November 2016 Hay & Forage Grower

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November 2016

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

The quest toward higher yielding alfalfa pg 6 Selecting silage hybrids pg 14 NAFA 2016 alfalfa variety guide center insert Bringing cereals to the forefront pg 28




Tim Hageman DuPont Pioneer Dairy Specialist Mark Knutson Dairy Producer



Nikki Schulte Pioneer Sales Professional


PIONEER® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents. ® TM SM , , Trademarks and service marks of DuPont, Pioneer or their respective owners. © 2016 PHII. DUPPFO16014_VA_110116_HFG

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November 2016 · VOL. 31 · No. 6 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Ryan D. Ebert ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen AUDIENCE MARKETING MGR. John R. Mansavage ADVERTISING SALES Jan C. Ford Kim E. Zilverberg ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin W.D. HOARD & SONS

8 What we’ve learned about the HarvXtra trait

It’s “game on” in 2017 as transgenic, reduced-lignin varieties hit the market.


Electric fencing is key to grazing winter stockpile The “Amazing Grazing” program touts an impressive list of accomplishments.


Not one wrapper fits all There are many factors to consider when choosing a bale wrapper.






DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 10 Beef Feedbunk 12 Feed Analysis 14 Dairy Feedbunk 16 Pasture Ponderings 20 Forage Gearhead








22 24 30 42 42

Forage Shop Talk Custom Corner Machine Shed Forage IQ Hay Market Update

PRESIDENT Brian V. Knox VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING Gary L. Vorpahl EDITORIAL OFFICE 28 Milwaukee Ave. West, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 WEBSITE EMAIL PHONE (920) 563-5551


Rethinking alfalfa cutting frequency and timing More cuts to improve quality also can compromise yield and persistence.




ON THE COVER Welcomed during growth and cursed during harvest, water ultimately decides the fate of each year’s alfalfa crop. One-third of U.S. alfalfa acres are under irrigation. California leads the nation with about 832,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa. Photo by Mike Rankin

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2016 W. D. Hoard & Sons Company. All rights reserved. Published six times annually in January, February, March, April/May, August/September and November by W. D. Hoard & Sons Co., 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Tel: 920-563-5551. Fax: 920-563-7298. Email: Website: www.hayandforage. com. Periodicals Postage paid at Fort Atkinson, Wis., and additional mail offices. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscribers may subscribe at: USA: 1 year $20 U.S.; Outside USA: Canada & Mexico, 1 year $80 U.S.; All other countries, 1 year $120 U.S. For Subscriber Services contact: Hay & Forage Grower, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 USA; call: 920-563-5551, email: or visit: POSTMASTER: Send address changes to HAY & FORAGE GROWER, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Subscribers who have provided a valid email address may receive the Hay & Forage Grower email newsletter eHay Weekly.

November 2016 | | 3

U.S. Postal Service STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.


11. 13. 14. 15.




17. 18.

Publication Title: Hay & Forage Grower Publication No.: 021-713 Filing Date: September 30, 2016 Issue Frequency: January, February, March, April/May, August/September and November No. of Issues Published Annually: 6 Annual Subscription Price: $0 Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 28 Milwaukee Avenue West, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, Jefferson County, WI 53538-0801. Contact Person: Brian V. Knox, Telephone: 920-563-5551. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: 28 Milwaukee Avenue West, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, Jefferson County, WI 53538-0801. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher: W. D. Hoard & Sons Company, Brian V. Knox, 28 Milwaukee Avenue West, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0801. Editor: Managing Editor: Michael C. Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Avenue West, P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0801 Owner: Hay & Forage LLC, 28 Milwaukee Ave. W, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538; Paris M Knox 1990 Educational Trust, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538; Gillian V. Knox 1990 Educational Trust, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538; Brian V. Knox II 1992 Educational Trust, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538; Gregory J. Mode, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538; Gina L. Mode, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities: None Publication Title: Hay & Forage Grower Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: August/September 2016 Extent and Nature of Circulation: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: a. Total Number of Copies (Net Press Run): 64,449 b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By mail and outside the mail): 1. 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Copies not Distributed (See Instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3): 1,253 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g): 66,449 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c divided by 15f times 100): 52.89% Extent and Nature of Circulation: No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: a. Total Number of Copies (Net Press Run): 65,263 b.Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By mail and outside the mail): 1. Outside County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541. (Include direct written request from recipient, telemarketing, and Internet requests from recipient, paid subscriptions including nominal rate subscriptions, employer requests, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies.): 41,077 2. In-County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions stated on PS From 3541.(Include direct written request from recipient, telemarketing, and Internet requests from recipient, paid subscriptions including nominal rate subscriptions, employer requests, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies.): 0 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Paid or Requested Distribution Outside USPS®: 0 4. Requested Copies Distributed by Other Mail Classes Through the USPS (e.g. First-Class Mail®): 0 c.Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Sum of 15b (1), (2), (3) and (4)): 41,077 d. Non-requested Distribution (By mail and outside the mail) 1. Outside County Nonrequested Copies Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include sample copies, requests over 3 years old, requests induced by a premium, builk sales and requests including association requests, names obtained from business directories, lists, and other sources): 22,263 2. In-County Nonrequested Copies Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include sample copies, requests over 3 years old, requests induced by a premium, bulk sales and requests including association requests, names obtained from business directories, lists, and other sources): 0 3. Nonrequested Copies Distributed Through the USPS by Other Classes of Mail (e.g. First-Class Mail, nonrequestor copies mailed in excess of 10% limit mailed at Standard Mail® or Package Services rates): 0 4. Nonrequested Copies Distributed Outside the Mail (Include pickup stands, trade shows, showrooms, and other sources): 1,000 e. Total Nonrequested Distribution (Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3) and (4)): 23,263 f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and e): 64,340 g. Copies not Distributed (See Instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3): 923 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g): 65,263 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c divided by 15f times 100): 63.84% Electronic Copy Circulation: Hay & Forage Grower. Average No. Copies Each Issue During Previous 12 Months: a. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies: 0 b. Total Requested and Paid Print Copies (Line 15C) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a): 0 c. Total Requested Copy Distribution (Line 15f) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a): 0 d. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c X 100): 0%. Electronic Copy Circulation Hay & Forage Grower. No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: a. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies: 0 b. Total Requested and Paid Print Copies (Line 15C) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a): 0 c. Total Requested Copy Distribution (Line 15f) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a): 0 d. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c X 100): 0%. I certify that 50% of all my distributed copies (electronic & print) are legitimate requests or paid copies. Publication of Statement of Ownership for a Requester Publication is required and will be printed in the November 2016 issue of this publication. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).


Forage tithing tithe \tith\ n : a tenth part paid or given


T’S usually about this time of year when churches across the U.S. begin their pledge campaigns to meet the ensuing year’s budget. You know how it works, either the head clergy or some other poor sacrificial lamb has to stand before the congregation and make the case for more giving than the previous year. In the pews, people’s heads turn to the floor, exits, or they fumble through the hymnal pages for the next selection. Somewhere along the line comes a Biblical reference to a money, time, and talent tithe. “Is it just me or does nobody want to talk about alfalfa anymore?” said the person on the other end of the phone. “We have nobody who knows forage crops at our local co-op, and there’s no forage specialist anymore at our state university.” The caller was right. The battalion of human forage resources has diminished — significantly in many places. Some who are still around will be retiring in the not too distant future. It’s not just university personnel either; long-time forage companies are merging or are simply calling it quits. We lose forage expertise with each scenario. Oftentimes when university forage specialists leave or retire they are replaced with people given a much broader scope of responsibility — for instance, cropping systems and biofuel production. Or, as was the case in Iowa that has nearly 4 million head of beef cattle alone, there is no state extension forage specialist replacement. With much tighter university budgets, position on the totem pole matters, and many times forage expertise is mistakenly viewed as expendable. Moving forward, we’re going to need forage tithers: industry personnel, producers, scientists, organizations, and

Mike Rankin Managing Editor

media. Each giving their time, talent, and resources for the benefit of moving forage education, technology, and research along at the pace being set by our grain crops brethren. It’s going to have to be all for one, and one for all. While on a recent trip to Washington, I had a chance to visit several commercial hay farms. Two of the operators, Brian Eddie and Drex Gauntt, each talked of their production practices, but also made a point to relate how they felt giving back to the industry was important. Eddie serves as the current president of the Washington State Hay Growers Association (WSHGA). The Moses Lake producer noted the importance of being involved and getting others involved. The WSHGA sponsors one of the largest forage conferences in the U.S. and sanctions alfalfa variety trials that are conducted by Washington State University. Eddie’s son, Andrew, helps on the farm and is the person behind WSHGA’s marketing initiatives and social media presence. Both father and son are tithers. Gauntt is another tither and an early adopter of new technologies on his Burbank operation. He serves on the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) board. Like Eddie, he believes growers have an obligation to the larger industry; that’s why he is a big proponent of the new Alfalfa Checkoff Program and the research it will ultimately fund. These Washington growers are only two examples of forage tithers. There are many more out there, but the forage industry is going to need all hands on deck to maintain university specialist positions, research programs, and to cultivate and train the forage experts and leaders of the future. •

Brian V. Knox, Publisher September 30, 2016

Write Managing Editor Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, call (920) 563-5551 or email

4 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

T:8.375” S:7.875”

HarvXtra® alfalfa is the most advanced alfalfa trait in the industry. A wider cutting window gives farmers the flexibility to maintain a normal harvest schedule and achieve higher quality. Or, delay harvest for up to 7 days for higher yield potential without sacrificing quality, when compared to conventional alfalfa at the same stage of maturity. HarvXtra® alfalfa also comes stacked with Roundup Ready® Technology for unsurpassed weed control.

Discover more at


ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Genuity Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity®, Roundup Ready® and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. ©2016 Forage Genetics International, LLC



For the 2017 growing season, growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) to U.S. domestic use only. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product.

Modifying alfalfa fall dormancy offers the potential for yield improvement. This variety trial in the Imperial Valley, Calif., demonstrates a wide range of regrowth from different varieties during January 2016.

dormancies more easily and to adapt new germplasm to a particular region quickly.

Genomic selection

The quest toward higher yielding alfalfa by Charlie Brummer


LANT breeders have been very successful at improving the yield of corn, soybeans, and most other crops. But in recent years, we’ve seen alfalfa yield stagnate; at best, yield enhancements have been minor compared to other crops. What I’m talking about is boosting the inherent potential of alfalfa to grow more forage. We have seen amazing improvements in disease and pest resistances in alfalfa over the past 50 years. New cultivars have better tolerance to various environmental stresses — heat, cold, drought, and so on — than older cultivars as well. Together, new cultivars are often more persistent than older cultivars, and, of course, this means yield is higher across the years of a stand. I think of these improvements as playing defense — preventing yield losses due to the whole host of factors plants face while growing in the field. But what about the engine within the alfalfa plant that produces yield? I think of it as the offense of the plant. How can we boost the offense to put more points on the board — more hay in the stack? And here is where breeding has run into more difficulty.

