July 28, 2015 08:00 PM

Visits to Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Montana

by Marvin Hall
Extension Forage Agronomist
Penn State University

Last week without rain was the first opportunity since May to make hay without it getting rained on. Needless to say, a lot of hay was made, but much of it was of lower quality because it was overly mature. Because of the wet conditions, a lot of forages have been harvested as haylage instead of dry hay. Consequently, hay supplies are lower than normal for this time in the summer. Concern now is for the damage to existing forage stands of having driven on them when the soils were saturated. Leafhoppers are common across the state but not exceptionally bad.

by Ray Smith
Forage Extension Specialist
University of Kentucky

At press time, there is a lot of hay on the ground in Kentucky. Starting about July 21, most of the state had the first good window for making hay in over a month. I have talked with several producers that are only on their second cutting of alfalfa (obviously very overmature). This year I have had calls about what to do when hay has been rained on four or five times. Everyone is hoping for more typical summer conditions from here on out. Cattle producers are frustrated with the difficulty in putting up quality hay for the winter but have enjoyed ideal conditions for pasture growth. On some pastures though, the wet weather had resulted in muddy conditions. Corn silage production should be average for most producers, with the exception of those on flat ground or in fields with marginal internal drainage. There are a growing number of Kentucky producers putting up round bale silage (mainly inline wrappers). This year, no one is complaining about the time and effort or the cost of plastic for their wrapper. They are just thankful to have quality feed for winter.

In summary, the 2015 hay yield for Kentucky producers will likely be average, but overall hay quality for the first three months of the growing season will be below average.

by Emily Glunk
Forage Extension Specialist
Montana State University

Drought in many parts of the state has slowed regrowth on many haying operations. Several counties in the northwest portion of the state have been listed as under a severe drought, decreasing the likelihood of a second harvest for many dryland producers, with many central and western counties listed as slightly or moderately dry. In other parts of the state with ample irrigation, some producers have already starting cutting their second harvest. Many acres of cereal grains are being harvested for hay instead of grain, with a concurrent increase in the amount of nitrate testing in extension offices throughout the state.

In seven counties, located in the northern Montana, the USDA has authorized emergency grazing and haying of CRP acreage in order to increase forage production for livestock. Eligible producers must have written approval from FSA and complete their haying by August 31 and grazing by September 30. Hay prices still remain about average for the time of season, with Supreme quality alfalfa going for $200 to 210 per ton (small squares) and Good quality large square alfalfa selling for around $150 per ton.