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hayandforage.com

January 2017

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

Use a simple approach if grazing cover crops pg 12 Two-tie bale handling pg 18 The not-so-favorite things in forage pg 19 Diversify your forages pg 32


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January 2017 · VOL. 32 · No. 1 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 jford@hoards.com Kim E. Zilverberg kzilverberg@hayandforage.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com W.D. HOARD & SONS PRESIDENT Brian V. Knox VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING Gary L. Vorpahl

6 Bringing alfalfa to market takes many years

EDITORIAL OFFICE 28 Milwaukee Ave. West, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 WEBSITE www.hayandforage.com EMAIL info@hayandforage.com PHONE (920) 563-5551

Bringing an alfalfa variety to market is no small task. This is the first in a series of articles on how seed companies make it happen.

14

Thinking of feeding seed? Think again. More effective options exist to establish legumes than feeding seed.

Small square bales rule on this Kentucky farm

Manure type and timing need to be considered.

19

12

16

26

32

DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 12 Pasture Ponderings 16 Beef Feedbunk 18 Forage Gearhead 19 Feed Analysis 20 Forage Shop Talk

POOR KERNEL PROCESSING IMPACTS THE BOTTOM LINE

USE A SIMPLE APPROACH IF GRAZING COVER CROPS

DIVERSIFY YOUR FORAGES

Applying manure impacts pasture yield, composition

Experience and attention to detail make the difference for Clayton Geralds.

10

SUMMER-DORMANT TALL FESCUE FILLS THE GAP

30

22

RISKS AND REWARDS

18

TWO-TIE BALE HANDLING

26 28 33 42 42

Dairy Feedbunk Research Roundup Machine Shed Forage I.Q. Hay Market Update

THE NOT-SO-FAVORITE THINGS IN FORAGE

20

Q&A WITH DON MILLER

ON THE COVER A first cutting alfalfa-orchardgrass field is raked on Geralds Farms in Munfordville, Ky. Clayton Geralds and his son, Christopher, cater to horse hay markets both in and out of state. Read more about their operation starting on page 22. Photo by Mike Rankin

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2017 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: info@hayandforage.com. 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: info@hayandforage.com or visit: www.hayandforage.com. 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.

January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 3


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Down but not out

E

VERYBODY has a unique story of how and why they made agriculture their chosen career. I developed my interest by making, stacking, throwing, walking on, and feeding small square bales. My assortment of favorite hay hooks still hangs in the garage. For 14 years of my early adult life, small square bales defined my summers and eventually led me to the forage industry. I get it. Since my early haymaking days, technology, efficiency, and less available labor have pushed forage producers to large packages, both round and square. Over time, farms got bigger and mechanical means were developed to handle and process the larger hay packages. The small square bale became a tough sell outside of the hobby farmer or horse market. With the boom in larger hay packages, small square balers were left to rust in the back 40. Some manufacturers quit making them while those that did made very few and had no interest in devoting research and development dollars into the product. Though the small square baler didn’t become extinct, the term endangered specie comes to mind. Fewer and fewer farm and ranch kids grew up hearing the rhythmic sounds of the plunger and knotter or had the need to patch blue jean thighs after every new hay cutting. I wonder what Ed Nolt is thinking these days. Nolt, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, invented the prototype for the small square baler back in the 1930s. His patent was purchased and mass produced during the 1940s. It was an instant hit on farms across the United States. Though the small square bale will never again reach national prominence, it’s not time to issue last rites. In fact, if you’re one of those hay growers like

Managing Editor

Clayton Geralds (see page 22) who has figured out a way to efficiently bale and handle small squares, welcome to what has now evolved into a profitable niche market. Given the same forage quality, small square bales can bring $50 to $100 more per ton simply based on their size.

So what’s going on? It’s true that operations have gotten bigger; a negative market trend for small square bales. However, according to the U.S. Agricultural Census, it’s also true that the number of small hobby-type farms is exploding. These are the type of operations that only want or can handle the smaller hay packages. Couple this with a horse industry and certain export markets that have always desired the small square bale and you have a very stable if not growing market. Included in this market is the retail feed supplier who more often than not will only be selling the small squares. The second factor playing into the small square bale price premium is that there are fewer farmers making them. In many areas of the U.S., you’d be hard pressed to find even one. This leaves more of the potential marketplace to the relatively few who have stayed the course, taken advantage of handling technologies (see page 18), and can provide large quantities of small square bales to hay brokers and retailers. Even though small square bales will never reach the status they enjoyed 40 or 50 years ago, I suspect they will always play a role in filling what now appears to be a stable market. Perhaps more at risk of extinction are the hay hook, hay elevator, and worn-out blue jean thighs. •

* SOURCE: Utah State University HayBoss G2 is a trademark of AGCO Corporation. AGCO Parts, the AGCO Parts logo, AGCO and the AGCO logo are trademarks of AGCO Corporation. © 2017 1208D_HF

4 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

Write Managing Editor Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, call: 920-563-5551 or email: mrankin@hayandforage.com


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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. 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. ©2017 Forage Genetics International, LLC


In this Wisconsin selection nursery, some individual plants thrived, while others succumbed over time.

Bringing alfalfa to market takes many years by Robin Newell

T

HE perennial forage plant commonly known as alfalfa in the Americas, alfa-alfa in the Middle East, and lucerne in many other parts of the world, is Medicago sativa. The species is thought to have originated in Iran, and there are records of its cultivation for grazing and hay in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. No doubt there is an equally long history of selection and breeding in the crop. In Europe, there were Flemish types described as having earlier harvest. When brought to the New World, settlers found their European ecotypes lacked the winter survival needed for much of North America where alfalfa is grown today. An early effort to improve winter survival came from a European emigrant to Minnesota. He selected his European seed for winter survival over a period of decades during the latter 1800s, developing a Minnesota cultivar known as “Grimm.” Alfalfa began to be known as the “Queen of Forages.” Breeding and selection efforts in the last century led to improved varieties like Ranger 6 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

(Nebraska 1942, improved yield) and Vernal (bacterial wilt resistant). By the 1950s several breeders were working in alfalfa, and by the 1970s most who were not at universities were employed by companies that brought larger breeding expertise and resources to bear. In North America, there were more than 20 alfalfa breeding programs of some note by the 1980s, followed by consolidation that led to just a handful of ongoing alfalfa breeding and variety development programs today in North America.

Alfalfa is different From a modern breeding and variety development standpoint, alfalfa is unique and different from most other crop plants. Individual alfalfa plants have a high degree of self-incompatibility and exhibit significant inbreeding depression. This severely affects viable seed production after just one to two cycles of self-pollination. Several generations of inbreeding, as required for true homozygous inbred development as we think of it in corn hybrids, is generally unsuccessful.

Commercial alfalfa cultivars do not achieve the uniformity among plants made possible by several generations of inbreeding in the product development process of other major crops. Therefore, all commercial alfalfa cultivars, whether marketed as varieties or semihybrids, are segregating populations of related plants. Like a human family, an alfalfa cultivar is comprised of related individuals having both similarities and differences. How then do alfalfa breeders improve the crop given its genetic peculiarities? They typically maintain several germplasm lines and employ selection techniques that are suitable to the crop. You can think of a germplasm line as ROBIN NEWELL The author is the vice president of North American sales for S&W Seed Company.


an extended family that has a shared set of characteristics. For some examples, a breeder might maintain several lines based on fall dormancy, plus a leafhopper resistant line, perhaps a salt tolerant line, or even transgenic lines. Alfalfa breeders strive to improve their germplasm lines over generations, mainly using 1) phenotypic recurrent selection for simply inherited traits and 2) genotypic selection to improve more complex traits.

Picking and proving Phenotypic recurrent selection is used for traits you can observe directly, such as robust plant type, or reaction to a disease or pest. Plants that exhibit desired characteristics are selected from the line (population) and bred (crossed) onto others in hopes of improving the frequency of desirable types in successive generations of the germplasm line. Effort is underway to develop genetic markers for more rapid phenotypic selection, but this is not yet far advanced in alfalfa. Genotypic selection takes the added step of testing progeny performance in order to prove the genetic contribution of parent plants. This progeny testing can be likened to testing the daughters of dairy bulls, proving the breeding value of the bull. Genotypic evaluation through progeny testing is not always used for new alfalfa cultivar development. But it is more effective than phe-

Cuttings are taken from the most promising plants in the selection nursery for clonal propagation in the greenhouse. This provides additional “copies� of the mother plant. Here, small cuttings are misted several times hourly until rooted (about two weeks), then transplanted into pots for winter seed production in the greenhouse.

notypic recurrent selection for making progress in multigenic traits such as yield, persistence, and forage quality. The typical path for alfalfa germplasm improvement starts with a polycross among a varying number of plants selected by the alfalfa breeder. Seedlings and plants grown from the resultant seed are evaluated for phenotype and selected for improved characteristics. A savvy breeder will expose seedlings to seedling diseases to remove susceptible plants. Seedlings that thrive can be further inoculated with disease organisms, transplanted into selection nurseries outdoors, and monitored over multiple years for disease resistance, insect resistance, persistence, winter survival, and yield appearance. A breeder can siphon off plants to use as parents in a new potential cultivar at this point. This can be a fast development path for single gene dominant traits based on phenotypic selection, but parental yield is not yet tested at this stage, and breeding value is unknown. After multiple years in the selection nursery, and exposure to the growing environment, the most promising plants are selected for clonal propagation in the greenhouse. When fully developed, the clonal plants are randomly crossed by bees in the greenhouse, then seeds are harvested separately from each clonal plant. Seeds from each plant are planted in a

single short row. The resultant plants in each half-sib row are from a single mother plant, while each plant within a half-sib row has an unknown father. Several hundred potential parents can be evaluated in a half-sib selection nursery, where each row represents the offspring from a single potential parent plant. This is another point where the breeder can siphon off potential parent plants based on phenotypic selection, selecting the best plants from the best half-sib families to use as parents for a new cultivar.

Growing in pots over winter in the greenhouse, plants are randomly intercrossed by bees. Seed from each plant can be harvested separately, thus having one plant as a mother, with all other plants in the greenhouse as pollen sources (many fathers) for the resultant seed.

In the half-sib selection nursery, each short length of row is a family of plants derived from the same mother plant, but multiple unknown fathers as a result of random crossing in the greenhouse. Performance of each row predicts the breeding value of the original plant, a concept akin to selecting sires based on bull proofs

Finding the best mothers In a further step, yield of the half-sib rows can be compared across multiple locations and years. This extra step can require additional growing seasons but enables breeders to prove the mother plants’ breeding value, through progeny evaluation for yield potential, forage quality, and general combining ability of each potential parent. Mother plants remain in a holding nursery while this multiyear evaluation unfolds. Those mother plants that are represented by the best half-sib rows can be selected as parents and intercrossed among each other to create new breeding lines and potential cultivars. Here again the breeder can select parent plants, this time selecting mothers of the best yielding half-sib rows. These selected plants can be used in a poly-

January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 7


cross to synthesize a new cultivar, or a new breeding line in the ongoing cycle of population improvement. Regardless of selection method, the vast majority of commercial alfalfa cultivars are synthetic cultivars, synthesized by intercrossing from 10 to 200 parent plants selected for individual robustness and desired characteristics. Plants chosen as parents are typically intercrossed using bees in isolation such as a greenhouse or screened cage to prevent the introduction of pollen from outside sources. The small amount of breeder seed thus produced represents the initial generation of seed for an experimental cultivar. A portion of this breeder seed will be used for small plot forage trials and characterization that includes testing for disease and pest resistance. Another portion can be used to grow a small field of foundation seed in isolation from other alfalfa types. The remainder can be archived in controlled storage for future breeding and selection, and/

or reconstitution of foundation seed if needed in future years.

