To be successful at hay marketing, a seller should be able to accurately describe what kind of hay is for sale. A buyer, meanwhile, should be able to tell what he or she needs for forage, says Bruce Anderson. The University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist will offer additional marketing pointers at the upcoming Farm Progress Hay Expo near Waukon, IA.
Set for June 19-20, Hay Expo offers in-field demonstrations of the newest forage equipment. This year it’s also offering a new Lunch & Learn session on hay marketing, sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower.
“There are a lot of misconceptions and a lot of distrust between hay buyers and sellers,” says Anderson. “Hay is a difficult commodity to really describe well and to be able to paint a picture to someone who is not looking at it at the same time. So, being able to be honest and forthright with information is going to be important.
“What do you think of when I tell you I have some fine-stemmed hay? If I say it’s green and leafy, my idea of green and leafy may mean dry and shattery to you. Communicating on the characteristics of hay is an area we have to work on. We have to be willing to understand what both the buyer and seller are saying."
But that isn’t going to occur with the first load of hay, he warns. “There may be two or three transactions before I start to understand what you mean by light green or very leafy.”
Growers should know their customers’ businesses – and vice versa, he stresses. “Hay growers need to understand why the dairyman wants digestible NDF (neutral detergent fiber) and what kind of profit margins the dairy industry is dealing with.”
“The dairyman needs to understand the challenges of producing the hay that he wants and how hard it is to keep hay at a consistent hay-quality level in large volumes.”
Anderson will speak at 12:30 p.m. at the Hay Expo lunch tent each day of the expo. For more information, visit hayexpo.com.
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Growing conditions at the expo site, as with most of the Upper Midwest, haven’t been ideal, says Mark Lovig, Expo operations manager. About six acres hit by winterkill were reseeded, and the weather’s been cool and wet.
“It’s pretty slow growing; we need some warm weather,” he says. “We got the (first-cut) hay off at about 27 days preshow. Some of the mature hay we left and will take as a first-cut dry hay baling.” More than 90 acres will be used in field demonstrations.
An early May video interview with Bill Regan of Regancrest Farms, the Hay Expo host, tells what Regan gets from the event.
Read more about Hay Expo: