Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.
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More milk with alfalfa-grass mixtures pg 10 Corn silage is complex pg 12 Making hay with the ZR5 pg 14 Are greens good for you? pg 24 8/1/18 2:40 PM
NUMBER 1 PRIORITY.
TO TURN YOUR TO-DOS INTO TO-DONES. Although we manufacture equipment, it’s our job to provide solutions. The day we began redesigning our Maxxum® tractor series, we did so with your day in mind. All the things you need to keep your operation running smoothly – like durability, versatility and high-efficiency – are all here. Plus, with five models ranging from 95 to 125 PTO hp and providing 150 tools and attachments that are easy to engage and disengage, we’re sure to have a configuration that meets your needs. No wonder farmers are more loyal to red than any other brand. Put visiting your local Case IH dealer or caseih.com/livestock at the top of your to-do list today.
©2018 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. Case IH 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. www.caseih.com
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August/September 2018 · VOL. 33 · No. 5 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Todd Garrett ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen DIRECTOR OF MARKETING John R. Mansavage ADVERTISING SALES Jan C. Ford firstname.lastname@example.org Kim E. Zilverberg email@example.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin firstname.lastname@example.org W.D. HOARD & SONS PRESIDENT Brian V. Knox
6 Family, farm, and forage
EDITORIAL OFFICE 28 Milwaukee Ave. West, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 WEBSITE www.hayandforage.com EMAIL email@example.com PHONE (920) 563-5551
The Molitor family has persevered and adapted through the years to establish a successful organic dairy operation. Here, forage rules the day.
Corn silage harvest is a complex system This just in: Making high-quality corn silage isn’t easy.
Making hay with the ZR5
On a hot June day, Vermeer’s ZR5 self-propelled round baler was put to the test.
By any measure, forage crops should get support for education and research. Why don’t they?
DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 20 Beef Feedbunk 23 Dairy Feedbunk 26 Forage Gearhead 27 Feed Analysis
MAKE MORE MILK WITH ALFALFA-GRASS MIXTURES
ADD MORE “SUNN” TO YOUR SUMMER
EXPORTS RULE THE WEST
NEW GRASS CAN KILL PREGNANCIES
DAIRY DIET DROUGHT RELIEF
Forage crops need respect
ARE GREENS GOOD FOR YOU?
28 32 34 42 42
TEDDERS HAVE VALUE IN ALL SITUATIONS
Pasture Ponderings Machine Shed Research Round-up Forage IQ Hay Market Update
NEW SOFTWARE ASSISTS WITH GRAZING DECISIONS
ON THE COVER Corn silage is pushed into the bunker at a dairy farm owned by Marty Young, Cuyler, N.Y. The harvesting is being done by Dairy Support Services, a custom harvesting business based in Truxton, N.Y., and operated by brothers Scott and Dan Potter, along with many long-term employees. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.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.
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BY 30 - 65%
Mike Rankin Managing Editor
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ANY of you remember comedian Rodney Dangerfield. His stand up act was filled with self-deprecating humor. For those who need a refresher, here are a couple of examples: “When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother.” “When I played in the sandbox as a kid, the cat kept covering me up.” Often, after delivering a flurry of such one-liners, Dangerfield would pause and unleash his signature double negative — “I don’t get no respect.” Respect is generally earned, but sometimes — even then — it’s not received. That’s the situation for perennial forage crops, at least in the eyes of many federal and state decision makers. It’s also the reason why a group of university forage researchers and extension specialists from across the United States authored the article on pages 18 and 19. For many of our readers, the article will be like “preaching to the choir.” Even so, the points made will be enlightening as to the dire lack of support that forage crops currently endure. Further, it may also offer some ammunition to present to your state’s administrative decision makers who have a role in supporting research or hiring personnel. Perhaps I’m over sensitive to this issue, but I’m one of those who forged a career in forage crops largely because of a university professor who I took a class from during my undergraduate days at Iowa State University. Once in graduate school and knowing my budding interest in forage crops and extension work, the state’s forage extension specialist, Steve Barnhart, would sometimes drag me along to educational events and meetings he was involved with. Such people do make a difference in young people’s lives. It’s going to be these young adults who will need to populate
the university and private company forage hallways in the future. Given current circumstances, who will be left to help get them there? These days, Iowa doesn’t even have a forage extension specialist, though there are nearly a million beef cows and 220,000 dairy cows in the state. Similar situations exist in other states, and yours may be added if some action isn’t taken. Forage crops generate dollars for those who choose to harvest and utilize them. Alfalfa alone is the third most valuable crop produced in the U.S. Throw in grasslands and annual forage crops and it would seem that research and educational resources would be easy to come by. They’re not. I have been on a lot of farms and ranches in my lifetime. It’s here where the conversion of forage fiber to milk and meat is alive and well. I wish I had a dollar for every time I was told some variation of “I owe all of our success to the forages (or pastures).” On the farm, forage crops matter and make money in ways not accounted for on USDA ledgers. Money is one thing, but environmental benefits also come into play; every person, rural or not, reaps the rewards of having perennial forage crops on the landscape. There simply is no better way to protect and enhance the quality of soils than with forages. Why isn’t this benefit to the human race valued as it should be with personnel and research dollars? To be sure, there are shining examples of states that do support forage extension and research. But that list is small and it’s getting smaller. Collectively, we all need to do our part to reverse the trend and ensure a future of forage respect. •
Write Managing Editor Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, call: 920-563-5551 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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.
FAMILY, FARM, by Kassidy Buse
IKE stepping into a perfect picture, the herd of Holsteins grazed peacefully out on the pasture. A stone-based barn stood as the farmstead centerpiece. Rows of bales and baleage complemented the landscape. Nestled just southeast of St. Cloud, Minn., lies the 300-cow herd of Molitor Organic Dairy. Pasture plays a large role in feeding the herd that averages 60 pounds of fat corrected milk with summer average butterfat and protein tests of 3.9 and 3.3 percent, respectively. But pasture isn’t the only focus on this organic dairy. There is also a large amount of attention paid to stored forages that must be used during Minnesota’s long winters. Forage quality is paramount for holding production during the nongrazing months that begin in October for the milking cows and November for the heifers and last until May. Keeping a watchful eye over the cows is Joe Molitor. Joe, along with his brother Tom, runs the operation. It’s always been a farm with a strong emphasis on family. Tom
and his wife, Mary, have two sons and two daughters that are 17 to 22 years in age. Joe has eight daughters, ranging in age from 15 to 32. In addition to weather whims, milk price fluctuations, and the usual array of everyday farm challenges, this family has endured and adjusted to the loss of Joe’s wife, Shirley, to a car accident in 2010. Joe’s youngest two daughters are still on the farm and help with chores. Another daughter, Hannah, serves as herdsman. Tom’s children are also involved in the operation and help out wherever they can, especially with fieldwork. They also get some extra help at milking time from area high school students.
The Molitor family first homesteaded the farm near St. Cloud, Minn., in 1929 with some chickens, hogs, and just nine cows. In the 1960s, their father, Donald, and uncle, Clifford, took over the family farm and grew the milking herd to 50. In 1981, Joe and Tom took over the
then 100-cow herd. They purchased 200 more cows and started to explore the idea of utilizing pastures as a main source of forage. By 1990, the brothers had transitioned all their heifers to a grazing-based diet. Joe and Tom’s father retired in 1994, and the farm started to expand shortly after. With the expansion in the late 1990s came the transition of moving their herd onto pasture and becoming a low-input, grazing-based operation. In 2003, the Molitor’s started the transition to organic. “We were already grazing so it wasn’t too difficult to make the switch,” explained Joe. The likelihood of improved soil health supported this change; the idea of doing something unique and the higher milk price also motivated the brothers. The transition didn’t occur without struggles. Having to feed organic-priced feed while getting conventional milk checks was a major challenge. After the three-year transition, the first load of organic milk shipped in 2006 to Horizon Organic, which was owned
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AND FORAGE by WhiteWave Foods at the time. After the acquisition of WhiteWave Foods by Danone, the Molitors continued to ship to the newly minted DanoneWave.
A little bit of everything
According to Joe, the farm’s pastures consist of “a little bit of everything.” The pastures, which used to be pure orchardgrass and clover, now feature orchardgrass, meadow fescue, bluegrass, and intermittent white clover with reed canarygrass in the low areas. Most of the pasture is permanent but some new seeding also occurs. “We do a little bit of frost seeding every year,” Joe explained. On winter pastures or in muddy conditions, red and white clover is seeded; otherwise, annual ryegrass is the seed of choice. This past year, the Molitors faced the challenge of having their orchardgrass winterkill. “It’s only occurred two times in 30 years,” Joe said. He also noted that keeping enough legume component in the pasture remains a challenge. To combat the erratic rainfall and
sandy loam soil, the Molitors installed pivot irrigators in two of their pastures in 2008. The farm consists of 1,220 total acres. Pastures take up 700 acres with 500 of those being rented. The Molitors also maintain 300 acres of alfalfa that is mostly harvested as baleage and 220 acres of corn for silage each year.
Feeding around restrictions
In order to be certified organic, the cows’ diet needs to be at least 30 percent pasture based. This has been a challenge for the Molitors due to the restriction of being landlocked. “We do not own some of the surrounding land around buildings,” Joe explained. “We can’t cross the county roads to the south either,” he added. To mitigate this limitation, cows are fed 70 percent of their ration during the eight hours per day that they are “home” to be milked. It comes in the form of a total mixed ration (TMR). The Molitors utilize a TMR of alfalfa baleage, corn silage, and cracked corn
Tom Molitor (left) is in charge of the crops, while brother Joe oversees the herd at Molitor Organic Dairy near St. Cloud, Minn.
to meet nutritional needs. Essentially, the TMR is 90 percent forage. Since all of the corn they raise is harvested for silage, with two thirds stored in upright silos and the other third in bags, the Molitors purchase all of their cracked corn. But, each load must meet continued on following page >>>
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>>> continued from previous page certain standards. “Each load is tested for the presence of GMO (genetically modified organisms),” Joe noted. Over this past year, 7 pounds of cracked corn were incorporated in the diet during the summer, while only 4 pounds are used in the winter to balance the high energy hay and corn silage they feed.
Just like any operation, but perhaps more challenging in an organic system, the battle with weeds is an annual occurrence. In their corn, the Molitors use a combination of practices to keep weeds at bay. To start, they don’t plant until the last week in May. “This gives corn time to outrun the weeds,” Joe explained. Corn is planted in 8-inch twin rows using 38-inch centers. Shortly after planting, weeds are burned once using a row crop burner. A rotary hoe and cultivator are also used to combat weeds. Also, a crop rotation system is utilized to maintain soil fertility and keep weeds at bay. The rotation starts with the first year of seeded alfalfa followed by two full production years. Over the next two years, corn is planted with cover crops used in between planting and harvest. Weed pressure in their pastures isn’t much of a problem for the Molitors thanks to clipping and grazing management. However, their challenge is keeping adequate soil potassium levels in an organic system. Tom, who oversees crop production, uses potassium sulfate and applies 200 pounds per acre per year. “We apply it over
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Thanks to a dry spring, the Molitors have often been able to make “baleage in a day.” The alfalfa is cut, tedded, raked, and baled all in one day. High-quality baleage is an important component of the cow ration along with pasture forage.
three separate applications,” Tom said. “Forty percent is applied when the snow is gone but when the ground is still frozen. Thirty percent is applied after first cutting, and the last 30 percent is applied after second or third cutting. Composted manure is also used to meet plant nutrient needs,” he added.
