Hay & Forage Grower
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Growers intend to harvest 60.3 million acres of all types of hay
this year, slightly more than in 2008 (60.1 million acres), says USDA.
In its March 31 Prospective Plantings report, the agency projects
higher acreage throughout most of the central Great Plains and Pacific
Northwest, with nearly stable acreage in other regions. The biggest
increases are expected in Oklahoma, Michigan and Montana, all up 8%;
Wyoming, up 7%; Idaho, up 6%; and Wisconsin and Kansas, both up 5%.
States with the largest expected declines include North Dakota, down
13%; New York, down 6%; and Texas, down 3%.
Corn growers expect to harvest 85 million acres of corn for all
purposes, down 1% from last year’s figure, and soybean acreage is
projected to increase slightly, to 76 million. If the soybean acreage
figure is realized, it would set a record. Acreages of oats, sugarbeets
and dry beans also are expected to increase, while growers expect to
harvest fewer acres of wheat, barley, sorghum and cotton.
For more on 2009 hay acreage and prices, watch for the May issue of
Hay & Forage Grower.
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by Fae Holin, Managing Editor, Hay & Forage
Central Illinois alfalfa growers may see a lot of winter damage in
fields this spring. Growers near Bloomington to Galesburg to parts north
are finding heaving in alfalfa stands usually three to four years old,
says Kevin Black, an agronomist with Growmark/FS based in Bloomington.
In one field, plants were consistently 4-6” out of the ground; some as
much as 8-10” above ground, he says. “Most of the heaving was
occurring on hilltops; we had ice sheeting and accumulated water.”
Heaving usually happens in heavy soils that hold moisture. Alternate
freezing and thawing causes the soil to expand and contract, thereby
pushing alfalfa taproots out of the ground.
“It’s going to impact a large number of growers” in that area,
Black predicts. “I’ve got this gut feeling that a number of growers
aren’t even aware of this yet. They’re just expecting that sometime
soon their hay is going to green up. They’re more concerned about
getting ready for their corn crops and have not yet visited their
alfalfa fields. I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot more of this
here to read the rest of this story.
The quality-tested hay auction season is coming to an end in
Wisconsin. The Sheboygan County Forage Council will hold its final
auction for 2008-09 on Wednesday, April 8, at Chissy’s Restaurant near
Waldo. Hay should be on site by 10:30 a.m. on sale day. The auction will
begin at noon.
The highest price paid at the March auction was $125/ton, with an
average price of $108/ton, reports Sheboygan County extension crops and
soils agent Mike Ballweg. “Quality-tested auctions promote the sale of
hay based on forage quality,” he says. “Sellers who harvest
top-quality forage are rewarded with higher prices. Buyers, on the other
hand, can easily select the forage quality best-suited for their
livestock needs.” For more information, call Ballweg at
The final Dodge County Forage Council (DCFC) tested hay auction will
start at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, at the Beaver Dam Auction Market.
For more details and/or to see results from previous auctions, go to the
DCFC Web site at www.widcfc.com or
phone Dodge County agriculture agent Matt Hanson at 920-386-3790.
If you haven’t checked and adjusted your conditioning rolls for a
couple of years, do it now before spring fieldwork begins in earnest,
advises University of Nebraska forage specialist Bruce Anderson. “Your
hay will dry faster and your risk of rain damage will decrease,” he
Getting alfalfa hay to dry rapidly is one of the biggest challenges of
haymaking, Anderson says. The waxy outer layer of alfalfa stems greatly
reduces the rate at which moisture can escape. Equipment manufacturers
have developed conditioning rolls that should crack or split plant stems
so they dry faster. Recently introduced intensive-conditioning systems
operate with near-zero clearances so the entire length of stem is
crushed. Researchers in several states have shown these intensive
systems allow the hay to reach baling moisture a few hours sooner than
Rolls are designed to turn at different speeds, which causes wear, noise
and vibration if sufficient clearance is not maintained. Conventional
rolls can be adjusted so the clearance is at the lower end of the
manufacturer’s recommended range. Typically, this clearance is
1/16”. When adjusted this close, conventional rolls help speed hay
dry-down almost as much as the new intensive systems, and at a much
lower cost, says Anderson.
