Hay & Forage Grower - February 2018

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February 2018

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

Turning a weed into forage pg 6 Power in polywire pg 16 Winter harvester maintenance pg 20 Sold on sericea hay pg 26

S:7.875 in

Roundup Ready ® is a registered trademark 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 and Roundup Ready® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. America’s Alfalfa, America’s Alfalfa logo and Traffic Tested are registered trademarks of Forage Genetics, LLC. © 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC.

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We are America’s Alfalfa®. And we pledge allegiance to your success. We believe in doing more than providing the only Traffic Tested® alfalfa seed available. It’s our duty to partner with the farmers who buy it. We take pride in helping you overcome challenges and seize opportunities. To learn what we can do for you, talk to your local seed supplier, call 800.873.2532 or go to AmericasAlfalfa.com.

February 2018 · VOL. 33 · No. 2 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Ryan D. Ebert ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen DIRECTOR OF MARKETING 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

6 Crabgrass — turning a weed into forage


New forage varieties along with high forage quality and palatability have brought crabgrass into the spotlight as a valued forage resource.


Are clovers worth it? Clovers remain a foundational component of many pasture systems. Are they always the right choice?


Farming legacy continues despite tragedy A horrific family tragedy could have easily meant the end for this Nebraska hay farm.






DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 18 Forage Shop Talk 20 Forage Gearhead 22 Pasture Ponderings 24 Dairy Feedbunk








30 32 42 42

Machine Shed Beef Feedbunk Forage IQ Hay Market Update

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


Sold on sericea hay (and other stuff) This Palmetto State farmer puts information into practice on a variety of levels.





ON THE COVER Alfalfa is baled at RNH Farms in Moses Lake, Wash., which is owned and operated by Brian Eddie with his son, Andrew. The Columbia Basin farmers harvest 1,200 acres of irrigated alfalfa and timothy. Both are active in the Washington State Hay Growers Association. Photo by Mike Rankin

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2018 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.

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 3


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4 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

A hay gut check


HE USDA has issued its hay report card for 2017, and depending on your point of view, the results are either positive or negative. What is undeniable is that there were fewer bales to count. December 1 hay stocks: In its January 12 Crop Production report, USDA pegged hay stocks (dry hay only) at 86.2 million tons, down 10 percent from one year ago. This was the first year-overyear decline in four years and the lowest hay stocks total since the drought year of 2012. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1958 for a lower December stocks tally. Texas led the nation with a drop in stocks of 2.7 million tons, or 27 percent less than 2016. In the West, hay inventory declines were reported in Oregon (down 26.1 percent), Washington (down 23.3 percent), Arizona (down 21.7 percent), Idaho (down 15.4 percent), and Utah (down 4.2 percent). California, New Mexico, and Nevada matched their 2016 stock totals. North Dakota, which was mired in a drought during 2016, experienced a drop in hay stocks of 28.7 percent. Many other Midwest states also had less hay in storage. Some states that experienced dry weather in 2016 rebounded in 2017. Included in this group were Alabama (up 47.6 percent), Georgia (up 30.5 percent), Ohio (up 18.7 percent), Pennsylvania (up 9.1 percent), and New York (up 7.9 percent). Many New England states (except Vermont) boosted hay stocks as well. Hay acres and yield: Producers harvested 53.8 acres of dry hay in 2017. That was actually slightly higher than 2016 but 663,000 acres less than 2015. Acres of alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures dropped from 16.9 million in 2016 to 16.6 million in 2017. States with the largest harvested alfalfa acreage declines included Montana (minus 200,000 acres), South

Mike Rankin Managing Editor

Dakota (minus 200,000), Wisconsin (minus 140,000), Kansas (minus 130,000), and Minnesota (minus 130,000). California was down 60,000 acres. Iowa led gainers with 170,000 more alfalfa acres than 2016. No other state had over 80,000 more acres. The additional harvested acres of all hay types in 2016 were offset by lower yields. Hay producers harvested 2.44 tons per acre during the past year compared to 2.52 tons per acre in 2016. At 3.32 tons per acre, alfalfa yields were down 0.13 ton per acre from 2016. Hay production: The 2017 production of all dry hay types in the U.S. totaled 131.5 million tons, down 2.6 percent from 2016. Total alfalfa hay production declined by 5.5 percent to 55.1 million tons. In some states, alfalfa hay production was cut significantly in 2017 compared to 2016. Included in this group are Kansas (down 958,000 tons), South Dakota (down 775,000 tons), Wisconsin (down 620,000 tons), and California (down 552,000 tons). Lower production was caused by acreage reductions, reduced yields, or a combination of both. Alfalfa production gainers were led by Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania. Finally, new seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures totaled 2.21 million acres in 2017, the lowest total since records began in 1997. Bottom line: Inventories of hay are down compared to recent years. Though not at a critical level, there is less buffer in 2018 should a major and widespread environmental disaster occur, most notably a drought. There’s little reason to believe hay prices will weaken in 2018, though all hay markets are regional. •

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

T:8.375” S:7.875”


ADVANCED ALFALFA SEED VARIETIES plantnexgrow.com Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark 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 and Roundup Ready® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. NEXGROW is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. © 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC





Crabgrass — turning a weed into forage by John Jennings


HE mere mention of crabgrass evokes responses ranging from clenched teeth and muttered oaths to smiles and nods of approval. Crabgrass has a much maligned history but has gained favor as a high-quality forage over the past couple decades. For years, producers noticed that livestock readily grazed this “weedy grass,” but work from the Noble Research Institute brought it to the forefront as a valued forage when the variety “Red River” was released. This was the first named variety and was the forerunner of others since (for example, Quick-N-Big). I remember a conversation with R.L. Dalrymple, a forage agronomist now retired from the Noble Research Institute. When he told of the many selections of crabgrass they tested ranging from very high yielding to some short, dense types that would be well suited for turfgrass. He knew the latter was a nonstarter, although when my daughter was young, she used to encourage me to plant more of that “soft grass” in our yard because it was not as “stickery” to her bare feet as the bermudagrass I tried so hard to grow.

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So, where did this grass come from and where does it fit for livestock operations? Crabgrass is thought to have originated in Africa. It was probably first brought to the U.S. as a contaminant in other seed but was also imported as a forage for draft animals. Crabgrass is a warm-season annual grass, meaning it germinates in spring, grows through summer, and dies at fall frost. It is also adapted to more Northern latitudes than bermudagrass, thus providing a summer forage option for a wide geographical area.

A prolific reseeder Several species of crabgrass exist, but the most common one grown for forage is large or hairy crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis). Crabgrass has a clump-type growth habit and spreads by long stolons or runners that root down at the nodes. It can grow to over 2-feet tall, is adapted to a wide range of environments, and grows best on well-drained soils. Though crabgrass tolerates drought, planting on sites that are not excessively drought-susceptible during summer will result in the greatest forage production. It is a prolific reseeder, and being an annual species, it quickly colonizes disturbed soil. These characteristics made

it a hated weed in cotton and crop fields before the advent of selective herbicides but are advantageous for pastures.

Don’t plant deep Optimum soil pH for crabgrass is quite wide, ranging from 5.5 to 7.5. It is normally planted in mid- to late-spring in Southern areas. Planting after midsummer is risky due to the undependability of late-summer rainfall. Seed a minimum of 2 pounds of pure live seed (PLS) per acre, but planting 3 to 5 pounds of PLS per acre helps ensure better stands. Two-year-old seed has been noted to have a higher establishment rate than 1-year-old seed. Crabgrass seed is hairy and does not flow well through drill seeders. It is often mixed with a carrier such as

JOHN JENNINGS The author is a forage extension specialist with the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

fertilizer, dry sand, or pelletized lime to improve spreadability. When broadcast planting, the spreader should be driven almost track-to-track since the crabgrass seed will not spread as far as the fertilizer or pellet lime. Plant crabgrass into a tilled, wellfirmed seedbed. Seed can be broadcast and then covered by a second pass with a roller or it can be planted with a drill about 1/4-inch deep. Planting too deep is a bigger concern than planting too shallow. Research shows that light stimulates germination and most seedlings emerge from within the top 1/2-inch of soil; very few emerge from more than 3/4-inch deep. With adequate moisture and temperature, some crabgrass seed will germinate within a few days, though the new stand may continue to thicken over a period of two months. The typical period from seedling emergence to “first grazing” is normally 40 days under good conditions.

Crabgrass responds well to rotational grazing. Grazing can begin when it reaches 4 to 6 inches tall. During the growing season, crabgrass is very palatable and is often grazed first by animals turned into a new pasture; however, crabgrass becomes very unpalatable after a killing frost and is usually avoided by grazing animals. Plan to use grazeable forage before frost occurs. This management approach allows other pastures such as stockpiled bermudagrass or fescue to accumulate growth, which can be grazed later in fall to reduce hay feeding.

crabgrass hay normally dries more slowly than bermudagrass. Crabgrass contamination of bermudagrass hayfields intended for horse hay is a concern because the slower-drying crabgrass can create “green spots” in baled hay, raising the chance for mold or spontaneous heating. The darker color of crabgrass hay also has less eye appeal than the green color of well-cured bermudagrass hay.

Holds forage quality

Dry matter yield of Red River crabgrass in a five-year Arkansas forage trial Nitrogen needs averaged 4.4 tons per acre. Yield can be erratic, depending on summer rainfall Crabgrass responds well to nitrogen and can range from 1 to 2 tons per acre to (N) fertilizer, but it can accumulate over 5 tons per acre. Research at the Unihigh nitrate levels under high N ferversity of Arkansas Southwest Research tilizer or manure applications. Apply and Extension Center near Hope showed fertilizer N in split applications of 50 a boost in dry matter from 2,527 pounds to 60 pounds per acre for each grazing per acre to 6,454 pounds per acre when or hay harvest as needed. Do not apply cutting interval was extended from 21 nitrogen after mid-August, since little days (stem elongation) to 35 Cereal forage companion days (early heading). Even with its unfounded Once established, crabgrass “Even with its unfounded reputation reputation as a weed, the forcan be managed for reseeding to produce volunteer stands indefiquality of crabgrass is typas a weed, the forage quality of crabgrass age nitely. It is very compatible when ically better than that of most grown with small grains such as other summer grasses like is typically better than that of most wheat or cereal rye. The small bermudagrass, bahiagrass, other summer grasses.” grain provides forage from late pearl millet, or sorghum-sufall into spring, and the volundangrass hybrids. Arkansas teer crabgrass fills in to provide studies showed that common forage from summer to early fall. For this crabgrass quality remained high even as growth response would be expected. system, seed can be overseeded with ferplants reached maturity. Cut crabgrass for hay in the boot to tilizer during winter into the fall-planted The crude protein (CP) concentraheading stage (normally 18 to 24 inches small grain pasture. tion of crabgrass declined in a narrow high), which should allow at least Cattle grazing the wheat helps tread range from 21 percent in the vegetatwo harvests per year. To favor quick the seed into the soil. In subsequent tive stage in July to 15.9 percent at regrowth, cut or graze above a 3-inch years, the wheat can be no-tilled into the milk stage in late August. Neuheight to leave some green leaf tissue. the short crabgrass stubble in fall, and tral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid Regrowth is supported by remaining harrowing or light tillage around the detergent fiber (ADF) content showed leaves and not by stored root and crown time of spring “graze-out” of the wheat relatively little change over the same reserves. Grazing or mowing the sward pasture improves crabgrass seed gertime span. Due to the lower fiber too short removes the leaf area and mination and promotes better voluncontent, crabgrass forage was digested greatly slows regrowth. teer stands. Some Arkansas producers 44 percent faster in the rumen than If crabgrass hay is cut before it have had excellent success growing high-quality bermudagrass hay. makes mature seed, leave 6-inch-wide a wheat-crabgrass combination for Crabgrass is gaining the reputation uncut strips between mower swaths stocker cattle, reporting gains of over 2 as high-quality forage instead of as a to produce enough seed for reseeding. pounds per head per day. weed. Palatability and forage quality Due to the hairy stems and leaves, are excellent. It is useful for providing high-quality summer pasture or hay to support good animal performance for stocker calves, dairy cattle, small Once established, crabgrass ruminants, and horses. It works well in can quickly cover bare soil. mixtures with small grains and some Be cautious of seeding too perennial cool-season grasses. • deep. Cattle can be grazing crabgrass about 40 days after seedling emergence.

