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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication December 12, 2006 |  
Bale Wrap Program Produces Quality Forage
Top of the News Forage-Based Ethanol Proposal Discussed Weather Biggest Factor To Affect Slumbering Forages
State Reports Eastern U.S. Montana
Events Business Succession Planning Seminar Is Dec. 14 Calendar
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Bale Wrap Program Produces Quality Forage
Hay growers in Lincoln County, KY, have been taking part in a bale-wrapper rental program designed to help them make higher-quality forage products. The Lincoln County Extension Service and Farm Bureau combined funds from a program that helped producers phase out tobacco acres and encouraged hay production. Four inline bale wrappers and a platform wrapper were bought and rented in several locations around the county. The wrappers have been used by 75-80 growers each season, wrapping around 6,000 bales/year. They pay $3/bale; that money goes into machine maintenance and replacement funds.

Because of the program, growers have been able to sell higher-quality forage. "I've been really pleased with the wrapper program," says Dan Grigson, county ag extension agent. "Some producers were able to sell to dairy and hay producers. The program has helped us raise better-quality livestock in the county, too."

Since using the program's bale wrappers, some producers have bought their own.

Contact Grigson at 606-365-2459. Learn more about the University of Kentucky's hay and forage resources at

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Top of the News
Forage-Based Ethanol Proposal Discussed
The government should pay farmers to grow 5 million acres of switchgrass, a possible new feedstock for the booming ethanol industry, said Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), incoming chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, last week. For years, ethanol has been distilled mainly from corn. Researchers say new feedstocks could be grasses, the stalks of crops, woody shrubs and even trees.

Peterson suggested a five-year pilot program to encourage farmers to grow 5 million acres a year of switchgrass and other crops for making cellulosic ethanol, reports Reuters. Peterson says the pilot program would allow experimentation in growing switchgrass, sweet sorghum and other possible feedstocks. The switchgrass program could be part of next year's overhaul of U.S. farm supports, according to Peterson. He says he does not want switchgrass to be grown on Conservation Reserve Program land.

Source: Reuters and U.S. AgNet.

For more on using switchgrass for biomass production, see "Plant Power," page 6 in the August issue of Hay & Forage Grower. Or click on this link for a copy of the story:

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Weather Biggest Factor To Affect Slumbering Forages
by Marvin Hall, Penn State University
By now forages in many parts of the country have been "put to bed" for 2006 and producers are hoping their forages will have a long winter nap. Energy production and storage for winter are finished and there isn't much you can do now to harm or improve the condition of your forage. The lot has been cast. Weather will now play the largest role in determining how healthy your forage stands will look next spring. The best-case scenario would be to have unsaturated soils with 6" of snow cover from mid-December until March. Lack of snow cover, wet soil conditions and prolonged temperatures at or below zero could spell disaster for "sleeping" forages.

Due to some fancy chemistry and metabolism, the buds on the crown or at the base of the plant can withstand temperatures of about 5 degrees before they begin to freeze to death. Snow cover and dry soils help insulate buds so that even air temperatures below -10 won't cause buds to freeze.

Saturated soils not only transmit cold temperatures to the buds quicker; they are also more prone to ice sheeting. A frozen layer of ice over a forage stand will restrict oxygen from reaching plant roots and suffocate the plant. Wet soils are also much more prone to frost heaving (repeated freezing and thawing of the soil, which pushes the crown above the soil surface and eventually snaps the roots) than dry soils.

With the forages "in bed" for the winter, now is the time to focus on other aspects of your farm. However, don't forget to conduct a thorough maintenance inspection of your forage harvesting equipment this winter because, once the forages wake up next spring, you'll be too busy.

Source: Penn State Field Crop News (

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State Reports
Eastern U.S.
Horse hay customers are finding it hard to afford hay, reports Charles Roff, Old Dominion Hay Co., Smithfield, VA. "There have been hobby horse people in our area trying to get out of horses; some are even giving their horses away because they can't afford to keep them right now," he says. He expects hay to be high-priced in the East this winter. "The market has been high for quality hay," he says. "Quality is down, too. We are paying more money for lower-quality hay compared to what we've paid in previous years. There is plenty of junk hay out there."

