 509-925-2827.

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Top of the News
Feed List Helps Drought-Stricken North Dakotans
Drought conditions in south-central North Dakota have many livestock producers in need of additional forage. Farmers and ranchers who have forage for sale can list it on a North Dakota State University (NDSU) database designed to help feed sellers and buyers connect. Producers also may use this service to list pasture they have available for rent.

Feedlist, accessible on the Web at, is an easy-to-use database showing what each seller has to sell, storage method (large round bales, small bales, etc.) and contact information. Prospective buyers check the Web site, select what they want to buy and contact prospective sellers to do a deal. There is no charge to buyer or seller.

Feedlist has been available during feed shortages since the late 1970s. "People sometimes forget that this isn't just truckloads of hay," says Greg Lardy, NDSU extension beef specialist. "Rental pastures, custom feeding and other feed sources are welcome and encouraged on the list."

Surrounding states have similar services and are linked to NDSU's "Coping
with Droughts" Web page at

Contact Lardy at 701-231-7660 or

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Insect Update
Nebraska growers could be putting blame in the wrong place if alfalfa fields aren't doing well. While much of the state is experiencing drought conditions, potato leafhoppers and alfalfa weevils might be the main factor behind poor alfalfa growth in some areas. "The severity of their impact is just greater during dry years," says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska forage specialist.

"Right now, we don't know how severe the damage is going to be," says Anderson. Because leafhoppers are migratory, their arrival is dependent on winds from the Southeast. Some have already arrived, but early summer is a typical time of year for growers to begin seeing leafhopper damage, Anderson notes.

Alfalfa weevils also are preventing regrowth in a number of fields, reports Keith Jarvi, integrated pest management specialist at the university's Northeast Research and Extension Center at Norfolk. Not only has the lack of rainfall stressed alfalfa, so has the reduced presence of a fungal disease that reduces weevil populations, he says. "We've already seen some damage on regrowth from the adults," Anderson adds. "Growers just aren't recognizing it because conditions have been so dry."

After the first alfalfa harvest, adult weevils feed on emerging shoots. If fields don't green up three to five days following harvest, there is a good chance insects are involved. "It takes close examination because weevils are so small. Adult weevils like to hide under plant litter and dead material, especially during the heat of the day," Anderson says. The key to preventing serious damage is to scout fields regularly to detect pests early and spray an insecticide while they are still present and before irreversible damage has been done.

If leafhoppers have stunted growth, Anderson suggests removing poisoned plant tissue to stimulate new growth before applying insecticide. Mow new seedlings and then spray, if necessary, he says.

As with any chemical, be sure to follow instructions, restrictions and precautions, Jarvi adds. Remember to examine new growth following treatment because factors including weather, non-uniform or inadequate chemical application and poor choice of insecticide may adversely affect chemical control.

Besides insects, the big problem facing alfalfa growers this season is lack of moisture. "Producers have to realize there isn't a whole lot they can do. If yields aren't going to reach expected levels, they should begin thinking about other sources for hay," Anderson says.

Source: University of Nebraska.

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Potato leafhoppers have been in Ohio for several weeks. Ohio State University entomologists say it's time to start sweeping alfalfa for leafhopper adults and nymphs in the second cutting. New seedings should also be checked, since they cannot take as much damage as older stands. Using a standard sweep net, take several 10-sweep samples randomly across the field, counting the number of leafhoppers in each sample. Treatment is based on the number of adults and nymphs found vs. the height of the alfalfa. Ohio State entomologists say treatment is warranted if the number of leafhoppers in 10 sweeps equals or exceeds the height of the alfalfa in inches. For example, eight leafhoppers in 10 sweeps in 6" alfalfa would justify treatment.

Source: Ohio State University.

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State Reports
The first alfalfa cutting is mostly finished in southeastern Michigan, and rains have really helped the regrowth. Potato leafhoppers have not been a problem. First-cutting sales have been good despite there being plenty of hay available.

The first cutting is generally complete in west-central Michigan. Many growers have taken advantage of the recent extended period of dry weather to get good-quality hay put up. Potato leafhoppers are present in many fields and should be monitored.

The first cutting is winding down in central Michigan, too. Early cut fields are 12-16" tall, and the second cutting will begin this week in some areas. Potato leafhoppers are present in most fields.

The alfalfa crop looks mostly good in the state's thumb region. The second cutting should be good where the first cutting was made early.

Source: Michigan State University.

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New York
The hay crop is looking really good, but is running later than normal in parts of New York, reports Scott Brady, Sugar Creek Farm, Dansville. "We started the spring dry because there was very little snow this winter," he states. "Then we got some rain, but we had a cooler-than-normal spring so we are just barely starting to harvest the first crop." Brady says prices are expected to be steady in the area.

Contact Sugar Creek Farm at 585-335-8664.

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North Dakota
Parts of North Dakota need rain, reports Dennis Brown, Northern Dakota Alfalfa, Milton. "We had a good, mild winter with lots of snow cover and we didn't have any winterkill. Then we had a decent spring," he says. "The crops got off to a nice start and we had a good first cutting of alfalfa. But if we don't start getting some rain, we may not have a second or third cutting." Brown says 20 miles west of his area, water is standing in fields from an over-abundance of rain, but south-central North Dakota is in an extreme drought.

Brown carried some hay over, so he has good quality and quantity available. Recently he has noticed demand for hay dropping a bit, probably, he surmises, because of high fuel prices and lower milk prices. Most of his hay is sold to dairy producers as far as 600 miles away.

He grows around 500 acres of alfalfa and has a custom baling business. The family operation also consists of beef cattle and crops such as wheat, barley, canola, flax, oats and sunflowers.

Contact Brown at 701-496-3565.

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**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

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

**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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