South Dakota Dairy Producers, a new dairy group, will be holding an
organizational meeting this Thursday, April 2, at the Central Plains
Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. The
group’s purpose is to represent dairy interests in the state.
For more information, contact Chairman Marv Post, Volga, at
605-826-4227, or Executive Director Roger Scheibe, Brookings, at
Whether you’re looking for proven
performance in a package that offers exceptional value or a tractor that
gives you the latest electronic conveniences and push button simplicity,
the new T6000 Series tractors from New Holland are built for you. T6000
tractors are a natural choice for haying operations and heavy loader
work. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call
- Proceedings from the recent 2009 Heart of America Grazing
Conference in Columbus, IN, are now available online. Topics covered in
the 64-page, pdf edition include getting started in management-intensive
grazing, marketing farm-raised products, economic flexibility in raising
stockers and replacement dairy heifers, alternative forages in grazing
operations and more. Go to www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages.
- Preventing catastrophic failures in polyethylene tanks is the
subject of a new online publication from Purdue University Extension. To
view the 80-page pdf document, go to www.btny.purdue.edu.
- With the growing season approaching in most parts of the country,
now is the time to start shoring up your equipment maintenance program.
For guidelines, check out Virginia Extension’s Five Strategies For
Extending Machinery Life at www.ext.vt.edu.
- University of Illinois Extension has launched a new Manure Share
program to bring gardeners and landscapers searching for organic
material together with livestock owners who don’t have sufficient
acres to utilize manure nutrients on their fields or pastures. For more
details, go to www.manureshare.illinois.edu.
Domestic hay prices in the province have softened through the winter due
to a slack export market, depressed beef prices and lower dairy
interest, reports hay grower/dealer Barclay Lutz of Lutz Hay in
“We saw the same high demand for hay early on in the summer as most of
the U.S. did,” says Lutz, who grows alfalfa, timothy and orchardgrass.
“When things began to slow down, we saw there was plenty of hay
Lutz categorizes prices in his area as “still very broad.” He says
trading has been in the $75-200/ton range with very little trading going
on right now. “However, I feel that there is a pretty good balance of
hay for sale and hay needed.”
Looking ahead, Lutz expects demand for good hay to remain strong through
the coming season. “We will need to remember we have had a drastic
drop in barley and corn prices, and we also seem to have access to
reasonably priced fertilizer and diesel fuel this year,” he says,
adding that those factors could have a negative impact on prices.
“However, our cost of production should be a little lower as well.”
To contact Lutz, call 403-380-3906 or email
Seed supplies for just about all alfalfa varieties appear to be adequate
to meet demand in most areas of the Midwest. “We haven’t had any
reports of any supply outages up to this point,” says Dennis Gehler
with Croplan Genetics and based in St. Paul, MN. “We’ll know a
little bit more in a week or two on whether there have been any major
problems with heaving or ice sheeting.”
He advises producers and agronomists to check fields closely in the next
several weeks. “People talk about winter injury, but they really mean
spring injury,” he says. “So this is the time to be out there
scouting to see what kind of shape stands are in. If there is a
significant weather-related problem in a particular area, it could put a
run on a local supply. You don’t want to get caught short.”
Joe Waldo, NK/Syngenta Seeds, offers a similar assessment on the seed
supply. “It’s really not any tighter now than it has been over the
past two years,” says Waldo, who is based in Wisconsin. “Even so,
there’s always a potential for a shortage in some areas. A lot depends
on how stands come through the winter. One of the things that saved us
in the last couple of years is that we haven’t had a lot of
winterkill. That seems to be the case again this year, so far anyway.”
Slumping milk prices are another wild card. “A lot of dairy farmers
haven’t made up their minds on how many acres of alfalfa they’ll
plant this year and how much they’ll have to spend on seed,” he
says. “Once we see how that plays out, we’ll have a better idea on
Waldo says finalizing a purchasing decision in the next couple of weeks
would be sound strategy. “If you wait much longer than that, you could
find yourself in the position of having to accept whatever your seed
dealer has left on hand at the time,” he says.