Fall dormancy matters One possibility to enhance yield is to modify the fall dormancy (FD) of a cultivar — in general, as dormancy declines, the yield improves. So, if you live in the Midwest and grow FD 4 varieties now, you could probably improve yield by 6 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

switching to FD 5, provided the winter hardiness is adequate. So, one way alfalfa breeders have boosted yield is to develop less dormant varieties that still survive in the regions they are planted. One of the main objectives of my current research program is to understand the genetic basis of dormancy so that we can manipulate it more easily. We are refining the standard test to measure dormancy. One experiment demonstrated that fall dormancy could be accurately assessed both in the traditional standard test that evaluates plants grown widely spaced in the field as well as in solid seeded yield trial plots. Using yield trials to measure dormancy would help classify cultivars because a separate dormancy trial would not be necessary. My laboratory is also researching the genetic control of fall dormancy. The objective of this research is to develop methods to select for plants that have the desired dormancy classification. Plant breeding at its most basic level is a numbers game — the more plants we can observe, the better progress we can make. And the second rule of plant breeding is that we have to evaluate plants in the field to ensure they are tough enough for farm use. If we can select seedlings with the appropriate dormancy in the greenhouse, then we can maximize the number of plants targeted to a particular region that we can evaluate in the field. Knowing the genetic basis of dormancy will also enable us to select for cultivars of specific

The third way we are attempting to improve yield is to select for yield indirectly using genetic markers within a given dormancy level. For a given dormancy level, the ability to select for plants that have all the resistances and tolerances for multiyear persistence together with ideal forage quality and that also have higher yield has proven difficult. We have demonstrated in principle that we can select plants for higher yield based only on the evaluation of a set of genetic markers, something called “genomic selection.” Normally, breeding cycles of alfalfa take multiple years — alfalfa is a perennial crop. If we can instead use markers to predict the yield of plants, we can turn a cycle in six months. The idea with genomic selection is that we can make two or more cycles of yield selection using markers and then return to the field to make field-based selections. In this way, we can boost yield faster than normal. We are currently increasing seed of a population selected with markers alone, and we will plant a yield trial in the spring in Northern California, Wisconsin, and Cornell to see if the marker selection was effective. Traditional breeding methods have not been as effective at boosting yield potential as they have been at improving disease, pest, and stress tolerances. With a better understanding of fall dormancy, through selection for dormancy itself and the targeted use of genetic markers, we believe better yield potential is in the forecast for alfalfa cultivars in the coming years. With the challenges posed by limited water in the West, by a variable climate everywhere, and by ever-changing disease and pest pressures, any ability to boost yield potential will be most welcome. • CHARLIE BRUMMER The author is a professor and director of the Center for Plant Breeding, University of California-Davis.

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10/12/16 10:50 AM

by Mike Rankin


T WAS difficult to attend a forage meeting in the past 12 months that didn’t have reduced-lignin alfalfa somewhere on the agenda. The HarvXtra trait is the second transgenic offering to alfalfa growers with glyphosate resistance (Roundup Ready) having been released about 10 years ago. The majority of the HarvXtra story is still largely unwritten from a production and use perspective. Beginning next spring, farmers across the United States will have the opportunity to purchase and plant the traited varieties being offered by about 10 different seed companies. Some, such as Croplan Genetics and DuPont Pioneer, will be marketing a couple of varieties for 2017 seedings. Though there is still a lot of “hay to make” concerning the HarvXtra story, Chapter 1 is mostly scribed and that’s what we’ll examine here.

2015, 13 years after the formation of the original development partnership. Based on FGI research trials, the marketing claims for HarvXtra are 10 to 15 percent lower lignin and 10 to 15 percent higher neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD). To be sure, the magnitude of such a genetic improvement in forage quality has never been previously achieved other than by harvest timing manipulation. The promise is for even greater reductions as future varietal generations are released.

Out to the farms In the spring of 2015, HarvXtra made its way to farm fields, both university experiment farms and also to 10 selected production fields. At the university level, a coordinated harvest management

A wider net in 2016

How we got here In 2002, three research and development entities formed a partnership to develop a reduced-lignin alfalfa using biotech techniques. Scientists from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, and Forage Genetics International (FGI) comprised the consortium that discovered and executed the process whereby several lignin pathways in alfalfa were suppressed. From there, it became a matter of determining the most effective gene to “knock out” that would both reduce lignin content and change its composition without compromising other beneficial agronomic characteristics. The process of incorporating the ligninsuppressing gene into multiple elite breeding lines fell to FGI. Additionally, lines were tested for their agronomic merit and studies documenting both yield and forage quality were initiated. In late 2014, USDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) deregulated the trait. Beyond the FGI testing, no independent university field studies or on-farm testing occurred until 8 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

percent greater NDFD, and 10 percent greater relative forage quality (RFQ). Seeding-year dry matter yield averaged 7 percent less for the HarvXtra variety compared to the conventional checks. Also in spring 2015, 10 alfalfa growers were given a limited amount of seed to plant in a production field. These farms, all located east of the Rocky Mountains, were then able to harvest first-production year fields in 2016 (see related sidebar article). Based on some of the initial university research results and the limited on-farm experience to date, it appears that HarvXtra does fulfill the forage quality advantage being touted in marketing claims. It’s probably a little early at this point to draw any firm conclusions about agronomic performance simply because of limited field testing.

Cutting frequency, timing, and forage quality are now being evaluated in university field trials across the U.S.

experiment was planted in California, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Field plots are being cut at 28-, 33-, or 38-day intervals, and a HarvXtra variety is being compared to two conventional varieties. Forage samples are also being harvested and analyzed at three- to four-day intervals beginning on Day 20 of regrowth. The seeding year results (second and third cuttings) were reported earlier this month at the Crop Science Society of America meetings in Phoenix. In looking at the very early returns compiled across all test sites and cuttings in 2015, the HarvXtra variety averaged 14 percent less acid detergent lignin, 7

Last winter, additional HarvXtratraited seed was made available for planting; over 50,000 acres were seeded down, and once again all plantings were east of the Rockies to keep the trait out of the export market. Making the 2016 plantings different is that all of the sold seed was a blend of different HarvXtra varieties rather than unique, licensed varieties. In other words, all of the bagged seed was the same irrespective of what company it was purchased from. This was done because there was not enough seed of any one variety for widespread distribution. Also established in 2016 were 20 on-farm trials comparing HarvXtra to conventional alfalfa. The seeding-year reduced-lignin alfalfa was harvested, segregated, and stored separately; it will be fed this fall and winter in an offon-off fashion. Forage intake and milk production data will be collected at the end of the feeding period. Finally, more university trials were established in 2016. One example is a study at Cornell University that will evaluate a conventional and HarvXtra-

traited alfalfa variety grown in a mixture with meadow fescue, festulolium, or late-maturing orchardgrass.

Looking to 2017 The spring of 2017 will see the first widespread planting of unique, licensed varieties having the HarvXtra trait; as such, Company A’s variety may be different than Company B’s variety in terms of agronomic performance or even the degree of forage quality improvement. All HarvXtra varieties come packaged with the Roundup Ready trait and associated technology fees ($300 per bag for both traits). They also all have a fall dormancy rating of 4. Growers in the Western states will need to sign a Seed and Feed Use Agreement to ensure the forage doesn’t find its way into the export market. Of course, the situation still remains that there won’t be any performance evaluation trials from which to make purchase decisions. Those will no doubt come with time. Though it’s rarely a good idea to make variety selections based on a single trait or criteria, there may be little recourse in 2017 if you want to give HarvXtra a try.

Also in 2017, many first-production year fields from 2016-seeded fields will be harvested. These, along with university research trials seeded in 2015 and 2016, will begin to make the picture clearer as to what might be expected from a forage quality and performance perspective.

Into the future As we look toward upcoming years, FGI personnel tell us that there will be improved performance and quality in future generations of varieties. There will also be a more diverse portfolio of fall dormancy offerings. From a research perspective, expect to see more agronomic and forage quality evaluation along with feeding trials. Dependent on other forage and feed ingredients, livestock production responses to feeding HarvXtra alfalfa will no doubt vary, assuming the grower is cutting for maximum quality rather than boosting yield by delaying the harvest time. Factors that influence rumen fill and rate of passage will all come into play. How will brown midrib corn team with HarvXtra? Will it be possible to raise the amount of forage fed in the

diet without sacrificing production, and is that the best approach? These and many more feeding questions still need to be addressed. The question of quality or quantity is probably the most discussed aspect of using the HarvXtra trait. How many growers will maintain their current schedule and capture the quality benefit or delay cutting to eliminate a harvest but also capture more yield; this remains to be seen. Perhaps some hybrid of two approaches will emerge (keep first cut the same and delay subsequent harvests). It’s likely that until entire alfalfa acreages are seeded to varieties with the HarvXtra trait, there won’t be a lot of self-imposed cutting delays. Though there is still much to learn about the management and feeding of HarvXtra alfalfa, it is relatively safe to say that the trait does differentiate itself from conventional varieties in terms of lignin content and fiber digestibility. It won’t be an appealing option for everybody, but few new technologies ever are. As is almost always the case, time, research, and on-farm performance will make the HarvXtra crystal ball much less murky. •

THEY GOT FIRST DIBS Though this current year saw a number of new seedings established with HarvXtra seed, there were a few select alfalfa growers who had the opportunity to plant the traited seed in 2015. This gave them the chance to manage and harvest first-production year fields in 2016. Here are the first impressions and experiences of two dairy producers based on discussions with Hay & Forage Grower. “We found HarvXtra yielded as well as our conventional varieties and standability wasn’t a big problem,” said Donnie Martin, a Chambersburg, Pa., dairy farmer who milks 200 cows on his 800-acre farm. Martin seeded 14 acres of HarvXtra alfalfa in 2015 and followed that up with 23 more acres in 2016. Mike Brunmeier, a Newton, Wis., dairy producer, was another of the HarvXtra class of 2015. He split a 35-acre field between the reduced-lignin and a conventional variety on his 425-cow dairy. Brunmeier annually harvests nearly 350 acres of alfalfa. Both Martin and Brunmeier cut Brunmeier their 2015-seeded stands at the same time as their conventional alfalfa fields in 2016. When asked about harvest strategy, Martin stated, “At

first the idea of eliminating one cutting per year sounded appealing. For now we’re keeping everything on our normal five-cut, 28-day cutting schedule. We’ll see if that strategy changes in the future when all the fields are reduced lignin.” Brunmeier said that he would also continue with his normal cutting regime. “Initially, skipping a cut seemed like a good approach, but I think we’ll continue to use it as an insurance policy against bad weather or take the higher quality with our normal cutting schedule.” Both early adopters seemed pleased with their first year of harvesting and feeding the traited alfalfa. The limited quantities of feed from the initial seeding year were fed out on both farms by substituting the HarvXtra alfalfa for their conventional alfalfa. It was fed until it was gone and then the cows went back to conventional varieties. “Last year, when we got into the HarvXtra, the cows jumped 2.5 pounds of milk per day,” Martin said of his first feeding experience. “After it was gone and we went back to our conventional alfalfa, the cows dropped 2.75 pounds of milk per day.” Brunmeier related a similar story, but had his 2015 HarvXtra crop layered in an upright silo. Based on several comparisons of his HarvXtra and conventional fields, Brunmeier was getting a 9 to 20 percent bump in NDF digestibility. Each stated that their goal was to seed and harvest 100 percent of the traited, reduced-lignin alfalfa in the future. • November 2016 | | 9


by Matt Poore

Strip grazing reduces selective grazing and wasted forage. This maximizes the potential grazing days into fall and winter

