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2019 season wrap up

alfalfa hay

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#1 lcjaynes

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 06:08 PM

Yes, me again.

Last year I posted an article (including comments from some of you) regarding how the 2018 hay season had gone. It was one of our most-read articles for the year (Progressive Forage). Mind if I ask you a couple questions about this hay season, to use in another article? Let me know here IF YOU DO NOT want it used. I'll respect that.

 

1. Several seasons of difficult weather have some producers talking about not planting alfalfa anymore. If you grow alfalfa, are you planning to continue? If not, why not?

2. What changes will you make to your operation based on this year's haying experiences?

3. Will your hay acreage next year increase, decrease or stay the same?

 

 

And you know, any other old thing you want to share. But keep it clean ... or I just have to edit it out anyway. ;)

 

Thank you for generous support.

Lynn



#2 stack em up

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 10:42 PM

1. I’ll plant a little more alfalfa, for my own use. Not selling anymore, no market left in the area unfortunately.

2. Baleage is becoming my go-to choice. With the Minnesota Monsoon Season lasting almost as long as Minnesota Winter and Minnesota Road Construction season, it’s the only way I can make quality feed.

3. Hay acreage will increase some, to cover the increase in my sheep flock.


With 2019 being a virtual repeat of 2018 and 2017 more or less, there are a quite a few farmers hanging up the shovel. Tired of fighting weather, markets, the bank. Some guys at that age why burn thru equity just for something to do? Can’t blame them one bit. I’m grumpy tonight, sorry Lynn
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#3 Gearclash

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Posted 11 November 2019 - 10:57 PM

Well, 2019 was an interesting year for sure.  The biggest hurdle seemed to be the persistently high humidity levels.  I am convinced that unless our climate changes, trying to make dry alfalfa hay in the middle of summer is a fool’s errand. I’m sure my brother will continue to keep the same alfalfa acres, but he chops 3 cuttings of 4 for silage anyway.  We did try some baleage this year, it will be interesting to see how that turns out when the time comes to feed it.

 

One new thing in my arsenal of tricks is raking 2 windrows on one twice.  We started raking 2 windrows on one a day before we think alfalfa will be fit to bale dry, then rake two on one again the next day.  This accomplishes two things: it gets the orginal swath off the wet dirt a day sooner, and it gets us fewer larger windrows which significantly decreases time spent baling.


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#4 swmnhay

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 06:08 AM

I expanded some because I have the demand for it and had prevent plant acres available to seed this summer.

Added a Tedder to the arsenal to aid drying.Quite a few others did also in area this yr.Tedders were far and few between around here before.

A lot more adding Preservative or innoculant when baling

More guys wrapping baleage in area.Not only dairy but for stock cows and sheep.

I added more grass to my Alf/ grass mix to aid in drying.
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#5 endrow

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 06:35 AM

1. I’ll plant a little more alfalfa, for my own use. Not selling anymore, no market left in the area unfortunately.
 

        I always try to look ahead ! When you say in the area you mean how local ? And so you are saying there was a market but now there is not ; What happened to the market ? what changed ? Why did it change?


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#6 IH 1586

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 06:53 AM

1. No Alfalfa here. 

 

2.Purchased a sprayer this year and started a spraying program. With these late starts for dry hay and lack of rotations some of the fields are getting on the weedy side. We need to stand out from everybody else that thinks they can bale anything that grows. 

 

Due to the late start this year we ended up baling 1st cutting in Sept. both small squares and baleage. Kind of a trial with the baleage, hope it turns out. The squares, wish we had more of them but due to all the weeds just needed to get it off. More acres may be left til later due to my next remark.

 

3. Our hay acres are increasing greatly over the next couple years. We took control of a 50 acre block that we are in the process of rejuvenating. 6 acres are reseeded now with 20 getting done next spring. 2021 we are getting back an additional 80 acres. This year we were at 180 acres, next year we will be at approx 230 ares.

 

We went almost a full year with zero work and no hay sales. August 2018 - July 2019 just wet. However was really impressed with how July 2019 - October 2019 went. 90 % of the fields we took 2nd off of, 30% took off 3rd, and 10% 4th.


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#7 stack em up

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 06:55 AM

I always try to look ahead ! When you say in the area you mean how local ? And so you are saying there was a market but now there is not ; What happened to the market ? what changed ? Why did it change?


