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Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication October 3, 2006 |  
Hay Grower Hosts Open House
Top of the News Come To The Western Hay Business Conference & Expo Dairy Cow Slaughter Numbers Rise
State Reports Georgia Virginia
Events Dairy Expo Offers Forage Seminars Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...

This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Hay Grower Hosts Open House
Carl Blackmer combined a little hay production education with some subtle marketing and promotion when he held an on-farm open house to showcase his hay business in August. More than 300 people came to Blackmer's Old Fort Farm near Livonia, NY, to get a look at his new hay press and learn more about hay production. He had invited Richard Larsen, president of the National Hay Association (NHA) and Dubois, ID, hay grower, to speak about the work of NHA and hay production across the country. Members of the Northwestern New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops team from the Cornell University extension service also gave presentations about nitrogen management, preventing spontaneous combustion and hayfield weed control.

The open house program included a demonstration of Blackmer's new hay press. "We had been operating six or seven little balers, plus three bale wagons, plus two big balers at the same time when we decided to eliminate the small balers while trying to maintain our existing horse hay customers," he explains. "We wanted to be able to harvest with our big square balers and reprocess the large bales into sizes the market would demand. We also wanted to be able to reprocess hay we purchase from other producers."

Blackmer sells his hay almost exclusively to the East Coast horse market. He raises close to 2,000 acres of hay and straw, and buys hay and straw to sell. Old Fort Farm produces timothy, timothy-alfalfa, orchardgrass, precut rye, wheat and oat straw and baleage. His new Steffen Systems hay press allows him to make bales weighing 60-80 lbs. He invited his hay customers to the open house to learn more about the new baling process, and also invited local farmers as a way of finding new sources of hay.

"We are considering doing custom rebaling with our new machine and we also wanted to promote this service to potential customers," he says.

Contact Blackmer at 585-367-2342.

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Come To The Western Hay Business Conference & Expo
Three of the most progressive hay growers in the U.S. will share insights and marketing tips during an Innovative Hay Growers Panel at the Western Hay Business Conference & Expo, Oct. 24-25 at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park, Spokane, WA. Panel members will include Joe Heese, hay operations manager for Farm Partners Supply, Harlan, IA; Scott Duffner, farm manager, Dinsdale Farms, Silver Lake, OR; and Richard Larsen, owner, Larsen Farms, Dubois, ID.

Farm Partners Supply is a limited liability company made up of more than 30 farmers. Heese oversaw the cutting and baling of more than 9,000 acres of hay for the group this year. He uses an on-farm NIR testing machine to get speedier answers to hay-quality questions. The group also bought six propane-powered Veda Farming Solutions hay dryers in 2005 to improve the production of dairy-quality hay.

As farm manager for Dinsdale Farms, Duffner is responsible for around 4,000 acres of alfalfa in addition to organic hay production for large organic dairies. Larsen is immediate past president of the National Hay Association and runs a sizeable hay and potato operation. Larsen Farms owns a patented shredder-compactor capable of processing 20 tons of hay per hour. The operation's three-story, 120,000 sq ft hay terminal is the largest alfalfa storage facility in the U.S. The terminal has space for 10,000 compressed tons of hay. It includes five loading docks where 10 railcars can be loaded at once. Larsen Farms owns a rail spur in addition to a fleet of trucks, enabling the operation to deliver quality hay throughout the U.S.

Other speakers at the Western Hay Business Conference & Expo will discuss hay export opportunities, producing hay for the horse market and organic hay production. Learn more about maximizing yields and profits from timothy and orchardgrass. Visit a hay industry-specific trade show and ask industry experts all about their products and services.

Register for $150 per person and bring a second person from your operation for $125. Learn more about the conference at

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Dairy Cow Slaughter Numbers Rise
USDA's latest Livestock Slaughter report, issued in late September, shows that 217,000 dairy cows were culled in August, up 42,000 from July and 27,000 more than in August 2005. Just under 1.5 million head were taken out of production in the first eight months of 2006, an increase of 44,000 from the year-ago figure.

The mid-September Milk Production report showed milk production in the 23 major milk-producing states during August totaled 13.9 billion pounds, 1.6 % more than in August 2005. The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 states was reported to be 8.25 million head, 88,000 more than in August 2005 but 9,000 less than in July 2006.

Source: USDA.

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State Reports
It looks like parts of Georgia will be short of hay this fall and winter, reports Billy Skaggs, Hall County extension agent, Gainesville. "We got some spotty rain in the last four to six weeks in northeastern Georgia, and things have perked up a little bit," he says. "Prior to that rain, we went through a very dry summer, like most other parts of the Southeast. Bermudagrass and fescue were very slow to regrow after harvest. I would imagine those folks who were cutting bermudagrass hay were probably lucky to make half of the production they would typically make in a summer." Prices are already much higher than normal for this time of year. Skaggs says small square bales of bermudagrass for horse enthusiasts are selling for upwards of $7-8/bale. Larger 4 x 5' and 5 x 5' rolls are bringing more than $40/roll. "Those producers who cut good-quality hay this summer, and who have had it tested, should do well this winter if they are able to store it and keep it dry and in good condition," he says.