The author wishes to acknowledge his University of Arkansas colleagues, Paul Beck, Dirk Philipp, and Kenny Simon, for their contributions to this article.

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 7

In those reports, there were 42 experiments where there was a direct comparison of beef cattle weight gains between a grass plus legume pasture and a pure grass pasture with N fertilizer applied. Of those trials, 90 percent reported improved average daily gains (ADG) for the beef cattle in the mixed legume-grass pasture compared to the monoculture grass. The average boost in ADG was 18 percent. In the 38 studies reporting total gain per acre, the grass plus clover pastures also produced 18 percent more beef per acre on average (after removing an outlier). However, enhanced gain per acre was much more variable and not reliable. Only half of the studies resulted in a real improvement in beef productivity per acre, 27 percent resulted in no difference, and 23 percent resulted in a significant drop in gain per acre.

Are clovers worth it? by Dennis Hancock

Grass + clover = mixed results


majority of which were in the 1950s to 1970s. There have been some additional trials in the years since that have confirmed some aspects or addressed knowledge gaps. The benefits and limitations of using clovers are among the most well-researched aspects of forage agronomy. In fact, I found and examined over 130 research reports addressing this topic. One of the best summaries of the benefits of clover in grass pastures was presented 33 years ago by forage scientists Joe Burns and J.E. Standaert at a joint meeting between researchers from the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand at an international workshop. Burns, a forage agronomist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service based in Raleigh, N.C., and Standaert, an economist at North Carolina State University, summarized research from 38 different research reports across 19 states.

HE benefits of clover are frequently extolled. We have all heard the sermons (or preached them). “Less need for nitrogen (N) fertilizer because of biological N fixation! Yields equal to grass fertilized with moderate levels of N! Higher quality forage! Enhanced animal performance!” These are the common exclamations. But, do the facts support these claims? I was recently asked to speak at the American Forage and Grassland Council’s annual meeting and was charged to reread and review the basis for these claims. In addition, if these claims about clover are true, I was to determine if this leads to a higher profit potential. In essence, I was asked to settle the question of “Are clovers worth it?”

And the research says . . . Numerous plot and grazing studies have been conducted over the years, the

Variable cost comparison for adding clover to grass pastures.* Clover stand life, years 1





Annualized cost of clover establishment

N price

Expected variable costs for grass + N pastures






The lack of a reliable improvement in gain per acre is a reflection of the variability in how much contribution the selected legume makes to forage production in a pasture. For every research trial that shows grass plus clover outyields or yields the same as a grass plus N, there is a trial that shows less total forage production in a grass plus clover field. Some grasses are more sensitive than others to competition from the clover component. Choosing the right combination of grass and clover improves the odds of success, but grass plus clover tends to be riskier in areas with less consistent rainfall, poorer soil conditions, and hotter and more subtropical weather. In fact, recent long-term research at both Texas A&M University and the Noble Research Institute in Oklahoma has shown that mixing legumes in their warm-season, grass-based pastures frequently reduces forage production, the length of the grazing season, and net returns per acre, despite reducing the need for N fertilizer. Cool-season, grass-based pastures are more reliably improved by the addition of clover, especially when that clover has the added benefit of offsetting some of the

Expected variable costs for grass + clover pastures






---------------------------- ($/acre) --------------------------

































*A spreadsheet containing the input costs and rates of fertilization is available at (http://bit.ly/grasscloverN). The cost of clover establishment ($157) was annualized assuming a 7.5 percent interest rate.

8 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

DENNIS HANCOCK The author is a professor and extension forage specialist with the University of Georgia.

poor performance associated with toxic tall fescue.

Nitrogen cost Further, one needs to consider the alternative to growing clover: N fertilizer addition. Well-timed N fertilization generally provides a substantial boost in the amount of forage produced from that pasture. Certainly, that N addition comes at an economic and, in some situations, environmental cost. But, establishing clover is not without costs, too. There is a cost to N, whether it comes from clover or out of a fertilizer spreader. To compare the costs of grass plus N and grass plus clover, I created a spreadsheet that performs a partial budget analysis. It examines the impact of N fertilizer prices and the longevity of the clover stand (see table). The latest version of this spreadsheet is available at http:// bit.ly/grasscloverN, if one would like to download it and make comparisons using their own costs and rates of fertilization. This comparison demonstrates the sensitivity of the costs to stand longevity and N price. One really needs a stand of clover to last at least three years at current N prices to breakeven. If it lasts only two years, N fertilizer prices would have to climb from about 45 cents per pound of N today to over 60 cents per pound for the clover to be cost effective. Of course, these conclusions all assume there is no loss in forage or animal production on a per-acre basis. This is likely a safe assumption where cool-season grass pastures dominate, but it is a risky or false assumption in more drought-prone or stressful locations.

Some studies since that review have shown that such a boost in cow weight gain translated to greater pregnancy and calving rates. This is encouraging, as even marginal gains in reproductive efficiency in a brood herd can result in major profitability improvements. In summary, mixtures of grass and clover generally enhance individual animal performance and usually sustain animal productivity per acre at levels that are similar to or slightly better than grass pastures fertilized with

N. The economics of using grass plus clover pastures varies from site to site, but the chances of profitable clover use are greatest when grown in cool-season grass pastures, a stand life of three or more years is expected, and N prices are moderate to high. Even in less than ideal conditions, clovers can provide additional benefits to the system that make them economically viable. Thus, the answer to the question “Are clovers worth it?” is “Usually, but not always.” •

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Use strategically This is not to say that clovers are not useful even in these more challenging pastures. Low-cost methods of establishment, such as frost seeding, can substantially improve the economic potential of their use. Clovers can fill gaps in the grass stand otherwise filled by weeds. Legumes managed for natural reseeding may also be a strategy that is advantageous. Using clovers strategically within the grazing system can have a major impact on reproductive efficiency. For example, there were five studies reviewed in the aforementioned paper by Burns and Standaert where the ADG of the cow was measured. All five measured a significant and reliable improvement in the cows’ ADG, averaging 0.5 pound per head per day more than the grass plus N comparison.



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by John Goeser Measuring fecal starch is still an underutilized tool by farmers and nutritionists. Undigested starch translates to lost animal performance and feed for the turkeys.

nomic value of the corn alone is close to $7 per day, or 7 cents per cow. Multiply this value over the course of a month or year and the dollars quickly add up.


Improve starch digestion

Avoid feeding turkeys


URKEYS and dairy farms or feedyards shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence. However, some farmers feed turkeys and birds in addition to feeding their dairy cows or feedlot cattle. This happens when corn in the diet passes through in manure because it is not sufficiently digested by the cows or cattle. In such situations, fecal starch concentrations as a percent of dry matter (DM) rise, making this measure a fantastic tool to identify performance opportunities on your farm. Dairy scientists have been teaching us to use fecal starch as a tool for years; however, it’s still an underutilized measure on the farm. Randy Shaver at the University of Wisconsin published a research paper in 2014 showing that fecal starch content is tightly related to how well grain and starch is used in the diet. The greater the starch content in manure, the less that was digested. Fred Owens and his colleagues at the University of California published a similar article for beef cattle. Both groups’ observations are logical. Yet, the money-making tip that can come from their collective work is hidden in translating manure starch into bushels of corn going unused by cattle. Here, the bushels are being applied back out to fields when manure is used as fertilizer, feeding

10 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

turkeys and birds, and adding little to your farm’s bottom line.

Wasted bushels A feed laboratory fecal starch report will show you a couple outputs: 1) fecal starch (percent of DM) and 2) predicted total-tract starch digestibility (TTSD) for beef or dairy based on the research papers cited above. There is extreme variation in fecal starch percent found in samples submitted to Rock River Labs (Watertown, Wis.). While the target is to be below 2 percent, many samples are measuring far above this value. Use the predicted TTSD value to calculate how many bushels of corn are being wasted per cow per day. For example, with 5 percent fecal starch (dairy) and 93.8 percent TTSD, we can work through the following math. Assume corn is 72 percent starch and we’re feeding a 25 percent starch diet with 55 pounds of dry matter intake per day. This equates to feeding 19.1 pounds (55 multiplied by 0.25 divided by 0.72) of corn grain equivalent per cow, or 0.34 bushels. Multiplying 0.34 bushels by 0.938 (93.8 percent TTSD) equals 0.32 bushels digested, or 0.02 bushels wasted per cow. That equates to 2 bushels of corn wasted each day for every 100 cows. Two bushels per day may not seem like much, however, this is over 100 pounds of corn fed to turkeys every day! The eco-

Rumen and total tract starch digestion are functions of seed genetics and growing environment, ensiling, and grinding. Softer textured seed genetics, longer and more extensively fermented corn silage, and finer ground corn all equate to better starch digestion and less turkey feed. Fecal starch not only translates into feed waste, but also into lost milk or meat production. In the earlier example with 93.8 percent TTSD, there are likely several pounds of milk opportunity available if starch digestion could be improved to 98 percent or better. Consider feed management changes around starch and grain use. Work with your feed mill, or if grinding on farm, strive for less than 500-micron mean particle size for dairy quality corn. With corn silage, avoid whole-plant dry matter eclipsing 37 percent and pay attention to kernel maturity during harvest. Check kernel processing at harvest and achieve a kernel processing score greater than 65 (in fresh chopped corn) for optimal starch digestion. Use a research-backed bacterial inoculant in both corn silage and high-moisture corn for rapid and full fermentation. Also ensile high-moisture corn at greater than 26 percent moisture to help your corn turn more digestible. Bring your nutritionist into the discussion and calculate the profit opportunity for your herd. There may be plenty of corn available on your farm, where wasting a bit may not seem to have an impact. However, think of waste in terms of bushels and let your dairy or feedlot cattle capture the value of these bushels instead of the turkeys. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.


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Educational events and trade shows offer attendees a chance to learn about new research, view new technologies, and network with peers as well as industry decision-makers.

