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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication October 24, 2006 |  
Tight Hay Supplies Point To Higher Prices
Top of the News Research Looks At Nitrogen Utilization In Dairy Cows Seeking A Net-Wrap Standard Missouri Livestock Producers Get Forage Help
State Reports Ohio South Dakota Utah
Events Walk-Ins Welcome At Western Hay Business Conference Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...

This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Tight Hay Supplies Point To Higher Prices
According to the Oct. 19 USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook report, U.S. hay supplies are likely to be fairly tight and expensive this winter, particularly if a more-normal winter develops following last year's mild one. Hay production was forecast at 147 million tons this year, down 2.4% from the 2005 total. May 1 hay stocks were down 23%, and dry conditions in many areas forced hay feeding this past summer. The September farm price of other hay averaged $93/ton, up from $78.90 a year ago. The alfalfa hay price averaged $112/ton, up from $106 in September 2005.

The report says pasture conditions continue a modest recovery, but favorable temperatures and moisture are still needed to accumulate much-needed growth for winter grazing. Wheat and other small grain pasture grazing potential are still very uncertain, as they were last fall, although recent moisture will help.

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Top of the News
Research Looks At Nitrogen Utilization In Dairy Cows
The best compromise between milk production and nitrogen excretion in dairy cattle seems to come when alfalfa silage and corn silage are fed in similar proportions, according to Alvaro Garcia, South Dakota State University extension dairy specialist. He cites recent research at the University of Wisconsin and U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center comparing different ratios of alfalfa silage to corn silage. Diets containing high concentrations of alfalfa silage resulted in higher production, but also increased nitrogen excretion. NDF digestibility, dry matter intake and milk and milk fat production all decreased when corn silage replaced alfalfa silage. As corn silage increased in the diets, nitrogen was utilized more efficiently by the cows, resulting in less nitrogen being excreted in urine and feces. Nitrogen excretion decreased when alfalfa silage plus high-moisture shelled corn were replaced with corn silage plus soybean meal. No diet minimized nitrogen excretion without negatively affecting production, according to Garcia. The diet that least affected production was one that used a ratio of alfalfa silage to corn silage of 24:27.

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Seeking A Net-Wrap Standard
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) is working on a project to develop uniform standards pertaining to net wrap for round balers. It says the lack of standards results in a wide range of quality and performance, making it difficult for end users to select a net wrap that will provide trouble-free operation in their specific round balers. Standards will give uniform nomenclature and minimum specifications, which will ensure satisfactory performance in properly adjusted round balers. They'll also help provide adequate durability in normal storage and handling of the baled forage.

ASABE is a standards-developing organization with more than 200 standards currently in publication. Conformance to ASABE standards is voluntary, except where required by state or other governmental requirements. Standards documents are developed by consensus in accordance with procedures approved by the American National Standards Institute. Contact Scott Cedarquist at ASABE at 269-429-0300, or via email at for more information.

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Missouri Livestock Producers Get Forage Help
The Missouri Department of Agriculture recently started taking applications from livestock producers who have suffered forage losses because of the drought. Producers in 30 southwestern Missouri counties are eligible. They're being reimbursed on a per-head basis. Funds are being allocated based on the number of animals impacted by the forage production losses. Missouri producers will be dividing up $2.7 million in grant money. Applications have to be postmarked by Nov.17 and are available online or from the Farm Service Agency and extension offices in qualified counties.

Source: Brownfield Radio News and Missouri Department of Agriculture.

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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 in improving the yield potential and forage quality of your alfalfa.

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State Reports
Hay grew well in Ohio this year, but wet weather has been a big issue, reports Mark Sulc, Ohio State University agronomist. "Some parts of the state have been very wet since early September, so it has been difficult to get stretches of dry weather to get hay harvested or crops out of the field," he says. "We have had our first frosts, and fields have shown varying levels of frost damage, depending on the species and where you are in the state."

Sulc says it was an average year for quality. "At times it was very difficult to make high-quality hay in some parts of the state, but growers in other areas were able to get quality hay made," he reports. Potato leafhopper levels were very high, especially in western Ohio.

Contact Sulc at 614-292-9084.

