Hay & Forage Grower - March 2019

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March 2019

Alfalfa at a crossroads pg 6 A forage business like no other pg 10 The Hay Lady from Pennsylvania pg 16

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

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The clover dilemma pg 32 2/28/19 10:06 AM


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March 2019 · VOL. 34 · No. 3

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 jford@hoards.com Kim E. Zilverberg kzilverberg@hayandforage.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com



Alfalfa at a crossroads

Alfalfa is being replaced by almonds both in the field and also in feed rations. Is it too late for the alfalfa industry to react? Maybe not.

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

DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 5 Pasture Ponderings 12 Alfalfa Checkoff 14 Forage Gearhead 15 Feed Analysis



20 Dairy Feedbunk 28 Beef Feedbunk

The Hay Lady in Pennsylvania

Two herds under one heartbeat

Kim Summers has built a life and a successful business by finding hay for those who need it.

This Kentucky beef operation values forage diversity and has tried about everything.





















35 Machine Shed 42 Forage IQ 42 Hay Market Update

ON THE COVER Christopher Shupe strings polywire at his farm in Michigan’s Thumb region. Shupe, and his brother, David, currently own and operate the farm while two other brothers also have ownership interests. The 1,000-acre farm has 420 acres of pasture, primarily perennial ryegrass. Alfalfa, wheat, and corn for silage are also grown. The brothers milk 625 cows and have 450 head of young stock. Both pasture and a TMR fuel the dairy herd. Photo by Mike Rankin

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2019 W. D. Hoard & Sons Company. All rights reserved. Published six times annually in January, February, March, April/May, August/September and November by W. D. Hoard & Sons Co., 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Tel: 920-563-5551. Fax: 920-563-7298. Email: info@hayandforage.com. Website: www.hayandforage. com. Periodicals Postage paid at Fort Atkinson, Wis., and additional mail offices. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscribers may subscribe at: USA: 1 year $20 U.S.; Outside USA: Canada & Mexico, 1 year $80 U.S.; All other countries, 1 year $120 U.S. For Subscriber Services contact: Hay & Forage Grower, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 USA; call: 920-563-5551, email: info@hayandforage.com or visit: www.hayandforage.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to HAY & FORAGE GROWER, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Subscribers who have provided a valid email address may receive the Hay & Forage Grower email newsletter eHay Weekly.

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A look into the haymow


ometimes hay gets cut later than we’d like; sometimes hay data gets reported later than we’d like. The latter occurred this year because of an extended wall discussion in our nation’s capital. To be clear, it was the discussion that was extended, not the wall. With government employees back to work, we at least now have our end-ofyear hay data. So let’s take a dive into the digits and see if we can’t figure out what they might mean for 2019. December 1 hay stocks: As we headed into the winter-feeding season, USDA reported U.S. dry hay stocks were down 6.4 percent from the previous year. The nation’s hay supply of 79.1 million tons as of December 1 was only the second time since 2000 that stocks have plunged below 80 million tons. The first time was following the widespread drought in 2012. To put some context to the hay inventory situation, as recently as 2010 hay stocks exceeded 100 million tons. Individual states varied in the total amount and direction of their hay inventory change. Of the major hay-producing states, the largest reductions occurred in Wisconsin (down 34 percent), Texas (down 29.7 percent), California (down 24.3 percent), Minnesota (down 21.2 percent), and Pennsylvania (down 21.2 percent). States in the Northern Plains that were hit hard by drought in 2017 were successful in rebuilding hay stocks during 2018. North Dakota was up 23.1 percent, Montana gained 15.1 percent, and South Dakota had a 3.9 percent boost. Hay acres and yield: Initial estimates from USDA tell us that farmers harvested 52.84 million acres of dry hay in 2018. That was just slightly higher than the 52.77 million acres harvested in 2017. Drilling down to alfalfa (dry hay only), those acres declined from 17 million

Mike Rankin Managing Editor

in 2017 to 16.6 million in 2018. States with the largest alfalfa acreage declines were Minnesota (down 150,000), Pennsylvania (down 130,000), Iowa (down 100,000), and New York (down 100,000). Big gainers in alfalfa acreage were Montana (up 250,000), South Dakota (up 200,000), and North Dakota (up 90,000). All three states rebounded after losing significant acreage in 2017. Although hay acres held firm in 2018, yields did not. The average U.S. dry hay yield (all types) dropped from 2.43 tons per acre in 2017 to 2.34 tons per acre in 2018. For alfalfa, the average yield declined from 3.28 tons per acre in 2017 to 3.17 tons per acre in 2018. Hay production: The 2018 production of all dry-hay types totaled 123.6 million tons, down 3.6 percent from 2017. Total alfalfa dry-hay production declined by 5.7 percent to 52.6 million tons. In some states, alfalfa hay production was cut significantly in 2018 compared to 2017. Included in this group were Minnesota (down 863,000 tons) and Wisconsin (down 803,000 tons). South Dakota easily led all alfalfa production gainers in 2018 (up 1 million tons). Other states whose production was up significantly included North Dakota (up 636,000 tons) and Montana (up 430,000 tons). Bottom line: December 1 hay stocks have fallen nearly 18 percent (17 million tons) since 2016. This greatly impacts our ability to buffer any weather-related production issues. If winter feeding is above average because of a late spring, expect to see some regional hay shortages. There is nothing to indicate that hay prices will decline in 2019; more likely, they will rise. •

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

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by Jesse Bussard

Sold on swath grazing


HEN ranching at 7,200 feet above sea level, hay is a winter necessity. In order to find ways to reduce the costs associated with feeding harvested feed, one must get creative. Enter swath grazing. This form of winter grazing involves feeding animals from windrowed hay that is cut, raked, and stockpiled in-field earlier in the year. In Wyoming, rancher Shanon Sims of Sims Cattle Company has reaped both ecological and economic rewards from the practice. He estimates his ranch’s annual feed cost savings to be around $10,000 per year. “It has allowed us to become more sustainable by harvesting more feed with the cow and less mechanically,” said Sims.

Alternates windrows Now going on 20 years of using this feeding method, Sims has the practice down to a science. They begin prepping windrows for swath grazing in late July. Hay is cut and allowed to dry for two to three days. Once dried, the hay is raked into windrows using a wheel rake. Sims alternates windrow locations each year so they are never in the same place two years consecutively. This is mainly to avoid damaging underlying forage. Sims pointed out that six mower swaths raked into a single row has turned out to be the sweet spot when it comes to creating the perfect windrow.

“When windrows are too small, exposure to the elements can cause hay to become less nutritious,” said Sims. “Too large, and cattle will foul the excess.” Sims estimated it costs him around $40 per ton to grow, harvest, and graze windrows. Compared to processing loose-stacked hay (what the Sims family does for the rest of their hay needs), Sims said swath grazing allows him to save about $10 on every ton of hay produced and around $15 per cow per year on annual cow costs.

A perfected system Sims’ swath-grazed hay usually averages around 6.5 percent crude protein and 89 relative feed value. These numbers are more than enough to meet his cows’ nutritional requirements, eliminating the need for supplemental feed during the winter months. The swath grazing season kicks off for Sims around mid-December, sometimes earlier if drought is a factor. Hay is rationed out and strip-grazed using temporary electric fence. Annual grazing records assist in estimating forage production and predicting where fences will need to be placed. Sims allots around three days worth of feed for his 350-head herd at a time. That’s about 13 to 15 tons per paddock. “More than that and cows have too much time to ‘bed in,”’ said Sims. “And that leads to fouled, wasted hay.” Sims pointed out that because grass

is dormant and the ground is frozen, he doesn’t worry about back fencing. He typically starts grazing each field near a water source and strategically expands the feeding area away from it with each rotation. Sims’ tools of the trade include step-in posts and polywire. Half-mile cable spools of polywire are used for longer stretches and areas where elk may be actively moving. Here’s a trick that he shared: The ground is rarely frozen underneath windrows, so planning fence placement such that the posts are in windrows makes the job easier. Ideally, the ranch likes to have all windrows grazed by early April. Any later and warm, wet weather can lead to moldy hay and palatability issues. Sims finishes out the winter by feeding stacked hay until pastures begin to green up in late May.

Paradigm shift Was it easy to make the transition to swath grazing all those years ago? Sims’ father, Scott, will tell you the cows had no issue, but for him and his son that wasn’t the case. “The biggest challenge for us really was the paradigm shift to believe that cows would survive and thrive without us putting out a feed portion every day,” said the elder Sims. “We couldn’t believe they could do this the whole winter. We had to figure out what else to do with our time now that we didn’t need to feed every day.” The family made the transition to swath grazing slowly at first, only setting aside enough windrows to get the herd through a couple of months. These days, 20 years down the road, the Sims agree that making the switch to swath grazing was good for all parties involved. Their ranch has saved money, the cattle are more content, and even the pastures are healthier thanks to better manure distribution and more positive nutrient cycling. • JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.

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Alfalfa at a CROSSROADS by Peter Robinson


HE California dairy and alfalfa industries have been a largely successful, symbiotic duo for a very long time. However, the days of spreading alfalfa bales along a bunkline and feeding cows grain mixtures in the milking parlor are long gone. The nutrients that rations of lactating dairy cows are now formulated for have risen substantially and become considerably more complex. Indeed, most dairy rations are created by professionals using computer software programs that create least-cost rations with defined nutrient profiles based upon the nutrients and prices of all available feeds. In less than a generation, alfalfa hay has gone from being the default forage to just one of many feeds and forages. During this period, we also witnessed the emergence of new feeds (for exam-

ple, distillers dried grains or DDGS), the functional disappearance of some feeds (for example, soy hulls and beet pulp), while the availability and environmental desirability of others have proliferated (for example, almond hulls and winter cereal silages). Is it possible to bring alfalfa hay back into the California limelight? That’s the question I’ll try to answer. Since arriving in California in 1997, I have completed a survey of California “high-cow” rations about every four years. Data included productivity of the cows and the chemical and ingredient composition of rations. The last survey was in 2014; however, I contacted some “sentinel” dairy farms for this article in order to obtain a sense of the current situation.

Changes since 1999 Nutrients: The nutrient levels of high-cow rations have not changed much in the past 20 years. Levels of starch, a rapidly fermented carbohydrate, have

moved up and down a bit, but in general have been relatively steady at 20 percent of ration dry matter (DM). Crude protein (CP) levels, on the other hand, have declined from about 18 to about 16 percent of DM. Fat levels have trended down a bit over the years. Ingredients: In contrast to ration nutrient levels, ingredient levels of highcow rations have changed a great deal in the past 20 years (see graph). Between 1999 and 2014, the primary changes were the interlinked rise of nonalfalfa silages, decline in grain levels, and a consistent drop in alfalfa levels. Almond hulls have PETER ROBINSON The author is a professor and dairy extension specialist with the University of California-Davis.

