Producing High-Quality Alfalfa Despite The
By Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska
Extension Forage Specialist
When it gets hot, alfalfa plants suffer. Growth rates
decrease and moisture stress is common, even in moist soil. High
nighttime temperatures also cause rapid metabolic rates that burn off
valuable plant nutrients stored during the day. This cycle often
produces fine-stemmed alfalfa hay that's high in protein and fiber but
has low relative feed value.
Heat-stressed alfalfa also matures faster than normal and may begin to
bloom in less than four weeks. If you use blooming as a signal to
harvest, this early blooming can be misleading. During hot weather,
alfalfa plants need more time, not less, to rebuild nutrient reserves in
their roots. Under these conditions, watch your calendar as well as your
plants to determine when to cut.
You also might want to adjust when you cut hay during the day. Some
research has shown that late-afternoon cuttings produce higher-quality
hay than morning cuttings. But on good drying days, it may be wiser to
cut in the morning. When hay in the windrow stays above 50% moisture,
plant cells continue to respire, burning away valuable nutrients. Hay
cut late in the day respires all night long, losing yield and quality.
On good drying days, plant cells can dry enough to be stabilized before
nightfall, reducing respiration losses.
Source: University of Nebraska Crop Watch newsletter.
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.
Always read and follow label directions.
Raptor is a registered trademark of BASF. © 2005 BASF
All Rights Reserved.
Iowa State Offers Organic Crop Budgets
A new Iowa State University (ISU) extension publication
can help organic hay producers assess costs and revenue associated with
growing organic hay and other field crops. The Organic Crop
Production Enterprise Budgets publication contains four enterprise
budget worksheets that can estimate financial consequences of organic
crop production. Organic growers may have three to six different
products to develop budgets for, depending upon the number of crops
within their rotations. These budgets reflect a four-year rotation of
corn, soybeans, oats with alfalfa and a second year of alfalfa as the
Each worksheet provides sample budgets based on a long-term Iowa State
University research farm study. The data was modified to more accurately
reflect average Iowa results as indicated by organic farmers who
reviewed the budgets
The publication (FM1876) is available through any ISU extension office,
online through the ISU Extension Distribution Center or by calling
515-294-5247. An electronic copy of it is available at www.extension.iastate.edu/store.
USDA Reports More Cows, More Milk
Milk production in the 23 major dairy states during
June totaled 14 billion pounds, up 1.9% from the same month last year,
according to USDA's monthly report released last week. May revised
production, at 14.7 billion pounds, was up 2.7% from May 2005
Production per cow in the 23 states averaged 1,695 lbs for June, 5 lbs
above the June 2005 figure. The number of milk cows on farms in those
states totaled 8.27 million, 128,000 more than in June 2005, and 9,000
more than in May 2006.
California production was up 0.6% from the year-ago number. That state
added 30,000 cows but production per cow was down 15 lbs. Wisconsin
production was up 1% on 8,000 more cows and a 5-lb gain per cow. This
reportedly is the first time there's been an increase in Wisconsin dairy
cow numbers since the early 1980s.
The biggest production increase occurred in New Mexico (12.9%), thanks
to 35,000 more cows and a 35-lb gain per cow. Texas was next, up 10.2%,
thanks to a 100-lb gain per cow and 13,000 more head.
Florida posted the biggest production loss (7.6%) due a 60-lb drop in
The biggest ideas in balers come from New
Holland. Like New Holland BR Series round balers with eight different
baler models to precisely fit your operation. They feature the
XtraSweep™ pickup, which allows you to easily handle heavy or
windblown windrows to bring in more crop. To learn more, see your local
New Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377. www.newholland.com/h4/
Many southern Minnesota hay producers are putting up
their third hay crops, reports Lisa Behnken, University of Minnesota
regional extension educator, Rochester. "It was warm and wet early, so
we had an excellent first crop, and we've been about one week ahead with
every cutting," she reports. "June and July turned quite dry, but we
still had a respectable second cutting."
Producers are keeping an eye on potato leafhopper populations, she says.
"We've had a rapid increase in potato leafhoppers in the last couple of
weeks. They were starting to heat up before second crop was harvested,
and since we got that crop off, we have had little to no rain. We've had
just the right weather patterns for potato leafhopper movement and
development, so populations have increased quickly. Folks should
continue to scout their fields and stay ahead of potato leafhopper
damage," she adds.
Pastures are looking dry in southern Minnesota, which could lead to
increased forage demand. Producers are wondering if drought-stressed
corn silage could be a problem as well. "The dry weather definitely has
brought some of these issues onto the radar screens," Behnken says.
