February 27, 2018

• In USDA’s Crop Values Annual Summary report released last week, the preliminary price for All-Hay (dry hay only) in 2017 was $140 per ton, $11 higher than 2016. Alfalfa hay value was projected to average $152 per ton, $16 more than the previous year.

• The projected value of all forage produced (including haylage and greenchop) in the U.S. during 2017 was $18.25 billion. That was up from $17.53 billion in 2016.

• Even with the prospect of lower prices through the first half of 2018, January milk production in the U.S. totaled 18.45 million pounds, up 1.8 percent compared to the same month in 2016. Even California experienced a 2.2 percent rise in year-over-year production, which is the first time that’s happened since December 2016.

• Last week’s USDA Milk Production report also highlighted total 2017 production statistics. Annual U.S. milk production during 2017 was 215 billion pounds, 1.4 percent above 2016. This was despite the loss of 1,600 dairy farms during the year. The average dairy farm herd size now stands at 234 cows.

• Cattle and calves on feed for the U.S. slaughter market (feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more cattle) totaled 11.6 million head on February 1, according to USDA’s Cattle on Feed report. The inventory was 8 percent above one year ago. Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.07 million head, 4 percent above 2017.

February 20, 2018

• Farm numbers in the U.S. during 2017 totaled 2.05 million, down 12,000 farms from 2016, according to USDA’s Farms and Land in Farms report. Fifty percent of U.S. farms had agricultural sales of less than $10,000. Another 30 percent included farms with sales of $10,000 to $99,999. Texas has the most USDA-defined farms with 240,000.

• The average U.S. farm size in 2016 was 444 acres, up 2 acres from 2016. The total amount of U.S. land in farms totaled 910 million acres, down by 1 million acres from 2016.

• Total sales of two-wheel drive tractors in 2017 were up 4.5 percent compared to 2016. That gain was fueled by sales of tractors under 40 horsepower (hp), which were 8.1 percent higher, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Sales of two-wheel drive tractors over 100 hp were down 8.1 percent in 2017.

• AEM also reported that four-wheel drive farm tractor sales were down 4.9 percent in 2017 relative to the previous year. Sales of four-wheel drive tractors in January 2018 were up 21.1 percent from one year earlier, perhaps indicating a rebound for the current year.

• In last week’s Illinois Production Cost Report, the average retail price of dry urea (46 percent nitrogen) was $361.43 per ton, or about 39 cents per pound of actual nitrogen. Potash (0-0-60) averaged 345.67 per ton, or 29 cents per pound of actual potassium as K2O.

February 13, 2018

• Total hay exports for December totaled 339,257 metric tons (MT), according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. This was similar to November but down 9 percent from one year ago.

• The U.S. exported 100,098 MT of alfalfa hay to China in December. That was up 22 percent from November and the largest export total to that country since last June.

• Registration is now open for the 10th Grassfed Exchange Conference that will be held June 20 to 22 in Rapid City, S.D.

• National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) board members and representatives spent four days in Washington D.C. last week. The delegation is charged each year to create awareness of forage issues and educate policy makers on the value and benefits of forage production in the United States.

• In the Intermountain Region of California, they’re dealing with alfalfa weevil pyrethroid resistance.

February 6, 2018

• The Jim O’Haco Cattle Company, Winslow, Ariz., received the 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show last week in Phoenix. The winner was selected from six regional finalists. View a video highlighting the ranch’s environmental efforts here.

• The most recent Drought Monitor map shows 33 percent of the U.S. experiencing some level of drought.

• The February 1 snowpack in California was measured as 27 percent of normal across all monitored locations. That translates to a snow water equivalent of 4.9 inches. On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer.

• Dairy production in the Texas Panhandle has jumped from less than 1 percent of the state’s milk production in the 1980s to 68 percent in 2017. The Panhandle-eastern New Mexico region is now the third largest milk production region in the U.S., according to Ellen Jordan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension dairy nutritionist.

• There is a flood of forage-related meetings and conferences during the upcoming weeks. Check them out here.