USDA Forecasts 6% Less Alfalfa
Last week's USDA Crop Production report forecasts this
year's alfalfa production at 71.2 million tons, down 6% from 2005
production. Yields are expected to average 3.18 tons/acre, 0.2 ton below
last year's average yield. The total harvested acreage -- 22.4 million
-- is up fractionally from the 2005 number.
Yields are expected to be down across the Great Plains states,
California, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia and Washington.
Extremely hot and dry weather has persisted throughout the Great Plains,
severely hurting yield expectations for alfalfa hay. Compared with 2005,
the largest declines are expected in Oklahoma and Kansas, down 1.1 tons
and 1.0 ton from last year, respectively. Meanwhile, yields are forecast
higher across the northern and eastern Corn Belt, Arizona, Idaho, New
York and Pennsylvania. The largest yield increases are expected in
Illinois and Pennsylvania, up 0.9 ton and 0.6 ton, respectively.
Other hay production is forecast at 71.1 million tons, down 15%. Based
on Aug. 1 conditions, yields of other hay are expected to average 1.77
tons, down 0.14 ton from last year's figure. If realized, the yield
would be the lowest since 1990. Harvested area, at 40.3 million acres,
is up 3%.
Very dry conditions during the spring and early summer contributed to
decreased yield expectations across the Great Plains. Compared with last
year, yields are down 0.6 ton in both North Dakota and South Dakota.
Yields are also forecast to be down in the upper Mississippi Valley,
Southeast and most of the Pacific Coast states. The largest expected
decreases are forecast in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, where the
forecast declines are 1.2 tons, 0.7 ton and 1.0 ton, respectively. The
weather in these states has been extremely hot and dry, resulting in
fewer cuttings and reduced yields. Meanwhile, yields are forecast to
increase across the eastern Corn Belt, Arkansas, Louisiana, New York and
Pennsylvania as less severe conditions and timely spring rains improved
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New Insurance Options Available
Two new risk management tools will be available to help
protect forage, pasture and rangelands as of the 2007 crop year,
according to an announcement from Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
last week. The new insurance programs, the rainfall index and vegetation
index, are offered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and will be
available through approved insurance providers. They will give livestock
producers the ability to buy insurance protection for losses of forage
produced for grazing or harvested for hay.
The rainfall index insurance program will be pilot-tested in 220
counties in Colorado, Idaho, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, North Dakota
and Texas. It's based on rainfall indices as a means to measure expected
production losses. The vegetation index program will be pilot-tested in
110 counties in Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina
and South Dakota and is based on satellite imagery that determines the
productivity of the acreage as a means to measure expected production
Both programs are designed to allow maximum flexibility for producers.
For instance, producers are not required to insure all their acres, but
may elect to insure only those acres important to their grazing program
or hay operation. In addition, they're not required to insure the
acreage for the entire crop year. The crop year is divided into
intervals and producers may elect to insure their acreage for only those
intervals where the risk is the greatest.
Both products will be available for sale from crop insurance agents
beginning in late August 2006. The sales closing date is Nov. 30. More
detailed information is available on the RMA Web site at: www.rma.usda.gov/policies/pasturerangeforage/.
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Nebraska hay prices were steady at the beginning of
August. Trade activity has slowed slightly, but demand was still very
good in the state. Some much-needed rain covered Nebraska, which will
enhance fourth-cutting production.
Iowa hay prices were mixed to slightly higher. Demand and trade activity
were good to very good. Substantial rains hampered the third-cutting
harvest, but should increase production of the fourth cutting.
South Dakota hay prices were mixed to lower than they have been. Demand
continued to be very good with good interest in all classes.
