Western States Lack Water But Not
A shortage of water continues to be a critical issue
faced by Western growers, according to specialists who spoke on emerging
forage issues at the Western Alfalfa and Forage Conference held last
week in Reno, NV.
Nevertheless, said Glenn Shewmaker, forage specialist with the
University of Idaho, improved varieties, sprinkler management, more
attention to alfalfa as a cash crop -- and a surge of new dairies --
have helped Northwestern growers get more money per acre.
"Of course, drought still affects the supply so regional hay stocks are
low," he told more than 750 people attending the conference.
With the dairy industry's growing demand for hay, the supply,
availability and quality of water were cited as "most critical" in
Southwestern states by forage specialist Dan Putnam, University of
Water-quality regulations have been intensifying. Watershed groups were
created and have taxed farmer-members to fund water-quality monitoring
in California, Putnam said. At the same time, alfalfa yields are steady
but not increasing, he added. "Over the last 20 years, yields have
stayed the same; that's an important issue for the future."
Both specialists specified forage industry trends common to their
Markets -- The increase in number of dairies is "phenomenal,"
Putnam said. "New Mexico has emerged from a very minor dairy state to
one of the top 10 dairy states in the U.S., with a growth of over 700%
in cow numbers since 1980." Idaho shows a 300% rise; Arizona, more than
200%. However, the absolute growth in cow numbers has been greatest in
California, which accounts for over 50% of the growth in Western
dairies. All Western states now produce over 40% of the nation's milk,
up from about 15% in the mid-1970s, and also over 40% of the nation's
The horse market has increased "everywhere," said Shewmaker. The need
for organic forages is increasing, but is considered a niche market, he
Export markets in the Pacific Northwest are also increasing; 5% of that
area's hay production, and nearly 20% of Washington state production,
are exported to the Pacific Rim.
Rising costs -- "We've seen rising costs of energy and they're
going to affect regional and international marketing of hay and forage
products," Shewmaker declared. "Hauling forages great distances is
highly dependent on continued cheap energy costs. I don't think we're
headed there -- certainly not if ethanol comes to fruition; it's still
going to be expensive. Operating costs have already increased and will
continue to for irrigation and for nitrogen fertilizer. The nitrogen
credits from growing legumes such as alfalfa are valuable for reducing
costs of growing other crops."
Corn silage -- Acreage of corn planted for silage has doubled in
Idaho and grown substantially in California, Arizona and New Mexico.
This makes it a major competitor for alfalfa hay in dairy rations, said
Putnam. Alfalfa's loss of market share is significant, he added. "The
relatively high costs of alfalfa hay (vs. other forages and feeds) is an
important factor, as is the need for manure management and its link to
corn silage and small-grain forage in the dairy regions."
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USDA Study Probes Horse Industry Trends
Hay growers trying to understand more about the U.S.
horse industry may want to refer to a 2005 USDA National Animal Health
Monitoring System report that outlines equine health and management
trends. Horse operations in 28 states, representing four regions of the
country, were surveyed as part of the study. Not surprisingly, a
reported 33.2% of the operations in the western region used horses
primarily for farm and ranch work compared to 21.3% and 21.7%, in the
south and central regions, respectively. The percentages of operations
reporting the primary use of horses for pleasure, breeding and racing
were similar across the four regions. Other primary uses included
carriage rides, transportation, outfitting , hunting and pony rides,
among other uses. Learn more about the health and management trends by
reading the study online at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/ncahs/nahms/equine/equine05/equine05_report_part1.pdf.
Hay supplies are almost all spoken for and gone in much
of Colorado, according to Don Leonard, Don's Hay Service, Brush. "There
is a little forage hay left and some baled cornstalks, but that is about
it," he reports. "If the winter gets tough, I think we will really be
short. I don't think people have all the hay they need. There wasn't any
Leonard says buyers from Texas and Oklahoma cleaned up hay supplies. He
had enough hay to supply most of his customers, but not enough extra hay
for new clients. "If people hadn't bought hay from me for a year or two,
they were out of luck," he says. "Bottom-end hay has been bringing
$120/ton in the area, while supreme hay is selling for between $150 and
$160/ton. Small bales of horse hay are over $200/ton."
Leonard says water is a big issue in his state as ag producers compete
with municipalities for water rights. He hopes early snow in the
mountains and on the eastern slope will help replenish the irrigation
water for next year. "However, we need snow-pack in our area and not
just in the mountains," he adds. "If we see a reduction in hay acres in
our area it will be because of lack of water and because more people may
be going into corn."
Leonard produces 3 x 3' and 4 x 4' bales of horse and dairy hay and
sells throughout the U.S. He delivers hay within Colorado and to
surrounding states with his own trucks.
Contact Leonard at 970-842-3058.
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Expedition and Boulder, combine high nutritional values with high
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Hay supplies in much of the Midwest are generally
somewhat short, with the exception of southern Minnesota and Wisconsin,
where growers are knee-deep in hay, reports Dan Undersander, University
of Wisconsin forage agronomist. Minnesota was dry from the Minneapolis
area north, but the area south of that line had a near-record hay year.
"The drought across the West has had a big impact on hay supplies, and
irrigation issues across the West are also big," says Undersander. "The
Texas drought has caused Nebraska hay to go south instead of east this
year." He expects hay prices to be stable to higher than they were a
year ago in much of the Midwest, with the exception of Minnesota and
Wisconsin, where supplies are good. "Dairy hay is not in a big shortage
in the Midwest," Undersander states. "Dairymen north of the Twin Cities
made corn silage this year. Horse hay is a bigger issue."
