Andrew (Butch) Cardinal of Cardinal Brothers Hay Sales, Hugo, braved a very cold wind to market his horse hay at the Minnesota Horse Expo this past weekend. It was his first year exhibiting at the three-day show. “The turnout and customer interest have been fantastic,” he says. “The people coming into my tent at this show have been very serious about buying hay.” Many asked about obtaining certified weed-free hay to meet requirements some parks have for trail riding. Because of that interest, he’s considering whether or not to move toward raising weed-free hay.

Delivery and freight concerns were also top-of-mind among horse owners, Cardinal says. He delivers and stacks hay for customers in dry storage vans in lengths from 28’ to 53’ that hold 250-575 bales.

Cardinal raises 650 acres of alfalfa-grass and timothy-orchardgrass hay, in addition to straw. Small square and large round bales go to the horse, beef cattle and alpaca markets. This year he plans to add 150 hay acres, is building a 20,000-bale hay storage shed and bought another in-line square baler, a tractor and stack retriever.

For more on how the Cardinal brothers started selling to the alpaca industry, see the February 2008 issue of Hay & Forage Grower (“Beating The Horse Market”), or visit hayandforage.com/hay/grasses/cardinals-alpaca-profits/index.html.

Contact Cardinal at 612-325-2749, or email cardinalbros@msn.com.


Hay supplies are expected to remain tight in the coming months as Ohio hay growers deal with the after-effects of a rough winter, reports Mark Sulc, Ohio State University forage agronomist. “With the winterkill problems we have experienced, I know some people will be taking stands out and switching to other crops,” he says. “I have heard of people who had to look for additional hay early this spring because winter really hung on. We were slow starting out, but now we finally have good growth on pastures.”

Sulc says the winter brought heaving in alfalfa stands from north to south in the state, and in older and newly seeded fields. Damage ranges from mild to severe within and between fields. Heaving is worse in poorly drained fields. In the most recent Ohio State Crop Observation and Recommendation Network newsletter, Sulc indicates that plants with crowns heaved 2” or more above the soil surface are already dead or will soon die. Plants that heaved 1-1.5” or less may first appear normal and healthy with decent spring growth. However, they will desiccate more quickly, be injured by wheel traffic and crowns may break or be cut off at the first harvest. Some may survive through the first harvest, but their yield potential is compromised and they will likely disappear from the stand at some point during the growing season.

He says alfalfa stands were in a weakened state going into winter. “Where a late fall harvest was made, no plant cover was left to insulate the crowns and the soil from freeze-thaw cycles. Research in Wayne County demonstrated that early November harvests dramatically increased heaving in alfalfa stands compared with where a late harvest was not made. Furthermore, very wet soils throughout the winter probably contributed to lack of oxygen for alfalfa roots, and wet soils are also known to decrease cold tolerance of alfalfa.”

A careful inspection of all alfalfa stands is very important, according to Sulc. “A windshield inspection is inadequate to accurately assess the health of alfalfa stands this year,” he says. He encourages growers to walk their fields to determine whether spring growth appears uniform and plants are healthy. If growth is spotty or non-existent, it is very likely plants have suffered severe winter injury or heaving.

Contact Sulc at 614-292-9084.