Get involved:

Join a hay association by Andrew Eddie


AST November, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium in Reno, Nev. This is an annual event largely coordinated by the California Alfalfa & Forage Association with help from several other state-level alfalfa associations and extension specialists. The symposium highlights hay production practices and concepts that Western alfalfa growers face in their operations. At this year’s event, exhibitors packed the ballroom floor at the Grand Sierra Resort while industry professionals and growers gave presentations covering a range of topics, which included enhancing crop yields, center pivot efficiencies, and market status reports. The first day of the event consisted of an Alfalfa Hay Quality Workshop that highlighted the importance of pulling forage samples and described how to interpret the data you receive from the lab. Also covered in the workshop were ways to balance forage yield and quality and insights as to what dairies are searching for when they go to purchase hay for their feed rations. The next two days of the event covered a wide variety of topics that addressed grower needs and industry issues to consider as we head into the next growing season. Exhibitors inside the ballroom ranged from equipment dealers to irrigation specialists to hay exporters; each was vying to show attendees how their product could be beneficial in a forage operation. Overall, it was a great event. Having been involved in the Washing-

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ton State Hay Growers Association over the last few years, I often hear questions such as “Why should I be a part of the association?” and “Are symposiums and expos worth attending?”

Many benefits People fail to see how much these associations do for the growers and members they represent. Associations are not just a board of directors getting together, eating lunch, and telling stories; they are planning and giving their members a voice inside of local, state, and national government. They take a stand on a wide range of policies and bills that affect the forage industry and support like-minded groups with the same ideas, goals, and visions. Associations provide a platform for growers to be heard, which can sway discussions on a larger scale. Forage organizations and associations often support research efforts within a state or region; this may even include variety performance trials that help to identify the seeds that will perform best in a locality. Hay is a nonsubsidized commodity that doesn’t realize the public attention garnered by most other major crops. Associations help to educate hay consumers and the general public about how important hay and forage production are to the economy and the environmental benefits to land and water that are inherent in forage production. Many associations also provide scholarships to individuals who are pursuing degrees in agriculture or related fields. Providing scholarships to those who are

the next generation of growers and agribusiness professionals helps to ensure an educated workforce in the future that can make science-based decisions. Expos and symposiums give growers and industry professionals the opportunity to build and grow their operational networks. Businesses are able to showcase products to some of the best producers in the industry. Growers benefit from the educational sessions, which help them assess their operation and find ways to produce a better product, be more profitable, or boost efficiency.

Mixing with CEOs For exhibitors and supporters of symposiums, these events bring brand awareness, network connections, and grower feedback to the products and services that they are offering. Face-toface feedback and interaction is critical when it comes to assessing clients’ needs, concerns, and wants surrounding their service. Exhibitors also benefit from brand recognition on signage or marketing materials included with registration materials. The biggest draw and advantage of attending these types of events, for both growers and exhibitors, is the interaction with people. Networking and building relationships are key elements for the success of any business. Major educational events offer growers the chance to sit among the CEOs of major companies, giving each group a unique experience to interact and share their ideas. Hay and forage associations provide a valuable opportunity and educational resource that I believe are underutilized by many growers and agribusinesses. By providing data, information, and networking events, they can help expand and build your operation or business with a minimal investment of time and money. •

ANDREW EDDIE The author is a commercial hay grower in Moses Lake, Wash., and has his own advertising business.


Chris Britton DuPont Pioneer Account Manager


Stephen Hawk Grower


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Pioneer.com/HarvXtra 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. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark used under license from Monsanto Company. Do not export Pioneer ® brand alfalfa seed or crops containing Genuity® Roundup Ready® technology, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices, do not plant this product in Imperial County, California. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Alfalfa with the Genuity® Roundup Ready ® technology provides crop safety for over-the-top applications of labeled glyphosate herbicides when applied according to label directions. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. ACCIDENTAL APPLICATION OF INCOMPATIBLE HERBICIDES TO THIS VARIETY COULD RESULT IN TOTAL CROP LOSS. Pioneer ® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents. ® TM SM , , Trademarks and service marks of DuPont, Pioneer or their respective owners. © 2017 PHII. DUPPFO17044VA

Farming legacy continues despite tragedy by Ann Behling


NDY Stock believes many farmers could do a better job of planning the long-term future of their businesses. “Take time to carefully plan and openly communicate your estate plans to your heirs,” Stock said. “Surround yourself with good people, such as a wise accountant, lawyer, and financial adviser, to help guide you through the process, and tell the next generation what your intentions are for passing the business down.” Stock, the owner of Stock Hay & Grain, was fortunate that, before his parents died unexpectedly in 2006, they laid out a plan that enabled their children to keep the farm in the family. Andy was 27 years old then and farming with his dad. Wayne and Sharmon Stock were murdered in their home on Easter Sunday that year. The homicides of the well-liked and prosperous couple shocked the small community of Murdock, Neb., 40 miles southwest of Omaha. Two Wisconsin teenagers pleaded guilty to killing the couple and were given life sentences.

A wise teacher Of his parents, Stock said, “We enjoyed each other’s company, and I admired them very much. I enjoyed working with my dad on the farm, and his goal was always to teach me something.” He remembered a time in his early 20s when he and his dad were doing paperwork and he wanted to hurry up and get the bookkeeping tasks done so he could go out with his friends. “Dad looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to sit here and learn this because someday I’m not going to be around to help you.’” Stock recalled his dad as an excellent mentor and a patient man. “I know of some operations where the dads don’t want to give up control of anything to Stock Hay & Grain

14 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

the next generation, even though their adult children might be in their 40s or 50s,” he said. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Stock and his dad. “In my early to mid20s, my dad told me I needed to make some decisions, including some tough ones. He gave me a few pieces of ground to farm and said, ‘I’ll be here to help, but you’re going to learn how to manage and make decisions.’ Looking back, that was a huge benefit that a lot of young farmers don’t get.” Ironically, a few months before his dad’s death, Stock asked his dad if he had a transition plan in place. The younger Stock was prompted to ask the question because of a weekend seminar he had recently attended through the Nebraska LEAD Program. Offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the two-year program teaches Nebraskans to advocate for agriculture through seminars on policy, marketing, economics, and technology. At that time, the elder Stock said he had a will but added that he should look at updating it. “That was the last time we talked about it,” Stock recalled. “A few months later, he was gone.”

A smart estate plan After the tragedy, Andy, along with his sister, Tammy Vance, and brother, Steve, were committed to continuing their parents’ legacy of farming. Then, as now, the farm consists of 1,300 acres of nonirrigated alfalfa, alfalfa-grass mixtures, corn, and soybeans.

The acres, which are a combination of owned and rented, are split evenly between the two-row crops and forages. Following the instructions of their parents’ will, which was written when Andy was 5 years old, all assets were put into a trust and were to be divided evenly between the three siblings once Andy turned 30 years old. Control of the farm was given to a local attorney and banker, whom the elder Stocks trusted very much. “At first I thought that arrangement was going to be awful,” he recalled. “But in hindsight, it was perfect because it took a lot of the business decisions that needed to be made off my shoulders. I was the operator, and they ran the business. The way my parents set things up also gave me time to grieve. My mom and dad had a plan, and it worked the way it was designed to work.” Stock also credited a very supportive family, network of friends, and the community for helping him to make it through those first few years. “My ANN BEHLING The author is an agricultural writer based in Northfield, Minn.

brother-in-law, John Vance, was a tremendous help. He worked for the phone company at night and then came out and helped me during the day and on weekends. Several men in the community became mentors to me. In those early days, I asked a lot of questions.”

Gaining full ownership After the trust expired, Andy and his siblings were free to do as they wished with the farm. With the support of his brother and sister, Stock and his wife, Cassy, were committed to owning and operating it. The young couple also knew it was a great place to raise their son, Elliott, and daughter, Hailey. “Not farming was never an option for us, and we were going to do our best to make it work,” Stock said. “My siblings gave us full control and told us to manage it the way we wanted to.” Over time, the Stock children negotiated a price for the farmland, buildings, and machinery via several meetings. They hired a consultant to aid the negotiations and to keep things amicable. Stock’s brother and sister requested a fair price for the business, but not 100 percent of market value. “There’s no way I would be farming if that’s what they had asked for,” he said. “Thankfully, my brother and sister were willing to participate and work with me. The continuation of the farm and my parents’ legacy was more important to them than money. I’m grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me.” Another benefit of those friendly negotiations: “Our relationships have remained excellent, and we happily

gather for holiday meals and other celebrations.” Healthy crop prices from 2006 to 2015 helped Stock, too. “Things might look a whole lot different if I’d bought the farm within the past two years,” he noted.

“Take time to openly communicate your estate plans to heirs,” advised Andy Stock. Pictured here are Cassy (wife) and Andy along with their children Hailey and Elliott.

High-quality hay Stock puts up dairy-quality hay in 3- by 4- by 8-foot bales and ships it to customers in Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Much of it is delivered to customers as needed. He shoots for a relative feed value (RFV) of 150 to 200, depending on which customer it’s going to. “A lot of the dairy producers I work with don’t require quite as high of test numbers as they used to, and they don’t request relative forage quality (RFQ) numbers,” Stock said. Some of his dairy clients also buy his lower-quality hay for dry cows and heifers. The balance is sold in round bales to local beef producers. He usually takes his first cutting around May 10 and cuts four more times at about 24-day intervals. “I don’t go by the calendar as much as I do crop conditions,” Stock explained. “If I’ve got buds coming on at 20 days, I’ll cut. Sometimes it takes 30 days to get to bud stage.” His yields average 5 tons per acre, and repeat customers buy around 90 percent of his production each year. “Just about

everything I produce is already sold as it’s coming off the field,” Stock said. In 2017, a long-time customer called Stock to tell him he had just sold his dairy herd and retired. “Fortunately, I had other customers to call on — some who had only bought a load or two in the past — and I was able to move more hay to them.” The alfalfa producer keeps detailed records and knows on a weekly basis which customer(s) need hay. “I try to make purchasing it as easy as I can for them,” Stock said. He also likes to share his experiences with others regarding estate planning. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about it, and older farmers put it off and put it off. But it is so important to have a plan and to communicate your wishes to the next generation.” Stock recommends securing good advisers whom you trust. “My dad surrounded himself with a lot of good people to work with. I still work with most of them today.” •

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 15

There’s power in polywire by Johnny Rogers


ASTURE-based livestock production at first glance is a simple system. Producers use herbivores to harvest forage and create something they can sell (or enjoy). In the past, it has been typical to use a continuous grazing system where livestock will remain on the same pasture for an extended period, but this can lead to poor forage utilization. Livestock will roam large pastures as they seek out their preferred plant species and leave others to become degraded, mature, and unpalatable. Many producers do not appreciate the value of grass until they do not have enough during periods of drought or while feeding through winter. Numerous studies have evaluated the cost of grazing versus feeding hay or other stored forages; in most cases, extending the grazing season is profitable. Farmers will spend large sums of money to harvest, store, and feed hay. In most cases, they would not consider giving cattle full access to stored supplies. Why not do the same when utilizing your pastures?