Electric fencing is key to grazing winter stockpile


MAZING Grazing� is our education program that focuses on improving the understanding of pasture ecology and the adoption of adaptive grazing management. Our educational approach is to use on-farm demonstrations with a variety of farmers. We also do a lot of training with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), state extension personnel, and state conservation employees to make sure that producers who start with these systems get the technical support they need from local advisers. Once a producer masters the use of temporary fencing, we hold a workshop on their farm so other cattlemen can learn from peers in their local environment. Many beef producers have the opportunity to stockpile forages during autumn for winter grazing, so we have focused on this practice with many of our demonstrations. It is a technique especially useful for tall fescue and bermudagrass, but stockpiling can be used for any cool- and warm-season forages. In more northern and drier regions, it is also common to use the practices of cornstalk grazing, bale 10 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

grazing, and swath grazing, which are also forage stockpiling.

More grazing days Whatever forage you are stockpiling, a key part of the practice is to provide access to forage that the cows need for a short period (usually one to seven days), while restricting their access to the rest of the stockpiled forage. This reduces selective grazing and wasted forage, allowing a high level of utilization efficiency so you can stretch many more grazing days out of the available forage. How far the potential grazing days will be extended depends on the forage system, but with many systems you can expect 35 to 50 percent more grazing days by allocating only three days of forage at a time compared to continuous grazing. The approach we usually recommend is to strip graze (also known as frontal grazing) with a single strand of temporary electric fence. The fence is set up so that, when cows enter the pasture, they have access to a small strip of forage, the water tank, and a mineral supplement. Usually, we allow about a

week’s worth of forage when first entering the pasture so the animals have plenty of room to move freely. After the forage is grazed to a desirable residual height, another strip is allocated. First, set up a new fence and then take down the first one, or when the strip is very long, loosen the fence, then walk along and move the temporary posts to the desired distance. As the process continues, you will learn how much area to allocate to get adequate forage utilization and animal intake.

Build fence respect However you manage the grazing, using good-quality temporary fence supplies and keeping a lot of power MATT POORE The author is an extension ruminant nutrition specialist at North Carolina State University.

on the fence are key to success. In our experience, many producers become disillusioned with the system if the cows frequently “break out” or if wildlife tear down the fence, so make sure you get a good start by paying attention to detail early in the process. If cows are unaccustomed to temporary fence, it is critical that they be trained to respect it; if you have a lot of wildlife, they also need to be trained to respect the fence. Temporary fence is strictly a mental barrier, so I can’t overemphasize how important it is to start with a good strong structure and a high level of power. Setting up temporary fence a few yards inside a permanent perimeter several weeks ahead of strip grazing is a good way to initiate the training process.

Don’t cut corners

Strip graze starter kit Through our demonstrations we have found success starting producers with a package of temporary grazing supplies that meet our recommendations, and through several years have developed what we call the “Amazing Grazing Starter Kit.” The standard kit includes 100 tread-in posts with adjustable wire height, two geared reels, two ungeared

reels, enough 9-strand polywire to load the reels, 10 fiberglass corner posts (11/16 or 7/8 inches), a light post driver, and a good-quality “fault-finder” fence tester. We are partnering with fence suppliers to provide the “Amazing Grazing Starter Kit” and also a smaller “Amazing Grazing Strip Grazing Kit.” These kits are now available from Pasture Management Systems ( at a discount and would make a great Christmas present for any progressive cattlemen interested in improving their grazing management skills. Of course, these same supplies can be put together from any fence supplier, so shop around and join the growing number of producers who are adopting the use of temporary fences and adaptive grazing. “Amazing Grazing,” through our own efforts and also through partnerships with other state educational programs, is making great progress to enhance the use of adaptive grazing in the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. The concepts of “Amazing Grazing” are also being spread across the country through our national training program for NRCS conservationists and grazing specialists. We currently have plans to expand the program further, so follow us on Facebook, or visit us at our website by searching for “CEFS Amazing Grazing” to learn about upcoming workshops and to read more about how adaptive grazing can help you meet your production goals. •

Sarah Lyons, Cornell

Using low-quality fencing supplies is a common mistake that producers new to the system make. We have learned through our “Amazing Grazing” demonstration work that producers are much more successful if they use at least a medium-quality polywire (9-strand stainless steel works well in most situations), good-quality reels (geared reels when there are long stretches of temporary fence), and good-quality tread-in posts. Producers who start with polytape often encounter problems because of its weight, reduced ability to carry power, and its tendency to accumulate snow and ice.

We also recommend the use of UV (ultraviolet radiation)-stabilized fiberglass posts for the end of runs and for making corners. In especially challenging situations with cattle unaccustomed to temporary fence or with a lot of wildlife pressure, this kind of post every few hundred feet on a temporary stretch adds more stability to the fence. Also consider the spacing of the temporary posts; using a close spacing (25 feet) to start will help reduce problems. Once cows and wildlife are well trained, you can use a wider post spacing, fewer corner or end posts, and you can get through times of low or no power without experiencing a breakout. It is hard to generalize about how much power you should keep on the fence, but in most situations, we like to see over 5,000 volts (5 kilovolts) to make sure that, when cows or wildlife touch the fence, they will quickly learn to leave it alone. Low fence power is the number one problem we have identified with producers who experience grazing system problems.

As a component of the “Amazing Grazing” program, both adults and youth are trained on the use of temporary electric fence for strip grazing.

Cows in southern Virginia strip graze tall fescue pasture. One element for success is to teach livestock to respect the electric fence before strip grazing is initiated.

November 2016 | | 11


by John Goeser

Cut fermentation losses


ERMENTATION is a wonderful process, and fermented feeds can be successfully stored for years. For example, following a drought and lesser forage inventories within the Midwest several years ago, I came across forage from the bottom of a silo that the farmer remembered being from 1988! The forage was still of sound nutritional quality. Fermentation and preservation have been used on farms for thousands of years and happens in four phases: 1) aerobic, 2) anaerobic/fermentation, 3) stable, and 4) feedout. Each of these phases result in feed that is slightly different from the original fresh alfalfa or grass. The plant begins to change during the aerobic phase while the crop is being harvested and delivered into the silo. The wilting plant continues living despite being cut, utilizing some sugars after photosynthesis stops. Aerobic (with oxygen present) changes continue taking place after the forage is sealed into the upright silo, bag, bunker, or pile because there is still remaining air. While the oxygen concentration is small, true fermentation cannot take place until all of the oxygen is gone. Microbes that can live in aerobic conditions will chew up the oxygen and then Phase 2 can proceed. The net result from Phase 1 is a forage that has less sugar relative to the fresh alfalfa or grass. The goal for Phase 1 should be to get the forage out of the field and eliminate air as quickly as possible. Avoid taking more than a week to fill a silo and pack, pack, and pack some more with bags, bunkers, and piles to keep air infiltration to

12 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

a minimum. Take great care to seal edges or silo bag ends to keep air out.

Drive down pH During Phase 2, a period of active fermentation after the oxygen is gone, anaerobic bacteria and some fungi (yeast) metabolize sugars and soluble carbohydrates into fermentation acids. As lactic, acetic, and other fermentation acids are produced, the forage pH drops until the environment is acidified to the point that the organisms can no longer grow. This is how the feed is effectively preserved with a low pH. Typically, as acetic and other acids are produced, there is gas (carbon dioxide) generated and usable carbon is lost. What’s the bottom line with the now fermented forage as it relates to fresh? Carbohydrates from the fresh feed are lost mostly as carbon dioxide and this literally translates to reduced dry matter. The net result from Phase 2 is we lose somewhere between one and 25 tons out of every 100 tons harvested and ensiled. Moreover, when readily digestible sugars are burned up, the fiber and ash contents spike relative to fresh feed because the sugar is not there to dilute these less digestible nutrients. Fermented haylage ends up with less energy per ton than fresh alfalfa or grass. Though some nutrient loss is acceptable because the feed has been preserved, the goal with Phase 2 should be to drive fermentation to a low pH as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimize nutrient losses. During Phase 3, the forage remains stable and can do so for years. During the stable phase, fermented feed contin-

ues to differentiate from fresh because enzymes that were produced by bacteria and fungi during the fermentation phase leak out of the dormant microbes and into the forage. These proteolytic enzymes break down proteins and amino acids, creating ammonia and other nonprotein nitrogen sources. The net result is a higher soluble protein content relative to the fresh grass or alfalfa. Dairy and feedlot cattle can utilize the nonprotein nitrogen because bacteria within the rumen can rebuild these nitrogen compounds into amino acids and proteins, but the rumen bacteria need to expend energy to do so. The goal should be to limit soluble protein; aim for ammonia-nitrogen to be less than 10 percent of the total protein.

A possible mold comeback Finally, during Phase 4 the fermented forage is exposed to air again at feedout. Ideally, the fermented feed maintains all of its nutritive value preserved in Phases 1, 2, and 3 and is stable into the feed mixer and then into the feedbunk. However, all too often mold and yeast that went dormant during Phases 1, 2, and 3 spring back to life when exposed to air. The yeast can create heat by burning fermentation acids and more carbohydrates. Then, when the pH rises as acids are metabolized, mold can set in. The aerobic deterioration result could be a catastrophic downward cycle that robs the haylage of even more nutrients. The outcome in Phase 4 could be a haylage that is even further depleted of nutrients relative to the fresh alfalfa or grass. Further yet, if mold and yeast take hold substantially, the feed can be detrimental to the rumen digestion of other ration ingredients. Recognize that the ideal fermented haylage will only lose a small amount of carbohydrate relative to the fresh-cut forage. An average haylage likely loses five to 10 tons for every 100 tons of fresh forage; poorer haylage could lose 25 tons or more. Monitor and then harvest forage at the ideal moisture range for your silo and then keep air out with aggressive and purposeful practices. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.