Another unique aspect about this organic operation is how they manage their hay. The Molitors don’t condition their hay for a specific reason. “We lay the hay out using the full width of the cut,” Joe shared. “We feel the sugar content of the hay is improved and plants continue to photosynthesize for a longer duration because the stems are not crushed; hay knows it’s dead when it’s conditioned. We also achieve higher protein because there’s no conditioner leaf loss.” This past spring, the Molitors were able to make “hay in a day” thanks to a dry spring. “Normally for first cut it takes more than one day because of the heavy crop. This year, there’s less forage because of how dry we were,” Joe explained. The Molitors cut their hay early in the morning, and they start tedding after the dew evaporates. Later in the afternoon, the hay is raked and then baled about an hour later. “Usually, we harvest our baleage at about 50 percent moisture,” Joe stated. For dry hay, the Molitor’s use a forage conditioner. “It’s too tough to get it dry otherwise,” Joe said. With Tom at the helm of all things related to crops, Joe at the forefront of managing the herd, and their children having filled every role in between, it’s without a doubt that this farm is a family affair. Though that’s an important component of the operation’s values, it doesn’t guarantee financial success. “We have to feed good forage and lots of it,” Joe reflected. “That’s what keeps this farm operating at a profitable level.” • KASSIDY BUSE The author was the 2018 Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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Make more milk with alfalfa-grass mixtures
Perennial grass is sown with alfalfa on nearly 90 percent of all alfalfa acres in New York.
by Jerry Cherney and Debbie Cherney
HERE is growing interest in alfalfa-grass mixtures across the northern United States. Grass tends to be considerably higher in neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) than alfalfa. Feeding trials in both New York and Wisconsin have shown that grass in a mixture with alfalfa can produce as much or more milk than pure alfalfa in dairy rations. Higher quality forage varieties also have been shown to result in higher milk production. Although high forage quality is critical for milk production, it is rarely economical if it also comes with any decline in forage yield. Alfalfa-grass grown on productive soils often results in higher yields than pure alfalfa. Higher quality alfalfa or grass is likely to raise the proportion of homegrown feeds in rations.
What is high quality? Almost all alfalfa seed companies have â&#x20AC;&#x153;high-qualityâ&#x20AC;? varieties. Claims may be based on characteristics such as fine stems, lower lignin, higher digestibility, higher relative forage quality, high multifoliolate leaf
expression, higher feed intake, or improved milk production. Improved fiber digestibility is the most important quality trait. Expression of high forage quality appears to be relatively consistent across the northern U.S. Reduced-lignin, HarvXtra-type alfalfa is consistently lower in lignin than other high-quality alfalfa varieties throughout spring growth (Figure 1). Much less research has been conducted to develop perennial grasses with higher forage quality. Several studies in the Northeast and Midwest have concluded that meadow fescue tends to have higher NDFD than other grasses. Meadow fescue is very winterhardy, but likely will have somewhat lower yields than tall fescue. A recent study with orchardgrass varieties concluded that ranking of varieties is not consistent over regions of the country. Recent research also indicates that forage quality of grass species is not consistent across the country.
Grass percentage varies
the greatest of these is the moisture status of the soil for three weeks post planting. Alfalfa can usually cope with drought stress following seeding, but grasses can be devastated by drought right after the grass seed has enough soil moisture to germinate. Therefore, the later the seeding in the spring, the more likely that grass will be negatively affected by drought. Grass species and seeding rate also will have a major impact on the eventual grass percentage in the established mixture. Anything that improves the soil environment for alfalfa, such as raising soil pH, soil drainage, or soil potassium, will likely reduce the grass percentage of mixtures. Ideally, we would like 20 to 30 percent grass in mixtures. JERRY CHERNEY AND DEBBIE CHERNEY Jerrry (pictured) is the extension forage specialist with Cornell University. Debbie is an extension dairy nutritionist at Cornell.
Many factors impact the grass percentage in mixtures, possibly
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Potential economic impact The added cost of changing alfalfa varieties or grass species in a mixture comes solely from the cost of seed. If we assume that HarvXtra seed costs are about $6 per pound more than other high quality varieties, and it is seeded at 14 pounds per acre, then over the average life of a stand (4 years) HarvXtra would cost about $20 more per acre. Meadow fescue seed does not cost significantly more than other grasses. Assuming an increase of 1 percentage unit NDFD boosts milk production by 0.5 pounds per day (average of numerous feeding trials) and a milk price of $17 per hundredweight, a 1,000 cow herd could improve annual milk income by over $100,000 by replacing normal alfalfa varieties and commonly used grasses with a HarvXtra-meadow fescue mixture (Figure 3). Forage species and variety changes are essentially size neutral, with equal benefits per cow for small or large herds. Switching to any alfalfa or grass variety with significantly higher NDFD is going to be worth any extra seed costs. Under most conditions, it can be economically advantageous to include a perennial grass in an alfalfa seeding. Seeding high-quality alfalfa or grass can significantly improve milk income. Relative quality ranking of alfalfa varieties appears to be fairly consistent in the North. Grasses, on the other hand, may not produce consistent results for either yield or quality across regions. Local grass species and variety testing is essential. With the precipitous decline in forage applied researchers across the U.S., less forage grass testing is unfortunately the more likely scenario for the future. â&#x20AC;˘ Alfalfa-grass research in New York was made possible by funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and the New York Farm Viability Institute.
HarvXtra types (2) Other alfalfa varieties (5)
Average NDFD in 2017 New York trials was determined by weighting NDFD for yield, such that higher yielding springcut forage counts more than lower yielding fall-cut forage. Across several trials, average NDFD (not including HarvXtra alfalfa or meadow fescue) was 53 percent for alfalfa and 68 percent for grass. Reduced-lignin HarvXtra alfalfa averaged 5.3 percent higher NDFD than other alfalfa varieties, while meadow fescue averaged 9.7 percent higher NDFD than other grass species tested. We calculated the potential benefit in NDFD from adding either HarvXtra or meadow fescue to an alfalfa-grass mixture (Figure 2). With 70 percent alfalfa in a mixture, using HarvXtra boosts total forage NDFD from 57.5 to 59 percent, but including only 30 percent meadow fescue in a mixture in place of other grasses also increases total forage NDFD to 59 percent. Using both HarvXtra and meadow fescue improves total forage NDFD by 6 percent, or a 4.5 percentage unit benefit.
Ithaca, NY, May 2017
Figure 2. Benefit of HarvXtra alfalfa or meadow fescue
NDFD of mixture, %
Great quality benefits
Figure 1. Pattern of lignin accumulation
Blue line = No HarvXtra or meadow fescue Red line = Medow fescue added Black line = HarvXtra added Green Line = HarvXtra-MF mix
62 60 58 56 54
Grass % in alfalfa-grass mixture
Figure 3. Milk income benefit from HarvXtra and meadow fescue
Based on NY 2017 average increase in NDFD of 3.5% units with addition of HarvXtra and meadow fescue
Added annual income, $
If a soil is ideally suited to alfalfa, there are a few instances where pure alfalfa should be preferred: 1. When hay brokers want pure alfalfa hay. 2. W hen there is little information on the compatibility of a grass species with alfalfa. 3. When a very consistent quality of forage is desired. 4. When soil is consistently droughty.
80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000
Assume 1% unit NDFD = 0.5 lb milk/day @ $17/cwt. 0
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Corn silage harvest is a complex system by Chris Wacek-Driver SYSTEM is defined as a group of interacting, interrelated, and/ or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. Making corn silage, on the surface, seems like a simple process; however, if you strive to harvest quality silage, you will recognize it is anything but simple. With its mixture of stover and grain in variable amounts, corn silage presents some unique harvest challenges, particularly as it has become a larger part of many cropping systems and livestock diets. The process can become overwhelming when crop and hybrid characteristics, changing environmental conditions, and machinery and human factors are considered. Human natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tendency often takes complex systems and complicates them further, rather than simplifying the process. The clear definition and separation of goals versus objectives in a system will help to ensure the likelihood for success. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s take a look at an example. If the end goal is to obtain high-quality silage that can efficiently and economically be digested to produce meat or milk, three key objectives to meet that
goal might be: 1. Harvest at the correct moisture. 2. Process the corn grain adequately. 3. Achieve three to four months of storage prior to feeding.
Look at the whole system Optimization of a system depends on orchestrating all the elements to achieve the end goal. If too much focus is put on one objective, such as processing the grain correctly, it can have negative consequences on other interrelated or competing objectives. In such a way we lose sight of the overall goal. In other words, we get lost in the weeds and miss the big picture. Look at the overall system and the goals before distilling the system down into a single variable. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look at what can happen when laser focus is put on only one objective of the system and how it can affect other components. Two primary factors in the kernel inhibit optimum ruminal starch digestion. They are the hard, outer seed coat and the protein matrix surrounding the starch granules. Reducing the particle size of the kernel increases the surface area available for microbial attach-
ment, thus enhancing starch availability. The twin processes of fermentation and time help break down the protein matrix surrounding the starch granules, adding to starch availability. To measure the reduction of particle size, a laboratory test called the kernel processing (KP) score was developed specifically for fermented corn. This test specifies utilization of an ovendried sample, and involves shaking corn silage through a specific set of sieves. Theoretically, starch digestion improves with a smaller particle size and higher KP score.
Processors are better What began in the early 2000s with kernel processors set up to barely nick or crush portions of the kernel, CHRIS WACEK-DRIVER The author owns and operates a forage consulting business, Forage Innovations LLC, in Bay City, Wis.
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attaining dismal processing scores, has evolved into newer processors with more aggressive rolls and differentials. Set up properly, these processors can shatter the corn kernel and achieve KP scores of 70 or better. However, what was developed as a lab test for fermented corn is now being used as a tool for fresh silage. Recent ongoing research and field data has substantiated that with time and fermentation, the KP score will rise approximately 5 to 10 units. While fermentation may not rescue poorly-processed corn silage (a 60 or lower processing score), it plays a key part in boosting starch digestibility over time. Kernel maturity (moisture) and endosperm characteristics are also key factors. If the optimal moisture window is missed and the corn silage is too dry, no amount of particle size reduction will make up for the reduced efficiency of starch availability that comes with optimal fermentation and time.
Don’t over process In the field, some are striving to have a fresh KP score of 70 or 80. This objective can conflict with other key objectives and result in missing the mark on our true end goal. The time-sensitive nature
fresh silage. A case study referenced in Hoard’s Dairyman (August 25, 2014) substantiates field observations made by the author along with summaries done by Dairyland Labs and Rock River Labs. There appears to be significant interactions with KP score and both whole plant and kernel moistures.
and importance of corn silage harvest dictates the system proceeds as efficiently and economically as possible. Even with newer processors equipped with higher differentials and more aggressive rolls, reducing particle size comes at a significant cost in the form of power and fuel consumption. Perhaps more important is that additional time is required to harvest. Chasing the objective of a high fresh corn silage KP score can result in a 30 to 40 percent reduction in harvested tonnage from what the equipment and a properly designed system is capable of harvesting. Additionally, it places added stress on machinery parts and the human component when breakdowns further delay harvest. This overemphasis on particle size reduction can overshadow the objective of putting silage up at the correct moisture. If the process slows too much, and the moisture window is missed, the costs are reflected in not only reduced efficiency and economics, but also reduced starch availability due to suboptimal fermentation. It is important to keep in mind that the KP score was a laboratory test developed for fermented rather than T:7.5”
A goal of at least 60 Fine particulate starch, clinging to the stover fraction in wet corn silage, may exert negative influences on the KP score, yet biologically has no adverse effects on ruminal digestion. Recent conversations with Randy Shaver (University of Wisconsin), Luis Ferraretto (University of Florida), and other key field staff would suggest a fresh KP score of 60 or better should meet the objective of adequate particle size reduction while still achieving the end goal. Similar to other tests, multiple samples need to be taken to determine a true KP score. In summary, define key goals and objectives to optimize harvest results. Keep the end goal within the goal posts and make sure all key objectives are met. This will help ensure a profitable and efficient corn silage harvest. •
STARVE THE COMPETITION. FEED THE COWS. When weeds compete with your stand, you lose. Lost quality. Lost yield. Lost dollars. Eliminate weed competition and improve your crop’s potential throughout the life of the stand with Roundup Ready® Alfalfa. © 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC. 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.