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Alfalfa versus almonds Almond trees are serious about protecting their seeds. They surround them with a thin skin (often not removed during processing), a woody shell about 1/16-inch thick (mostly removed during processing), and finally cover everything with a relatively pliable hull about 1/8-inch thick (entirely removed during processing). What dairy farms purchase as “almond hulls” will be 85 to 90 percent hulls, 5 to 10 percent shells, 1 to 2 percent sticks, and 1 to 2 percent seeds. The consistency of almond hulls (as purchased) is a continuing issue due to variable levels of contamination of hulls with shells and sticks, which the almond industry is busy trying to address with a cost-effective process. Nevertheless, it is still possible to compare average almond hulls to alfalfa hay nutritionally and fiscally (see table). The results are telling in terms of why hulls have been displacing alfalfa hay. A big difference between alfalfa hay and almond hulls is that almond hulls have a much lower CP content and a higher proportion that is indigestible. This makes almond hulls a nonplayer in the CP arena. However levels of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) in almond hulls compare closely to Premium alfalfa hay, although the in vitro digestibility of the NDF in almond hulls is lower than in Good alfalfa hay. An apparent disadvantage of almond

hulls is its much higher level of lignin. However, this is misleading because much of the lignin is in contaminant shells and sticks, and so it is concentrated where it will have no impact on the digestibility of hulls, which have relatively little lignin. Fat levels do not differ much between alfalfa hay and almond hulls, but hay contains more nutritionally low-value ash. But almond hulls have a final ace to play — their levels of free sugars are five- to sixfold higher than in alfalfa hay. And sugars are, nutritionally speaking for cows, a big plus because they are

essentially 100 percent fermented in the rumen and, more importantly, do not lead to accumulation of lactic acid, which is the main causative acid in rumen acidosis. Finally, almond hulls look pretty good compared to alfalfa hay when energy (net energy of lactation, NEL) is considered. They sit between the NEL values of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hays. This is key because after all nutrients are balanced in dairy rations, it is the NEL level that determines milk yield. In short, when you move from alfalfa continued on following page >>>

Feed component trends in California high-cow rations 30 % of high group TMR

bumped around a bit, but there was no net change in its feeding level. The form of the changes in ration ingredient levels has differed since 2014. The impacts of all those almond trees planted over the past 10 years have come home to roost with a substantial boost in almond hull feeding levels, a continuation in the uptick in grain feeding levels — likely due to continuing low prices for corn grain — and lower levels of (mostly) homegrown silages. The only thing that continues unabated is the decline in alfalfa use; but since 2014, the decline has been for a different reason. In contrast to pre-2014, when alfalfa was losing market share to silages, it is now almond hulls that are gaining market share at alfalfa’s expense. In light of the massive jump in almond hull availability projected in the next few years, it is a near certainty that this trend will continue and alfalfa’s market share will slide accordingly.

25 20 15 10 5 0 1998

2002 All grains

2006 All silages



Almond hulls

2018 All alfalfa

Comparative nutritional value of alfalfa hay and almond hulls Alfalfa hay

Almond hulls




Dry matter, %





Crude protein, % DM













Soluble CP, % CP Indigestible CP, % CP NDF, % DM














Lignin, % DM





dNDF30 (% NDF)

Fat, % DM





Ash, % DM





Sugars, % DM





NE, Mcal per pound DM





Cost, $ per ton DM





Cost, $ per pound CP





Cost, $ per pound digested CP









Cost, $ per Mcal NE

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hay to almond hulls in a dairy ration, you trade off CP to gain sugars, which is an energetic “wash.” Importantly, hulls currently trade at about 40 percent of the price for Premium alfalfa hay on a DM basis. This is huge because even though the cost per pound of digestible CP in almond hulls is more than double that of digestible CP in Premium alfalfa hay, the cost per Mcal (megacalorie) of NEL is threefold higher in Premium alfalfa hay versus hulls. All factors considered, it is clear why almond hulls (at least when priced at about 40 percent of Premium alfalfa hay) have been pushing alfalfa hay out of the dairy feed market.

What must alfalfa do? Alfalfa hay has been in a virtual 20-year freefall relative to its importance in the California dairy industry. If action is not taken really soon, it is likely that the status of alfalfa hay will erode further in terms of use and price. What must the industry do to thwart this trend? Define the energy value of alfalfa hay: One of the huge advantages that Western, pure-stand alfalfa hays have relative to all other dairy feeds is a standardized grading system that reduces product variation. This factor plagues many other traded feeds, including almond hulls. The main advantage of the current grading system is that it is based upon the energy value of alfalfa hay, which as noted earlier, is a key nutritional attribute of the main feeds used to create dairy rations. On the flip side, there are serious problems with the current grading system. It is based upon an obsolete nutritional system (digestible energy, DE); uses an even more obsolete nutritional term (total digestible nutrients, TDN) that is no longer used to formulate dairy rations; is based entirely upon one analyte (ADF), which results in high variation among laboratories in TDN predictions; overvalues hays with high ash contents; may undervalue new reduced-lignin alfalfa hays; is based upon research completed as much as 60 years ago; and, worst of all, uses an equation (Western States Equation) with an obscure origin that cannot be recreated and only appears in one “out of print” leaflet. Over the past 20 years, Dan Putnam, University of California extension forage specialist, and myself have offered several low-cost replacement energy

prediction systems for alfalfa hay that would retain the energy focus of the current alfalfa hay grading system and upgrade the energy prediction equation to contemporary standards and terms. Alas, to date, nothing has changed. Adversity to change leads to irrelevance, and that may be the fate of the California alfalfa industry unless it embraces and develops a new model. Enhance the energy value of alfalfa hay: Sure, predicting the energy value of alfalfa hay is important, but raising the energy value is critical if it is to outcompete other feeds. One of the most promising innovations in this area has been the development of reduced-lignin alfalfa cultivars. In vitro data developed by my group at UC-Davis, as well as by others, supports the belief that lower lignin alfalfa hays will have a higher NEL value. However it is critical that the superiority of these reduced-lignin varieties be confirmed in dairy feeding studies so that alfalfa growers can capture their value. And so we return to the need to replace the current TDN equation. Because it is based solely upon ADF, it will almost certainly undervalue these new reduced-lignin varieties — the only question being, “By how much?” The time for change has arrived! Document the value of alfalfa hay beyond energy: Nutrition professionals, using computer software, formulate most rations for lactating dairy cattle. However, the beneficial characteristics of alfalfa hay such as the feed’s cation exchange capacity (CEC) or alfalfa’s ability to stimulate cud chewing are often not completely described in these programs. In some cases, little effort has been

devoted to accurately describe a nutrient (for example, pectin) that alfalfa has to offer. Currently, if a feed characteristic is not in the ration formulation software, then it essentially does not exist.

A call to action In recent years, the California alfalfa industry has been relatively inactive in sponsoring research to identify and quantify beneficial characteristics of alfalfa hay that are not described in the computer software used by nutrition professionals, thereby consistently undervaluing the crop. This inactivity contrasts to other feed industries, such as those that produce DDGS, almond hulls, and canola meal, which have been very active in funding research and directing it to demonstrate the beneficial attributes of “their” feeds. Far too much of the information used to nutritionally evaluate alfalfa hay, such as the antiquated California TDN system, is of dubious relevance to the contemporary Western dairy industry, modern alfalfa cultivars, and prevailing harvest practices. It is critical that the California alfalfa industry regain leadership by initiating research programs to fund a wide range of innovative research projects to define, enhance, and demonstrate the energy value of alfalfa hays in contemporary terms. Aside from energy, they must also demonstrate the additional characteristics of alfalfa hay that provide benefits to the lactating cow. It is also critical that the industry lobby publishers of key dairy low-cost ration formulation software to include these characteristics in their programs. •

Almond acres in California now total over 1 million, taking land that was previously used for alfalfa production. In some cases, trees are planted right up to the dairy barn.

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Mike Rankin

At CY Harvesting, forage harvesting is “fun.” Seven of it’s nine owners include (from left): Nathan Collins, David Beyerl, Loren Molenaar, Jesse Pabst, Sean Collins, Nate Hultgren, and Matt Loppnow.

Custom harvesters like no others by Mike Rankin


HE rain was tallied in whole-number inches overnight; previously, it had already been on the wet side. The productive, flat farmland of west-central Minnesota was unable to drink anymore, so any field operations were on hold for at least a day or two. I had hoped to get some field action photos of one of the CY Harvesting crews, a custom forage harvesting outfit based in Murdock. That wasn’t going to happen, but something much better did. Nate Collins directed me away from the large dairy where we had planned to meet and toward his farm office a few miles down the road. It was there that I met with seven owners of CY Harvesting, one of the most unique forage-based businesses that you’ll find anywhere in the United States. Collins Family Farms is a cash-crop operation that grows corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. In fact, all of the owners of CY Harvesting are cash-crop farmers.

That’s only one aspect that makes the forage harvesting business so unique. So how do a bunch of unrelated cashcrop farmers band together to build a custom forage harvesting business that now annually harvests 15,500 acres of corn for silage and nearly 4,000 acres of alfalfa? Well, it all started quite innocently. “Fifteen years ago, my brother Sean and I were standing outside in the yard when a neighbor stopped and asked if we’d be interested in driving a silage truck while we waited for our own crops to reach harvest stage,” Collins explained. “We drove silage trucks for three years. At that point, Riverview Farms was building a large dairy near Murdock, and we approached the owner and told him that we’d be interested in harvesting their forage. About a month later, he called us back and said to get a crew together. Next, panic set in,” he recalled. The Collins brothers partnered with another cash-crop operator, Mike Yost of

Yost Farms, and together “figured it out”; they went to work with one chopper and four trucks. Riverview Farms was soon expanding by building additional large dairies in the area. Over time, Riverview built five large dairies and CY Harvesting added owners of four cash-crop farms and some of their employees to comprise the nine owners of CY Harvesting.

How it all works CY Harvesting is a big business with low overhead. The company owns six Claas choppers and eight Oxbow hay mergers. The equipment is stored at existing farm shops among the ownership farms. Most of the equipment maintenance is done at Yost Farms. CY contracts all of their management and labor with their ownership farms plus about 20 partnership cash-crop operations that help supply trucks, trailers, and tractors during the forage harvest seasons. Every farm is paid by the running

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Around the clock “We do things differently than most custom forage harvesters,” Collins said. “For one thing, we run around the clock for six days a week during the silage season.” CY Harvesting has their workforce divided into six different crews per 12-hour shift. The shifts begin at 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. with nine or 10 people assigned to a crew. Each crew has a designated site manager who coordinates day-to-day schedules and monitors crop moisture levels in the field. There is also a chopper operator,

a truck boss, a dozer operator, and a merger operator in the case of alfalfa harvest. Jesse Pabst, who is employed at Molenaar Farms and is a CY owner, works on a crew but is also the lead person to ensure silage piles are formed and constructed properly. “Communication is the key to making it all work,” Collins emphasized. “You have to be thinking about what you’re currently doing and what needs to happen 18 hours out. That means everyone has to be thinking and talking.” One-half hour before a shift begins, each crew meets to go over truck routes and field sequences. Choppers are refueled and inoculant additives are replenished as needed. During peak times, CY can be operating at up to four farms at a time. Anywhere from one to three choppers might be operating at a specific Riverview Farm location. CY harvesting is paid by Riverview Farms based on harvested tons. For corn silage, that’s wet tons and for alfalfa it’s by dry weight. Interestingly, and a credit to their reputation, no written contract exists between the two entities. “Even though we’re CY Harvesting, we represent Riverview Dairy,” Collins

when new crew members are added and at an annual safety meeting, which is attended by about 150 people. All workers wear high-visibility clothing when they’re on the job. “We go over a lot of the same rules and laws every year at our safety meeting, but we want everyone to know that we’re serious about personal and road safety,” Collins said. “We can’t afford to have someone run a stop sign because they’re talking on their cellphone. On the flip side, a cellphone is a needed tool in our business as we can text pin markers to field entrances or other important information. We just tell people to make sure their truck is stopped before looking at it,” he added. Though CY Harvesting is focused on providing quality forages for the five Riverview Dairies they work with, the owners’ commitment to each other and their crew members is what really stands out among this bunch. The emphasis on safety and training is just one aspect of that. Making schedule arrangements for crew members to attend important family events is another. The owners rightfully take a tremendous amount of pride in the business CY Harvesting

hour on the truck or tractor. The partnership farm, in turn, pays their employees for their forage harvesting hours. CY Harvesting, in effect, has no employees of their own. The trucks and tractors that are supplied during the forage harvest generally already exist on the partnership farms and are used in their respective cashcrop operations as well. In most cases, when the equipment is needed to harvest forage, a downtime exists for cash crops. One exception to the need for new equipment are forage box trailers, something most cash-crop farms would not have. Collins explained that they currently recommend partner farms buy a Meyer forage box with a poly floor and full-width apron chains. “The box can be used for most other purposes such as hauling grain or sugar beets,” he said. “We’ve built something big, but it’s been done with a lot of people who each had a role,” Collins said. “No one person can take credit for our success.” “All of the owners have the same goal in mind,” added David Beyerl, a CY owner and employee of Yost Farms. “We’ve grown because we have really good people. In this business, execution and keeping track of details are the keys to doing a good job.” When talking to the ownership individuals, one really gets the sense that the group is a band of brothers who have forged deep friendships while building a successful and unique business. These guys really like each other but at the same time operate with military-like precision. One of the owners described it as being similar to the old threshing days when everyone in the neighborhood would come together and get the job done. Collins offered this example: “One time, we had hay unexpectedly ready to chop on Memorial Day. We sent out a text message at 5 p.m. and everyone showed up except for two guys who were out of the state. That’s an indication of the commitment to our mission.”