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by Randy Shaver


a nutrition perspective


ONG-TERM corn hybrid selection programs for grain yield potential have contributed to the tremendous progress in that trait observed by corn farmers. Corn silage is a combination of both grain and stover fractions in the whole-plant harvest, which makes selecting corn hybrids for silage production much more difficult for dairy farmers. This greater complexity is mainly because both fractions contribute to whole-plant yield at harvest, the relative proportion of each fraction contained in the whole-plant harvest influences corn silage nutrient concentrations, and the digestibility of each fraction in corn silage can vary at feedout.

Starch is variable The energy value of corn silage influences both level of milk production and supplemental grain amounts needed in rations. Starch, contained in the kernel (grain) fraction of corn silage, contributes about half of its energy value. So starch concentration measurements are commonly included in corn silage hybrid performance trials. Even though corn hybrid influences grain yield potential and thus can influence the kernel to stover ratio and corn silage’s potential starch content, the actual starch content is largely uncontrolled because it varies greatly depending on crop growing conditions (for example, rainfall amounts and timing), timing of harvest relative to 14 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

kernel maturity, and cutting height. All of these factors can also alter the kernel to stover ratio during the production and harvest of corn silage. Therefore, corn silage starch content on dairy farms is highly variable as indicated by a normal (two-thirds of samples) range of 25 to 39 percent (dry matter [DM] basis; average of 32 percent) in a commercial lab survey data set of 300,000 corn silage samples analyzed at the four major U.S. commercial forage testing labs. This variation is not unexpected since, as previously described, the relative proportion of kernel and stover fractions contained in the whole-plant harvest, which is influenced by many factors, determines the starch content of corn silage. The takeaway messages from the foregoing discussion are as follows: 1. Inclusion of starch concentration or grain yield in corn silage hybrid selection programs is important for setting the potential for high-starch content, but results will vary. 2. Focus on management of key corn silage production and harvest practices, as mentioned previously, to optimize starch content. 3. Possibly the most important step in optimizing the utilization of corn silage in dairy cattle rations is frequent and accurate sampling and analysis for starch content during feedout. The latter also applies to neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content, which essentially

varies inversely with starch content. A relatively hot research topic in recent years has been starch digestibility and the potential for altering kernel endosperm properties (reduced kernel hardness) to improve starch digestion. Incorporation of these corn endosperm properties into corn breeding or hybrid selection programs has been, and continues to be, slow to evolve.

Maintain feed carryover Specific to corn silage, the practical importance of the corn genetic aspect of starch digestibility is tempered because the kernel should be less mature than black layer at harvest, processing of the kernel during harvest enhances starch digestibility, and starch digestibility elevates over time of storage in the silo through fermentation and proteolysis of the starch-protein matrix. Furthermore, there is no standardized agreed-upon method for assessment of differences in starch digestibility among samples in the lab. I am unaware of starch digestibility being incorporated directly into any university-run corn silage hybrid performance trials at this time. Therefore, I do not currently recommend starch digestibility as a focal point in corn silage hybrid selection. Focus more on proper harvest matu-

RANDY SHAVER The author is a professor and extension dairy nutritionist in the department of dairy science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

rity, chop length and kernel processing, and having at least four months of carryover corn silage inventory for achieving high starch digestibility during feedout. Work with your nutritionist during corn silage feedout to assess starch digestibility and make necessary ration adjustments. This can be done either directly through rumen in vitro analysis or indirectly through analysis of kernel processing score and changes in soluble protein or ammonia-nitrogen over time in storage. Pay attention to future developments in the starch digestibility area as research continues.

using ivNDFD as a parameter for corn silage hybrid selection.

to different animal groups based on quality parameters, and the forage inventory situation in given year. Given the complexity of corn silage and its components, involve both your nutritionist and agronomist in discussions of the quality versus yield tradeoff and how they factor into the corn silage hybrid selection. It is important to recognize that hybrid by environment interactions exist. This is why replicated data on corn silage hybrids measured across multiple locations over multiple years is required for valid comparisons. •

Don’t forget yield Dry matter yield per acre is important and needs to be considered when selecting corn hybrids for silage production. How important yield drag is relative to enhanced quality parameters depends on several factors, including: per cow land availability, land price or rental cost, opportunity cost for any reduced grain harvest, proportion of corn silage used in rations, ability to target silages

Fiber differences Corn silage is also a highly significant contributor of NDF in dairy cattle rations. Analysis of the commercial lab survey dataset showed an average NDF content of 41 percent dry matter. The NDF content of corn silage is most heavily influenced by the relative proportion of stover and grain fractions in the whole-plant harvest. Therefore, much of the attention in the fiber area with hybrid selection is on fiber digestibility, specifically measurement of rumen in vitro NDF digestibility (percent of NDF; ivNDFD). Reduced corn silage lignin content and corresponding gains in ivNDFD, DM intake, and lactation performance have consistently been observed in research trials with brown midrib (bm3) mutant corn hybrids. A 15-year data summary, from the UW-Madison Agronomy Department’s annual corn silage hybrid performance trials, indicated that ivNDFD for the bm3 hybrids was increased by 6 to 11 percentage units above the trial average. However, corn silage starch content and DM yield per acre trended lower for the bm3 hybrids that were included in these field plot trials. Agronomic, starch, and yield considerations need to be weighed when making decisions with regard to the bm3 hybrids. Unfortunately, for conventional-type (nonbrown midrib) corn silage hybrids, progress in improving ivNDFD has been slow, and only small relative differences among these hybrids are often observed in commercial hybrid performance trials. Due to sampling and assay variation and with limited replication, ivNDFD (as a percent of NDF) differences between samples of only 3 percentage units or less may not be statistically different or repeatable. Therefore, the magnitude of the ivNDFD difference needs to be kept in perspective when

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by Jesse Bussard A solar pump makes it possible to expand water access and benefit both cattle and grouse.

Bringing back the grouse


ATTLE and other livestock have long shared the range with greater sage-grouse. However, as populations of the bird are diminishing across the West, ranchers are not standing idle. Instead, ranchers and other private landowners are entering into collaborative conservation partnerships with federal agencies and programs to conserve and improve vital habitat for these threatened upland birds. Recent estimates show sage grouse have dropped in numbers over time from around 500,000 to less than 200,000 today, with the core of that population (around three-quarters) occupying just 27 percent of their original range. Currently, the bird makes its home on approximately 186 million acres across 11 states and two Canadian provinces in western North America. Nearly 40 percent of these lands in the U.S. are privately owned with many in agricultural use. Moreover, research has shown a strong link between wetland areas and the distribution of sage grouse breeding areas, also known as leks. Studies revealed 85 perJESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.

16 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

cent of leks were clustered within 6 miles of wetland areas. These wet areas, called mesic habitat, are essential to sage grouse during nesting and brooding periods. The Western landscape is covered by less than 2 percent of wetland habitat. Matters change, however, when it’s considered that more than 80 percent of these wet areas are also located on private lands. If headway on sage grouse conservation is to be made, cooperative ventures between private landowners are vital to sustaining sage grouse habitat.

Partnerships develop Groups like the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), a partnership project launched by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in 2010, are at the forefront of a proactive conservation effort. To date, the organization says it has helped 1,129 ranches conserve over 4.4 million acres of sage grouse habitat. In 2010, Nevada rancher Tony Stobiecki partnered with SGI on his 3,000-acre Rockin’ TD Ranch near Vya to implement multiple conservation projects to develop better water access and open up more wildlife habitat across the property. These improvements included nearly a dozen spring developments and installation of off-site water tanks to keep cattle out of sensitive riparian areas. Removal of nearly 800 acres of encroaching juniper, plantings of native grasses and forbs, and a switch to prescribed grazing

rounded out the list of projects. Thanks to these efforts, numbers of sage grouse have grown quite a bit across the ranch, says Stobiecki. Consecutively, the hard work is also paying off in the pasture in the form of livestock grazing improvements. “Before we purchased the property, the ranch appeared to be overgrazed by cattle, and as a result, negatively impacted the wildlife,” says Stobiecki. “Today, it has improved allowing the land to better support wildlife with proper grazing.” Neil Helmick and his family in north central Idaho are also seeing the benefits of conserving sage grouse habitat. The family’s 4,000-acre ranch property near Hill City, which contains many meadow and wetland areas, lies within a few miles of a well-known lek where sage grouse mate each spring. In 2013, when it was likely that sage grouse might be listed under the Endangered Species Act, Helmick chose to work with SGI’s range and wildlife conservationist Ed Contreras to ensure his lands and livelihood were protected. Helmick’s first step was to adopt a prescribed grazing plan. He waits until June 15 to bring his cattle to the Hill City ranch to graze, keeping them on irrigated meadows for the first six weeks of the grazing season. Come early August, he moves cattle to upland pastures to graze. Deferring grazing in upland areas across the ranch until August 1 allows sage grouse to use prime nesting and brooding habitat earlier in the summer. This practice also ensures adequate residual cover is left to provide nesting areas for the birds and that native grasses have time to reseed and re-establish. “We’ve expanded the carrying capacity and grass production, which lets us leave more for the wildlife and run more cows,” says Helmick. Other NRCS-funded projects to improve water access across the Helmick Ranch, such as a pipeline, spring development, solar pump, water storage tank, and off-site water tanks, have also enhanced grazing distribution and pasture utilization. Stobiecki and Helmick are just two examples of land stewards among many others in the ranching community who are making a difference for sage grouse and other wildlife through proactive conservation efforts. •

Hay and Forages_Bubble.indd 1

10/17/16 8:31 AM

Potassium level trends deserve watching by Sally Flis of no additional K needed (Table 1). Across all soil tests, more than 60 percent of all soils tested every year would recommend some K application to maintain soil nutrient status or meet crop needs. This is a great example of where averages are not telling the whole story. Looking only at the averages, the assumption would be that we are doing well with K applications and possibly

300 250

18 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

Optimum modified Morgan’s K (202 lbs/ac)

200 150

Optimum Mehlich-3 K (146 lbs/ac)


High Morgan’s K (95 lbs/ac) Mehlich 3 k, lbs/ac Modified Morgan’s K lbs/ac Morgan’s K lbs/ac


Soil K trending steady The average K over this period for Morgan’s was 213 pounds per acre, 221 pounds per acre for Modified Morgan’s, and 241 pounds per acre for Mehlich-3. There is no trend for either rising or declining soil test values. However, the standard deviation of all the extractions was almost equal to the average, indicating a very large range in sample results. Because of the range in the results, the average is not an accurate representation of what is happening in the soil testing population. In order to get a better representation of the K status of soils, the percentage of tested samples that resulted in a recommendation of a no K application for the crop was determined (Table 1). No application recommendations are based on the soil test level being above the excessive soil K concentration for each extraction method. The Mehlich-3 and Modified Morgan’s extractions had fewer samples that would result in a recommendation

even excessively applying for Mehlich-3 and Morgan’s soil test results (Figure 1). Soils testing in the Optimum range, defined as the range in which crops are unlikely to respond to K fertilizer, but where K may be applied to maintain the fertility level as optimum, were consistent across all soil extractions. During the five-year period, the soils testing in the Optimum range averaged 42.1 ± 2.9

Figure 1: Soil test K results by extraction from 2010 to 2015 from the Agro-One Lab

Pounds per acre K


OIL and plant potassium (K) levels have frequently come up at meetings and in conversations with concern for declining soil K levels in the Northeast. Potassium is involved in disease resistance and cell water management in plants and animals. Legume crops, such as alfalfa, are heavy users of K with a critical level of 2.3 to 2.5 percent dry matter (DM). Additionally, maintaining K concentrations in the soil increases winter survival and nodulation in alfalfa. At the Agro-One Lab, Mehlich-3, Modified Morgan’s, and Morgan’s extractions are performed for determining nutrient levels in soils. On average over the last six years, Mehlich-3, Modified Morgan’s, and Morgan’s analyses accounted for 63.3 percent, 18.6 percent, and 18.1 percent of the analyses, respectively. During this time, the average soil test K level has been high and has remained high for all three soil test extractions.