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JOB #: 61833-1
Print Scale: None
Date: 6-28-2018 11:26 AM
8/1/18 3:50 PM
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Vermeer’s ZR5 self-propelled round baler was recently put to the test in a grass hay field behind the Vermeer campus in Pella, Iowa.
Making hay with the ZR5 by Mike Rankin
HAT thing is awesome,” exclaimed Andy Smidt as he walked over to the temporary shade tent on a smokin’ hot June day in Pella, Iowa. Smidt had been first up to test-drive a prototype model of Vermeer’s ZR5 self-propelled round baler with zeroturn capabilities. He got that opportunity by being one of two winners in an online contest that garnered 1,100 entries, and he learned quickly that the baler had more capabilities than just zero-turn. Smidt’s wife, Kayla, who “can drive anything on the farm,” according to her husband, also took a turn at the ZR5 wheel. The Smidts grow and harvest 4,000 acres of pivot-irrigated hay in Trumbull, Neb., along with Andy’s father. The commercial hay producers also grow 2,000 acres of row crops, bale
1,000 to 1,500 cornstalk bales per year, and have about 50 beef cows. The test track for the ZR5 on that day was a large, late-cut field of grass hay located behind Vermeer’s expansive Pella facilities that resemble a college campus. The hay was well dried and two windrows had been merged into one. These were “big boy” windrows that provided a good test. “All of my mistakes related to doing too much,” Smidt said of his first test drive. “By habit, I wanted to pull back on the speed control when the machine stopped to net wrap a bale. Tyler said to me, ‘You don’t have to do that.’” Vermeer engineer Tyler Schiferl was the ZR5 co-pilot for the day as the parade of drivers took their turns. “That first turn at the headland is also a learning experience,” Smidt chuckled. “It only takes a slight move-
ment of the steering wheel to be heading back the other direction.” In fact, everyone who drove that day made that same initial steering mistake, including yours truly. When my number came up, I nearly did a complete 360-degree pirouette with my first headland turn. Among the day’s operators, Smidt was the boldest when it came to forward speed. “I took it up to 12 miles per hour,” said the experienced baler after completing his second run on the ZR5.
The Iowa farm boys
The other attendees to the ZR5 ride-and-drive were brothers Todd and Brad Holdgrafer from Bryant, Iowa. Collectively, they assumed the role as the life of this bale-making party. The Holdgrafers work on their family’s diversified eastern Iowa farm where up
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to 8,000 bales of hay and cornstalks are made each year. They also do custom baling for neighbors and feed-out cattle. These two guys were baler aficionados. “That was a pretty sweet ride,” said Todd, as if he just test-drove a Maserati down the Main Street of a small rural town. “I couldn’t believe how quiet the cab is and really the whole machine. There’s no driveline and fewer chains,” he added. Brother Brad was equally impressed. “The cab’s hydraulic suspension makes for a really smooth ride,” said the elder sibling. “I liked the turning radius and the fact that you can bale a bit faster. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to do this.” “Anything that you didn’t like?” I asked. “Yes . . . having to get out of the cab so that you could drive,” Brad retorted with a smile.
Truthfully, I couldn’t wait for the real celebrities to get done driving so that I could set down my camera and take the wheel. Engineer Schiferl gave me the quick run through on the controls; he was getting good at this by the time I assumed the captain’s chair. All of the previous drivers from that day were right: The ZR5 was smooth, responsive, and essentially hands-off. It was much like sitting in the cab of a forage chopper. Other than steering and speed control, the ZR5 did the rest — at
least in automatic field mode. Once the bale chamber was full, it stopped automatically, then wrapped and ejected the bale. By the way, with the push of an on-screen button, you can have the ZR5 automatically make a quarter turn to the right or left before bale ejection. This orients the bales in a straight line for easier pick up from the field. Once ejected, the baler automatically quarter turns back on the windrow and away you go with the touch of a “go” button that is located on the speed control. The ZR5 is equipped with two cameras. One is located underneath the cab and directed toward the pick up head; the other is in the rear and allows you to see that the bale was properly ejected. The monitor in the cab switches between the two camera shots depending on whether you are moving forward or if the tailgate is opening. Of course we were in field mode while baling, but the ZR5 can be put into a travel mode for going down the road. For this, the front caster wheels lock hydraulically and are used for steering. The ZR5 can travel down the road at speeds up to 34 miles per hour.
Deep round baler roots
It was 1948 when farmer Gary Vermeer hung a sign on the door noting that Vermeer Manufacturing was open for business. Over 20 years later, in the early 1970s, one of Vermeer’s farmer
friends was complaining about how hard it was to put hay up for his cows. Not one to step away from a challenge, the inventor went to work in search of an easier way. He had specific goals in mind for a new baler: It had to be a one-man operation, the machine had to produce bales weighing about a ton, and the bale needed to be wrapped tight enough to shed water. Vermeer and one of his engineers diagramed the first prototype large round baler on a chalkboard. A facsimile of the diagram can be viewed in the Vermeer museum at the company’s Pella facility. Though the size of those first bales ultimately proved limiting, it wasn’t long before large round balers became a common sight in farm fields. The crude design that Vermeer crafted on that chalkboard was the basis of large round balers for many years to come. Of course, there have been numerous improvements and added technologies since Gary Vermeer’s initial prototype, and the ZR5 looks to be the newest chapter in this continuing saga.
The ZR5 story
Kent Thompson is a big fan of zeroturn lawnmowers and their efficiency. He’s also an engineer and the research and development manager at Vermeer, a position that at any company requires an out of the field boundary thinker. It was Thompson who engaged his colleagues in discussions about the continued on following page >>>
Top: After taking his turn on the ZR5, Todd Holdgrafer offers his impressions to Vermeer’s video crew. Right: Holdgrafer watches the cab monitor to ensure proper bale ejection. If desired, the ZR5 will automatically rotate a quarter turn (as pictured) before bale ejection. This orients the bales in the same direction for ease of pick up.
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>>> continued from previous page
concept of a self-propelled round baler. One of those people he had to convince of the idea was Mark Core, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at Vermeer. The morning following our day of baling, I sat down with Thompson and Core to get the story on how the ZR5 went from concept to hayfield. “Kent just kept challenging us about the productivity advantages of zero turn technology in a baler and we discussed the potential kinds of intelligence that could be put into a system where the power plant and baler are fully integrated,” Core explained. One of the factors that got Thompson thinking about the concept was that many of Vermeer’s customers were bemoaning the fact that good labor was hard to find and keep. These days, all of the company’s new offerings are designed with labor-savings and efficiency in mind for the end user. “The evolution of harvesting equipment has gravitated toward self-propelled machines,” Core noted. “We think family members are going to fight over who gets to run the ZR5.” The birth of the ZR5 came about quickly. “Our group first pitched the idea to the board in January 2015,” Thompson said. “In September, we started designing, and we had our first concept machine built by the end of
the year. At that point, we just wanted to prove it out to see if it even made sense,” he explained. According to Core, one of the advantages of an integrated system is that there’s the opportunity for each function of the baler to operate at its optimum speed based on changing conditions. The baler systems are no longer dependent upon the powertakeoff (PTO) speed coming from the tractor. Most mechanisms on the ZR5 are hydraulically driven. “The baler itself will perform similar to our pull-type baler,” Core said. “At this point, the ZR5 is equipped with a very similar baler to the current Vermeer 605N Cornstalk Special. It can be modified to do high-moisture hay with a special kit. We would anticipate that sometime in the future customers will be able order the ZR5 with some of our different baler types,” Core added.
The company plans to sell about five units this fall and get them out in the field, and then ramp up production and marketing next year. “We’ve had good success with the limited-launch strategy on most of the machines we build,” Core said. “It allows us to identify any opportunities for improvement and helps from a manufacturing ramp up
standpoint as well.” Vermeer has already made one major change to the initial-launch prototype. Early-testing users indicated that the cab was so comfortable and the ride was so smooth that it made baling at faster speeds possible. As such, Vermeer’s engineers found that more horsepower was needed to meet the demands of the baler at those higher speeds, especially on steep inclines. Now, the ZR5 has a 200 horsepower Cummins diesel engine, replacing the original 173 horsepower offering. As for price point on the ZR5 — there was no determination on that as of mid-June, but we should know soon. Core concluded by saying, “Vermeer, with its industrial divisions, has a high level of expertise with engines and hydraulics. Though we haven’t had to use that with our PTO-driven hay harvesting machines, it certainly came into play in a big way with the development of the ZR5.” It’s too early to determine what the future of self-propelled balers may hold. We can speculate that it might be pretty good if the same path is followed as that of the swather/mower and forage harvester. As for one Nebraska couple and two eastern Iowa farm boys . . . well . . . they got sold on the concept during a hot June day. •
From left to right: Bart Elder, Vermeer territory manager; Todd Holdgrafer, Bryant, Iowa; Brad Holdgrafer; Andy Smidt, Trumbull, Neb.; Kayla Smidt; and Tyler Schiferl, an engineer with Vermeer.
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7/24/18 1:58 PM
FORAGE CROPS NEED RESPECT
VER two-thirds of all agricultural land in the U.S. is grasslands, with a large economic value as well as many ecosystem benefits. Forage crop systems enjoyed maximum popularity in the middle of the 20th century after the Dust Bowl era, with pastures and hayfields recognized for their soil conservation benefits. In those times, the land-grant college system provided significant funding, infrastructure, and support for a relatively large number of forage crop scientists, but that’s no longer the case. As the U.S. population transitioned from rural to urban/suburban, federal and state support for agricultural research declined. The precipitous decline in support for forage crop research is strongly correlated with the power of commodity organizations and the perception of the commodity by the agricultural community and the public. Forage crops generally lack any commodity status and are perceived to be the least relevant when cuts
to university research, extension programs, and faculty are mandated. This problem is most striking in the Northern and Western states.
Are forage crops valuable? Although forage crops promote clean air and water, and reduce flooding and erosion, the public is unaware of the value of the forage commodity. Perennial forages grown on land not suited for row crops contribute greatly to domestic food security. Grasslands have an economic value estimated at over $45 billion annually. Forage crops can provide 50 to 100 percent of the total feed requirements of ruminants and serve as one of the primary resources that allow effective nutrient management planning. The website of the USDA Economic Research Service highlights economically important U.S. crops and was updated May 8, 2018 (www.ers.usda. gov/topics/crops/). The list of “crops” includes: corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, vegetables and pulses, fruit and
These forage researchers and extension specialists authored this article to bring awareness of the dire need for forage research and education support. J.H. Cherney, Cornell University M.A. Islam, University of Wyoming K.A. Albrecht, University of Wisconsin K.D. Johnson, Purdue University M.T. Berti, North Dakota State University J.W. MacAdam, Utah State University M. Bohle, Oregon State University E.C. Meccage, Montana State University S.C. Bosworth, University of Vermont D.H. Putnam, University of California-Davis K.A. Cassida, Michigan State University
E.B. Rayburn, West Virginia University W.J. Cox, Cornell University C.C. Sheaffer, University of Minnesota E. Creech, Utah State University G. Shewmaker, University of Idaho S.C. Fransen, Washington State University J. Solomon, University of Nevada M.H. Hall, Penn State University R.M. Sulc, The Ohio State University D.B. Hannaway, Oregon State University J.J. Volenec, Purdue University
tree nuts, and sugar and sweeteners. The first five crops listed here are often considered the “big five” in the country. Alfalfa and other forages are not considered economically important and are not mentioned. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently released 2017 field crop values, showing that alfalfa is now the third most valuable field crop produced in the U.S. (see graph). It is also clear from the figure that research funding for alfalfa is pitiful compared to other crops. While the top crop in the country, corn, is valued at almost five times the value of alfalfa, it has over 10 times the research funding. In 2017, alfalfa moved ahead of wheat in crop value, and while the wheat crop is valued at $1.2 billion less than alfalfa, it also receives 10 times more research funding than alfalfa.