Applying standard tests A critical step on the path to commercializing a new cultivar is the evaluation for overall forage yield, persistence, and characterization of pest and disease resistance ratings. Remember, individual plants within a cultivar are different from each other. For this reason, commercial cultivars receive ratings for levels of disease and pest resistance based on percent resistant plants within the cultivar (see table). This characterization, along with forage yield and quality trials, takes from two to four years of additional testing for an experimental cultivar. Characterization for disease and pest resistance is performed according to standard tests approved by the National Alfalfa Variety Review Board, and subject to yearly review by a panel of industry and university experts. An experimental cultivar must be adequately described in accordance

with review board standard tests before being sold as certified seed in the United States. To learn more, see www.naaic.org. To see a current list of many commercially available cultivars with their pest and disease resistance ratings, visit www.alfalfa.org. A well-known development in plant breeding is the use of genetic modification techniques that usually add small amounts of genetic material to the plant’s DNA, thus expressing a novel protein or enzyme change not normally found in the crop. The Roundup Ready and HarvXtra traits are the two examples available commercially. The transformation in genetic material is performed in a lab environment on undifferentiated callus cells, which are then selected for the desired change in protein or enzyme expression. When adequately regenerated into a viable plant, these can be cloned as donor lines, transferring the transgenic trait into more desirable breeding lines, and eventually commercial cultivars. •

Alfalfa resistance ratings % Resistant plants

0-5% 6-14% 15-30% 31-50% >50%

Resistance class

Susceptible Low resistance Moderate resistance Resistance High resistance

Class abbreviations

S LR MR R HR

Next issue: Field seed production

Alfalfa checkoff seeks to fund research

A

FTER being discussed for the past year, its time has arrived. The first ever initiative to secure funding for alfalfa research through a checkoff program began on January 1. Officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative (AFRI), the voluntary program was conceived and approved by the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) board of directors earlier this year. Alfalfa brand marketers voluntarily have agreed to assess a $1 checkoff per bag of alfalfa seed sold. To date, the alfalfa seed brands participating in the program include: 8 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

Alforex Seeds

Latham Hi-Tech Seeds

America’s Alfalfa

Legacy Seeds

Browning Seed

Lewis Hybrids

Channel

NEXGROW

CROPLAN

Prairie Creek Seed

DEKALB

ProHarvest Seeds

Dyna-Gro

Rea Hybrids

Fontanelle Hybrids

S&W Seed Company

Forage First

Simplot Grower Solutions

Gold Country Seed

Specialty

Hubner Seed

Stewart

Jung Seed Genetics

Stone Seed

Kruger Seeds

W-L Research

Research input sought NAFA is currently seeking input from farmers and industry representatives to help develop research priorities that will be used to direct and award the collected checkoff dollars. Selecting your top research priorities can be easily done at www.alfalfa.org. All of the funds raised in the checkoff program will be used to support public research; no administrative costs will be paid with checkoff dollars. It is the first farmer-funded checkoff program that the alfalfa industry has ever had. •


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Left: Chisholm tall fescue pasture in early spring. Above: Chisholm tall fescue pasture in dormancy during summer.

Summer-dormant tall fescue fills the gap by Mike Trammell

O

NE of the major goals of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation’s Forage Improvement Division has been the development of perennial cool-season forages, such as tall fescue, that could fill the “forage gap” from autumn through spring when bermudagrass is dormant in the Southern Great Plains. At first glance, this goal may seem narrow in focus, but systems producing forages throughout the year would limit the need for feeding hay and/or reduce the need to plant cool-season annuals, reducing production costs for producers. Once improved varieties are successfully created, their performance is analyzed through extensive evaluations, such as livestock grazing trials, to assess the economic impact and safety and to develop crop management practices that capitalize on the new cultivars’ value-added traits. Historically, the major forage species for fall and spring grazing in western Oklahoma, North Texas, and the Texas Panhandle have been limited to cool-season annuals such as wheat or cereal rye. For example, a typical management scenario for dual-purpose wheat involves planting in September, start grazing beginning in November or early December, and removing cattle in March at first hollow stem for grain production. This management practice creates a forage gap between the months of March

10 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

and May as well as September through November (see Figure 1).

Tall fescue differs Tall fescue is a cool-season perennial forage that can provide valuable forage from fall through spring for grazing livestock. Tall fescue generally needs a minimum of 35 inches or more of annual rainfall for suitable production and persistence. Historically, this type of rainfall occurs east of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma and Texas creating a transition zone for tall fescue, which is adapted east of the highway but not to the west due to summer heat and drought. However, some tall fescue varieties possess a unique trait where the plant enters a period of dormancy to avoid the harsh conditions of summer only to be awakened by the cooler temperatures and shorter days of autumn. These tall fescue varieties originate from the Mediterranean region of southern Europe and North Africa and are often referred to as Mediterranean or summer-dormant types. The majority of forage produced by these varieties is from autumn to spring, thus they fill the forage gap or reduce the need for planting winter annuals by producing high-quality winter feed for grazing livestock (see Figure 2). These summer-dormant fescues basically cease growth during summer in response to long days, high tempera-

tures, and dry conditions. In western regions of Oklahoma and Texas, the Mediterranean summer-dormant fescues offer promise of cool-season production together with multiyear persistence. Currently, there is only one summer-dormant tall fescue commercially available to producers and that is Prosper, an endophyte-free cultivar. In contrast, the majority of tall fescue cultivars on the market today are classified as Continental or summer-active types. These types originated from northern Europe and are characterized by actively growing plants during summer. Consecutive periods of heat and drought can deplete these actively growing plants of resources, resulting in high mortality and stand loss over time. In Oklahoma and Texas, summer-active types are recommended only for areas east of Interstate 35 where adequate and more reliable rainfall is received. Common summer-active cultivars currently on the market today include Kentucky 31, Jesup MaxQ, and MIKE TRAMMELL The author is a plant breeder with The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Okla.


Texoma MaxQ II, the first tall fescue commercially released by the Noble Foundation in 2009.

Another option The Forage Improvement Division’s tall fescue breeding program aims to genetically improve both summer-dormant and summer-active types due to the Noble Foundation’s unique location along this transition zone of Interstate 35 in southern Oklahoma. In 2005, the Noble Foundation, Grasslanz Technology of New Zealand, and Gentos, a leading pasture seed company in Argentina, formed a collaboration with the primary aim of breeding summer-dormant tall fescue cultivars targeted for agricultural producers in the hot and dry summer environment of the Southern Great Plains and similar agricultural regions worldwide. The first cultivar to be developed and released from this collaborative effort is Chisholm. Chisholm is an endophyte-free tall fescue cultivar of Tunisian parentage with excellent persistence. It was developed to provide livestock producers with a persistent, perennial cool-season grazing option and is adapted to the hot, dry summer environment typical west of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma and Texas where summer-active types fail to survive. Chisholm is capable of producing high-quality pasture from autumn through spring suitable for grazing livestock before entering summer-dormancy; this fills the forage gap by reducing the need to feed hay and provides a perennial grazing option to complement or replace winter annual plantings. Chisholm tall fescue can be used in both tilled and no-till forage-based livestock production systems. Currently, Chisholm summer-dormant tall fescue is under commercial evaluation by Warner Brothers Seed Company located in Lawton, Okla. •

3500 3000 2500

THE primary negative impact of seeding grasses with alfalfa is not lower forage quality, but rather variable forage quality, according to Cornell University forage researchers. “The main cause of this variability is the alfalfa-to-grass ratio,” said Jerry Cherney, Cornell extension forage specialist. “Environmental conditions during the (stand) establishment phase have a great impact on the alfalfa-to-grass ratio in succeeding years,” he added. Cherney emphasized the importance of evaluating grass percentage in stands to assess forage quality and manage fields. Currently, Dairy One forage laboratory (Ithaca, N.Y.) offers an NIRS analysis that will successfully estimate grass percentage. The forage specialist is also developing a smartphone app that will estimate grass percentage in the field simply by taking a photograph. As for a grass partner in alfalfa stands, Cherney remains high on meadow fescue. “Meadow fescue has considerable potential in mixture with alfalfa,” Cherney asserted. “The grass has higher fiber digestibility than most other grasses, consistently 2 to 4 percentage units higher than tall fescue.” Cornell research results from 2016 field trials indicate that the optimum grass percentage in alfalfa-grass stands at the end of the seeding year may be around 5 to 15 percent, with about 20 to 30 percent in the first production year. “Even 10 percent grass can still result in significant improvements in fiber digestibility,” Cherney said. •

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January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 11


PASTURE PONDERINGS

by Jesse Bussard sider the previous land use and current soil conditions of the candidate pasture. “Think about which species and varieties will fit best for the season the forage is needed,” Rogers said. In addition, Rogers said graziers should prepare for some challenges. “Cover crops grow fast,” Rogers noted. “If part of the goal is to build soil health, you must be comfortable with letting some cover crops get past their peak in forage quality to increase soil residue.” Rogers explained this practice actually feeds the soil microbial community, which he anecdotally referred to as the “microherd.”

Use a simple approach if grazing cover crops

O

VER the past few years, the use of cover crops for grazing has gained popularity among livestock producers, in part, due to an expanded focus on soil health in row crop farming. A recent conversation with North Carolina grazier and cattleman Johnny Rogers revealed that the fad is nothing new. Cover crops tend to be common annual forages, which livestock producers have been planting in pastures for decades. Instead, the North Carolina State University Amazing Grazing program coordinator said the real reason cover crop usage is on the rise is, “We’ve realized sustainable isn’t good enough. We need to improve the soil and leave it better than we found it.” Livestock producers are more aware of the environments they manage and, in turn, want to better understand how the systems they manage — animals, forages, and soil — work together.