Table 1. Samples that result in no recommended K application* Percent of samples that recommend no K application Extraction method







Mehlich-3 (>278 lbs/ac) Modified Morgan’s (>320 lbs/ac) Morgan’s (>150 lbs/ac)** Average across tests

























* Soil test result ranked as Excessive or Very High. ** In NY soil test K levels are interpreted by soil management groups, this is the lowest of the high values for soil management group I.

Table 2. Liquid cow manure K and K2O levels Year Item







Avg K lbs/1,000 gal SD Avg K2O lbs/1,000 gal SD

16.0 8.3 19.3 10.0

13.9 7.3 16.7 8.8

12.6 7.5 15.2 9.1

15.5 8.7 18.7 10.5

13.1 9.0 15.7 10.9

17.3 9.4 20.8 11.3

Data from the Dairy One Forage Lab Interactive Feed Composition Library

percent for Mehlich-3, 14.4 ± 0.64 percent for Modified Morgan’s, and 28.5 ± 3.0 percent for the Morgan’s extraction.

Know your manure K So, why do more than 60 percent of soils tested recommend K application to maintain soil nutrients or meet crop needs? One reason might be in the accounting for nutrients from manure sources. In the Northeast, manure accounts for a large percentage of K applications to forage crops. The average book value for liquid dairy manure is 20 pounds of K 2O per 1,000 gallons. However, the average manure pounds of K 2O per 1,000 gallons for samples submitted to the Dairy One Forage Lab are lower than the book value (Table 2). If a book value is being used for planning rather than an actual analysis value, K 2O is being applied at lower rates than desired. The average shortfall of K 2O in 2012 was 4.8 pounds per 1,000 gallons. For an 8,000 gallon per acre application rate, this equates to 38.4 pounds less of K 2O per acre than planned. Depending on your soil test result, this could be all the K application recommended. The final piece of the equation is plant K concentration. The concentration of K (percent DM ) in forages analyzed in the Dairy One Forage Lab have remained steady over the last six years (Table 3). The legume hay concentrations of K are just at the critical level of 2.3 to 2.5 percent DM and have risen slightly over the last five years. Legume silages are above the critical level and have remained consistent, while corn silage concentrations of K are at the low end of the range for whole plant K concentration between physiological maturity and grain harvest at 1.0 to 1.2 percent DM. The forage K concentration data indicates that corn silage is the most likely to be experiencing K deficiency. If you are suspicious of a K nutrient problem, looking into the field history, nutrient application, and adding tissue testing to your soil fertility monitoring plan will help to direct future strategies. •

SALLY FLIS The author is a former field and crop support specialist at Dairy One.

Table 3. Forage K concentrations (% DM) for 2010 to 2015 Year Item







Legume hay







Legume hay SD







Legume silage







Legume silage SD







Corn silage







Corn silage SD







Data from the Dairy One Forage Lab Interactive Feed Composition Library



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by Adam Verner the number of baler-wrappers sold. These combination balers can cost in the range of $90,000 to $110,000, which seems like a lot of money. I would challenge that, when you add up the cost of an equally equipped baler, additional wrapper, plus tractor and people to operate the wrapper, you can get to $100,000 quickly. One person can bale and wrap the hay all in one pass with a combo baler. The wrappers on these balers can be turned off when dry hay is harvested. As with all individual wrappers, there is the need for additional bale handling equipment. Most current users cite time savings as a big benefit.

Not one wrapper fits all


AY season is winding down for most of us, and all of this year’s crop, or lack thereof in some cases, is in the barn. It was usually about this time of year when my dad and I would start to look back at the previous haying season and discuss what we could have done differently or better. I recall one winter about 12 years ago when we found ourselves feeding the cows a bunch of rained-on hay. We had discussed putting up baleage before, but the challenging weather conditions that particular year pushed us that way in a hurry. Once we made the baleage decision, that led to a multitude of questions, with few people to get reliable, practical answers from at the time. One of our first questions is still the most popular question I get today from my friends and customers: What type of wrapper works best? In the early 2000s, we really only had two viable options: the inline or “tube” wrapper and the individual bale wrapper. Now some progressive manufacturers have added a third option to the mix and that is the baler-wrapper combination. All three of these options have their place in the industry today.

Still practical The individual bale wrapper comes in several different styles and has the longest tenure. When first introduced, it was usually mounted to a tractor at a central location and was loaded and unloaded by a separate piece of equipment. If most of your hay is fed in one area, the stationary wrapper is still very practical and the least expensive 20 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

of all the options. The only extra piece of equipment you will need is a squeeze to put on your existing loader for moving bales once they are wrapped. There are also self-loading and self-unloading individual wrappers. These are usually pulled behind tractors in the field and wrap the bales as soon as they come out of the baler. This works really well for getting the bales wrapped as quickly as possible. Then the bales can be moved out of the field and stacked at the edges or hauled to a central location. The downside is that you still need to purchase a squeeze for your loader, and hauling gives you the chance to tear the plastic and create a place for spoilage. Individual bale wrappers use the most plastic. Plastic can cost upward of $6 to $8 per bale, depending on the size of your bale, and a new wrapper itself can cost between $15,000 and $25,000. When made correctly, individually wrapped bales are usually dense, exclude oxygen, and have the least amount of time between being baled and wrapped. In my opinion, if you are a smaller operation wrapping 500 or so bales per year, the individual wrapper could be the best fit. Or, if you sell your baleage and need to haul it longer distances, the individual wrappers are better suited as well.

New kid on the block The relatively new baler-wrapper combinations are currently being offered by three manufacturers in the U.S., though I do think there will be more options in the future. When I talk to farmers, one major concern for their operation in the future is labor. This is why I anticipate an uptick in

Plan for storage space The third option and probably the most popular across the country is the inline wrapper. There are numerous manufacturers of tube wrappers, and all bring something unique to the table. The main advantage for these wrappers is speed. Most of the inline wrappers can wrap upward of 60 or more bales per hour, depending on the amount of plastic applied. They also use the least amount of plastic of the three options that we have discussed. A tube wrapper will cost around $30,000. One drawback lies in the amount of space needed to put a tube. It can also be challenging to get hay from the field to the wrapper in a timely manner if you are not wrapping at the edge of the same field. But, if high production is what you are looking for and you have room to make tubes that can exceed 100 bales or so, then the tube wrapper may be the way to go. For our family’s operation, we looked at all three options but settled with a tube wrapper because it best suited our goals. Since the start of our baleage adventure, we have now wrapped over 80,000 bales and helped a few other people get started with baleage as well. Putting up baleage is a whole different ball game, but one that changed our farming operation forever. Our cows and our customers’ cows thank us every day! • ADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.

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Do not export Genuity ® Roundup Ready ® Alfalfa seed or crop, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices do not plant Genuity ® Roundup Ready ® Alfalfa in Imperial County, California, pending import approvals and until Monsanto grants express permission for such planting. ©2016 Forage Genetics International, LLC. Genuity ® Roundup Ready ® Alfalfa seed is available for sale and distribution by authorized Seed Companies or their dealers for use in the United States only. This seed may not be planted outside of the United States, or for the production of seed, or sprouts. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship ® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. Do not export Genuity ® Roundup Ready ® alfalfa seed or crop, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship ® is a registered trademark of Biotechnology Industry Organization. For the 2016 growing season, HarvXtra ® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready ® Technology is available for planting in a limited geography and growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready ® Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) only to U.S. domestic use. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready ® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. HarvXtra® is a trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra ® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready ® Technology is enabled with technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. Genuity Design ®, Genuity Icons, Genuity ®, Roundup Ready ® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 W-L Research.



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Hugh Aljoe


Producer relations manager for The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. He serves as a pasture and range consultant and has been with the Noble Foundation since 1995.

HFG: How did the Noble Foundation come to be? HA: As a young man in the early 1900s, our founder, Lloyd Noble, witnessed the value of agricultural production to Oklahoma and its people. However, he also saw the dramatic effects of poor farming practices on the land’s fertility and the state’s economy. Noble became a successful oilman during the 1920s and 1930s. During this same era, a drought plagued the region. Combined with the poor farming practices that had left the land vulnerable, the region experienced the great Dust Bowl. Noble saw the land as essential to the future success of Oklahoma and the nation. He understood that the land would continue to be needed long after oil and gas were gone. He established The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation (SRNF) in 1945 to address the challenge. The foundation’s early efforts focused on educating and encouraging area farmers and ranchers to practice land stewardship and resource conservation. Today, the foundation’s three operating divisions work together to move science from the laboratory to the field in an effort to enhance production agriculture and plant improvement while remaining true to Noble’s vision of assisting farmers and ranchers. HFG: Forage crops seem to be a primary focus of research and outreach efforts. Is that simply because forage-based production systems dominate agricultural systems in the Southern Great Plains? HA: Yes. The Southern Great Plains lends itself best for nonirrigated, forage-based beef cattle production, and as a result, beef cattle are the number one agricultural commodity in the region. HFG: SRNF scientists often collaborate with those at other universities to breed and develop new plant varieties. Tell us about those efforts. HA: The SRNF regularly fosters collaborations with universities regionally, nationally, and internationally in order to advance the breeding process. These collaborations were especially important in the development and release of the cultivars Texoma MaxQ II, a novel endophyte tall fescue developed through a collaborative relationship with a New Zealand entity, and Renovation, a new white clover developed in collaboration with the University of Georgia. The Noble Foundation has also been developing small grain varieties noted for forage production since the 1950s (see page 28). HFG: The SRNF also has an extensive outreach program working directly with Southern Great Plains producers and offering educational programs. How has

this mission evolved over the years? HA: Through the producer relations program, the Noble Foundation provides advice and education to regional producers. We look at the individual operations and provide advice to producers based on their goals and objectives, resources, and management abilities. We use our educational events as forums to convey fundamental practices; introduce emerging science and technologies; and explain where, when, and how these new concepts will have the most value to producers. What has changed the most for us in recent years is the new venues for education and learning opportunities using the internet and social media. HFG: What makes the Southern Great Plains unique from a forage production standpoint, and what is currently the biggest forage production challenge? HA: The Southern Great Plains is unique in that it encompasses more than 12 land ecosystem types across a 40-plusinch rainfall gradient (12-inch annual rainfall to almost 60 inches). The land resources are diverse. Understanding how to make the best use of each land resource and the forage types that can be produced within each resource given the rainfall patterns is a great challenge. To add to the challenges, producer demographics are changing. We are observing more new landowners investing in land and enterprises without having firsthand knowledge of agriculture. HFG: Finally, the SRNF is known for its community philanthropy. Why is this an important part of the mission? HA: The foundation’s philanthropic efforts stem from our inception. It’s in our DNA. Our founder, Lloyd Noble, named our organization after his father, whom he called the most generous man he’d ever met. Our philanthropy takes many forms, including grants to support community projects, higher education, and human health research and delivery. On a smaller scale, we provide targeted support to projects such as area youth stock shows and state organizations such as Oklahoma FFA. In our hometown, our employee-base donates thousands of hours through our Noble in the Community volunteer program. HFG: Favorite food? HA: Steak, of course. • To read the complete interview with Hugh Aljoe and to learn more about the SRNF, visit

In each issue of Hay & Forage Grower, we talk to a forage industry newsmaker to get their answers on a variety of topics.