The crews at CY Harvesting are meticulous when building a large silage pile.

said. “In fact, we’re their most public face. For that reason, we make a concerted effort to be good neighbors.” That “Mr. Rogers” policy entails having a crew member scraping mud off the road as needed and watering gravel roads to minimize dust created by the steady stream of silage trucks.

Safety first “One of our primary business goals is to make sure that all crew members make it home safely at the end of their shift,” Collins said. To accomplish this, safety is given a top priority status in everything that CY Harvesting does. It’s emphasized

they have built, but their success is rooted in passion and enjoyment for the job. Said one of the owners, “We’re just a bunch of cash croppers; forage harvesting is what we do to have fun.” Passion and fun, yes, but there’s also been a much greater good. Indirectly, CY Harvesting has enabled farm family members in the area to come back to their previously “cash crop only” home farms because of the additional income generated by the forage harvesting business. “By my last count, that number is about 10 returning family members,” Collins said. Now there’s a business metric to be proud of. • March 2019 | hayandforage.com | 11

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Your Checkoff Dollars At Work

Alfalfa hay sample plant tissue analysis and struvite use Hay & Forage Grower is featuring results of research projects funded through the Alfalfa Checkoff, officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, administered by National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). The checkoff program facilitates farmer-funded research. Implemented voluntarily by seed brands, the checkoff is assessed at $1 per bag of alfalfa seed sold with 100 percent of funds supporting public alfalfa research. The first project results are just being completed; detailed reports can be viewed on NAFA’s searchable research database at alfalfa.org.

LFALFA farmers, particularly those who irrigate, may be able to save on fertilizer while protecting the quality of their crop, according to first-year results of NAFA’s Alfalfa Checkoff research. Washington State University (WSU) researchers tested whole-plant alfalfa tissue at bud stage to measure phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) requirements for optimum crop yield and quality. Traditionally, soil tests are used to determine the amount of P and K available to alfalfa, but Forage Specialist Steve Norberg and colleagues think tissue testing might be more accurate than soil tests. Plus, tissue testing at harvest — using hay Steve Norberg samples taken for WSU $40,000 quality analysis, then put through wet chemistry tests for P and K values — would save from soil sampling and show whether farmers need to fertilize between cuttings. “The idea is to let the plant tell us what it needs,” Norberg said. “This first year, we found that we could use less fertilizer than we are currently recommending, at least under irrigated alfalfa. The numbers I am getting with phosphorus are that we had no yield problems, and we were considerably lower (in P concentration) than was being recommended.” The P experiment produced optimum tissue values for the three cuttings between 0.24 to 0.28 and 0.25 to 0.29 percent when alfalfa hay is priced at $150 and $200 per ton, respectively. The K experiment showed no yield response to added K with whole-plant content at 1.5 percent, and more research is needed to determine the critical level needed

to maintain yield. Precision, Norberg stressed, is desperately needed. Not only are P and K costly, they are finite resources being exported in hay to other countries. “For every ton of alfalfa shipped overseas, about 15 pounds of P and 50 to 60 pounds of K also go,” said fellow researcher Steven Fransen, WSU-Extension forage specialist. “There have been suggestions that there are between 30 and 50 years of easily minable phosphorus reserves, and the majority can be found in Morocco,” added Joe Harrison, WSU-Extension animal scientist, who contributed to the study. “Within a generation, this is going to be a big deal, and we need to be serious about

capturing and recycling phosphorus.” Plants deficient in P and K lose yield and quality. Both nutrients are subject to luxury consumption by the plant, and too much of either actually reduced forage quality, the research shows. Luxury consumption is also wasteful, Norberg said. “If we have more in the plant than is needed for yield, we’re just giving that away in (exported) hay.”

Struvite evaluated The researchers also tested struvite, an easily transportable, dry, granular fertilizer made by recycling P that is languishing in dairy lagoons. “The technology itself is also used in wastewater treatment plants,” Harrison said.

9 ppm Olson P — July 2, 2018

0 lbs./acre P2O5

240 lbs./acre P2O5

Project objectives:

Project results:

1. Develop and calibrate P and K nutrient recommendations for tissue testing at budstage alfalfa for maximum profit, yield, and direct comparison to current soil testing recommendations.

1. Optimum phosphorus content, based on testing whole-plant alfalfa tissue at bud stage, should be between 0.24 to 0.28 and 0.25 to 0.29 percent when alfalfa hay price is $150 and $200 per ton, respectively.

2. Compare efficacy of combinations of MAP and struvite for fertilization of alfalfa.

2. Struvite can be used alone or with MAP, applied before planting and incorporated, without a yield loss even on soil averaging 8.1 parts per million P.

3. Evaluate quality of hay samples at different P and K rates and tissue concentrations.

3. Excessive P or K has a negative effect on hay quality.

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Harrison’s mobile struvite unit, funded by USDA, moves between dairies to demonstrate how it pulls P from lagoon water that can be recycled back to the farm. Such a system would help dairies reduce high P levels accumulated on manure-fertilized fields. Plus, it would provide affordable fertilizer to commercial farmers who, Fransen likes

to say, have “mined” nutrients from their alfalfa fields. The Checkoff-funded study compared struvite’s performance with that of monoammonium phosphate (MAP) on commercial alfalfa growers’ fields. “With the first-year data, struvite was as good as the MAP even with low-testing, high-pH soil conditions. Yields were

not affected by switching from MAP,” Norberg said. “Struvite is a slow- to medium-release fertilizer that we think can be advantageous,” Harrison said. “In the next five years, we will see more of this technology in agriculture.” A detailed webinar on Harrison’s project can be found at bit.ly/HFG-struvite. •



U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative U

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by Adam Verner more crucial. Implements tend to be less complicated and major parts can be stocked on the shelf of your own shop. So, starting off with the best product on the market at the time can lead to more “up time” during the season.

Buying long distance

Dealer versus color S SPRING approaches, most of us are getting the itch to get back into the fields. A new year brings new promise of a bumper crop and putting 2018 behind us. For most of us farmers, there may not be much change at this point in the calendar year compared to the past, but for a lot of people, the name at the top of their equipment parts invoice may be different than years gone by. Like many business sectors, machinery dealership consolidation has been an ongoing reality. It seems that during this past year, even more dealerships were either forced out or the owner retired and sold their business to a larger company. In many cases, this is a good thing. The store may no longer have the same “mom and pop” feel that you are used to, but a larger equipment inventory should be available from which to choose from. Dealership consolidation for some farmers has come at a cost, primarily in the service department. It may not be that the new dealer is providing bad service, but rather the new business is simply running a different business model. To do so, they maybe needed to cut employees for the amount of work being done or had too many wasted billed hours and decided to change to a flat rate system. Changes such as these can be difficult to cope with if you’re used to the “old” business model, but this brings me to a question that we get

a lot: “Which is more important, the dealership or the equipment they sell?”

Different approaches The answer will vary with the individual. For some people, the internet and equipment search engines are where they spend most of their nights looking for that exact item that they want. On the flip side, others have stayed loyal to the dealership that has helped them out through the tough years and purchased their equipment from a local dealer who will hopefully maintain a good service relationship. In today’s tractor market, some manufacturers have designed their tractors to drive more work to their dealerships, as we discussed in a previous article (Hay & Forage Grower, March 2018). With the tractor being one of the most crucial pieces on the farm, the dealership you rely on, in my opinion, becomes as important as the tractor itself. This would be true for forage harvesters and combines as well. Every piece of equipment will break down at some point, and most of the time that is on Friday at 4:30 p.m. In these cases, how fast you are back up and running is essential. This drives home the point that the commitment of a local dealer to keep you going, under any circumstances, carries a lot of value. With other pieces of equipment around your farm, the quality may be

Doing some research can lead you to an equipment brand that you may never have thought of because your local dealership did not carry it. It may seem risky to purchase equipment from a dealer over two hours away, but the ability of the manufacturer to be a specialist for this product should make it more reliable in the long run. We have seen this at our dealership with online customers being willing to purchase mowers, tedders, rakes, and round balers from quite a distance away. With no dealer close to them, they are more or less putting their faith in the manufacturer that they are purchasing a reliable product with minimal service requirements or breakdowns. As for tractors and choppers, customers tend to shop closer to home, with the local dealer and service department having the advantage. These days, any equipment purchase, most likely gets you a good product. The manufacturer and dealership would not be in business if they sold inferior products or services, although I do think it’s okay to venture out and explore different options. Some smaller companies are specialized, and they produce the most up-to-date equipment in their sector. No manufacturer, regardless of their size, has the “best” of everything. It’s unlikely that we’ve seen the end of consolidation in the equipment and dealership sectors. What we buy and how we buy it will continue to evolve, as it has in the past 20 years. The ability to purchase online has also changed the equipment-buying environment. Even so, the local dealership will remain a lifeline for many farmers, especially for critical items such as tractors and forage harvesters. • 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

Protein analyses can identify problems


ORAGES bring a variety of different facets to dairy and beef diets. The physically effective fiber and energy values for forages are often the focal point with nutritionists. Sometimes nutritionists, myself included, overlook another aspect to hay and haylage crop nutrition value that substantially affects your farm’s bottom line — the contribution to protein and amino acid nutrition. Boost forage protein levels in the harvested crop, and then efficiently preserve value protein. Let’s face it, protein is expensive! Forage protein originates from the ammonium or nitrate-nitrogen in the root zone of the soil being taken up by the growing plant and then incorporated into amino acids to build peptides and proteins. Legumes have nitrogen-fixing microorganisms affixed to their roots that live in a symbiotic relationship with the plant. This is why legumes often are higher in crude protein (CP) value than nonlegume species. On a side note, Nicholas Goeser (my cover crop expert brother) has taught me that nitrogen (N) conversion into plant tissue is only, at best, around 30 to 40 percent; thus, there may be profitable opportunities for improving N conversion in your fields. We think of protein in many different ways. For example, in human diets, high-protein shakes are often marketed for health and strength. In animal nutrition, protein conversion from feed to meat and milk represents a component of farm profitability. Protein is the backbone of our industries’ products, and the world generally demands more through meat, cheese, butter, and other dairy products. Improving protein yield, however, partly begins with forages and a better understanding of CP on your farm.

Includes all nitrogen A typical dairy diet contains between 12 and 17 percent protein (dry matter basis). One can interpret this in pounds as well: For a cow consuming 50 pounds dry matter, this equates to her eating between 6- and 8-plus pounds of CP. In a 50 percent forage diet, with a twothirds corn silage and one-third hay

or haylage ratio, roughly 3 pounds of this CP comes from forage. It’s not all amino acids though, and here-in lies an efficiency-capture opportunity. Crude protein in forages represents a variety of N molecule-containing forms. In the feed analysis laboratory, CP is measured by quantifying the total N concentration in the feed, and then multiplying this value by 6.25. The equation for a 20 percent CP hay would be as follows (all on a dry matter basis): 20 percent CP equals 3.2 percent N times 6.25. Some nonprotein N-rich compounds (for example, ammonia-N) are lumped into the CP measure. With fermented haylages, it is important to understand and differentiate nonprotein N for several reasons. One is to identify forage preservation inefficiencies and opportunities. In an ideal haylage, nearly all plant protein harvested in the fresh-chopped crop is preserved intact and available for the cattle in the total mixed ration. However, ensiling leads to some protein breakdown as various epiphytic (wild) fermenting bacteria (for example, some Clostridia spp.) can use amino acids as fuel. A by-product of protein breakdown is ammonia-N (NH3-N), among other compounds. Check the ammonia-N level in your fermented haylages. If the ammonia-N is greater than 10 percent of the total CP, then there are likely opportunities on your farm to improve CP preservation in the silo. The case is different with corn grain and silage. Based on some University of Wisconsin research, ammonia-N and soluble CP as a percent of total CP are both indicators of the fermentation extent and starch digestibility.

