• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

1st Cutting Alfalfa 5/13/2021

Help Support Ranchers.net:

Faster horses

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
29,082
Reaction score
361
Location
NE WY at the foot of the Big Horn mountains
Friend in SE Montana, who bought 33 semi loads of hay last fall, might get to cut one field this year. That's IF they get some more moisture. He said he saw round bales of hay for $150/bale. He feeds 10 bales a day so that's $1500/day. I asked him what if the government helped? He replied "then it will go to $300/bale."
Many are going to cull their herds. Not sure where the cattle will go or what price they will get because this drought is
in a HUGE area. I hate this is happening. They didn't have much left over grass last winter because of the grasshoppers
last late summer and fall.
 

leanin' H

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
6,221
Reaction score
631
Location
Western Utah Desert
Cutting back hard is sure one option. I've got feelers out in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming looking for feeder hay. I raise some meadow hay but the way the drought has been it won't pay to bale it so i'll have it for fall pasture. I buy everything i feed otherwise. I guess it doesn't do much good to fret and worry about stuff i cannot control. But i still do. Such is life. An old rancher friend once told me we Plow, Plant and then Pray. It's all we can do. The Good Lord in his wisdom is much smarter than I and I'll trust His judgement.

To make matters worse, last night we got a reliable report of Mormon crickets filling an entire canyon on our mountain. That's wonderful news 🤮🤮🤮 Studies have been done that show each cricket consumes 7 lbs of grass in its short life span. The fun never ends
 
Last edited:

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
Cutting back hard is sure one option. I've got feelers out in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming looking for feeder hay. I raise some meadow hay but the way the drought has been it won't pay to bale it so i'll have it for fall pasture. I buy everything i feed otherwise. I guess it doesn't do much good to fret and worry about stuff i cannot control. But i still do. Such is life. An old rancher friend once told me we Plow, Plant and then Pray. It's all we can do. The Good Lord in his wisdom is much smarter than I and I'll trust His judgement.

To make matters worse, last night we got a reliable report of Mormon crickets filling an entire canyon on our mountain. That's wonderful news 🤮🤮🤮 Studies have been done that show each cricket consumes 7 lbs of grass in its short life span. The fun never ends
Time to import some cricket-eating birds.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
The 2nd cutting is not far off. I will be surprised if they wait another two weeks. Mid-June can be our rainy season. It is always a gamble, but that is ranching. 100 degrees today and 105 tomorrow, then cools next week.
Alfalfa 6 1 2021.jpg
 

webfoot

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2008
Messages
430
Reaction score
453
Location
NE Oregon
That $225 is the cost for the hay truckers. I have no idea what they get from the dairy's but they live quite high on the hog so they aren't trucking out of charity, hahaha. I think most around here and further out east here in Oregon already have all the hay they can bale sold for market price at the time of baling and also the quality is a big factor. Even the grass hay grown for horses is getting outrageous and the super clean grass blends are never seen for sale. When I grew up in southwest Colorado there were many high yield irrigated alfalfa fields that usually produced two nice cuttings and instead of a paltry 3rd, it was plowed in and prepared for reseeding. Now those high Mesas are all houses and small acreages, usually with horses. Where does most of your hay come from besides your own fields? Will you reduce brood cow herd size this fall? I was talking to a good friend, a vet, that keeps up with all the local ranch talk and she says many here and some further east are considering reducing their herds and selling some of their hay. Selling the hay is becoming more profitable than wintering brood cows. It is a sad state of affairs, but that is ranch life.
One of my neighbors who runs a lot of cows and makes a lot of hay says come fall he is going to count cows and count hay bales. He says he is going to sell cows until the hay and cows even out. Earlier this year he was feeding a semi load of hay a day. You can't afford to do that buying $200+ hay.
 

leanin' H

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
6,221
Reaction score
631
Location
Western Utah Desert
I am fairly confident in predicting that the cow market is flooded this fall with guys doing the exact same thing throughout the west. It’s grim in lots of places. Our water board met and irrigation water will be shut off June 7th 😳
I don’t see much hope of getting another two weeks of water for the rest of 2021.
 