Roff's region doesn't have a lot of hay growers. He says equipment costs and labor challenges have caused a lot of small hay producers to fade out of the picture. The largest seller of horse hay in Virginia, Roff has to buy from out of state. Finding a good-quality product has been challenging; he's been buying from Idaho, Wyoming, and Alberta, Canada, this year. Freight rates haven't been cost-prohibitive because he back-hauls. He found some good second-cutting hay in New York, but otherwise wet conditions in the eastern U.S. have led to a shortage of quality hay. "Some of the crops are still in the field. We need a good, hard freeze," Roff says. He finds quality hay through the National Hay Association. "I've been able to maintain alliances through NHA and have been buying from some of the same people for years."

Contact Roff at 757-357-4878.

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Hay growers in Dawson County had moisture early in the season, but it dried up fast, says Bruce Smith, county extension agent, Glendive. Dryland producers got one cutting; growers with irrigation at least got second cuttings. Early cold weather also affected production. Some hay is left from last year. "A lot of small grain fields ended up getting made into hay, so a high percentage of the hay we have is wheat and barley hay," Smith says.

Contact Smith at 406-377-4277.

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This may be the most versatile tractor ever designed. The New Holland TV145 Bidirectional™ tractor lets you mount and power implements on either end to get the best combination of visibility, traction and weight balance. Work from the cab end or the engine end -- and always face the job in front of you. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377.
Business Succession Planning Seminar Is Dec. 14
How to keep a business going after an owner retires will be the subject of a Dec. 14 succession planning seminar at North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center. The NDSU Extension Service's Center for Community Vitality and the Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund are co-sponsors.

John Logue of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University will discuss how corporations can sell stock to employees to keep businesses viable. He is an expert on Section 1042 rollovers, which can defer capital gains taxes by selling at least 30% of a company's stock to employees.

The seminar runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $10/person, which includes a break and lunch. Registration deadline is Dec. 12. The first six businesses that register can participate in a one-on-one consultation with Logue. For more information, contact Kathleen Tweeten at 701-328-9718 or, or Bill Patrie at 701-663-3886 or

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**Dec. 13-14 -- Kansas Hay & Grazing Conference, Kansas State Fairgrounds, Hutchinson. 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 Contact Doug Whitney at or call Gina Sterrett at 505-626-5677.

**Jan. 22 -- Delmarva Hay and Pasture Conference, Delaware State Fairgrounds, Harrington, DE. Contact Les Vough at 301-405-1322 or Learn more at

**Jan. 23 -- Tri-State Hay and Pasture Conference, Quality Inn, Somerset, PA. Contact Les Vough at 301-405-1322 or Learn more at

**Jan. 24 -- Southern & Central Maryland Hay and Pasture Conference, Izaak Walton League, Waldorf, MD. Contact Les Vough at 301-405-1322 or Learn more at

**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn, Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at 618-242-9310 or

**Jan. 30-31 -- 2007 Symposium and Annual Meeting for Wisconsin Custom Operators, Midwest Forage Association, Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dells. For more information, visit

** Jan. 31-Feb 3 -- 2007 Cattle Industry Annual Convention & Trade Show, Nashville, TN. Learn more at Contact the National Cattlemen's Beef Association at 303-694-0305.

**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney. Visit or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn, St. George. Details are available at, or contact Thomas Griggs at 435-797-2259 or

**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

**Feb. 26-27 -- Idaho Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Red Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. More details will be available 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 -- Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at

**March 14-15 -- Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, MB, CA. For more info, visit or contact Tanis Sirski at 204-768-2781 or

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

**June 23-26 -- American Forage and Grassland Council and Northeast Branch ASA & SSSA Annual Conference, Penn State Conference Center and Hotel, State College. Call 800-944-AFGC or email

** Jan 27-Feb. 1, 2008 -- Joint Society for Range Management and American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Louisville, KY. Visit

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

For information on Hay & Forage Grower, contact:
Neil Tietz, Editor,
Fae Holin, Managing Editor,

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