Get The Most From Drought-Stressed
By Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin
The drought has stressed most of the crops we are
growing. Most farmers got at least one, and often two, cuttings this
year, then stress reduced growth over the last month. Most forages will
begin to regrow again due to the rains we have had. Now we should be
considering how to maximize that growth for good hay, silage or pasture
production. Below we will consider the major crops and what actions
should be taken.
Alfalfa: Much of it has been stunted and is flowering.
Grassy hay fields: Most are stunted, but are leafy and have few
- If the stand is over 10" tall and flowering, harvest as quickly
- If it's 10" or less tall, leave and let new growth come through
(even if short growth is flowering). Mowing will not increase
- Make sure soil fertility is at optimum levels.
- New seedings may be harvested in late August if adequate growth is
present to harvest. A late fall cutting may also be taken. The key is to
manage so that the alfalfa either has no regrowth at frost or more than
8". Six to 8" of regrowth at frost is the worst possible condition to
enter the winter.
Silage corn: Many fields are stunted; some have significant
- Harvest if tonnage justifies and/or height is over 8-10".
- Apply nitrogen at 40 lbs/acre to stimulate fall growth if rain
occurs before mid-August. This cannot be manure since it will become
available too slowly to provide optimum fall growth.
Pasture: Most pastures are short but are greening up where some
rain has occurred. Recommendations:
- Wait to harvest for silage -- most plants will put out more
growth; all are too wet to ensile now. Check moisture before chopping to
ensure excessive moisture does not cause poor fermentation.
- If grazing, consider nitrate toxicity. That's likely to be a problem
if growth was reduced to less than 50% of normal and/or high levels of
nitrogen were applied. The nitrate test costs $7-10. If tests show above
toxic levels, feed hay or some other forage in the morning and graze
corn a couple hours in the afternoon.
- Mow tall, weedy or brushy growth.
- Apply 40 lbs/acre nitrogen to stimulate growth as soon after Aug. 1
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Upper Midwest Haylist Helps Locate Feed
The extension services of Minnesota, Wisconsin and
South Dakota are teaming up to help livestock producers who find
themselves short on hay or silage due to this summer's dry conditions.
The Upper Midwest Haylist Web site (www.haylist.umn.edu) helps feed buyers and sellers
find each other. The site is free for both buyers and sellers. Buyers
can locate feed for their animals quickly. Sellers can find buyers for
hay or standing crops of alfalfa, grass or corn.
Source: University of Wisconsin.
Missouri Waives Hay Hauling Fee
It's going to be less expensive to haul hay in
Missouri. At the request of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the
state's transportation department has waived the fee to haul wide loads
Any load of hay up to 12'4" wide that is of legal height, length and
weight still needs a permit, but the usual $60 fee is waived, according
to a news release from The Missouri Department of Transportation. The
waiver is to accommodate anticipated increased hauling because of
drought-related hay shortages.
Source: Brownfield Radio Network.
California Heat Wave Losses Climb
Preliminary estimates of the damage done to the
California dairy industry by the recent heat wave have climbed to around
$1 billion, according to the Western United Dairymen organization. In
addition to lost cattle and calves, another long-term result is that
very few cattle were bred during the two-week period when the heat was
most intense. Milk production dropped too, and production losses are
expected to extend out over a year to 18 months. At the peak of the heat
wave, production was reported to be down as much as 40%. Now that
temperatures have cooled, there has been some recovery but production is
still said to be off 10-20%. As a result, co-ops are short of milk to
service all of the needs within California and some bottling plants are
running short of milk.
Source: Western United Dairymen and Brownfield Radio Network.
Tips For Keeping Your Farm Safe And
USDA recently released an agricultural security
publication that includes checklists for operations with crops,
chemicals, livestock, poultry and dairy. It emphasizes the importance of
security awareness, emergency planning and general security issues.
These issues could also be called Best Management Safety Practices for
the farm, in that they address safety awareness tips like:
The Pre-Harvest Safety Security Guide can downloaded from the
USDA Homeland Security Office Web page at: www.usda.gov/homelandsecurity/.
- Keep chemicals in original containers and in a locked
- Have an emergency operation plan.
- Post emergency phone numbers for fire, police, veterinarians, etc.
- Maintain an inventory of fuel (diesel, gas, propane, acetylene,
- Properly train employees how to operate equipment/react in an
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.
