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10 ‘soundbites’ from Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium

Jim Kuhn Leadership Award
Dr. Dan Putnam, right, University of California agronomist, received the 2017 Jim Kuhn Leadership Award Nov. 29 from the California Alfalfa & Forage Association during the Western Alfalfa and Forage Symposium. Presenting the award was last year’s recipient Tom Ellis.
“There will be fewer alfalfa acres in Kings, Tulare, and Fresno counties (in Central California) in 2018," predicts hay market analyst Seth Hoyt.

About 430 members of the western alfalfa and forage industries gathered Nov. 28- 30 in Reno, Nev. to learn improved ways to grow, bale, test, and sell quality hays.

The crowd at the 2017 Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium heard the latest research findings, news, technological developments, and solutions to push their alfalfa and forage farms and related businesses to the next level.

Below are 10 of the noted ‘soundbites’ from event speakers, courtesy of Western Farm Press.  

No. 1 – High quality alfalfa is essential. “Alfalfa must be nutritious and palatable. The animal must be willing to eat it or it doesn’t do any good,” said Shannon Mueller, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) director at Fresno County.

No. 2 – Seth Hoyt, market analyst and author of The Hoyt Report weekly newsletter, offered these noted ‘bites’:

A – “I can’t predict alfalfa prices (for 2018) due to so many variables.” Hoyt has made the same comment for the last several years at the same symposium due to fast changing market forces. 

B - “There will be fewer alfalfa acres in Kings, Tulare, and Fresno counties (in Central California) in 2018. More hay will be brought in from other states,” said Hoyt, suggesting that fewer acres could be tied to increased tree nut plantings.

C – “Alfalfa hay exports to Japan are up 7 percent to about 33,000 metric tons,” said Hoyt who expects western hay export numbers to be mostly strong in 2018.

No. 3 - On dairy, Tiffany LaMendola of Blimling Associates noted these points – 1- “We expect more negative (milk) prices in 2018.” 2 – “Domestic demand for U.S. dairy products remain flat with a 1 percent increase in cheese (sales).” 3 – “We are entering a new year with a lot of dairy products with plenty of butter on hand. We have way too much powder.”

No. 4 – “The two (main) purposes of hay testing is to formulate rations and determine economic worth,” said Dan Putnam, UCCE forage specialist.

No. 5 – What is the most powerful mechanism growers can use to influence forage quality? It’s the cutting schedule, said 85 percent of the 200 folks who attended a question and answer session using clicker technology to select from multiple choice answers, during the symposium’s Alfalfa Hay Quality Workshops.

No. 6 – What type of hay rake is more likely to have leaf shatter? A mechanical rake (hydraulic or PTO), said 53 percent of the workshop attendees via clickers during the Hay Quality Workshop.

No. 7 – “The ‘5 Rs’ of feeding cows include the right feed, right cows, right time, right amounts, and right physical form,” said Rick Norell of the University of Idaho. He added, “Forages set the pace for the entire ration.”

No. 8 – “When taking a bale sample go into the middle of the bale. Don’t use the plunger at an angle. Go into the center of the bale – straight into the bale” – Jody Gale, Utah State University.

No. 9 – On the U.S. farm bill, “There is no evidence that commodity subsidies have helped industries prosper. Evidence exists that they (subsidies) have stifled innovation in products and markets,” said Dan Sumner of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

No. 10 – Tim DelCurto of Montana State University, said: “The U.S. is the world’s largest beef producer with nearly 27 billion pounds (produced) in 2017.”

This year’s symposium featured a trade show with 76 exhibitors.


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