Valuable in other ways Increasingly, farmers are under the microscope for their environmental stewardship. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people obtain from natural and agro-ecosystems. These include air and water quality, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, nutrient and energy cycling, and species biodiversity. The stability and resilience of an ecosystem is related to biodiversity, particularly as climate fluctuations become more common. Grasslands contribute to the biodiversity and beneficial functioning of rural ecosystems. Nitrogen fixation by forage legumes alleviates some of the envi-
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ronmental costs of nitrogen fertilizer production, transport, and application. Perennial forages make tremendous contributions to soil health, but are rarely credited for it. Increased use of perennial forages provide pollen and nectar for pollinators, and improves wildlife habitat, which can positively impact tourism, hunting, and taxpayer appreciation of natural ecosystems. Grasslands safeguard watersheds while providing scenic beauty and public goods and services. Perennial forages reduce the problem of nutrient accumulation in water bodies, which causes eutrophication, degradation of water quality, and fish kills. The New York City watershed in upstate New York provides drinking water for approximately 9 million people in the New York City area. This is the largest unfiltered drinking water supply in the United States. This high-quality water does not require treatment, in large part due to the strategically placed perennial forage crops grown on farms in the watershed.
Forages valuable, scientists not Continuing with the example of New York State, forages are the most valuable crop, approaching $1 billion in value. In 2017, the National Agricultural Statistical Service reported that the total dollar value of forage crops for New York State was 50 percent higher than the combined value of all vegetable and fruit crops. Yet there are more than 10 times the number of fruit and vegetable crop scientists at New York’s land-grant university than there are forage scientists. Commodity promoters of vegetable and fruit crops make the case that these crops have many value-added qualities.
If we assigned a modest per-acre value to the ecosystem services provided by the massive forage acreage it would dwarf the added value of all other crops.
Teaching, extension, and research Forage and pasture systems provide great value to society and to agriculture, but reduced faculty appointments dedicated to the study of forages have resulted in fewer forage courses and reduced development of future forage scientists. As the current pool of trained forage crop faculty and crop consultants ages and retires, the agronomic industry will lose most of its expertise in forages. The success of the land-grant college system in boosting agricultural productivity led to a rapid decline in rural populations; traditional landgrant programs have gradually become a casualty of their own success. Federal support for land-grant colleges has declined substantially during the past 40 years, forcing states to provide much of that support. In the growing urban states, particularly in the northern U.S., competition from urban programs has claimed more tax revenues. Policy makers and stakeholders have lost touch with agricultural research and are less willing to support it. In witness of this fact, the urban public is much more willing to support crops that directly end up on their dinner plates, without considering the forages represented by meat and milk products. Traditional federal funding sources for research have been gradually replaced by competitive grant programs, which are often driven by commodity politics. Competitive grants are largely for short-term research, often in laboratories. Consequently, perennial
Forage-free future? Forage crops have always provided an excellent return on investment. Ironically, while their value is increasing, the investment in them is dwindling. Forage crops are a major renewable natural resource with significant ecosystem services benefits, but they receive little recognition among university and government administrators. Forage crops are not seen as a commodity, and therefore will continue to lack commodity support. We must identify legislative champions for forage crops who will advance the importance of bolstered state and federal funding for this irreplaceable foundation of animal agricultural systems. Such champions could effectively use forage crops as a prime example to counter the public’s common view that all conventional agriculture is unsustainable. Forage crops will survive this lack of appreciation, but forage crop extension, teaching, and research faculty at universities may become extinct. •
Crop value and federal funding for research for the top six field crops
Forage crop value is increasing while public support for forage research, teaching, and extension is declining
Crop value, $Billions
Forage for ruminants, food security, animal welfare, ecosystem services
Federal funding, $Millions
50 40 30
Monetary values, $ Æ
forage and grassland research, which lacks commodity recognition and often requires long-term field research, is negatively impacted by the current funding scheme. In 2008, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) was formed within the USDA to integrate scientific disciplines and to integrate research, education, and extension activities. A very tiny fraction of NIFA’s research and education budget has been dedicated specifically to forage and grasslands. The disturbing decline in support seen in the U.S. is in contrast to policies in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, all of which maintain strong support for forages.
20 10 Federal & state support for forage crops
Forage crop trends since 1960s
Soybean Alfalfa Wheat Cotton 2 3 4 5 Ranking of USA crop values, 2017
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by Mary Drewnoski
Shrink silage shrink
ILAGE shrink can cause silage to go from an economical source of feed to one that doesn’t make sense or cents. Shrink is the dry matter (DM) that is harvested but lost before feeding. In well-managed silage production, 10 to 20 percent shrink is typical. But up to 50 percent shrink can occur if some basic recommended practices aren’t followed.
Stop the shrink Here are the keys to reducing your shrink losses: Harvest at the right dry matter: Target 30 to 40 percent DM. Kernel milk stage cannot be relied upon to gauge optimal harvest timing, but it can be a useful indicator of when to begin measuring whole-plant DM content. For corn silage, 80 percent kernel milk marks the time to start testing. Under drought conditions, collect samples slightly earlier to ensure you don’t miss the window. If the silage is too wet, you lose DM to seepage, and if it’s too dry you can’t pack it tight enough to eliminate air, losing DM to aerobic bacteria, mold, and yeast. Either way, when outside of the target window, shrink can literally eat your cow’s lunch! Get it packed: Strive for a minimum packing density of 45 pounds per cubic foot (as fed). If storing in a bunker or pile, then you need 800 pounds of pack tractor weight per ton of silage per hour to get a good pack. You only want to be packing layers of 6 inches or less. This is something that many cow-calf operations have issues with, especially if the silage is being custom cut. The rate of harvest may be too fast for the number
and/or weight of the pack tractors. You may need to add weight to your tractor, or it may be the time to reach out to a neighbor and see if they can bring a tractor over during packing time so that you can keep up with the harvester. Shrink losses typically range from 5 to 10 percent due to improper packing. Get it covered: You need to exclude air as quickly as possible, this means covering the top and, if using porous material such as bales for sides, then lining the sides with plastic film before filling. Covering bunkers or piles is a pain, but it’s worth it. Air can penetrate 3 feet into silage and cause losses. Use an oxygen barrier film, as this will reduce losses 3 to 5 percent over standard plastic. Shrink typically ranges from 2 to 6 percent when covered right away, but an uncovered pile can result in 10 to 20 percent loss. As soon as possible means to get it done the same day; a week’s delay doubles the storage loss. Would you rather pitch it or cover it? You may be saying neither and just feed it. But feeding spoiled silage can have unintended consequences. Research from Kansas State University showed that including the “slimy” material at the surface of uncovered silage in the diet at just 5 percent of DM dropped intake by a pound per day and digestibility of the whole diet by 5 percent. This means that it essentially had no energy value as well as brought down the digestion of other feeds in the diet. They actually showed it affects the rumen environment, and thus the digestion of the other feeds in the diet. Manage feedout: Target a minimum of 6 to 8 inches removed off the face per
day, with 12 to 18 inches in the summer. Make sure you have sized your bunker or pile correctly. Most cow-calf operations have too wide of a face for their feedout rate. For 100 cows and 15 pounds DM per cow, the bunker face should only be about 20 feet wide by 12 feet high. Having the right-sized face can be extremely difficult to do with a pile, as the face (the surface exposed to air during feeding) can be very large. If you have a relatively low feedout rate, it may be worth considering bags. Use the correct unloading technique: You want to keep the silage packed with the shortest amount of time between exposure to air and feeding as possible. Loose silage is the enemy as it allows mold and yeast to start devouring the feed. Proper unloading technique includes shaving silage down the face and never “digging” the bucket into the bottom of the silage face. Scrape with the bucket from top down. Undercutting creates an overhang of silage that can loosen and tumble to the floor. If your face is not tight and vertical, you are doing it wrong. Check for heating by inserting your hand into the silage that you are loading into the total mixed ration or bunk. A general rule of thumb is that if it feels hot, you are burning money because all of the highly digestible parts are being eaten before you get it to the cattle. Losses due to face management typically range from 3 to 20 percent. Yes, 20 percent can occur with improper feedout techniques.
Every little bit helps Many of the things listed above will save you 5 to 10 percentage units. It may be hard to grasp what 5 to 10 percent means, but to put it in perspective, that is between one to two loads of silage in every 20 that just disappears. Likely, if you don’t have the time to manage shrink, then you probably can’t afford to be making silage. • For more information on silage production, check out the videos from the Silage for Beef Cattle Conference at bit.ly/HFG-beefsilage. MARY DREWNOSKI The author is a beef systems specialist, University of Nebraska.
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©2018 Dairyland Seed Co., Inc. All rights reserved. ®Dairyland Seed and the Dairyland Seed logo are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. Dairyland Seed is a seed affiliate of Dow AgroSciences. HA-07182850
Next, buyers come and assess the product, pulling hay samples and using a grading sheet to send to their customer for approval. The samples are sent off for a lab analysis to determine nutrient and feed value. If the customer likes what they see, they give the go ahead for the buyer to talk to the grower about purchasing the crop. Most of the business conducted between the buyer and their customers overseas is on the phone or through emails to finalize the deal and determine a price for the product.
Package size differs
Exports rule the West by Andrew Eddie
HE hay market on the West Coast is unique compared to much of the United States. In 2017, 2.6 million metric tons (MT) of alfalfa hay and 956,000 MT of timothy hay were exported from West Coast ports, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. A majority of these exports head to Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, or Taiwan to be used by dairies, racetracks, pet food companies, and more. With Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the export industry is a large and important asset for the hay industry in the West. Within 100 miles of our farm in Moses Lake, Wash., there are over 15 hay exporters in the state of Washington alone. A majority of these exporters simply process hay they buy from their client base of growers while others also supplement their hay inventory by running their own hay operation. These types of operations will sometimes rent land to grow their crops, will approach a grower and offer them money for a standing crop, or purchase the crop after the grower puts it in a windrow.
Buying a crop from a grower before it is put in the bale can mitigate some of the stress and costs the grower faces when attempting to put up a high-quality crop, but it often comes at a lower purchase price. The exporter incurs the risk of weather damage before they get the crop into a bale and hauled to their facility. Exporters generally don’t want to incur too much risk because this has the potential to elevate costs and their product can be more difficult to market if, for example, it receives rain damage. Once the hay is purchased, everything is turned over to the exporters for the completion of the shipping process.
It’s a relationship business Exporters work off of building both relationships with their growers, as well as their client base of overseas customers. Both relationships are of vital importance to the success of an export operation. The process generally begins with a buyer identifying the need of one of his customers, a price point of what they are wanting to pay for a product, and what growers may have the type and quality of product that they need.