Faster horses

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
29,082
Reaction score
361
Location
NE WY at the foot of the Big Horn mountains
Our irrigation water was supposed to be turned on May 15, so we fertilized. Then they said it wouldn't get turned on until May 24th. It did rain a little between those dates. Now they are saying that there was problems on the ditch up by the reservoir and we may lose our water again and they don't have any idea for how long. We are too have very hot temperatures this week, and no rain in the forecast. While it seems bad enough for us, it will really be bad for the ranchers who are depending on the water for their hay crop. There is plenty of water available, but getting it from the mountains to the valley is very necessary to do any good.
 

leanin' H

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
6,221
Reaction score
631
Location
Western Utah Desert
Our irrigation water was supposed to be turned on May 15, so we fertilized. Then they said it wouldn't get turned on until May 24th. It did rain a little between those dates. Now they are saying that there was problems on the ditch up by the reservoir and we may lose our water again and they don't have any idea for how long. We are too have very hot temperatures this week, and no rain in the forecast. While it seems bad enough for us, it will really be bad for the ranchers who are depending on the water for their hay crop. There is plenty of water available, but getting it from the mountains to the valley is very necessary to do any good.
We spent 1.7 million dollars in the 1970’s to replace the irrigation ditch from the mountain 11 miles away with a reservoir and pipeline. But this drought has shrunk the springs that feed the creek that fills the reservoir. And we had zero run off from snow melt. It’s the perfect situation for having no water. Life on the desert is an adventure
 

Evans

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 26, 2020
Messages
65
Reaction score
48
Our irrigation water was supposed to be turned on May 15, so we fertilized. Then they said it wouldn't get turned on until May 24th. It did rain a little between those dates. Now they are saying that there was problems on the ditch up by the reservoir and we may lose our water again and they don't have any idea for how long. We are too have very hot temperatures this week, and no rain in the forecast. While it seems bad enough for us, it will really be bad for the ranchers who are depending on the water for their hay crop. There is plenty of water available, but getting it from the mountains to the valley is very necessary to do any good.
Its a good thing you didn't pick this spring to rip up and reseed!
 

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
I didn't get a photo, but looking in the wheel ruts, I could see the alfalfa is way high and leafy. Best I have ever seen! Just beautiful! The wheel line is off and in position for cutting. Nice strong wind today and should dry the field enough for swathing in a couple of days despite the cooler temperatures. The yield is no doubt going to exceed the 1st cutting. I hope they can get it baled and off the field soon so we can pray for rain.

The fire danger is high here and this wind is increasing the danger of a serious wildfire. Too many dry stands of Foxtail and the winds prevent the firefighters from doing controlled burns. The smoke was so bad last year that I had to wear a wet towel around my mouth and nose to go outside. Not only was the smoke toxic but I hadn't seen that much ash since St Helens blew. I hope that doesn't happen again.
 
Last edited:

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
With the cooler weather and wind and the yield from another field, they decided to turn the wheel line back on and cut next week. The yield from the smaller fields 1st cutting a few days ago, figures out to 12 tons an acre. It appears very leafy and of high quality. They may not get the 4th cutting if an early frost occurs in August which does happen some years. If that is the case the extra yield will pay off plus they can disc in for added nitrogen and organic matter.


The field that yielded about 9 tons an acre on 1st cutting about a month ago. Photo from the end that has the lesser growth due to rattlesnake encounter and not being armed to take snakes out.
HF 2.jpg
HF ala size 10.jpg


Yield from small field 1st cutting at 12 tons per acre. 26 tons from just a tad over 2 acres. I was unable to get closer due to a rattlesnake encounter.
HS sm rs10.jpg
 
Last edited:

Big Muddy rancher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
22,071
Reaction score
292
Location
Big Muddy valley
Cutting back hard is sure one option. I've got feelers out in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming looking for feeder hay. I raise some meadow hay but the way the drought has been it won't pay to bale it so i'll have it for fall pasture. I buy everything i feed otherwise. I guess it doesn't do much good to fret and worry about stuff i cannot control. But i still do. Such is life. An old rancher friend once told me we Plow, Plant and then Pray. It's all we can do. The Good Lord in his wisdom is much smarter than I and I'll trust His judgement.