Look for heat damage Another protein measure, acid detergent insoluble CP (ADICP), can offer valuable insight into protein damage during ensiling. In the lab, technicians rinse the feed with a strong acid and then measure residual CP. In nutrition models, the ADICP measure is used to calculate protein digestibility and this makes sense. If a protein is insoluble in acid, then it’s probably not all that

available to cattle consuming the forage. Ideally, ADICP values in forages are less than 1 percent of dry matter; however, with excessive heating during ensiling and heat damage, more protein is bound in an acid insoluble form. Ammonia and ADICP should be a small component of total CP in forages. Amino acids are the more desirable building blocks to peptides and proteins, like the individually linked chain rings in a logging chain. While ruminants can utilize nonprotein nitrogen (ammonia) to build up proteins, the rumen bacteria require energy to accomplish the protein build. It is not necessarily an efficient bacterial digestion process to ask those bugs to build ammonia back into protein that should have been available as protein. Amino acids are the more desirable building blocks for microbial CP and digestion postrumen. Amino acids can be more efficiently built into muscle and milk proteins, potentially improving N conversion efficiency through the cow. Total amino acid (TAA) values for forages are now more routinely available through forage testing labs. These TAA measures better quantify the true amino acid content in fermented forage. Track TAA relative to CP; more efficiently preserved forages will have TAA concentrations closer to total CP. There are a few other protein measures listed on a feed analysis report (for example, calculated rumen degradable protein or neutral detergent insoluble crude protein). However, their applications vary. The focus here is on checking a few protein measures and using them as fermentation efficiency indicators. Identify opportunities to better preserve haylage. Plan to cut hay crops at optimal maturity, wilt to 40 to 50 percent dry matter, preserve with a research-backed inoculant or preservative, pack to 55 pounds per cubic foot of as-fed density, and then cover or seal the haylage as soon as possible to ensure more usable protein is available for your herd. • 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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Kim Summers and her husband, Mark, work with farmers in south central Pennsylvania to provide quality hay for buyers across the United States.


Photos by Kassidy Buse


in Pennsylvania by Kassidy Buse


T WAS my last assignment as an editorial intern. I found myself in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains; specifically, the historical town of Chambersburg, Pa. Located only a few minutes from the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Chambersburg is the home of Kim Summers, otherwise known as the “Hay Lady in Pennsylvania.” With a diverse client base ranging from pleasure horses to alpaca breeders to the occasional zoo, Summers offers a variety of premium hays, including several cuttings of orchardgrass and smooth bromegrass, timothy, grass mixes, alfalfa, and alfalfa-grass mixes at various concentrations. Hay is available in standard small square bales and large square bales. In a typical year, she will market around 400,000 small bales and up to a couple hundred thousand tons of large bales.

A co-op of hay growers “I’m not a broker in the sense that I’m going to call somebody in Timbuktu, find out they have 3,000 bales, and tell them to ship it somewhere,” Summers explained. She takes a hands-on approach to her business to ensure the best product

for her clients. “For me, I want to see the hay and get to touch it, smell it, and test it to get as much information on that hay as I can,” she elaborated. Operationally, Summers has a group, or what she affectionately calls a co-op, of farmers who grow hay specifically for her. She feels this allows her to help farmers both big and small. “Whether there’s a farmer who only makes a couple thousand bales a year or a larger farmer who may make 6,000 bales a year, they both have to try to sell their hay for a decent price,” she commented. “It’s not always easy.” With the collective group, she is able to look at the markets and monitor production costs to help the farmers get a fair price. She attributes her understanding of how hard it is for farm families to survive to her farming roots. Prior to getting into the hay business, Summers used to operate a dairy farm with her late husband. To ensure a quality product, every field of harvested hay and each cutting is tested for nutrient content. The soil in all the fields that she manages is tested annually. Bales are also probed for moisture content. “We’ve had bales that look perfect from the outside and come from a good field, but you open them up and it’s moldy; it is so disheartening,” Summers

commented. All the information gathered is logged to keep a record of what is available to meet clients’ needs.

Started out of necessity “It all started really simple,” Summers recalled as we wound our way through the Appalachian Mountains to help with a load of hay in McConnellsburg. “My daughter and I had some horses, and we were really struggling to find a source of hay that was consistently good quality,” she said. Also at that time, Summers was struggling to find a job. “That was another thing that fueled us to start; if I couldn’t find a job, then darn it, I was going to make one.” The businesswoman explained that her sister in North Carolina was also challenged to find hay at that time due to a drought. “We had a pickup and a trailer, and basically my daughter and 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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Photos by Kassidy Buse

I started looking around and talking to neighbors to find good hay,” she reminisced. “Finally, we talked to the bank and got the money to purchase a little Dodge pickup and 20-foot trailer to get our little business started.” When asked how much the business has grown since first starting years ago, the response was a simple, “Oh my goodness.” “That first year, sales were maybe $3,000; we are now close to a million,” Summers said. “I basically scraped and scrimped and did anything I possibly could,” Summers reflected. She recalled that some weeks she made nothing, and others resulted in a couple hundred dollars after expenses. The little Dodge pickup was eventually replaced by a heavier duty truck. There was also the need for more help. Summers hired another close friend, her now husband, Mark, who also had a heavy-duty truck and trailer to help out. Her ever-expanding client base eventually gave way to the need to outsource their loading and hauling needs.

More freight than trucks When asked what their biggest challenge in the hay supply business was,

Summers quickly responded, “Logistics; hands down, logistics.” More often than not, there is more freight than trucks, and rising prices combined with trying to coordinate loads only adds to the challenge. Summers contracts with several trucking companies to transport her hay anywhere from New York to Florida and Texas. While the number of loads varies week to week and depends on the time of year, an average week consists of two to eight loads of hay. The middle of October through Christmas is the busiest time of year in terms of hauling loads. To try and minimize the chaos that comes with filling multiple orders, Summers has her clients on a preorder schedule with a general idea of what they’ll need. Sometimes a truckload will be split between two customers if they’re in reasonable proximity to each other. Hay is loaded onto the tractor-trailers by day laborers. Typically, two loading crews rotate through the day to ensure that hay is loaded on time without overexerting everyone. They can load as many as four tractor-trailers in a day. As we escaped the already warm morning into the cool sanctuary of the T:7.5 in

business office, Summers offered some insight into how she advertises her Hay Lady in Pennsylvania business. “At first, we got hay inquiries simply by word of mouth,” she noted. “Marketing is my specialty, so we eventually branded the name ‘The Hay Lady in Pennsylvania,’ and now it’s everywhere,” she exclaimed with a chuckle. Summers also used newspapers, flyers, and postcards to spread the word in the early days. She still uses postal mail today for advertising and also puts out several newsletters throughout the year to keep her clients updated.

An online presence A website eventually came along and direct marketing through email, which eventually progressed into her now strong presence on social media. “My kids actually got me started on Facebook,” Summers explained. The Hay Lady Facebook page actually got so many likes that it got cutoff. “Facebook had our small business limit set on our page for 5,000 likes,” she said. “So instead, we started a Facebook Group, which has no limits.” Summers can’t give herself all the continued on following page >>>

T:4.875 in

UNITED STATES OF ALFALFA 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 help you overcome challenges and seize opportunities. To learn what we can do for you, talk to your local seed supplier or go to AmericasAlfalfa.com. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology and Roundup Ready® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. America’s Alfalfa, America’s Alfalfa logo and Traffic Tested are registered trademarks of Forage Genetics, LLC. © 2019 Forage Genetics International, LLC.

Proof #:

JOB #: 63076

F3 16-18 March 2019 Farm Feature.indd 3 CLIENT CODE: FGIN04

Print Scale: None Version: None

Bleed: None Trim: 7.5 in x 4.875 in

Cyan Magenta

Date: 1-9-2019 3:22 PM User Name: Wheeler, Jamie


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Logistics is one of Summers’ biggest challenges. “There is always more freight than trucks,” she said.

credit for a popular online presence. “We actually have a woman who manages all of our social media for us,” Summers explained. Having someone else manage the Hay Lady Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts frees up valuable time that can be dedicated to clients and her growers. Summers still tries to personally respond to any messages that come through and checks the pages daily. She also gives her assistant, who happens to be a close friend of hers, credit for the hay business’ success. Marcie has been with her since her third or fourth year of operation. She handles all the books, invoicing, and paperwork for the trucking. “She’s just awesome,” Summers gushed. Even though a lot of work is put into the Hay Lady in Pennsylvania’s online marketing, most of their business still comes by word of mouth. Summers comes from an era where you sat down on the front porch and talked business, so she still believes in good, old-fashioned thank you cards. “I’m keeping the post office in business,” she said with a quick laugh.

Built on relationships and rapport As we sat down for lunch at a little diner just off the Appalachian Trail, Summers and her husband reflected on the foundation of their business. “It took us a long time to get where we are,” Summers said. They focus on building a relationship and rapport with everyone, from their growers to their clientele. “It doesn’t matter who the customer is; whether they have two

backyard ponies for their kids or an elite show horse team; it doesn’t matter,” she stated. “Everybody is equally important to us.” For Summers, the most important, and favorite, part of running her business is the relationships. “We have some people that have been with us 10 to 14 years, and it’s really, really fun,” she said. She enjoys getting to know the client and their family and letting them get to know her and her family as well. In the early years, she used to ride in her big truck to some of her clients that were farther away so she could meet her customers. Summers firmly believes in treating people the way you want to be treated. She once had an equine client who ran into some foxtail problems with hay that they purchased during a particularly wet growing year. While Summers and her team of growers try and keep a watch out for it, some things slip through the cracks, and the foxtail was found after opening the bale. Knowing that the hay wasn’t the quality her client needed, Summers drove down and exchanged loads. “If I was in that situation, I know what I would have wanted and did just that,” she said. Summers also noted that she has a growing number of farmers contacting her to sell hay. “Not everyone makes the cut; I’m picky,” she explained. While she notes and understands that things happen and that not every bale is perfect, her growers still have to be able to produce a quality hay product since that is what her business’ reputation is built on.

Waterlogged After dining on a hiker’s feast of burgers and fries, Summers and her husband treated me to a tour of the Pennsylvania

countryside. They primarily run the family-oriented business from their acreage just outside of Chambersburg but have an expanding area of growers that covers several south central Pennsylvania counties and spreads into northern Maryland. As we zigzagged our way down highways and gravel roads, Summers would point out fields where some of their hay was grown and the barns that housed it. Down one particular gravel road, Mark pointed out some debris left along a fence line that was just up a hill. “The water used to be all the way up to there,” he stated. “It’s been a really wet year; there’s been so much hay lost this year because of rain.” When I visited back in August, they had 12 inches of rain over the span of five to six days with more rain expected in the coming days. The rain brings the challenge of weed control to the forefront. The abundance of rain has led to more pressure from foxtail and clover. Even with spraying herbicides in the fall, delayed cutting due to wet conditions makes it difficult to find weed-free hay. “It’s going to be tough on a lot of our equine customers,” Summers noted.

Growing pains As we meandered our way up through the mountains on our way to a “must see” location, Summers and her husband discussed their current growing pains. They are constantly getting requests from growers and potential clients. While they would like to see the business grow, the challenge is to not grow too fast. “If you do, you can’t handle everything that is thrown at you and your reputation and service starts to suffer,” explained Summers. They are currently weighing their options with their independent employees and looking into partnering with a grower who owns some trucks. “It’s a good problem to have,” commented Mark. As for the future, Summers is uncertain. She doesn’t really see her kids taking over the family business, and she is okay with that. “I never started this business to be their dream,” she stated. Summers is satisfied to keep running the business as long as she can and continue a controlled growth. •

Learn more: hayladyinpennsylvania.com

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A planned, prescribed burn can improve forage quality. Here, regrowth of little bluestem is shown 50 days after a September burning.

son, this may allow producers to extend the grazing season and shorten the number of days that hay and/or supplement is provided. However, stocking rate is expected to be lower.