The negotiations between the buyer and the grower are generally pretty straightforward. As a grower, we rely and trust the grading by the buyer and the price they are offering for our crop. We generally have a good idea of where the market is at and what we can get for our hay. Once the buyer and grower agree on a price, a contract is made that documents the price per ton, haul-out dates, and the amount of money to be paid up front if the hay has to stay on the farm for an extended period. When the hay is eventually hauled from the field to the processing facility, it is pressed into the type of package that the end customer is searching for. Pressed packages can range from something called a “mag” bale with multiple cuts weighing between 900 and 1,000 pounds to double compressed half-cut bales weighing between 55 and 60 pounds. The processor then handles the logistics for the shipment to ensure timely arrival of their product to their overseas customer. Currently, growers, exporters, and some of their clients are all wondering how the tariffs imposed on China are going to affect the export market. Is it going to cause less demand and/or lower prices for forage products from the West Coast? No one can say for sure what is going to happen, but the impact could definitely have a trickle-down effect in the market in the upcoming months. Stay tuned. • ANDREW EDDIE The author is a commercial hay grower in Moses Lake, Wash., and has his own advertising business.
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by Gonzalo Ferreira
Dairy diet drought relief
HE drought days of 2012 are behind us, but that year had the nation on fire. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the spring and summer of 2012 will be remembered as one of the nation’s worst agricultural calamities. The consequences of a major drought are multiple and, among other things, include shortages of silage stocks coupled with higher forage and grain prices. From a financial perspective, these two consequences can diminish cash flow substantially, which is the most relevant effect. From a nutritional perspective, finding strategies that sustain production and revenues while maintaining cows’ health is paramount when fighting a drought scenario. For our research team in the Dairy Nutrition Laboratory at Virginia Tech, testing alternative feeding strategies has been a priority for the last several years.
We had concerns In a recent study, we evaluated the production performance of high-producing dairy cows consuming atypical diets. First, as forage stocks may be a limiting factor during or after a drought year, we fed low-forage diets (for example, 42 percent forage and 58 percent concentrate) to “stretch” forage stocks. Then, to overcome a rapid boost in corn grain prices, we included wheat (instead of corn) as the grain source. In addition, as financial budgets may be tight to purchase high-quality
alfalfa hay, we included poor-quality mixed-grass hay (10.1 percent crude protein, 70.6 percent neutral detergent fiber, and 4.7 percent lignin) typical of our Southern region. Finally, the experimental diets included either brown midrib (BMR) forage sorghum silage or conventional (non-BMR) corn silage. Prior to running the experiment, we had a few concerns about these atypical diets. For example, feeding poor-quality hay might reduce voluntary feed intake, resulting in a corresponding lack of production performance. Also, combining a low-forage diet with a grain source of rapidly fermentable starch might result in subclinical ruminal acidosis with a consequent milk fat depression. Finally, from our experience in the field, we were concerned that cows consuming sorghum-based diets would eat less feed than cows consuming corn-based diets. Theoretically, this expected difference in feed intake would have translated into differences in milk yields. The first interesting observation of this study is that milk yield was more than acceptable (see table) regardless the type of silage fed. Obviously, the high milk production can be related to the physiological stage of these cows that were at 50 days in milk at the beginning of the experiment. However, it is still quite promising to know that high milk production can be sustained without dependence on alfalfa hay and corn grain. Cows consuming the corn silage-based diet produced about 6 more pounds of milk than cows consuming
Performance of cows fed corn or sorghum silage Corn silage Dry matter intake, lbs. DM/cow/day
Sorghum silage 56b
Milk yield, lbs./cow/day 113.5a 107.6b
sorghum-based diets. This difference in production was likely related to the greater dry matter intake for corn silage. So far, the differences in dry matter intake and milk production highlight the use of corn silage. However, cows consuming the sorghum silage-based diet had a higher concentration of fat in milk than cows fed the corn silage-based diet.
Economics favored sorghum The difference in milk fat test is not a trivial observation since maximizing milk fat concentration is critical to a higher milk price. Considering a milk fat price of $2.6635 per pound and a Class III skim milk pricing factor of $6.25 per hundredweight (cwt.), the resulting milk price would be about $1.40 per cwt. greater for cows consuming sorghum silage-based diets than for cows consuming corn-based diets. As pricing silages can be tricky and subjective, I decided to stop the analysis here. However, it’s logical to claim that sorghum silage is cheaper, or of similar value, than corn silage. Under this scenario, feeding sorghum silage-based diets can be a useful and favorable economic strategy. In summary, independent of the type of silage utilized, feeding low-forage diets with poor-quality hay and wheat as the grain source proved to be a successful strategy for sustaining milk production and potential revenues. These strategies, as well as many other ones, could help to attenuate the adverse effects of drought. Many people, including farmers, consultants, or extension educators, might have forgotten about past drought events. My colleague from University of Kentucky, Chris Teutsch, once said, “Every drought seems to be a surprise.” Our purpose for this study was to identify feeding options in response to the next severe drought. Even though we cannot know when, we can be sure droughts will happen again. •
Milk fat, percent 3.3b 3.84a Milk protein, percent 2.91 2.89
Milk lactose, percent 4.78 4.81
The author is assistant professor, department of dairy science, Virginia Tech.
Milk price, $/cwt 14.84 16.24 Revenue, $/cow/day 16.8 17.5 Superscripts with different letters within a row differ statistically. Both silage treatments were fed in low-forage diets (42 percent forage) containing poor quality mixed-grass hay and wheat grain.
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Feeding a high-fiber forage such as dry hay with brassicas will slow down the passage rate and enhance the absorption of nutrients. Ironically, livestock that have never been fed forage brassicas may take some time to accept them. Grazing behavior and selectivity is learned from their mothers, so livestock may need to be introduced to the brassica a little at a time. For the most efficient use of brassicas, it is best to utilize a strip or forward grazing system that allows livestock to only access small portions of the pasture at a time. This gives them a chance to “taste test” the forage, but also helps prevent the brassicas from being trampled.
Take care during establishment
Are greens good for you?
Brassica seeds are very small and should be planted at a rate of 1 to 3 pounds per acre. Because the seeds are so small, they will germinate quickly, as long as enough sunlight reaches the soil surface. This makes it imperative that brassicas are planted into either a prepared seedbed or no-till drilled into dedicated annual pastures that have been terminated and have a minimal amount of residue. Brassicas do not establish well when interseeded into perennial species. To further understand the establishment challenges of brassicas, especially in the Southeast, a research trial was conducted to evaluate the effects of planting date and land preparation strategies. The results of the study concluded that the combination of planting brassicas in the late summer (September 1 to September 15) into either a prepared seedbed or land that has been physically burned will produce the highest forage yields (Figure 2).
by Tayler Denman and Dennis Hancock
OT everyone has had the blessing of having a Southern momma (bless their hearts!). Those of us who did know that one of their favorite suppertime sayings is “Eat your greens! They’re good for you.” In the past few years, many have been proclaiming the benefits of greens for our pastures, as well. Turnips, kale, swedes, and several hybrids of these members of the Brassica genus have the potential to produce large amounts of forage. Even after one considers that these are often more than 80 percent water, the yield produced by the forage-type brassicas can be greater than 4,000 dry pounds per acre within a few weeks of planting.
In addition to producing high yields, forage brassicas have high nutritive value. Research and on-farm observations have shown brassicas to be 18 percent or more crude protein (CP) and have levels of total digestible nutrients (TDN) equal to or greater than 70 percent. In fact, it may be too good. The combination of a forage with high digestibility and high-moisture content results in a fast passage rate through the digestive tract. Consequently, ensure that brassicas are not more than 75 percent of the animal’s diet. Livestock will often self-select more fibrous forage to pair with the brassicas to help regulate their digestive system.
Fills the gap
Figure 1. Seasonal forage distribution Cool season annuals
Warm season annuals
Relative forage growth
Using cool-season annual pastures can complement the forage distribution from warm-season perennial grass pastures by providing good grazing in late winter and early spring, but having forage brassica pastures provides a substantial amount of forage in late fall (Figure 1). In the Southeast, forage brassicas are often planted in late summer or early fall to provide forage that fills the lull in forage production in mid to late fall of the year. If planted between August 15 and September 15, the hybrid forage turnips can often be grazed within 60 to 75 days after planting.
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Figure 3. Effect of land preparation on brassica forage yield
Forage yield (lb DM/acre)
Forage yield (lb DM/acre)
Figure 2. Effect of planting date on brassica forage yield
2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0
4,500 4,000 3,500 2,500 1,500 1,500 1,000
500 0 CT
Figure 3 represents yield results from only the September 1 planting date. Plots that were conventionally tilled (CT) produced the highest forage yields followed by no-till with physical burning (NB). The no-till with close mowing and no-till with 12 inches of residue remaining (NR) had the lowest forage yields. Planting later or into sites where any residue shades the furrows results in poor establishment and reduced forage
Land preparation method
yields of brassica. Brassicas can be a useful tool to have in the toolbox; they can help fill the fall forage gap and extend the grazing season. Their nutritive value makes brassicas ideal for livestock with high nutrient demands such as lactating beef cattle or stocker calves with target gains of 2.5 pounds per day. To mitigate this, supplement brassicas with a high-fiber roughage B:7.5” source such as a low-quality hay.
Plant brassicas in the late summer and into as little residue as possible. • TAYLER DENMAN AND DENNIS HANCOCK Denman (pictured) is a research professional at the University of Georgia and Hancock is Georgia’s extension forage specialist.
Time is the most precious commodity, so spend it wisely. With the HarvXtra® Alfalfa trait, you have the flexibility to choose between higher quality or a delayed harvest to maximize yield potential. Thanks to a wider cutting window, you can do what you want without your field getting in the way.
© 2018 Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. Roundup Ready® is a trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by 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.
ProofAug_Sept #: JOBGreens.indd #: 61832 3 F4 24-25 2018
CLIENT CODE: FGIN06
Print Scale: None Version: None
Bleed: None Trim: 7.5” x 4.875”
Cyan Magenta Yellow
Date: 7-11-2018 11:04 AM User Name: Hortsch, Marc
August/September 2018 | hayandforage.com | 25
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OPEN YOUR CUTTING WINDOW. AND YOUR LIFE.
by Adam Verner Tedders have become a popular means to speed hay drying. Size tedders based on the width of your mower.
Tedders have value in all situations S THE hay season pushes forward, some areas of the country are too wet while others are “the driest I’ve ever seen,” as a central Missouri farmer I recently talked to described it. Rarely do we get ideal conditions for one cutting, let alone a whole season. Whenever there are struggles to get hay to dry, one of the considerations is whether or not a new or different piece of equipment might help. Two questions that I often hear my hay farmer customers ponder are: 1. Do we really need to spend the extra money on a mower-conditioner, or can we get by with the straight disc mower that we have used for decades? 2. If we don’t buy the conditioner, is a tedder a good investment, and which type should we consider? The first question is one that I get all of the time, and the second is usually a result of the decision made on the mower type. To me, the first question is easier to answer if you narrow down the end goal of your haying operation. If you cut all of your own hay for use on your farm and are not tied down with numerous other summer farm activities, the nonconditioning mowers will work fine. If you custom hay for other farms or consider yourself a commercial-sized operation, then I personally think that you can’t afford not to have a
mower-conditioner. Basically, if time and/or acreage are constraining, then the few hours saved in dry down time for each cut will pay big dividends. On our farm, and those of some of my customers, we have done some very nonscientific comparisons; most of the time it was unintentional. What we have seen when putting up dry bermudagrass hay is that if the temperature is hot and conditions are trending dry, there is not much difference in dry down time between the conditioned and nonconditioned hay. This is especially true if a tedder is used on both. If the hay is thick and conditions are wet and humid, then there can be as much as half a day difference in what section of the field is ready to bale. If you get 30-plus inches of rain annually and you put up several thousand round bales, then I think a conditioner is a wise investment. For those in drier areas, you can maybe save that extra money from not purchasing a conditioning mower and use that on a wet-year insurance policy I call the tedder, or “fluffer” as it is sometimes referred to in the South. Once you’ve made your mower selection and have that problem settled, it leads us to the second question. Hay tedders have been historically limited to the higher rainfall states, but
are now creeping into the drier climate hay markets as well. The current model tedders have come a long way from the four-rotor, manual-fold versions of the 1980s and 1990s. These days, models have up to 18 rotors with transport wheels and can be raised while still working. On our farm, we used to have three tedders, three tractors, and three people dedicated everyday to nothing but fluffing hay. Now, one person with one tractor and tedder can cover the same acreage in half of the time. This drastically changed the cost of speeding the hay drying process. Tedders are also becoming popular in parts of the country that harvest a lot of alfalfa acres. When used on alfalfa, it’s important not to operate after the hay gets too dry. Doing so may result in significant leaf loss and drastically lower the quality and value of the end product. New tedder models have several different adjustments for setting how aggressive they are when spreading out the hay. This makes it feasible to ted straight alfalfa and reduce bleaching in heavy first cuttings. It also makes your hay more valuable when selling it, especially in the horse market where looks and visual appeal are everything. The only real question is what size tedder you need, and that usually depends on what size mowers you run. Depending on mower width, you can usually find a tedder that matches two, three, four, or even five mower swaths. I’m a big fan of the tedder regardless of whether you have a mower with a conditioner or without. Our two original questions really aren’t that hard to answer, but much depends on the size of your operation and what your typical weather conditions present during the hay harvest season. Happy haying! • ADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.
