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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication July 11, 2006 |  
Chemical Residues Threaten Exports
Top of the News Over Half Of U.S. Is Dry Managing Alfalfa Seedlings During Drought
Insect Update Minnesota Nebraska
State Reports Oklahoma South Dakota
Events Horse Workshop Will Cover Hay Nutrition Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...

This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Chemical Residues Threaten Exports
U.S. hay exporters are working to make sure chemical residues are not present in exported hay. As part of that effort, the National Hay Association (NHA), along with other groups, is gathering and disseminating information to help avoid and address problems. "Recently there have been reports that residues of clopyralid, the active ingredient in Curtail, Curtail M and Stinger, have been found in timothy grass hay that was sampled in Japan," says Jeff Plourd, El Toro Export, El Centro, CA. The residues allegedly caused problems in a crop of tomatoes that were fertilized with manure or compost from animals that had been fed timothy hay with clopyralid residues.

Plourd says the residue carryover has created a serious concern that NHA's Export Processor's Committee is addressing with Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Japan Feed Trade Association. These two government agencies are responsible for regulating forage imports. "Without being proactive to residue concerns, we risk losing a very important market for our hay products," says Plourd.

Hay growers are urged to strictly adhere to label requirements and to check with their chemical field representatives to make sure there are no clopyralid residues in hay that may be exported. The manufacturer of clopyralid has published guidelines that minimize the risk of residues in all hay and straw. The guidelines must be followed for all hay that may be exported.

"There are safeguards and controls that all producers must follow when they apply pesticides to hay and forage crops," Plourd says. "Chemical companies have spent many dollars and untold hours of research to ensure that products are safe and beneficial for use. In light of the recent issues, all producers, exporters and processors must increase their awareness so that the tools at our disposal meet safety requirements as well as demands for an individual market. Japan is going to be watching closely."

Hay producer groups are being encouraged to plan meetings to discuss herbicide residues and how residue problems can be addressed. "The meetings would be specific to hay producers' states and producing regions," says Plourd. "We are united in our effort and believe more information and traceability will benefit everyone."

Contact Plourd at 760-352-4157.

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Top of the News
Over Half Of U.S. Is Dry
According to reports on the U.S. AgNet Web site, the U.S. Drought Monitor now shows that over half of the U.S. is under droughty conditions. States in "Exceptional" and "Extreme" drought include Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Colorado and South Dakota. Most of the western Corn Belt (starting at the Mississippi River) is under droughty conditions.

To view the current Drought Monitor, go to

Source: U.S. AgNet.

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Managing Alfalfa Seedlings During Drought
By Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension Forage Specialist

Alfalfa stressed by drought during its first summer may struggle to survive, but alfalfa seedlings are tough. Despite their slow rate of growth and tender appearance, many of them manage to survive stressful conditions and become productive haymakers.

Some years are harder on seedlings than others, however, and this is one of those years. Because of the extended hot, dry weather, alfalfa seedlings are experiencing more stress than usual. Anything you can do to reduce stress and competition will help.

First, control weeds. Weeds use moisture and intercept light, two critical needs of seedlings. If weeds aren't too large and are growing actively, herbicides are a good option. Otherwise, clipping may be necessary. If you must clip, leave a tall stubble so seedlings don't go into shock after clipping and be careful not to smother them with your clippings.

Second, scout for insects. Leafhoppers, aphids, grasshoppers and other insects cause extra problems during stressful weather. Timely insecticide application or mowing is more important than ever.

Third, consider topping off your dryland alfalfa, even if there isn't enough to harvest. The larger the plant, the more soil moisture it needs to survive. Making plants smaller by clipping will reduce the plant's moisture requirement, relieving some stress and conserving what little moisture remains.

Drought conditions may make growth difficult for alfalfa seedlings, but with a little extra care, they can get a good start.

Source: University of Nebraska.

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You can prevent stand loss. You can reduce dry-down time. You can increase alfalfa forage quality, stand longevity and yield. You can do it with Raptor® herbicide. Research trials prove that the superior performance of Raptor controls grasses and broadleaf weeds, enabling your alfalfa - and your bottom line - to thrive.