Multiple roles Rogers explained pasture-based livestock operations are perennial systems. Cover crops fit best into this scheme in four particular scenarios: • Finishing livestock on higher quality forage • Filling in forage availability gaps • Renovating worn-out perennial pastures • As a smother crop for transitioning pastures from toxic fescue to another perennial forage This past summer, Rogers used cover 12 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

crops as a smother crop in two fields on his multispecies livestock operation. Out of the nearly 300 acres he grazes, he manages approximately 29 acres in annual cover crops. In North Carolina, a region dominated by toxic tall fescue, annual cover crops give Rogers a way to transition pastures out of this undesirable forage. Plus, they serve as a nutritious grazing source for his livestock. When considering cover crops for the first time, Rogers said to keep the principles of soil health front and center. “Keep a living root growing in the soil year-round. Use rotational grazing. Include some diversity. Don’t disturb or till much, and don’t overgraze,” Rogers put simply. Focusing on honing foundational strategies, such as overall grazing management, before planting the first cover crop mix is important. Once graziers have the basics down, cover crops can help in situations where soil health needs improvement or producers need alternative grazing options. For renovating pastures, in particular, annual cover crops act as a biological primer to jump-start soil health. The cover crop types that producers choose will vary by region and climate. To select the right species and varieties, Rogers suggested you start by asking, “What is my main goal?” “The goal might be to build soil health, provide livestock feed, or a little of both,” Rogers said. To choose the right cover crop mix, con-

Limit species “There’s some value from a grazing standpoint to start out using a simpler mix,” Rogers said. A good guideline to follow when putting together a first-time cover crop seed mix, Rogers said, is to include at least one species from each forage functional group — grasses, legumes, and brassicas. An example of a simpler mix Rogers planted in his pastures is millet, cowpeas, and a brassica hybrid. To ensure the establishment of a successful stand in an existing perennial pasture, especially if transitioning from toxic tall fescue, Rogers recommended doing an herbicidal burndown. Grazing pastures closely will also help, but, ultimately, a clean slate gives the best establishment results. Generally, Rogers suggested first-time cover crop graziers start out using a simple mix on a small acreage, possibly a field that needs renovating or a sacrifice area. Additionally, he said documenting the process through photos and notes, as well as recording grazing days, can help producers figure out what works best in their situation. “Remember, you’re managing a biological system, it’s never going to be perfect,” Rogers said. “Be patient, you have to give and take with nature.” • Learn more at bit.ly/HFG-AG. JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.


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To learn more, visit americasalfalfa.com or call 800.873.2532 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) only to United States domestic use. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices do not plant HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology in Imperial County, California, pending import approval in China and until Forage Genetics International, LLC (FGI) grants express permission for such planting. 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. 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. Forage Genetics International, LLC (“FGI”) is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). FGI products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with FGI’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. Certain products have 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. 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. Growers should refer to http://www.biotradestatus.com/ for any updated information on import country approvals. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Biotechnology Industry Organization. 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 FGI. America's Alfalfa, America's Alfalfa logo, Traffic Tested alfalfa seed and Traffic Tested logo and HarvXtra® are registered trademarks of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. © 2017 Forage Genetics International, LLC.

* Because of factors outside of FGI’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.


Thinking of feeding seed? Think again. by Paige Smart

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14 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

Year 2 - residual grass height at 3 inches 250 Number of red clover seedlings (m2)

RODUCERS within the Fescue Belt struggle with depressed performance of their cattle. The fungus produced by an endophyte in Kentucky 31 fescue costs the industry an estimated $1 billion annually. Interseeding clovers boosts pasture quality and can dilute the impact of grazing KY-31. The two current recommended methods of establishing legumes, such as clover, into permanent pasture are no-till drilling or broadcasting. Unfortunately, it can be costly to rent a no-till drill or large-scale broadcaster. Additionally, difficult topography can make it impossible to get large equipment over pastures. Some producers have turned to a method of seeding that is utilized in nature: feeding clover seed to cattle. By placing seed in a concentrate supplement or loose mineral, the hope is that it passes through the animal and establishes in pasture. Some producers have even suggested that coated seed (covered with inoculant and limestone) established better than uncoated seed. This method of establishment is often seen in nature, particularly in the case of weeds and trees. Producers observed this dispersal method and have mimicked it in an attempt to easily establish desirable species. Although this practice has been used by farmers for many generations, its efficacy had not been studied in the field. Researchers from North Carolina State University attending an Amazing Grazing workshop were inspired by the innovation of the producers who were insistent that it worked, so the practice was investigated to determine if feeding seed to cattle was a viable option to establishing clover by frost seeding (broadcasting midwinter or spring). When evaluating the seed-feeding method, it became clear that there were several factors that had potential to reduce seed viability. Contact with loose mineral, passage through the ruminant digestive system, as well as the competition with feces after passage were just a few constraints identified. Each of these factors was studied individually to quantify its impact on seed viability, along with a “big picture� study that

225 200 175

Dragged

Not dragged

Negative control

Fed-coated

150 125 100 75 50 25 0

Fed-uncoated Frost seeded-coated Frost seeded-uncoated Establishment method

determined what results producers should expect in full-scale pastures from this method of seeding.

Many barriers It was suspected that contact with the mineral would reduce seed viability over time due to the high salt content. Germination of the seeds was measured after 2, 7, 14, 28, and 56 days of contact. After 14 days, coated seeds had a significant reduction in viability to only 70 percent viable and all seeds died after 28 days of contact, whereas uncoated seeds remained completely viable until 28 days of contact. It is suspected that the coating, which holds moisture, negatively impacted the seeds in contact with mineral. By holding moisture close to the seed, which likely contained salts from the mineral, it decreased the time needed for the salts to kill the seed. The ruminant digestive tract is a very intense system that contains microorganisms capable of digesting fiber, rapid changes in pH, high temperatures, the grinding pressure of ruminal contractions, and repeated opportunity for chewing during rumination. To study the impact of passage through the digestive system on seed viability, fecal samples were taken from cattle consuming mineral containing either coated or uncoated seeds.

After passage, the average viability of fed seeds ranged from 0 to 14 percent. Coated seeds had a lower average viability after passage, which is also suspected to be due to the moisture holding capacity of the coating. The reduction in seed viability from 96 percent out of the bag to 14 percent out of the animal is a clear hindrance on the success of this method.

Dragging helped That small percentage of seed that survived passage through the ruminant digestive system had yet another barrier to face after passage: competition with fecal pats and established grasses in the pasture. The impact of feces on seed germination and establishment was tested in a small plot study. This study sought to measure the impact of competition after passage alone; therefore, seeds were not fed to cattle prior to being added to feces. This gave us the chance to observe how seeds performed PAIGE SMART The author recently completed her master’s degree at North Carolina State University and currently works for Southeast AgriSeeds.


in a best-case scenario. We found that the ability of seeds to establish in fecal pats was dependent on the dragging of the feces. Dragging is a common practice utilized by producers to spread feces throughout the pasture, primarily to reduce fouling and to distribute nutrients more evenly. This method was also successful to enhance seedling establishment. Without dragging, few seeds were able to establish. This shows just how much an undisturbed fecal pat can interfere with establishment of the seeds that survive passage. After combining all of these factors, the overall efficacy of establishment of red clover after feeding seeds was compared to frost seeding. Cattle grazed across 16 acres and were consuming seed mixed in with the mineral, which we called the “fed” pastures. When the soil was freezing at night and thawed during the day, plots were frost seeded with red clover.

Frost seeding was superior The number of red clover seedlings per square foot that established in the frost-seeded treatments was about 20 for both coated and uncoated seeds. However, in the fed pastures, less than one clover seedling per square foot was established. The reduced viability after passage through the ruminant digestive tract along with the competition of fecal pats and their uneven distribution all reduce the success of this approach. Producers who are looking to interseed clover should utilize frost seeding and not depend on the less effective seed-feeding technique. Frost seeding can be easily done in late winter or early spring. Ideal con-

establishment (see graph). When frost seeding, be sure to inoculate clover seed, particularly if seeding into soils that have been recently logged, have been in corn production for more than 10 years, or have not had legumes for a decade or more. Contributors to this study included Dr. Matt Poore (NCSU Animal Science), Dr. Ben M. Goff (University of Kentucky Plant and Soil Science), Dr. Carrie Pickworth (NCSU Animal Science), and Dr. Lori Unruh-Snyder (NCSU Crop and Soil Sciences).•

ditions for broadcasting are when soil temperatures are freezing at night and thawing during the day. Using 2 to 3 pounds of white clover or 8 to 10 pounds of red clover, broadcast the seeds across closely grazed or mowed pastures. The target height of the pasture should be about 1.5 inches. Our study showed that if the residual height of the grasses is higher than 3 inches, dragging the pasture after broadcasting the seed will improve seed to soil contact and, therefore, improve clover seed germination and

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Red clover seedlings emerge from a cow patty two weeks after being consumed. Two weeks later, the seedlings struggled to live.

Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. Alforex Seeds LLC is an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences LLC. ©2016 Dow AgroSciences LLC. All rights reserved.

Creative:Clients:DowAgroSciences:7540-24498AlforexBrandPrintAd2016-17:7540-24498AlforexBrandPrintAd2016-17_Hay&ForageGrower_4-875"x7-325"_v16.indd October 17, 2016 11:20 AM

January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 15


BEEF FEEDBUNK

by Jason Banta

Risks and rewards

W

INTER annual pastures can be a great option for lowering winter feeding costs by extending the grazing period and reducing or eliminating the need for traditional protein and energy supplements for cow-calf operations. Cool-season annual forages used for winter pastures primarily include small grains, ryegrass, clovers, and medics. In recent years, brassica species such as turnips, radishes, and kale have seen more use. In cow-calf operations, grazing recommendations will vary depending on the calving season. During the last third of gestation, limit-graze cows and heifers to prevent larger than expected calf birth weights due to the high levels of protein and energy found in most winter pastures. One approach is to graze spring-calving cows and heifers on winter pastures for approximately two hours per day. An alternative approach is to graze for one day and feed hay or graze dormant warm-season forages for four or five days before grazing winter pastures again. These limit-grazing approaches can completely replace cubes and other traditional protein and energy supplements. If forage availability is adequate, it works very well to graze pairs full time, both cows and calves will excel in this situation.