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by John Goeser
Fresh-chopped corn for silage: a different benchmark
N THE past six months, Rock River Laboratory has assayed nearly 900 corn silages from across the United States for kernel processing scores (KPS). The average result is now about 67 (percent of starch passing through a 4.75 millimeter [mm] sieve), which demonstrates continued improvement from one year and one crop to the next. Historic averages have been in the 50s and low 60s. The historic “normal” range of 50 to 70 can now better be described by scores of 60 to 70. The goal for today should be considered 75 or greater, as some have achieved scores of 85. These benchmarks apply to fermented corn silage, though, and a separate set of benchmarks exist for unfermented, whole-plant chopped corn (not yet silage).
Improved processing Marked improvement in kernel processing, to the benefit of dairy and feedlot performance, is coming by way of advances in machinery design, maintenance, and management. Speaking from a machinery standpoint, self-propelled forage harvester power and capabilities have improved, and kernel processor design has markedly advanced (for example, contemporary processors with shredding characteristics related to improved KPS). These engineering advances have contributed to the 5 to 10 unit gain in U.S. average KPS over the past decade. Those owning, operating, and servicing the forage harvesters have also better recognized the kernel processor’s capabilities and maintenance needs. Many measure KPS during feedout as a year over year evaluation of chopper performance. With research efforts underway to better understand the relationship between KPS and rumen starch digestion, I hypothesize that a 5 to 10 unit gain in KPS may improve corn silage starch digestion by an equivalent amount. A 5 to 10 unit gain in corn silage rumen starch digestion can easily equate to an additional pound of milk per cow eating a high corn silage
diet. Work with your dairy advisory team to consider how these factors could play into your margins. Recognizing the substantial impact on feedlot gains and dairy performance, those aggressively managing during harvest are routinely monitoring KPS. Some have gone as far as to purchase the laboratory equipment needed to run the assay. The farms and chopping crews are using these measures real-time to adjust roll gaps and other chopper and kernel processor settings day to day.
Silage KPS changes With likely thousands of freshly chopped corn kernel processing scores now completed, the industry is currently recognizing that freshly chopped corn KPS goals are different from fermented silage. In a January 2016 Hay & Forage Grower article, Luiz Ferraretto from the University of Florida discussed his team’s research showing how KPS changes over time and described the mechanisms. I recommend referring to this article for further explanation. In short, KPS improves through fermentation via the same mechanisms that starch digestibility improves with ensiling – the starch chunks in the kernel break down and fall apart into smaller pieces over time.
A lower fresh KPS This information is percolating through our industry but is not yet common knowledge. In a recent southern U.S. chopper support discussion with Randy Shaver from the University of Wisconsin, Ferrareto, and forage consultant Chris WacekDriver, we theorized how a 75 to 80 KPS goal for fermented silages is not realistic for freshly chopped corn. We recognized that corn silage likely gains up to 10 units or more during ensiling, and then mutually agreed that if the KPS goal is 75 at feedout, then a realistic benchmark should be in the 60s during chopping. The story gets deeper given recent
field observations by Chr. Hansen’s forage specialist team. Keith Bryan noted that the KPS gain during ensiling may also depend on moisture. Initial observations suggest that wetter, whole-plant chopped corn (68 to 70 percent moisture) KPS does not respond to ensiling to the same extent that drier corn does. Thus, the freshly chopped corn KPS goal will also depend on moisture.
Mechanical factors involved Bryan and Ferraretto have both also commented that mechanical processing (bagging or rotary defacing for feedout) can further improve fresh chopped corn KPS. More research and understanding are warranted here, but keep these observations and interactions in mind when setting goals this corn chopping season. Reflecting on the points discussed here, work with your nutritionist and chopping crew to set realistic goals. Nutritionists like to see complete kernel destruction (no visible kernels), yet at times this is tough to achieve. Diesel fuel and machinery costs might make it economically impractical. Understand that freshly chopped whole-plant corn KPS will more than likely never be 75 or greater. Know that when corn kernel maturity and dry matter advance, maximum kernel breakage becomes more and more critical. Consider that plant moisture and possibly kernel maturity may interact with ensiling to dictate resulting KPS during feedout. While further research is necessary to develop rock solid benchmarks, a freshly chopped corn likely needs to be averaging 65 KPS or better to achieve ensiled corn silage KPS levels in the 75 to 80 range. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.
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by Jesse Bussard
New software assists with grazing decisions
ECENTLY, an Australian company, Maia Technology, released a new free grazing management software known as MaiaGrazingLITE during the Grassfed Exchange Conference held June 20 to 22 in Rapid City, S.D. Col Feilen, Maia’s executive channel manager, says his company, which also has strong ties to the livestock sector, developed MaiaGrazing software after identifying a lack of farm management programs that also included a strong grazing component. “We conducted a global search for software and applications that could assist in delivering a consistent grassfed product and support for every stage up and down the supply chain in a vertically integrated business,” says Feilen. “The glaring gap was grazing management.” To learn how to fill this gap, Feilen and his counterparts spent time with innovative graziers, those managing their operations on a high level. “These innovators have been recording and tracking their grazing manually for years,” points out Feilen. “They’ve developed processes and systems that work well for them. All we’re really doing is codifying their best practices.”
Growing interest During its beta phase, the company worked with farmers and ranchers to test and hone the new app for nearly a year before ramping up commercialization and taking it to market. The first iteration of the software, MaiaGrazingPRO, was launched in Australia in November 2015. Feilen says his company decided to release the Lite version for free because they feel people should not have to pay just to have their information or record-keeping spat back out to them. “We’re in the decision support game,” says Feilen. “That’s what we charge our customers for. All the record keeping, tracking, and so forth, we are giving away for free.” Feilen estimates MaiaGrazingPRO currently has around 1,600 commercial users globally with more joining the ranks daily. In addition, he puts the present number of MaiaGrazingLITE users at around 500.
“The majority of those users are in Australia,” says Feilen. “But we’ve been taking on a lot more customers in the United States over the past 12 months.” Among some of the present U.S. users, says Feilen, are 777 Bison Ranch of Hermosa, S.D., the Durham Bison Ranch near Gillette, Wyo., and Acabonac Farms of Long Island, N.Y. In addition, research organizations, such as the Noble Research Institute, are beginning to use the software to track grazing research data. According to Feilen, the types of MaiaGrazing users are diverse. However, he points out, they all have one thing in common – they understand the management of their grass and natural resource base, not the livestock, are the true foundation of their business. “Whether you have 20 or 1,000 head of cattle, the challenge is the same,” says Feilen. “You have to manage the grass.” So, what do MaiaGrazing’s applications bring to the grazier’s table? Feilen describes the cloud-based software as a precision agriculture tool with a grazing specific focus wrapped into a farm management program. The program works on a desktop web browser and also on or offline as an app version. “The app version is very much designed to be practical and useful in the pasture,” says Feilen. “You can take photos in the pasture, geotag them, record moves, and things like that. If you’re out of cell range, it just syncs when you are back in range.”
Upgrade available With the free Lite version, producers are provided with the capability to do a variety of tasks, including track their herd, input pasture entries, understand grazing yields on individual pastures, map pastures, buy and sell livestock, record day-to-day farm management details, and even manage livestock inventory down to individual stock classes. When producers are ready to take on a planned grazing approach, Feilen says, they can easily transition to the subscription-based MaiaGrazingPRO platform. The big differences between the two versions, he explains, are the analytics and forecasting capabilities
of the Pro software to look ahead and assist in making decisions. The Pro version takes the data producers input and provides them with analytics and tools to understand where they may or may not sit in terms of their management; then plan accordingly. Among the advanced features MaiaGrazingPRO provides are grazing planning, forage budgeting, accounting for seasonal differences, and the ability to forecast their position using historical data. “We’re not doing anything different or providing a new methodology to grazing,” says Feilen. “We are just helping producers put specific context behind stocking rate and other grazing data points at a given point in time. We’re setting them up to be in a position to actively manage instead of be reactive.” Those interested in trying the free MaiaGrazingLITE software or signing up for a free trial of the MaiaGrazingPRO version can do so by visiting www.maiagrazing.com to set up an account, then download the app on their tablet or smartphone. Paid plans for the Pro version start at $45 per month and go up based on the size of operation. Additionally, Maia provides technical support to first-time users to assist them in account setup. Going forward, Feilen says producers can expect new integrations and continued upgrades in the MaiaGrazing platform. Future advancements currently in development include the ability to link to sensors or satellite feeds to measure biomass, soil moisture, rainfall, and other relevant data. In addition, Maia has partnered with an Australian agritech company, Agersens, to integrate their eShepherd virtual fencing system into the MaiaGrazing platform. • JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.
28 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018
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Add more “sunn” to your summer by Leanne Dillard
UNN hemp (Crotalaria juneca) has been showing up in summer annual mixtures across the country. Its quick growth and ability to fix nitrogen make it a good candidate for mixtures with sorghum, sudangrass, and millet. Sunn hemp is drought tolerant and can handle moderately low soil pH, making it an excellent choice for acidic soils.
No longer ignored Sunn hemp can be grazed by cattle, goats, and sheep. Historically, sunn hemp and other warm-season legumes have been considered excellent forbs for goats and other small ruminants. For this reason, they have been largely ignored by beef and dairy producers. However, under proper forage management, sunn hemp can have a nutrient profile that is excellent for stocker and finisher beef cattle, as well as pasture-based lactating dairy cows. In pastures, start grazing sunn hemp when plants are 1.5- to 3-feet tall, approximately 45 days after planting. The leaves are high quality (see table), but the stems are considerably lower quality. However, the stems provide the fiber needed for proper rumen function. In order to maintain forage quality, maximizing the leaf-tostem ratio is important. A field allowed to grow until flowering may lose lower leaves and have reduced forage quality. When sunn hemp is at 80 percent bloom, only 35 to 40 percent of the field biomass is leaves. To ensure forage quality, early grazing is important. Rotate livestock out of the field once the forage has reached 12 to 18 inches.