It's been a hot, dry summer in much of Texas. "It's no
secret we've lost a whole lot of forage," says Travis Miller, Texas A&M
University extension program leader for soil and crop sciences. "We've
seen record numbers of lightweight calves go to the feedlots, and
ranchers continue to cull herds to get numbers down to meet available
forage. There are very short supplies of hay and very little has been
made. It doesn't look good for this winter."
While parts of the state received recent rains and small showers are
cropping up at various locations, some areas are still as much as 20"
behind their normal precipitation levels. "We're in pretty rough shape
as far as hay," says Miller. "In northeast Texas, 70% of the soybean
crop has been cut for hay and sold to dairy operations in the Sulfur
Springs area. Lots of corn is being baled for hay, too. Some hay has
been trucked in from Missouri and Nebraska, but with high diesel prices,
you can't afford to feed a herd that way."
Some producers in eastern Texas were lucky to get one average hay
cutting early in the year, while others got a half cutting and some
weren't able to make any cuttings. Producers in that area normally
expect to make around four cuttings in a season.
Livestock producers are having a hard time finding sources of forages in
the south plains region of the state. Weather continues to be hot and
dry with temperatures reaching 100 degrees or more. Recent rainfall in
some areas ranged from 1/2 to 1". Soil moisture is short to very short.
Pastures and ranges are in poor to very poor condition. Many ranchers
are culling older cows in the rolling plains as hot and dry conditions
continue and fire danger climbs.
Hay is being hauled into northern Texas as record-high temperatures with
no rain in the forecast present trouble for most counties. Bowie County
reported some rainfall. Soil moisture is very short, and producers are
concerned about lack of water in stock tanks. Burn bans are being
administered. Cattle producers are continuing to cull or sell stock.
Cattle prices are falling and drought conditions are critical in the
Parts of central Texas received between 1 1/2 and 4" of rain recently.
"It won't pull us out of our current drought situation, though," says
Miller. Hay supplies are very short in west-central Texas. Producers are
selling livestock. The weather continues to be extremely hot and dry.
Burn bans remain in effect. Grass fires continue to be a problem. Soil
moisture is very short. Crops are showing signs of severe heat and
moisture stress. Range and pastures are in poor condition and continue
to deteriorate. A shortage of livestock water is increasing.
In southeastern Texas, pastures are very dry and all hay growth has
stopped. Ranges and pastures in southwestern Texas are brown, too, or
don't have any forage left. Heavy tropical storm systems along the Gulf
Coast brought some relief from north of Victoria to the Louisiana
Contact Miller at 979-845-4808.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is asking U.S. Ag Secretary
Mike Johanns to declare 19 counties federal disaster areas. Summer
drought has cost farmers in the counties up to 50% loss of first-crop
hay and nearly 100% loss of second crop, in addition to 30-60% of their
corn and soybean yields. USDA sets a threshold of 30% crop losses for a
county to receive assistance. In mid-July, Doyle declared a statewide
drought emergency, allowing farmers to use water from lakes and streams
for irrigation. The counties in the declaration request are: Adams,
Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Dunn, Iron, Langlade,
Lincoln, Marquette, Polk, Price, Rusk, St Croix, Sawyer, Taylor,
Washburn and Waushara.
Some parts of the state, especially in central and northern Wisconsin,
are already experiencing feed shortages. "Recent rains in some regions
were too late for corn to make a good grain crop and operators will be
looking to sell it as silage," says Dan Undersander, University of
Wisconsin extension forage agronomist. He says growers facing shortages
can find growers who have excess feed to sell by using the Upper Midwest
Haylist Web site at www.haylist.umn.edu/.
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capacity and performance needs. To learn more, see your local New
Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377. www.newholland.com/h4/
Register For Western Hay Business
Plan now to attend the upcoming Western Hay Business
Conference and Expo, sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower. Scheduled
for Oct. 24-25 at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in Spokane, WA, it will
feature a panel of innovative hay growers discussing ways to increase
sales and profits. Other speakers will cover hay export opportunities.
Come to the conference to learn tips on how to squeeze more profit from
your hay business. Learn more about alfalfa's role in human nutrition,
in building materials, and as fodder for ethanol. Learn more about how
to maximize yields and profits from timothy and orchardgrass. Find out
why hay growers need to look at the organic hay market and what horse
hay buyers want and how they want it.
Register for $150 per person and bring a second person from your
operation for $125. Learn more at www.hayconference.com.
**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.
**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. Visit www.alfalfaexpo.com or call Barb Kinnan at
**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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