Armyworms have been a problem the last four weeks. "The armyworms seem to have peaked two weeks ago in Hall County, but we have been trying to get the word out to let people know they're out there," Skaggs says. "Unfortunately, people often don't realize they have a problem until it's too late. It has been a challenge. I know a number of farmers were looking forward to having one more good cutting of bermudagrass since it has been a short-hay year, and then armyworms took care of that for them. We've had some evening temperatures in the 50-degree range lately, so I hope armyworms are on the way out for now.

"I think we're going to see a lot more farmers planting small grains and winter grazing to try to offset what hay prices are expected to be this winter," Skaggs adds. Area livestock producers have been investigating ways to work clover, rye, wheat, oats and ryegrass into their winter forage plans.

Contact Skaggs at 770-531-6988.

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It's been a variable season for hay production in Virginia, with some dry areas, according to Chris Teutsch, Virginia Tech extension forage specialist. "Production of our first-harvest hay, where a lot of our tonnage comes from, was probably 30% off of normal," he says. "Then we got some rain and had a better second harvest in general. But overall we're down in hay production, and we're down on high-quality hay for the horse industry." Rain that came along with Hurricane Ernesto in late August helped grass growth in most of Virginia. Teutsch expects a good stockpiling year to help with the hay situation. "People who put some late-summer nitrogen down in August and September are going to have good fall growth in their pastures," he states.

Billbugs and Japanese beetle grubs were a problem in some stands this year. "Generally, it seems these problems show up when it starts to get dry, which makes sense because root feeding leads to a smaller root system and then those plants are more susceptible to dry conditions," Teutsch says. The insects seem to be more of a problem in orchardgrass stands and don't seem to damage fescue as much.

A new round of variety trials in Virginia will be testing around 30 tall fescue varieties and 20 of orchardgrass in several locations. Around 15 alfalfa varieties and 12 red clovers will also be tested. "We're putting in some field-scale Roundup Ready strip trials, too," Teutsch reports. He says interest in Roundup Ready alfalfa is growing. "We only have around 100,000 acres of alfalfa in Virginia, but I think we have a lot more potential for alfalfa, both in Virginia and in the South," he says. "It feels like a forgotten legume. Roundup Ready alfalfa could fit in well, especially on farms that have bad infestations of johnsongrass where we could go in and clean up the fields with Roundup Ready alfalfa. As the stand thins, we could then possibly go in with orchardgrass and have a nice mixture of alfalfa and orchardgrass for the horse hay market." Teutsch says there are around 225,000 horses in Virginia, leading to good demand for high-quality horse hay.

Contact Teutsch at 434-292-5331, ext. 234, or

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Dairy Expo Offers Forage Seminars
Forage producers will have several chances to learn more about the dairy market during seminars at this week's World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. The seminar schedule is as follows:

Oct. 4, 10:30 a.m. -- "Butyric Acid in Silage: Why It happens, How to Deal with It," Richard Muck, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, and Garrett Oetzel, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Oct. 4, 1:30 p.m. -- "Zero in on Harvest and Feeding Decisions with Forage-Moisture Monitoring," Matthew Digman, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

Oct. 5, 10:30 a.m. -- "Should Yield or Quality Be the Rule at Alfalfa Harvest Time?" Geoffrey Brink, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

Oct. 5, 1:30 p.m. -- "Wide Swath Haylage Saves Time and Nutrients," Tom Kilcer, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Rensselaer County, NY.

Oct. 6, 10:30 a.m. -- "BMR Sorghum-Sudangrass Measures Up to Corn Silage," Tom Kilcer.

Oct. 6, 1:30 p.m. -- "A Realities Check: Working with Starch in Your Rations," Mary Beth Hall, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

Oct. 7, 10:30 a.m. -- "Balance for Effective Fiber to Reduce Acidosis," Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois.

The winning entries from the 23rd World's Forage Analysis Superbowl will be on display in the Arena Building on the Alliant Energy Center grounds. Winners of the 2006 superbowl will be honored Oct. 5 at an 11:15 a.m. luncheon.

Contact Jill Makovec at 608-845-1900 for more information.

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**Oct. 3-7 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Learn more at

**Oct. 17-19 -- Sunbelt Ag Exposition, Moultrie, GA. Visit 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 or 570-784-4401, ext. 111.

**Oct. 24-25 -- Western Hay Business Conference & 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. 14-15 -- 2006 BEEF Magazine's Quality Summit, Clarion Hotel, Oklahoma City. Learn more and sign up 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. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web site at 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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