Late Spring Could Affect Forage

This year’s late spring could have a deleterious effect on this year’s total US hay crop as some farmers get fewer cuttings because of the weather and others hit a time conflict with other fieldwork.

An article on “Hay and Forage Grower” said “2018 won’t be characterized as anything other than a late spring.  Fieldwork is well behind normal, and it’s easy to see how the first-cut hay harvest may collide with the back end of corn planting.”

“It’s going to be a year when farmers may have to change their routine,” said Joe Lawrence, Cornell’s Pro-Dairy forage specialist, in the “Hay and Forage Grower” article.  “It’s important to be ready to tackle the task that will have the most impact on your business.”

The number one focus of farmers should be on a timely first cutting, the story said.  If labor is at a premium, it might mean parking the corn planter, especially with alfalfa-grass mixtures.

But how many farmers will heed the warning? a marketing analyst asked.




“The window for planting (corn) for silage is generally wider than for grain, which is why first cutting can and should take priority over corn planting,” Lawrence said in the story.  This must be done even with the realization that corn silage yields may suffer a bit with delayed planting.

Lawrence added that research from Cornell and Penn State shows that a 0.5 to 1-ton per-acre drop in silage yields occurs for each week’s delay in planting after mid- to late May.  This is significant, but the potential effect of a delayed first cutting on forage quality is even more damaging to animal performance.

Wisconsin Extension Corn Agronomist Joe Lauer was quoted in the article as saying his field trials showed a yield decline of 0.04 short ton of dry matter per acre per day between May 16 and May 30.  And the yield loss really starts to rise during June.

“Even so, there are few, if any, better June-planted forage alternatives from a yield and quality perspective than corn for silage,” Lauer said.




As important as it is to cut alfalfa on time, the cut date becomes even more crucial for winter annuals like rye or triticale, Hay and Forage Grower said.  “Said another way, cereal forage can go from candy to cordwood in a matter of days.”

New York Crop Consultant Tom Kilcer added that some growers might be able to spread their forage harvests out, depending on fall planting times, soil type and field orientation.  Whatever the case, relying solely on dates may not work this year.

Kilcer advised keeping a close eye on the forage and target flag leaf emergence as the time to cut.

Buyers may want to ask about that as well.




Out of 2,982 fed cattle presented, 413 sold last Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange Video Auction, all for 1- to 9-day delivery, at $122.40 per cwt versus none the previous Wednesday.

Cash trading last week was at $125 to mostly $126 per cwt on a live basis, compared with mostly $124 to $126 the previous week.  Dressed-basis trading was reported at $195, steady to down $3.

The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was up $1.79 per cwt at $230.93, while select was off $1.27 at $209.93.  The choice/select spread widened to $21.00 from $17.94 with 105 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday, was $137.91 per cwt, down $0.19.  This compares with Tuesday’s May close of $137.72, down $0.10.