Start slow The first step to changing any production practice is the most difficult and that is why it comes about slowly. Some folks will decide they are tired of putting up hay all summer and feeding it all winter. Others will want to manage their grazing systems to improve 16 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

soil health. Regardless of the circumstances, this decision will serve as a catalyst for change and lead to another level of management intensity. Many graziers use temporary fence to strip graze stockpiled tall fescue, which provides their livestock with superior nutrition at a lower cost compared to hay feeding. Strip grazing stockpiled fall forage growth is a great place to start adaptive grazing management. Subdividing large pastures with temporary fence can offer solutions on the quest for improved efficiency. While some have adopted this management strategy, many producers are reluctant to make the change. Below we will review some of the proven steps needed to successfully implement the use of temporary fence for improved pasture utilization. Keep it simple: Too often producers are overwhelmed by the complexity of some grazing systems. They read and/or attend grazing workshops and discover graziers who have a multitude of paddocks and frequently move livestock to fresh forage. However, most producers do not start with sophisticated systems, and in many cases only a few temporary subdivisions could yield improvements. Moving cattle once weekly can offer major advantages over not rotating livestock at all. Keep it simple and use temporary fence to divide existing pastures in half, allowing livestock to graze one section and

then the other. This will be a good start and enables the livestock and people to become familiar with the new approach. Get educated: Most every management change requires learning something new. Producers will want to inventory the type of forage they have and how it can be used to nourish their livestock. Fortunately, there are numerous materials, workshops, grazing schools, and fellow producers to help the fledgling grazier. Remember, all grazing systems are unique, and graziers must adapt the information they gather to their farm. Trying to transplant a successful grazing system from one farm to another can often lead to disappointment. Even if the soils, forages, and livestock are the same, other factors could be much different. One farm may have full-time labor while the other must complete most of the work on nights and weekends. Don’t forget the “human factor” in a grazing plan. Don’t bargain hunt: It is important to resist the temptation to buy the lowest price temporary fencing tools. While this may seem like a good approach, the low price can come with low quality and a short productive life. Good-quality polywire, reels, and posts will reduce frustration and provide good livestock control. Talk to more experienced graziers to help identify the best products and their availability. Fencing equipment is similar to trucks in that each producer will have their preference. Trying a limited quantity of different products will help to find the best tools for a given farm. More power: Improved electric fence technology has made it a popular choice for permanent perimeter and interior fencing. Permanent electric fence makes the addition of temporary fencing much easier. However, connecting temporary fence to an existing system will boost the workload for the energizer; this is referred to as resistance. Thus, as more temporary fence is used, a more powerful energizer may be needed to control livestock. A fence compass or voltmeter can JOHNNY ROGERS The author coordinates North Carolina State’s Amazing Grazing Program and has his own cattle operation in Roxboro, N.C.

assist with measuring fence performance, and the output will be measured in volts or kilovolts. The minimum charge required to control livestock under good conditions (few shorts and minimal vegetation) is 5 kilovolts for cattle and 7 kilovolts for sheep or goats. Energizer sizes are measured in joules and this would be similar to the horsepower rating on tractors. Choosing the correct energizer for the job is vital, and experience has shown that 1 joule for 10 to 40 fenced acres is a good starting point. Smaller farms could use a 2- to 3-joule unit while larger acreages may need a 20-joule rated energizer or larger. It is wise to have more “horsepower” than the minimum because over time fences develop more shorts and extra power is needed to control livestock. The heavier workload for the energizer can also expose other weaknesses. Improper grounding is a common fault discovered when troubleshooting fence systems. A minimum of three ground rods placed 10 feet apart is a requirement and larger energizers will need more ground rods. Train livestock (and wildlife): Livestock need to learn to respect temporary electric fence. Do not place them in a very small temporary paddock during training. Using a polywire to subdivide a large pasture and ensuring that it has ample power (5 kilovolts for cattle) is a great starting point. Livestock can inspect the new item and receive a lesson when they get too close. Allowing space for them to retreat from the polywire is also important. So, too, is visibility, and white polywire seems easier for livestock to see even in low-light conditions. Remember, this is a mental barrier for livestock and they will develop respect for temporary fence in a short time. Small ruminants such as sheep or goats will require multiple strands of polywire for good control. Other options like electric net fence ensures livestock control and provides predator protection. Wildlife will learn to respect a well-energized fence except for rare occasions. Once livestock are trained to polywire, it has numerous uses. For example, many producers will use it to move, sort, construct temporary lanes to gather livestock from large pastures, and exclude livestock from sensitive areas or a storm damaged permanent fence. Don’t abort the mission: Temporary fence is relatively new technology and like all technology it comes with a

learning curve. It is important for graziers to attend workshops and develop a support network from educators, producers, and industry representatives who can help them adapt these new tools to their farms. As challenges arise, ask questions and find the solution. Share your experiences with others so they can benefit from your knowledge. There will be points of frustration, but continue to learn and move forward. The producers who have adopted these tools cannot

imagine their farm life without them. Many inputs exist to improve forage production, and growing more forage is important. However, the efficiency by which grazing animals harvest this resource must be considered. Grass has value, and capturing its value in animal production is a measure of grazing system success. Using temporary fence and adopting adaptive grazing management will improve soil health, enhance water infiltration, and make livestock easier to manage. •




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*CropSaver Hay Preservative is not available in California. Offer good through March 31, 2018. Program subject to change or cancellation without notice. See your New Holland dealer for complete details and qualifications.

©2018 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. New Holland is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates. CropSaver is a trademark of CNH Industrial America LLC. Any trademarks referred to herein in association with goods and/or services of companies other than CNH Industrial America LLC are the property of those respective companies. www.newholland.com/na

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 17 1/26/18 9:32 AM

E6541_HTEC_NHA_2018_CropSaver_HFGrower_Half_Island_FA.indd 1


Glen Aiken


Recently retired research scientist at the USDA-ARS Forage-Animal Production Research Unit in Lexington, Ky.

HFG: Was it design or chance that led you to a research career in livestock-forage agriculture? GA: I would say a little of both. My father sold sausage casings, so I spent a great deal of time in my youth in meat packing plants. My grandfather was a cattle producer, and my best memories are from the time I spent with him on his farm. I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University in animal science. My original plan was to get accepted to vet school, which like so many others was beyond the reach of my grade point average. I took a couple of forage courses along with the required animal nutrition and feeds and feeding courses, and it was from those courses that I gained an interest in forage-based livestock production. Wanting to take advantage of the oil boom in the late ‘70s, I spent four years after my undergraduate studies working for an offshore gas production company. After the oil experience and getting married, I decided to go to graduate school. I went back to Texas A&M to conduct master’s research that evaluated weight gain efficiency and forage utilization of yearling horses (not that I am a horse person) on bermudagrass pasture. In my first semester, I took a graduate forage course taught by the late Billy Conrad, and it was a field trip to the Texas A&M Research and Education Center at Overton that had a major impact on my thinking. Monte Rouquette, a forage physiologist located at the center, gave us a tour and discussed his grazing research program. It was at this point that I decided to pursue a career in forage and grazing research, and I never looked back! Through advice from Conrad and Rouquette, I obtained a Ph.D. in forage agronomy from the University of Florida, working with Buddy Pitman and Carroll Chambliss. HFG: Having spent much of your career at the USDAARS Forage-Animal Production Research Unit in Lexington, Ky., it’s not surprising that a large part of your research has focused on tall fescue. What component of that research has been the most fulfilling? GA: We were successful in developing management approaches to mitigating fescue toxicosis in cattle exposed to toxic tall fescue by: 1) suppressing seedhead emergence of toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue by spraying Chaparral herbicide in the early spring, 2) feeding soy hulls, and 3) overseeding toxic fescue with clovers. It was also fulfilling to determine with another ARS scientist, Jimmy Klotz, that the vascular systems of cattle exhib-

iting fescue toxicosis can recover in five to seven weeks. I was also fortunate to collaborate with Michael Flythe and Brittany Harlow in conducting studies that demonstrated some breakdown of toxic alkaloids by rumen microbes. This research is ongoing to better understand the extent of ruminal degradation of ergot alkaloids. HFG: Has there been a research question that you regretted not finding an acceptable answer for? GA: I always wanted to initiate a research project that thoroughly evaluated co-product feeds (soy hulls, wet and dry distillers grains, bakery waste, brewers grains, and so forth) and compare nutritive values and animal responses. It is these feeds that are being fed on the farm, even though the co-product feed of choice changes from region to region, depending on source and supply. We know the chemical composition of most of these feeds, but I think the feed value could really be enhanced with small additions of either corn or soybean meal and still be cost-effective feed supplements to pastured livestock. I wish I had done more of this research. HFG: Where do you see the current state of tall fescue management? What are producers doing well and where are many of them still falling short? GA: We know how to manage tall fescue to get the most out of production and utilization. There are more good cattle producers who are planting nontoxic endophyte-infected tall fescues, while there are some who are managing around fescue toxicosis by either interseeding clovers into toxic fescue, chemically suppressing toxic seedheads, or feeding co-product feeds to raise the plane of nutrition for their fescue cattle. However, there are still a number of producers who accept the lower level of animal performance from toxic fescue. I am not sure that will ever change. HFG: What do you feel the next focus should be for tall fescue research? Any thoughts on the effort to breed fescue toxicosis-tolerant cattle? GA: I strongly believe that the project launched by the USDA-ARS Forage-Animal Production (Lexington, Ky.) and Meat Animal (Clay Center, Neb.) Research Units and the Animal and Food Sciences Department at the University of Kentucky to identify ergot alkaloid-tolerant cattle will be extremely worthwhile. There could be some very beneficial technologies developed from this effort.

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

18 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

HFG: Although you have always held a research appointment, it’s been clear that you put a high value on producer interaction and education. Why do you feel this is important for researchers? GA: Livestock producers do not subscribe to research journals and there are fewer extension specialists to disseminate new information and technologies to them. Why put effort and funding into developing new technologies and solutions if it will never reach stakeholders? Also, how can you have knowledge and understanding of the problems and obstacles of an industry if you do not interact with your stakeholders?

HFG: Aside from tall fescue, what current forage research do you think will have significant ramifications in the future? GA: There is some very exciting research that is underway: 1) identifying natural plant secondary metabolites with potential to replace synthetic growth promoters, 2) genetic markers for identifying cattle with disease resistance, 3) development of new vaccines, and 4) team efforts between animal, plant, and soil scientists to enhance grassland ecosystems. HFG: Though the University of Kentucky has always been a shining forage star, do you have any concerns that resources (people and money) being put into forage research and teaching by universities and USDA are dwindling? GA: Productive soils continue to be covered by concrete as the world population grows. The challenges to sustainably produce food as we move forward are obvious to the agricultural community but, unfortunately, not the consumers. Up to this point, the Green Revolution can be credited with meeting the challenges over the last decades. We must generate new technologies for increasing production efficiencies as we move toward 2050. I find it very disconcerting that funding of agricultural research is declining when there is such a critical need for research.

HFG: Now that you’ve retired from the ARS facility in Lexington, what are your plans and do you intend to stay involved in the forage-livestock industry? GA: Actually, I have accepted a position as director of the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. I will no longer be conducting forage and animal research, but will be assisting those who do as well as those in other agricultural disciplines. HFG: Favorite food? GA: That would have to be medium-rare beef. Some cuts of beef are better than others, but they are all good! • B:7.5” T:7.5” S:7.5”

Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. Roundup Ready® Alfalfa is subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. © 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 19


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When nothing’s in between, there’s room for more.


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by Adam Verner

Invest in winter harvester maintenance


HE onset of winter gives most of us plenty of time to work in our shops, which sometimes are nicer than the house. Now is the time to go over our equipment from head to toe to make sure it is ready to go when temperatures reboot to something warmer. Most people have a servicing plan that they initiate themselves; others rely on their equipment dealers. Some manufacturers even offer incentives to bring machines to your local dealer for service. These incentives include parts’ discounts on work completed at the dealer and for parts that are ordered to stock your farm shop. One of the most extensive winter checks that we perform is on forage harvesters and heads. This inspection can take a few days, depending on the chopper. Our technician goes over each machine with guidance from a 20-page checklist, looking for loose and worn parts along the way. The list is too involved for most owners, but we encourage those who want to help with the inspection to do so. This way the operator can become more familiar with their cutter. This isn’t a process that will work for everyone and every machine, but we have several customers who prefer to be there and help while the inspection is being completed. Dealers offer different options when

20 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

it comes to completing winter forage harvester service. Most dealerships, including mine, find that our mechanics are far more productive in our own shops rather than on the farm with the customer. So, some dealers have offered to split or completely pay for the hauling cost of the machine to and from the dealership. The cost of shipping the unit can usually be a wash if you must pay for a couple service calls to your farm to complete the work.