The U.S. Drought Monitor Program of USDA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration officially designated northwestern,
north-central and east-central Minnesota to be in a severe drought as of
July 18. Most of the 14 counties ready to petition for federal emergency
disaster declarations are in northwestern and central Minnesota, reports
USDA's Farm Service Agency. There is speculation that the number may
double if the drought continues into and beyond August.
Contact Behnken at 507-280-2867.
Much of Missouri has had one of the hottest summers on
record. Hay yields have been one-third to one-half lower in some areas.
Southwestern Missouri is the driest. Hay was being fed as of July 1.
Rains in early July brought some relief in many parts of the state,
reports Tony Hancock, market reporter for the Missouri Department of
Agriculture, Jefferson City. Even so, some areas got around 6" of rain,
while others received 1-2". "The rain helped put runoff back in ponds
and helped some of the dry areas of the state," Hancock states. "Most of
northern Missouri is low on water, but it has had enough rain to keep
things green. Southwestern Missouri has been burning up, and we saw a
lot of young calves being sold early. A lot of people had been thinking
about thinning out cow herds until they got some rain. Now we are
waiting to see if it is going to get hot and dry again or if we'll be
able to get some more moisture."
Producers have been making a lot of grass hay and are trying to build
supplies. "We had used up most of our hay supplies prior to now," says
Hancock. Some producers have been buying hay from Iowa. "We typically
haul a lot into Missouri from Kansas, but producers aren't having any
luck finding much hay in Kansas."
Many producers think the hay market has hit top prices in Missouri until
feeding season gets well under way in January and February. "We should
have plenty of hay for winter if nothing bad happens, but not
necessarily the best-quality hay," Hancock says. "The dairies aren't
buying high-quality hay. They won't pay for it and they don't want it
right now. High-quality brome hay is really hot."
The last two storm fronts brought potato leafhoppers into the state,
says University of Missouri entomologist Wayne Bailey. He urges
producers to check fields at least twice per week. Newly seeded alfalfa
fields and fields recently cut for hay are most vulnerable, Bailey says.
Fields regrowing after hay harvest can be heavily damaged by small
infestations of leafhoppers.
Harvesting can reduce hopper nymph counts by 90%, University of Missouri
research shows. Hancock says most producers he has been talking to
recently manage infestations by cutting.
Contact Tony Hancock at 573-751-5618, and Wayne Bailey at
NK Brand Alfalfas deliver
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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. www.nk-us.com
Precision Selling Seminar May Target Large
The Purdue University Precision Selling Seminar, to be
held July 27-28, could help hay producers target their marketing
programs toward large farms.
The seminar, at Purdue's West Lafayette, IN, campus, will allow
participants to explore the factors influencing decisions of
large-operation producers. It aims to reach people responsible for
servicing and selling to key farm accounts. A panel of large-operation
producers will be a part of the seminar.
Registration is $1,495 and includes program materials, snacks and some
meals. Download the seminar brochure or register online at www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/programs/ps/index.html,
or contact the center at 765-494-4247.
**July 27-28 -- Purdue University Precision Selling
Seminar, West Lafayette, IN. Download a brochure or register online
at www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/programs/ps/index.html, or
**Aug. 7-9 -- Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, Texas A&M
University, College Station. Register online at animalscience.tamu.edu or by calling 979-845-6931.
**Aug. 25 -- Illinois Forage Expo, Hildebrandt Farms, 2475 State
Line Road, South Beloit. Learn more at www.illinoisforage.org, 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 www.nationalhay.org.
**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 email@example.com, or visit www.rochinh.net.
**Sept. 12 -- Kentucky Forage And Grassland Council Field Day,
Dobbs Shady Meadow Farm, Campbell County. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Sept. 21-24 -- World Beef Expo, Wisconsin State Fair Park near
Milwaukee. Learn more at www.worldbeefexpo.com, or call 414-266-7050.
**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. For more
information, visit www.sunbeltexpo.com or call 229-985-1968.
**Oct. 20-21 -- 5th Annual Pennsylvania Statewide Project Grass
Conference, Williamsport. Featured speakers include Jim Gerrish and
Allen Williams, plus many more. Contact Kris Ribble at firstname.lastname@example.org or
570-784-4401 ext. 111.
**Oct. 24-25 -- Western Hay Business Conference And Expo, Red
Lion Hotel at the Park, Spokane, WA. Sponsored by Hay & Forage
Grower. Register at $150 per person and bring a second person from
your operation for $125. Learn more at www.hayconference.com.
**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 email@example.com, or Glenn
Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention
Center, Ruidoso, NM. Contact Doug Whitney at email@example.com, 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. 6-7 -- Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County
Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE. For more information, visit www.alfalfaexpo.com
or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.
**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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dave Hartman at
570-784-6660, ext. 12, or email@example.com.
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