Hay prices have been high in Indiana this summer because of yield losses from the April freeze, dry weather and potato leafhopper problems, says Keith Johnson, Purdue University forage specialist. "But I think the freeze was the most devastating. People suffered yield loss from north to south in Indiana this year." Some hay growers' first-harvest yields were reduced by as much as 50%. Dry weather contributed to lower second- and third-cutting yields, too.
Many areas of northern Indiana were very dry throughout the summer. But early August rains should help pastures and the last hay harvest in those areas. "Where the rain did fall, it allowed people to put nitrogen on grass pastures so they can grow into the fall," he says. Southern Indiana is still extremely dry. "I am sure there will be more byproduct fed and more corn residue grazed," Johnson states. "I would also guess more droughty corn was harvested for silage this year. Hay prices will continue to be high because many of the states around us are in similar circumstances. The Indiana Horse Council is very concerned about how horse owners are going to be able to find quality hay. I think people are going to have to work with nutritionists this year to look at finding ... alternative feed sources."
Johnson is preparing for the Purdue Forage Management Workshop to be held Sept. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Purdue Agronomy Center for Research and Education near West Lafayette. He and his colleagues will have plots that exhibit why forage seedings fail, in addition to plots showing the results of planting potato leafhopper-resistant alfalfa vs. non-resistant varieties. He promises attendees that the workshop will be very "hands-on."
Contact Johnson at 765-494-4800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We're definitely short on hay in Ohio," says Mark Sulc, Ohio State University forage specialist. The Easter freeze and dry conditions reduced first-cutting yields by 25% to a third of normal. Much of the state had been very dry up until the beginning of August. In mid-August, parts of northwestern Ohio had excessive rains and flooding while the southern and southwestern parts are very dry, says Sulc. "Pastures and hay are scarce in many areas."
"It's not the best year in northern Ohio," says E.J. Croll of Croll Farms in Oak Harbor. "We got about half of our normal crop. Our first cutting was down a lot, and then we didn't have any rain for the second cutting. We've been getting a lot of rain this month, so we should have a better-than-normal third cutting. People who got the third cutting off should be able to get a fourth cutting."
Croll says there wasn't much wheat planted in his area so wheat straw supplies are going to be tight.
Contact Sulc at 614-292-9084 and Croll at 419-898-2496.
Parts of Dane County received a year's worth of rain this August. "We have had reports of 30" of rain in some areas, which is pretty close to our annual precipitation," reports David Fischer, Dane County crops and soils agent, Madison. "We were dry before that, and maybe saw just a little more than 1" of rain from the second half of June through the first part of July." Once again, the early April freeze cut short first-crop hay yields. Second crop actually yielded better and third crop was very short in many places.
Fourth cutting may be good, Fischer says, but the challenge will be getting it out of the field. Growers have been racing against the clock, waiting for fields to dry out while keeping an eye on the window to safely cut alfalfa without impacting its winter survival. Generally, Wisconsin growers shouldn't cut alfalfa between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15, but Dane County growers may be able to harvest until Sept. 5-10 without hurting winter survivability, Fischer says. "We may have some farmers who will take a late October cutting because they didn't get that late August cutting made."
If producers can take fourth cuttings, Fischer thinks feed supplies will be adequate. Wisconsin producers also hope the weather will cooperate so corn silage can be made before the crop gets too dry.
Five southern Wisconsin counties have been declared flood disaster areas. The northern part of the state, in contrast, is suffering through a third consecutive year of drought.
Contact Fischer at 608-224-3716.