Check the cab One of the easiest places to start a forage harvester inspection is in the cab. Operator comfort on those 12-plushour days is important. Be sure to check your windshield wipers, fluid, and the often-neglected cab air filter. Clean the air intake as well. While inspecting the top of the cab, it’s a good idea to double-check all of the air conditioner components, including the evaporator and fans. Once in the cab, remove all the panels on the console to inspect the wiring and for cleaning. Make sure you have some spare fuses stored away in the panel for emergencies. Double-check all of the lights to make sure they are functioning properly, too. We will come back to the calibration part once we have finished inspecting the rest of the machine.

Next, let’s get to the meat of the cutter — the intake system. Each manufacturer has its own way of feeding, cutting, and processing, but the end result is basically the same. Starting at the feed rolls, check the bearings and the fluid levels on the gearboxes. This is also a good time to check the universal joints, which supply power to the rolls. The smooth roll scraper on the back can often be overlooked during the season, so winter is a good time to flip or change the bar. Also, it’s the perfect time to check the electrical components of the feed roll housing, namely the metal detector and rock protection to make sure they do not have any damage and are functioning properly.

Stay sharp Once the intake is complete we usually move on to the drum, inspecting its bearing and knives. We typically don’t have to change the knives until operaADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.

tors finish with their winter annuals; however, every part of the country and machine is different, so be sure to check knife wear and make sure the nut bars are in good shape. Most of our customers choose to start out the year with a new grinding stone and there is no easier time to take it apart than when the intake housing is off the harvester. We also usually manually grease all the grease banks and fittings as well as inspect the auto lube system to make sure every fitting is taking grease. Whether the kernel processor (KP) is in or out of the machine, it needs to be checked. Make sure that wear liners are not worn through. Also, look over the KP rolls, springs, and bearings, checking for any play, chips, or wear. Now is the best time to order these parts, not two weeks before you need to be cutting corn. Inspecting the blower is when I usually find out how well the machine was cleaned up during the fall based on how much buildup is on the paddles and in the accelerator housing. Be sure to check these bearings close as they drive other aspects of the machine. Also, when inspecting the pulleys that drive each belt, make sure there is nothing packed in the grooves of the pulley. This can be a source of vibration that is easily fixed by just cleaning them out.

who has cut silage. Be sure to do a diligent check-over of the engine well. The engine mounting bolts are often overlooked but take as much abuse as any bolts on the unit. The complete hydraulic system can be complicated and may require extra assistance from your dealer to check for the correct hydraulic pressures on the test ports. Jacking up the cutter to test and calibrate all drive functions is

also a good practice. Finally, running the complete system to calibrate the lifting cylinders, drum angle, central lubrication, and spout are important. Be sure to retorque all wheels and drive components, and make sure all fluids are at correct operational levels. Proper winter maintenance on a forage harvester is lot of work, but time spent in the shop will mean more uptime cutting in the field this summer. •

More power Moving on to the transition and spout, the worm gear and spout pivot point are important places to inspect closely for wear. Check the liners in the spout and the hydraulic cylinder on the flipper for wear and functionality. Also, many of the newer harvesters are using cameras and winter is a good time to clean them up and make sure there is no damage to the cables running up the spout. The drive components and main gearbox are important parts of the harvester. Along with the cooling section, they help determine how many tons of forage are processed each day. Be sure to check the main drive belt for any worn spots or separation, both of which can be the source of vibration. Most main-drive gearboxes have some sort of filtration system that needs to be changed annually. Winter is also a good time to inspect the precleaning screen and brushes on the air intake if installed. This screen is one part that has caused at least a few hours of downtime for everyone February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 21


by Jesse Bussard Diversifying forage inventories is the key to pulling through a drought. That might include planting annual forage crops or perennial warm-season grasses like big bluestem (pictured).

Drought lessons


ANCHERS in Montana and surrounding areas were hit with an unprecedented drought in 2017. For many, it was the second year in a row of such dire conditions. The wildfires that burned through eastern Montana in July only made matters worse. “A lot of ranchers, especially those in the east, had already gone through their extra hay supplies last winter after they hadn’t been able to get a harvest in the previous year,” said Forage Extension Specialist Emily Glunk. “This left them with no reserves going into 2017.” As part of the Montana State University Extension team, Glunk said she spoke with several ranchers during the past drought who reported an inability to get even a single harvest off their hayfields. “The western and central portions of the state fared a little better; however, yields were still down significantly,” said Glunk. “With people who had adequate irrigation available, yields were not affected as badly.” Along with ranchers being incapable of putting up hay in many circumstances, Glunk noted hay supplies became scarce across the state. Despite the hardships, however, Glunk said, “Farmers and ranchers are resilient and the agricultural community is close-knit. Many ended up baling or grazing their cereal grain fields.”

Diversify forages For those ranchers who didn’t have access to such alternative forage 22 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

sources, Glunk said many purchased hay from out of the region. Others were fortunate to receive donations thanks to the relief efforts of those in surrounding states. For some ranchers, however, destocking was the only option. “We had some issues where not enough forage could be found,” said Glunk. “Sadly, some ranches had to sell off parts of their herd causing a lot of the auction houses to become overloaded with cattle.” On the extension side, Glunk said she and her associates traveled the state hosting talks and workshops on drought and fire management. In addition, she noted, MSU Extension worked hard to improve the availability of information and publications related to ranching in drought conditions to producers. Those are available at http://bit.ly/ HFG-MTdrought. Going forward, Glunk said she believes diversification of forage species is going to be a key strategy for ranchers to better adapt and manage drought. “Using a mix of cool-season and warm-season forages, both annuals and perennials, can help to prepare your pastures and hayfields for inclement weather,” said Glunk. “Warm-season grasses are generally more water efficient than cool-season species and they produce a little better in high-temperature, low-moisture conditions. This can help to supplement perennial forage fields that perhaps aren’t performing well.” Glunk said Montana ranchers must

become better prepared and plan accordingly if they are to make it through future droughts. “When deciding what to seed in your fields, consider planting some alternative forages that might work well no matter what the weather ends up looking like,” said Glunk. “Annual forages, in particular, can be very useful in dry years.” In lower elevation areas, warm-season species such as sudangrass, sorghumsudangrass varieties, teff, or millet may offer viable annual forage options. In higher elevations, where growing seasons are shorter and the nights are relatively cool, growing trials have determined cereal grains and other cool-season forages are the best annual choices.

Changing weather According to research published in a report from the Montana Farmers Union in early 2016, studies have shown that since 1900, the average temperature in the state has risen by 2.4°F and the number of days considered “extremely hot” has jumped threefold. Additionally, eastern Montana receives 10 percent less precipitation than it did 100 years ago. Climate models are forecasting this trend to likely continue and possibly even intensify in the years ahead. The global average temperature is projected to rise between 2°F to 11.5°F by 2100. In Montana, data shows this statistic is happening 1.8 times faster than the global average. “Hopefully, we will get some relief this year and not see a drought for the third year in a row,” said Glunk. “But unfortunately, that’s out of our control. If we do have a good year, the best thing ranchers can do is make sure they have enough forage in reserve to prepare for the following year because you never know what the weather is going to be.” • JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.

A case for evening feeding by Lauren Peterson


ITH rising market prices for live calves, staying up all night to supervise first-calf heifers during calving season is well worth the effort to many producers. A recent Oklahoma State University Cow/Calf Corner newsletter notes that while supervision at calving does significantly cut calf mortality, it is often less effective in the middle of the night. “The easiest and most practical method of inhibiting nighttime calving at present is by feeding cows at night; the physiological mechanism is unknown, but some hormonal effect may be involved,” says Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist Glenn Selk. Studies on rumen motility have shown a decline in rumen contractions within hours of parturition. Selk explains that intraruminal pressure falls the last two weeks of gestation, with a rapid drop during calving. By feeding at night, it’s thought that intraruminal pressures are more apt to rise at night and decline in the daytime. Dubbed the Konefal method after Canadian rancher Gus Konefal’s observations in the 1970s, this concept has spawned a number of studies. Selk discusses a Canadian follow-up study on 104 Hereford cows. Of the group fed at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., 38.4 percent delivered calves during the day, compared to 79.6 percent daytime births from cows fed at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. A more substantial study was conducted on 1,331 cows across 15 Iowa farms. Fed once daily at dusk, 85 percent of the calves were born between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Selk also lists research conducted by researchers at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center in Hays, Kan. There, scientists spent five consecutive years recording the time of calving (to the nearest half hour) of

Time of birth

6 a.m. - 10 a.m. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. 2 a.m. - 6 a.m.

Percent of calves born

34.23 21.23 29.83 8.41 4.4 1.91

their herd of spring-calving, crossbred cows. Forage sorghum hay was fed daily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The results were as follows: “It is interesting to note that 85.28 percent of the calves were born between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.,” Selk says. “This is very similar to Iowa data when cows were fed at dusk.” The data also revealed that most of the herd typically calved within three hours of their times from previous years. Selk concludes that feeding forage in the early evening undoubtedly influenced the number of cows calving in the daylight hours. “Records here at Oklahoma State University indicated that when cows had constant access to large round bales but were fed supplements at about 5 p.m., 70 percent of the calves were delivered between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.,” Selk adds.

For operations that offer this roundthe-clock feeding, Selk suggests putting round bales and ring feeders inside a fenced enclosure. Producers can then provide access at dusk and throughout the evening before moving them to an adjacent pasture the following morning. “Anecdotal reports have indicated that this method has the desired results with a higher percentage of calves born in the daylight,” Selk states. •

LAUREN PETERSON The author is a senior at Kansas State University and was the 2017 Hay & Forage Grower summer intern.

Then you better take care of me and that means better feed. The nutrition is in the leaf so use a DARF rake. Less shatter means more nutrition = more profit.


800-342-9222 NikkelIronWorks.com February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 23


by Gonzalo Ferreira

Hitting the corn plant density sweet spot


ARMERS often boost corn plant densities as a means to maximize forage yields or replenish silage stocks. In the past few years, our team at Virginia Tech has performed several on-farm plant density research projects to evaluate the impact of changing plant densities on forage yield and quality. Here are some of our results, which elicit a number of considerations when changing corn planting rates.

Forage yield A higher corn plant density can boost forage yields (see table), although this response was not always observed in every study. The typical observation was that higher corn plant densities resulted in smaller plant weights. However, the smaller biomass per plant is often compensated by more plants per acre, resulting in similar forage yields. There is a balance between the number of plants and the weight of the individual plants. This balance, which determines the existence of differential forage yields, is “broken” depending on maturity at harvesting. Based on observations from our studies, when a crop is harvested at early stages of maturity (namely early dent or close to 70 percent moisture), a greater number of plants cannot compensate for the smaller weight of the individual plants. Therefore, silage yield is similar.

