USDA Hay Markets – January 21, 2020

Below are examples of grass prices being paid FOB barn/stack (except for those noted as delivered, which is indicated by a “d” in the table below) for selected states at the end of the day on Friday, January 17. Large ranges for a particular grade and state are often indicative of location and/or bale size. Also check the USDA Hay Market Prices for additional locations and more detailed information.


Publication of the Month: Renovating Hay and Pastures Fields (AGR-26)

A simple but effective method to renovate pastures is to broadcast the legume seed (clover and annual lespedeza) on the soil surface in late winter (ideally February) or when there are 4 to 6 weeks of potential frost at night. As the soil freezes and thaws, the seeds become covered. This method does not work as well with alfalfa or grasses. As described above, make sure the stand is grazed or cut closely so that nearly all plant residue is removed and the legume seed hits the soil surface. To read this and other publications, visit the UK Forage Extension Publication page.


AFGC Annual Conference Summary

Kentucky had a large delegation at the American Forage and Grassland Council’s annual conference. This years’ event was held January 5-8 in Greenville, SC. Jessamine county Ag. Extension agent Steve Musen (pictured) presented a poster on  “Effectively Reaching the Equine Community”. Grad student Kelly Mercier presented her thesis work on “The Opportunities and Challenges of Grazing Summer Annual Forage Mixtures”. Will Bowling representing KFGC in the Forage Spokesperson competition and won second prize. UK also had a team of undergraduates who competed in the National Forage Bowl Competition. Next year’s conference will be held January 3-6, 2021 in Savannah, GA.

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Upcoming Events

February 20 – Alfalfa and Stored Forages Conference, Elizabethtown, KY |

March 18 – Novel Tall Fescue Workshop, Spring Hill, KY |

March 19 – Novel Tall Fescue Workshop, Lexington, KY |

April 14 – Fencing School, Glasgow, KY |

April 16 – Fencing School, Grand Rivers, KY |

April 21-22 – Kentucky Grazing School, Princeton, KY |

April 28-30 – Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference, Montgomery, AL |

May 19 – Small Ruminant Fencing School, Frankfort, KY |

May 21 – Fencing School, Campton, KY |

Kentucky Alfalfa and Stored Forages Conference in Elizabethtown, Feb. 20, 2020

The new Hardin county Extension Office will be hosting the 39th Kentucky Alfalfa and Stored Forage Conference.  Topics include:

  • Managing Alfalfa Nutrient Uptake
  • Don’t Let Insects Eat Your Alfalfa Profit
  • Fertilizing Profitable High Yield Alfalfa
  • Getting the Upper Hand on Diseases of Alfalfa and Grasses
  • Updates on an Online Alfalfa Management Tool
  • What’s New in Alfalfa Weed Control
  • Advances in Hay Mechanization
  • Making a Profit with a cash hay Alfalfa Operation

Early registration is just $30. Find the full agenda or register here. PS - alfalfaDS7_0290


Methods to Reduce Hay Alkaloid Levels

Fescue toxicosis is caused by ergot alkaloids produced by the naturally occurring fungal endophyte. Many scientists think that ergovaline is the primary alkaloid causing the issues, but there may be others involved. Research has shown that KY-31 infected tall fescue contains alkaloids all year, but the level is particularly high in the spring when seedheads are produced.

The question has come up recently about the toxicity of KY-31 infected tall fescue hay. Research from the University of Missouri indicates that ergovaline and total ergot alkaloid levels decline significantly when tall fescue is cut, dried, and baled for hay. In their study, alkaloid levels dropped between approximately 30 to 60 percent when tall fecue was made for hay. It is important to realize that alkaloids were still present in the hay, sometimes to levels that produce symptoms of fescue toxicosis. There were some situations where levels were reduced enough that any fescue toxicosis sysptoms should be minimal. Below are methods to reduce alkaloid levels in hay:

1) Raise the cutting height to 3 inches

2) Delay feeding for at least one month after harvest

3) Seed clovers in tall fescue hayfields

4) Cut before seedheads are present

~ Excerpt from November Hay and Forage Grower, by Gary Bates.

To learn more about managing toxic tall fescue in pastures and hayfields or to replace with new novel tall fescues, consider attending the Novel Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop in Lexington on March 19th. Early registration is only $65. Find more info or reserve your spot here or contact Krista Lea at


Quote of the Month: “Pretty is as Pretty Does”

The new grass species pictures in all the forage magazines looked wonderful! Advertised animal gains, stocking rates and crude protein content were incredible. However, forage persistence was poor and by the third year, most plants had died. Beautiful to being with, it didn’t do the job. Practically speaking, “pretty”: is the thing that works! Sometimes, something that looks good to begin with doesn’t stand the test of time or fails in other ways. It pays to look beyond first impressions and check available research, other information and local experts before moving ahead. Order your copy of Forage-Livestock Quote and Concepts, vol. 2 herebook2.