Drought Raises Nitrate Concerns
Dry summer growing conditions in many parts of the U.S.
have raised concerns about high nitrate levels in forage crops. Many
cornfields will not produce enough grain to warrant combining costs.
Those fields, however, represent opportunities for cattlemen for silage,
hay or grazing. Regardless of the harvesting option, nitrates may be a
problem, warns Sandy Johnson, Kansas State University livestock
"Clinical signs of nitrate poisoning are related to a lack of oxygen in
the blood," adds Justin Luther, North Dakota State University extension
sheep specialist., "They may include an increase in heart rate and
respiration rate, noisy breathing, brownish- or bluish-colored mucous
membranes and sudden death."
A few areas in Kansas have received some showers in the past few days,
says Johnson, who works with livestock producers in the northwestern
part of the state. In plants that are still growing, the showers cause
nitrate concentrations to spike even higher as the plant uses the
moisture to grow again, which brings in even more nitrogen. "Do not
harvest drought-stressed plants for 7-10 days after a rain to avoid this
problem," Johnson suggests. "When you do harvest, the highest
concentration of nitrates will be in the base of the plant so it's wise
to raise the cutter bar to 6-10". If you are grazing, remove the animals
before they start grazing the lower portion of the plant."
Ensiling will reduce the nitrate content by 40-60%, she says. But if
nitrates are four times the lethal levels before ensiling, reducing them
to two times lethal levels may still create feeding challenges. "Be sure
to test silage and hay from drought-stressed fields prior to feeding,"
she advises. Take 20 or more core samples from each field to get an
accurate representation of what's there. Nitrate levels will be highly
variable across a field and will be impacted by fertilization practices.
"If you elect to graze these fields, remember that weeds present in the
field such as kochia and pigweed are also nitrate accumulators," Johnson
says. "The 4'-tall or less cornstalks that have bent over and dried up
may also be a problem for grazing. As these plants are relatively
immature, they are very palatable clear to the ground and the few I have
tested show problem levels of nitrates throughout."
If grazing looks like a good option, but weeds and short, burnt-up areas
are worrisome, Johnson says to consider inoculating cows with a bacteria
capable of reducing the toxic effects of nitrates. "A product called
Bova-Pro can be given as a bolus or feed additive 10 days before feeding
high-nitrate feedstuffs," she says. "The loss of a single cow or one or
more aborted fetuses would pay to treat a lot of cows. I recommend that
producers consider Bova-Pro as a risk management tool for high-nitrate
feedstuffs. They should check with their veterinarian or feed store for
details and availability."
Similar nitrate concerns exist for sorghum-sudan type forages, she says.
"Always know what you are feeding before you feed and make sure animals
are full when you change diets," Johnson suggests.
Sources: Kansas State University and North Dakota State University.
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.
Prevent Machinery Fires
Three things must be present for a machinery fire to
occur: air, a material to burn and a heat source. Machinery fire
prevention focuses both on keeping machinery clean of possible
fire-causing materials, and eliminating all possible sources of heat
that could lead to a fire, according to John Shutske, University of
Minnesota ag safety and health specialist. He urges producers to pay
special attention to the engine compartment because over 75% of all
machinery fires start in that area. All caked-on grease, oil and crop
residue should be removed from the engine area. Clear any wrapped plant
materials on bearings, belts and other moving parts. Pay close attention
to the operator's manual and follow all instructions and schedules for
lubrication and routine maintenance. Repair or replace any leaking fuel
or oil hoses immediately.
When performing daily maintenance, quickly scan any exposed electrical
wiring for damage or signs of deterioration. Replace any worn or
malfunctioning electrical components with proper parts from your dealer.
Keep an eye out for worn bearings, belts and chains. A badly worn
bearing can glow red-hot. Any rubber belt subjected to intense heat from
a worn part can burst into flames.
Shutske recommends a 5-lb, fully charged, ABC dry chemical fire
extinguisher be kept on tractors. He suggests a 10-lb unit for combines.
Select only extinguishers with an Underwriter's Laboratory approval.
Having two extinguishers on the machine is even better in case one
malfunctions or loses pressure. Keep one extinguisher mounted in the cab
and one where it can be reached from the ground. Check extinguishers
periodically and pay special attention to the pressure gauge. To
function effectively, the gauge must show adequate pressure to expel the
Fire extinguishers should be checked periodically by someone from the
local fire department or insurance company. Any extinguisher that has
been even partially discharged must be fully recharged before it is used
again. During even a brief discharge, Shutske says the tiny dry chemical
particles will create a small gap in the internal seal of the
extinguisher valve. This tiny opening will cause any remaining pressure
to leak out in a few hours or days.
In the event of a fire, having a cell phone or two-way radio nearby will
help get professional assistance to the field more quickly. Shutske
urges producers to remember that it may not be possible to put out every
fire. If the fire is in a difficult-to-reach area or seems out of
control, don't risk the chance of injury or death. Wait for help to
Five research articles with detailed fire protection information can be
found at www.safe-design.net/machinery_fires/index.html.