When a crop is harvested at a more advanced maturity (half-milkline or closer to 65 percent moisture), the larger plant has more grain weight, leading to a yield advantage for higher plant densities. If the forage grower is planning an early harvest of the corn crop, then raising the population of plants to maximize forage yield might not be beneficial.

Kernel development A higher corn plant density typically reduces the number of kernel rows per ear and the number of kernels per row within an ear. Kernel development is a determinant of forage yield and quality, so having a reduction in the number of kernels per plant does not seem very appealing to the farmer. However, we still need to consider that there are more plants per acre at higher planting densities, which typically translates into greater yields of grain and possibly starch. Therefore, don’t base you opinion of potential silage yield and quality on the appearance of the ears.

Nutritional quality As mentioned above, higher plant densities typically result in plants with a lower number of developed kernels per ear. Fewer developed kernels are often viewed as having reduced concentrations of starch and higher concentrations

Effect of corn planting rate on silage yield and forage quality Planting rate

Final plant density, 1,000 plants/acre Plant dry weight, lbs./plant Dry matter yield, tons/acre Kernels per ear, count Silage pH Ash, % Crude protein, % Neutral detergent fiber (NDF), % Acid detergent lignin, % Starch, % 30-h in vitro NDF digestibility, % of NDF





22.3 0.83 8.8 720 3.77 4.3 10.2 39.9 2.1 29.7 45.3

26.7 0.74 9.5 641 3.77 4.2 10.6 40.3 2.1 31.2 43.3

32.6 0.63 10.4 570 3.78 4.2 10.5 41.6 2.2 30.1 43.8

39.2 0.56 11.5 553 3.80 4.3 10.3 41.4 2.4 29.2 42.8

Source: Ferreira and Teets (2017). Professional Animal Scientist 33:420-425

24 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

of fiber (in other words, lower energy concentrations). Contrary to this belief, several recent studies have shown that boosting corn plant density has minimum (if any) effects on the nutritional composition and the digestibility of the resulting silages. Despite several recent studies evaluating the effect of plant density on forage yield and quality, only a few have evaluated its interaction with fertilizer management strategies. Our research team performed an on-farm study in southwest Virginia last summer (2017) where corn was planted at three densities (26,000, 30,000, or 35,000 plants or acre) with either a single (45 pounds per acre) or double (90 pounds per acre) pass of nitrogen right before elongation of the internodes. To our surprise, doubling the sidedressed nitrogen raised the forage yield by only 5 percent. It is worth to mentioning that a very severe drought around silking time was observed during the summer in southwest Virginia. This may have masked any beneficial effects of additional nitrogen fertilization on forage yields. Despite the severe drought, the higher planting rates did not result in lower forage yields. We are still analyzing the samples for nutritional quality so stay tuned for future updates.

Cost Planting more corn seeds per acre will raise input expenses. Whether this practice is economically viable will depend almost entirely on obtaining better forage yields. A simple partial budget and sensitivity analysis will help decide if boosting plant densities makes economic sense. In conclusion, higher corn plant densities can improve forage yields without negatively affecting the nutritional quality of the silage. The likelihood of better forage yields is highly influenced by environmental conditions and maturity at harvest. Lower forage yields per acre due to higher plant densities are unlikely under typical growing conditions. • GONZALO FERREIRA The author is assistant professor, department of dairy science, Virginia Tech.


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Roundup Ready ® is a registered trademark 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 subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. © 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC

Sold on sericea hay (and other stuff) by Mike Rankin


MEET a lot of people at forage meetings during the course of a year. Never has anyone broached the subject of sericea lespedeza . . . that’s until I met Reed Edwards at a Georgia hay conference in 2016. Edwards is one of those farmers who is not afraid to move outside the box of accepted practices or try whatever the latest extension recommendation might be. Either way, he’s going to forge his own path. There’s currently a lot going on at Edwards’ 90-acre Fox Pipe Farm. In addition to harvesting sericea lespedeza hay for the past 10 years, Edwards is also in the process of ridding his farm of toxic tall fescue in favor of one of the new novel endophyte varieties, interseeding alfalfa into his current bermudagrass fields, sprigging a new field of Tifton 85 bermudagrass, and growing teff grass. The Laurens, S.C., farmer doesn’t have a herd of beef cows or stockers. He breeds, trains, and maintains horses; it’s a passion he inherited from his father. Edwards needs both pasture and hay, and after a couple of dry years in 2005 and 2006, he started looking for a better answer. It came in the form of sericea lespedeza, a deep-rooted, bloat resistant, perennial legume. Edwards currently has 15 acres of 26 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

sericea that he cuts three times per year for hay. He plans to establish another 20 acres in 2018. “Most of my customers have Boer show goats or dairy goats,” Edwards said. “I also have a few horse customers who have tried it with pretty good results, but the horse folks are not too adventuresome. Those who have tried it tell me their horses eat it first,” he added. Edwards feeds sericea hay to his own horses, which is why he initially planted the crop. It’s not by coincidence that goat customers are willing to drive two to three hours to pick up Edwards’ sericea hay. “One of the desirable qualities of sericea lespedeza is its anthelmintic properties for small ruminants,” said Don Ball, retired Auburn University forage agronomist and a recognized authority on the warm-season legume species. “The research is pretty compelling that sericea controls internal parasites and is a good alternative to chemical dewormers.”

Slow starter Edwards establishes his sericea lespedeza in the spring, after the risk of a heavy frost has passed. “The first field I established using about 25 pounds of seed per acre,” he said. “The second

field I used 40 pounds per acre, seeding half in one direction and half going perpendicular to the first pass.” According to Ball, a thick stand is desired for hay production, resulting in plants that have finer stems. Hulled, scarified sericea seed is small (335,000 seeds per pound) and slow to establish. Being a legume, sericea also needs to be planted with the proper bacterial inoculant. Edwards uses a double-cultipacker seeder to ensure the seed is not placed deeper than 1/4 inch. “My biggest challenge was getting rid of the native bermudagrass prior to seeding,” Edwards said. To prepare his newest field for seeding, Edwards applied glyphosate twice in the fall. He then planted winter peas and grazed those off the following March. Next, he made another application of glyphosate along with 2,4-D amine. After waiting two weeks, he disked, smoothed the field, and seeded the sericea. During the year of establishment, Edwards applied 2,4-DB amine about six weeks after seeding to control broadleaves like pigweed and then followed with a grass herbicide two weeks later. In late summer, he applied Pursuit to help control persistent broadleaves. In established sericea, dodder and bermudagrass have been Edwards’

Reed Edwards uses a hygrometer to measure relative humidity next to his wilted windrows. Once the humidity reaches 60 percent, he deems the forage ready to bale.

most challenging weed issues. For dodder, he uses a pre-emergence application of Prowl H2O in the spring. Once sericea is established, stands can last for many years. Edwards’ first field is now over 10 years old. “Sericea lespedeza growers are not blessed with a lot of improved variety options,” Edwards said. He gets his seed from Sims Brothers Seed Farm (Union Springs, Ala.) where they grow and harvest 1,000 acres of sericea seed. Sims Brothers is the exclusive marketer of AU Grazer, which was developed at Auburn University and is the newest improved variety available. It was the first variety with grazing tolerance, but it is also good for haymaking. Sims Broth-

ers has been in the seed business since the late 1940s. In addition to selling AU Grazer sericea seed, they also produce and market sericea lespedeza pellets. Tom Sims, the company’s owner, said he sells seed to both the domestic and export markets. “The domestic market has quadrupled in recent years because of the parasite control qualities now known to be associated with sericea,” Sims said. “We sold out of seed this year (2017) in August and that hasn’t happened since 2012.” In the Plains states, common sericea lespedeza has become a noxious weed that is often rejected by grazing livestock. Ball, however, noted that the improved varieties being grown by Edwards and

A diversified crop of annual forage grasses and legumes was strip-grazed by Edward’s horses. The annual forages were being used as a smother crop to eliminate toxic tall fescue, the prominent cool-season grass in South Carolina’s Piedmont region.

others are “nothing like the plants being cursed in the Plains. They’re almost like a whole different species, being shorter, leafier, and with finer stems. “The great thing about sericea lespedeza is that it grows in places where other forage species won’t grow,” Ball explained. “Also, once established, it’s very inexpensive to maintain, especially for grazing.” From a winterhardiness standpoint, sericea is easily adapted anywhere south of the MasonDixon line but has been successfully grown as far north as southern Ohio. Edwards agreed that stand maintenance is minimal once established. “I don’t think there’s any insect or disease problems of significance, and I’ve relied on poultry litter as a primary fertilizer source for phosphorus and potassium.” Sericea requires a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.2.

Fast drying Edwards doesn’t cut or graze his drought-tolerant sericea during the seeding year, letting the stand become firmly established. After that, fields are cut three times per year. “I cut when the plants are about 18 to 24 inches tall,” Edwards explained. “If you wait too long, the plants start to drop their lower leaves continued on the next page

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 27

continued from the previous page

and the quality declines.” Edwards also prefers to leave a high stubble. Edwards noted that his smallest yield of the season usually comes from the first cutting. This is perhaps because sericea is a warm-season legume. In 2017, he harvested 1.5 tons per acre from his initial cutting. Ball said that in Auburn University trials, total-season sericea yields have ranged from 2.5 to over 5 tons of dry matter per acre, depending on the variety and year. Both Edwards and Ball noted that sericea forage dries extremely fast, so caution must be taken not to let the crop reach the point where leaf loss becomes an issue. Edwards rakes his crop into a windrow to finish the drying process, often letting the crop get below his target baling moisture. After lying overnight, he then monitors relative humidity next to the windrow using a hand-held, battery-powered hygrometer. Once the humidity reaches 60 percent, he bales. “One morning I was baling at 7 o’clock,” Edwards recalled. Made correctly, bales of sericea lespedeza are extremely leafy. Edwards prices his sericea bales at a higher value than his alfalfa and easily sells his production right out of the field without ever having to store it in the barn. He forage tests the hay using wet chemistry. Crude protein percent usually runs in the upper teens with TDN (total digestible nutrients) in the upper 50s to low 60s. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) was 35 percent on his 2017 first cutting. The final cutting of the year is made about September 1. Sericea is sensitive to a late-fall cutting and should be allowed ample time to grow and replenish carbohydrate root reserves in the fall. It’s also at this time that sericea produces its only seedhead of the year. After temperatures cool to the point where sericea stops growing in late fall, the forage can be removed if desired. Edwards has been known to graze his fields late in the fall.

Both a blessing and curse Compared to most forage species, sericea lespedeza has a high concentration of condensed tannins. These are naturally occurring plant compounds with potentially positive and negative effects on the consuming livestock. Tannins bind with proteins and plant carbohydrates; they also give the plant its natural defense mechanism to survive and ward off pests. Improved sericea varieties were bred with low to moderate tannin levels, though, according to Ball, low levels are 28 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

Sericea lespedeza is cut three times per year. It dries quickly and has excellent leaf retention. The deeprooted perennial legume is also bloat resistant and provides parasite control in small ruminants

actually somewhat detrimental to the plant’s stress tolerance and persistence. The presence of tannins makes sericea a bloat-resistant legume and helps protect protein during the rumen digestive process to improve final utilization. At the same time, tannins also can contribute to lower overall forage digestibility. “In our studies, we found improved sericea varieties such as AU Grazer to offer one of the lowest cost of cattle gains among warm-season alternatives,” Ball said. “As a component of a year-round management system, sericea is vastly underutilized.”