Local as in within 30-40 miles. 3 of the small dairies north of me a ways sold out. Feedlot 5 miles north is me quit feeding cattle couple of years ago. Different guy was renting out the lots but he gave it up too. Aside from the small freezer beef person here or there, nothing left Of livestock aside from my best friend. He has 40 momma cows yet and that’s all I can think of.
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#8 swmnhay

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 07:29 AM

I always try to look ahead ! When you say in the area you mean how local ? And so you are saying there was a market but now there is not ; What happened to the market ? what changed ? Why did it change?

just to add to Stacks response.Alfalfa is not looked at as much as a protein source as it once was since all the ethanol plants were built and the availability of high protein distillers grain.Used to be feedlots fed 2 lbs of alfalfa in ration and now they may feed 0.7 lbs and don’t want protein just scratch.
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#9 Uphayman

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 08:00 AM

We will continue to plant alfalfa/grass mix, and on some acreage, straight grass. Demand is very strong. For the first time this fall, we delivered "wet bales", wrapped on site at the customers. This was necessitated by the weather , and the urgent need to finish getting his feed supply in place. This might be a option, along with individually wrapping and delivering, down the road.
Hay acreage will remain the same, as we are maxed out.
In years past we would occasionally have a 10 day "no cut" period, due to wet weather. This year it was 8 weeks.
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#10 slowzuki

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 09:02 AM

1. No alfalfa, too many years of Jan rain flooding fields followed by deep freezes.

 

2. Looking at larger mowers without conditioning.  The conditioner is removable from our pottinger and a few tests runs found very little difference given we ted 2-3 times.  The other change is looking at spreading poultry manure to displace some conventional fertilizer use in fields not immediately adjacent to housing.

 

3. Our hay acreage will slightly increase as we are recovering a few acres by pushing fence lines and forest back where it has encroached and removing rock piles in a few areas.  

 

Yes, me again.

Last year I posted an article (including comments from some of you) regarding how the 2018 hay season had gone. It was one of our most-read articles for the year (Progressive Forage). Mind if I ask you a couple questions about this hay season, to use in another article? Let me know here IF YOU DO NOT want it used. I'll respect that.

 

1. Several seasons of difficult weather have some producers talking about not planting alfalfa anymore. If you grow alfalfa, are you planning to continue? If not, why not?

2. What changes will you make to your operation based on this year's haying experiences?

3. Will your hay acreage next year increase, decrease or stay the same?

 

 

And you know, any other old thing you want to share. But keep it clean ... or I just have to edit it out anyway. ;)

 

Thank you for generous support.

Lynn


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#11 Vol

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 07:54 PM

Demand is strong. I will continue with alfalfa and plant more into my grass. I would like to have some more acreage nearby, but really probably do not need more work load. I just hate to miss sales.  2019 started out very wet and then went into two separate droughts from June thru October. It made things difficult to fully supply my vendors. But, as always, I am grateful for what I have and all my days under the Sun. 

 

Regards, Mike


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#12 Hay diddle diddle

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 01:55 AM

It's funny that you talk a drought as a matter of months there Mike. Here we have been in different stages of drought since October 2016. My area is heavily dependent on surface irrigation water. This is the 2nd year in a row with zero water allocation for us. It will take a biblical flood for us to get any next year as well.  The UK's definition of a drought is something like 12 days of less than .2mm . Despite the drought we are still making as much hay as possible. A lot of winter wheat and canola was cut for hay.


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#13 Vol

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:13 AM

I do understand what you are saying diddle. It can get really droughty for prolonged periods(years) in some of our Western states. Drought for me in Tennessee is when the grass stops growing and starts browning. Someone somewhere is always worse off than one's own situation. I hope you do get some moisture soon diddle. 

 

Regards, Mike


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#14 cjsr8595

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 09:25 AM

1.I will continue to wear out the alfalfa I have,  i don't plan on planting any more.  I had a lot of winter kill last year and the wet spring didn't help things out.  I'll drill orchard in with the alfalfa i do have and move to all grass in the future.  

 

2.I plan on doing more fertilizing/supplementing.  Obviously I had better yields where i fertilized vs did not.  I've gotten to the point of locking in some acreage that I didn't know would be available for the future, now i know.  I will frost seed in some red clover to some of the existing grass as well.  It tends to work well in our area.  

 

3. Hay acreage will continue to grow, the demand is high for good quality cattle hay.  I have a lot of neighbors and friends that are short this year due to the wet spring and hot summer with a weak second and non existent third.  


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#15 r82230

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 12:59 PM

1 - Yes, market demand is good.  Have to admit, this was one of the most challenging years I have ever had in making hay.

 

2 - Larger cutting machine, which helps in time management and number 3.

 

3 - Would like to increase acreage, but might be more in the future.  Need to purchase land and see if market continues to grow.  In my case, I was NOT doing any SS bales until 3 years ago.  Sold about 60 tons in 2017, 100 tons in 2018 and 225 tons this year.  A fair amount of PP acres got planted into alfalfa in my area.  One neighbor completely got out of RC (sold equipment even), put his home farm all into alfalfa (100 acres).  Another neighbor just sent dairy cows down the road, plus added 75 acres to his hay ground (which will be on top of his haylage ground, becoming dry hay ground).  Presently harvest about 350 tons of hay off around 85 acres.  Thinking I'm reaching a plateau on increasing tons per acre.  Would like to add around 30 acres in the future, if market demand is there (and the price is right on the ground ;)).  I believe there will always be a market for quality hay and that's the market I'm going after.