Source: University of Minnesota.
Enter Forage Analysis Superbowl
Sept. 5 is the entry deadline for the 2006 World's
Forage Analysis Superbowl, the annual quality contest that culminates in
October at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Top winners will receive
a season's use of forage or feeding equipment. Many other prizes,
including seed and forage inoculants, will also be awarded.
You may enter either of two divisions: the Dairy Division, open to
growers with milk production information, or the Commercial Division,
open to all other growers. The Dairy Division is divided into hay,
haylage and corn silage classes, while the Commercial Division has two
classes: hay and baleage.
For entry forms and contest rules, visit www.agsource.com and
click on the Superbowl logo.
Innovation meets maximum comfort in the new
TS-A Series tractors from New Holland. Get the versatility you
need to tackle your list of chores. And choose from a long list of
innovative, performance-boosting features for added efficiency and
productivity. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call
Many California hay growers have been struggling
through one of the hottest summers on record, reports Dan Putnam,
University of California, Davis forage extension specialist. "We broke
several records in Sacramento and Fresno," Putnam says. "Fresno had six
consecutive days over 110 degrees, while Sacramento had 11 consecutive
triple-digit days. Most of that hot weather came in July and now it has
been cool for the last couple of weeks. Conditions have actually
improved for alfalfa production in August."
The heat made it difficult for growers to make high-quality hay, and
yields have been down due to the early rain damage and summer heat. The
hot summer followed difficult spring conditions with lots of rain and
flooding in late March and April. "The first two cuttings were miserable
because of the weather. We were just starting to recover from the wet
spring when the heat wave hit," Putnam says. "Growers really have to
hustle to keep up with irrigation during the extreme hot periods because
the water demand for crop production is so much greater under those
conditions." Some hay buyers have been holding off making purchases
while they wait for better quality.
A number of dairy cattle died during the heat wave. Plus, low milk
prices have reduced the buying power of dairies. "The prices for alfalfa
have fallen pretty considerably from previous years," Putnam says.
Alfalfa caterpillars, fall armyworms and other pests have been causing
more trouble than usual in many areas. "They are very typical for this
time of year, but in many cases we have been having pretty substantial
worm pressure in August," he states.
Contact Putnam at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more
about California hay production by visiting the University of California
Alfalfa Workgroup Web site at alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/.
Putting up third-cutting alfalfa was difficult in much
of Illinois last week, but pastures and hay ground benefited from rains,
according to the Illinois Crop Condition Report. Above-normal
precipitation returned after a couple weeks of below-normal rainfall.
The state averaged 1.55" of rain, ranging from around 0.8" in the
northeastern and southwestern parts of the state to over 2" in eastern
and southeastern Illinois. Some scattered areas have missed recent
rains, and crops and pastures have been negatively impacted.
Temperatures moderated later in the week, but the average temperature
for the week still ended up being slightly above normal.
The crop condition report states that, as of Aug. 13, 69% of
third-cutting alfalfa had been harvested compared to 57% last year. So
far this year, many Illinois producers have reported excellent yields
from their forage crops. USDA's Aug. 11 Crop Production report indicated
that Illinois alfalfa production may be higher than last year, with 1.85
million tons predicted compared to 1.4 million tons produced in 2005.
The average yield was estimated at 4.4 tons/acre vs. 3.5 tons last year.
Production of all other hay is expected to total 805,000 tons, up from
759,000 tons last year. The average yield -- 2.3 tons/acre -- is the
same as last year.
Straw prices were steady, with most of the demand coming from the
landscaping industry. Demand has been light to moderate for the moderate
to heavy supply of straw, according to USDA.
In most of the province, regular rainfall and heat have
resulted in good growth in pastures and hayfields, according to the most
recent Ontario Field Crop Report. Harvesting quality second- and
third-cutting hay without rain has been a challenge. However, dry
weather in Rainy River, Kenora, Algoma and Manitoulin has reduced forage
yields substantially. The third alfalfa cutting is in full swing on many
dairy farms intending on harvesting a fourth cutting before the critical
fall harvest period. That six-week period begins as early as Aug. 10 in
northern Ontario, Aug. 25-30 in eastern and central Ontario and early
September in the southwestern part of the province. Avoiding harvest
during that period is especially important on farms with a history of
winterkill or with aggressive cutting schedules. For information on
winterkill risk factors, including the map showing the dates for
critical fall harvest period in Ontario, refer to www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub811/5other.htm.
Pastures continue to be productive across southern Ontario. Timely rains
coupled with rotational grazing have allowed for good growth through
July and into August. If producers are stockpiling forage for late-fall
or early-winter grazing, now is the time to stop grazing those fields.
Producers are being advised to clip if there is considerable mature
growth, and can apply 50-80 lbs of nitrogen to promote good growth.
These stockpiled pastures will provide good-quality, economical forage
well after the end of the growing season.
Source: Ontario Field Crop Report.
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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.
**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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