Producing Organic Hay
The number of organic dairy farms -- and the need for
organic hay -- increases as demand for organic dairy products grows in
the U.S. And that is creating a niche for U.S. hay producers who convert
to organic production.
Scott Duffner, Silver Lake, OR, farm manager for Dinsdale Farms, says
he's adding to the 400 acres of alfalfa certified as organic because
it's in demand. Dinsdale Farms is an integrated operation that includes
a cow-calf enterprise, around 5,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa and 1,000
acres of seed oat production. "We produce around 5 tons/acre of
certified organic alfalfa per year for organic dairies," Duffner
explains. "Our organic hay typically sells at a $30/ton premium over
The future for organic hay looks bright in Idaho, too; 15 new organic
dairies should start production there in the next few months, says
Margaret Misner, program manager, Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
The size of the new dairies will vary from 100 to 500 cows or more.
Misner helps hay producers with organic program compliance requirements,
coordinates inspections and issues organic certificates. For hay to be
certified organic, a producer must first create an organic system plan
that includes maps showing where that hay is to be grown, she says.
Producers also must apply to the organic certification department within
their state ag departments and have their farms inspected. Farms found
in compliance are issued organic certificates.
Growers are supposed to use organic seed, but if it can't be found, they
can seed conventional alfalfa, Misner says. Crops must be grown for at
least three years without the use of material like synthetic pesticides
or synthetic fertilizers. Manure fertilizer can come from conventionally
Misner points out that organic certification doesn't preempt other laws,
rules or quarantines. For example, organic producers must still control
noxious weeds on their land. Growers are also required to use good
conservation practices and must minimize soil erosion according to
organic requirements. To control pests, biological control agents can be
used. Dinsdale Farms manages alfalfa weevils on its organic hay by
releasing natural predators, such as green lacewings, according to
Organic hayfields must have buffer zones and well-defined boundaries.
"Some producers choose to sell the hay from the buffer zones to a
non-organic market," Misner explains. "When selling to both the organic
and conventional markets, a producer is required to maintain a detailed
record program of where both the conventional and organic products are
stored, stacked, etc., to prove the two types of hay were not mixed
Misner and Duffner spoke at the recent Western Hay Business Conference &
Expo in Spokane, WA. Contact Misner at 208-332-8620; Duffner,
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Oregon Floods Take Toll On Dairies
Early November flooding damaged a number of dairies in
Tillamook County, according to reports in the Capital Press.
Fourteen inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period on Nov. 6 and 7,
causing the Trask, Kilchis and Nehalem Rivers to flood area farms. An
estimated 100 cows drowned and pastures were smothered by tons of river
bottom silt. Logs and other debris damaged fencing as well.
State Cost-Share For Hay Storage
Tennessee farmers interested in building new hay
storage structures can apply for cost-share assistance starting Jan. 1,
according to Ken Givens, state ag commissioner.
"The quality of hay production and storage has a direct impact on the
quality and health of cattle," says Givens. "If we can help farmers
improve forage nutrition and handling, then we can make a difference on
their bottom lines through better cattle management and marketability of
Cattle and hay producers can apply for 35% cost-share assistance, or up
to $3,500, toward the cost of a new hay storage structure or an addition
to an existing structure. Building sites must be well-drained and
flooring must be concrete or 4-6" of gravel on plastic. Acceptable
roofing materials include metal, shingles or polymer-coated fabric.
Farmers will be limited to one application per fiscal year, and funding
is on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. Once approved, farmers will
have until Dec. 31 of next year to complete approved activities and
For more information, call 615-837-5323 or visit www.picktnproducts.org.
AFGC Hires New Management Firm
The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC)
recently named Bandy & Associates, Inc. (B&A), Elmhurst, IL, as its
association management company. AFGC's membership represents the
academic community, producers, private industry, institutes and
foundations. Its primary objective is to promote the profitable
production and sustainable utilization of quality forage and grasslands.
