May 30, 2017

· Based on last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor data, there is now only 3 percent of the nation’s hay acreage within an area experiencing drought.

· You can add Missouri to the list of states with updated custom farm rates. The Missouri 2016 custom rates guide can be found here.

· Congratulations to Leanne Dillard. She will take over the duties as extension forage specialist at Auburn University beginning August 1. Dillard comes to Auburn from USDA-ARS in Pennsylvania where she has done extensive work with brassicas.

· The National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) has released its first ever request for proposals to solicit projects for the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative. Proposals are due by June 26.

· Federal crop insurance is slated to be cut by $29 billion over the next 10 years as a part of President Trump’s proposed budget. The budget eliminates harvest price coverage in revenue protection and caps premium subsidies.

May 23, 2017

· USDA released its final average price for hay during 2016 in last week’s Crop Values Annual Summary. The final All-Hay price was $132 per ton, which was $13 per ton less than 2015 and $40 per ton behind 2014. The average 2016 alfalfa price was $138 per ton, down $20 per ton from 2015 while trailing 2014 by $58 per ton.

· The value of all forage produced in the U.S. during 2016 was pegged at $17.6 billion.

· Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $13.23 per hour during the April 2017 reference week; this was up 4 percent from April 2016. Last week’s USDA Farm Labor report noted that field workers received an average of $12.22 per hour, up 2 percent from last year. Livestock workers earned $12.53 per hour, which was 4 percent higher than a year ago. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $12.32 per hour, was up 3 percent from April 2016.

· USDA reports that U.S. April milk production was 18.3 million pounds, up 2 percent from 2016 but down 2.3 percent from the 18.7 million pounds produced during March.

· Texas led the pack of states with higher milk production with a 12.8 percent gain. The Lone Star State added 45,000 cows from a year ago. The largest decline was in Colorado, down 4.1 percent from April 2016.

May 16, 2017

· After a slow start, planting in the 18 largest corn states has started to rebound. According to USDA's Crop Progress report released yesterday, 71 percent of the corn is planted. This compares to a past five-year average of 70 percent. Nationwide, 31 percent of the corn has emerged, which is 5 percentage units behind 2016. Sixty-two percent of pastures are rated as being in Good to Excellent condition.

· The National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) reports that funding for the Alfalfa Seed and Alfalfa Forage Systems Research Program (AFRP) included $2.25 million to fund alfalfa-related research for FY 2017. This total amounts to a $250,000 additional appropriation over FY 2016. Both the U.S. House and Senate recently passed the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that avoided a government shutdown.

· The University of California-Davis has published newly revised integrated pest management (IPM) guidelines for alfalfa. The guidelines are now available as an on-line resource with new sections, videos, and decision support tools.

· The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) is excited to celebrate the 3rd Annual National Forage Week June 18 to 24, 2017, as an effort to raise awareness to the importance and impact of forages. As the leader and voice of economically and environmentally sound forage focused agriculture, AFGC understands the impact of forages on the world and wants to share that knowledge by focusing education efforts during National Forage Week.

· The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., announced that it has separated its research and education operations from its philanthropic activities to advance its mission and better serve agriculture. The organization’s research, education, and consultation activities will continue forward under a new name, the Noble Research Institute LLC.

May 9, 2017

· U.S. alfalfa hay exports during March totaled 271,174 metric tons (MT), according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. This was the largest single month total ever recorded and eclipsed last March’s alfalfa hay exports by 95,212 MT.

· China imported 121,371 MT of U.S. alfalfa during March, which was once again the highest of any trade partner. Last March, their total was 73,814 MT. Exports to Japan totaled 52,540 MT, up about 10,000 MT from one year ago.

· Saudi Arabia recaptured third place as the largest importer of U.S. alfalfa hay with 36,165 MT. That was nearly double their February total and 67 percent more than March 2016.

· You can now monitor sugarcane aphid activity across the South at Kansas State’s MyFields website. Aphids are already being seen in southern Texas.

· According to USDA’s National Monthly Grass Fed Beef Report, the average premium (difference from grain-fed) paid for a grass-fed ribeye steak was $14.46 per pound during April.

May 2, 2017

· A hearty congratulations to University of Georgia forage specialist Dennis Hancock for receiving the 2017 Walter Barnard Hill Award, which recognizes UGA faculty members who made contributions to the improvement of the quality of life in Georgia or elsewhere to a degree that greatly exceeds the normal accomplishments of a productive faculty member.

· From Iowa State University and Wisconsin: Be aware that herbicide options may impact future cover crop options and utilization.

· In a University of Illinois analysis of U.S. crop acre changes from 1991 to 2016, harvested hay acres dropped by over 5 million. Only wheat and oats realized larger losses in acreage. Soybean acres had the biggest boost at 23.6 million.

· The National Hay Association recently announced Sue Arnold as its new executive director. Arnold lives in Massillon, Ohio and can be reached at

· Per USDA, cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves decreased 18 percent from $78.1 billion in 2015 to $63.9 billion in 2016. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 54.3 billion pounds in 2016, up 4 percent from 2015.

Click to read last month's Hay Pellets.