By Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties
This information is from the Sauk Centre Hay Auction held on April 19, 2012. I am posting three reports:
Apr 19, 2012 SC Hay Auction.pdf ... A list of all tested hay lots and bedding materials sold ... grouped by kind of hay, RFV and type of bale ... cost per pound of dry matter and cost per RFV point are calculated.
History of Selected Lots 2011 2012.pdf ... A summary of auctions held this year: Medium Square Alfalfa 101 to 200 RFV divided in 25 point groups, and bedding material.
Graph SC Hay Auction 2001-2012.pdf ... A line graph of auction seasons from 2001 to 2012
Read further for a couple observations about the auction and a resource for evaluating hail damage on alfalfa.
You can look at USDA Hay Market Reports at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/LSMNpubs.
Note that there was one load of alfalfa in the Med Sq RFV 176-200 group, so that point on the graph is not much of an average.
One load of Med Square Straw sold "by the ton" and moisture on the load tested about 12% moisture.
Hail Damage to Alfalfa
Stormy weather moved through parts of Minnesota on Tuesday Evening May 2 with 0.5 to 3" of rain and some pea size to golf ball size hail. For hay that is pretty much whacked into the ground, it's obvious the crop has to start over from the crown. For a taller crop with few broken stems, where the terminal growing bud is still in place, we let it keep growing. Between these two conditions, it's more difficult to figure out.
One useful article is posted at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/forage/pubs/HAIL.htm . The decisions are made based on 1) whether the crop is more or less than 2 weeks from expected harvest, 2) whether more or less than 50% of terminal growth buds are lost, and 3) whether the crop will be chopped or baled as dry hay.
Another way to look at this is - if the crop is damaged to the point where you would not find much back in a swath to pick up again, it may as well be left to grow back again from the crown. With more than 50% of the terminal buds still in place, let this part of the crop continue to grow to where you would be harvesting otherwise.