 

Larry


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#16 OhioHay

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 09:18 PM

Hi Lynn,

Yes it was another difficult season. It is still going as we mowed our last 50 acres of oats to wrap yesterday. It was the 4th year in a row that June was wet, making first cutting difficult again. The difference this year was that July and August were wet too. September ended up being the best hay weather of the season. This year took a lot of patience. We decided that ripe was better than rained on, and that is paying off nicely as hay supply is short in our area and prices are up.

1. We don't grow any pure alfalfa, only alfalfa grass mixes and pure grasses. We will stay that way.

2. I think we are going to update the round baler and are considering adding another tedder.

3. We will increase our hay acres slightly next year.

Tim
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#17 Vol

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 04:06 AM

 We decided that ripe was better than rained on, and that is paying off nicely as hay supply is short in our area and prices are up.

1. We don't grow any pure alfalfa, only alfalfa grass mixes and pure grasses. We will stay that way.

Tim

 

 

In total agreement. 

 

If you do not have an agreement with a dairy on straight alfalfa, here it is pointless to grow straight alfalfa. Here, I target the horse market and those folks no longer want straight alfalfa for the most part. I occasionally get a call requesting straight alfalfa, but not enough to warrant the herbicidal costs and the extra aggravation of getting it into small squares. 

 

Regards, Mike


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#18 Josh in WNY

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 02:39 PM

1 - I don't grow any alfalfa due to our climate.  It's just too hard to get it dried down enough to put up as dry hay.  Pretty much everyone around me that has alfalfa is chopping it for a dairy.

 

2 - The only change based specifically on this years experience is that I'm going to have to start a spray program to get weeds back under control.  Two straight years of late first cutting has let the weeds get too established.  Other changes that I've been keeping an eye on even before this year were to start upgrading our rakes due to age and adding a tedder to the operation.  Just waiting for the right deal to come along on a tedder and as far as the rakes are concerned, I'd like to have a rotary rake setting in the yard by next spring.

 

3 - I might seed some more acres into hay next year, but that would be for production in 2021 as we fall seed or fields.  The farmer who usually uses our fallow land for silage corn wasn't able to get any put in last spring, so we might start taking some of that land back for hay if he doesn't want it.  My father and I also kicked around the idea of maybe putting in something different like sunflowers or canola. There are a lot of open questions on that front as we are not currently set up for grain.

 

Overall the market here has been about the same as last year.  I sold most of my small squares "off the field" and didn't have to even put them in the loft.  I have a few hundred small squares left in the loft, but I doubt I'll have any trouble moving them before spring.  We had about 80 or so rounds in the barn at the end of baling, but only 16 are still there and they've been spoken for.  Next summer I'm going to try a hay tarp for the round bales and see if that may be a good way to increase my storage for rounds.  That might lead to more hay acres down the road.


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#19 skyrydr2

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 05:06 AM

In Massachusetts we don't really have any dairies but maybe 1 any bit local to me. And they do all their own stuff. So we cater to mostly horses. And lots of them locally. We have a few boarding facilities that purchase large amounts at a time and usually always are sold out by March.
This year we gained another 20 acres of fields and with any luck should gain another 2000 bales for next years tally.
Also noticed a HUGE amount of goat hay customers. They want the poorest quality hay we have?? Ok, construction hay is what I call it but they like it and have bought almost all I made this year.
Last year was a mixed mess with virtually no second cut made due to rains. This year we stayed on it hard core and got all we could in the barns. About 4000 prime first cut,1100 construction, and 1100 second cut, low count was due to dry conditions followed by lots of rains a day or 2 apart messing up the drying times and because of the dry spell the stuff just didn't grow well for second cut.

I Would love to add a double rake and 6 basket tedder to my fleet with another 60+hp tractor but that will be in due time, as my helper gets better I will be able to do 2 fields at a time.
Help is so danged hard to find and I feel fortunate to have him as he really loves doing hay and is learning very quickly, almost scary how well he has caught on!
Anyways, I take good care of him and in turn he is there when I need him faithfully.

#20 paoutdoorsman

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 09:09 AM

Hi Lynn!

 

1. I will continue to grow alfalfa next season, but am decreasing acres by 60%.  Several reasons for this; Some of the stands are played out, drying has been challenging, the margin is slim with the high cost of planting and maintaining a good stand, it's been difficult to produce a consistent end product, and customers seem to have the grocery store mentality where they expect each bale to be like a box of cereal - identical on content and quality.  I'm not always happy with the cards I'm dealt either, so I can't blame them.  For me it just makes sense to focus on something a little more predictable.

 

2. No real changes in 2020 for me that are based on the 2019 season experiences.

 

3.  Hay acres staying the same.  More grass, less alfalfa.  Also added a new grass variety.







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