October 26, 2021

• Based on the bi-weekly Illinois Production Cost Report, the cost of retail potash (0-0-60) rose from $327 per ton in October 2020 to its current value of $776 per ton. That’s a price hike of 137%. Urea (46-0-0) went from $353 in October 2020 to $810 a year later, a 130% price rise. Phosphorus fertilizers, DAP and MAP, are up 90% and 115%, respectively.

• September milk production in the U.S. was up only 0.2% from a year ago, according to USDA. The nation’s dairy herd has shrunk by 85,000 cows since last May as dairy producers try to mitigate high feed costs. Milk per cow has also declined for two consecutive months.

• Cattle and calves on feed for the U.S. slaughter market (feedlot capacity of more than 1,000 head) totaled 11.6 million head on October 1. The inventory was 1% below a year ago and is the second highest October 1 inventory since tracking began in 1996. Placements in feedlots during September totaled 2.16 million head, which was 3% below 2020.

• Riparian buffers can offer many advantages beyond just their environmental benefits.

• The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced its conservation funding opportunities for 2022.

October 19, 2021

• According to a Cornell University dairy farm labor analysis, labor costs per hundredweight of milk sold rose from $2.66 to $3.08, an increase of 15.8% over 10 years. The rise in labor costs per hundredweight of milk sold is less than the increase in cost per hour in hired labor, reflecting management changes undertaken by the farms over the time frame to improve labor efficiency.

• Fall is the preferred time to soil test hayfields and pastures.

• Targeted fall irrigation may help the long-term strength of alfalfa stands.

• The University of Florida offers some advice on fertilizing cool-season forages.

• Sunn hemp may offer a forage alternative in eastern Wyoming.

October 12, 2021

• Despite ongoing current shipping issues, U.S. alfalfa hay exports kicked back into gear during August. A total of 290,072 metric tons (MT) of alfalfa hay was shipped to all trade partners, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. That total was 26% more than one year ago and 35% above the previous month. Year-to-date through August, alfalfa hay exports are now running 2% above last year.

• China led the charge for importing U.S. alfalfa hay in August. It purchased 191,267 MT of alfalfa, up 57% from one year ago and 50% more than the previous month. Among the five top alfalfa hay trade partners, only Saudi Arabia imported less alfalfa in August than a year ago.

• The USDA’s Risk Management Agency has pushed back the application date for its Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage pilot insurance program. Producers now have until December 1 to make coverage decisions and complete reporting activities.

• Don’t let spotted knapweed get out of control in pastures.

• Haying and grazing late-season alfalfa has risks and benefits.

October 5, 2021

• Congratulations to the Watertown, Wis., FFA team for winning the 2021 World Cup Forage Contest held at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The contest requires students to take a written forage knowledge exam, correctly place six classes of forage samples, and identify key forage species and their seeds. Over 30 teams participated.

• A North Dakota State University specialist notes that haying and grazing alfalfa in the late fall has both risks and benefits.

• Be smart when grazing frosted sorghums.

• Corn silage might make sense in beef feedlot diets when corn grain prices are high.

• The high price of fertilizer makes manure nutrients more valuable.