Consistent mineral consumption Provide a moderate or high-magnesium mineral (about 5 to 10 percent magnesium) to cows grazing winter annual forages to help prevent potential problems with grass tetany. Grass 16 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

tetany is a condition characterized by low blood magnesium levels. Good consistent consumption of the mineral is more important than the amount of magnesium in the supplement. Magnesium reduces the palatability of mineral supplements, so monitor intake to ensure that target consumption levels are obtained. If consumption targets are not being reached, consider switching from a high to a moderate magnesium mineral. Additionally, look at other mineral suppliers because palatability of loose minerals can vary greatly from company to company. Make sure there is an adequate amount of salt in the mineral supplement; salt is critical to the absorption of magnesium. Most quality loose mineral supplements designed for an intake of 3 to 4 ounces will contain about 15 to 20 percent salt. Some molasses-based mineral tubs do not contain any salt. If this is the case, provide salt along with the mineral tub. Risk factors for grass tetany are influenced by stage of production, cow age, forage species, and dietary potassium content. Cows with young calves are at higher risk than cows with older calves or nonlactating cows. Risk elevates as cows age because magnesium absorption falls with age. Consequently, older cows with young calves are at the highest risk for grass tetany. Clovers and medics are generally higher in magnesium content than grasses, so the risk is lower for cattle grazing pastures with these legumes. High dietary potassium levels can reduce magnesium absorption and raise the risk

of grass tetany. Some brassicas may contain 6 to 7.5 percent potassium compared with the 1.5 to 3 percent levels commonly found in small grains and ryegrass. Be especially mindful of grass tetany if brassicas are included in the mix. Grass tetany is not a problem in stocker cattle because of differences in dietary absorption and the ability to mobilize magnesium from body stores compared with cows. However, inadequate calcium in the diet can limit the performance of stocker cattle and replacement heifers grazing winter forages. Providing at least an additional 10 grams of calcium per day through either a high-calcium mineral supplement or some other supplement can enhance average daily gain. Bloat risk will vary with forage species, geographic location, time of year, and plant maturity. Legumes are more bloat prone than grasses. Risk can also be higher during the late winter and early spring. Additionally, as forages mature the risk of bloat declines. Bloat problems often occur as a result of turning hungry cattle onto bloat prone pastures. Make sure cattle have consumed some hay or other roughage prior to turnout. In rotational grazing situations, rotate the cattle while they are not overly hungry. The cost per ton of forage produced for winter annuals will vary depending on species planted, seeding rate, fertilization required, and forage yield. Generally, the range will be from $35 to $90 per ton of forage dry matter. For example, if it costs $94 per acre to plant annual ryegrass ($14 for seed, $5 for planting, and $90 for fertilizer) and 5,000 pounds of forage was produced, the cost per ton of forage would be $37.60. This is very inexpensive for a feed source that will exceed 15 percent crude protein and 65 percent TDN (total digestible nutrients) for a large portion of the growing season. Take advantage of winter annuals to lessen winter feeding costs and keep cows in good condition. Additionally, enjoy gains of 2 to 3.5 pounds per day at a very low cost for replacement heifers and stocker cattle. • JASON BANTA The author is a beef cattle specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension based in Overton, Texas.


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©2017 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.


FORAGE GEARHEAD

by Adam Verner field to a trailer and then unloaded into the barn by loaders. When the bales are ready to be sold, they can be picked up again in the same pattern by the grapples and loaded onto the trailers. The downside is the number of pieces of extra equipment needed. To be efficient, you need two loaders, one in the field and one at the barn, with several trucks and trailers to haul the bales. It takes multiple people to really run these accumulator crews efficiently, but they can get you started at a lower cost and can be adapted to any size operation.

Two-tie bale handling

N

OW that winter is in full effect, most grain farmers are either ice fishing or taking a vacation at the beach, but not us hay guys. Winter is when hay producers reap the rewards of their hard work and long hours spent during the past summer. The winter workload brought me to think several times how I could make a little more free time available for both me and my family because many of our days were spent loading truck after truck of small square bales. These little square bales can cost you more dollars in time and labor than anything else on the farm, but they can also bring home the biggest reward if managed efficiently. That is why my family has been in the small square bale business for the last 40 years. These days there are many excellent options for handling two-tie bales. There weren’t many good mechanical handling options for our commercial haying operation when it started back in the 1970s. Manual labor seemed to be the most popular choice and is the way I “cut my teeth” in the hay business; I started driving the truck and trailer before I could even reach the clutch pedal. There is nothing in the world wrong with this method, and quite frankly you can figure out how tough you really are in the top of a barn during the middle of July on a hot Georgia day. We rarely got much hay wet, but at the same time we were limited to about 800 bales per day.

Moving to bale wagons Our first step to mechanical freedom was a pull-type bale wagon followed the next year by a second. These pull-type wagons hauled and stacked 105 bales 18 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

per load and boosted production to over 1,500 bales per day. A few years later we made the big jump to a self-propelled stack wagon, which is still our choice in the operation today. A single wagon made it possible for one person to pick up and stack upward of 2,500 bales per day. They are efficient and effective for getting hay out of a field and into a stack. However, the barn or stack needs to be relatively close because they only haul 160 two-tie bales; too much road travel can eat into productivity. In my opinion, one of the only weak spots for these bale wagons is during load out. The other is the price on these wagons, which has now risen to over $175,000 for a decent used unit. If you sell most of your hay retail, as we do, it usually means the only way to load the truck is manually. I know there are squeezers out there that you can grab a section of the stack and load a trailer, but not every trailer loads the same, and that method can still lead to some manual labor finishing up the loads. If getting the bales out of your field with low labor input is highest on your priority list, then bale wagons are worth consideration.

A cheaper option Other options that have been around for decades are bale accumulators and grapples. In today’s small square market, the bale accumulator and grapple are probably the most cost-efficient way for getting started in the business. New accumulators start around $10,000 and grapples are near $4,000. There are also numerous new and used models available. The best thing about this system is you rarely need to manually handle bales. They can be loaded out of the

Bundle up A relative newcomer to the market is the bale bundle machine. There are a few different models available and each has proven to be reliable and productive. These machines can be pulled behind the baler, pulled by a separate tractor, or purchased as self-propelled units. They wrap a strap or twine around different bundle sizes such as nine bales, 18 bales, or the most popular 21-bale bundles. The 21-bale stacks are seven bales wide and three high, stacked on edge. If you put one stack on top of another, they fit perfectly into a van trailer. If you deliver a lot of your crop in a dry van, bale bundlers would be at the top of my list. They have quite a few moving parts and some have an onboard computer, but all have proven to hold up for hundreds of thousands of bales. They are a bit on the expensive side with new pulltype models, which can keep up with two balers, starting at around $75,000 and going up to $100,000. You still need loaders in the field and at the barn along with extra trailers for hauling. In terms of efficiency, I believe these bundlers can pay for themselves in short order. Who knows where the two-tie bale market will be in the next 40 years. Maybe we all will be using big square balers that can make smaller packages. Or maybe we will still be using the same bales that have been around since the 1930s, as they are the preferred package of many horse owners when feeding their most treasured companion. • ADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.


FEED ANALYSIS

by John Goeser

The not-so-favorite things in forage

T

HE 2016 crop year was interesting from the East to West. Forage ash, some of which is soil contamination, and anti-nutrition factors (for example, mold, yeast, mycotoxins, and negative bacteria) appear to be of rising concern as producers begin to feed the year’s harvest. Continued drought conditions in the West and an unexpected drought through much of the Northeast have led to unexpectedly high ash levels in forages. Corn silage ash contents have approached or exceeded 7 percent, where a typical average would be 3 to 4 percent of dry matter (DM). Fresh clipped alfalfa samples, in some cases, contained 10 to 12 percent ash without having been mowed, raked, merged, or handled. This has conjured up many questions among consultants. Ash robs forage of energy value by diluting out other nutrients and contributing zero to feed value. Further, added ash can bring greater mold and yeast counts as these are soil-born organisms. The average ash content for U.S. hay and haylage has jumped by nearly an entire percentage unit over the past five years. Within the Midwest, this trend has been more substantial.

High mold counts Soggy conditions in the Midwest through the corn silage and high-moisture corn harvest season brought added challenges in 2016. Prior to the wet fall start, plant pathologists were warning about stalk and ear rots showing up as early as June or July. For many, the wet harvest conditions along with heavier fungal pressure have contributed to the feed hygiene challenges mentioned above. Mold counts for Midwestern corn and corn silage this year have trended around 100,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g), and corn silage samples trended from 10,000 up to 100,000 cfu/g at harvest, confirming greater mold prevalence. For interpretation purposes, at 100,000 cfu/g, we typically begin to consider this crop 10 percent deteriorated, and as counts reach 1,000,000, we consider the feed to be 100 percent

deteriorated. From October to mid-November, nearly 20 percent of all samples analyzed for mold were beyond the 10 percent deterioration threshold. Ash and field-born molds are largely a derivative of pre-ensiling or storing challenges. Storage issues may exist beyond growing and harvest conditions. These issues can also yield hygiene trials and may be important to consider when identifying the root of poor animal performance or feed-driven sickness.

Unwelcomed wildlife In addition to these field-born issues, many producers are also experiencing bird, raccoon, and rodent concerns during feed storage and feedout. With rodent damage also comes potential bacterial infestation. Veterinary and forage analysis laboratories can help identify challenging enterobacteria (bad bacteria) loads in forage. With rodent damage to storage bags, bunkers, and piles, the problem is twofold. These animals can carry and harbor negative bacteria such as Salmonella spp. and inoculate the forage with these toxic bugs. Plus, rodent damage will also expose stable feed to oxygen, allowing yeast and mold to grow and exacerbating hygiene and stability challenges. Rodent challenges and their effects on animal health are either more impactful or more prevalent in 2016 based on frequent, recent conversations with consultants and on-farm observations. At one dairy, for example, raccoons dug holes through both bunker silo covers and silage bags stored on gravel to access corn silage. The dairy has partially controlled the problem with a low-lined electric fence around the bunker; however, one bag was substantially compromised. The hole in the bag allowed air to infiltrate and silage deteriorated. The dairy attempted to discard visibly deteriorated feed; however, when feeding this bag, dairy cattle performance dropped substantially. The feed hygiene challenge (mycotoxin, yeast, or bacteria) was not identified specifically, but the cows began to recover after moving to a new silage source.

On another example dairy, rats had infiltrated the feed center, creating holes in both alfalfa and corn silage bags. During feedout, dairy cattle began to show variable digestion, inconsistent manure, and several animals were lost as a result. In this case, the TMR was sampled and Clostridium perfringens was identified along with yeast, mold, and mycotoxins at concerning levels. To make matters worse, the high-moisture corn digestibility showcased poor quality due to low moisture levels (25 percent moisture). This likely led to excessive starch bypassing the rumen and created a favorable environment within the lower digestive tract for negative bacterial growth.

Problems compound Healthy dairy cattle are constantly barraged with pathogens and can typically fight them off. However, when multiple insults are compounded, in this case mycotoxins and poor starch digestion, clinical signs begin to show up. Ash content along with other negative microbial feed issues seem to be a growing challenge during these times when dairy margins are tight. Realize that not one of these anti-nutrition factors is going to be the sole cause of depressed performance or clinical symptoms, but rather they interact and combine to challenge cattle health. The trends outlined here, along with the two case studies, can help your farm proactively investigate such situations to avoid these diminishing outcomes. If ash content is a concern for your farm, consult with your agronomist, equipment dealer, and nutritionist as to how to avoid soil contamination next year. If rodents or birds and bacterial challenges are a concern with your farm, work with pest control agents to eradicate or control the pests first. Next, consult with your nutrition and veterinary advisers as to what impact the harmful bacteria may be having, but only in the context of and along with other anti-nutritional factors that may also be acting as contributors. • 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.

January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 19


FORAGE SHOP TALK

Don Miller

Q&A

Current director of product development for Alforex Seeds. His 32-year career in the alfalfa industry as a breeder and product manager has spanned many changes in the industry.

