High Fertilizer Costs Lead Farmers, Advisors
to Carefully Evaluate Budgets
Fae Holin, MFA Communication Specialist
If you took soil tests on fields this fall, you’re on your way to potentially putting your fertilizer dollars where they’re needed the most. If you haven’t, put the task on your calendar for next spring, says Richard Halopka, University of Wisconsin (UW) Extension Crops and Soils Educator based in Clark County.
With commercial nitrogen fertilizer prices approaching $1,000/ton-plus and phosphorus and potassium prices following suit, farmers and their crop consultants are having to make careful buying decisions, he adds. A current soil test will help farmers determine which nutrients are needed and how much should be applied to each field.
“This might be the year where we need to say: ‘These three fields are going to get this dose of fertilizer, and these fields something different.’ We may have to set up multiple applications to offset some of those higher fertilizer costs,” Halopka advises. “That’s what farmers should be doing, and it also helps them reach their highest profit potential in that crop.”
Click here for the complete article.
Sweet Soil, Healthy Crops
Daniel Wiersma, Alfalfa Business Manager, Corteva Agriscience
The foundation of healthy crops is healthy soil. Some have used the phrase “sweet soil” to describe soils which are neutral to alkaline rather than acidic in nature. In fact, some farmers used to determine soil productivity by putting balls of soil in their mouths and tasting how “sweet or sour” it was. Soil pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity on a scale of 1-14, with 7 being neutral. Most soils fall in a pH range of 4 to 9. Many crops need “sweet soils” to grow vigorously, and alfalfa is chief among them. Being successful with alfalfa starts by knowing your soil pH and adjusting or “sweetening” it so plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria can be healthy and achieve high forage yields.
North American soils have a wide range of pH levels. Variability in natural soil pH is the result of big-scale factors including climate, soil parent material and mineral content, topography, and soil microorganism activity. Over time, climatic factors like temperature and rainfall continue to influence soil acidity due to weathering and leaching. Click here for the complete article.
Steady Hay Prices; Central Wisconsin Hay Supply in Good Shape
Fae Holin, MFA Communication Specialist
Hay prices in the Upper Midwest have been steady the week before Thanksgiving, according to the Nov. 22 Hay Market Demand and Price Report for the Upper Midwest. It is compiled by Richard Halopka, University of Wisconsin Extension Clark County Crops & Soils Educator, located in the central part of the state.
“Overall, forage supply in central Wisconsin is in good shape. Wisconsin is catching up with a very long growing season,” Halopka says, adding that farmers were still harvesting hay into November. “Many are adding to their supply following excellent growing conditions in October.” Some Wisconsin hay is being sold to Minnesota drought areas. “In drought areas, farmers are taking measures to limit need for winter feed (early weaning and moving calves to feedlots).”
Some Wisconsin regions made use of spotty rains, allowing late-season grazing, possibly even grazing fall-planted cereals, he says. Good weather also gave farmers the opportunity to bale cornstalks to add to their supply.
Average prices for prime hay (greater than 151 RFV/RFQ) brought $230/ton for large squares, $214/ton for large rounds, and $258/ton for small squares, according to the Midwest hay report. Grade 1 hay (125-150 RFV/RFQ) averaged $188/ton for large squares, $164/ton for large rounds, and $174/ton for smalls squares. Grade 2 hay (103-124 RFV/RFQ) brought an average of $151/ton for large squares and $143/ton for large rounds. The only Grade 3 hay (87-102 RFV/RFQ) prices posted were for large rounds at $115/ton. Click here for the complete article.
In the News: Hay Test Terms, Fertilizer Price Woes, Keeping Forages In Dairy Rations, Interseeding Cover Crops, Warm-Season Annuals
The importance of understanding hay nutrient-quality test results is succinctly explained in the latest University of Nebraska Pasture and Forage Minute: “Deciphering A Hay Test – Moisture.” At that same link, check out three other November audio clips discussing grazing corn residue and cattle compaction, testing before feeding corn stalks, and transporting cows to stalks.
Making feed input cuts could adversely impact milk production, warned University of Illinois’ Mike Hutjens in a Nov. 22 Hoard’s Dairyman article, "Don't let feed prices shortchange peak milk." “Forages are a huge factor in determining if I get that extra pound of dry matter intake in high-producing cows,” he stated. The Nov. 8 webinar, "A Feed and Forage Outlook," was presented by Hutjens and Mike Rankin, Hay & Forage Grower managing editor.
Farmers on the North Dakota-Canada border are interseeding forage barley with cover crops like hairy vetch, clover, and turnip to gain additional forage. The forage barley grows quickly and is cut and baled, which allows the other cover crops to begin growing and be grazed in fall, according to the Jamestown Sun article, “Interseeded cover crop produces extra forage.”
Farmers should think of warm-season annuals, including forage sorghums, BMR sorghums, and millets, as part of a “complete forage program,” said John Bernard during World Dairy Expo’s recent Dairy Forage Seminar series. “You may look at a summer annual to fill in the gap, but one of the big things is that over the past 10 years there’s been a lot more varieties developed that can deliver a high-quality forage,” said Bernard, emeritus professor of dairy science at the University of Georgia. Read more of Bernard’s comments in the Farm Progress article, “Warm-season forages provide unique options,” or listen to his presentation, “Considerations for Using Warm-Season Annuals as Part of Your Forage System.”
If you haven’t already designated the Midwest Forage Association as your charitable organization when buying off Amazon, it’s a great time to do so. Amazon allows for 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to go to MFA – without any expense to you. Just use our unique link; you'll go to smile.amazon.com and be asked if you want to support the Midwest Forage Association. That link is https://smile.amazon.com/ch/41-1297372.
Donations come from the Amazon Smile Foundation, and you can make your purchases just as you have been through amazon.com. The site will even keep track of how much of a donation is being made through your purchases! For more information, click here.
Take Advantage of MFA's "Members-Only" Research
As an MFA member, one of the most valuable resources at your
disposal is MFA's "Members-Only" Research Database,
a one-stop-shop for all of your forage research needs. MFA's
Research Database features every Clippings
and Forage Focus research article, as well as each
MFRP final report. You can also change and personalize your
password after signing in. Proceedings (and videos where appropriate)
will also be archived a year after the meeting date. Your
user name and password can be found on your MFA membership
card or by contacting the MFA office at
Fond du Lac County Extension & Forage Council Dairy-Forage Day
December 9, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Eden Community Center,Eden, WI Click here for details.
Manitowoc County Forage Council's Dairy Cattle/Forage Feeding & Management Day
December 16, 9:50 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
Kocourek Brothers’ Dairy Farm, Reedsville, WI RSVP to
firstname.lastname@example.org or text 920-901-9302.
30th GrassWorks Grazing Conference
January 20-22, 2022
Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI More details to come.
Agassiz Seed & Supply
Albert Lea Seed House
Alltech Barenbrug USA
CLAAS of America
Country Visions Cooperative
DHIA Laboratories Dohrmann Enterprises
Faber's Farm Equipment
H&S Manufacturing Co. Hay & Forage Grower
Innovative Forage Solutions
John Deere Jordan Ag Supply
Kuhn North America
Landoll Legacy Seeds
Mountain View Seeds Mustang Seeds
Nicolet National Bank
Poettinger US Riesterer & Schnell
Taunton & Meyer CPA
Vermeer Vincent, Urban, Walker & Associates, Inc.