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

to merge more swaths into a windrow, which will also reduce traffic at harvest.

Get it off fast

Here’s where traffic is always bad by Dan Undersander


E’RE so accustomed to driving over alfalfa when harvesting that we sometimes forget about the potential damage being done to the stand by wheel traffic. This damage can be visible even when a pickup truck is driven over the field a few days after harvest is completed. The tire tracks can be seen as shorter alfalfa until the next cutting is taken. When multistate research trials were done several years ago in the eastern U.S., we found that alfalfa yield of the next cutting declined by 6 percent per day for each day the field was driven over after mowing. For example, a 12 percent yield loss occurred for driving over alfalfa two days after mowing and 30 percent for driving over five days after mowing. These studies were done in small plots where the area was entirely covered by wheel traffic.

More than you think You may counter by saying that you drive over less than 100 percent of the field when harvesting; though that is true, the percentage of field covered by wheel traffic is probably greater than you think. For example, I am told by the machinery industry that 10-foot cutter bars on mowers are the most common in the Midwest and Northeast. This means that, if the tractor has 20-inch tires and the mower-conditioner has 12-inch tires, and since the mower wheels do not follow in tractor tracks, 76 inches or

63 percent of the field gets covered with tires when mowing. It’s likely that an equal amount gets covered again when raking and at least half as much when chopping or baling. While doing the research, we found some losses from soil compaction due to traffic, but most of the yield loss in the subsequent cutting was due to breaking off regrowth stems. This is why the longer after mowing that traffic occurred, the greater the yield loss in the next cutting.

Think wider The importance of reducing wheel traffic was more recently shown on a field basis with three years of studies comparing 10-foot mowers to 13-foot mowers. After cutting, two swaths were merged into a windrow and the field was driven over for harvesting five days after mowing on either a 20-foot or 26-foot spacing. On average, we got one-half ton more alfalfa yield per acre for the year (about a 10 percent advantage) where we used the 13-foot mower rather than the 10-foot mower. I don’t believe that the mower width itself had any effect on yield, but wider swaths meant a lower percentage of the field covered with wheel tracks five days after mowing. When in the market for new machinery, you might consider that a wider cutting unit and the resulting swaths will result in higher yields. Another option when considering rakes or mergers is

So what can be done to minimize yield loss of the next cutting? The first obvious thing is to get the current crop off the field as quickly as possible after mowing. This is why haylage fields yield more than those harvested for dry hay; forage for haylage is usually harvested within 24 hours of mowing while hay is left on the field three to five days (or more in the West). Making baleage is another option to get hay off faster, or consider using a hay preservative to harvest slightly wetter hay. These techniques can be especially beneficial not only to the quality of the harvested hay if a rain event is avoided, but also for additional yield in the subsequent cutting. Another strategy to reduce wheel traffic yield losses is to put hay into a wide swath so that forage dries faster and harvesting for hay or haylage occurs sooner after mowing. The average wide swath will reduce hay drying by 24 hours or more compared to putting the hay immediately into a windrow. Consider as well that raking or merging several swaths into one windrow will mean less wheel traffic at harvest. Larger windrows improve efficiency of harvest, reducing the labor and fuel of chopping or baling. Larger windrows also reduce wheel traffic at harvest. Finally, try to drive across the field as little as possible when hauling harvested forage off the field. On some larger fields, operators harvesting haylage have had trucks drive to one point and then off the field in a path. This killed the alfalfa in the path but resulted in less traffic across the rest of the field. Remove bales from the field with the least possible traffic. Drive in baler tracks so that less of the field is covered with wheel tracks. Wheel traffic on alfalfa may be reducing the yield of your next harvest by 10 to 30 percent. It can be worthwhile to consider this when planning your harvest and when purchasing new equipment. • DAN UNDERSANDER The author is an extension forage agronomist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

November 2016 | | 23


by Kathy Vander Kinter

It’s more than just chopping


HERE is a fair amount of interest in owning a custom harvesting business, but do you have what it takes to sell yourself to potential clients? Running a custom operator business involves a lot more than just driving big machines. If you are on the client end of the relationship . . . how do you know that you’ve hired the best possible operator for the job? Some of the smaller, less evident services provided and tasks accomplished may be a good indication. A lot of the maintenance and harvester adjustments that are made to the operator’s machine are done over the winter months — before the big spring push. Without the shiny hoods and shields opened or removed, most maintenance and adjustments that take place during winter are not visible to the typical onlooker when the machine rolls into the field.

Use quality parts There are a number of questions and issues that need addressing between the custom harvester and the farmer-client. One that may not immediately come to mind includes the quality of the parts going into the machines. High-quality

parts improve durability and longevity, reducing possible harvest downtime. Most custom operators are going to spend a little extra money and go with higher quality parts that extend wear life, especially on things like cutting components. Overall, the use of high-quality parts reduces the cost of labor and maintenance spent on each machine. This is a win-win scenario for both parties when you can lengthen operating time and reduce the cost of downtime in the comfort of one’s own shop! When a custom operator shows up in the field, it usually gives the farmer some sense of pride when a shiny, smooth-running machine and a couple of nice, newer model trucks show up to harvest. It also portrays a sense of confidence that the custom harvester performed the necessary maintenance over the winter and is profitable enough to upgrade to some newer and more efficient equipment. I’m not saying that a little rust or faded paint on a machine won’t work or do just as good of a job, only that newer, well-maintained equipment goes a long way in generating a positive first impression. Once the fully tuned-up forage harvester is in the field and ready to begin the first pass of the season, about 70




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percent of the forage harvester’s total power usage is going to be directly related to chopping, processing, and discharging of the crop. A good indicator that the operator has experience and knowledge of the machine is that they start out slow, watching the monitors in the machine, listening closely to the sounds of the machine, and making any necessary computer adjustments. In the field, minor adjustments are usually required and can be done by an experienced operator using the onboard computer technology. The operator is routinely adjusting the header height to ensure that there is limited crop loss and ash content in the final product. Knives are sharpened regularly, and the shear bar is set at the proper gap to ensure the best fuel economy from the chopper as well as uniform crop length and flow through the machine. That minor tweaking taking place can have somewhat of a major impact on the fuel consumption of the machine and overall crop quality at the feed pad.

More to do After the crop is trucked to the bunker, packed, and covered, the job of a top-notch custom operator does not end. It then becomes time to remove machine components and diagnose the wear patterns to moving parts, including knives and the shear bar. Proper maintenance between forage cuttings is essential to running that machine at 100 percent capacity. It may not be something that most people see, but the maintenance and replacement schedule is perhaps something to ask about when hiring a custom operator. A business-oriented operator will also check with their clients between crops to ensure they’re satisfied with the job done on the previous crop, discuss expectations for the upcoming crop, and view forage lab results to grade themselves. •

KATHY VANDER KINTER The author and her husband are custom operators in a third-generation family business in Green Bay, Wis.

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Rethinking alfalfa cutting frequency and timing by Steve Orloff


HIS year has been a year to remember for Western alfalfa producers — or quite possibly one that many would prefer to forget. Record-high hay prices in 2014 slid significantly in 2015, and now this year took a huge dive to prices so low they seemed more like those from decades ago rather than the 2010s. As is often the case, there is a larger difference between Premium and Supreme quality alfalfa and lower hay quality grades in a depressed market. This was true in spades this year. Sometimes the price spread in California was even greater than $100 per ton, and at times Supreme quality hay was worth twice as much as Fair quality hay. As a rule, the price spread has not been as great in other Western states, but there has still been a large premium for high-quality hay. Not only has the price been so much lower for mediocre-quality hay, but sales have been sluggish at nearly any price. The cutting schedule, or more precisely how frequently the alfalfa is cut, has a greater influence on forage quality than any other factor under the

grower’s control. It strongly impacts the overall profitability of an alfalfa operation because of its direct effect on yield and forage quality. As alfalfa growers are well aware, more frequent cutting results in higher forage quality but lower yield per cutting.

Paying the price So, in a year like this with such a large premium for high forage quality, the incentive has been great for growers to use a short interval between cuttings. Further, in many areas of the West, it was a mild winter with fewer spring frosts, which got the alfalfa off to an earlier than normal start. This coupled with the economic incentive to produce top-quality hay resulted in many producers taking an extra cutting this year. There is a price to pay when it comes to continually cutting alfalfa on a short interval. An extra cutting over the season not only results in lower yields per cutting, but oftentimes there is lower seasonal yield as well. Research conducted in northern California and in the Central Valley illustrates this point. Years of cutting schedule research in

In a reduced lignin alfalfa cutting schedule trial in the Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake, Calif., plots were cut every 28, 33, or 38 days.