New forage ventures Though Edwards is “all-in” on sericea, it’s not the only component of his diversified forage farm. After attending several forage meetings and listening to Georgia extension forage specialist Dennis Hancock, Edwards decided to get into the alfalfa hay business by interseeding the crop into an existing bermudagrass field. This was successfully accomplished in the fall of 2016. He seeded Bulldog 505 alfalfa in mid-October 2016 after first getting the soil pH high enough for successful stand establishment. When Hay & Forage Grower visited the farm in early July, Edwards was in the process of taking a second cutting of what was essentially a near pure alfalfa stand. Edwards plans to bale the crop and sell it to local horse owners, while also using some of the production for his own horses. Like most farms in the Piedmont region of South Carolina, Edwards was cursed with a lot of native tall fescue, which harbors the toxic endophyte fungus. He’s currently in the process of getting those acres converted to novel endophyte tall fescue. Previously, he

established one pasture with Barenbrug’s BarOptima PLUS E34 variety and had a smother crop planted on another pasture during this past summer. His smother crop consisted of pearl millet, sunn hemp, cowpea, soybean, daikon radish, rape, and sunflower. The horses were “belly-deep” in forage during July, which Edwards was strip grazing using a back fence. Prior to the smother crop, Edwards sprayed the native tall fescue with glyphosate, but it had unfortunately already gone to seed. “I’m thinking it will take two smother crops to fully eliminate the toxic fescue,” Edwards said. He interseeded small grains this winter with plans for a second smother crop in the spring. He then will seed the novel tall fescue in fall 2018. Edwards had one final new forage enterprise in 2017. On some rented land, he seeded teff grass, which will be baled and sold to horse owners. Teff has been identified as a possible “lowcarb” forage source for horses that have become overweight and are at risk for several metabolic diseases. Edwards is invested in his horses and diverse forage enterprises. He researches, discusses, attends meetings, and then makes decisions. He stops and tries things such as sericea lespedeza when most others would just turn to the next page. Sure, not everything works, but then we all can claim that badge of honor. Like so many things in farming, human passion often is the difference between success and failure. Edwards is passionate about his forages and when asked what he planned to do with all the year-round pasture and hay resources he will soon have, Edwards’ reply was, “Maybe I’ll add some cows.” •

REAL EXPERTS TELL THE STORY: The Krone disc mower cuts better and lays the hay out better for quicker drying. Krone has never given us a reason to look for anything else.

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We’ve had other brands of tedders, so we know you get what you pay for. We hook up to our Krone tedder, service it, and go.

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My Krone EasyCut mower pulls easier than the competition. A friend of mine ran it for 15 straight hours, cutting day and night. Then he bought my used Krone, and put his competitive machine up for sale.

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Experts in their field turn to Krone mowers, tedders, and rotary rakes for durable equipment that harvests superior-quality hay and forage. Hear more of their stories at krone-na.com.

© 2018 Krone is a registered trademark of Maschinenfabrik Bernard KRONE GmBH. Memphis, TN



Krone debuts new bale accumulator

New Holland expands ProCart wheel rake line

New this year from Krone North America is BaleCollect, a baler option that enables accumulation of up to three bales together (five bales with the Krone BiG Pack 890 baler). It’s designed for the high-productivity-minded hay producer who is looking for faster baling and collecting more bales per hour. This new bale accumulator features a telescoping drawbar for safer, easier transport at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. The telescoping drawbar breaks the connection between the bale accumulator and the baler, allowing the accumulator to track behind the baler for improved in-line trailering. The brake on the Krone BiG Pack baler has been designed to handle the extra weight from the bale accumulator. In the field, the hydraulic drawbar is retracted and the bale accumulator runs in line with the bale chamber. When a bale leaves the bale chamber and moves on to the BaleCollect, it passes over a detecting sensor that signals to push the bale to the side. The next bale is then pushed to the other side. Once the third bale arrives on the bale accumulator, all bales are pushed off the machine together. In transport position, the sides fold onto the table, reducing transport width to just under 10 feet with a transport length of just under 13 feet. Finally, the BaleCollect features a weighing system, which captures and stores the weight of each bale on the machine. For more information, visit krone-na.com.

New Holland Agriculture has expanded its ProCart wheel rake lineup to include the new premium ProCart Plus models. Designed for fast, clean, and high-capacity raking, the New Holland ProCart Plus deluxe carted wheel rakes handle a multitude of raking conditions. The ProCart Plus rakes provide new features and benefits that allow the operator to adjust the rake on the go from the tractor seat. The operator can maximize crop in the windrow, minimize foreign debris, and ensure the crop is fully turned. Now available in five different models, including ProCart 819, ProCart 1022, ProCart 1225, ProCart 1225 Plus, and ProCart 1428 Plus, New Holland’s ProCart series rakes offer features such as extended raking widths and the ability for operators to rake any way they choose. Raking options range from single-side and “V” raking to windrow turning. While sitting in the tractor seat, operators can adjust the raking angle and width to build the desired windrow for the baler or harvester, or easily fine-tune adjustments. The ProCart follows ground contours with independent rake wheel flotation. Suspended by an adjustable compression spring, the rake wheel can be adjusted to crop and field conditions. For more information on the all-new ProCart 1225 and 1428 Plus models, visit www.newholland.com.

John Deere introduces new HarvestLab 3000 To help beef and dairy producers more accurately and quickly measure certain nutrient values of the forages they’re harvesting and feeding their livestock, John Deere is introducing the new HarvestLab 3000. When mounted to John Deere self-propelled forage harvesters, HarvestLab 3000 can monitor forage constituents at harvest, or it can be removed and used in stationary mode to evaluate forage nutrient quality at feeding. John Deere HarvestLab 3000 uses near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to evaluate constituent characteristics such as moisture, dry matter, protein, starch, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), or acid detergent fiber (ADF). In the field, broader light spectrum measures up to 10 nutrient values 4,000 times per second, providing permanent, real-time data gathering. Operators can view constituent measurements while harvesting and then quickly make on-the-go adjustments to maximize feed quality. When mounted to forage harvesters, HarvestLab 3000 offers integrated, automatic length of cut adjustments based on moisture ranges preset by the operator. In addition, inoculants can be precisely applied during harvest based on sugar

and dry matter readings. HarvestLab 3000 can be used to map and document important crop characteristics such as moisture or starch content in different forage crops. These nutrient values can be wirelessly transmitted to the John Deere Operations Center for analysis, future crop and nutrient application planning, and for archiving field and crop history. Utilizing the stationary mode of HarvestLab 3000, nutritionists can analyze feed rations for crude protein, fiber, and other characteristics. Compared to its predecessor, the unit’s memory has been expanded from 32 MB to 2 GB and the user’s web interface has been improved. Saving history data is now possible, and advanced diagnostics make it easier for users to more quickly troubleshoot issues if they arise. For more details, visit johndeere.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.

30 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

New EasyCut TS 320 disc mower from Krone Krone recently introduced its EasyCut TS 320 pull-type disc mower (without conditioner). It has a cutting width of 10.33 feet, and a transport width that is 9 feet, 10 inches. Features of the model include a cutterbar that hugs the ground, which is made possible by an improved center of gravity suspension. Users can make tighter turns on headlands thanks to the Krone swivel gearbox. There are also fewer moving parts for improved reliability and easier servicing. The EasyCut TS 320 disc mower has folding end curtains that make for easy maintenance and narrow

road transport. Rounded corners on the mower allow cutting up close to fences without snagging. Like all newer model Krone disc mowers, the EasyCut TS 320 comes with a Krone SmartCut cutterbar, quick change blades, and SafeCut protection.

Claas makes upgrades to 900 series harvesters An improved cutting drum design for longer chop lengths, optional enhancements to hydraulic feedroll compression, a cab comfort package, enhanced telematics, and a completely redesigned pick-up header top the list of 2018 upgrades in Claas 900 series forage harvesters. Also, many of the 2017 updates made only to the highest horsepower Jaguar models are now found on the remainder of the 900 series. The new Jaguar 900 series forage harvesters are available with an optional V-MAX extended cutting drum that makes it easier to run half knifes for chop lengths of up to 30 millimeters (mm) in corn. The design allows the rings to be turned for symmetrical knife sectioning and uniform cutting frequency for smoother performance when producing shredlage corn silage. Chop quality is enhanced with optional dual hydraulic feedroll compression, using two rear cylinders for more consistent pressure. The new feature also gives operators the ability to adjust pressure settings from the cab and lift the rolls all the way up for easy servicing. An optional “Cab Comfort” package is now available for better visibility and quieter operation. It includes special insulation around the rear window, laminated safety glass

that’s thicker than traditional glass, and anti-reflection film on the windshield and floor mats. A new “Fleet View” application for iOS devices is also available to new 900 series operators. This special application for Apple iPhones and iPads tracks the movement of Jaguar forage harvesters, tractors, and trucks to aid in forage harvesting logistics. For custom cutters, there is now a new load counter found on the latest 900 series. It can control the fill weights of up to three different trailer sizes. Claas is now making universal premium line shear bars standard equipment on Jaguar forage harvesters. An additional update is a free one-year subscription to Telematics Professional, an upgrade from their basic package, which allows users to monitor and analyze harvest data from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. A three-year package is also available. For more information and to read about further enhancements to the Jaguar 900 series, visit www.claas.com.

Case IH launches next generation of Maxxum tractors Case IH is offering a new lineup of Maxxum series tractors for 2018 that integrate strength and durability. A new ActiveDrive 8 transmission delivers uninterrupted torque through more working speeds, faster shuttle shifts, and simplified shifting. Producers will be able to choose between three configurations: ActiveDrive 4 semi-powershift transmission, the new ActiveDrive 8 dual-clutch transmission, and CVXDrive continuously variable transmission. Designed to boost productivity, the new ActiveDrive 8 24-speed transmission features eight powershift speeds in three electronically shifted ranges. The middle range offers working speeds between 2.4 and 10.7 miles per hour without torque interruptions or requiring range changes. A key attribute to the loader tractor is the ability to aggressively shuttle between forward and reverse. With just the simple push of a button, the responsiveness of the dedicated forward and reverse shuttle clutches can be tailored to a producer’s loading task. Plus, to reduce operator fatigue during repetitive material handling tasks, innovations such as Adap-

tive Steering Control (variable ratio steering), as well as automated transmission features like memory shuttle and brake-to-clutch. The Maxxum now has new grill and hood styling to enhance cooling system performance, plus mechanical efficiencies in the transmission, and automated features reduce fluid consumption by up to 5 percent compared with previous models. An optional advanced loader joystick, which incorporates speed control at your fingertips while operating your loader, is also available. Five models, ranging from 116 to 145 engine horsepower (hp), are available. A front 3-point hitch and PTO are available for jobs such as snow removal and other specialty applications. For more information and to read about further enhancements to the new Maxxum, visit caseih.com. February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 31


by Mary Drewnoski pounds per day. Cereal forages can also support the high requirements of a cow in early lactation without the need for supplementation. If properly managed, typically 2 to 4 AUM (animal unit months) per acre can be grazed in corn and soybean systems.

What does it cost?