Mike Velde, Dairyland Seed, is also encouraging buyers to place orders
early. “Right now there is an adequate supply industry-wide,” he
says. “But the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you won’t
be able to get the seed you want. You don’t want to wait until the
drill is hooked up to the tractor to go buy your seed.”
Velde also advises against trying to scrimp on seed cost this year.
“With alfalfa, you might be able to save $10-20/acre by planting an
older variety,” he says. “But if you do that, you’ll be giving up
four years of increased yield potential. The cost of new genetics really
isn’t that much compared to the potential return you stand to gain by
going with a newer variety.”
Contact Gehler at 651-765-5710 or email@example.com. Waldo
can be reached at 763-593-7324 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact
Velde at 608-676-2237 or email@example.com.
Movement of dairy hay out of southeastern South Dakota has slowed to a
crawl in recent weeks, reports hay dealer John Haensel of Haensel’s
Hidden Hills, Sioux Falls. “Dairy producers are just trying to get by
using up what they have on hand,” says Haensel, who operates his own
trucking firm and also arranges trucking for South Dakota growers
shipping dairy hay nationwide. “Several big dairies have had to close
their doors and others have cut back on the number of animals they
The slumping demand has led to significant price drop-off, he says.
Current prices for all types of hay are down $30-50/ton from year-ago
Looking ahead, depressed corn grain prices offer the best indication of
where hay prices are likely headed, he says. “It usually tracks pretty
closely. If corn prices are down, hay prices will be, too. And right
now, the corn price isn’t all that good.”
Upticks in fuel costs are also worth monitoring closely. “It got as
low as $1.77/gallon this winter,” says Haensel. “But over the last
couple of weeks, it’s gone up by 50 cents/gallon. On a 200-gallon fuel
tank, that’s an extra $100 that gets tacked on to the price at the
other end. That makes a big difference to buyers.”
He can be contacted at 605-351-5760.
The 2009 Midwest Horse Fair is scheduled for April 17-19 at the
Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI. Billed as an event bringing
education, culture, history and all-around knowledge of horses, the
three-day fair features educational presentations and clinics,
competitions ranging from rodeo to blacksmithing, entertainment and a
For details and ticket-ordering information, visit www.midwesthorsefair.com.
March 31-April 1 -- Fencing For Controlled Grazing Systems,
a hands-on fencing school conducted by the Virginia Forage and Grassland
Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension. March 31 – Days
Inn, Raphine, VA; April 1 – Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone,
VA. Contact Gordon Groover at 540-231-5850 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 1-2 -- Central Plains Dairy Expo, Convention Center, Sioux
Falls, SD. Phone 218-236-8420 or visit www.centralplainsdairy.com.
April 8 -- Manitoba Forage and Grassland Strategic Workshop,
William Glesby Center, Portage la Prairie, MB. Call the Manitoba
Forage Council at 204-726-9393.
April 21 -- Georgia 2009 Hay Production School, Stuckey
Auditorium, University of Georgia Griffin Campus. Go to www.georgiaforages.com.
April 24-26 -- 2009 Minnesota Horse Expo, Minnesota State
Fairgrounds, St. Paul. Go to www.mnhorseexpo.org/.
May 8 -- Southwest Dairy Day, Sierra Dairy, Dublin TX. Visit texasdairymatters.org or email
June 21-23 -- American Forage & Grassland Council Annual
Conference, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI. Call
800-944-2342 or email email@example.com.
July 29-30 -- U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center Getting More From
Forages Conference, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center,
Madison, WI. Visit www.dfrc.ars.usda.gov/forages
for more details.
Sept. 17-19 -- National Hay Association Convention, Cadillac
Jack’s Gaming Resort, Deadwood, SD. Contact Don Kieffer at
800-707-0014 or visit www.nationalhay.org.
Sept. 29-Oct. 3 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center,
Madison, WI. Visit www.worlddairyexpo.com.
Nov. 18-19 -- McCook Farm and Ranch Expo, Red Willow County
Fairgrounds, McCook, NE. Visit mccookfarmandranchexpo.net
or call 866-685-0989.
Feb. 16-17, 2010 -- Idaho Hay and Forage Conference, Best Western
Burley Inn, Burley. Contact Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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