HFG: Did you always aspire to be an alfalfa breeder, or did that opportunity just open up once you completed graduate school at New Mexico State University? DM: During college, I had no idea that I would eventually end up as an alfalfa breeder. After completing my B.S. degree, the alfalfa breeder at New Mexico State University hired me as a program technician. As a university employee, I could enroll in a couple of classes each semester free of charge, so I started taking courses in agronomy and eventually got my graduate degrees in agronomy/plant breeding. I received lots of on-the-job training with one of the better alfalfa breeders in the country. HFG: During your 32 years of involvement in the alfalfa industry, there has been a lot of seed company consolidation. What do you consider to be an advantage and disadvantage of this consolidation? DM: To me as a plant breeder, the advantage of company consolidation has been the ability of a breeder to have access to the advanced breeding lines of the acquired companies for variety development. Also, the additional financial and manpower resources that often result from these mergers can enhance variety development. The disadvantage is that the variety development of larger companies is often geared toward large markets where they can best recoup their costs. Hard to justify a large alfalfa breeding program’s expenditures for alfalfa variety improvements that would only benefit small regional markets. Company consolidation has to some extent also adversely affected varietal testing activities at universities. The number of companies entering varieties has been reduced to the level that it’s hard for the universities to get enough entries to justify the fees it would need to continue their testing programs. HFG: Most of your time has been spent in the West. Is it easier or harder to develop semi and nondormant alfalfa varieties compared to dormant lines? DM: I think each has its own unique challenges; however, I don’t feel one is more difficult than the other in regard to varietal development. Each has different breeding priorities. A breeder has to structure their breeding program to select for the important varietal traits needed for performance in the region where the new variety is going to be marketed. For dormant varieties, the first concern is winter survival and varietal performance has to be measured in a shorter growing season. In the case of a nondormant, the breeder isn’t concerned with winter survival but rather performance over a much longer growing season, which can include very high

summer temperatures and numerous harvests. HFG: Do you feel we will reach a point where saline and/or sodic soils can be overcome through alfalfa plant breeding? DM: During the last decade, alfalfa plant breeders have significantly improved alfalfa productivity and tolerance to salinity, and there is still potential for further varietal advancement. However, genetic tolerance to salinity has its limits. Improved genetics needs to be combined with crop and soil management. The sodic soil with its poor soil structure is more difficult to overcome with improved alfalfa genetics. I feel the best approach for enhancing stand establishment and plant productivity in sodic/saline soils will be by implementing soil management techniques to repair the poor soil structure inherent with sodic soils and then couple that with the use of salinity tolerant alfalfa varieties. HFG: In your current position with Alforex, you’ve been involved in developing and marketing nontransgenic alfalfa with reduced lignin content. Where do you see this effort headed into the future? DM: I think the introduction of low-lignin alfalfa is a significant advancement in alfalfa improvement. The benefits have the potential of enhancing the utilization of alfalfa in the dairy ration, which could have a tremendous effect on the alfalfa industry. For the last several decades, the number of alfalfa acres nationally has been declining and this product may help curb that trend. HFG: What is your greatest concern for the alfalfa industry in the years ahead? DM: The potential for genetic improvement of alfalfa in the future looks very exciting. However, alfalfa plant breeding in today’s world has become more and more complicated, in part due to the business aspect. The free exchange of ideas and breeding lines between alfalfa breeders in the private and public sectors is continually being restricted. My other major concern is the lack of university programs to train the next generation of alfalfa breeders. Very few if any university programs are still around that can provide the course work and/or graduate training for a student who wants a career in alfalfa breeding. HFG: Favorite food? DM: Being raised in New Mexico, my favorite meal is green enchiladas and chile rellenos. •

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

20 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017


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Small square bales rule on this Kentucky farm by Mike Rankin

J

UST stay on Cave Hill Road and you’ll see us baling on the left side, just past the old barn,” relayed Clayton Geralds, as I wound my way through the rolling hills of south central Kentucky. He was right. As far as finding a farm goes, this one was easy. In the distance, three New Holland self-propelled bale wagons chugged along as they gobbled up the evenly spaced rows of small square bales left by Geralds’ fleet of balers. This was just the start of a typical big baling day at Geralds Farms where 7,000 to 10,000 bales find their way to the pole shed if weather conditions permit. Geralds’ story begins in 1982 when he started his farming career milking 40 cows and growing a little tobacco on

a rented farm. The only forage grown helped feed the farm’s livestock. He attended an alfalfa conference during 1983 in Cave City, Ky., and what he heard there convinced him to seed down 100 acres of alfalfa. “I never looked back after that,” Geralds noted with a wry smile. The milk cows departed in 1988 and Geralds along with his wife, Molly, bought their current farm in 1997 — 200 acres with no buildings. Since that time, both buildings and more acres have been added. These days, Geralds and his son, Christopher, work full time on the farm and grow 720 total acres of hay crops: 540 acres of alfalfa-orchardgrass mix, 120 acres of timothy, and 60 acres of alfalfa. Christopher also runs a small herd of

beef cattle. For the most part, this farm is all hay, all the time, and Geralds has mastered the process of turning small square bales into a profitable enterprise.

Extended stand life With no annual crops grown to break the alfalfa rotation cycle, Geralds has perfected a system to keep acres in forage production year after year. “We start by seeding straight alfalfa at about 20 pounds of seed per acre,” Geralds said. “Then, in two or three years we no-till 8 pounds of orchardgrass seed into the alfalfa during September. This gives us another five to six years of production.” These alfalfa-orchardgrass fields are the backbone of the operation. Geralds uses a late-maturing orchardgrass vari-

Geralds likes to bale his alfalfaorchardgrass fields between 12 and 15 percent moisture. Each of his six balers is equipped with a moisture tester. “In the horse market, there’s little tolerance for dusty or moldy hay,” Geralds said.

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017


ety that complements alfalfa maturity. He also demands 0 percent other crop seed in the orchardgrass seed he buys. “As soon as mid-April hits, we start cutting the alfalfa-orchardgrass stands when given our first favorable weather forecast,” Geralds said. “As soon as the pure alfalfa fields reach late bud stage, we switch to those fields.” The haymaking lifer thinks more emphasis needs to be given to forage quality. “Often, the first question we ask is how many acres do you make,” Geralds said. “We need to be asking, ‘What’s the quality of the hay you make.’” Geralds has the Kentucky Department of Agriculture come to his farm each month to test any recently baled hay lots. “My customers don’t always ask for a forage quality test, but if they want it, I’ll have it for them,” he said. During the final production year of alfalfa-orchardgrass, Geralds sprays the stand with glyphosate (Roundup) after second cutting and seeds the field down to timothy in the fall. The pure timothy fields stay in production for one or two years. They are usually the last to get harvested, generally during the end of May when the plants have a 2- to 3-inch

seedhead developed. truck is usually out in the field soon “Our customers demand weed-free after the last load of bales is picked hay, so we’re vigilant about keepup. Fertilizer is applied in two sepaing fields clean,” Geralds asserted. rate applications over the course of the “We seed Roundup Ready alfalfa growing season. The standard single so that fields can be sprayed application rate for the alfalwith glyphosate before the fa-orchardgrass stands is orchardgrass is no-tilled 30 pounds of nitrogen, 20 back into them. We also pounds of phosphorus, and spray every acre with 150 pounds of potassium Prowl H 2 O (pendimeper acre. Fertilizer is generally applied after the thalin) in the spring to first and third cuttings. keep new weeds from gerPure alfalfa fields, minating,” he added. Christopher & Clayton Geralds which are cut four or At the time each five times per year and yield spring when herbicide is about 7 tons per acre, receive the applied, Geralds also sprays for same fertilizer treatment as the mixed alfalfa weevils, which in bad years can orchardgrass stands but without the defoliate an alfalfa crop if left unchecked. additional nitrogen. Soil fertility a priority Pure timothy fields, which are cut twice per year and yield about 5 tons “Replacing soil nutrients is a priority per acre, are hit with 100 pounds of on this farm,” Geralds noted. “We soil nitrogen, 20 pounds of phosphorus, test every year and compare the results and 80 pounds of potassium per acre in to the previous soil analysis. You can’t early spring. They receive an additional grow good hay without adequate soil 50 pounds per acre of nitrogen after the fertility,” the National Hay Association first cutting. board member added. In addition to fertilizer, Geralds’ fields The farm has its own straight truck receive 2 tons per acre of lime every equipped to spread dry fertilizer. That

January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 23


Christopher Geralds

Top: Loading truck vans with small square bales is a totally mechanized operation at Geralds Farms. The average customer buys 20 to 25 van loads per year. Bottom left: Bales are picked up with four bale wagons. Bale size is important and adjusted on a regular basis. Bottom right: Geralds is a stickler for maintaining optimum soil fertility. He owns and operates a spreader truck that is put into action soon after bales are removed.

other year to keep soil pH at a level for maximum alfalfa productivity.

Down on downtime With 130,000 to 150,000 bales to make each year in a humid environment, there’s no leeway or tolerance for machinery delays. After years of experimentation, Geralds has developed a system that fits and maximizes efficiency. To make it all happen, he owns two 17-foot New Holland self-propelled disc mower-conditioners, six John Deere balers, four New Holland bale wagons, four Enorossi Y-type wheel rakes, and three Krone tedders. He also maintains enough tractors to keep all the balers and one rake operating at the same time, if needed. Through the years, Geralds has learned that buying new equipment and then trading after several years of use serves his system best. For example, balers are traded every four years on a rotating basis. Each baler is completely cleaned and checked for worn parts each winter. When it comes time to trade one, the value is usually at the top end of the market. Such a strategy has proven to both reduce downtime during the season, but also keeps annual repair bills to a minimum. “We expect a lot out of our baler operators,” Geralds said. “We even hold baler clinics for them.” Each baler is equipped with a moisture tester, so operators are expected to alert Geralds when bales are getting too wet. “We like to keep alfalfa bales between 15 and 18 percent moisture,” the haymaking veteran said. Geralds noted that he doesn’t like to use any hay preservative because he caters to a horse market that has little 24 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

tolerance for dusty or moldy bales. He’d rather just make sure the hay is dry enough where bale deterioration during storage is not going to be a concern. For timothy, that means under 13 percent moisture. His alfalfa-orchardgrass hay is baled between 12 and 15 percent moisture. “In this business, you’re going to get some hay rained on,” Geralds asserted. “It just comes with the territory.” When untimely rain occurs, Geralds has a round baler and in-line wrapper that he puts into action. That hay is then used to feed Christopher’s beef herd. Each small square bale is made with 14 strokes of the plunger. The grass bales weigh 60 pounds while the alfalfa bales scale 70 pounds. Bales have to be 35 inches long with a tolerance of plus or minus 1 inch. Uniform bale size is needed to ensure tight stacks and for shipping. Geralds, who usually runs one of the bale wagons, watches to make sure that bales fit the size criteria needed to properly load a semitrailer van. Each baler runs its own color-coded combination of twine so if one of the balers is off he knows where the correction needs to be made. To make it all happen, Geralds said he’d been fortunate to find good employees. “We have several retirees and high school kids who work for us,” he said. “They all know what it takes to get hay made and that some days are going to be longer than others.” In addition to Geralds’ son, Christopher, his daughter, Kimberly, is often available to run one of the balers.