26 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

the northern intermountain area compared a 3-cut versus a 4-cut schedule. In most years, a 3-cut schedule resulted in higher seasonal yield but significantly lower forage quality. Similarly, research conducted in the Central Valley of California by Dan Putnam, University of California forage specialist, compared cutting alfalfa every 24 to 26 days (8 cuts per year), a 28-day schedule (7 cuts per year), and a 32-day cutting interval (6 cuts per year). Total seasonal yield for the 6-cut, 7-cut, and 8-cut schedules averaged over the three years of the study was 11.45, 9.92, and 9.32 tons per acre, respectively. Not only might total-season yield be affected, but the vigor of the alfalfa plant is reduced, which long STEVE ORLOFF The author is a farm advisor with University of California Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County, Calif.

term can affect stand persistence. Along with other alfalfa researchers across the U.S., we currently have a trial in the intermountain area comparing different cutting intervals for both reduced lignin and standard alfalfa. Alfalfa is cut on 28-, 33-, and 38-day schedules. The difference in alfalfa vigor at the end of the season is impressive. Compared with alfalfa cut on a 28-day schedule, the alfalfa cut on a 38-day schedule is significantly taller in the fall despite its final cutting of the season occurring two days later. So . . . what’s a grower to do?

alfalfa grows more rapidly, but the quality is significantly lower as the internode length (distance between leaf nodes on the stem) is typically greater and the stem usually has a higher fiber and lignin content. Since it is so difficult to produce dairy quality anyway in the heat of summer, why not allow a little extra time for the plant to restore its root reserves for a single cutting on at least some fields? The effects of a very aggressive cutting schedule do not only impact production and vigor that year, but they carry over

into subsequent years as well. We have observed a one-quarter to one-half ton per-acre yield difference in the first cutting alone in the following year. Therefore, growers should pay close attention to the vigor of different fields as they break dormancy after this coming winter. First, cut those fields exhibiting the most vigor and growth. Leave those fields that lag behind because they were cut more aggressively this year until the end of the cutting cycle. This will allow these fields more time to recover and build up carbohydrate reserves. •

Delay a summer cutting When trying to improve profits in a depressed market, a grower who sells their hay off-farm doesn’t have much choice but to cut frequently to secure a higher price and to ensure that their hay sells. One strategy to consider is to let one of the cuttings go longer to allow the plant to store more carbohydrate reserves in the root and crown. Repeated cutting of alfalfa in an early bud or even prebud stage without a break significantly weakens the plant; this reduces plant vigor and escalates the plant’s susceptibility to pests such as diseases and insects. A logical approach is to allow one of the midsummer cuttings to mature. It’s always challenging to produce top dairy quality alfalfa in midsummer even under the best of conditions. In response to the higher temperatures,

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November 2016 | | 27

than many other oat cultivars developed for the southern United States. Oklahoma Genetics Inc. is the commercial partner for marketing NF402 oat.

Wheat and triticale additions

Noble Foundation brings cereal forage to forefront by Malay C. Saha and Xuefang Ma


GRICULTURAL income in the southern Great Plains mostly comes from livestock farming and forage production. Small grains are excellent sources of quality forages and are primarily grown for annual cool-season pastures in the region. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation established its small grains breeding program in the early 1950s with the objective of developing improved cultivars for forage rye. During the late 1980s, wheat, oat, and triticale were added to the program. Small grains breeding programs at most universities and research centers primarily focus on grain production. However, the main objective of the Noble Foundation’s small grains research is to develop forage-type and/or dual-purpose cultivars that can be used for both forage and grain. The target traits include better fall season and overall forage yields, good recovery after grazing, and improved forage qualities. The goal was to provide fall and winter forages to benefit livestock production in the Great Plains and southeastern Southern Plains.

Rye leads the way The first cultivar released was Elbon (“Noble” spelled backwards) rye, in 1956. Elbon is still a popular rye cultivar grown across the United States, from Oklahoma to Florida. Over the past few decades, several other rye cultivars, such as Bonel (1965), Maton (1975), Oklon (1993), and Bates (1994), 28 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016

have been released from the program. Recently, two other forage-type rye cultivars were released: Bates RS4 (NF307), commercialized through Athens Seed Co., and Maton II (NF306), commercialized through Oklahoma Genetics Inc. Both cultivars produced significantly higher fall-winter forage than the previous Maton cultivar. More than half of the total forages of these new cultivars are produced during the early growing season, from November to February. Bates RS4 originated from the Bates cultivar. Maton II was developed from a single cross between Polish-3 and Maton.

Oat freezing tolerance improved Heavy Grazer II (NF401) is a facultative, winter-type forage oat developed in our program and released in 2012. The cultivar showed superior fall and spring pasture and forage production in Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana trials. East Texas Seed Company is the commercial partner for marketing seeds of Heavy Grazer II. In 2013, NF402 was released as the second oat cultivar from our program. In seven years of testing in southern Oklahoma, NF402 produced more fall and total forage than most commonly grown oat cultivars. In southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, NF402 showed complete or partial senescence during winter months but exhibited excellent recovery during spring. Both NF402 and Heavy Grazer II have better freezing tolerance

NF101 and NF201 are the first forage-type wheat and triticale cultivars developed in the program and released in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The main advantage of these cultivars is their early fall-winter forage production potential. These cultivars have semierect growth habits and mature early. Morphological and agronomic attributes include taller growth habit with bigger leaves and thicker stems. Both of these cultivars produced more total forage when compared to the commonly grown check cultivars in the region. Early fall-winter forage is the main advantage, and more than half its total yield is produced during the early growing season. Both cultivars are well adapted to southern Oklahoma, northern and eastern Texas, and throughout the southeastern United States. The cultivars are intended for use in annual fall through winter grazing systems. Oklahoma Genetics Inc. is the commercial partner for marketing these cultivars.

Moving forward Currently, the Noble Foundation Agricultural Division is conducting demonstration trials in the southern Oklahoma and northern Texas regions to show the potential advantages of growing these small grains cultivars. Our small grains breeding program has expanded its activities in various aspects. The program has collected more germplasm of small grains, such as triticale and oat, to screen for crossing parents with traits of interests. For example, the program screened hundreds of oat cultivars for better winterhardiness because oats often encounter winterkill in this region. In addition, our program is establishing a molecular breeding platform to facilitate cultivar selection by providing genetic profiles of many traits, such as resistance to various races of leaf rust, strip rust, stem rust, and so forth. The program aims to develop more cultivars with improved early fall and winter forage production offering higher total yield with extended grazing periods. • MALAY C. SAHA AND XUEFENG MA The authors are plant breeders at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Okla.


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New trailed mowers from Vermeer

Hesston unveils triple window attachment

Vermeer Corporation introduces a new series of trailed mowers designed for greater mower productivity. The TM1210 and TM1410 trailed mowers are built for the operator who needs to mow more hay in less time and wants features that can reduce the stress of operating, transporting, and maintaining a large trailed mower. While both machines maintain a 9.1-foot transport width, the TM1210 cuts at 17.7 feet and the TM1410 can mow up to 20.8 feet. The 10-series trailed mowers are equipped with a Q3 cutter bar featuring the Quick-Clip Blade Retention System and Quick-Change Shear Ring that simplify changing blades and repairing sheared discs. The patent pending 2-point Quick-Hitch can make hooking up the machine a one-person process. To achieve a high-quality cut, the nitrogen charged accumulator suspension system makes it easy for operators to adjust for various crops and conditions, while maintaining proper cutter bar balance and pitch. The cutter bar is backed by a three-year warranty. For more information, visit

Hesston by Massey Ferguson has introduced an all-new triple windrow attachment (TWA) for WR9800 self-propelled windrowers. Designed specifically to enhance forage harvesting efficiency, the TWA allows operators to place freshly cut forage in the windrow configuration best suited to the capacity and capability of the operator’s forage harvester or baler. This capability eliminates raking or merging windrows together, reducing trips through the field, lowering fuel and equipment costs, and reducing labor needs. Up to three 16-foot windrows can be combined for one-pass harvesting. Even greater precision and efficiency can be achieved when the TWA is used in combination with the Auto-Guide guidance system in WR9800 windrowers. In exacting passes through a field, operators can easily place two windrows side-by-side to promote faster drying or lay three windrows, one on top of the other, for full-capacity feeding into a chopper. Auto-Guide guidance helps prevent overlap and strips of uncut crop. For more information, visit

Claas round baler updates for 2017 In 2017 Claas expands its selection of round balers with six new high-capacity machines. Five new Variant balers will be introduced with the 400 series designation. The current Variant 360 and 380 Feed Rotor (FR) balers will be replaced by the Variant 460FR (48- x 60-inch bales) and 480FR models (48- x 68-inch bales). Likewise, the 360 and 380 Roto Cut (RC) balers will be replaced by the Variant 460RC and 480RC. Finally, the Variant 465RC will be added to the line, featuring all of the specs of the Variant 460RC plus reinforced rotors, heavier-duty drive chains, and a unique cutting floor that can be raised and lowered hydraulically in order to quickly clear obstructions. The new Variant 400 series brings plenty of new features, including an updated net wrapping system with a unique steel plate guide that slides out of the way when not in use and a “dust gap” design that prevents dust and debris from accumulating in the wrapping compartment for better performance and reliability. The new models accommodate extra-wide net coverage as well. Operators can choose net wrap that extends to the edge of the bale or extra-wide wrap that extends 2 to 3 inches over the edge of the bale. Other enhancements with the 400 Series include an improved monitor layout, a moisture sensor, and work/mainte-

nance lights. An optional double roller above the pickup — similar to those on JAGUAR forage harvesters and Quadrant square balers — is also available for improved pickup, faster crop flow, and increased throughput. Roto Cut (RC) models feature a new 360 helical spiral rotor that helps boost capacity and provide better bale shape. The rotor also helps turn the start of the bale. The new Rollant 620 is a 4 x 5 fixed-chamber baler that’s beefed up to bale virtually any crop. It uses a feed rotor to force the crop into the bale chamber for easy bale starting and higher overall capacity. The Rollant 620 touts a reinforced chamber frame to handle the extra bale density, 17 new ribbed-steel rolls, and heavy-duty chains and sprockets. A new adjustable bale density control allows for more dense bales. The Rollant 620 features automatic tying with net, twine, or both. For more information, visit

The Machine Shed column will provide an opportunity to share information with readers on new equipment to enhance hay and forage production. Contact Managing Editor Mike Rankin at

30 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016




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10/31/2016 8:17:05 AM

Kubota introduces new round baler Kubota Tractor Corporation introduces its all-new BV4580 round baler. The BV4580 is the highest capacity baler in Kubota’s round baler line, bringing to market a baler producing the 5-feet by 6-feet variable diameter bales preferred by cow-calf and dairy producers. The BV4580 features an easy-feed design system that manages high volumes of crop with an easy flow of materials into the baler, producing a dense, well-formed bale. It comes with Kubota’s power bind net system. The BV4580 round baler features an 82-inch-wide pickup, designed to deliver high crop volumes into the full-width rotary feeding system. It forms 61-inch-wide bales with diameters from 31 to 71 inches. The pickup’s twin cam track supports minimize the crop load on the baler’s five tine bars, providing

operators with reliability and high-volume baling performance. Fully-adjustable hydraulic bale density control is standard on the BV4580. An optional proportional valve is available for electronic bale density control from the new Focus 3 terminal that provides operators control of bale diameter settings, as well as auto or manual net and twine binding modes. An electronic bale counting system monitors both daily and total bale counts. For more information, visit