Missouri hay prices were steady and demand was moderate. The 100-degree
days returned, taking a toll on animals and forages. Most hay has been
baled, and with the lack of moisture, the tonnage of the later alfalfa
cuttings has been very light. Width restrictions on trucks hauling hay
have been altered statewide to let producers deliver hay in larger bales
and loads. The supply of surplus hay for sale that is normal for this
time of year has been mostly eliminated, since growers have had to start
supplemental feeding earlier than anticipated. Only rains and cooler
temperatures can relieve the stress on pastures and result in some fall
Straw prices in the Midwest averaged $2.32 per small square bale (range
of $1.75 to $3), $20.87 per large square bale (range of $17 to $28) and
$23 per large round bale (range of $20 to $26). Compared to the previous
week, straw prices for small square bales were up 14%. Large square bale
prices were down 17%, and round bale prices were up 21%.
Source: Ken Barnett, University of Wisconsin. Visit the UW web site at
The hay harvest went smoothly in southwestern Minnesota
this year, reports Kevin Nelson, Nelson Hay Company, Hadley. "This was
the first year that first crop got cut and baled with no rain," he says.
"Second crop was small due to the drier conditions, but that also got
cut and baled with no rain. Third crop was really small; no rain for 30
days on that one, but it also got cut and baled with no rain. We got
done baling and picked up at 7:30 p.m., and at 10 p.m. it started to
rain. We got 3" over the next three days. I will never be able to do
that again. With the rain we have gotten, I expect a good fourth crop,
providing I can get it up."
Nelson says dry conditions in South Dakota have meant more hay customers
are coming to Minnesota to buy hay, making it harder to find quality hay
in the area. He's advising customers to make sure they have their hay
supplies locked up early. Nelson contracts around 35% of his hay ahead
of time. Customers can contract at the in-season price and accept hay
delivery soon after cutting. Clients wanting later deliveries pay more
because storage fees are added to the price. Nelson requires a $20/ton
down payment when setting up a contract. "At this time I am not taking
any new orders," he reports. "I'm doing inventory counts and yearly
estimates on a monthly basis. If you contracted with me or are on my
scheduled delivery list, you have hay coming. It is in the hay shed
waiting for delivery." Nelson says contracting is helpful to hay growers
as well as clients in a year like this one.
He keeps customers informed about supplies and production conditions
with a regular email newsletter. Visit the Nelson Hay Company Web site
at www.nelsonhayco.com, or call Nelson at
Many parts of Kansas received scattered showers last
week with some areas getting significant amounts of rain. However, there
was no relief from hot weather, according to the Kansas Ag Statistics
Service. High temperatures remained over 100 degrees in many parts of
Seventy-four percent of the third alfalfa cutting has been harvested.
That total is 13% behind last year at this time, but the same as the
five-year average. Five percent of the fourth alfalfa cutting has been
harvested. Range and pasture conditions are rated 22% very poor, 31%
poor, 35% fair and 12% good. Some cattle have been moved off pastures
and fed hay. Hay and forage supplies are rated 9% very short, 37% short,
53% adequate and 1% surplus.
Source: Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service.
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
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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.
Learn About Sheep And Goat Forages
A sheep and goat forage workshop will be held at the
Southern Indiana Purdue University Agriculture Center (SIPAC) on Aug.
29. It will cover forage-quality basics, and the use of warm-season
annual forages and cool-season pasture grazing systems. Other sessions
will cover fencing and watering for grazing systems, parasite management
and hoof health.
The workshop is designed for sheep and goat producers, beginning
herdsmen or those interested in learning more about proper sheep and
goat management. Participants also will get an overview of the SIPAC
meat goat project, a joint effort between Purdue and the University of
Kentucky that will provide research and education for producers and the
The event will take place from 3-7 p.m. SIPAC is at 11371 E. Purdue Farm
Road near Dubois, IN. Anyone interested may register at the door. There
is a $2 registration fee per person. Light refreshments will be
Purdue Agriculture, the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State
University are workshop sponsors. University specialists scheduled to
speak include Terry Hutchens of the University of Kentucky, Ken Andries
of Kentucky State University and Purdue's Jason Tower.
More information and a map of the workshop site can be found at www.ansc.purdue.edu/meatgoat/Mainpage.htm.
**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.rockinh.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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