November 28, 2017

• Dry fall conditions have beef producers looking at Plan B for winter-feeding strategies, according to Jason Banta, Texas A&M beef specialist based in Overton.

• October milk production was up 1.4 percent, totaling 17.8 billion pounds. According to USDA’s Milk Production report, production per cow in the U.S. averaged 1,894 pounds, which was up 59 pounds from September and 12 pounds more than one year ago.

• The number of milk cows on farms in October was 9.40 million head, 65,000 head more than last year, but 1,000 head less than September 2017.

• The University of Wisconsin posted the results of their extensive 2017 corn hybrid silage performance trials last week.

• The Noble Research Institute, in cooperation with several other academic institutions, received a grant for $5 million to identify and study genes that help legumes. The researchers will study genes that are essential for symbiotic nitrogen fixation with rhizobia and for the beneficial interaction with symbiotic fungi.

November 21, 2017

• The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the award recipients for the Alfalfa and Forage Research Program (AFRP). More than $2 million in funding will be used on eight different research projects, according to a National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance news release. Researchers from 19 different states are involved in the projects.

• Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $13.42 per hour during October reference week based on USDA’s Farm Labor report. This was up 1 percent from the previous year. Field workers received an average of $12.83 per hour, up 2 percent. Livestock workers earned $12.22, down slightly from the previous year. The combined field and livestock worker earned $12.66 per hour, up 1 percent from 2016. Hired laborers worked an average of 41.6 hours during the week, unchanged from a year earlier.

• Look for NAFA’s Alfalfa Variety Ratings booklet in the November issue of Hay & Forage Grower, which mailed late last week. The booklet contains alfalfa variety ratings for fall dormancy, winter survival, pest resistance, grazing tolerance, and standability.

• Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.3 million head on November 1. The inventory was 6 percent above last year, according to USDA’s Cattle on Feed report. Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.39 million head, 10 percent above 2016.

• The American Farm Bureau Federation's 32nd annual price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year's feast for 10 is $49.12, 75 cents lower than last year's average of $49.87.

November 14, 2017

• We didn’t mention in last week’s “Hay Pellets” that alfalfa exports to Saudi Arabia during September were 41,841 metric tons (MT). That nearly hit their record set last December. Year-to-date exports to Saudi Arabia are up 40 percent over 2016 based on data from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The Saudi government is in the process of severely limiting water use for crop production in that country.

• Corn production is now forecasted to be 14.6 billion bushels in 2017, according to USDA’s November Crop Production report. That’s down 4 percent from last year but up 2 percent from the October estimate.

• Average corn yield this year is pegged at 175.4 bushels per acre, 3.6 bushels higher than the October forecast and slightly better than 2016. If realized, it will be the highest U.S. average yield on record.

• AGCO Corporation introduced a new ultra high-density large square baler this week at AgriTechnica in Hanover, Germany. The Massey Ferguson 2370 baler will be debuted in the U.S. during February 13 to 15 at the 2018 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.

• The Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium in Reno, Nev., is fast approaching. Be sure to stop by and visit the Hay & Forage Grower booth.

November 7, 2017

• Alfalfa hay exports in September totaled 199,443 metric tons (MT), according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. This was down 1.5 percent from a year ago. Year-to-date U.S. alfalfa exports stand at 2,047,773 MT, up 13 percent from 2016.

• China still remains the largest importer of alfalfa, and second-place Japan isn’t even close. The Chinese bought 79,085 MT of alfalfa in September, accounting for 40 percent of the month’s U.S. export total.

• Even though China is the elephant in the room, their monthly export total has declined for five consecutive months after an April peak of 122,612 MT. Their September total was about 14 percent below a year ago.

• In case you’re wondering . . . The largest importer of U.S. hay other than alfalfa is Japan. Through September, that country has imported 573,370 MT of other hay in 2017. South Korea is the next highest at 395,930 MT.

• The winter forage meeting and conference season is starting to heat up. Registration is open for many large events from Virginia to California. Check them out here.