The after-effects of an extremely dry summer are still impacting hay supplies and pastures in Kentucky, says Garry Lacefield, University of Kentucky extension forage specialist. "We came out of the winter last year with very low hay supplies, and then we had the spring freeze with record-setting losses, which wasn't as bad as the record-setting dry summer," he reports. "There was not much early fall moisture. The rains came in October, but were too late in many cases."
Lacefield estimates the state's hay growers lost one-third to two-thirds of their normal production due to last year's rough conditions, and growers in surrounding states didn't fare much better. Livestock producers are feeding a variety of commodities in place of hard-to-come-by hay.
"Many pastures have been abused," Lacefield adds. "Some will have to be replanted; some have a high proportion of broadleaf weeds." He expects 2008 to be a big year for seeding legumes as well as summer annual and perennial grasses. "We are hoping for a good forage year to rebuild hay supplies and get pastures back in shape," he says.
Contact Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202.
Jeff Shaner, owner of Neale Farms, Fort Calhoun, NE, came to last week's National Alfalfa Symposium and Mid-America Alfalfa Expo to gather new ideas and network with other hay industry professionals.
This will be his third year growing 700 acres of alfalfa on his family's fifth-generation farm 10 miles north of Omaha. "The first two years we were getting the process down," he says. "This year will be all about perfecting the process." Shaner sells 3 x 4 x 8' bales to the dairy market. He recently raised prices and says his customers accepted the need for the increase. "The people I deal with are business people and understand that is a part of doing business," he states. Shaner notes the strong hay market has been a main topic of conversation during meetings he has attended this winter.
Contact Shaner at 402-468-4221.