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Hay Producers Reno Bound

PULLMAN — Northwest alfalfa hay producers may find the answers to some of their problems in Reno, Nev.  Not at the gaming tables, but at the 1998 California/Nevada Alfalfa Symposium on Dec. 3-4.

Hay specialist Bill Ford, Washington State University Cooperative Extension, Pasco, says all western hay producers face similar challenges. The Asian economic crisis is depressing export markets; proposed water transfers threaten to take land out of production; and national food quality legislation may restrict pest control alternatives.

These problems and other common interests are expected to attract more than 400 alfalfa producers, university scientists and industry representatives to the Reno meeting.

Ford, who will moderate a Pacific Rim export panel at the meeting, says exports play a big role in Washington’s hay economy.  In 1997 Washington exported 560,000 short tons of alfalfa hay and cubes, and timothy hay.  Ford says that was 17.1 percent of all hay produced in the state.  At that level, export sales affect the price for hay consumed in Washington as well as for exports.

In 1997, the last year for which data has been published, the Washington Agricultural Statistics Service reported hay as the state’s sixth most valuable commodity with a farm-gate value of $395 million.

Program topics of interest to Washington producers include:

  • Diurnal changes in alfalfa forage quality;
  • “Battle of the balers” (comparing large, medium and small balers);
  • Improved irrigation with soil moisture monitoring;
  • What dairy nutritionists are looking for in alfalfa hay;
  • Growing hay for horses;
  • The importance of hay sampling;
  • Over seeding orchard grass and other species into alfalfa;
  • How to select an alfalfa variety;
  • Relationship between fall dormancy and stand persistence;
  • Implications of Roundup ™ resistance in alfalfa;
  • Industry innovations such as new seed coatings,
  • A new hay “crusher” that speeds drying and
  • A remote-controlled, solar-powered wheel-line mover.

A pre-symposium tour on Dec. 2 will visit a state-of-the-art Nevada dairy and the “Top Gun” Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nev.  Advance symposium registration by Nov. 23 is $65.  Later or on-site registration is $95.

For additional information about the meeting, contact Marilee Schmidt at (530) 752-1703, fax (530) 752-4361 or e-mail

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