Bandy & Associates is an association management, project and consulting
firm managed by Michael and Dee Dee Bandy. Write: AFGC, 350 Poplar Ave.,
Elmhurst, IL 60126; phone: 630-359-4273; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the AFGC Web site
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North Dakota alfalfa brought less than $50/ton for a
time before prices took a big jump in a one-month period, reports Dwain
Meyer, North Dakota State University extension agronomist. It's now
bringing around $65/ton in the state. The southwestern part of the state
was relatively dry this year, while the north-central and northeastern
regions produced well. Fargo's hay production was average, while
southeastern North Dakota production was just a bit above average,
according to Meyer. "We are somewhat short in moisture across the state
right now and we are going to need to get good spring rains to get back
to the production potential we had."
Contact Meyer at 701-231-8154.
Cooler weather and rainfall have helped improve
livestock conditions in Central Texas. The area has been hampered by
drought for much of the year, according to Texas Cooperative Extension.
Range conditions were rated mostly fair to excellent in the Texas
Panhandle early this month. Cattle were in good condition and some were
supplemented feed in the area. Meanwhile, in the southern plains,
pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition with little to no
supplemental feeding. A good portion of the Rolling Plains district
reported its first mild freeze early in the month. With cooler
temperatures, most warm-season grasses started to move to the dormant
stage. Runoff water was still needed in stock tanks in the eastern part
of the Rolling Plains district.
Winter pastures have had enough moisture to germinate and sustain
seedlings in northern Texas and some sites can soon be grazed. Far
western Texas growers expect one more cutting of hay. Winter weeds and
grasses were doing well but need moisture, and hay supplies remained
short in the west-central part of the state. Much of the grass hay has
been cut and baled in southeastern Texas. Southwestern Texas has been
very dry. Year-to-date cumulative rainfall for much of the region
remained at about one-third of the long-term average. Not much forage is
available. Stock tanks are low and some remain dry. Fall hay production
yields were low in southwestern Texas.
USDA reports hay movement has slowed in the state, as have sales. Most
hay left to be cut is going to be for personal use or to contracted
customers. The Texas Department of Agriculture has set up a Hay and
Grazing Hot Line for buyers and sellers: 877-429-1998. The ag
department's Web site is www.agr.state.tx.us.
Source: Texas Cooperative Extension Service and USDA reports.
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
The chemical company.
Always read and follow label directions.
Raptor is a registered trademark of BASF. © 2005 BASF
All Rights Reserved.
APN 05-01-133-0010 b
Manitoba Grazing School, Nov. 29-30
The Manitoba Grazing School will be held Nov. 29-30 at
Keystone Centre, Brandon. This year's theme: "Money Grows On Grass!"
Speakers will address how to produce forage-finished beef, marketing
opportunities for forage-fed beef, getting the most out of your native
pasture, and fertility management in forages and pasture. Additional
sessions will cover keys to forage productivity, grazing alfalfa and
integration of livestock into a zero-till cropping program.
Registration costs $150 and includes all conference meals and a Manitoba
Forage Council associate membership. Contact the Manitoba Forage Council
at 204-622-2029, or by fax at 204-638-2854. Learn more at www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca/conferencesevents1/grazingschool/default.aspx.
Source: Manitoba Forage Council.
**Nov. 21 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference,
Fayette County Extension, 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.
**Dec. 13-14 -- Kansas Hay & Grazing Conference, Kansas State
Fairgrounds, Hutchinson, KS. Call Gary Kilgore at 620-431-1530.
**Jan. 17-18 -- 2007 Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual
Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick.
Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association at 509-585-5460.
**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention
Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web
site at www.nmhay.com.
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 Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at
618-242-9310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's
Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE.
Visit www.alfalfaexpo.com or call Barb Kinnan at
**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort,
St. George. Details for participants and exhibitors are available at
utahhay.usu.edu, or contact Thomas Griggs at 435-797-2259, or email@example.com.
**Feb. 9 -- Ohio Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference,
Reynoldsburg. Contact Mark Sulc at 614-292-9084.
**Feb. 22 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention
Center. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Feb. 26-27 -- 2007 Idaho Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Red Lion
Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. More details will be available at www.idahohay.com.
**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.
**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI
Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at hayconference.com/conference/index.htm.
**March 14-15 -- 2007 Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product
Showcase Building, Winnipeg, MB, CA. For more info, visit www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or contact Tanis Sirski at
204-768-2781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn,
Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at www.centralplainsdairyexpo.com/ or call Kathy Tonneson
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