Noble Research Institute

You need a plan

Summer burning boosts forage quality by Steven Smith and Ryon Walker


IRE is an important process in the ecology of native plant and animal communities, especially in uplands. Most plant and animal communities in the Great Plains and eastern forests evolved with fire. In many situations, land managers can use prescribed fire to manage native plant communities, wildlife habitat, woody encroachment, forage quality, and wildfire risks. The traditional burning season for the Southern Great Plains ranges is from December to April. When a land manager limits their burn season to these five months, implementing the number of necessary burns can be difficult. Typically, weather during these months is somewhat turbulent, which is caused by fronts moving in and out of the area. These fronts cause the wind to change direction frequently, leaving small windows for burning. This is one reason why more and more land managers conduct growing-season burns during the late spring through early fall months. Weather during the summer months is warmer, more humid, and typically has more consistent wind patterns. A major goal of prescribed burning, regardless of burn season, is to improve forage quality for livestock and wildlife habitat. On September 7, 2017, a Noble Research Institute cooperator conducted a prescribed burn in Murray County,

Oklahoma. The main goal for this burn was to control encroaching eastern red cedars in a pasture where little bluestem was the dominant grass. As is typical with good soil moisture, regrowth of forages occurred relatively quickly, resulting in greater forage quality. Out of curiosity, we began collecting forage samples of the regrowth and the unburned little bluestem every three to four weeks after the September burn to evaluate changes in forage quality into the dormant season. We wanted to learn whether the regrowth of native grasses would provide a level of nutrition high enough to meet a mature dry cow’s daily nutrient requirement. Three weeks post burn, little bluestem regrowth had a crude protein (CP) concentration of 20 percent, while the unburned samples were 4.8 percent. Crude protein levels of the regrowth remained above 8 percent until December, while the unburned mature little bluestem never exceeded 6 percent. Data and information collected from Oklahoma State University, The Nature Conservancy, and our data from this cooperator has prompted us to learn more about burning native rangeland during the growing season and its effects on forage quality and yield into the winter. If adequate yield and forage quality exists during the dormant sea-

With beef cattle, we have the flexibility to match class of cattle or stage of production with available forage quality due to their range of protein and energy requirements. For example, the lowest nutrient demand for maintenance requirements comes from a mid-gestation, nonlactating mature beef cow where the CP requirement is 7 percent and the total digestible nutrient (TDN) requirement is 45 percent. However, the highest nutrient demand comes from a lactating first-calf heifer where CP is 10.8 percent and TDN is 70 percent. Knowing this, a producer could give grazing priority in burned areas to the portion of the herd with the highest nutrient demands, reducing feeding costs. It is never too late to plan for a prescribed burn. Start by attending a prescribed burn workshop to learn how to burn safely and effectively so you can maximize the effect of your prescribed burning program. Having adequate fuel in the form of last year’s grass and herbaceous growth is important for a successful summer burn. To ensure the fuel will be present, begin by deferring any grazing as soon as you can in pastures that you would like to burn during the summer or later months. The next step is creating good firebreaks and finding an experienced crew. The day of the burn will be decided by the weather. Burning under the proper weather conditions with a good prescription is critical for a safe burn. Many land managers have removed prescribed burning as an important process from the management of their property but, when done properly, fire can be a very beneficial forage management practice. • STEVEN SMITH Steven Smith (pictured) is a wildlife and fisheries consultant with the Noble Research Institute (NRI). Ryon Walker is livestock consultant with the NRI.

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by Larry Chase

Hit your forage program target


HE forage program on your farm is the foundation in developing a successful, efficient, and profitable feeding program. The quality, consistency, and inventory of forages available are key factors that influence economic success. Herds that have these components in place can feed high-forage rations (over 60 percent of total ration dry matter) and still obtain lofty levels of milk production (over 85 pounds per cow per day). These rations take advantage of your forages, lower purchased feed costs, and improve profitability. Many herds are feeding higher levels of forage in rations today than they were 20 years ago and getting more milk production. This is the result of improved forage hybrids and varieties, better forage management, and the realization that cows can produce high levels of milk from forage-based rations.

Putting it together What is needed to put a forage program together? The keys are setting goals, develop-

ing an implementation plan, planning for forage storage and allocation, and assessing the results. Set goals: What forage quality are you targeting? Mary Beth Hall from the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center has coined the phrase “right quality.” This implies that the desired forage quality will vary depending on the animal group that will be fed the forage. The “right” neutral detergent fiber (NDF) level in alfalfa for high-producing cows may not be the “right” NDF level if fed to late-lactation cows and bred heifers. Implement a plan: What harvest maturity is needed to achieve the forage quality goals? Do you have a plan for monitoring maturity and timing of harvest? Store and allocate by quality: Do you store forages by quality at the time of harvest? If this can be done, it provides the flexibility to feed the “right” forage to specific animal groups. The table contains data on the quality of forages in four bunker silos on the same farm. Corn silage B and Haylage B would fit well for early lactation and high-producing cows. Corn silage A and

Haylage A better match the needs of late-lactation cows and bred heifers. The values for these forages are from samples taken at the time of harvest. By sampling forages at harvest, you can develop plans to feed these to the appropriate animal groups. Most forages can be the “right” quality if fed to the right animal group. Assess your results: Did you meet your goals? Are changes needed in your forage harvest strategy for next year? There are several ways to do this. One is to use a chart that compares harvest results with the goals that were set. Figure 1 contains dry matter for corn silage taken at harvest and stored in a bunker silo. Each sample represents a different field. Figure 2 is legume haylage NDF at harvest. The red lines are the goal lines set by the dairy producer. There are four out of the 10 samples in Figure 1 that are outside of the goal range. Since these are individual field samples, one option would have been to use whole-plant dry matter samples prior to harvest and use these results to better stage the order that fields were harvested. This should place more samples within the goal range. In Figure 2, there are six out of 10 samples outside of the range for NDF. It is possible that some of these samples are related to weather impacting the harvest process. Another option would be to use approaches such as growing degree days, Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ), scissors cutting, or alfalfa plant height to better determine time of harvest to get more samples within the desired NDF range.

Set your 2019 goals As you plan for the 2019 harvest season, get your team together and develop both harvest management goals and a harvest plan to achieve these goals. LARRY CHASE The author is a professor emeritus in dairy nutrition in the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University.

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Corn silage and haylage forage analysis

Determine practices that can be used to assess the proper harvest time. These might include whole-plant dry matter for corn silage and methods listed above to estimate NDF in legume and grass forages. Taking forage samples at harvest is an excellent way to assess quality and compare with your goals. This also provides information that can be used to better meet nutrient needs with the “right” forage quality. •


Corn silage A

Corn silage B

Haylage A

Haylage B

DM, %





CP, % of DM





ADF, % of DM





NDF, % of DM





NDFD, 30-hour, % of NDF





Starch, % of DM



Figure 1. Corn silage dry matter at harvest

Figure 2. Haylage NDF at harvest
















5 6 Sample










5 6 Sample







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Two herds under one heartbeat by Mike Rankin


In the beginning Toby is a fourth-generation farmer. His father farmed row crops and raised hogs. Before that, the home farm was a diversified tobacco-growing operation. “As a kid, I saved money from mowing lawns and harvesting tobacco,” Toby said. “When I was 14 years old, I bought

a yearling Hereford bred heifer and then two more aged cows with calves at side the next year. The current herd has basically grown from those initial purchases,” he explained. Toby went to college at the University of Kentucky and got an English degree. He then taught high school English for 27 years, but they were not consecutive. In 1977, Toby’s father had a heart attack and there was a crop in the field to be harvested. Toby quit teaching and took over the farm. The 1980s were tough years for row-crop farming, and in 1989 Toby went back to the classroom. In 2000, their hired man quit so the Dulworths gradually phased out of row crops and began seeding the whole farm to grass. Debby said, “By 2014, all of the land north and south of our

Photos by Mike Rankin

LOWING through Paducah, Ky., the Ohio River takes a northwest trajectory. It then changes course to the southwest, forming an arch, before meeting up with the Mississippi River. Tucked just below the top of the river’s arch is Dogwood Farm, operated by Toby and Debby Dulworth. Visiting with the Dulworths is an experience; they offer both education from a lifetime of trials and errors along with a healthy dose of philosophy on cattle and the forages they consume. Early in my visit to the farm, the couple’s love for each other, their cattle, and the land was self-evident. Most all of the Dulworths’ neighbors grow row crops. Dogwood Farm, on the other hand, is home to 154 Hereford mother cows and their offspring, which

graze a smorgasbord of forage species. The herd is split, mostly by age, and is grazed at two separate locations. Debby oversees the home herd of younger cows while Toby commands the older cows on the farm where he grew up, about a mile away. It’s the rural equivalent of having his and her towels. Even with the split responsibilities, the two herds are managed with one heartbeat from the standpoint of performance, forage preference, and a desirable end result.

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house was pasture.” Debby, who also has a degree in English, was the one who stayed at home and took care of the cattle and the couple’s children. “For Debby’s sake, we had to pay a lot of attention to birth weight and conformation so heifers could calve without assistance, which affected the kind of cattle we could raise to some extent,” said Toby, who retired from teaching three years ago. These days, Dogwood Farm consists of about 600 acres, of which 100 are rented. About 300 acres are planted in forage crops.

Lifetime of experimentation “I am no agronomist, nor am I an animal scientist, but I do know from long and extensive experimentation, observation, and boots-on-the-ground experience a great deal about what works well here and what does not,” Debby said. If you plan to spend a morning with Debby, as I did, you can easily believe her boots-on-the-ground experience. Along with Toby, we did the equivalent of a pasture half marathon that was filled with observations, anecdotes, and critical forage analysis. “We value forage diversity,” Toby said. “Debby reads about various forage alternatives and then we give them a try. It’s the only way to know if it works for your operation. However, we let the universities test the really risky stuff first,” he chuckled. Like many Kentucky grazing farms, much of the Dulworth acreage was originally infested with toxic tall fescue. “We’ve made a conscious decision to minimize the effects of fescue,” Toby said. “It’s taken a lot of years to make that a reality.” Early on, the Dulworths planted some endophyte-free tall fescue, but it didn’t persist. Since then, they’ve seeded several different novel-endophyte varieties and have had much better success. “We try to use fescue when it’s at its best — during the winter and early spring,” Debby noted. “We seed improved crabgrasses into the fescue stands to try to dilute it. Cattle much prefer crabgrass over fescue during the summer,” she added. Dulworths also have some perennial ryegrass paddocks that their cattle graze each spring. They’ve had the best

luck with the Remington variety. Once ages that grow best here in the summer the ryegrass plays out, those paddocks are johnsongrass and crabgrass, and the are seeded to crabgrass for summer cows like both of them,” he added. production. The ryegrass stands gener“In the future, we’ll need more ally persist for two to three years before C4 grasses in the Southeast as our they need to be reseeded. climate changes,” Debby prophesied. The cool-season pastures, which were “We encourage johnsongrass in our once dominated by tall fescue, are now fescue . . . it’s a gift from God that mostly orchardgrass but also include helps dilute the fescue.” some timothy and lots of red clover. Debby really gets excited when she White clover and a little alfalfa are walks their weed-free field of perennial also present in the diversified mixture eastern gamagrass, a warm-season of pasture species. Dulworths haven’t grass that is starting to receive more found the need to apply any commercial fertilizer to their pastures, relying heavily on mixed legumes and manure from management-intensive grazing. In the fall, some pastures are left to grow and be stockpiled. This allows for grazing to occur as late as January. In a typical year, they will feed hay for 60 to 90 days during the winter. Round bales, Debby and Toby Dulworth are not afraid to try new forage species on their farm. “We value diversity,” Toby said. which they make themselves from excess spring pasture or designated notoriety in the mid-South. “We seeded hay fields, are fed in bale rings that are this field over 20 years ago,” Debby moved around to help distribute manure said. “This year (2018), the cattle nutrients. Little to no grain supplemengrazed and heavily manured it for a tation is done, though soybean hulls are couple of days in early May. Toby took used to keep condition on bulls during a hay cutting on July 7. The gamagrass the winter. was waist-high, just beginning to head “We tried baleage one year but really out. It yielded over 5 tons per acre, and had a problem with raccoons tearing up we will get another cutting before fall.” the plastic,” Toby noted. Though she admits that annual forages have their place and utility, Debby See a future for C4s prefers perennials as the farm’s forage foundation. “It takes some patience to get The Dulworths are big believers in the gamagrass fully established, but once value of warm-season, or C4, grasses. it is, the production and need for little “We can cut or graze Quick-N-Big maintenance are hard to beat,” she said. crabgrass a couple of times each year Though perennials are Dulworths’ and then let it go to seed in late sum“go to” forage source, this past summer mer,” Toby said. “Crabgrass just keeps they collaborated with Chris Teutsch, on giving. Over the years, we’ve tried University of Kentucky Extension forage about everything — from grazing corn specialist, to establish large field plots of to sudangrass to teffgrass. On fields that produced only corn, wheat, and soybeans for the past four to six decades, the forcontinued on following page >>> March 2019 | hayandforage.com | 25

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“It’s a gift from God,” said Debby Dulworth about the johnsongrass that dots their pastures.

about a dozen different summer annual forage options, including mixtures and monocultures. These plots highlighted a forage tour and field day that was held at Dogwood Farm in August.

