February 23, 2021

• Geese are devastating some California alfalfa fields.

• USDA estimated that there were 2,019,000 farms in the U.S. for 2020, down 4,400 farms from 2019. The number of farms in all sales classes declined. In 2020, 51.1% of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales, and 81.5% of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales.

• The average farm in the U.S. for 2020 was 444 acres, unchanged from the previous year. Texas remains the state with the most farm operations at 247,000, while Wyoming had the largest average farm size at 2,417 acres.

• Cattle and calves on feed for the U.S. slaughter market (feedlots with 1,000 or more head capacity) totaled 12.1 million head on February 1. The inventory was 1% above a year ago and is the second-highest February 1 inventory since tracking began in 1996. Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.02 million head, 3% above 2020.

• There’s no longer a good justification for seeding toxic Kentucky 31 tall fescue into horse pastures, according to University of Kentucky extension forage specialists.

February 16, 2021

• To nobody’s surprise, the price of fertilizer has followed the upward trend of grain commodity prices. According to the Illinois Production Cost Report, the average price for urea has risen from $353 to $398 per ton since the beginning of October 2020. Diammonium phosphate (DAP) has climbed from $427 to $519 per ton while potash jumped from $328 to $381 per ton during that same time period.

• The average gross wage rate paid to hired U.S. farm workers during 2020 was $15.49 per hour, according to USDA’s Farm Labor report. Field workers averaged $14.76 per hour while livestock workers received $14.35 per hour.

• The highest average rate paid to farm workers in 2020 was in California where the average wage was $17.51 per hour. The lowest-paid workers were in the Delta region (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) with an average rate of $12.26 per hour.

• Seasonal H-2A workers from South Africa are commonly employed by custom forage harvesters and commercial hay operations. These workers were recently given a waiver from the COVID-related travel ban imposed on their country because they were deemed “essential to the economy and food security of the United States.”

• The Great Lakes Forage & Grazing Conference will be held virtually on March 11. This year’s keynote speaker is Dennis Hancock, director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

February 9, 2021

• For 2020, U.S. alfalfa hay exports to all countries finished 1% higher than 2019, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. China imported 40% more alfalfa hay in 2020, while Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and United Arab Emirates all imported fewer metric tons (MT) than the previous year.

• Alfalfa hay exports to all trade partners in December were up 7% from one year ago and 19% higher than November. China imported 110,629 MT in December, which was 26% higher than the previous month and 50% more than the previous year.

• Many states have a March 15 closing date for buying spring forage seeding crop insurance. Coverage protects against adverse weather conditions, such as hail, frost, freeze, wind, drought, and excess moisture; failure of irrigation water supply; fire, if due to natural causes; plant disease and insects; or wildlife damage. Contact your crop insurance agent for more details.

• University of Nebraska extension educators offer some tips on winter interseeding legumes into your pastures.

• Here’s how the decisions you make will impact spring forage regrowth and fertility.

February 2, 2021

• Year-over-year milk production in the U.S. rose another 3.1% during December. That marked seven consecutive months of higher production compared to 2019. The nation’s dairy herd is 100,000 cows larger than it was in December of last year and has grown in each of the past seven months.

• As of January 1, the U.S. beef cow herd stood at 31.16 million cows, according to USDA’s Cattle report released last week. That’s down 1% from a year ago. Replacement beef heifers (over 500 pounds) stood at about the same number as on January 1, 2020.

• Texas continues to lead the nation in the number of beef cows with nearly 4.7 million head. It’s followed by Oklahoma with 2.2 million head and Missouri, which has just over 2 million beef cows.

• Meadow fescue is a great option for alfalfa-grass mixtures, according to this research from Cornell University.

• Nebraska extension educators suggest boosting pasture quality by interseeding legumes this winter.