April 23, 2019

• There was some bounce back from China for alfalfa hay imported from the U.S. during February. The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service reported that the U.S. exported 48,419 metric tons (MT) of alfalfa to China during February, which was up from 25,461 MT in January but still far below 2018 levels.

• Total alfalfa exports for February were 186,815 MT, down about 6 percent from one year ago. Through the first two months of 2019, total alfalfa exports are running about equal to 2018.

• USDA reported cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in the U.S. totaled 12 million head on April 1 (feedlots over 1,000 head). The inventory was 2 percent above one year ago and is the highest April 1 inventory since counting began in 1996. Placements in feedlots during March totaled 2.01 million head, 5 percent above 2018.

• The number of farms in the U.S. for 2018 was estimated at 2,029,200 in last week’s Farms and Land in Farms report from USDA. That was down 12,800 farms from 2017. Total land in farms, at 899.5 million acres, has declined 870,000 acres since 2017. The average farm size for 2018 is 443 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

• Entomologists reported that alfalfa weevil numbers are “exploding” in central Kansas. It’s that time of year to begin watching alfalfa fields closely for this devastating pest.

April 16, 2019

• Here’s an interesting read on the current alfalfa and forage situation in China from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Overall demand for high-quality forage, especially alfalfa, is expected to increase, and more of their corn grain acres are being converted to corn silage.

• It’s time to start thinking about spring weed control for alfalfa. Penn State offers this advice.

• The University of Minnesota’s Hay Price Calculator app has been updated. The app aids hay buyers in calculating price per ton and provides cost comparisons of small square, large round, and large square bales. The app is available for both Apple and Android platforms.

• Here’s some advice on weed-wiping or rope-wicking tall perennial grass weeds such as broomsedge from the University of Florida.

• The University of Georgia and University of Florida will offer a Corn Silage and Forage Field Day in Tifton, Ga., on June 20.

April 9, 2019

• What seemed virtually impossible only a year ago is now a reality. During January, China’s import total of U.S. alfalfa hay was only 25,461 metric tons (MT), according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. This was China’s lowest monthly total since 2012 and was a 64 percent drop from January 2018.

• The low import total for China in January put that country in fourth place in terms of leading alfalfa trade partners for the month. Fortunately, other leading trade partners all had positive year-over-year gains, some significantly higher. These included Japan (up 27 percent), Saudi Arabia (up 163 percent), United Arab Emirates (up 121 percent), and South Korea (up 20 percent).

• From a January total world export perspective, the U.S. shipped out 181,442 MT of alfalfa hay, and this was 6 percent more than one year ago.

• According to Jeff Coulter, extension corn agronomist with the University of Minnesota, long-term trials in Wisconsin and Iowa show grain yields of first-year corn following alfalfa have been up to 8 percent greater than that of corn following soybean, and 9 to 18 percent greater than that of continuous corn. The yield boost from alfalfa is also seen in second-year corn following alfalfa, which has yielded 6 to 8 percent more than continuous corn.

• University of Nebraska specialists encourage ranchers to get ready for the grazing season.

April 2, 2019

• Hay acres in the U.S. for 2019 are expected to be essentially unchanged from 2018, according to USDA’s Prospective Plantings report released last week. The initial forecast pegs hay acres at 53.1 million.

• Top hay-producing states with declines in acreage included California (down 6 percent), Colorado (down 1 percent), Idaho (down 1 percent), North Dakota (down 3 percent), Oklahoma (down 7 percent), South Dakota (down 9 percent), Tennessee (down 2 percent), Wisconsin (down 8 percent), and Wyoming (down 3 percent).

• Those top hay-producing states projected to harvest more acres in 2019 included Arkansas (up 1 percent), Iowa (up 12 percent), Kansas (up 4 percent), Kentucky (up 6 percent), Minnesota (up 23 percent), Missouri (up 1 percent), Nebraska (up 4 percent), New York (up 11 percent), Oregon (up 6 percent), Pennsylvania (up 3 percent), and Texas (up 5 percent). Both Montana and Virginia farmers are expected to harvest the same number of hay acres in 2019 as last year.

• Here’s a reminder from the University of Florida to be on the lookout for crown rust in oats.

• Also from the Prospective Plantings report, corn acres for all purposes in 2019 are estimated at 92.8 million, up 4 percent or 3.66 million acres more than last year.