The chemical company.
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Insect Update
Growers should begin scouting alfalfa for potato leafhoppers, say University of Minnesota extension specialists. High levels of potato leafhoppers have been reported in southeastern Minnesota alfalfa fields this summer. Growers are urged to scout when the field has about one week's growth following cutting. Potato leafhoppers migrate into Minnesota each year via strong, southerly winds. Failing to scout and manage them can result in a loss of around 1/2 ton per cutting, according to the specialists.

Source: University of Minnesota Extension Service.

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Cowpea aphids were found in alfalfa in Dixon County, NE, a couple weeks ago. Entomologists say they can be a problem in a dry year. First reported in Nebraska in Knox County in 1999, the cowpea aphid is easily distinguished from other aphids in alfalfa since it is the only black aphid likely to infest the crop. It's relatively small -- less than 2 mm long. An excellent color photo can be found on a University of California Web site:

Cowpea aphids have been reported in at least 28 states and three Canadian provinces. They have an extensive host range with a marked preference for legumes. Other known host plants are apple, carrot, cotton, cowpea, dandelion, dock, goldenrod, kidney bean, lambsquarters, lettuce, lima bean, pinto bean, peanut, pepperweed, pigweed, red clover, shepherdspurse, vetch, wheat and sweet clover.

Source: University of Nebraska Crop Watch Newsletter.

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State Reports
Many southern Oklahoma cattle producers in are feeding hay now -- if they can find it, says Eddie Funderburg, Noble Foundation soil and crop specialist. "Hay is very scarce and quality varies a great deal," Funderburg reports. "Not only is hay expensive, it is also hard to find. Cattle producers are trying to put together low-cost rations, but are having trouble finding forage." Oklahoma hay growers suffered through a very dry fall in 2005, and many parts of the state have had almost no rain since winter.

Contact Funderburg at 580-223-5810.

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South Dakota
South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds has requested a federal drought disaster declaration for 23 counties. Rounds wants USDA to open Conservation Reserve Program acreage for haying and grazing. Permit fees for transportation of baled livestock feed are being waived in the state. Northern and western South Dakota seem to be suffering the most from the extreme dry spell.

Southeastern South Dakota is dry, but not in quite the desperate straits as some parts of the state, reports Amy Freeburg, Freeburg Hay Company, Gayville. "We got a couple of inches of rain three weeks ago, but we are still dry at the moment," she says. "We are right on top of the third crop right now and we've been running two to three weeks ahead of schedule all year." She expects a lot of wheat and oat straw to be baled this week.

One positive result of the dry weather has been good hay-making weather. "The quality has been very good this year and yields have stayed pretty good overall, too," Freeburg says.

Amy and Gary Freeburg market around 35,000 tons of hay per year. Learn more about the company by visiting, or call 605-267-4426.

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Horse Workshop Will Cover Hay Nutrition
Texas Cooperative Extension of Harris County will present Equine Health, a horse care workshop, from 8:30 a.m. until noon on July 15 at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

Extension professionals will show horse owners how to determine the nutritional value of different types of hay and how to maintain a healthy pasture. The workshop will also cover the national animal identification program and common horse health issues, and there will be hands-on instruction for checking a horse's vital signs.

Floron Faries, extension veterinarian, will join Harris County's Wayne Thompson, extension agent for agriculture, in presenting the workshop.

A $10 donation is requested to cover the cost of lunch. To register, call Diana Todd at 281-855-5600.

Source: Texas A&M University.

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**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. 7-9 -- Stockman's School For Profit, Rockin H Ranch, Norwood, MO. Gerald Fry and Cody Holms will provide real live data and a close-up look at how the Rockin H Ranch of 900 cow/calf pairs has grown to a successful family operation in the last 31 years. Ranchers can learn how to profitably operate a ranch. Contact Cody Holmes at 417-844-2619, email, or visit

**Sept. 12 -- Kentucky Forage And Grassland Council Field Day, Dobbs Shady Meadow Farm, Campbell County. Learn more at

**Sept. 21-24 -- World Beef Expo, Wisconsin State Fair Park near Milwaukee. Learn more at, or call 414-266-7050.

**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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Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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