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* Purdue Forage Day

June 5, 2007

Hay crop outlook featured at the annual Purdue Forage Day

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Traditionally, the hay crop outlook is not emphasized at the Purdue Forage Day, but this year's outlook is a bit perplexing from a couple of points, said a Purdue University expert.

"The first being that corn acreage in the nation and in the state of Indiana has increased and some of that is from hay fields that were probably needing to be taken out anyway," said Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage expert.

Secondly, the freeze that we had in April had a major effect on different regions of the state, he said.

"When I took my first cutting, I felt like I was working in a good July crop setting, but I wasn't," Johnson said. "I was harvesting a third week of May first cutting, and that typically will be the heaviest yielding crop of the season.

"Yields are definitely down. The real long-term effect is still six weeks away, but it is fair to say that we need an excellent rest of the season to avoid the issue of high hay prices."

Purdue Forage Day will be held June 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lawrence County 4-H Clubs and Fair Association. Growers and anyone with an interest in forages are encouraged to attend this free field day.

The Chandler Farm, owned and operated by Mike and Judy Chandler of Bedford, are also helping host the Purdue Forage Day. The Chandlers raise beef cattle and have recently worked with Purdue Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to make improvements to their operation.

Two educational sessions will be offered in the morning. The first will demonstrate how to develop a grazing plan using the Chandlers' acreage as an example. The second session, given by Johnson, will emphasize topics related to the hay and silage producer.

"We will look at issues related to best management practices of hay and silage, which include forage choice, seeding date, fertilization and harvest management," Johnson said.

Lunch will be served from noon to 12:45 p.m. for $8.50 per person.

Following lunch, the Chandlers will answer questions about their operation and how they got to where they are today. Equipment will also be demonstrated on a Chandler field, which is within walking distance of the fairgrounds.

In addition to the learning opportunities, attendees can participate in the Hay Quality Contest. To enter, bring one unbroken bale of hay. A sample will be taken from each bale and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Awards will be given for the best legume hay, the best grass hay and the best mixed hay. Results are sent to each contestant.

"This contest allows people to look at hay quality in the state of Indiana," Johnson said. "It also gives growers an idea of whether they are producing a grade A or grade C hay and compare it against other growers in the state.

Forage Day also provides a forum for industry people to reach out to farmers and for farmers to see equipment operating in fields versus a dealer's lot.

"It is a great opportunity for hay producers and equipment people to come together and have a discussion that will allow them to make informed choices," Johnson said. "It is my hope that people will go home with a few good ideas of how to be better forage producers."

For more information, visit the Purdue Forage Day Web page at http://www.agry.purdue.edu/forageday/ .  For questions and more information, contact the Purdue Extension office in Lawrence County at (812) 275-4623 or Lisa Green at (765) 494-4783.

Forage Day is sponsored by Purdue Extension and the Indiana Forage Council. The Lawrence County 4-H Clubs and Fair Association is located southwest of Bedford, Ind., on Highway 50, one mile west of the junction with Highway 37.

Writer: Julie Douglas, (765) 496-1050,  douglajk@purdue.edu

Source: Keith Johnson, (765) 494-4800,  johnsonk@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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