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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication August 8, 2006 |  
Get The Most From Drought-Stressed Forages
Top of the News Upper Midwest Haylist Helps Locate Feed Sources Missouri Waives Hay Hauling Fee California Heat Wave Losses Climb Tips For Keeping Your Farm Safe And Secure
State Reports Texas Wisconsin
Events Register For Western Hay Business Conference Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Get The Most From Drought-Stressed Forages
By Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin Forage Agronomist
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. Recommendations:
  1. If the stand is over 10" tall and flowering, harvest as quickly as possible.

  2. If it's 10" or less tall, leave and let new growth come through (even if short growth is flowering). Mowing will not increase regrowth.

  3. Make sure soil fertility is at optimum levels.

  4. 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.
Grassy hay fields: Most are stunted, but are leafy and have few stems. Recommendations:
  1. Harvest if tonnage justifies and/or height is over 8-10".

  2. 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.
Silage corn: Many fields are stunted; some have significant firing. Recommendations:
  1. 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.

  2. 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.
Pasture: Most pastures are short but are greening up where some rain has occurred. Recommendations:
  1. Mow tall, weedy or brushy growth.

  2. Apply 40 lbs/acre nitrogen to stimulate growth as soon after Aug. 1 as possible.

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Top of the News
Upper Midwest Haylist Helps Locate Feed Sources
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 ( 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.

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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 of hay.

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.

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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.

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Tips For Keeping Your Farm Safe And Secure
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:

  • Keep chemicals in original containers and in a locked facility.

  • Have an emergency operation plan.

  • Post emergency phone numbers for fire, police, veterinarians, etc.

  • Maintain an inventory of fuel (diesel, gas, propane, acetylene, kerosene).

  • Properly train employees how to operate equipment/react in an emergency.
The Pre-Harvest Safety Security Guide can downloaded from the USDA Homeland Security Office Web page at:

Source: USDA.

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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.

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State Reports
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 area.

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 border.

Contact Miller at 979-845-4808.

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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

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Register For Western Hay Business Conference
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

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**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.

**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 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

**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, NM. 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. 6-7 -- Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE. Visit or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**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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