June 16, 2015 08:30 AM

Visits to Idaho, Texas, Nebraska

By Glenn Shewmaker
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Idaho

May stocks of hay are up in Idaho, but the untold story is that much of it is junk hay. We had dry weather up until it was time to cut dairy hay. Then most areas have had from 0.5 to 2.0 inches of rain. As a result, much of the dairy quality hay is being put up in tough conditions. Yields are probably above average for most areas in southern Idaho where there was sufficient irrigation water. I think there is abundant feeder-quality hay but a shortage of dairy-quality hay.

Pest problems include cutworm, alfalfa weevil, and very high rodent populations of voles, gophers, marmots and so forth. I have never seen more disease problems than I have this year with a variety of fungal diseases.

Irrigation water availability is a hot topic both politically and economically in Idaho and throughout the western U.S. An agreement between senior and junior water users has been struck, which will reduce irrigation water used by all. Careful water management should allow for continued levels of forage production.

By Vanessa Corriher-Olson
Forage Extension Specialist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Texas has had a wet spring and early summer. Rainfall has currently subsided the drought; however, the excess moisture delayed crop plantings, hay harvests and, of course, caused flooding around rivers and low-lying areas. Floodwaters in areas have led to reduced grain yields, fence rebuilding, stranded livestock and an increase in weed densities. Most first hay harvests occurred in early June and a majority of those cuttings contained mature annual ryegrass along with mature bermudagrass. In some parts of the state, fields are still too wet to drive equipment over, further delaying any agronomic practice (fertilizing, spraying, harvesting and so forth).

Throughout most of Texas, soil moisture, rangeland and pastures are all in good condition. Several sunny days have allowed for fields to dry out and for some fieldwork where flooding had not occurred. Row crops in the Blacklands have displayed signs of stress due to standing water, and some stunted corn has also been reported. Wheat and oat harvest continued in earnest as fields began to dry down in most areas. However, both crops suffered damage in areas of the Cross Timbers due to excessive moisture.

By Barb Kinnan

Executive Director

Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association

Nebraska weather has made for challenging conditions for producers to get any hay made, let alone quality hay. April and May were cool months. The rains began in May and haven't stopped in many areas of the state. A few producers were able to get some good quality hay put up in mid-May in spite of the moisture, and some localized areas did not receive untimely rains.

Currently, there is quite a lot of new crop alfalfa down and much of it has been rained on. Some producers opted to green chop first cutting, while others made baleage to get hay off fields before the rains move through the area again. Most pastures and hay fields look rather good after rain showers fell across the state.