Loyal customer base Geralds doesn’t sell his small square bales by the pickup truck load, but

rather by the semi-trailer load. “Our average customer takes 20 to 25 semi loads per year,” he noted. “Generally, it’s the same customers each year. Our most tenured buyer has been with us for 19 years.” Most of Geralds’ inventory is brokered to horse farms and retailers both in and out of state. His biggest customer is in Georgia. Hay prices are set in May and September. Harvesting hay is not the only mechanized component of Geralds’ system. Through the years he has developed a method to load the semi vans. Using a front-end loader mounted with an accumulator, bales are piled on a flatbed trailer one layer at a time. The flatbed sits directly behind the open van doors. On the opposite side of the van, a skid steer operating on the flatbed trailer and equipped with a vertical steel frame is used to push a six-layer pile of bales into the van (see photo). This is repeated until the van is full — no hand labor involved. In the forage world where small square bales have essentially become a niche market, there are still a few producers like Geralds who have stayed the course and now cater to markets where small hay packages are needed in large quantities. He has also done his part to serve the industry in a variety of roles, most recently as a member of the search committee for a new Kentucky extension forage agronomist. Geralds has been active in the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council, American Forage and Grassland Council, and the National Hay Association. He has also hosted numerous educational events and farm tours. •


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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. ©2017 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 2017 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. © 2017 W-L Research.


DAIRY FEEDBUNK

by Luiz Ferraretto

Poor kernel processing impacts the bottom line

C

ORN silage is the predominant forage fed to dairy cows in the United States. This is related to its unique characteristic of providing both high energy and physically effective fiber. Thus, production of high-quality corn silage is essential for optimum dairy profitability. Starch, located in the endosperm of corn kernels, accounts for more than

half of the energy provided by corn silage. However, corn is a seed and has a hard coat (pericarp) that surrounds and protects the embryo and the starch endosperm from external threats. Consequently, the breakdown of the pericarp and the resulting exposure of starch endosperm must be the primary objective at harvest to maximize available energy. This explains why kernel processing is

Table 1. Effect of CSPS on fecal starch and total tract starch digestibility CSPS (%)

Fecal starch1, % TTSD2, % of starch

30

55

80

8.40 89.5

4.65 94.2

0.90 98.9

Predicted from equation of Braman and Kertz (2015); fecal starch = 12.9 – (0.15 x CSPS). Predicted from equation of Fredin et al. (2014); TTSD = 100 – (1.25 x fecal starch).

1 2

Table 2. Estimates of corn supplemented to replace undigested starch

one of the most important factors affecting starch digestibility in corn silage. The economic consequences of poorly processed corn silage are substantial. Several components come into play.

It’s not just roll setting It is well established that the use of kernel processors enhances kernel breakdown at harvest. However, rollgap settings are a key player to obtain greater starch digestibility and corresponding milk production by dairy cows. A review from the University of Wisconsin reported that the benefits of using a kernel processor is achieved only when rolls are set with gap settings between 1 to 3 millimeters (mm), or 0.04 to 0.12 inch. However, other harvesting practices may impair the efficacy of kernel processors even when rolls are properly set following these guidelines. Chop length is one of these factors. The same review article from the University of Wisconsin reported that kernel processing was effective when theoretical length of cut (TLOC) settings on choppers were 0.37 to 1.13 inches but not when they were set longer. Possibly, at a longer TLOC, the coarse stover portion

CSPS (%)

Starch intake1, lbs./cow/d Starch loss2, lbs./cow/d Corn grain supplementation3, lbs./cow/d Corn grain cost4, $/cow/d

30

55

13.75 1.45 2.96 0.19

13.75 0.80 1.63 0.11

80

13.75 0.15 0.31 0.02

Starch intake = (55 lbs. DMI x 25% starch)/100 Starch loss = starch intake – ((starch intake x TTSD)/100) Corn grain supplementation = starch loss/0.49 4 Corn grain cost = corn grain supplementation x 0.0652. Corn grain cost ($130.40 per ton) was obtained from values reported by FeedVal 2012, November 2016. 1 2 3

26 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

LUIZ FERRARETTO The author is an assistant professor of livestock nutrition in the department of animal sciences, University of Florida.


of corn silage may inhibit kernel breakage during passage through the rollers, thereby reducing the effect of processing. When that review was conducted, however, data evaluating shredlage processors were not available. This new processor type may attenuate this negative effect by causing greater damage to the kernels at a longer TLOC. Two experiments from the University of Wisconsin evaluated the shredlage processor (1.18 or 1.02 inches of TLOC settings) in comparison with a conventional processor (0.75 inch of TLOC setting). In both experiments, shredlage had greater kernel processing, starch digestibility, and lactation performance than conventionally processed silage. Furthermore, efficacy of kernel processing is reduced as maturity progresses. This information is important as harvesting of mature corn plants to achieve greater yields of starch became a common practice. However, starch is not accumulating by itself in the kernel with maturation. As maturity progresses, an elevated proportion of vitreous endosperm accumulates in the kernel, thereby boosting kernel hardness, which in turn may cause kernels in very dry, mature corn silage to be less susceptible to breakage. This explains why kernel processing was effective for corn silage containing 32 to 40 percent dry matter (DM) but not when corn silage was above 40 percent DM in the Wisconsin review. In addition, there is no evidence that shredlage processors are more effective than conventional processors in corn silage harvested above 40 percent DM. Therefore, optimum kernel breakdown requires continuous monitoring of plant maturity within and across fields, proper roll gap and TLOC settings, regular processor maintenance, and continuous monitoring of kernel breakage during harvest.

starch and total tract starch digestibility (TTSD) values. The second step (Table 2) was to estimate for each CSPS the amount of corn that would need to be supplemented in order to obtain the same amount of digestible starch as if TTSD was 100 percent. The following assumptions were made: Dietary starch was 25 percent of DM and consumption of DM was 55 pounds per day. Consequently, it was assumed that cows were eating 13.75 pounds of starch per day. Based on TTSD, values of starch loss in the manure were calculated and ranged from approximately 0.15 to 1.5 pounds.

If we assume that corn grain has 70 percent starch and 70 percent ruminal in vitro starch digestibility, for each pound of corn supplemented only 0.49 pound of digestible starch is provided. Thus, dividing starch loss by 0.49 we can determine the amount of corn necessary to compensate for undigested starch. Although the numbers used in this exercise may not be representative of every dairy, it is a good indication of potential economic loss related to poor kernel processing. Thus, it is recommended that dairy farmers and their nutritionists perform similar calculations based on their own scenarios and goals. •

Poor processing costs Although the benefits of greater kernel processing on milk production is well known, it is very difficult to reliably estimate its economic impact. The exercise presented and discussed in this article is an attempt to provide some numbers to dairy producers and their nutritionists as a starting point. In order to do that, however, a hypothetical scenario had to be created and three values of corn silage processing score (CSPS; percent of starch passing through a 4.75 mm sieve) were arbitrarily chosen. Table 1 lists the CSPS values chosen and predicted fecal January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 27


RESEARCH ROUND-UP

Spring oats shine as fall forage source

Commercial pasture mixtures evaluated for yield and quality

Spring oats, a winter annual crop, can extend the fall grazing season when other forages are less productive. A research trial to determine the influence of planting date on late fall dry matter yield, nutritive quality, and cold hardiness of a spring oat, winter oat, and winter wheat was conducted at the University of Arkansas Watershed Research and Education Center (WREC) in Fayetteville. The cereals were no-till planted on August 31, September 22, and October 13. Plots planted on August 31 and September 22 were slower to establish than those planted on October 13 due to hot, dry September conditions. Plots planted on October 13 established quickly but had limited fall forage production. The cereals were harvested on December 2. The spring oats produced significantly more dry matter (DM) yield than winter oats and winter wheat for each planting date. Dry matter yield for the spring and winter oats declined significantly from the August to the October planting date. The winter wheat produced limited DM yield regardless of planting date. Only the spring and winter oats planted on August 31 yielded enough forage for late fall grazing. However, the forage quality of all the samples collected at harvest exceeded the nutrient requirements for all classifications of livestock. Early-planted spring oats offer high-quality forage for grazing in late October through December, but timely planting is needed. Delaying planting by three and six weeks reduced yield by 50 and 75 percent. As a result of the lack of cold hardiness of oats, plan to use the forage by January 1.

USDA-ARS researchers in Pennsylvania evaluated several commercial seed mixtures to determine if the number of species in a mixture affected yield and botanical composition. Replicated plots of 25 mixtures, five each of two, three, four, five, and six species of grasses and legumes were planted in August 2007 near State College, Pa. The mixtures included legumes (white clover, red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, alfalfa) and grasses (orchardgrass, perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, tall fescue, festulolium, Alaska bromegrass, timothy, annual ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass). The mixtures were grazed six times per year for three years. Fourteen beef cows grazed each block for two to three days until the residual sward was grazed to the desired height. The annual dry matter yield of grazed mixtures improved as more species were included in the mixture. However, mixtures within groups of similar species varied largely in yield, depending on the botanical composition of the mixture. Kentucky bluegrass, birdsfoot trefoil, and timothy did not establish or persist well in mixtures with taller grasses. The short-lived species, festulolium and red clover, contributed significantly to production during the first year but were gradually replaced by longer-lived species such as orchardgrass and white clover. The researchers noted that planting forage mixtures with a combination of fast-establishing and slow-establishing species can be beneficial. Having more species in the mixture may boost forage production but will not affect nutritive value, which was related more to the botanical composition.

Evidence mounts in favor of novel endophyte Tall fescue hosts a fungus that helps it tolerate stresses caused by pests and adverse environmental conditions; this same endophyte fungus produces toxic, ergot-like alkaloids that inhibit livestock performance. Collectively known as fescue toxicosis, the condition is estimated to cost livestock producers $2 billion annually from reduced weight gain, feed intake, and reproductive efficiency. Researchers at the University of Missouri compared cattle performance and forage production of native Kentucky 31 (KY31) tall fescue containing the harmful endophyte to a new, novel endophyte variety, BarOptima Plus E34 (BO+). The novel endophyte contains the beneficial plant fungus, but without the detrimental ergot-alkaloids, or at least at a much lower concentration. The three-year rotational grazing study was undertaken using cow-calf pairs that were on pasture from early April to late November. Hay was harvested from the paddocks in the spring as needed and fed during the summer dormancy 28 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

period. Pasture mass was measured weekly and animals were weighed every 28 days. In the spring, cows grazing the BO+ gained 2.2 pounds per day compared to 0.44 pound per day for those on the KY31. Similarly, calves on the novel fescue gained 3.1 pounds per day compared to 2.2 pounds per day for those on the toxic fescue. This resulted in a 71-pound advantage in 205-day adjusted weaning weight for the BO+ calves. During autumn, cows grazing the KY31 lost 0.44 pound per day while the cows on BO+ had zero loss. The cows grazing the BO+ had a 100 percent calving rate while those on the KY31 calved at an 80 percent rate. Cows on the BO+ pastures weighed more at weaning, precalving, and end of autumn grazing. Forage accumulation did not differ between BO+ and KY31, but KY31 pastures had surplus hay compared to BO+. Grazing days per acre were also lower for the BO+ pastures, but the researchers attributed this to the uninhibited consumption of BO+ compared to KY31.


