April 26, 2016

Alfalfa hay exports in February totaled 175,962 metric tons, based on data from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. This compares to 115,513 metric tons in February 2015. Both China and UAE (United Arab Emirates) imported significantly more alfalfa than one year ago and accounted for most of the higher export total.

U.S. milk production in March was up 1.8 percent from one year ago, according to USDA’s Milk Production report. Milk production spiked 7.7 percent higher in Michigan, 5.5 percent in Wisconsin, and 4.4 percent in Indiana. Production in California was down 2.4 percent.

The U.S. dairy herd is now larger than it has been at any time since December 2008, based on monthly figures from USDA.

USDA's Cattle on Feed report showed that U.S. cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market totaled 10.9 million head on April 1, 2016. The inventory was 1 percent above April 1, 2015, and included 7.36 million steers and steer calves, 1 percent fewer than the previous year.

W.D. Hoard said it over 100 years ago: “We have lived so long on the bounty of Heaven in the stored-up fertility of our soil, that it is hard work to convince ourselves that we must spend some money on that soil.”

April 19, 2016

According to the Hoyt Report, though alfalfa acres in California are at historical lows, the Imperial Valley is increasing acreage for both alfalfa hay and seed.

Year-to-date sales of all two-wheel-drive tractors are up 8.4 percent, but the devil is in the details. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), sales of tractors under 40 horsepower are up 26.1 percent, while sales of tractors over 100 horsepower are down 32.9 percent from last year.

In the same AEM report, sales of four-wheel drive tractors are down 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

Each pound of pure alfalfa seed planted per acre equates to about five seeds per square foot.

Texas has been granted a Section 18 label for the use of Transform insecticide on sugarcane aphids in 2016. Growers in the Lone Star State will now have two insecticide options to control the destructive insect.

W.D. Hoard said it over 100 years ago:I have dug down 12 feet and found alfalfa roots; 12 feet is the deepest I went down with alfalfa 3 and 4 years old. I saw an alfalfa root suspended from a cupola in Denver that they said was 100 years old, and those roots were 34 feet long.”

April 12, 2016

Early bird registration for the Grassfed Exchange Conference ends on April 15. The conference will be held April 27 to 29 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.

The National Hay Association is accepting applications for a full-time contractor to act as their executive director. Responsibilities and application information are available here.

According to USDA’s Prospective Plantings report, Texas farmers and ranchers are expected to harvest 4.75 million acres of hay in 2016. The next closest state is South Dakota at 3.25 million.

The Southern Pasture & Forage Crop Improvement Conference will be held in Monroe, La., on May 2 to 4.

W.D. Hoard said it over 100 years ago: “The best and most profitable market for grain, hay, and coarse forage that a farmer can find is a good cow. Not only is the return, when transformed into cow products, the highest, but the reflex effect on the producing power of the farm is very great.”

April 4, 2016

Most industry analysts were shocked to see that U.S. farmers expect to plant 93.6 million acres of corn in 2016. Released last week, the USDA Prospective Plantings report sent corn prices tumbling at the anticipation of a 6 percent increase in corn acres from last year.

The report also indicated that U.S. farmers intend to harvest about 54.3 million acres of hay in 2016. This is close to the same acreage harvested in 2015, though nearly 3 million acres less than 2014.

Iowa State University has made available a new publication entitled Making the Switch to Baleage. It can be ordered in print or downloaded free as a pdf file here.

In the final snow survey of 2016, the California Department of Water Resources reported that statewide water content of the snowpack is 87 percent of normal; not a drought buster, but far better than the 5 percent of normal recorded in 2015. More details can be found here.

W.D. Hoard said it over 100 years ago: “The dairyman is in commercial relations with the cow in two places, first, as to the character of the cow, and second, as to the character of her feed. Without something to digest, an animal works over unprofitable feed and expends a lot of energy with no result.”

View March 2016 Hay Pellets