Due to its very high quality, sunn hemp is well suited for limit grazing (one to three hours per day) in combination with warm-season perennial pastures. At first, livestock may not find sunn hemp palatable, but within one to three days, they will develop a “taste” for sunn hemp. If sunn hemp is grazed too early, livestock will overgraze, possibly killing it. If plants are grazed too high (6 feet), the livestock will break the plants and the sunn hemp will not regrow. Mowing or grazing sunn hemp to less than 12 inches can prevent plant regrowth. It is not suggested to cut sunn hemp for hay or silage.
Get a good stand Once the soil temperature has reached 65°F, sunn hemp can be planted into a prepared seedbed. Research in central Alabama has shown that maximum forage yield (7,800 to 10,000 pounds of dry matter per acre) occurs when it is planted in mid-June. Plant 25 to 30 pounds of pure live seed per acre and inoculate with a cowpea-type inoculant. Seed at a depth of ¼- to 1-inch. Due to its wide tolerance of soil pH (5.0 to 8.4), liming is generally not necessary, but it is recommended if needed. Nitrogen (N) fertilizer is not required as sunn hemp is a legume, but add phosphorus and potash based on soil test results. Sunn hemp grows best in sandy, well-drained soils. It is not tolerant of standing water or heavy, clay soils. During the first 30 days after planting, it will have little above ground biomass production. However, by day
60, plants can be 6-feet tall. In order to maximize the length of the grazing season, plantings of sunn hemp can be staggered (May and July). This allows for a higher quality forage throughout the grazing season and into early fall. Its high crude protein content complements summer annual grasses, which are typically higher in sugars. In addition, because it fixes nitrogen, you can reduce the amount of N fertilizer that is applied to these mixtures. Sunn hemp is in the genus Crotalaria, which is characterized by the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the seeds. Sunn hemp contains only low levels of two to three different alkaloids. Non-ruminants are more susceptible to acute toxicity from ingesting seeds compared to ruminants. It is not suggested to feed the seeds; however, the consumption of a small amount of seed while grazing will not cause acute toxicity in livestock. Leaves and stems of sunn hemp have not been found to be toxic to any class of livestock. Many of our summer options do not produce the forage quality necessary to maintain a lactating dairy cow, a stocker, or for a finishing beef diet. This leaves producers feeding stored forages and feeds during the summer slump (July to August). Using a combination of summer annual grasses (for example, sorghum or millet) with a high crude protein forage like sunn hemp can provide a more nutritionally complete diet for pasture-based animals through the summer months. • Forage yield and quality of sunn hemp (Alabama) Yield.................... 3,000 to 10,000 lb. DM/acre Estimated N fixation............... 120 lb./acre/year Crude protein (leaf)........................... 25 to 30% Neutral detergent fiber (leaf).............. 22 to 28% Acid detergent fiber (leaf)................... 22 to 27% Source: Mosjidis et al., 2013 LEANNE DILLARD The author is an assistant professor and extension forage specialist at Auburn University.
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New grass can kill pregnancies by Kassidy Buse
OVING from drylot to pasture in the spring is usually a welcomed change, but there is still reason for caution because this time period often aligns with the beginning of the breeding season. Due to this combination of events, pregnancy rates tend to decline thanks to the dramatic nutritional change that spring pastures bring, according to Eric Mousel, University of Minnesota Extension livestock educator. Mousel noted that producers using A.I. rather than bull breeding realize this decline even more so. Drylots favor the estrous synch protocols that involve multiple trips through the chute and enhanced labor management required by A.I. If animals are moved to spring pastures shortly after breeding, this rapid change in nutrition has shown to negatively impact not only reproductive efficiency in cows and heifers but also their metabolism and body weight gains. The effect is especially pronounced with replacement heifers. Weight loss of over 3 pounds per day can be seen throughout the first week following introduction to pasture. As if this loss in weight wasn’t enough, weight gain can also be delayed for as long as 30 days after first turnout. “This weight loss could be caused by a multitude of factors,” Mousel explained. “Spring grass, as lush as it is, is mostly water so heifers might be achieving rumen fill but not their daily dry matter needs. Also, behavior changes could cause heifers to abandon grazing to walk the fence line instead. This combined stress sends a signal to abort the pregnancy,” he added. Research has further shown that a shift in diet around breeding has immediate impacts on embryo health and development. Heifers that receive inadequate amounts of energy in their diets following A.I. have poor-quality embryos with less development within the first six days following the change in diet. Studies also show heifers that don’t continue to gain weight following conception experience a 10 percent
decline in pregnancy rate. Moreover, many females end up late-bred due to losing one or more pregnancies earlier in the breeding season from nutritional stress. Mousel recommended one approach of placing heifers on pasture before the start of the breeding season. This allows heifers to acclimate to their new
surroundings and diet before being bred. Another strategy is supplementing energy-dense feedstuffs once heifers are introduced to pasture. Studies show that supplementing 5 pounds of dried distillers grains per head for the first 30 days following the move to pasture prevents the decline in pregnancy rates seen otherwise. •
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CALL 855-855-9857 TODAY OR VISIT WWW.RANCHWORX.COM August/September 2018 | hayandforage.com | 31
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New moisture sensor for round balers Harvest Tec recently introduced its H2O Precision Moisture Sensor, specifically designed for use on variable and fixed chamber round balers. It has been designed for round baler operators who want a system that reads moisture accurately in wet silage bales as well as in dry hay. Harvest Tec’s patented side-to-side technology reads crop moisture from 6 to 60 percent. Moisture is measured consistently across the full width of the bale by dual moisture-sensing discs mounted on the chamber walls, making these readings more accurate than hand probing or pad-style sensors. Harvest Tec’s dual opposing sensors collect five readings per second through the outer 6 inches of the round bale as it is formed in the bale chamber. The operator has instant knowledge of the crop’s moisture as it is being baled, with continuous display on an Apple or Android smart phone or tablet connected wirelessly via Bluetooth through the free and easy-to-use H2O app from Harvest Tec. The operator is still able to make and receive phone calls while the moisture sensor is at work. The H2O Precision Moisture Sensor is available through your hay tools dealer. For more information, contact your dealer or visit www.harvesttec.com.
Vermeer touts new bale processor The new BPX9010 from Vermeer is an all-around bale processor designed for a variety of applications, including distributing a consistent, uniform windrow in the pasture or bunk line, and spreading bedding with consistency at ranges up to 50 feet. The new bale processor is designed with a direct-drive system for less maintenance. An optional straight forks and powered sidewall kit gives producers the versatility to process both round and square bales. Additionally, the proven slat and chain bale rotation design allows bales to feed consistently into the rotor without the need for reverse rotation. The tub profile, paired with toolless cut-control bars, allow for more consistent feeding of bales with various shapes and moisture. Crop flow is improved with a redesigned discharge chute. For more information, visit vermeer.com.
John Deere Bale Mobile app introduced John Deere recently unveiled its Bale Mobile app to help hay producers get detailed information, improve efficiency, identify bale characteristics, and track yields to make decision making easier. Using John Deere Bale Mobile, producers can capture yield and other relevant data for hay. When used in conjunction with a John Deere 1 Series Large Square Baler (L331 or L341 model), equipped with optional moisture and weight sensors, the new app processes moisture and weight data into useable information for baling, loading, and overall farm management. Tractor operators can see their information in near real time, while Bale Mobile documents the baling process. Individual bale moisture and weight are tagged to each specific
bale (georeferenced within the app) for improved traceability. Operators can also digitally tag specific bales with additional notes in the app that are useful for sorting and enables them to make better informed on-the-go decisions. After an operator is finished baling the field, a summary provides crop tonnage, number of bales, and average moisture readings. This makes it easier for bales to be sorted by moisture, weight, and whether or not there was a preservative applied. For commercial hay operations, Bale Mobile also makes it possible for producers to remotely view real-time bale weight and moisture readings for each round baler that’s operating in the field. This is accomplished by simply using an iPad or tablet computer. A field summary
shows yield information to help producers make appropriate agronomic decisions when it comes to taking future actions such as fertilizing, irrigating, or reseeding. For more information, visit JohnDeere.com/ag.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
32 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018
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Case IH expands Early Riser planter lineup Case IH is expanding the 2000 series Early Riser planter lineup with a new 2130 stack-fold mounted 3-point hitch model. Available in five configurations, this all-new planter includes features that enhance productivity for high-tech strip-till and flood irrigation operations. Available models include 12-row 30-, 36-, 38-, or 40-inch row spacing configurations and 16-row 30-inch row spacing configurations. For the first time, the stack-fold models will be available with a bulk-fill tank option, factory-fit liquid fertilizer system, and wing downforce. While the 2130 planter also comes factory-available with on-row hoppers, the new bulkfill tank option offers enhanced seed capacity and reliable seed delivery. The bulk-fill tank option allows producers to save up to 50 percent of the time it takes to tender seed with on-row hoppers, while tendering more effectively with
one man instead of two. The tank also provides 2.2 times more seed capacity on a 12-row planter and 1.6 times more seed capacity on a 16-row planter when compared with on-row hoppers. A new factory-available liquid fertilizer system delivers accurate application from aftermarket tanks mounted to the sides or front of the tractor. Growers can save trips across the field by applying starter fertilizer in-furrow. The fertilizer system is available from the factory on the 2130 planter. Engineered to be a high-speed planter, the 2130 Early Riser can be customized from the factory for specialty operations. For example, the stack-fold configuration brings row units close to the tractor, so an operator can easily maneuver and plant as close as possible to an irrigation ditch or pipe. In strip-till, the mounted design eliminates draft so the planter follows the tractor and, in turn, more
precisely follows guidance lines. The heavy-duty toolbar on the 2130 planter provides a solid frame. During planting, weight is evenly distributed across the tractor, maximizing flotation and minimizing compaction. Optional lift-assist wheels are available for added support, and a gullwing option provides additional wing lift when the planter is raised, for more clearance on headland turns. For more information, visit caseih.com.
Doosan offers new wheel loader Doosan Infracore North America LLC, has extended its wheel loader lineup with the new DL280-5. The new loader is part of the 3 to 4 cubic-yard capacity wheel loader offerings. The 172-horsepower DL280-5 is manufactured with a standard Z-bar lift-arm linkage and is ideal for scooping, loading, carrying, and general construction tasks. Operators requiring additional dumping capabilities into trucks and hoppers will benefit from the high-lift Z-bar configuration. The high-lift iteration provides an additional 18 inches of dump height. Inside the cab, Doosan DL280-5 wheel loaders are equipped with an upgraded standard forward-neutral-reverse (FNR) joystick control/gear selector. The FNR functionality on the joystick is more intuitive, allowing operators to easily switch between forward, neutral, and reverse without removing your hand from the controls. An exclusive feature on the DL280-5 is its optional wide-fin radiator, which has a standard
six fins per inch and is available in a package with heavy-duty axles. The wide-fin radiator option provides better cooling with larger fin spacing, helping to filter out dust and debris. The DL280-5 has an optional quick coupler to easily change attachments, including buckets (general purpose, light material, or multi-purpose) and pallet forks. The wheel loader comes with a standard three-year subscription to Doosan telematics, which allows owners to remotely monitor machine location, hours, fuel usage, engine idle versus work time, error codes, and engine and hydraulic temperatures. Machines can be monitored via an online Doosan telematics account. In addition, Doosan dealers can provide improved customer support using the system by responding to machine warning messages and alerts, troubleshooting machine issues, and then sending a field service vehicle to help with repairs and deliver the proper parts. For more information, visit DoosanEquipment.com.