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Legumes improve forage quality and reduce nitrogen inputs in a pasture-based system.

Applying manure impacts pasture yield, composition by Geoff Brink

G

RAZING-based livestock producers frequently overseed cool-season grass pastures with legumes such as red clover, white clover, or alfalfa to increase forage quality, improve the seasonal distribution of forage production, and reduce the need for supplemental nitrogen (N). However, solid manure collected from bedded packs or liquid manure collected in pits must also be utilized on the farm, and nutrients contained in manure will improve pasture productivity. The effects of applying manure to grass-legume pastures and the subsequent effects on legume persistence should be carefully considered because the forage quality benefits imparted by legumes may be more important than a boost in pasture productivity attributed to the manure. Determining how manure type, date of application, Manure source

None Solid manure Liquid manure None Liquid manure Solid Liquid Solid

Application date

April April April June June August

30 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

and pasture management influence pasture productivity and legume persistence will provide management guidelines for utilizing manure efficiently and maintaining legumes in rotationally-grazed pastures.

Liquid versus solid Several factors influence how a mixed, cool-season pasture responds to manure application. The N in solid manure is primarily in nitrate form because much of the ammonia has been lost as a gas during storage. Conversely, the N in liquid manure is primarily in the ammonia form, which can be lost during application, particularly if the air temperature is high. An advantage of liquid manure is that it can enter the soil relatively quickly, potentially reducing N losses. An advantage of solid manure is its relatively slow rate of decomposition, which

makes the N available to plants over a longer time period. Plants can absorb N in either the nitrate or ammonia form, but typically take up nitrate-N more readily than ammonia-N. Grasses absorb N more efficiently than legumes due to their fibrous root system, and they exhibit a more rapid growth response. The manner in which the pasture is managed after manure is applied may also influence legume growth and persistence; harvesting a pasture for hay may impose further competitive stress on the legume. Given these factors, scientists at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA Agricultural Research Service, conducted experiments to determine the response of an orchardgrass-red clover mixture to manure type and application date, and to pasture management. Orchardgrass was overseeded

Management

Graze at vegetative stage Graze at vegetative stage Graze at vegetative stage Hay harvest; graze at vegetative stage Hay harvest; graze at vegetative stage Graze at vegetative stage Graze at vegetative stage Graze at vegetative stage

GEOFF BRINK The author is a forage researcher with the USDA-ARS, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis.


with red clover and clipped monthly the year before manure was applied. All treatments were supplied 60 pounds of N per acre except the None treatment (no N). Plots were grazed at the vegetative stage (three to four grass leaves) five times during the growing season, or harvested for hay (grass head emerged) in spring and then grazed at vegetative stage three times.

Higher productivity The mean annual forage yield of an orchardgrass-red clover mixture grazed five times each year at vegetative stage and not fertilized with manure was 7,100 pounds of dry matter (DM) per acre. At the end of the grazing season, red clover was found in half of the rows in which it was seeded (50 percent stand). Applying either solid or liquid manure in April and grazing throughout the season enhanced annual forage yield by 500 pounds of DM per acre, a 7 percent improvement in productivity. A red clover-orchardgrass mixture fertilized with solid or liquid manure in June or August produced 400 to 700 pounds of DM per acre less than a mixture receiving no manure. Whether manure was applied in April, June, or August, persistence of red clover that was grazed during the season at vegetative stage was reduced from a 50 percent stand (no manure applied) to a 30 to 45 percent stand. Mixtures receiving manure in the spring had greater annual yield due to greater grass growth, and mixtures receiving manure in mid- to late summer had lower annual yield due to a loss of clover.

persistence from a 50 percent stand (no haying or manure) to a 40 percent stand. Applying liquid manure to the mixture and following the same harvest regime reduced annual yield by 300 pounds of DM per acre due to a further decline in red clover persistence (50 to 30 percent). The results indicate that there is no difference between solid and liquid manure with respect to their effect on pasture growth and legume persistence: Applying manure in the spring to a grazed grass-legume mixture will improve annual productivity, but at the

expense of legume persistence. Applying manure in mid- to late summer did not improve annual production and further reduced legume persistence. Producing hay from grass-legume pastures has a detrimental effect on legume persistence, but persistence is further reduced when manure is applied. Since one of the primary benefits of adding legumes to pasture is improved forage nutritive value, don’t apply manure to pastures with good legume stands, which is generally in the seeding year and the following year. •

REd whitE & Renew

Legume persistence suffers A red clover-orchardgrass mixture harvested for hay in the spring and grazed at vegetative stage the rest of the season was equally productive as that grazed at vegetative stage throughout the season (7,100 pounds of DM per acre). Delaying harvest in the spring to hay stage, however, reduced clover

ÂŽ

Orchardgrass-red clover plots at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center received eight different treatments in the study. January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 31


Diversify your forages by John Hibma

D

AIRY farmers who grow their own forages should focus on diversity. Throughout the eastern United States, perennial grasses such as orchardgrass, timothy, reed canarygrass, and fescue are commonly used for animal feeds. Alfalfa is also being grown in many areas of the Northeast. More farmers are now double cropping with small grains such as winter rye along with triticale — a wheat-rye hybrid. All of these forages can be either baled or ensiled. Each one is an excellent feed when harvested in the early vegetative stage. Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting forages.

Maturity matters Forages — like all things living — are genetically programmed to complete a life cycle. Biologically, they have only one purpose — to grow, mature, and reproduce. Within the greater context of a more complex biosystem, forages provide food to a host of different animal species and habitat to many more. As forages grow and mature, stems must become thicker and stronger in order for the plant to support itself. Stem material undergoes a process called lignification as the cellulose and protein weaves into tighter matrices to become more rigid. Lignin is nearly indigestible in ruminants and other forage-consuming species. During the maturation process in all types of vegetation, smaller proteins and simple sugars in the young plant 32 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

are converted to more complex carbohydrates that become stems, flowers, and seeds. When forages are young and they have a larger leaf-to-stem ratio, they are much more digestible for animals. Forages in the early vegetative stage can have crude protein levels over 20 percent on a dry matter basis and sugar levels over 10 percent. These nutrients feed the bacteria and protozoa that are necessary for feed fermentation in the rumen.

Baleage makes sense In Mansfield, Conn., dairy farmer Tom Wells and his family milk about 60 cows that average over 70 pounds of milk per cow throughout the year. He grows corn silage that is ensiled as well as perennial grasses, alfalfa-grass mixes, rye, and triticale. Wells prefers to put all of his hay crop forages into baleage. For his size of operation and since he raises a variety of forages on small parcels, baleage works better than storing the forages in silos or trench pits of which he would have to have a dozen of them to keep the forages separated. Raising forages for milk production is no easy task in New England. Wells does his best to stay ahead of the weather and get hay mowed and baled before it gets too mature. He understands the importance of growing high-quality forage but is quick to admit that there’s never any guarantee that a given cutting will be milk-cow quality. He also faces the same challenges as many do with first cuttings always being mowed on the late side

and testing low in protein. Later cuttings are, hopefully, better. “We’d like to believe we have a plan and a strategy for getting everything done on time,” he said. “But most of the time we have to take whatever we get and work with it as best we can.” Having alfalfa or some clover (legumes) available in dairy cow diets is often helpful for milk production. The amino acid profiles in legumes is preferable to ordinary grasses and grains. Wells has been growing alfalfa-grass mixes for many years. A few years ago he planted an alfalfa-fescue mix on some rented land. The fescue never came up, but the alfalfa did great. Over the years, all the alfalfa stands eventually are infiltrated with grasses, and pure stands of alfalfa are difficult to maintain in New England.

Happy with triticale Wells started experimenting with triticale a number of years ago. As is the case with all small grain forages, the plant has maximum quality in the early vegetative stage. Triticale is proving to be a small grain forage that does well in the Northeast, maintaining both sugar and protein even while it’s going to seed. Wells has also had good luck with a triticale-Italian ryegrass blend — harvesting it when the grain was heading out and in the milk stage. According to Wells’ foreman, Fred McNeely, the base ration for the milk cows is typically formulated with 20 pounds of dry matter (DM) corn silage and a minimum of 10 to 12 pounds of DM hay crop forages. McNeely notes that the cows consume significantly more of the triticale forages resulting in a diet with a total forage DM well over 60 percent of the ration and a milk production average of over 80 pounds per cow. Maintaining consistently high-quality forages on dairy farms can be a challenge. Consider keeping a variety of forage options available for the herd throughout the year. Learning which forages work the best on your land and being willing to experiment with different types of crops will help keep milk in the tank all year long. • JOHN HIBMA The author is a dairy nutritional consultant and freelance agricultural writer based out of Connecticut.


MACHINE SHED

Claas adds Disco 1100 Trend mower

Kuhn unveils triple mower combinations

Claas introduced its Disco 1100 triple mower in 2015 with a maximum working width of 35 feet 2 inches and either a roller- or tine-conditioner. Claas now adds the Disco 1100 Trend mower to the line, which offers the same capacity as the conditioned units, without the added weight or expense of conditioners. Designed for silage baling or chopping, the Disco 1100 Trend mower pairs with either the Disco 3600F or Disco 3200F to deliver the greatest mowing capacity of any triple mower in the industry. Running at 10 mph and full width, the Disco 1100 Trend can cut an estimated 42 acres per hour. At 19 mph, the capacity goes up to 80 acres per hour. The Max Cut cutterbar features a wave-shaped bed stamped from a single piece of steel. The new design and shorter discs allow farmers to get smooth operation, a clean cut, wear longevity, and with easy maintenance. The Disco 1100 is also equipped with an individual float that allows the mower to better follow the contour of the ground. This results in less soil in the forage. The Disco 1100 mower has a transport height of less than 13 feet and a transport width of less than 10 feet. The transport locking device is hydraulically locked and unlocked during the folding process to enable compact, maneuverable, and safe transport. The unit is also fully ISOBUS-capable. With extendable and retractable mower arms, the Disco 1100 Trend mower is able to shift the mower wings on the go; this helps eliminate streaks when negotiating curves. The Disco mower has a two-piece PTO shaft, which reduces maintenance. For more information, visit www.claas.com.

