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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication July 5, 2006 |  
Harvested Hay Acreage Up 2%
Top of the News Improving Yield Of Drought-Stressed Alfalfa Four States Get Disaster Designations
Insect Update Illinois Missouri
State Reports North Dakota Wisconsin
Events Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Is Aug. 7-9 Illinois Forage Expo Set For Aug. 25 Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Harvested Hay Acreage Up 2%
Growers expect to harvest 62.7 million acres of hay this year, 2% more than in 2005, according to USDA's June 30 Crop Acreage report. Harvested acreage of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures is forecast at 22.4 million, up fractionally. All other hay is expected to total 40.3 million acres, up 3% from last year's number. The major increases in alfalfa hay acres are expected in states from the Great Basin westward to the Pacific Coast, the central areas of the Great Plains and Corn Belt, and in Pennsylvania and New York. These increases are nearly offset by decreases in the northern Great Plains, Southwest, and western and eastern Corn Belt.

Wisconsin is expecting the largest increase in alfalfa hay acreage, up 100,000, as many growers expect to cut the alfalfa for dry hay instead of haylage. Additionally, large increases in alfalfa hay acres are expected in California and New York, both up 60,000 acres. Compared with 2005, the acreage of hay other than alfalfa is expected to increase or remain unchanged in all but 10 states.

Harvested acreage of other hay is expected to increase by 110,000, 100,000 and 300,000 acres in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, respectively. Recent drought conditions in these states have left hay stocks at very low levels, so growers are expecting to harvest as much hay as possible, despite the current poor quality in some areas. The largest declines are expected in Montana and South Dakota, down 150,000 and 100,000 acres, respectively.

Source: USDA.

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Top of the News
Improving Yield Of Drought-Stressed Alfalfa
Your ground is dry, no rain is forecast and alfalfa growth is really slow. Under these conditions, it's unlikely that alfalfa will regrow much after harvest, so growers probably need to get as much yield as possible from the current growth. So when should you cut?

University of Nebraska experts suggest first determining if alfalfa is growing at all. If it seems the alfalfa has stopped growing, and there is enough to justify harvest, cut right away because waiting means the crop is going to go downhill. If it's still growing, although slowly, wait until as much yield as possible has accumulated. This might occur sooner than you think. Research studies have shown that maximum yield from any single cutting occurs at or soon after full bloom. But what is full bloom? You might think it's when all flowers are blooming, with the field covered in purple. But that's actually later than full bloom. Full bloom is when virtually every stem has one or more flowers open and blooming, say the experts. Since most stems usually have several potential flowers per stem, full bloom and maximum yield occur while many potential flowers have still not bloomed.

Maximum yield occurs while there still is potential growth on the plant. Bottom leaves begin falling off faster after full bloom so new growth can accumulate at the top. The bottom line is that yield can be lost by waiting too long.

Source: University of Nebraska.

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Four States Get Disaster Designations
Last week, USDA designated the entire state of Vermont a primary natural disaster area. The designation was announced due to a number of factors, including excessive rainfall and flooding. Counties in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York were also included in the disaster designation.

Qualified farmer operators in designated areas are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency and have eight months from the date of declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

A map indicating the designated counties can be accessed at:

Source: USDA.

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NK Brand Alfalfas deliver more quality AND more yield. Our premium alfalfas, like Genoa, Expedition and Boulder, combine high nutritional values with high yields, plus outstanding agronomics and persistence for longer, healthier stands. The result? More profit from your alfalfa acres - whether you feed it or sell it.
Insect Update
Alfalfa is facing substantial pressure from potato leafhoppers throughout west-central Illinois. Many fields are well-yellowed.

Source: University of Illinois.

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Potato leafhoppers have been hitching a ride on thunderstorm winds and are ending up in Missouri alfalfa fields this summer. Growers should scout fields at least twice a week, especially after thunderstorms, in order to catch and treat leafhoppers, says Wayne Bailey, University of Missouri extension entomologist. Leafhoppers are carried on upper-level winds from Gulf Coast states where they overwinter in large numbers. "After the last two storm fronts, we started finding lots of adult leafhoppers," Bailey says.

The recommended economic threshold for treatment is only 10 hoppers per 50 sweeps when a stand is less than 3" tall. For alfalfa 12" or taller, the threshold is 100 hoppers per 50 sweeps. Scouting sweeps are made with a 15" insect net. "If high numbers of insects are found, an insecticide treatment should be considered," Bailey says. "If the alfalfa field is ready for a third cutting of hay, an insecticide treatment can be avoided. University of Missouri research shows that harvesting with a disc mower-conditioner can reduce hopper nymph counts by 90%. Fewer adult leafhoppers are killed by mechanical harvesters, as the hoppers jump out of the way."