Forage-based cattle “Corn is for hogs; cattle eat grass,” said Toby of something his father once told him. “That was instilled in me very early on. It’s matching the cattle to the grass that’s the challenge,” he added. The Dulworths have always preferred Herefords because of their gentle nature and being so easy to work with, especially in a grass-based system. “We did have to change our genetics when we went to an all-grass farm,” Toby explained. “Growing cattle for the feedlot is a lot different, and it’s hard to find grass-adapted cattle. We needed smaller cattle but not too small, which we tried for a period as well. Medium-sized frames seem to work the best here, but after all these years the herd is still a work in progress,” he added. The heifer calves wean at about 475 pounds and steers average about 525 pounds. In 2003, Debby started direct-marketing some of their beef, which really helped improve the farm’s bottom line. Toby explained that the current marketing approach is three-pronged.

“There’s a big demand for Hereford heifers to breed to black bulls, so that’s one commercial avenue we take,” Toby said. “We also sell purebred Hereford bulls for breeding, and then we sell steers as custom freezer beef to individuals.” Even with a lifetime of experience and an exceptional understanding of their land, the forages that grow there, and the cattle that graze it, the Dulworths continually strive to learn. Debby, who maintains a daily journal of her observations and the farm’s activities, puts it this way: “Our philosophy over these past five

decades has been this: If a forage cannot survive here without coddling, or if it cannot serve a good specific purpose as an annual, it has little reason to be here. When selecting breeding stock from among our cattle, a similar maxim holds true. In both cases, forages and foragers alike, we favor survivors with disease resistance; soundness and longevity; quality; the ability to endure, reproduce, or reseed successfully; and the ability to persist and thrive year after year with little interference or extra aid from us. The forages must sustain and nourish the cattle, and the cattle must nourish and help sustain the forages.” •

The Dulworths have been extremely pleased with this over 20-year-old stand of eastern gamagrass used for both hay and grazing.

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T:8.375” S:7.875”

© 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.


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.




by Jason Banta

Lessons learned from 2018


HIS past year was a challenge for many cow-calf producers across the United States due to a lack of rain, too much rain, or unexpected weather conditions. Here are four keys that helped livestock producers deal with these challenges and maintain a successful forage program. Planning: Have a plan for grazing management, hay production, stockpiled forage, winter feeding, weed and brush control, and forage insect pests. Flexibility: Be flexible in your management strategy when dealing with constantly changing conditions. An unwillingness to change or adapt plans often leads to failure. Knowledge: No one can know everything, but you can know whom to contact for good information. This can be extremely helpful when dealing with challenges. Attitude: Find a solution instead of just saying nothing can be done. Here, we’ll focus on how producers in the eastern half of Texas dealt with various 2018 challenges, both successfully and unsuccessfully.

A cool spring The spring of 2018 started off cool, which resulted in a delay in the growth of bermudagrass and other warm-season perennial forages. For many, this meant feeding hay for 45 to 60 days longer than they had planned. However, most producers with cool-season annual grasses didn’t have to feed any extra hay. This was especially true for those who planted ryegrass and fertilized it in November and again in February. Fertilizing volunteer stands of ryegrass was also helpful, but not as good as the planted stands. Planting and fertilizing ryegrass consistently reduces

the cost of winter feeding programs for producers across the Southeast.

But a dry summer, wet fall Hay production was limited due to dry conditions. These dry conditions also resulted in overgrazing by many, which had lasting effects on forage production and cow body condition. Overgrazing warm-season perennial forages weakens the root system, which causes the plant to produce less forage when conditions improve. Producers who were stocked light or sold animals to reduce stocking rates produced more hay and stockpiled forage when conditions improved. Although cattle prices were lower, the best financial strategy for many was to reduce numbers. Some producers also applied ammonium nitrate to a portion of their fields while it was still dry. This strategy proved very effective as it allowed them to take advantage of unexpected summer rain showers. Additionally, once it started raining, it stayed too wet for many to apply fertilizer. Consistent rainfall marked the late summer and early fall, allowing for good growth of bermudagrass and other warm-season grasses. However, with these good conditions came a massive armyworm outbreak. Fall armyworm invasions really highlight the need to have a plan. That plan should start with owning a sprayer or making arrangements to have ready access to one. When there is a major armyworm outbreak, everyone is trying to spray at the same time. The second part of this plan entails good scouting when conditions are favorable for an outbreak. After hatching, larvae will feed for two to three weeks before burrowing into the ground and

turning into pupa. Larvae will consume over 75 percent of their total forage intake during the last few days before entering the pupa stage. Good scouting allows for spraying and treatment of an infestation before major damage occurs. Another part of this plan is to keep some insecticide on hand in case supplies become limited during an outbreak. More times than I can count last fall, I heard someone say it cost too much to spray for fall armyworms. A combination of lambda-cyhalothrin (included to kill bigger armyworms) and diflubenzuron (an insect growth regulator to provide three to six weeks of residual control) could be sprayed for between $3.80 and $4.50 per acre. Is it a better investment to spend $4.50 per acre on insecticide or pay $60 or more for a 1,000-pound round bale to replace the forage that was lost? Saving 1,000 pounds or more of forage per acre can quickly pay for the purchase of a sprayer and the fuel used during spraying. Producers who only sprayed with lambda-cyhalothrin or another pyrethroid had to spray several times. Those producers who included diflubenzuron or another insect growth regulator only had to spray once or twice for armyworms. After the dry summer, the wet fall was especially frustrating for some producers because fields were too wet to cut for hay. Having multiple fields that can be cut for hay or grazed is desirable because of the flexibility it allows. When conditions don’t allow for hay production, cattle can be grazed on the “hayfield,” while another pasture that had been grazed is growing new forage to be cut when conditions improve. This results in the production of higher quality hay because it is not as mature when conditions finally do allow for haymaking. In some situations, producers were never able to cut hay because of the inability to graze those fields. As a result, valuable high-quality forage was lost. • JASON BANTA The author is a beef cattle specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension based in Overton, Texas.

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Hay export volumes more than tripled between 2007 and 2017 with a dramatic shift in export destinations.

Mike Rankin

The good, bad, and ugly for hay exports by Dan Putnam


HAT was once a minor curiosity has fully emerged as a major market for western U.S. hay products. Who could imagine a hay crop produced in Bakersfield would feed a cow in Beijing or Buraydah? Alfalfa and grass hays are traditionally fed to animals very close to home and still are in most of the United States. However, over the past two decades, U.S. and world trade in hay products (primarily alfalfa and grass hay and cubes) has risen dramatically. This is due to advanced methods of mechanical handling and inexpensive international ocean freight rates, and limitations on production overseas. The value of U.S. alfalfa hay exports has tripled over 20 years, increasing from around $200 million to over $600 million per year. Combined, alfalfa and grass hay approximately doubled by 2017 to $1.4 billion ($1.2 billion corrected for inflation, see Figure 1). The U.S. is not the only player. Over the past 16 years, the sum of world hay export trade quantities has approximately doubled, escalating at the average rate of about 266,000 MT (metric tons) per year. The strongest grown in export demand has been in Asia and the Middle

East have buoyed this growth. The high quality of Western-grown alfalfa and grass hays has been especially attractive and in demand by foreign buyers. However, the hay export market is not without controversy or difficulty. Technical issues with biotech-developed alfalfa varieties and problems associated with the 2018 trade conflicts between the U.S. and China have been especially problematic. While alfalfa dominates hay markets in many countries, high-quality grass hays (timothy, sudangrass, bermudagrass, oat hay, and kleingrass) are very important; nearly 50 percent of U.S. exports are grasses. Australia’s exports are almost all “oaten� grass hay.

Shifting markets The major demand for imported forage crops is in Asia, led by Japan, China, and Korea, and followed by Middle Eastern countries (see Figure 2). These countries have expanded or improved their dairy and beef production and do not have adequate space or water resources for much good pasture or hay production. An important development in the past decade has been the emergence of the Chinese and Middle Eastern markets,

ballooning from negligible amounts in 2007 to millions of MT per year in 2017. This growth was driven primarily by rapid expansion of modern dairy farms in China and Korea, and limitations of water resources in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There have been major changes in the destination for exported U.S. hay over the past decade (see Figure 3). In 2007, about 85 percent of U.S. exports went to Japan and Korea. Over the past decade, China has become the largest importer of U.S. alfalfa, receiving over 40 percent of total U.S. alfalfa exports. Shipments to Japan and Korea have grown as well, but Korea has been surpassed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Exports as a percentage of production have climbed but are still minor compared with many agricultural products. While the percentage of the national U.S. crop exported remains below 6 percent for alfalfa and below 3 percent for grass hays, the equivalent percentage of production exported from the seven Western states exceeded 17 percent for alfalfa and 41 percent for grass in 2017. This rapid rise in export demand has been welcomed by cash hay growers but is regarded as a negative by domestic dairy and other livestock hay buyers, who have had to compete for forage supplies with foreign buyers.

Trade turmoil In response to U.S. trade actions, China implemented retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent in mid-2018, which has significantly impacted alfalfa exports. October 2018 hay exports to China were about 41 percent of those from April 2018 and 33 percent of the volume in April 2017. China had become the number one destination for U.S. alfalfa over the course of the last 10 years, growing from only 3,000 MT of imports in 2007 to over 1.2 million MT in 2017 (see Figure 3). At this writing, the longer-term impacts of tariffs are uncertain. The DAN PUTNAM The author is an extension forage specialist with the University of California-Davis.

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Alfalfa Other grass hay All hay


$1,600 $1,400 $1,200 $1,000 $800 $600 $400 $200 $0


Sensitivity to genetically engineered (GE) traits has been another important issue for exporters and growers for export markets, primarily for China. While some GE alfalfa has been exported to Japan and other countries, alfalfa exports to China must not contain a GE trait (primarily Roundup Ready), even in a very small amount. Export companies in the U.S. routinely test export hay for low level presence (LLP) of the Roundup Ready trait and will reject hay with even a small amount of LLP (for example, 0.1 percent). This may change in the future if China approves these traits. Other countries either allow a trait to be imported (as with Japan), require a statement of “non-GMO,” or do not routinely test. Some importing companies reject GE hay due to the sensitivity of their customers who do not want GE traits even if they are permitted by import regulations. Recent discussions with U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service personnel indicate that approval of Roundup Ready trait for importation to China is a top priority, which would change the market sensitivity for Western alfalfa growers. While exports of hay are a minor issue for many U.S. alfalfa and grass hay growers, they are a key market for growers in the seven Western-most states. Worldwide, interest in the trade in forages has also risen substantially, with the most important markets in Asia and the Middle East. The U.S. is the lead hay exporter, but a number of countries (Canada, Spain, Sudan, Italy, Australia, and Argentina) have shown growing interest in these markets. Export markets demand high-quality forages, whether alfalfa or grass hay

For a more detailed look at hay exports, see Putnam’s blog post on the University of California Alfalfa and Forage News website: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/Alfalfa.