Kuhn has introduced new additions to their GMD lineup of disc mowers. The GMD 10030 (rear mount) and GMD 3525 F (front mount) can combine to create a triple-mount machine that takes productivity to a new level. The total combined working width is 32 feet 6 inches, while exclusive features provide strong returns on investment by reducing maintenance and downtime. The rear-mounted GMD 10030 is compatible with category 3 and 4N hitches and features independent hydraulic lift of the mowing units as standard, making point rows and oddly shaped fields no problem. The high-lift discs and Lift-Control hydro-pneumatic suspension ensure excellent cut quality and crop throughput. Fast-Fit knives and the Optidisc lubed-for-life cutterbar take the time and headache out of regular maintenance. Should the mower strike an obstacle while working, the continuous hydraulic safety automatically pivots up and back minimizing the risk of damage. Overlap control combines with the front-mount mower to give up to 18 inches of overlap for hilly conditions or when mowing in pivots. Teaming up with Kuhn’s rear-mount mowers is the GMD 3525 F (11 feet 6 inches) front-mount mower. This unit contains all of the same great features as the rear-mount machines while using a modern “hammerhead” design that offers excellent visibility from the cab. Converging drums on the Optidisc cutterbar create a windrow narrow enough to fit between the tractor tires. Additionally, the smaller GMD 3125 F (10 feet 2 inches) is compatible with the GMD 8730 for a combined working width of up to 28 feet 7 inches, while the GMD 3525 F matches with the new GMD 10030 for up to a 32 feet 6 inches combined working width. For more information, visit www.kuhnnorthamerica.com.

Vermeer introduces new rotary rake and TD-series tedders Vermeer Corporation is releasing the RR140 rotary rake along with the TD100 and TD190 tedders. These new hay-handling tools are designed for small to mid-size operations looking for tedders or rakes to help boost hay production efficiency. With a raking width of 13.9 feet, the RR140 is designed to boost speed and efficiency by allowing operators to rake fast in wet or dry hay in a variety of crops. It is a versatile, side-delivery rake featuring 11 arms that are each equipped with four double tines, providing uniform raking actions that gently stir the hay for faster drying but also maintain the nutritional value of the crop. Hydraulic adjustments keep the tines off the ground, minimizing ash content in the windrow.

Built for speed, convenience, reliability, and priced for the budget-conscious customer, the TD-series models offer a 10 feet tedding width on the TD100 and a 19 feet tedding width on the TD190. Both models feature convenience, including tool-less height adjustments and an adjustable crank for changing the pitch angle in a matter of seconds. The tedders achieve quicker dry down resulting in higher quality forage. For more information, visit www.vermeer.com.

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 mrankin@hayandforage.com.

January 2017 | hayandforage.com | 33


New Holland debuts new BigBaler 340 Plus New Holland Agriculture introduces the new BigBaler 340 Plus, the latest generation of its flagship baler. The BigBaler 340 Plus features a baler chamber that is 31.5 inches longer than the previous model and delivers up to 10 percent higher density. The boost in density depends on field conditions and means more crop per bale with improved productivity. The double-knot system is designed to guarantee high-bale density with lower knotting strain. The BigBaler delivers features such as the IntelliCruise technology that automatically regulates tractor ground speed to maximize baling capacity and uniform bale density and uses SmartFill feed flow indicators that tell operators in real time which direction to drive over the swath for even bale formation. The productivity-boosting features also include the MaxiSweep pick-up design that tackles high tonnage windrows with common components — tine bars and reel bearings — from the self-propelled forage harvester. The plunger stroke rate per minute, in-line crop flow, processing and precompression elements combine to make it the highest capacity New Holland baler ever. In addition, the BigBaler is fully ISOBUS-compatible for single-screen technology. In CropCutter models, the new high-quality chrome pins are more wear-resistant against sand and dust, extending the chain life. Each knife is spring protected to avoid break-

age from foreign objects, and optional hard-faced knives are available for greater durability. A heavy-duty rotor is available for extreme abrasive conditions; this allows a rotor lifetime that is four times longer. The knotting system and bale ejection have been revised to make it easy to set and control bale length, and the reliable design of the bale length tooth sector ensures a long lifetime. The passive teeth system has been replaced with an active teeth system on Full Bale-Eject. Before the bale ejection moves backward, all teeth are first pushed in the bale to maximize best performance and full grip in all conditions. An improved knotter-cleaning performance reduces crop accumulation in the knotter area. The exclusive one-piece side and front shields provide easy access to all service points and moving parts for quick maintenance. The wider body of the BigBaler 340 Plus results in a bigger flat deck service platform, while the railings have been extended to the front for safety. For more information, visit www.newholland.com/na.

Krone offers lift tines for single-rotor rakes

Kubota offers two new round balers

Krone announces their Swadro single-rotor rakes now feature Krone Lift Tines with new angled ends, allowing them to lift the material while raking. Previously, Krone Lift Tines were only utilized on twin-rotor rake models. The special design improves the quality of the harvested forage by reducing contamination because the lift tines do not drag the ground and pick up other materials from the field. In addition, the curve in the lift tines improves the shape of the windrow. The advantages for producers include higher work rates and less crop contamination. . Krone offers single-rotor rakes at work widths of 12 feet 5 inches to 15 feet. In addition, the single-rotor models include the maintenance-free rotor gearboxes with a robust Duramax cam track, which comes with a three-year warranty. The tine arms utilize ball bearings within the cam track and are maintenance-free. The thick-walled tine arms, heavy-duty lift tines, and large-diameter coils translate into excellent longevity, flexibility, and strength. For more information, visit www.krone-na.com.

Kubota’s new round baler series will include two new models — the BV4160SS and the BV4180SS — that are designed specifically for producers who need additional silage features. Whether it is baling silage, hay, or straw, the BV4160SS is a high-capacity 4-foot-wide by 5-foot-high variable chamber baler that is ready to meet the ever-changing demands of farming. For a classic, can-do silage model, the BV4160SS comes complete with silage scraper kit for wet haylage and a proportional valve to enable the operator to adjust the bale density on the go. For larger bale production, the BV4180SS delivers 4-foot-wide and 6-foot-tall bales, plus all the features of the BV4160SS model. Both new models are fitted with a fork feeder intake system providing direct feed into the bale chamber for fast and efficient baling. All Kubota BV4160SS and BV4180SS balers come with the Kubota Power Bind Net system, for simple, fast and efficient production. For more information, visit www.kubota.com.

34 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017


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FORAGE IQ AFGC Annual Meeting January 22 to 24, Roanoke, Va. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-AFGC17 Driftless Region Beef Conference January 26 to 27, Dubuque, Iowa Details: www.aep.iastate.edu/beef/ Dairy Forage Profit 3.0 January 31, State College, Pa. February 1, Waterloo, NY February 2, New Hartford, NY Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-DP3 Cattle Industry Convention NCBA Trade Show February 1 to 3, Nashville, Tenn. Details: www.beefusa.org GrassWorks Grazing Conference February 2 to 4 Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Details: http://grassworks.org Hay Production Workshop February 9, New Bloomfield, Pa. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-PAHAY World Ag Expo February 14 to 16, Tulare, Calif. Details: www.worldagexpo.com Alfalfa & Stored Forage Conference February 21, Cave City, Ky. Details: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/ Pennsylvania Forage Conference February 22, Grantville, Pa. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-PFC SW Missouri Spring Forage Conf. February 28, Springfield, Mo. Details: http://springforageconference.com Idaho Hay and Forage Conference March 2 to 3, Burley, Idaho Details: www.idahohay.com Novel Tall Fescue Renovation Workshops March 6, Mound Valley, Kan. March 7, Mt. Vernon, Mo. March 9, Lexington, Ky. Details: http://grasslandrenewal.org 42 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2017

HAY MARKET UPDATE

Hay growers hoping for better 2017 Last year was one that most growers in the business of selling hay would like to forget. Depressed dairy and beef prices coupled with high forage inventories going into 2016 were the primary culprits. Hay prices peaked in May, retreated through summer, and then held

relatively stagnant through fall. Lower inventories and improved domestic demand should bolster prices in 2017. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of late December. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted.•

For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at hayandforage.com Supreme-quality hay California (Intermountain) California (north SJV) Colorado (southeast)-ssb Colorado (northeast) Kansas (southwest) Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Montana Montana-ssb New Mexico (eastern) Oklahoma (central) Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-ssb Oregon (Lake County) South Dakota (East River) Texas (Panhandle) Texas (Panhandle)-ssb Utah (northern) Utah (southern) Premium-quality hay California (southern) California (Sacramento Valley) Colorado (San Luis Valley) Colorado (southeast)-ssb Illinois (northern) Illinois (southern) Iowa (Rock Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (central/western) Oregon (Lake)-ssb Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (western) Utah (central/Uintah Basin) Utah (southern) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Wyoming (central/western)-ssb Good-quality hay California (north SJV) California (Intermountain) Colorado (southeast) Illinois (central) Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (north central/east) Kansas (southwest) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Montana Nebraska (eastern/central) Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb New Mexico (south/southwest)

Price $/ton 180 200 175-200 150 (d) 140-150 150-200 95-160 135 200 170-180 125-130 210-240 170-225 185 160-190 (d) 243 (d) 100-130 120-160 Price $/ton 190 180-200 140 180 165 (d) 185-222 110-125 103 140-160 105 160-200 115-120 135 110-125 185 160-180 130-140 90-100 100-130 115-133 175 135 Price $/ton 250 (d,o) 120 120 170 (d) 90-98 130-140 110-130 100-125 105-130 130-150 65-78 120-140

Oklahoma (central) Oregon (eastern) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River) Texas (Panhandle)-ssb Utah (Uintah Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Wyoming (eastern) Fair-quality hay California (central SJV) California (north SJV) Illinois (northern) Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Montana Oklahoma (western) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River)-lrb Utah (northern) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb Alabama-Premium ssb Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium Texas (south)-Good/Premium ssb Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb Bromegrass hay Kansas (north central/east)-Good Kansas (southeast) Premium ssb Orchardgrass hay California (Intermountain)-Premium Colorado (southwest)-Premium ssb Illinois (southern)-Good ssb Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Timothy hay Montana-Premium ssb Montana-Good lrb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Premium ssb Idaho-Premium Oregon (eastern)-Premium ssb Oat hay Idaho-Good California-Good Oregon (Lake County)-Good Straw Illinois (northern) Iowa (oat)-ssb Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Montana-barley Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (East River)

Abbreviations: d=delivered, lrb=large round bales, ssb=small square bales, o=organic

90-100 140 140-150 83-85 150-155 210 75-90 110-130 105 Price $/ton 140-150 165 (d) 125 (d) 75-85 65-75 55-65 90-120 60-75 73-75 95-100 55-70 110 75 Price $/ton 133 180-300 180 231-265 80-120 Price $/ton 110-120 130-135 Price $/ton 260 265 160-170 220 Price $/ton 210-240 110-120 280-320 200 185 Price $/ton 45 85-110 80 Price $/ton 100 120 80-100 50-120 35-45 80-120 95


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Hay & Forage Grower - January 2017  

Hay & Forage Grower provides the newest production and marketing information in print, online and in person for large-acreage forage produce...

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