Worksaver debuts bale handler Worksaverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new RBH-4500 bale handler fits tractor front loaders and handles and stacks either two 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet large rectangular bales or three 3 feet by 3 feet by 8 feet bales. This bale handler features five 26-inch long forged spears spaced along the bottom of the unit for bale support and six 21-inch long forged spears for the uprights to help secure bales in transport. Each side offers four moveable bale hooks, which allow the operator to position the hooks in the most convenient location. Four flange bearings provide smooth operation of the hook shafts. The RBH4500 replaces Worksaverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RBH-4000 Bale Handler. For more information, visit www.worksaver.com.
August/September 2018 | hayandforage.com | 33
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Alfalfa-tall fescue mixtures evaluated A group of researchers from universities across the United States conducted a two-year study to evaluate alfalfa-tall fescue mixtures across multiple environments, focusing on herbage accumulation, weed suppression, and fertilizer nitrogen replacement values (FNRV). The experiments were established in six states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The treatments consisted of an alfalfa monoculture, three alfalfa-fescue mixtures at various seed ratios, and a tall fescue monoculture, which received various levels of nitrogen application. The results were published in Crop Science. Alfalfa and tall fescue monocultures, along with mixtures of the two species, were established in the fall or spring, depending on location. Mixtures included 75, 50, or 25 percent alfalfa. Jesup MaxQ (novel endophyre) tall fescue was used at most sites, though Select, a low-endophyte variety, was seeded in Wisconsin and Utah. Either three or four cuttings were taken per year when the alfalfa monoculture reached about 10 percent bloom. The pure tall fescue plots were fertilized with 45 to 268 pounds of nitrogen (N) per acre. All data was taken the two years following seeding. Forage yield was strongly affected by location and treatment. Overall, forage yield for the alfalfa-tall fescue mixtures averaged 3.3 tons per acre (dry matter) in the first year and 3.1 tons per acre in the second year. The alfalfa monocultures
yielded 2.6 tons per acre in the first year and 2.7 tons per acre in the second year. The researchers noted that the mixtures yielded most when at least 50 percent alfalfa was present and attributed the higher yield in the mixtures to the complementary growth characteristics of the alfalfa and fescue. This suggests that mixtures might be better able to adjust to variable environmental conditions than monocultures. Tall fescue responded differently to N fertilization depending on location. Generally, there was a significant yield response to the first 45 to 90 pounds of N per acre applied, then response leveled off. However, this trend was variable with location and year. The monoculture tall fescue treatment yielded similar to those of the grass-legume mixtures. To calculate FNRV, the relationship between nitrogen fertilization and tall fescue yield was evaluated. The average FNRV was 128 pounds per acre. The highest values were observed in the Eastern states and during the second year. The researchers also found that grasses helped suppress weeds in the alfalfa-fescue mixtures. Nitrogen application also helped minimize weeds in the tall fescue monoculture. Concluding, the researchers noted that alfalfa-tall fescue mixtures offer some clear advantages in forage production systems, but emphasized that grass-legume interactions are dynamic and site specific. Select varieties adapted to specific regions.
Warm-season grasses offer beef, biomas opportunity Native warm-season grasses such as switchgrass and indiangrass have potential to be a source of summer forage for grazing cattle. Researchers at the University of Tennessee conducted two 3-year experiments at two locations to evaluate this potential using weaned beef steers during the early-season and full-season grazing periods. The results were reported in the Journal of Animal Science. Steers were placed in paddocks that consisted of either switchgrass, a blend of big bluestem and indiangrass, or eastern gamagrass. Early-season grazing started around early May and concluded in early June. Full-season grazing started at the same time, concluding mid- to late August. Early-season forage mass did not differ across the species at either location. During the full-season, switchgrass had the greatest forage mass while the big
bluestem and indiangrass blend had the lowest. This shows that switchgrass will need more aggressive management, especially in the spring. Even though the big bluestem and indiangrass blend had the lowest mass, it surpassed the other paddocks in terms of nutritive value. It consistently had lower neutral detergent fiber (NDF), higher in vitro true dry matter 48-hour digestibility (IVTDMD48H), and higher crude protein than the other grasses. Across all species, there were no differences between the early- and full-seasons in crude protein and IVTDMD48H, but NDF and acid detergent fiber (ADF) were higher in the full-season grasses. Steers grazing big bluestem and indiangrass blends at both locations experienced the highest ADG. This was likely due to the higher nutritive value. The steers that experienced the lowest ADG grazed
eastern gamagrass. The greater rate of ADG was experienced during the early-season. There was no difference among species in terms of which yielded more. But it was observed that the variation in management of grazing did have a direct influence on the profitability of biomass production options. In summary, stocker cattle were able to successfully graze native warm-season grasses throughout the summer months. A blend of big bluestem and indiangrass led to the highest ADGs due to a high nutritive value. Switchgrass was the highest yielding option in terms of mass. The early-season grazing approach produced the highest rate of gain during a short period of time, which when combined with the additional grass production later in the season shows potential for the same land resource to be used for both beef and biomass production.
34 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018
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“My cows don’t waste enough hay to lay on anymore.” R.M., Dardanelle, AR IN 15 MINUTES YOU CAN TRANSFORM A 22 FT. EIGHT -BALE FEEDER IN TO AN ELEVEN -BALE “MOO -VER”...FOR ONE LOW FACTORY PRICE OF $4,500. Excited cattlemen & women testify saving tons of expensive hay with the 22’ BALE MOVER with quick-tach sliding feeder panels.
“My neighbors look on with envy when they see me haul 11 bales or feed 8 bales at a time. I have cut my chore time from 1/2 day to 2 hours.” - S.M., Simpsonville, SC "It works great! My bales are small, so it took 14 bales to fill it, and they hardly wasted any at all. I am well satisfied and would recommend it to anyone interested in one." - D.B., Rising Sun, IN Photo courtesy of: Wild Wind Angus — Staunton, VA
“Since I have another full time job, I can’t spend much time with my cattle. My bale feeder will feed 50 cows for 5 days. It is hard to believe how well they clean up everything. Because of the recent drought I am short of hay, so I loaded 8 bales of wheat straw - when I checked on my cows later it was all cleaned up!” - B.A., Mantua, OH
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Double “R” Bale Covers
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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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36 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018
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BUYERS MART Available models 17, 19, 25 & 27 with rubber mounted teeth
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38 Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018
Can’t depend on mother nature for your moisture requirements?
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40 Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018 Buyer's Mart .indd 1
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August/September 2018 | hayandforage.com | 41
HAY MARKET UPDATE
Hay prices hold, but it’s dry
Farm Progress Show
August 28 to 30, Boone, Iowa Details: www.farmprogressshow.com
North Dakota Grazing School September 5 to 7, Washburn, N.D. Details: bit.ly/HFG-NDgraze
KFGC Eastern Kentucky Field Day
prices at this time. A better milk outlook and a resolution of alfalfa export tariffs imposed by China would help. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of the beginning of August. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted.•
For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at hayandforage.com
September 6, Morehead, Ky. Details: forages.ca.uky.edu/Events
Husker Harvest Days
September 11-13, Grand Island, Neb. Details: www.huskerharvestdays.com
National Hay Association Convention
Excessive rainfall in some areas but also drought have plagued hay producers in 2018. Currently, over 50 percent of the U.S. finds itself in some category of drought. Hay prices have held steady, but some buyers are unwilling to pay the higher
September 12 to 15, Kansas City, Mo. Details: www.nationalhay.org
Georgia Advanced Grazing School September 18 and 19, Lyons, Ga. Details: georgiaforages.com
Alfalfa & Forage Field Day September 19, Parlier, Calif. Details: bit.ly/HFG-AFFD-Kearney
Kentucky Grazing School September 25 and 26, Versailles, Ky. Details: forages.ca.uky.edu/Events
Michigan State Grazing School September 27 and 28 Hickory Corners or Lake City, Mich. Details: bit.ly/HFG-MSUgrazing
World Dairy Expo World Forage Analysis Superbowl October 2 to 6, Madison, Wis. Hay crop entries due Aug. 30 Details: bit.ly/HFG-WFAS
Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Hay Contest October 16 to 18, Moultrie, Ga. Hay contest entries due September 20 Details: bit.ly/HFG-SEHC18
California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium November 27 to 29, Reno, Nev. Details: http://calhay.org/symposium
Supreme-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) California (Intermountain) Kansas (all regions) Missouri New Mexico (eastern) New Mexico (southern)-ssb Oklahoma (western) Oregon (Klamath Basin)-ssb Oregon (Lake County) Texas (Panhandle) Texas (north,central, east) Utah (all regions) Premium-quality alfalfa California (Intermountain) California (Sacramento Valley) California (southern) Colorado (San Luis Valley) Idaho Iowa Kansas (all regions) Minnesota (Sauk Centre)-lrb Missouri Nebraska (east/central) Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (central/western) Oregon (Lake County) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (East River) Texas (north,central, east) Texas (west) Utah (northern) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wyoming (central/western) Good-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) Colorado (northeast) Idaho Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (all regions) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Nebraska (east/central) New Mexico (eastern) New Mexico (southeastern) Oklahoma (eastern) Oregon (Lake County)-ssb Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River) Texas (Panhandle) Utah (centeral) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster)
Price $/ton 220 285-290 185-200 180-250 240-265 275-300 220-230 180-200 210 285-295 310 150-185 Price $/ton 220 240 265 245 150 300-350 170-195 185 160-200 200 150 180-200 230 210-225 200 290 250-265 130-155 180-200 190 Price $/ton 170-190 170 135-150 140 160-170 120-180 120-160 160 220-240 200-220 160-170 185 130 90-100 150 250 80-100 180-185 173-190
Wyoming Fair-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) Colorado (northeast) Idaho Iowa (Rock Valley) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana Nebraska (east/central)-lrb Oklahoma (western) Oregon (Klamath Basin) Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River) Utah (northern) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb Alabama-Premium ssb Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium lrb Texas (south)-Good/Premium ssb Bromegrass hay Kansas (southeast)-Good Missouri-Good Orchardgrass hay California (Intermountain)-Premium California (northern SJV)-Good Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Washington (Columbia Basin)-Premium Timothy hay Idaho-Good Montana-Premium ssb Oregon (eastern)-Premium Pennsylvania (southeast)-Premium Washington (Columbia Basin)-Premium ssb Oat hay California (Intermountain)-Good Colorado (northeast) Iowa-Good Kansas (south central) Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb Washington (Columbia Basin) Straw Idaho Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Nebraska (east/central)-lrb Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Washington (Columbia Basin)
150-160 Price $/ton 176 165 (d) 135 110-125 90 110-150 100-120 125-130 90 140 130 160 80-85 130 60-90 150 73-80 Price $/ton 133 180-300 200 231-264 Price $/ton 130-150 100-150 Price $/ton 300 200 230 225-260 Price $/ton 175-180 210-240 300 (d) 170-190 290-300 Price $/ton 120 140-150 110-145 85-95 80 115 Price $/ton 60 70-108 95-105 100-105 90 145-180 68-70 65
Abbreviations: d=delivered, lrb=large round bales, ssb=small square bales, o=organic
42 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2018
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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 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.
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.
Gets the Job Done. Because the Work Never Is. Kubota M7 Series
Take to the field with the Kubota M7 Series. It’s Kubota’s most powerful tractor yet, packed with versatility, comfort and sophisticated technology plus legendary Kubota quality and reliability. Get behind the wheel and get the job done.
Low-Rate, Long-Term Financing Going On Now! 3 Year Limited Powertrain Warranty* See your local Kubota dealer for details.
*Only terms and conditions of Kubota’s standard Limited Warranty apply. For warranty terms see your Kubota dealer or go to KubotaUSA.com. Optional equipment may be shown.
005226 – 2018 National Finance Print M7 with Baler – Hay and Forage Grower (Aug/Sept 2018) – 8.375 x 10.875
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M OW . CONDITION. BALE. BETTER.
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