Case IH debuts baler lineup with ISOBUS 3 The new LB434XL 3 x 4 large square baler from Case IH has improved capacity and greater bale density. With the addition of model year 2017 RB5 series round balers, Case IH also announces ISOBUS Class 3 functionality across the majority of its baler lineup and all Maxxum CVT, Puma, and Optum tractors. The LB434XL large square balers have a beefed-up bale chamber and is designed for large-scale hay and forage operations with a lot of ground to cover in a short time period. Operators will immediately notice a 31.5-inch longer bale chamber. This helps deliver up to a 10 percent higher bale density. ISOBUS Class 3-enabled Feedrate Control technology aids in making dense, well-formed bales This technology allows the baler to run at optimal performance and capacity by controlling the speed of an ISOBUS Class 3-compatible tractor. It automatically adjusts

the speed based on bale slice thickness. This allows the operator to predetermine the number of slices per bale to create more consistent bale weight and length. For model year 2017, RB5 series round balers can be equipped with a new ISOBUS Class 3 Tractor and Baler Automation option. This system controls the tractor stop, bale wrap, and bale eject functions without any operator input required. Net wrap is automatically applied and, when the wrap cycle is complete, the baler tailgate raises and lowers automatically to eject each wrapped bale. For more information, visit

New 3-point disc mower from Krone

Vermeer launches next generation of Pro Balers

Krone presents the AM R 3-point disc mower. The new disc mower features QuickChange blades, making the blade changing process easy and efficient by needing only a single, on-board tool that comes with the mower. The Krone SmartCut cutterbar provides more blade overlap, allowing for a better cut quality in all crop conditions. The cutterbar also features no inner skid shoe to reduce blockages and improve crop flow. The AM R offers a beltless drive system, powered by a highly efficient drive shaft system. The AM R 3-point disc mower also is equipped with the SafeCut hub system. Designed to protect the gears in case of contact with a foreign object in the field, the SafeCut hubs shear a roll pin and eliminate impact on the spur gears to reduce the risk of damage. The new AM R 3-point disc mower is the next generation of the AM disc mower series and will be replacing the AM model over the next two years. For more information, visit

Vermeer adds two new models to the Pro line of silage-focused balers. The additions include the next generation 504 Pro baler and the new 604 Pro baler. They are designed for operators who need the durability required for silage baling, while maintaining the flexibility to put up high-quality dry bales. The launch of the 604 Pro will now allow operators to have a baler that can perform Pro functions while making dense, multiple size bales and bale wet or dry hay. Each baler is equipped with a camless wide pickup that requires no cam tracks or follower bearings, helping to reduce the maintenance required. Four endless belts eliminate lace maintenance to help enhance longevity, and large float tires are available for smoother handling on rough terrain. For more information, visit

32 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016



When it comes to ground preparation no one can come close to the level of dedication and experience than Northwest Tillers. With over 60 years in business and many more in collective experience the Northwest line has become something that farms have come to rely on for years on end. Available in a range of sizes from 10' to 20' the Hay & Forage unit is capable of having a seed bed ready floor in as little as one pass. All this is achieved by placing additional blades and rotors on the shaft allowing for a much finer cut; in turn resulting in a better seed bed in a fraction of the time.

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For more information or to find a professional grain or forage harvester, contact the office. 620-200-1381 •

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BRED for SUCCESS Maximize your yields and profits with these varieties: Salt tolerance for the southwest: SW8421S, SW9720 or SW9215 High yielding winterhardy varieties: RHINO, SW4512Y, SW5909 Call 559.884.2535 for a dealer near you. Great products. New technologies. From the folks who focus on alfalfa. 38TH0919 Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016 S&W Hay & Forage Ad (7,5x4,875�) R3.indd 1

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FORAGE IQ Mid-America Alfalfa Expo November 29 to 30, Kearney, Neb. Details: Western Alfalfa and Forage Symposium November 29 to December 1 Reno, Nev. Details: Irrigation Show and Education Conference December 5 to 9, Las Vegas, Nev. Details: Northwest Hay Expo January 18 to 19 Kennewick, Wash. Details: Heart of America Grazing Conference January 18 to 19, Quincy, Ill. Details: U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention January 19 to 21, Omaha, Neb. Details: Vermont Grazing & Livestock Conf. January 20 to 21, Fairlee, Vt. Details: AFGC Annual Meeting January 22 to 24, Roanoke, Va. Details: Cattle Industry Convention NCBA Trade Show February 1 to 3, Nashville, Tenn. Details: GrassWorks Grazing Conference February 2 to 4 Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Details: World Ag Expo February 14 to 16, Tulare, Calif. Details: Alfalfa & Stored Forage Conference February 21, Cave City, Ky. Details: SW Missouri Spring Forage Conf. February 28, Springfield, Mo. Details: 42 | Hay & Forage Grower | November 2016


Hay prices and volumes remain steady As winter approaches, it appears that hay stocks will be more than sufficient. That said, there are regions such as in the southeastern U.S. that remain embroiled under drought conditions, which locally will impact both inventories and prices. Conversely, wet fall weather in

other areas impeded the ability to harvest a final cutting, or at least one that was of high quality. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of early November. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted. •

For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at New Mexico (eastern) Supreme-quality hay Price $/ton California (Sacramento Valley) 218 (d) New Mexico (south/southwest) Colorado (San Luis Valley) 150 Oklahoma (eastern) Colorado (northeast)-ssb 245 Oregon (Lake County)-ssb Kansas (southwest) 120-150 Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb Kansas (north central/east) 150-175 South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Montana-ssb 200 Texas (Panhandle) New Mexico (eastern) 170-180 Texas (Panhandle)-ssb New Mexico (southeast)-ssb 250-270 Utah (central) Oklahoma (central) 120-130 Utah (Uintah Basin) Oregon (Harney) 175 Washington (Columbia Basin) Oregon (Lake County) 225 Wisconsin South Dakota (East River) 180 Fair-quality hay Texas (Panhandle) 140-180 (d) Illinois (northern) Texas (north, central, east) 180-200 (d) Idaho Utah (northern) 100-130 Iowa (Rock Valley) Utah (southern) 160-180 Kansas (northwest)-lrb Wyoming (eastern) 140 Missouri Montana Premium-quality hay Price $/ton California (southeast) 160-180 Nebraska (northeast/central) California (Sacramento Valley) 165-180 Oregon (Klamath Basin) Colorado (San Luis Valley) 135 Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb Colorado (southeast)-ssb 180-225 South Dakota (East River) Idaho 110 Texas (west) Illinois (northern) 165-200 (d) Utah (northern) Iowa (Rock Valley) 130-153 Wisconsin Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb 130 Wyoming (eastern)-lrb Kansas (north central/east) 140-170 Bermudagrass hay Kansas (southwest) 115-140 Alabama-Premium lrb Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb 85 Alabama-Premium ssb Missouri 160-200 California (southeast)-Premium Nebraska (northeast/central) 170-180 Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium Oklahoma (central) 110-120 Texas (north, central, east)-G/P ssb Oregon (Crook-Wasco) 125 Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb Oregon (Lake)-ssb 180 Bromegrass hay Pennsylvania (southeast) 190-250 Kansas (north central/east)-Good South Dakota (East River) 160 (d) Kansas (north central/east)-lrb Utah (central/Uintah Basin 100-120 Kansas (southeast) Premium ssb Utah (southern) 110-140 Orchardgrass hay Washington (Columbia Basin)-ssb 180 Illinois (southern)-Premium ssb Wyoming (eastern) 110 Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Washington (Columbia Basin)-Premium ssb Good-quality hay Price $/ton California (Sacramento Valley) 145 Timothy hay California (southeast) 125 Montana-Premium ssb Colorado (northeast) 80-100 (d) Montana-Good lrb Idaho 100-115 Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Illinois (southern) 160 (d) Washington (Columbia Basin)-Good Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb 78-103 Straw Iowa (Rock Valley) 75-98 California (north SJV) Kansas (north central/east) 130-150 Illinois (northern) Kansas (southwest) 105-130 Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Montana 105-130 Kansas (southeast) Montana-ssb 140-180 Montana-barley Nebraska (northeast/central) 130-160 Pennsylvania (southeast) Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb 63-73 South Dakota (East River)-lrb Abbreviations: d=delivered, lrb=large round bales, ssb=small square bales, o=organic

130-150 120-140 80-100 150 200-235 73-85 112-120 210 75-100 80-85 125 100-140 Price $/ton 125 65 68-70 75-80 100-120 90-110 90-120 120 185-200 110 100 55-70 60-75 90 Price $/ton 133 180-300 180 130-180 231-297 80-120 Price $/ton 105-125 65-75 130-135 Price $/ton 200 250 220 Price $/ton 210-240 110-120 140-190 150 Price $/ton 40 120-140 68-70 50-60 30-45 80-135 70-75






MORE OPTIONS: GREATER POTENTIAL No single seed can address the unique

NOW: EVEN MORE FLEXIBILITY Unlock profit potential beyond what conventional breeding techniques have provided. HarvXtra™ Alfalfa is the first genetically enhanced alfalfa developed to reduce the amount of lignin and maximize quality versus conventional alfalfa at the same stage of maturity. An alfalfa that gives you options, not limits.

challenges of every field. That’s why NEXGROW® alfalfa offers a full line of conventional, Genuity® Roundup Ready® and HarvXtra™ seeds, to give you the flexibility to unlock the profit potential of each and every acre. To find out more about the traits and technologies that work best for your field conditions, contact a NEXGROW® alfalfa dealer or visit


©2016 Forage Genetics International, LLC. Genuity® Roundup Ready® Alfalfa seed is available for sale and distribution by authorized Seed Companies or their dealers for use in the United States only. This seed may not be planted outside of the United States, or for the production of seed, or sprouts. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. Do not export Genuity® Roundup Ready® alfalfa seed or crop, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Biotechnology Industry Organization. For the 2016 growing season, HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is available for planting in a limited geography and growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) only to US domestic use. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Roundup®, and Roundup Ready® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. HarvXtra™ is a trademark and NEXGROW® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. * Because of factors outside of Forage Generics International, LLC’s control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by FGI. Actual results may vary.

Suite 400

Forage Harvester

Cash discounts up to $36,000 during DealMaker Power through even the most demanding conditions with the BiG X, a machine designed to exceed expectations. It’s known for a chop precise enough to boost cut quality and consistency, no matter the forage. It also features VariStream™ technology, designed to ensure smooth and blockage-free operation, even when the crop flow is not uniform. That’s German engineering for the North American farmer. And now through December 31, the BiG X can be yours for less. Only during DealMaker and only at Krone. To learn more or find your nearest Krone dealer, visit Cash discounts vary and are determined by exact machine model. ©2016 VariStream is a trademark and Krone is a registered trademark of Maschinenfabrik Bernard Krone GmbH. Memphis, TN 38181-0880. 901-842-6011 005045

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