Newer alfalfa varieties with glandular hairs on their stems and leaves are resistant to leafhoppers. "The hairs form a physical barrier which holds the hoppers away from the plant surface," Bailey says.

Contact Bailey at 573-864-9905.

Source: University of Missouri.

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State Reports
North Dakota
North Dakota State University's Dickinson Research and Extension Center reports the driest June on record, according to the Red River Farm Network. Some North Dakota hay growers were unable to harvest a crop due to the dry conditions. The drought has prompted North Dakota Governor John Hoeven to declare an agriculture drought emergency in the state. Last week's executive order creates a state water commission program to help ranchers with the cost of creating permanent water supplies for cattle. Hoeven is also seeking authorization from USDA to open Conservation Reserve Program land to haying and grazing. The governor asked the state-owned Bank of North Dakota to reactivate programs that offer drought-affected producers and business owners help with loan restructuring. He activated a working group that will help the Division of Emergency Services coordinate drought relief efforts.

This is the first time since June 2004 that an agriculture drought disaster has been declared in North Dakota. Hoeven says his order applies to all counties, though those in the south-central part of the state are the most seriously affected. Hoeven has not sought a federal disaster declaration for drought-stricken parts of the state, but officials are still reviewing reports to determine if such a request should be made.

Sources: North Dakota Governor's Office and Red River Farm Network. Learn more about the governor's drought emergency declaration at

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Parts of northwestern Wisconsin have not seen much rain, reports Lee Boettcher of JenLee Farms, St. Croix Falls. "Rainfall has been less then 0.3" in the last month," he says. "Even with lack of rain, first cutting of hay was of high quality, good quantity and harvested in a timely manner. As of this date there is a lot of second crop cut." Boettcher tells eHay Weekly the farmers he talks to feel that there will not be a shortage of forage in the area this year. "But we sure could use the rain," he concludes.

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Research trials conducted throughout the major alfalfa growing regions of the U.S. prove the superior performance of Raptor® herbicide: Controlling grasses and broadleaf weeds with Raptor in both seedling and established alfalfa can have a significant effect in improving the yield potential and forage quality of your alfalfa.

The chemical company.
Always read and follow label directions.
Raptor is a registered trademark of BASF. © 2005 BASF Corporation.
All Rights Reserved.
APN 05-01-133-0010 b
Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Is Aug. 7-9
Forage and beef cattle nutrition management will be the topics of several Cattleman's College seminars at the 52nd Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, Aug. 7-9 in College Station. These topics are timely, since keeping cattle in good condition was a challenge to Texas beef producers last summer and this past winter, says Jason Cleere, extension beef cattle specialist. Scarce rainfall during the 2005 growing season, as well as last fall and winter, resulted in very little available grazing forage, he says. Forage alternatives will be discussed at the seminars.

"Little to no hay reserves from 2005 and below-normal hay production early in the 2006 season indicate that hay supplies may be short for next winter," says Larry Redmon, extension forage specialist. "During the forage session of the Cattleman's College, Texas A&M faculty will address methods to stretch hay supplies."

The short course will have a total of 15 specialized workshops as part of the Cattleman's College. A general session will include discussions of the cattle market, climate and issues affecting landowners. Numerous opportunities for Beef Quality Assurance and pesticide applicator continuing education units will be available.

Registration by July 31 is $120 per participant and includes admission to the conference and the Cattleman's College, a copy of the proceedings (a 300-page publication), trade show admittance, tickets to the special Aggie prime rib dinner, and additional meals and breaks. Registration after July 31 will be $160.

Register online at or call 979-845-6931.

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Illinois Forage Expo Set For Aug. 25
The 2006 Illinois Forage Expo will be Friday, Aug. 25, at Hildebrandt Farms, 2475 State Line Road, South Beloit. Field demonstrations will include forage harvesting equipment and commercial displays will feature forage-related products and equipment. In addition, educational sessions will focus on alfalfa management, stored feed options, cow health issues, raising dairy replacements on grass and manure management plans.

The expo will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Hildebrandt operation consists of a 350-head Holstein dairy confinement operation that utilizes about 300 acres of alfalfa. The farm is about 8 miles east of South Beloit on State Line Road, or go north from Belvidere on Route 76 about 16 miles to State Line Road, then west 1 1/2 miles.

For more information, go to, or contact the Illinois Forage & Grassland Council at 618-664-0555, ext. 3.

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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.

**Aug. 7-9 -- Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, Texas A&M University, College Station. Register online at or by calling 979-845-6931.

**Aug. 25 -- Illinois Forage Expo, Hildebrandt Farms, 2475 State Line Road, South Beloit. Learn more at, or contact the Illinois Forage & Grassland Council at 618-664-0555, ext. 3.

**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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