To make matters worse, last night we got a reliable report of Mormon crickets filling an entire canyon on our mountain. That's wonderful news 🤮🤮🤮 Studies have been done that show each cricket consumes 7 lbs of grass in its short life span. The fun never ends
Maybe try Turkey ranching.
Can you vacuum those crickets up and store for winter feed?
 

leanin' H

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
6,221
Reaction score
631
Location
Western Utah Desert
Maybe try Turkey ranching.
Can you vacuum those crickets up and store for winter feed?
May not have any other options 😔
I have summer grass and a little fall pasture. I took a ride through the meadow I go to in the fall. It’s got a little feed but it’s crazy scary how little. God has to send some rain. Please
 

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
On my afternoon walk, I noticed some OSU students by the alfalfa field. It now clear to me why they are getting such high yields and why they seem to cut at the right time when others especially Eastern Washington Columbia Basin alfalfa growers had their 1st cutting rained on. They sold it for $150 a ton and that is a $50-$100 a ton loss over a premium 1st cutting. The field that I walk by is in the OSU Ag Extention program and every detail is studied by scientists and ag students. I was amazed that they test the soil after every cutting and fertilize it accordingly. They also keep a daily check on moisture. In this sandy loam, while overwatering is almost impossible during the heat, this week with cooler temperatures, monitoring moisture is important for disease control.

So these participating ranchers have a host of scientists and methodologists advising them. The thing with these fields is they have all the water they can use for the entire season. While in the past they had to ration water use when they watered 100 acres, now cutting that down to smaller plots, they seldom use all their water. It is amazing to me what science can accomplish for agriculture with these experimental plots, but still this year with water in short supply, all this high yield info doesn't help except a few.

Anyway, these students were there to study rodent control. I guess they use a gopher bait that shows some success, but they said the increase in gopher snakes was what was keeping rodents at a minimum. I told them of the Rattlesnake sighting and their crossing the road from the rocks. I think the reason is all their old habitat is now new houses and building right up to the alfalfa field. That area was once rocks and grass filled with rodents and a buffet for rattlesnakes that didn't need to ever be seen as there were no roads to cross for food.

They told me to walk the ditch road and I would see some gopher snakes that were providing great rodent control. I hate snakes but just this once took the road and sure enough the first 50 feet in a 1/2 mile road, I saw what I have always called a Racer. It looks as though it has already eaten a gopher and in search of another. I got this cell phone photo and then turned around and beat cheeks out of there. Yes, I know they are harmless but they frighten me, and taking this photo caused me bad dreams last night.

RS rs hay.jpg
 
Last edited:

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
Well, I feel like an idiot! I was informed that while I did indeed figure the yield correctly by the haystack and field size, that it was the yield from two fields. They bring the bales from the other field (I cannot see as it is over the hill) to the field I walk by because it is easy for the trucks to pull in there and be loaded. That first cutting was probably around 4.5 tons per acre. The field yielded 16+ tons per acre for 2020 in 4 cuttings.

The smaller 2-acre field is also part of another larger field I cannot see and its first cutting I am guessing at 4 tons per acre that I figured as 12 based on 2 acres and that number never ringing a bell in my old head as being science fiction.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
296
Reaction score
267
Location
N.E. Oregon
06/16.2021

#1 Rain damaged remains from last year
#2 Wheelline back in position for cutting
#3 2nd Cutting coming soon looking great
#4 The ditch fed from the river still full
#5 The dry land home of rattlesnakes on the other side of the field road

425 425 hay.jpg
wheel.jpg
field 2.jpg
250 350 ditch.jpg
250 350 fox.jpg
 

Evans

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 26, 2020
Messages
65
Reaction score
48
The snow and frost we got at the end of may really hurt our 3 year old alfalfa. Its basically trying to start over but with out moisture its not doing much. Most of our grass is headed off and not tall enough to mow. Grass is turning yellow. Not even good grazing. I do a lot of ditch hay as well but this year its not even growing in the ditches.
We had about 6 years of drought. Then last year was wet and I thought the dry years where over. Its ridiculous!
 

Latest posts

Top