Figure 1. Growth in U.S. hay export value, 2000 to 2017 (Source: U.S. Dept. Commerce)


No GMO, please

tainers) have been major components driving this trend. •

types, which favor exporting production regions with good haymaking weather, technology, and the infrastructure for long-distance shipping. Improvements in hay packaging, inexpensive ocean transport systems, resource limitations, and the imbalance of world trade (for example, empty returning cargo con-

U.S. hay export value ($millions)

negative effects of the tariffs could be mitigated if current negotiations between the U.S. and China are fruitful. One scenario is that exports could bounce back quickly. The alternative is that other suppliers could rise to meet this demand, as Chinese buyers diversify their supply portfolio given the uncertainty of U.S. and China policy. There has been a tremendous expansion of Chinese dairies over the past 20 years, but since that country has important limitations for production of high-quality alfalfa, demand is likely to continue to be high for many years to come.

Figure 2. Quantity and value of hay imports by country, 2017 (Source: WTO International Trade Centre Trade Map)

Saudi Arabia 5%

Rest of world 16%

UAE 11% Korea 16%

Japan 26%

Saudi Arabia 6%

Rest of world 15%

UAE 11% Korea 16%

China 23%

Japan 30% China 22%



Figure 3. Volume of U.S. alfalfa exports by destination, 2007 and 2017 UAE Rest of world 33 Taiwan 33 67

Korea 156

Taiwan Rest of world 71 Korea 67 239 UAE 250

Japan 631

Saudi Arabia 361

China 1,210

Japan 702 Total 2007 exports = 930,000 MTs

Total 2017 exports = 2.9 million MTs March 2019 | hayandforage.com | 31

F3 30-31 March 2019 Good Bad Ugly.indd 3

3/1/19 10:09 AM

Mike Rankin

The clover dilemma by Jimmy C. Henning

EGUMES make immeasurable contributions to forage agriculture. Producers depend on them to add yield, nutritional quality to pastures and hay, and to improve animal gains. Arguably, the ability of legumes to convert or “fix” nitrogen (N) from the air into organic plant nitrogen is their most significant benefit. We even recommend withholding N-fertilizer to mixed stands when legumes make up at least 25 percent of the stand. Many producers will also forego broadleaf herbicides and tolerate weeds to preserve legumes. Practicing agronomists quote research-based estimates of annual N fixation of 150 to 250 pounds of N per

acre and triple these rates have been reported. But we seldom discuss how much direct benefit this N contributes to the companion grass. If we withhold additional N and broadleaf herbicides due to the presence of clover, is that the right decision? And further, is the 25 percent threshold for withholding additional N accurate, and is it based on visual or dry matter? A stand that has 25 percent clover on a visual basis has much less than that level on a dry matter basis.

No simple answers The definition of a dilemma is a situation where a difficult decision must be made between two or more alternatives. Managing a grass-legume stand makes the producer come face-to-face with the

clover dilemma — Do I have enough legumes to produce economic yields or should I add fertilizer N? Do I have too much clover to apply broadleaf weed killer when it means I lose most of the legume? This management confusion is the clover dilemma. Not surprisingly, these questions do not have simple answers. Here is a summarized list of what the research shows about the contribution of JIMMY C. HENNING The author is a professor and extension forage specialist with the University of Kentucky. He’s based in Lexington.

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legume-fixed N to the nitrogen economy of mixed stands: 1. Legumes fix large amounts of N, but the highest numbers are from grass-white clover stands in temperate regions with long growing seasons and near ideal growing conditions. 2. The amount of N fixed per season that is shared directly with companion grasses is between 20 to 50 pounds of N per acre per year, a fraction of total N fixed. 3. White clover turns over more N during the growing season because it sloughs root nodules every time it is defoliated. Nodule sloughing is how fixed legume-N is released to the organic soil N pool. This pool is mineralized and later used by the companion grass. In contrast, alfalfa does not slough nodules after harvest. In fact, alfalfa only sloughs its nodules at the end of the growing season. 4. The N benefit to the companion grass is more closely related to legume growth and yield in the previous rather than current year. 5. In newly seeded binary mixtures, white clover transfers more N to the companion grass during the growing season than red clover or birdsfoot trefoil in the first and second year of the stand. Direct transfer to the companion grass is greater in the second year than the first. 6. Adding N to mixed stands boosts yield by elevating the yield of the grass (in other words, the grass is N-limited in mixed stands). Adding N to pure legume stands generally does not result in more total yield.

Target 30 to 50 percent The N benefit to the grass in mixed stands is enhanced as legume yield per acre improves and as stands get older. This grass benefit is presumably because of a buildup of the soil N pool from the sloughing of N-fixing nodules and decaying plants over multiple years; however, grasses are less competitive early in the life of mixtures because they are N limited. It’s during the establishment year when applying some N fertilizer may be beneficial for early grass growth. The downside of clover loss when broadleaf herbicides are used on mixed stands will be mitigated by the release of N from the killed legume. The companion grass gets the double benefit of weed removal and a burst of N, although new legume species will need to be seeded into the stand.

The addition of grasses to thinning stands of alfalfa improves the recovery of the N fixed by alfalfa and boosts forage yield per acre. An Iowa study on a mature, mixed alfalfa-grass stand with 30 to 45 percent alfalfa found that the greater the alfalfa in the mix, the better the yield of the grass. Drilling small grains into alfalfa stands in the fall can take advantage of the end-of-season N released from the sloughed alfalfa nodules, adding yield per acre. The small grain cover

can suppress weeds and contribute significantly to first cutting yields the following year. In the end, the modest in-season contribution of fixed N from legumes to companion grasses is possibly disappointing, especially compared to the high amounts of N fixed by the legume. Producing economic yields in mixed stands means keeping legumes present in high quantities (even 30 to 50 percent) by weight, year after year. Fortunately, that is a dilemma I do understand. •

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As a part of the agreement, any excess animals were to be made available for the general public in some equitable fashion. Beginning in 1978, this was accomplished by holding a sale in April of each year.

Mike Rankin

Forage-based cattle

Bred to graze and much more by Mike Rankin


T’S understandable why the U.S. Naval Academy is located near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Md. But also near those same shores, on the other side of the bay, is a herd of Angus cattle that has influenced the breed’s genetics for generations. Further, this herd has to earn its keep on forage. Wye Angus isn’t just described as a herd . . . it’s a program. Since 1978, the University of Maryland’s Agricultural Experiment Station has managed Wye Angus and the land base it calls home. The herd itself is actually owned by a private, nonprofit foundation; it serves many educational functions, but it’s the direct influence nationwide on the Angus breed and its breeders alike that is most notable. For that story, we need some history.

Glass and grass Known as the Wye Plantation, the acreage near Queenstown, Md., that is home to the current Angus herd has been farmed continuously since the 17th century. An early owner of the property was William Paca, who signed the Declaration of Independence and served as the first governor of Maryland. It wasn’t until Arthur Houghton purchased the property in 1937 that the Wye Angus herd gained traction.

Houghton, who was the chief executive for Steuben Glass (a division of Corning Glass), hired James Lingle to oversee the Wye Plantation. Both men were fixated on producing quality products; for Houghton it was glass, but for Lingle, who actually had a background in dairy cattle, it was to breed beef cattle that excelled at producing meat in a forage-based system. Lingle purchased 18 heifers and one bull calf in 1938. He desired large-framed cattle, which ran counter to the smaller, showring type of cattle that most American breeders desired at the time. Even to this day, those initial 18 heifers purchased by Lingle proved to be the only females ever purchased by the Wye Angus Program. Twelve of the cow families represented in that group are still present in the current herd. Through the years, Lingle purchased bulls from Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales that fit his breeding preferences. The final bull was purchased in 1959. No outside bloodlines have been added to the herd since. Houghton gifted the Wye Angus herd to the University of Maryland in 1978. The University of Maryland Foundation was created to serve as the legal owner. The Wye Plantation itself was donated to the Aspen Institute, an international public policy study organization.

The Wye farm is operated the same as most well-managed, mid-South beef operations. Pastures are rotated and the base forage is tall fescue, primarily Kentucky 31. Stockpiled fescue and some warm-season grasses were providing the bulk of the feed for the grazing cattle this past November. The 120 mother cows along with 34 bred replacement heifers utilize 300 acres of permanent pasture. Like others who are “blessed” with an abundance of toxic tall fescue, the Wye Angus Program has implemented several strategies to mitigate any negative performance impacts. “We’ve done a fair amount of frost seeding clover in February and March,” said Eddie Draper, the program manager at Wye. “Depending on the condition of the pasture, we might run a harrow first and then spin on approximately 10 to 12 pounds per acre of red clover. It seems to work pretty well for us, especially if we can keep cows off of those pastures in the early spring,” he added. Draper also noted that the farm began seeding some novel-endophyte tall fescue about 10 years ago. “The novel-endophyte stands were good for about eight years, but the last two years have been kind of marginal,” Draper said. “We’re probably going to have to reseed one 42-acre (novel endophyte) stand next spring. With all the rain we’ve had the past three weeks, the cows have tromped it up pretty good.” The Delmarva Peninsula, located between the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, is one of the most environmentally fragile areas in the U.S. For this reason, keeping forage crops pinned to the landscape year-round is foundational to the Wye Angus Program. Any new seeding or planting is typically done using no tillage. Other than the unique bloodlines found in the Wye Angus herd, the program also provides numerous opportunities for basic and applied research and educational extension outreach. •

34| Hay & Forage Grower | March 2019

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Krone unveils self-propelled mower-conditioner

Kubota’s biggest tractor is improved Kubota Tractor Corporation recently announced it has added the new M7 Gen 2 tractor to the company’s agriculture tractor line. The new Kubota M7 Gen 2 is built on the successes of Kubota’s first-generation M7 ag tractors, introduced in 2014, with added refinements and enhancements. There are three new models under the M7 Gen 2 line — the M7-132, M7-152, and the M7-172, ranging from 100 to 140 in PTO (power takeoff) horsepower. Depending on the model, there are standard, deluxe, and premium grade options. The M7 Gen 2 features a 30-speed semi-powershift transmission. The number of main gears has increased from four to six, and an auto-shifting function evaluates range gear and then automatically adjusts engine output to improve acceleration performance under light loads. Kubota’s M7 Series boasts a powerful V6108 Kubota turbocharged diesel engine with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) that transforms exhaust into water vapor and nitrogen. The common rail system (CRS) on the M7 Series electronically controls the timing and amount of high-pressure injected fuel in stages for optimal combustion. Additionally, with Kubota’s diesel particulate filter (DPF) muffler and an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, the M7 Series exceeds Tier 4 Final emissions regulations. Kubota’s M7 Gen 2 tractors are equipped with a Kubota LM2605 front loader. The loader features a Kubota Z-Bar linkage for mechanical self-leveling and a single-lever hydraulic valve quick coupler for easy attachment and detachment. The LM2605 front loader has a maximum height of 167 inches at pivot pin and a lifting capacity of 5,776 pounds at maximum pin height. For more information, visit KubotaUSA.com.

Krone introduced its new BiG M 450 self-propelled mower conditioner in Amarillo, Texas, at the U.S. Custom Harvesters Annual Convention this past January. The new BiG M 450 CR model, featuring intermeshing chevron pattern rubber or steel conditioning M-rolls, creates three equalsized windrows for faster, uniform dry down. Its cut width is 36 feet 7 inches wide. The cut width on the BiG M 450 CV model is 32 feet 6 inches wide and features V-tines for conditioning. BiG M 450 mower-conditioner users can choose from several swath formation options to adjust for rake widths. The crop can be merged into one windrow for chopping, or laid out wide for fast dry down and baling. Mowing can be accomplished at speeds up to 15.5 miles per hour and the Stepless Bosch Drive System creates a smoother ride with no shift points, reducing fuel consumption. The new traction control system further improves performance. The BiG M 450 mower-conditioner is powered with 449-horsepower, Liebherr Tier 4 Final engine, featuring EcoPower. Engine access has been improved for easy servicing. The new models are equipped with heavy-duty Krone cutterbars with SafeCut disc protection. Quick-Change blades for quick replacement also come as standard equipment. The spacious cab is quiet with improved visibility. It comes with ergonomic controls and a 10-inch touch screen display for simplified and advanced diagnostics. The wings on the BiG M 450 models fold up quickly to just a 9 foot 10 inch transport width and the operator can travel roads at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.