Cereals provide spring grazing option


N THE Midwest, planting winter-hardy cereal grasses such as winter rye or triticale after fall-harvested corn or soybeans can provide both soil benefits and a grazing resource in the spring. Adding cereal rye or triticale into your system can fill the early-spring forage void with high-quality forage and do so by using fields that would otherwise be dormant. Despite the harvest dates of corn and soybeans, cereal rye and winter triticale can be successfully established in late October. Although forage yields in the spring would be greater if planted earlier, the amount of forage is still sufficient to be economically viable. The window for spring grazing in corn and soybean systems is relatively short but also comes at a time when few other options are available. In the spring, there is a potential for yield drag on the subsequent corn crop if the small grain cereal grasses are not terminated early, allowing seven or more days between termination of the spring crop and the planting of the corn. Thus, with traditional planting dates, a 30- to 45-day grazing period in April and early May is achievable. Soybeans are more forgiving; small grain cereal grasses can be terminated at or even after planting if low soil moisture is not a concern. When coupling the later planting date of soybeans with the possible delayed termination date of the cover crop, 32 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018

the window for spring grazing can approach 45 to 60 days prior to a lateMay soybean planting.

Rye or triticale? Both cereal rye and triticale have advantages and disadvantages. Rye, especially Southern varieties such as Elbon, tends to break out of dormancy earlier and is ready to graze about seven to 10 days earlier in the spring than triticale. On the other hand, triticale matures later than rye and has a delayed grazing window, being a little more forgiving in terms of low stocking rates. Producers may consider having fields of both, using rye before corn to maximize early grazing and triticale before soybeans to ensure forage quality can be maintained during the later grazing window. In the early spring, these forages grow fast, and having enough animals out grazing is important to ensure that the forage does not get too mature. Generally, the first time producers try to graze these forages, they do not get cattle out early enough and do not stock heavily enough. Start grazing when the forage is 4 to 6 inches tall. Being able to have high stocking densities and rotationally graze will substantially improve utilization and help with maintaining quality. If managed appropriately, the quality of these forages can be quite high allowing for stocker calf gains of 2 to 3

Typical seeding rates for rye and triticale are 70 to 90 pounds per acre at a cost of $16 to $23. Custom rates for drill planting usually run $12 to $20 per acre. Often, 40 to 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre is applied and will cost $12 to $20, plus application costs of $10 to $15 per acre. Thus, total costs run $50 to $78 per acre and equate to a very cost effective $12 to $39 per AUM. One of the major reasons producers use cover crops is to build soil organic matter. Much of the soil organic matter benefits are derived from the retention of plant root carbon. Unlike perennials, grazing annuals does not appear to affect root growth, regardless of grazing intensity. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that properly managed grazing of cereals would not negatively impact the organic matter benefits of growing them.

Be timely Presence of cattle on cropland in the early spring can raise the penetration resistance of the soil, especially if cattle are grazing during wet conditions. However, the effects of grazing are usually below threshold levels that would impede root growth, being confined to the soil surface (0 to 2 inches). Often, these negative soil effects are shortlived due to wetting and drying cycles and microbial activity. Adding cereal rye or triticale into a row-crop system can be a cost-effective forage source for early-spring grazing and at the same time can provide the conservation benefits of a cover crop. Timeliness is important for success since the window of opportunity for forage production is quite narrow. •

MARY DREWNOSKI The author is a beef systems specialist, University of Nebraska.


Visit www.tubeline.ca/silage.php to download our free high moisture hay guidebook.

High moisture hay can be referred to as haylage, baleage, and silage. It is <60% moisture hay that has been wrapped air tight and allowed to ferment. There are numerous reasons to produce high moisture hay these include:

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Minimizing harvest loss Reducing harvest time Increaseing ADG Minimizing storage loss Reducing feed cost Reducing weather risk

February 2018 | hayandforage.com | 33


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Can’t depend on mother nature for your moisture requirements?

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www.hayandforage.com 38 Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018


Built Strong. Trusted for Life.

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Some say our equipment is “over-built”. We say there’s no such thing! Wide variety of hay handling attachments for your tractor, skidsteer, loader or telehandler. Weiss Master offers mounts to fit most any prime mover (mounts sold separately).

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found Choose high performing Genuine Ag-Bag bags & inoculant © 2017 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. Ag-Bag is a registered trademark in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates.

Industry data shows that dry matter storage loss of bunker or pile silage ranges from 15% to 20% and often as high as 30% loss. Based on an average value of $35.00 per ton of corn silage, feeding 500 dairy cows would cost over $22,500 anually in loss. The solution? Silage stored in the Ag-Bag system experiences minimal loss. If you’re not Ag-Bagging your corn or alfalfa crops, you’re missing a great opportunity for retaining more of your feed, and giving your high value dairy cows a safer, healthier, more appealing and more nutritious silage. It’s time to give us a call.

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FORAGE IQ Georgia Forage and Grassland Council’s Annual Meeting February 16, Ocilla, Ga. Details: www.georgiaforages.com Midwest Forage Symposium February 20 and 21, Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Details: www.midwestforage.org Western Kansas Forage Conference February 21, Garden City, Kan. Details: ksfgc.org/wkfc/ Alfalfa & Stored Forage Conference February 22, Cave City, Ky. Details: www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/ Arkansas Winter Forage Conference February 22, Conway, Ark. Details: bit.ly/HFG-ArkWFC18 Hay and Baleage Short Courses February 22, Carrollton, Ga. March 8 and 9, Waynesboro, Ga. Details: www.georgiaforages.com SW Missouri Spring Forage & Heart of America Grazing Conference February 26 and 27, Springfield, Mo. Details: springforageconference.com Pennsylvania Forage Conferences February 27, Indiana, Pa. February 28, Grantville, Pa. Details: www.afgc.org/pennsylvania.php Idaho Hay & Forage Conference March 1 and 2, Burley, Idaho Details: www.idahohay.com Tall Fescue Renovation Workshops March 6, Mt. Vernon, Mo. March 8, Lexington, Ky. March 13, Pendleton, S.C. March 14, Raleigh, N.C. March 15, Raphine, Va. Details: grasslandrenewal.org/education.htm Southern Indiana Grazing Conference March 7, Odon, Ind. Details: www.daviesscoswcd.org/index. php/sigc Great Lakes Forage & Grazing Conference March 7, St. John, Mich. Details: forage.msu.edu/events/ Georgia Forages Conference April 5, Perry, Ga. Details: www.georgiaforages.com 42 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2018


Hay price is holding Hay market prices remain ahead of one year ago with no signs of that changing in the foreseeable future. With lower milk prices now predicted through at least the first half of 2018, dairy operators may be less willing to pay high-end prices for Supreme/Pre-

mium-quality hay. Of course, that is the hay currently in the shortest supply. Hay export demand remains strong. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of the end of January. 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 (central SJV) California (Intermountain) Colorado (northeast) Colorado (southwest)-ssb Idaho Iowa Kansas (southwest) Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana Montana-ssb Nebraska (eastern/central) Oklahoma (central) Oregon (Klamath Basin) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (East River) Texas (Panhandle) Texas (north, central, east) Utah (northern) Utah (southern) Wyoming (central/western) Premium-quality hay California (northern SJV) California (southeast) Colorado (southeast)-ssb Idaho Iowa (Rock Valley) Iowa Kansas (south central) Montana Nebraska (eastern/central) Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (western) Oregon (Crook-Wasco) Oregon (Harney) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (East River) Texas (north, central, east) Texas (west) Utah (northern) Utah (Uintah Basin) Good-quality hay California (southeast) Colorado (northeast)-lrb Idaho Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (southwest) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana Nebraska (eastern/central)

Price $/ton 290-300 230 185 290 180 217-250 155-175 175-195 160-200 180-250 150-155 200-250 190-215 150 230 250 180-200 190-240 235-250 120-140 130-160 160 Price $/ton 270-275 220-240 240 160 140 200 150-160 140-155 175-180 150-160 130-140 150 175-180 225 160-170 195-235 180-200 100-150 90-100

Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb (d) Oklahoma (eastern) Oregon (Crook-Wasco) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River) Texas (Panhandle) Utah (central) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster)-lrb Wyoming (eastern) Wyoming (central/western) Fair-quality hay California (Sacramento Valley) California (southeast) Colorado (San Luis Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (southeast) (d) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb (d) Missouri Montana Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (East River)-lrb South Dakota (West River)-lrb (d) Utah (Uintah Basin) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster) (o) Wyoming (central/western)-lrb Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb California (southeast)-Premium Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium lrb Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb

Orchardgrass hay California (Intermountain)-Premium Colorado (southwest)-Premium ssb Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Timothy hay Montana-Premium ssb (d) Pennsylvania-Premium Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good ssb Oat hay California (Sacramento Valley) Kansas (southeast)-lrb Price $/ton 185 Oregon (eastern)-Premium/Good 155 (d) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb 115-135 Straw 110-128 Iowa (Rock Valley) 135-155 Kansas (north central/east) 100-125 Minnesota (Sauk Centre) 125-185 Montana 120-160 Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb 110-150 South Dakota (East River) 150-160 Washington (Columbia Basin)

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

85-100 100-120 120-140 135-200 113-125 150-155 180 80-90 140 110-140 150 100-120 Price $/ton 235 (d) 170 120-125 98-108 90-100 80-95 100-120 110-130 145-165 120-135 160 (d) 50-70 125 105-130 130 Price $/ton 100-133 220 160-180 (d) 100-130 (d) Price $/ton 220-300 285-290 230-250 Price $/ton 210-240 245 170-250 Price $/ton 95 (d) 75-85 100 95 Price $/ton 85-88 75-85 95-100 40-50 135-200 110-115 42-58


SINCE 1958

WE’VE BEEN PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE SINCE OUR FIRST BAG OF SEED. In 1958, the founders of W-L Alfalfas saw something no one else did: the future of the industry. Throughout the six decades since, we have been focused on one thing: bringing you the highest-producing, highest-quality alfalfa seed in the world.


HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology and Roundup Ready® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. W-L Alfalfas is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. © 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC



Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC.

Made-For-You Power. Kubota M60 Series

Kubota’s M60 Series is strong, feature-packed and built with your property in mind. Easily take on more from a comfort-focused cab with outstanding versatility and power at your fingertips. One drive and you’ll know—this tractor was made for you.


0 Down, 0% Financing for 60 Months* A.P.R.

See your local Kubota dealer for details. Offer ends 3/31/2018.

*$0 down, 0% A.P.R. financing for up to 60 months on purchases of select new Kubota M60 Series equipment from participating dealers’ in-stock inventory is available to qualified purchasers through Kubota Credit Corporation, U.S.A.; subject to credit approval. Some exceptions apply. Example: 60 monthly payments of $16.67 per $1,000 financed. Offer expires 3/31/18. See your Kubota dealer or go to KubotaUSA.com for more information. Optional equipment may be shown.

003901 – 2018 National Finance Print M7060 – Hay & Forage Grower (Feb. 2018) – 8.375 x 10.875


© Kubota Tractor Corporation, 2018



Gaylen Guyer DuPont Pioneer Dairy Account Manager

Ken Hein Dairy Producer Vince Tichy Encirca Certified Services Agent

Chad Erickson Pioneer Sales Professional

The Silage Zone® resource combines proven products, unmatched support and forage management solutions to help you achieve success. See more at pioneer.com/silagestories.

PIONEER® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents. ® TM SM , , Trademarks and service marks of DuPont, Pioneer or their respective owners. © 2017 PHII.DUPPFO17035_VAR1_080117_HFG

DUPPFO17035_VAR1_080117_HFG.indd 1

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