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South Dakota
Drought is blamed for lower alfalfa production in South Dakota in 2006 compared to 2005. USDA's Oct. 1 Crop Production report forecast the state's alfalfa production at 3.84 million tons from 2.4 million acres harvested, for an average yield of 1.6 tons/acre. Production is slightly above that of the severe drought year of 2002, but down 26% from 2005 production, according to a news release from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) office in Sioux Falls. Production of other hay is forecast at 1.65 million tons from 1.5 million acres, or 1.1 tons/acre.

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"We had a good summer for making hay in Utah," says Tom Griggs, Utah State University extension agronomist. "It was hot, but not excessively hot for alfalfa. There was enough time to get most hay up without a lot of rain damage." Hay growers were fortunate to have adequate irrigation water. "We had an excellent snow-pack last winter, and then the rate of snowmelt was nice and gradual, so a lot of the irrigation sources, the streams and creeks, ran for a long time," Griggs explains.

Stem nematodes are a continuing problem. "We're getting lots of reports of fields that are stunted by stem nematodes," he states. "Some of the problem is probably the spread of nematodes in fields where there hasn't been enough rotation to other crops. Part of the problem may result from planting non-resistant varieties. There has been some education about the value of certified seed and resistant varieties."

Markets for Utah hay have been relatively strong, Griggs says. Utah growers are sending hay to California and Idaho in addition to selling hay within the state. "The growth of the Idaho dairy industry and the continuing strength of the California dairy industry are helping the markets for our hay," he reports. He speculates that there may be some restructuring of where hay will be sold in the future, depending on fuel prices. "It's a long way to California," he notes. "Maybe there is more hay going into Idaho and Arizona than used to be the case, just because they are closer than California. Because of fuel prices, some producers may have decided to leave alfalfa in for another year rather than do all of the tillage and seedbed prep and other fuel-related issues of taking it out and rotating crops."

Utah growers are growing more grass hay for the horse and dairy markets. "Some dairy nutritionists are specifying grass hay in the ration," Griggs explains. "There are some little pockets in Utah and parts of Nevada where they are putting up alfalfa-grass mixtures or straight grass hay, and are doing very well selling it. It's not the predominant market, but it does well here."

Growers are still excited about hay production, Griggs says. "It's one crop where there is still some enthusiasm for production and marketing. It has been a good, consistent, marketable crop for those who are committed to raising it well, putting it up right, storing it correctly and finding the right market. I would say there is still opportunity out there, particularly for young people who are looking for an area to get involved in agriculture. Motivated producers who are doing everything it takes to raise hay well, such as cutting it on time, marketing it and providing their customers with back-up service, can still do well."

Contact Griggs at 435-797-2259 or

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NK Brand Alfalfas deliver more quality AND more yield. Our premium alfalfas, like Genoa, Expedition and Boulder, combine high nutritional values with high yields, plus outstanding agronomics and persistence for longer, healthier stands. The result? More profit from your alfalfa acres - whether you feed it or sell it.
Walk-Ins Welcome At Western Hay Business Conference
The Western Hay Business Conference & Expo takes place Oct. 24-25 at the Red Lion Inn, Spokane, WA. Come to the conference to pick up marketing tips from some of the most progressive hay growers in the U.S. Spend time learning about new hay industry technology at the hay industry-specific trade show.

Neal Martin, director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, WI, will update attendees about how research is redesigning alfalfa for dairy cattle. Martin also plans to talk about how alfalfa may someday play a bigger role in human nutrition.

The Innovative Hay Grower Panel promises to be one of the most popular sessions. Three of the top hay growers in the U.S. will share insights and marketing tips that have made their operations successful. 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.

Another conference speaker, R.L. "Dick" Wittman, Culdesac, ID, says reducing the cost of producing hay may result in as much or more payback than increasing the revenue side of the equation. He'll examine ways hay growers can increase the profitability of their operations during sessions on Oct. 25.

Other speakers 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, too.

Walk-in registrations are welcome, so come if you can! Learn more about the conference at, or call 800-722-5334, ext. 14690.

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**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. 17-18 -- 2007 Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick, WA. Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association at 509-585-5460 to learn more.

**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 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE. Visit or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort, St. George, UT. Contact Thomas Griggs, 435-797-2259.

**Feb. 9 -- Ohio Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference, Reynoldsburg, OH. Contact Mark Sulc for more information at 614-292-9084.

**Feb. 22 -- 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

**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at

**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn, Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at or call Kathy Tonneson at 218-236-8420.

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Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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