New hay merger from Kuhn With 42 feet of pickup in a single pass, the Kuhn MM 1300 Merge Maxx hay merger is designed for commercial operations. It is equipped with a hydraulic drive system with the belts and pickups driven by on-board hydraulic pumps supplied from a

67-gallon oil reservoir. This large-capacity reservoir ensures that cool oil is always being circulated through the system. The floating windguard on the MM 1300 eliminates the need to make adjustments when merging different crops or cuttings. The long, curved fingers provide excellent crop guidance onto the center of the belt for fluffy and even windrow creation. Standard crop netting greatly limits leaf loss during transition to the belt and ultimately improves leaf incorporation in the windrow. Also, to simplify the operation with a wide variety of tractors, the MM 1300 is ISOBUS compatible for plug and play capability. ISOBUS is standard on this machine and improves operator ergonomics and reduces fatigue. For more information, visit KuhnNorthAmerica.com. March 2019 | hayandforage.com | 35

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Kuhn introduces new disc mowers

Kubota debuts compact track loader

The new GMD 51 TL series trailed disc mowers feature the GMD 2851 TL, 3151 TL, 3551 TL, and 4051 TL models. They are simple to operate, dependable, clean-cutting machines. The new disc mowers are also designed to adjust and operate as simply and efficiently as possible. The heavy-duty Optidisc cutterbar offers exclusive differential disc spacing. A narrow spacing at diverging discs provides greater knife overlap for cleaner cutting in difficult conditions. The maintenance free, ProActive-Lift system allows the machine to quickly adapt to abrupt changes in terrain or when an obstruction is encountered in the field. The Gyrodine swivel hitch on the new disc mower allows turns in excess of 90 degrees while eliminating chatter and minimizing U-joint wear by keeping the PTO (power takeoff) straight in line with the tractor. In the event of an impact between a disc and an obstacle, the Protectadrive safety system is activated. A machined groove in the shaft can shear just above the bearing and seal, protecting the gear teeth and keeping contaminants out. For more information, visit KuhnNorthAmerica.com.

Kubota Tractor Corporation recently unveiled its new SVL65-2 to the company’s compact track loader line. The new compact track loader is positioned in a lighter weight class than its predecessors and features an advanced hydraulic multifunction valve, the line’s signature slide-up overhead front door, and on/off self-leveling capability. The new SVL65-2 features an advanced multifunction valve (AMV) that provides smooth operation when using simultaneous functions. The SVL65-2 is powered by a 68-horsepower engine and a rated operating capacity of 2,100 pounds at 35 percent or 3,000 pounds at 50 percent. It has a reach of 34.9 inches and a hinge pin height of 118.5 inches. The standard self-leveling feature can be engaged with the flip of a switch. While the overall footprint on the new SVL65-2 is smaller, its cab offers the same amount of room as the larger models. The door can be opened regardless of the position of the bucket or loader arm; plus, full machine operation is possible with the door open, if desired. For more information, visit KubotaUSA.com.

New Holland launches Genesis T8 series tractor with PLM Intelligence New Holland Agriculture recently announced the debut of the new Genesis T8 series tractor with Precision Land Management (PLM) Intelligence. The new Genesis T8 with PLM Intelligence is designed to adapt to every individual farmer’s unique needs. With features ranging from advanced connectivity between operators, vehicles, advisers, and dealers for improved productivity, to customizable controls, improved visibility, and enhanced comfort. Customizable controls allow every operator to adjust based on their unique preferences and requirements. The all-new cab features more accessible storage, more power ports and vents, egress lights, and an ergonomic seat for optimal comfort. The in-cab experience has been enhanced to remove obstructions and ensure maximum visibility. A new InfoView monitor is positioned in direct line-of-sight on the dash so you can keep your eyes on the horizon ahead. Strategically placed cameras make it easy to navigate in and out of traffic and keep your eyes on in-field work as well. New 360-degree LED work lights deliver up to 25 percent more visible light for greater awareness of surroundings while operating. The new Genesis T8 with PLM Intelligence features person-

alization at its best. From the ergonomic new SideWinder Ultra armrest to the IntelliView 12 monitor that delivers enhanced visibility and control. Operators have the ability to adjust key features and functions to their individual preferences. PLM Intelligence utilizes ISOBUS Class III technology to keep you completely connected through MyPLMConnect and APIs to share and analyze data. This comes through a simple tablet-based user interface. More information on New Holland can be found at www.newholland.com/na.

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

36 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2019

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FORAGE IQ Tall Fescue Renovation Workshops March 15, Calhoun, Ga. March 18, Mt. Vernon, Mo. March 20, Princeton, Ky. Details: grasslandrenewal.org/education.htm

UGA Baleage & Silage Short Course March 21 and 22, Forsyth, Ga. Details: georgiaforages.com

Central Plains Dairy Expo March 26 to 28, Sioux Falls, S.D. Details: centralplainsdairy.com

Northwest Grazing Conference March 27 and 28, Pendleton, Ore. Details: pnchm.org

Grassfed Exchange Conference April 3 to 5, Santa Rosa, Calif. Details: grassfedexchange.com

Georgia Forages Conference April 4, Perry, Ga. Details: georgiaforages.com

Coastal Plain Forage Field Day April 4, Newton, Miss. Details: forages.pss.msstate.edu

Kentucky Fencing School April 9, Lexington, Ky. April 11, Burkesville, Ky. May 30, Russellville, Ky. Details: forages.ca.uky.edu/events

Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference April 22 to 24, Fort Wayne, Ind. Details: http://tristatedairy.org

Kentucky Grazing School April 23 and 24, Princeton, Ky. Details: forages.ca.uky.edu/events

Virginia Grazing School for Ag Professionals April 24 and 25, Raphine, Va. Details: vaforages.org/event

Virginia Grazing School for Producers May 7 and 8, Middleburg, Va. Details: vaforages.org/event


Hay prices holding ground With every passing winter month, hay supplies dwindle. USDA’s December hay stocks report indicated that inventories weren’t all that great to begin with. In some locations, farmers are already grumbling about how difficult it is to

find hay, especially that which is high quality. Prices are reflecting the current tight-stocks situation. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of the beginning of March. Prices are FOB barn/ stack unless otherwise noted.•

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

Price $/ton 255-275 200-300 280 360-400 185-215 230 190-240 200-250 150 200-250 210 300 200-230 290-310 270-280 220-225 Price $/ton 240 260 280 205 175 290-345 153-163 170-200 155-175 185-190 175-200 150 175-180 200-230 230 200 250-280 165-190 275-280 150-170 270 250 200-215 Price $/ton 250 150 135-150 160-170 150 160-175 120-160 120-135 165-180 100-110 180-200 140

Pennsylvania (southeast) (d) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River)-lrb Texas (Panhandle) Wisconsin (Lancaster)-lrb Wyoming (eastern) Fair-quality hay California (Sacramento Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (all regions) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana (d) Oklahoma (central) (d) Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River)-lrb Texas (north, central, east)-lrb Utah (northern) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb Alabama-Good lrb Oklahoma (eastern)-Good lrb Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb Bromegrass hay Kansas (southeast)-Good ssb Missouri-Good Orchardgrass hay California (Sacramento Valley)-Premium Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium Virginia (Rushville)-Good lrb Timothy hay Montana-Premium ssb Montana-Good-ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Washington (Columbia Basin)-Good ssb Oat hay California (Sacramento Valley)-Good Idaho-Fair/Good (d) Iowa-Fair lrb Kansas (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Straw Iowa Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (north central/east) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Montana Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (East River) Wyoming (central/western)

200-235 110-125 140-150 220 200-215 155 Price $/ton 210-215 (d) 120-130 140-160 125 160-200 100-120 105-125 150-170 235-255 98-107 120-130 120-140 60-90 185 Price $/ton 100-133 90 180 230-240 120-200 Price $/ton 150-160 120-150 Price $/ton 240 240-250 135 Price $/ton 225-240 160-180 190-250 210-230 Price $/ton 110 110 170-190 150-160 95 Price $/ton 165-170 125 100-110 90-120 35-40 270-330 120-130 50-60

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

42 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2019

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Chris Britton Pioneer Territory Manager

Stephen Hawk Grower

Pioneer® brand alfalfa varieties with HarvXtra® technology deliver higher-quality hay and forage, no matter when you cut.


HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® alfalfa with Roundup Ready® technology is enabled with technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark used under license from Monsanto Company. Do not export Pioneer ® brand alfalfa seed or crops containing Genuity® Roundup Ready ® technology, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices, do not plant this product in Imperial County, California. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Alfalfa with the Genuity® Roundup Ready® technology provides crop safety for over-the-top applications of labeled glyphosate herbicides when applied according to label directions. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. ACCIDENTAL APPLICATION OF INCOMPATIBLE HERBICIDES TO THIS VARIETY COULD RESULT IN TOTAL CROP LOSS. Pioneer ® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents. TM, ®, SM Trademarks and service marks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. © 2018 PHII. PION8GENL070_FP28

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Description: Forages HarvXtra VAR1

12/27/18 2:54 PM

Client: Pioneer

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.


© Kubota Tractor Corporation, 2019

legume-fixed N to the nitrogen economy of mixed stands: 1. Legumes fix large amounts of N, but the highest numbers are from grass-white clover stands in temperate regions with long growing seasons and near ideal growing conditions. 2. The amount of N fixed per season that is shared directly with companion grasses is between 20 to 50 pounds of N per acre per year, a fraction of total N fixed. 3. White clover turns over more N during the growing season because it sloughs root nodules every time it is defoliated. Nodule sloughing is how fixed legume-N is released to the organic soil N pool. This pool is mineralized and later used by the companion grass. In contrast, alfalfa does not slough nodules after harvest. In fact, alfalfa only sloughs its nodules at the end of the growing season. 4. The N benefit to the companion grass is more closely related to legume growth and yield in the previous rather than current year. 5. In newly seeded binary mixtures, white clover transfers more N to the companion grass during the growing season than red clover or birdsfoot trefoil in the first and second year of the stand. Direct transfer to the companion grass is greater in the second year than the first. 6. Adding N to mixed stands boosts yield by elevating the yield of the grass (in other words, the grass is N-limited in mixed stands). Adding N to pure legume stands generally does not result in more total yield.

Target 30 to 50 percent The N benefit to the grass in mixed stands is enhanced as legume yield per acre improves and as stands get older. This grass benefit is presumably because of a buildup of the soil N pool from the sloughing of N-fixing nodules and decaying plants over multiple years; however, grasses are less competitive early in the life of mixtures because they are N limited. It’s during the establishment year when applying some N fertilizer may be beneficial for early grass growth. The downside of clover loss when broadleaf herbicides are used on mixed stands will be mitigated by the release of N from the killed legume. The companion grass gets the double benefit of weed removal and a burst of N, although new legume species will need to be seeded into the stand.

The addition of grasses to thinning stands of alfalfa improves the recovery of the N fixed by alfalfa and boosts forage yield per acre. An Iowa study on a mature, mixed alfalfa-grass stand with 30 to 45 percent alfalfa found that the greater the alfalfa in the mix, the better the yield of the grass. Drilling small grains into alfalfa stands in the fall can take advantage of the end-of-season N released from the sloughed alfalfa nodules, adding yield per acre. The small grain cover

can suppress weeds and contribute significantly to first cutting yields the following year. In the end, the modest in-season contribution of fixed N from legumes to companion grasses is possibly disappointing, especially compared to the high amounts of N fixed by the legume. Producing economic yields in mixed stands means keeping legumes present in high quantities (even 30 to 50 percent) by weight, year after year. Fortunately, that is a dilemma I do understand. •

SORGHUM SEED FOR YOUR FARM • GRAZING HYBRIDS • PEARL MILLET SEED • DUAL PURPOSE GRAZING AND FORAGE HYBRIDS • FORAGE HYBRIDS FOR SILAGE, BALAGE OR HAY Our extensive varietal testing program ensures that we are producing the best forage and grain hybrids to enhance your profitability. Gayland Ward Seed is a family-owned and operated seed production company with a focus on research, purity, performance and service.




Our extensive varietal testing program ensures that we are producing the best forage and enhance your profitability. Gayland Ward Seed is a family-owned and operated seed produ with a focus on research, purity, performance and service.


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