Slightly higher hay prices are cautiously being predicted in coming months, according to the latest issue of Hay & Forage Grower. Although alfalfa varieties are the major focus of the November issue, due out this week in mailboxes and on hayandforage.com, the story, “Steady But Strong,” reports a somewhat-hopeful price forecast.

“I don’t think we’ll see anything like we saw in 2008 for prices,” says Seth Hoyt, a California hay marketing expert quoted in the story. “But there is still some room for hay prices to improve. At the same time, there’s still a lot of concern about what’s going on with the dairy situation. Dairy producers are dealing with higher grain prices and many lenders still have dairies on a pretty tight leash.” Hoyt writes The Hoyt Report enewsletter.

Growers may want to make alfalfa seed choices early to get the conventional varieties they want this coming planting season, advises Mike Velde, Dairyland Seed alfalfa breeder, in the story, “Talking Inventory.” He and other breeders discuss the challenges of determining conventional seed inventories when the fate of Roundup Ready alfalfa has been uncertain the past four years.

Yet conventional seed supply for 2011 will be adequate to excellent, they say, and Roundup Ready alfalfa seed will be available if the transgenic crop is again allowed on the market in time for spring plantings.

The November issue also contains information on the newest crop of conventional alfalfa varieties. Breeders unrolled 37 new varieties. Pest resistance information on many of those varieties is printed within the magazine in the 2011 edition of the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance leaflet, Winter Survival, Fall Dormancy and Pest Resistance Ratings for Alfalfa Varieties. Additional new-variety information is highlighted in another story, called “Alfalfas On The Market.”

The trials and benefits of producing alfalfa seed without irrigation are explained in “Seed Money.” The story profiles Bryce Scrimsher, a Culdesac, ID, grower experimenting with dryland seed production. "There have been some challenges, but I think we’re overcoming those,” he says.

“This is our second year of production up in the Palouse, and we’re getting very comparable yields there as in dryland production in Canada,” adds Jose Arias. He’s director of seed production for Forage Genetics International, which has been contracting with Scrimsher and other selected dryland growers. Arias estimates that the 2010 dryland crop production averaged 400 lbs/acre – less than that made from irrigated fields, but at fewer costs.

Western growers are also updated on what salt-tolerant alfalfas can do to reclaim saline-damaged regions in the story, “Handling Salty Hot Spots.” Conrad, MT, grower Paul Johnson tells how he and the Montana Salinity Control Association turned highly saline soils into viable crop land, in part using salt-tolerant varieties. The article also tells what researchers in other areas of the West are working on in regards to salt tolerance.

To read those and other stories online, click here.