The University of Wisconsin's Weekly Hay Market Demand and Price Report
for the Upper Midwest shows small square bales of prime hay (greater
than 151 relative feed value/relative forage quality) averaging
$122/ton, with a maximum price of $160 and a minimum of $87.50. Large
square bales of prime hay averaged $124/ton, peaking at $180 and
bottoming at $72.50. Large round bales sold for $48 to $117.50/ton,
Grade 1 hay (125-150 RFV/RFQ) brought $140/ton in small square bales.
Large square bales averaged $77.19/ton, ranging from $55 to $100. Large
round bales averaged $62.50/ton, ranging from $40 to $80.
No sales of small square bales of Grade 2 hay (103-124 RFV/RFQ) were
reported. Large square bales in this category averaged $48.75/ton,
ranging from $40 to $55, and round bales ranged from $32.50 to
$58.93/ton, averaging $44.42.
Straw prices averaged $2.73 per small square bale, ranging from $1.75 to
$3.70; $24.98 per large square bale, with a range of $18 to $25; and
$17.16 per large round bale, with a range of $12 to $26.
Contact Dan Undersander at 608-263-5070. Visit the University of
Wisconsin Upper Midwest Hay Report site at www.uwex.edu/ces/forage/pubs/hay_market_report.htm.
Much of Nebraska's hay inventory is gone, reports
Martin Freed, Loomis. "From Nebraska to Texas, the pipeline seems to be
depleted," he says. "People who have hay to feed aren't letting go of
it." Freed says he has sold a lot of feedlot grinding hay for $100/ton.
"It's amazing how the hay at the bottom of the market has gone up in
price, while the top hay didn't go up as much," he says.
The growing season started out dry, so Freed had to irrigate early. "We
had a good first cutting with good hay and good weather. Good-quality
irrigated tonnage was acceptable, but dryland hay was very poor," he
says. Many Nebraska growers sold their first-cutting hay to buyers from
Texas and Oklahoma. Untimely showers in June and July hurt quality
without delivering significant amounts of moisture. August brought 14"
of rain, resulting in grinding hay and lower-quality hay. "We did have a
good local grinding market and the price was up," Freed says. Late
fourth- and fifth-cutting hay was low on tonnage, but good quality.
Freed says there are a number of ads for sorghum-sudan and cane hay, but
there doesn't seem to be much alfalfa available in his area.
He sells to the dairy and beef markets. He usually gets five cuttings on
his own alfalfa acres, in addition to custom haying and producing
prairie hay and sorghum-sudan.
Contact Freed at 308-991-3651.
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
Nebraska Alfalfa Expo Set For Feb. 6-7
The Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, hosted by the Nebraska
Alfalfa Marketing Association (NAMA), will be held Feb. 6-7 at the
Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney. More than 100 companies will
showcase the latest in forage handling and production equipment both
days of the event.
On Feb. 6, alfalfa yield vs. quality will be discussed by Neal Martin,
director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center. That afternoon,
equipment manufacturers will hold a panel discussion on new technology
and equipment for 2007. At 3:30 p.m., an exhibitor-consigned auction of
forage-related products will be held.
On Feb. 7, Gene Ross of Nelson Irrigation will offer tips on managing
irrigation efficiency and productivity, and Martin will discuss new uses
for alfalfa, including biofuels. The expo ends with a producer panel and
open forum featuring NAMA members.
For more information, contact Barb Kinnan, executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or
800-743-1649. Visit www.alfalfaexpo.com for a complete expo schedule.
**Jan. 17-18 -- Washington State Hay Growers
Association Annual Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention
Center, Kennewick. Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association
**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. 22 -- Delmarva Hay and Pasture Conference, Delaware State
Fairgrounds, Harrington, DE. Contact Les Vough at 301-405-1322 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.agnr.umd.edu/ForageEvents.
**Jan. 22-23 -- Wyoming Ag Expo, Douglas. Contact Scott Keith at
**Jan. 23 -- Tri-State Hay and Pasture Conference, Quality Inn,
Somerset, PA. Contact Les Vough at 301-405-1322 or email@example.com. Learn more at www.agnr.umd.edu/ForageEvents.
**Jan. 24 -- Southern & Central Maryland Hay and Pasture
Conference, Izaak Walton League, Waldorf, MD. Contact Les Vough at
301-405-1322 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn
more at www.agnr.umd.edu/ForageEvents.
**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn,
Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at
618-242-9310 or email@example.com.
**Jan. 30-31 -- 2007 Symposium and Annual Meeting for Wisconsin
Custom Operators, Midwest Forage Association, Professional Nutrient
Applicators Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dells. Visit www.midwestforage.org.
** Jan. 31-Feb 3 -- 2007 Cattle Industry Annual Convention & Trade
Show, Nashville, TN. Learn more at www.beefusa.org/convscheduleofevents.aspx. Contact the
National Cattlemen's Beef Association at 303-694-0305.
**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn, St.
George. Details are available at utahhay.usu.edu, or contact Thomas Griggs at
435-797-2259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**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 -- 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 email@example.com, or Dave Hartman at
570-784-6660, ext. 12, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**March 13-14 -- Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI Expo
Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at hayconference.com/conference/index.htm.
**March 14-15 -- Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product
Showcase Building, Winnipeg. For more info, visit www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or contact Tanis Sirski at
204-768-2781 or email@example.com.
**March 21-22 -- Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn, Sioux
Falls, SD. Learn more at www.centralplainsdairyexpo.com/ or call Kathy Tonneson
**June 23-26 -- American Forage and Grassland Council and Northeast
Branch ASA & SSSA Annual Conference, Penn State Conference Center
and Hotel, State College, PA. Call 800-944-AFGC or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Jan 27-Feb. 1, 2008 -- Joint Society for Range Management and
American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Louisville, KY.
A Holiday Wish
May your holiday season be filled with peace, joy and
hope. Watch for the next eHay Weekly Jan. 9.
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