Substantial late-summer rainfall should lead to a good fourth cutting of alfalfa at Dave Hinman’s Hardrock Farms near Wheatland, WY.
“We had 5½” of rain at the end of August,” says Hinman, who puts up alfalfa in 4 x 4 x 8’ and small-bale packages on 750 acres. “That really brought the crop along. It’s 10-12” tall now and looking really good. It should test very well.”
Hinman will take his final cutting in the next week or so, hoping it will offset a tonnage shortfall on this year’s third cutting. “We ran out of irrigation water in our reservoirs on the third of August this year. Normally, we’ll irrigate all the way up to Sept. 20. After that, we had some really hot weather. That kind of stressed the third crop and set it back a bit.
“We cut it on the 18th of August, but it was real short. Normally, we’ll average around one ton per acre (on third crop). This year, we got somewhere between ¼ to ½ ton/acre.”
Third-crop quality, however, was excellent. “With the dry weather, we were able to get the hay up and off before the rains came. The RFV on that hay was in the 220-230 range.”
Hinman sells his alfalfa to goat and milk-cow dairies in Iowa, beef ranches in Wyoming and horse owners in Colorado. He’s been a constant World Forage Analysis Superbowl winner and this year was no exception. He took top prize in the commercial hay category with an entry boasting a 277 RFV score. (See more winner information in the story, “Minnesota Dairy Named Forage Superbowl Grand Champ.”)
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A year ago, Hinman bought a Bale Baron to package his small squares in 21-bale units measuring 3 x 4 x 8’. “It was a good move,” he says. “We’re seeing more demand for the small squares all the time. We’ve found we can usually get a little more money for our hay by marketing it that way.”
Currently, premium alfalfa hay in Hinman’s area is bringing $220-240/ton at the stack. Beef-cow hay is fetching $180-200/ton. Prices aren’t much different from what they were a year ago.
To contact Hinman, call 307-331-0410 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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